I am not an addict.
But try and love one, and then see if you can look me square in the eyes and tell me that you didn’t get addicted to trying to fix them.
If you’re lucky, they recover. If you’re really lucky, you recover, too.
Loving a drug addict can and will consume your every thought. Watching their physical deterioration and emotional detachment to everything will make you the most tired insomniac alive.
You will stand in the doorway of their bedroom and plead with them that you “just want them back.” If you watch the person you love disappear right in front of your eyes long enough, you will start to dissolve too.
Those not directly affected won’t be able to understand why you are so focused on your loved one’s well-being, especially since, during the times of your family member’s active addiction, they won’t seem so concerned with their own.
Don’t become angry with these people. They do not understand. They are lucky to not understand. You’ll catch yourself wishing that you didn’t understand, either.
“What if you had to wake up every day and wonder if today was the day your family member was going to die?” will become a popular, not-so-rhetorical question.
Drug addiction has the largest ripple effect that I have ever witnessed firsthand.
It causes parents to outlive their children. It causes jail time and homelessness. It causes sisters to mourn their siblings. It causes nieces to never meet their aunts. It causes an absence before the exit.
You will see your loved one walking and talking, but the truth is, you will lose them far before they actually succumb to their demons; which, if they don’t find recovery, is inevitable.
Drug addiction causes families to come to fear a ringing phone or a knock on the door. It causes vague obituaries. I read the papers and I follow the news; and it is scary. “Died suddenly” has officially become obituary-speak for “another young person found dead from a drug overdose.”
Drug addiction causes bedrooms and social media sites to become memorials. It causes the “yesterdays” to outnumber the “tomorrows.” It causes things to break; like the law, trust and homes.
Drug addiction causes statistics to rise and knees to fall, as praying seems like the only thing left to do sometimes.
People have a way of pigeonholing those who suffer from addiction. They call them “trash,” “junkies” or “criminals,” which is hardly ever the truth. Addiction is an illness. Addicts have families and aspirations.
You will learn that drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if the addict came from a loving home or a broken family.
Drug addiction doesn’t care if you are religious. Drug addiction doesn’t care if you are a straight-A student or a drop-out. Drug addiction doesn’t care what ethnicity you are. Drug addiction will show you that one decision and one lapse in judgment can alter the course of an entire life.
Drug addiction doesn’t care. Period. But you care.
You will learn to hate the drug but love the addict. You will begin to accept that you need to separate who the person once was with who they are now.
It is not the person who uses, but the addict. It is not the person who steals to support their habit, but the addict. It is not the person who spews obscenities at their family, but the addict. It is not the person who lies, but the addict.
And yet, sadly… it is not the addict who dies, but the person.
A Mother’s Heart
” I wish it wasn’t me who was writing this blog. I really wish it wasn’t. I wish I wasn’t handpicked because I have one of the “best handles” on this subject. I wish I wasn’t “qualified” to speak on the heroin epidemic that is a growing problem nationwide. I wish I wasn’t a member of a community no one really wants to be a part of. No one ever says to themselves while reading articles like mine, “I wish I could relate to this.”
But I am. I am the non-addict who knows all too well what it’s like to have an addict in the family.
I know what it’s like to worry yourself sick. To cry yourself to sleep. To stare at baby pictures. To check on them while they sleep to make sure they are still breathing.
I know to watch out for pinhole pupils and subtle changes in behavior. To listen to them talk and make excuses and pile on lie after lie. I know what it’s like to pretend to believe them because you are just too mentally exhausted for an argument when you know they are lying straight to your face.
- I know what it’s like to be confused all of the damn time; to see their potential, to know what they are throwing away.
- I know what it’s like to want their recovery more than they do. To be the one doing research on rehabs and other outlets for recovery.
- I know what it’s like to miss someone who is still standing right in front of you.
- I know what it’s like to wonder if each unexpected phone call is “the” phone call. I know what it’s like to be hurt so bad and be made so sick that part of you wishes you would just get “the” phone call if nothing is going to change. You want that finality. You need the cycle to end.
- I know that it’s like to hate yourself for even allowing yourself to find relief in that horrible thought.
- I know what it’s like to get the worst news of your life, and still walk into the grocery store and run your errands and smile at the cashier.
- I know what it’s like to become a part-time detective. To snoop through drawers and email accounts. You know you are going to find something, and you look until you do just so you feel less crazy. So you can say to yourself, “I am not paranoid. This is happening again.”
- I know what it’s like to have your mind clouded; to turn into a functioning zombie. I know what it’s like to be physically present at board meetings and dinner dates, but mentally gone.
