How I had come to find out my son was addicted to heroin was a haunting experience. I say was, as in past tense, because of how it led us to a life of fellowship with a brotherhood of self-empowering individuals who share in a way that is essential for a successful life-long recovery. Thank God for New Life House Recovery Community!
Of course, there were signs of addictive behavior I turned a blind eye, but I had no idea that it was as insane as it was. I thought he was staying out late, not caring for himself as well as he should. Being a typical college student. Spending too much money, not wanting to come home and share his experience with us.
These behaviors over time got worse. He looked unhealthy and unable to stay focused and had to head back to his apartment after 4 to 6 hours of visiting. He showed up as late as he possibly could, usually several hours after he had promised. He became completely unreliable. He looked tired and usually fell asleep on the couch when visiting. The skin on his face was looking more adolescent with pimples, and he seemed unable to complete any type of helpful chore around the house that lasted for more than hour. His temper was short and he became defensive, finding ways to divert issues towards how we made him feel “stressed.” We would confront him with how we were feeling, expressing how he didn’t act like he wanted to be a part of our family anymore.
Then there was the other side. He always remained a loving boy that answered his phone promptly and articulately and we never felt we couldn’t trust him. He made efforts to please us, remained compassionate with us, especially to his little sister with whom he has an amazing bond. Polite with neighbors and extended family; in simple terms: the one that we all loved and were proud of sharing our time with.
Then there was that moment of truth when I saw his track marks. I asked him to get in my car and he did. I told him that those marks were the track marks of a heroin addict. He tried for one second to pawn them off as old cutter marks only to realize quickly that I wasn’t buying it. He realized then his dad was looking at a heroin addict. He surrendered at that moment and three months later he still remains in recovery.
Six years ago, in the beginning, our son had convinced us he needed to see a doctor for what he described as anxiety. At first, were very reluctant to engage with treating him for anxiety. There is a back story. Our son has a birth father that has a mental condition in combination with drug abuse. This was a fact that had our attention. We didn’t want to assume that our child was simply having normal adjustment issues and we decided to have him evaluated by a doctor. This led to him being prescribed Xanax.
His desperation got much more demanding and his street knowledge made him very convincing. He manipulated higher and higher doses of Xanax to the point that we no longer felt the dose our doctor was prescribing was appropriate. We sought out a teen psychologist, and he seemed to get better in some ways yet worse in others. Looking back, I’m sure he was now taking street drugs.
He graduated high school, got into a state college, and did well the first two years, but by this time he was well on his way to loosing all control of his life to addiction. It was the end of his junior year that he started using money we trusted him to pay rent with, subsidizing his income from work and using the money for drugs.
Our son needed to reach his bottom in order to surrender. It sounds so cliché, but the simple truth is, I don’t know if he would have been able to see the truth about his involvement in his addiction before he reached that moment. There’s a part of the addict that wants to stop, and a part that can’t.
So what did I do that I regret? Well, it would have been nice to have that moment of surrender sooner, but he was on his way to using heroin. Maybe it’s never having him prescribed Xanax or maybe never having him see a psychiatrist. I could have paid more attention to his relationships. What we did, as a family, was always love and support him with respect, even to the point of being manipulated by his lies. Do I regret that? No.
I believe it’s the support of family that gave him the strength to save his life. Do I regret making the call to David at New Life House, do I regret to committing to a program after the detox like the New Life House? No. I’ve heard it said time and time again by the families of teenagers and young adults who are house members of New Life House that New Life is like hitting the lottery of recovery communities.
My boy is safe today and he thanks me every time we speak for saving his life. He makes clear and sincere mention that he is learning every day more and more about himself through the fellowship of his brothers and mentoring of the house managers. Our family can now see our boy as a motivated, honest, committed young adult and, most importantly, feeling better about his life and future than ever before.
There is one very important fact I feel I must mention again. All of the 25 families I’ve met through New Life House feel the same about “how” our kids are doing for the rest of there lives. That staying committed to the sobriety model and hands-on program taught at The New Life House is the key.
Honestly, your family, your son, is one phone call away from saving their life!