29 May Marijuana Addiction Had Parents Packing Their Son’s Bags
Marijuana addiction can start off slow but before you know it, its off and running. For Pauletta’s son, Kyle, the addiction began sometime during his 11th and 12th grade years of high school. It had become a ritual for Pauletta and her husband, David, to inspect his bedroom, locate the drugs, the bongs, papers, pipes and throw them all away. They also performed random drug testing with the mindset that, if Kyle knew they were going to perform random drug testing, then he would stop using. Kyle never passed a drug test and many times he’d tell his parents not to bother, knowing he wouldn’t pass. “It was a waste of time,” says Pauletta, “it did not work at all. All it did was to create more disappointment, stress, anger and for me…tears.”
When high school finished and the structure of going to school ended, Kyle’s life really began falling apart. He became extremely irritable, began to be verbally abusive, and put a tremendous strain on Pauletta and David’s marriage. Pauletta had had surgery and she began to notice that the pills were vanishing faster that she was taking them. Kyle’s addiction was progressing and thus began the appointments with counselors and therapists in an attempt to discover the root of Kyle’s difficulties. Kyle was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and was prescribed medication to address his symptoms. He would not take his meds.
Pauletta could not understand and accept that maintaining his addiction to pot was more important for Kyle than the fact of her love for him. She is similar to many parents who feel that if they love their addicted children enough, they would choose to give up using. It was a hard lesson for his parents to grasp, that even though Kyle did love them, he would not stop using.
One of the counselors Pauletta and David saw suggested Al Anon and they found the Mama’s and the Papa’s in San Diego. They started to alter how they responded to Kyle and life began to change. Through Al Anon, Pauletta saw that when parents began to manage and control what their children could not, they became part of the problem. She saw how she was buying her way out of the problem by paying Kyle’s rent, managing his finances, purchasing his necessities. As she learned her lessons and began her change, she became open to the solution of finding a recovery community for Kyle. She now had hope where before she had none.
Pauletta first heard about sober living homes in Al Anon and began researching them on the Internet. She was overwhelmed with so many options and she started asking around for ideas. A member of her group gave her New Life House Director, Avi’s card. Pauletta reached out. Avi let her know that there was an immediate opening.
Both Pauletta and David were concerned, Kyle was 18 and they couldn’t force him into anything – not following up with his therapist, taking his meds, nothing – she didn’t know how they would be able to get him up there. They did put a deadline on what was to be their last payment of his rent and simultaneously, Avi helped them find the words.
One evening Kyle came over to the family home and they sat down with their son. They told him it was obvious how unhappy he was with the way his life was going by the way he looked and acted. They pointed out that the way he was living, in a filthy apartment was repulsive. His girlfriend had issues of her own and she was a part of his dysfunction. They shared that everything they had done had not helped and they wanted him to be open to checking out New Life House. Even though his friends put it down, told him it was a big joke and a waste of time, Kyle agreed to check it out with reservations.
Despite rolling in at 4am, Kyle spent the night at his parent’s home and they headed to L.A. early in the morning. Unbeknownst to him, both his counselor and sister supported Pauletta and David in not letting him know that this would not be a round trip for him – his bags had been packed. He thought he was just going for a visit – the truth would’ve given him the excuse he needed to not follow through.
Pauletta feels she was lucky every step of the way; first with Avi, then with New Life House managers, Brett and Scott. When they arrived at the house in L.A., Kyle saw the guys doing chores, cleaning up and taking care of the house. He told Brett and his parents he didn’t belong there, that he was nothing like these guys. Brett confronted him, told him that his parents were done; there was nothing more they could do for him. They talked about how Kyle’s life was unmanageable and for the first time, Kyle got honest about how much pot he had been smoking. Marijuana addiction had him by the throat. Brett let him know that his parents could not take him home with him, that if he didn’t want to stay he’d have to walk out the door right then.
Kyle ended up committing to 90 days and reminded his parents about it at every chance he got. But he began working with Scott and his sponsor and soon something shifted. Pauletta credits the team effort of Avi, Brett and Scott and now she sees a lot of the Kyle she had before. He had always been a kind, caring young man but in the throws of marijuana addiction he became angry and discontent. He’s confident now, sensitive to what other people are going through without being a people pleaser and he shows his family that he cares.
Kyle is 6 months sober. He still has issues but he has an understanding about what they are and what actions to take to change them and move forward. Growing up he was a good water polo player but using ruined any opportunity he had to take it to the next level. He’d laugh it off or put it down when the subject was brought up – probably as a way to keep the pain of sabotaging it at bay. Now he’s in acceptance of his past and takes pride that he had a talent – that shows his thinking about himself has changed – and for an addict, that’s huge.