Some Hope

It’s been another six weeks since my son reached out for help with his addiction.  Through the Sacramento County Department of Health Services he signed up for assistance with substance abuse.   In six weeks this is what has been accomplished:

  • He went to an intake appointment and was qualified for a 90-day inpatient program.
  • He did orientation for that program that puts you on a waitlist for a bed. And we learned it could be MONTHS for a bed in one of three facilities for men.  Months in like – if you don’t get a bed within 90 days you have to basically re-apply.  It’s more of an update than re-application.   He has to check in once a week by phone to indicate he is still interested.   The waitlist works like this – when a bed becomes available, the intake person starts at the top of the list.  He calls the first name – if they take the bed, it’s done.  If they don’t answer, he leaves a message and goes on to the second name.  If the second name answers and takes the bed, it’s done.  If not, he leaves a message …. and so on.  If the bed is not taken on a phone call, the first person to respond to a message and take the bed gets it.  There is no way to know if there are 10, 50 or 100 people on the waitlist.
  • He entered a suboxone program.  It is used to treat adults who are dependent on (addicted to) opioids (either prescription or illegal). SUBOXONE Film (a sublingual dose) is indicated for treatment of opioid dependence and should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support.  Unfortunately there is no counseling and psychosocial support until he is inpatient.
  • He has had a TB test and a physical.
  • He is awaiting an appointment for a psych exam for monitoring his bi-polar meds.

No call from the waitlist yet.

As long as he is true to the suboxone program (weekly clinic appointments to monitor his compliance) I have purchased a $15 a month gym membership (Planet Fitness) so he has access to a shower.  I take him to a laundromat once a week to do laundry.  I still will not give him cash.  He is still homeless.

I also moved over the last month – from the 2-bedroom townhouse we shared to renting a room from my ex.  Being on social security and a very small pension and not having the shared rent support from my son as it was suppose to be left me with no choice but to further minimize my living expenses.  It also made my son realize that he truly does not have the option to “move back in with mom”.

As I am looking back over the last three months or so, from when I finally made the decision to stop enabling my son, I think on the range of emotions I have gone through:

  • Despair – the acceptance that he was not going to change as long as I made life so easy
  • Anger – at myself for letting him take advantage of me for so many years and, yes at him despite knowing he suffers the disease of addiction, for his anger at me for turning him out
  • Fear – at not knowing where he was, if he was safe, if he was eating, or lying dead in a park somewhere
  • Hopefulness – that he reached out for help and (unless I’m really missing something) appears to be earnest and following the plan
  • Acceptance – that the ultimate outcome is out of my hands
  • Reclaiming – reclaiming my life that I gave up five and a half years ago to take care of him, which I came to realize was the big mistake here.

It’s a process – a time of personal growth even in my late 60’s.

There is some hope.

 

The Hardest Thing …

It’s been a week since the locks were changed on my doors. It’s been six days since I saw him or talked to him. Him – my lost son. My one-time golden child now lost in a world of Bi-Polar Disorder and drug addiction. The 43-year old who six years ago was employed in the New York financial world as a hedge fund accounting manager at $100K a year after having put himself through college for an accounting degree – is now homeless, destitute, and selling drugs to support his habit.

How could a mother turn out her child I ask myself – how could I do that? I am not sleeping. I cry every time I think for more than 10 minutes. I wonder if he is okay (except I heard he was staying with a friend at a motel downtown). Is he eating? Is he safe?

It took me five and a half years to get to this point. Five and a half years of providing him with a safe place (my home) to get clean, to recover, to move on with his life once again after a divorce and losing everything because of his drug use. Five and a half years, two minimum wage jobs he lost because he couldn’t show up on time. Five and a half years of never knowing what I was coming home to after work or what time he would wander in or out – of finding drug paraphernalia in his room. Five and a half years … and too many empty threats of “throwing him out” if he didn’t clean up his act to be taken seriously.

Then last week I discovered (confirmed?) that he is selling and that was my end. Within forty eight hours he was out with a back pack and his bicycle and the locks were changed. I am not mad or angry with him – I ache for him and his disease he cannot seem to recover from. But I cannot enable him any longer, I cannot let his disease put my life in jeopardy any longer. I have never done this before and it terrifies me.

It’s been a huge emotional battle between wanting to know he has a safe place, and realizing on the other hand that I have simply been enabling him. I know the decision to stop rests on his “hitting bottom”, “being sick and tired of being sick and tired” – and I know he is not taking his Bi-Polar meds regularly, if at all. I know the pull of the cocaine and opioids are controlling his thought processes. Telling him lies – but the lies are winning.

And I know I can’t control or change it.

And my biggest nightmare is getting that phone call or knock telling me that my son is one of the 150 people a day who die from overdoses. A mere statistic.

And I search my mind wondering – no, knowing – how we got here – a father who had Bi-Polar Disorder when it was simply called manic depression and not really treated. Growing up in a home where rages from dad appeared as instantaneously as they disappeared. Both my adult children have BPD and PTSD as a result. And I own that I wasn’t strong enough to walk them away from it.

My daughter dealt with it openly and directly with mental health assistance and “the rooms” from the time she was nineteen. My son buried his feelings and never dealt with them until about six years ago. He never grieved his father’s death in 1992.

And the stark reality is that because he is on MediCal (California medicaid), while he has access to his meds, he has no access to mental health care – the intensive therapy or inpatient rehab he needs. He can’t afford it and neither can I. And so I watch to see that he is active on Facebook (he isn’t communicating with me) so that I know he is still alive. I cringe at every siren that goes by. I lie awake a night waiting for that phone call from hell.

Are you a parent who has gone or is going through this? How do you cope with it?

Yes, I am In Search of an Ordinary Day!