Support for families in addiction and recovery. How addiction changed my family.
Despite the struggles, my family found hope after addiction.
The hardest days of my life.
The worst days of my life were not the day that my daughter and I came moments from death (another story for another time). The hardest thing I have ever done is not child labor. The scariest moment I have ever experienced is not the time I nearly drowned in a rushing river (again, another story for another time). No, the worst, hardest, scariest days of my life were having a family member with addiction.
The worst days of my life were the days that I walked into a tiny, dirty apartment to find drug paraphernalia and a precious baby. The hardest thing I have ever done is take that precious baby to a visitation with the very person who I knew was harming him and had to walk away. The scariest moment of my life was the moment I knew that I might never see either of them ever again.
Addiction is awful. It is disgusting and ugly, and it tears families apart. What you might not realize though is that addiction is everywhere. It looks a lot like you and me. It might even be you. So, if it is someone you love, won’t you go to the depths of the ocean to claw them back. Won’t you risk losing them forever to save them? Living in a family afflicted with addiction will force you to do some wonderful and awful things.
Addiction effects more than just the addict.
That was my life for a little while. My family were the ones searching around the town and internet for traces of her. We were the people secretly dropping off baby food, diapers, meals, and clothing. We begged her not to go back, not to live there, not to make that decision. Secretly doing laundry, buying replacements, and contriving ways to bring them back to health.
Then came hope. Rehabilitation. Rehab can be ugly too though. It means long days of counseling and tons of money out the door, not to mention the withdrawal and anger. Rehab means dealing with protection agencies, courts, and questions. The entire family felt so out of control and never knew whether it all might be in vain. We would do it all over again, even if it failed and failed and failed again. We would do it all again.
Addiction is not my story, but my family will be irretrievably broken because of it. Addiction is not my personal struggle, but addiction in my family left indelible scars and hurts. I may never have struggled with addiction, but it has left me forever changed.
Unlike so many horrible stories (this is part one in a 3-part series that I will post over the next few months), my story actually has a happy ending.
My family got to experience recovery. It was long and hard and rocky, but my family member is now 8 years sober, thriving, and healthy. My family member is now an addictions resource at a local rehabilitation center. She dove into the pits, and we dove in after her with a rope. Watching her haul herself out and change the trajectory of her child’s life was the miracle we prayed for.
But, this isn’t Hallmark. It did not all work out in the end. Our family is still carrying battle scars. We might not have been the ones who were stuck in the sickness, but we were the ones getting clawed by the cat. Some of us grew apart, and I will never be a mother in the same way. I will always be terrified of what my children might be doing even in the most innocent of situations. I will always be haunted by the potential that the people who dragged my family member down are still lurking in the shadows and know who I am and where I live. One of them even side-swiped my car. It was terrifying.
I will probably never be able to rehash all of the gory details and feelings, but what is true is that addiction hurts more than the just the addict. Addiction destroys families and even friends. If you know someone struggling with addiction, by all means help him, but also support the family. Don’t bring up the addiction, but maybe they need an extra hug, resource, or listening ear.
If you are a mother, father, sister, brother, spouse with a family member in addiction, please reach out for help.
This society screams “individual rights,” “autonomy,” and “personal choice” as though no one else is ever effected by an individual’s decision. Wrong. Your decisions hurt the ones who care about you. The ones who care about you are ok if you hurt them because they will continue fighting for you. They will still be there. They will still be the ones standing in your corner. Even if you do not see them or want to see them. You might not hear them or even what they have done. But they are still there waiting to help desperately reaching out their hands. Don’t slap them away.
If you are struggling with addiction.
Reach out for help, momma. If you are struggling with addiction, don’t hide it under the rug. No one wants to lose you. Reach out for help, momma. If you have a family member struggling with addiction, others are around you for help. Believe it or not, there may be a rainbow on the other side. I’m here to share my message of hope that recovery is possible and does happen!
A RECOVERY STORY:
Courtney Smith has kindly offered to share her story here. It is one that she shares regularly online with others and shares regularly with other addicts. She has become an advocate for addicts and the hope that can be found in recovery. After coming back from the brink herself, she makes it a habit to share her own story and has dedicated her life to encouraging others to find resources to make it out of the throes of addiction. If you are looking for help, reach out to her here.
Here is her story in her own words:
15 years old: High School cheerleader. Good family. Amazing friends. Happy. Life is good.
I met a football player. A boy that was older and exciting. He became my boyfriend. I still remember the first time my boyfriend gave me my first drug. It’s crazy to think about. How could something so little become so big and strong? I continued using them. I started out taking them for fun. Taking them for a little more energy for class or for the football game. What’s so bad about that?
18 years old: Happy. In love. Annoyed with parents.