- I know what it’s like to stop caring about your own personal and professional life. My relationship took a backseat, Christ not even the backseat – I kicked him out of the car. I would show up to work not showered and with huge bags under my eyes. I would cry at my desk. Everything the outside world expected of me seemed frivolous if I couldn’t keep one of my most important people in my life out of harm’s way.
- I know what it’s like to be really pissed off. Like, REALLY pissed the hell off. Between the sadness there is a lot of anger. I know what it’s like to feel guilty for being so mad, even knowing all you know about addiction. You are allowed to be angry. This is not the life you signed up for.
- I know what it’s like to scour a bookshelf and not find what you are looking for because this illness is still so hard to talk about, let alone write about.
- I know what it’s like to hear someone argue that addiction is not an illness, that it is a choice. I know all too well that feeling of heat rising in your face as they go on and on about something they know nothing about.
- I know what it’s like to stop becoming angry with these people. They do not understand. They are lucky to not understand. I know what it is like to catch yourself wishing that you didn’t understand either.
- I know the difference between enabling and empowering. I know there is a fine line between the two and the difference can mean life or death. I know what it’s like to feel the weight of each day on your shoulders trying to balance the two.
- I have been through enough to know that things don’t just change for the worse overnight; they can change in a millisecond. In a blink of an eye. As quick as it takes two people to make a $4 exchange.
- I know what it’s like to feel stigmatized. To be the “cousin of a drug addict,” a “friend of a drug addict,” a “sibling of a drug addict,” “the mother of a drug addict.”
- I know what it feels like to be handled with kid-gloves because no one outside of your toxic bubble knows what to say to help.
I don’t know what the future holds for anyone who loves an addict today. One thing I know for sure is I am not alone. I write often on addiction from the family’s perspective. My last article, Lessons I Learned from Loving a Drug Addict, went viral, being shared nearly 200,000 times on Facebook alone. My new essay series, The Other Side of Addiction, aims to help non-addicts and addicts alike share their story in a place free of judgment. They often feel voiceless, so I wanted to give them a voice.
I write on addiction because I want to let families of addicts of any substance know they are not alone. I write on addiction because for far too long many have felt isolated, hopeless and stigmatized by this illness.
Whether you realize it or not, each interaction with any article on this epidemic will help raise awareness about drug addiction and its direct effect on not only the addict, but the family. Together, we can chip away at the antiquated stereotypes attached to addiction.”
AUTHOR: ALICIA COOK
reposted from www.thealiciacook.com
Youth Services hosts “Community Conversation” about Drug Addiction
Mary Marcuccio, of My Bottom Line, LLC, demonstrates her passion to parents while speaking at the ‘Community Conversation’ on addiction. Photo by Daniel Atkinson.
By Danny Atkinson Reminder News. Colchester Edition.
On the evening of Wednesday, March 25, parents and students in grades 6-12 gathered at Bacon Academy to attend separate presentations about drug addiction as part of the Community Conversations series. The event, which was sponsored by the Colchester Youth Services’ Youth FIRST Coalition and Colchester Public Schools, attracted a crowd of roughly 150.
Parents attended a presentation by Mary Marcuccio, the founder and CEO of My Bottom Line, LLC, an organization that helps parents deal with young adults who are addicted to opiates. Marcuccio shared her family’s story and provided a comprehensive education about opiates.
Marcuccio began her presentation by discussing her family’s experience of having a son addicted to opiates for many years. Her son began using marijuana in middle school and began using heroin at the age of 15. Marcuccio said that it took her and her husband time to realize the extent of her son’s drug use.
“We set out to do the best we could and felt that our son would be protected from the danger of drugs as a result,” she said. “As parents, we mistakenly assume that there is a bubble around our communities.”
Marcuccio focused on the dangers of opiate addiction and what parents can do to help protect their children from it. She spoke about the ways in which adolescents become involved in using opiates, saying that it is easy for them to gain access to prescription pills, especially at what she called “pill parties.” Eventually, users can graduate to heroin, which is highly affordable.
Marcuccio said that parents must enforce boundaries for their children and avoid enabling them. Boundaries she suggested setting included guaranteeing activities they participate in are safe and structured, and not allowing them to have household access to prescription pills.
“You need to make sure your family environment is strong,” she said. “You have to give your children a reason to say no.”
Marcuccio discussed the warning signs parents should look for with opiates use, all of which she saw with her son. These include pinpoint and fixed pupils, sluggishness, and violent mood swings. She said that adolescent brains are very susceptible to opiates and that heroin gives them “the most contented feeling they’ll have in this world.” As a result, withdrawal can be extremely painful.
