SURVIVING LIFE WITH AN ADDICT by Anne Noon

 

The first important step is to believe in yourself. Addicts are excellent at undermining and it is all too easy to doubt oneself.

My addict has charm, good looks, an innocent expression and he is the best liar I have ever met.  His only problem is that he is seriously addicted.  This problem has been ongoing for two decades.  He has survived drug overdoses, severe beatings from those on the dark side of life and many incarcerations.

He was expelled from three schools and three rehabilitation centers asked him to leave.  He voluntarily left two other rehabs as the other residents weren’t his type and he couldn’t live with that sort of scum.

After expulsion from an exclusive boy’s school for using marijuana we talked about drugs, schools, problems, lifestyles and how to say no to peer pressure.  Of course, as proud parents we believed he had been inveigled into trying the weed.  However, this was totally wrong.  Our kid had been scamming tablets, smoking both sorts of cigarettes and was a ringleader among his 12-year-old group.

Okay, did we have our heads in the sand? No, we didn’t and neither did his siblings suspect their brother was on the road to serious trouble.  It took a run in with the police, expulsion after a few weeks from school number two for our family to go into shock and seek help.

Unfortunately, although we had a so-called top child psychologist and spent many hours driving too and from the rooms we came away none the wiser.  It was deemed incorrect to label a twelve-year-old with a mental disorder! The fact that we were looking for help, were obviously extremely concerned and that we paid the bills didn’t cut it.

We moved not only house but to a country area.  We were giving our boy a new start and a clean slate.  But we were misguided.  He carried on as before and away from family and friends our isolation grew.  Another school, another expulsion, seriously bad behaviour at home and bouts of stealing led to heated family arguments.  After a particularly nasty event with my husband bailed up with a knife at his throat we called the police.  However, we didn’t press charges.  Yet another mistake.

Some weeks later our farm ute and a chainsaw went missing as did our son!  After a couple of days, I reported the ute missing.  It was me who found the car parked in a lane next to a very rundown house.  My son was mattress surfing and out for the count.  I found drugs and paraphernalia,  destroyed the drugs and syringes, took my son back home and once again didn’t make any charges.  Hard to believe we just trusted things would change.

Over years we were ripped off both financially and mentally until  we were left with no alternative but to ask him to leave home.  That didn’t bring the peace of mind I hoped for.  I worried about him, where he was living, was he in trouble, all the things that Mothers can find to agonize over.

Of course, calls came for money.  We inevitably gave in to his persuasions or blackmail.  He was starving, or he had nowhere to live or he was going to jump under a train.  It was always the fault of somebody else .  Mates ripped him off, girls stole his money and possessions, bosses sacked him when it wasn’t his fault and every other excuse in the book.

Visiting a gaol for the first time is unbelievably gut wrenching.  My husband and I had never known anyone in custody and had no idea of the obstacles to visit.  The booking, the times, the forms, the feeling of being an actual criminal and the way staff spoke to us and others visiting was abominable.  It was a form of slow torture.  The visit was difficult too.  A noisy room, a small metal table with four stools attached to the floor. Everything was extremely uncomfortable.  When my inmate arrived wearing a white zoot suit with an electric cable tie holding it together, I burst into tears.  ‘Don’t cry Mumsy’ he said with a bright smile, ’Í am okay.’  The last time I saw my boy dressed in a white all in one it was a Bond’s Baby Grow and my heart broke.  Where had that gorgeous boy gone to?

After every incarceration we were there to provide a new start.  It never got easier and for almost twenty years we shouldered guilt.  What could we have done differently, were did we go wrong, what if, our minds struggling to make things right?  The fact that we had other children, family and friends and none of them were addicts didn’t help.  After awhile even our family didn’t want to talk about drug addiction or where the boy is at now and so the journey became solitary.

Just a couple of weeks ago we drew a line in the sand.  No more help, no more money, no chasing around the countryside visiting hospitals, gaols, relocating him when he was evicted and no more self-blame.   Sounds easy?  Well it’s not but it’s the only road to travel.  I love my husband and he loves me, we are now at a certain age where we don’t have the resilience, the stamina, or the basic ability to be dragged along a rollercoaster road with no hope of respite.

We know one day unless there is a miracle we will receive the ultimate bad news.  Deep down we have known this for many years. Our son’s addiction has taken a toll on our lives and although it is a hard pill to swallow we both believe that making a space between us is the only way to survive.

Don’t blame yourself unnecessarily if you have children who fall victims to addiction.  There is always hope but it comes from within the addict and giving anything but the knowledge you will always love but cant step beyond that is the only way for self survival.