I had super strict parents. I couldn’t do ANYTHING. So sneaking out was my profession. I started needing the taste of drugs, but I still had it together. I was “grown.” Ready to get out because my hunger for the fast life was becoming more appetizing. My mom hated my boyfriend, but I didn’t care. I was an adult that could do what I wanted….right? I’ll never forget the text I sent my mom one night. I texted her, “I am moving out.” That night I moved into my boyfriend’s house. He continued to feed my need for speed.
19 years old: Graduation. Pregnancy. Happy. In love. No family.
I really knew something was going on when I went to my doctor and lied about back pain so I could get pain pills while pregnant. I saw it then but heck…it’s safe to take Hydros when your pregnant…PSYCH! I was happy and growing a little thing inside me. Working. Everything was perfect. The night before I had my son, we had to make sure I had plenty of hydros and Percocets. Got some Suboxone. We got our own place.
I really had the family I always dreamed of. This is where things get real. My boyfriend sold weed and drugs for a “living.” It was OK because he did it for his family…right? The hydros weren’t working anymore. After taking 15 or more, the buzz was gone. “What’s Fentanyl?” …”Just take it.”
That’s something that took every single thought away. I loved the feeling of speed. Somehow my doctor gave me Adderall. To take an entire bottle in 5 days…normal…right? I was a great mom…I thought. “What’s meth?” “Just go into the store and buy these pills.” People staring at me ..why? Signing my name..checking my ID. He told me this is what we need to make Meth. Did you know you can only buy so much Sudafed a month? I didn’t. I started watching how to make meth. Everyday. Batteries… chemicals.
20 years old: Skinny. No family. No friends. No job.
Staying up for 7 days straight. Seeing things that weren’t there. Army men outside my house? Never there. Every drug became good. So good. The pain went away. Everything went away….Even my son. Meth isn’t good for a baby. I hope you know that because I didn’t. Knock at the door. 20 police at my door. High and haven’t slept. Hiding in my bathroom. One hour.
Finally, I open the door with my son in my arms. I’ll never forget that moment. In seconds, my son was ripped out of my hands. Gone like all the pain. Meth was there for me. Easing the pain. Have you ever watched someone you love put a knife up to your throat? Dragging you around the halls by your hair? Bashing your head against the bathtub? I hope not. It’s the first time I ever wished I was dead. Meth wasn’t there for me at those moments. Upgrading. Syringes…Heroin…. Mind at peace. Where is my son? Excited to see him once a week. So excited I would stick a needle in my arm minutes before I got to see him. Do you see how much I cared?
21 years old: Sad. No family. No friends. No son. No boyfriend. Empty.
My dad came to me one day and told me to get on a plane. I was 80 pounds. I remember going to a doctor before. Positive of every kind of drug they tested for. Getting on a plain high. I met my roomie. She was a “meth head” too. Sam. First girl I prayed wouldn’t be my roommate. 7 days of detox. 7 days of hell. 7 days of feeling emotions. Who was I? I had no idea. Eating again. Man did I gain weight. I actually cried for the first time. I actually thought about my son. I actually thought about myself.
30 days in rehab:
One day I just sat outside for hours with my eyes closed and thought about life. It was the first time I ever felt myself. I actually felt hope.
Remember that girl that was annoyed with her parents? Well, this sober girl is so thankful for them now. Remember that girl that lost her son? Guess what? She got him back. You know that lost girl? She found herself.
28 years old:
Son. Married. Family. Friends. Healthy. 8 years sober. 8 years of happiness. 8 years of knowing I’m worth it. I couldn’t of done this without my mom. I got my family back. Never give up on yourself. The needle….pills. They will leave you empty…lost and lifeless. Dont judge us addicts. We need love. (This is not to bash anyone involved) plz reach out to me, I’m always here to listen.
If anyone is struggling, reach out. No fear. I am not scared anymore. I am living proof that recovery IS possible. I do not fear. The demons cannot win because I am a fighter. My scars are beautiful. My scars tell my story, and I am proud.
Please do not struggle alone, addiction hurts the person afflicted with addiction and the entire family.
Are you a mother, brother, father, sister, spouse throwing your weight into recovery for your loved one? I am here to tell you that it is all worth it. The hard days, the scary days, the sleepless nights, the money, the courts, all of it. Having a loved on who has lived through addiction has changed my life forever but having my loved one is a triumph, a victory.
Recovery is possible and does happen! Recovery is difficult and beautiful and worth it. Keep walking through the fire, you may have the privilege of seeing the other side!
I hope that you find some encouragement here. In the hopes of supporting other mommas struggling with addiction or other mommas with family members in addiction, I will be sharing other resources here from time to time. Sharing stories of hope and loss but also sharing real resources for help, support, and recovery. Check back soon for resources you can join and find.
If you are looking for more resources and encouragement, please sign up below.
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