“Drugs and addiction puts a permanent wrinkle in the fabric of relationships,” Marcuccio said.
Throughout the presentation, Marcuccio constantly emphasized the importance of parents being educated and taking action. “You cannot love your child away from drugs. You need to make the community an unwelcome place for them,” she said.
“Until hearing her tonight, I had no idea that some of the effects of opiates happen to that degree,” said parent Laura Nass. “This presentation absolutely inspired me to get involved with fighting opiates.”
While parents listened to Marcuccio, students attended a presentation by Greg P. He spoke about his experience with alcohol and drug addiction at a young age and his battle to become and stay sober. Students said that they enjoyed the presentation and found his story relatable.
“They were able to hear the story of someone coming from a similar background and got a perspective about what life can be like if you start using drugs and alcohol at a young age,” Greg said. “They seemed very interested and receptive.”
Jennifer Martino, who leads the Youth FIRST Coalition, thought the event was important for the community. “I felt like this was a great opportunity to start a conversation. Both speakers did a great job,” she said. “Greg’s story hit home for the kids, and it was very empowering for the parents to hear someone discuss the warning signs of opiate addiction. It’s a message unlike any other.”
My Dear Addicted Child,
I feel like I’m saying goodbye to you, and in a way, I suppose I am. I will always love you. I want the very best for you and I’m prepared to do the most unnatural thing, a mother can ever do. My minds screams, I’m abandoning you. Oh, I know you’re all grown up, but to me, you’ll always be my baby. That’s part of the problem. My nature is to protect you. I see you broken and despairing, and I am broken and despairing too. If you had cancer, or heart disease, I would fight tooth and nail to get you the care you need. In a strange way, this is me fighting. It’s the hardest fight I’ve ever fought. It would be far easier to stand at your hospital bed, knowing that what I was doing was helping you.
But there is no hospital bed. There is no cancer, or heart disease. What there is – is an insidious little secret – one that has grown into a horrible, ugly beast. It is devouring you alive, and me, along with it. I’ve watched this monster grow. I pleaded with it. I’ve coddled it. I’ve even nurtured it. I’ve done everything I can think of to make this THING go away, but it is relentless. I am left to face the truth. You my precious child, are an addict. An addict! Oh my God! I can barely say it. I feel sick. I HATE that word. And yet, it is true. Why does the truth have to be so hard? Even harder, is what I still have to do.
All my life I have watched over you and now I have to set you free. Not because I want too. Because I NEED to. It’s the only thing I can do, that might save your life. But the process may also end it. I’m told by other addicts and professionals, and other Mom’s who have gone before me, there is a far greater chance you will have success and get clean, if I do this. Almost always, this works. Believe me, almost, is nowhere near comforting enough. If I wasn’t sure, I was helping you to die, I would never choose this. But here I am, between a rock and hard place. With no good choices, only hard, and worse ones.
Before I let you go, know this. I am here for you, ALWAYS. I am here for YOU. Not for your disease, but the you, I know hides deep down inside of the addict, somewhere. Whether you get clean by intervention, or you growing weary of the consequences, now that you’ll be dealing with them, or be it by divine intervention, this insanity will stop. If you ever thought it might be hard quitting drugs, my dear, you should try walking away from your child! I know we’ve both grown sick with this monster.
You’re not the only one who needs help. I do too. I promise you I will do everything that is asked of me, even if I think I’m going to hate every minute of it. I’ll do it, because I know if I do, you might. I promise not to ask you to do anything, that I won’t do. I would ask you to take care, but you will only smile and nod, and carry on as before. The words would only make me feel better. They’re of no use to you. So instead, I shall give you to God. I don’t know who else to trust with you. I’ll wrap you in your favourite baby blanket. The one you dragged behind you until it was nothing but rags. I will pray for you and for me. I will pray that we both have the strength to do the next right thing, even, when it feels so wrong.
Go with God, my dear sweet child.
May we both find peace.
By Lorelie Rozzano
Matthew Milam’s short life story
‘AS A PARENT, YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO’
Edmund D. Fountain, for USA TODAY
(this is an excerpt taken from a USA TODAY article)
When Matthew Milam smiled, dimples on his broad face ran deep, and his cheekbones grew round and high — the infectious look of someone who could light up a room.
“As a little kid, I used to always tell him he had heart,” says his mother, Debbie.
