My son turned 24 years old while in rehab for heroin addiction. This was November 1st. Like all of you I've experienced the emotional rollercoaster of being the mother of an addict. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. The hardest thing I've ever done is to send him a letter telling him that unless recovery was a daily part of his life, for at least a year, I could no longer be a part of his life. I am the kind of parent that has always put their kids needs above my own, to me that is what being a parent meant. I brought them into this world so I had to ensure they grew up to be productive, responsible, happy adults... But with a child whose an addict, it's a whole different story.
Earlier this year, on January 12th, I found myself giving my son CPR because he overdosed while home for 3 days. He had moved to CO from SC in order to get away from his "user friends", of course I supported that, it made sense. While in CO, he told me he had been clean (2 months) although who really knows? He came home for a 3 day holiday visit and couldn't fight the urge to score. I knew the minute I picked him up from the airport he was fighting something within himself. I kept asking him and he kept blowing me off....the second night we were watching a college football game together and he got up and said he had to run to the gas station. I knew something was up and tried to convince him to "just chill and let's finish watching the game". He said he'd be back in half an hour. This was about 9:30, at about 10 pm I went up to bed. 30 min. later I heard a crash downstairs and figured he'd come home and dropped something...following a few minutes of silence I went downstairs to see what was going on...I found him on the floor having been in a chair at the dining room table and he and the chair had gone down. His lips were blue and he was periodically gasping for breaths..my worst nightmare had come true but instead of getting a phone call, I was watching my son die. The worst part was while I was working on him, his seventeen y/o sister had to call 911. She is still stuggling with her own PTSD with respect to hearing sounds while in bed and they bringing her back to that horrible night. Thankfully I'm in nursing school and took CPR, God works in mysterious ways! The paramedics revived him with Narcon which is the Rx that reverses opiod overdoses. He awoke to me, his sister and 4 paramedics and police officers surrounding him. You'd think that would be enough to make you quit....that's what he told me at the time while in the ER for 24 hr. observation. He returned to CO and continued using. I told him he couldn't come home again until he got treatment. In June, he called me and said he was ready. (In hindsight, ski season was over and his using was getting out of hand) I picked him up from the airport and he looked like a concentration camp surviver...we tried suboxone clinic and that was a joke, as long as they got their money they just kept feeding him pills with NO counseling...they had him on such a high dose that all he did was sleep. He went back to using. At the end of Sept. I put together an intervention and it was either leave that night for inpatient treatment or leave the house with the clothes on his back and live on the streets...he's not dumb, he chose rehab although in no way willingly. By the end of his 6 weeks he was proud of his sobriety and I told him a sober living house would probably be better than coming home. He agreed. He stayed clean for 2-3 weeks, until he got a job and started living a normal, less restrictive life. He relapsed, of course, and left the sobe living house but amazingly enough within 2 weeks got himself back to another halfway house. I told him that it is probably best if I back out of his life and let him figure things out on his own although this was expressed with much more anger and hurt on my part. He agreed, this was 4 days ago. Every day I want to call him or text him and tell him how much I love him. But I don't, he needs to struggle with his choices on his own and the parent he needs me to be is one that will allow that to happen, no matter how much it hurts me.I worry and stress, how can I not. No one ever told me that in some cases abandoning your child with love IS being a good parent. The key is, at 24 he is no longer a child, he is a man, even though he doesn't act like one. He's got to find his own support system and his own way of fighting his addictions. He can't keep running to me and I can't keep allowing it to happen because he's my baby, and I love him. I have 3 other children, all reasonably successful in their own ways. I know this wasn't my fault although in hindsight I would do many things very differently.....if only I had a crystal ball. I wish I could find a support group for parents of heroin addicts in Charleston SC. I may live in a beautiful vacation spot, but there are NO resources for drug addiction. My son's in Delray Beach FL, the recovery capital of the east coast. I pray every day for strength; for him to fight his battle and for me to stay away and allow him to do so