Medication was the key after he grew up. Without it, Matthew toggled emotionally between a sweet, compassionate 24-year-old who loved to cook and was terribly shy around strangers — to someone consumed with paranoia who dug his own grave in the backyard and stood outside in a lightning storm, begging God to strike him down.
“It’d be like a light bulb going off,” says his father, Pat, vice president of sales for an oil field service company in New Orleans.
Those with severe mental illness such as Matthew, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at 24, illustrate the gaping challenges researchers face in finding solutions to suicide. Half of those with schizophrenia, an illness marked by delusions and hearing voices, attempt suicide. One in 10 succeed.
Matthew’s parents said his emotional state began to grow worse after he found his younger brother Michael dead at 18 of a heroin overdose in the family home in Harahan, La., in 2007.
Within a few years, Matthew was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and later with schizophrenia as more severe symptoms emerged.
From: THE PARTNERSHIP AT DRUG FREE.ORG
While on vacation recently I had time to relax on the beach and reflect about our family’s situation. There was no great epiphany. However, one thing weighed on my mind concerning the language of addiction.
For many years through this journey, people have counseled my wife and I that nothing will actually change until our addict hits bottom. It was always said with sympathy and understanding in a way that I am sure was well-intentioned. As a parent trying to deal with a drug-addicted child, however, just the thought of hitting bottom was frightening. What is bottom? How do we recognize bottom when we see it? How long will it take? And what damage is my son likely to experience on his way to bottom?
The answers from people experienced in drug and alcohol addiction were always vague and indeterminate. All the while we kept looking for that elusive bottom. And with each terrible experience we assumed, surely we had arrived there: losing his car, losing his license, losing his home, put in jail, nearly losing his life, and then, entering prison. What exactly is bottom, again?
I have been told by addicts and loved ones of addicts that bottom is different for different people. For some, it’s losing one’s family, losing one’s home or incarceration, while for others it’s the thought of losing the respect of loved ones.
The one thing I found out for sure is that there is no determining what bottom is for another person. That is what is so frightening for a parent about this whole bottom concept. Is death considered bottom?
With all of these examples of bottom and none of them actually defining the experience, I would like to propose a different term. I suggest we call it a “profound experience.”
A profound experience is something that anyone in any situation can encounter. Large or small, this event or series of events has the impact to change a life. Following a profound experience, a person is able to gain “profound knowledge” concerning his or her life and the impact this experience has on the future. With this new knowledge a person or addict is able to put in place the necessary steps to change his or her life.
To me a profound experience more accurately describes what an addict must experience before it is possible for him or her to begin a change process. It is the inspiration that causes an addict to wake up to the fact that drug or alcohol addiction can no longer be a part of his or her life.
For me, my vocabulary concerning drug and alcohol addiction is ever-changing.
Written by Ron Grover
I feel deep empathy toward parents just beginning the terrible journey of their child’s drug addiction — and those facing the turmoil of a next step: rehab, incarceration, dislodging the addict from the family home. These are still open and fresh wounds for my wife and me. Following are seven hard lessons we’ve learned in our journey, all of which we denied in the beginning. We fought with ourselves and with each other about these things. It didn’t matter who was telling us the truth, we knew better, after all he was our son. We have come to accept these truths and now it is much easier to deal with the heartache and we’ve become more effective helpers for our son/addict.
I destroy homes, tear families apart, take your children, and that’s just the start.
I’m more costly than diamonds, more costly than gold; the sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.
And if you need me, remember I’m easily found; I live all around you, in schools and in town.
I live with the rich, I live with the poor; I live down the street, and maybe next door.
My power is awesome; try me — you’ll see; but if you do, you may never break free.
Just try me once and I might let you go, but try me twice, and I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie. You do what you have to just to get high.
The crimes you’ll commit, for my narcotic charms, will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms.
You’ll lie to your mother, you’ll steal from your dad; When you see their tears, you should feel sad.
But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised, I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways.
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids; I turn people from god, and separate from friends.
I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride; I’ll be with you always, right by your side.
You’ll give up everything, your family, your home, your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.
I’ll take and take, till you have nothing more to give; When I’m finished with you, you’ll be lucky to live.
If you try me– be warned– this is no game; If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.
I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind; I’ll own you completely, your soul will be mine.
The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed, the voices you’ll hear from inside your head; the sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see– I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart, that you are mine, and we shall not part.
You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do, but you came to me, not I to you.
You knew this would happen; Many times you were told– but you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.
You could have said no, and just walked away; If you could live that day over, now what would you say? I’ll be your master; you will be my slave; I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave.
Now that you have met me, what will you do? Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you.
I can bring you more misery than words can tell; Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell……