The Deep, Dark Hole

Posted on March 2, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Intervention, Parent of an Addict, The Bottom | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I’m going to be ‘on duty’ for the next week, taking care of my two grandchildren (3 & 5 yo) while their parents are out of the country.  I’m sure I won’t have much time to post on my blog.  But please, still check in.  Especially since Thursday evening, I will be hearing David Sheff, and his meth addict son, Nic, speak at Town Hall in Seattle..  I really enjoyed David Sheff’s moving memoir, beautiful boy, and am looking forward to seeing/hearing him in person.  His son, Nic, about whom Sheff wrote the book, will also be appearing with him.  Nic has written his own book, Tweak, an up close and personal view of meth addiction.  I know that Nic has relapsed several times since his father’s book was published – and since writing his own.  I’m curious to hear the parent/child journey through addiction, and where they both are now.  Check out my beautiful boy book review and book notes/excerpts, and tune in for my impression/reaction to the Sheffs’ appearance on Thursday evening.

In the mean time, if you haven’t visited the Recovery Help Desk blog, do.  Tom, a professional addiction counselor, has good information there and interesting perspectives on a variety of provocative topics.  I’ve been thinking a lot about his post,  Hitting Bottom. It was uncomfortable to read, because it challenged my current position with my daughter and went against what most professionals/groups/literature have said about addicts and their ‘need’ to feel enough pain before seeking help.

After trying to ‘help’ my daughter over the last several months (and years!), I backed completely off  and decided to let her feel the full impact of her life choices, hoping that this approach would jolt her in to seeking recovery on her own.  She’s smart.  She’s resourceful, and I truly believe that she knows where to go to get help for herself.  However, Tom makes a good case for challenging that notion – that ” . . . an opiate dependent person does not have full exercise of their free will.  Their free will is compromised.” And, ” Opiate dependence is powerful enough and the opiate dependent person’s free will is compromised enough, that waiting for the person to “hit bottom” can mean the person goes on to experience HIV infection, Hepatitis C infection, unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, loss of child custody, loss of family relationships, risk of violence, or worse.”

I know all of this.  I am obsessed by it.  And yet, I felt like I had made some kind of personal progress by ‘detaching’ from my daughter and trying the ‘tough love’ approach.  It hasn’t worked.  And one final blow – Tom wrote that the concept of purportedly letting the addict hit bottom,  ” . . . excuses those who sit idly by and do nothing to prevent suffering.”  Ouch.  I must admit, as hard as it has been to ‘sit idly by’ and  ‘do nothing’, it also has brought some perverse relief. I haven’t seen my heroin addict daughter since August 24th, nor been subjected to her dramas, lies, excuses, pathetic state.  This tears me apart, but also provides me with some sort of emotional protection. Is this selfish?  Probably.  But now, after reading Tom’s post about the ill-conceived concept of “hitting bottom”, I’m trying to work up the courage to more actively engage with Hayley.

But, how do I do that? What does it look like?  What, specifically, would be helpful in moving her towards recovery?  To my knowledge, we don’t have many of the resources that Tom references in his article.  However, I did find the only doctor in town who can prescribe suboxone.  I wasn’t impressed with him when Hayley and I visited him last summer.  The doctor was anxious to fill his one remaining open slot (he’s allowed 100 suboxone patients), and suggested that Hayley begin suboxone immediately.  She was covered with abscesses, and he didn’t examine her, or even take her blood pressure.  When I mentioned her abscesses, he ignored my question and moved on to the treatment and fee schedule.  That night, a bed became available at a medical detox facility 150 miles away, so Hayley never went back to the ‘good doctor’.

After reading posts at the Recovery Help Desk, I am more informed and receptive to using diversion medications (methadone, suboxone) to treat opiate addiction.  But how can I help my daughter even get to that point, and care enough about herself to want to move towards recovery?  I have no idea.


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19 Responses to “The Deep, Dark Hole”

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Oh god .. reading all this makes me want to weep and weep. My daughter did — finally — recover. It took a long time, many years in fact. But she is now about to become a therapist, yes, you read right, a therapist. She graduated with very high scores and has just been accepted into the clinic of her choice as an intern therapist. So it CAN happen, it can. She now has 2 beautiful little boys and a loving stable husband. All that seemed totally impossible just a few years ago.
Don’t give up. There of others of us out there who went through all of this and came out the other end. Not unscathed, but well and thankful.

WOW! I missed a day of reading your blog and look at all this conversation!

The one thing we all have in common is that we love our children and/or grandchildren. This evil thing has come into their lives and changed who they are and robbed us of that person we loved. It hurts and angers more than anything imaginable. I see parents going through cycles of guilt, denial, anger, etc. etc. Some parents get to a level point where they can detach enough to live their life without having the dark cloud of concern constantly hovering over them. I think one of the things that they say in Al-Anon is “take what you want and leave the rest” so when it comes to advise and opinions that’s what I’ve done. I listen to my gut, to the experts who are not emotionally involved but have dealing with addicts for years, and other parents. Now that he’s clean I can even listen to my addict!

Peg, my heart goes out to you. I agree with the comment about enjoying your grandchildren next week. 3 & 5 – such fun ages (of course they can wear you out too!) Take the week off from worry and focus on them. You are a wonderful mother to Hayley. The answers will come, whatever they are.

Ah, this does hit a lot of nerves. We all grapple with what is the right thing to do, and people constantly try to tell us. And we hurt, so we build emotional shields. In early Feb., my daughter had a relapse, ran out of money and we did yet another detox at home…until she took Seroquel in her frenzy to get another fix and just fell flat on her face. We rushed her to the E.R. Then the doctors and psych nurses spent the next 8 hours telling me to get up and walk away and let her hit rock bottom. I thought I was somewhat hardened to dealing with all of this after 6 years and three rehabs, but I sobbed my guts out that night. I didn’t throw her out, but mainly because she already had move-out plans. She moved out last weekend, and is still clean – a whole month!) But it is a very shaky sobriety, and her demons are ever present. She is angry at the world, often hateful to me, and in the true spirit of an addict, blames me and others for her many problems . In truth, I know that I am healthier when she is not here. As ridiculous as this may sound, sometimes I can feel the life seeping out of me when she is creating her dramas. I love her dearly, but her issues, drugs, immaturity and totally illogical reasoning are simply overwhelming. But everyone reading this post knows how much of this feels. I’m grateful to find somewhere to express my feelings – and I even appreciate the quibbling. In fact, I appreciate everything you all say. Whether I agree or not, I know I’m not alone. Thank you.

-Gal

P.S. Peg, enjoy your grandchildren. I only have step-grandchildren, but they make the pain go away, if only temporarily

Shaky sobriety what a perfect description of the angry resentful addict that lives in my house right now. An addict who is clean but not happy nor is he any where near stable. I need to blog about this.

Gal,

You’ve articulated so much of what I feel. I seem to receive the brunt of my daughter’s anger, blame, drama, and anxiety – – – and yet, I’m always the one she calls in a crisis. Hayley and I have had a long history of butting heads and a volatile relationship. The highs and lows (majority of the time) are exhausting – – – and I usually feel at fault for some reason. I, myself, was raised with a lot of guilt, fear, and conditional love – – – which I’ve always worried that I inadvertently passed on to my daughter – – – and that ultimately, this troubled mother/daughter relationship was the root cause of Hayley’s problems. I’m still trying to sort all that out, with the help of a good therapist, reading as much as I can about addiction and family issues, and going to AlAnon. It’s comforting to read about other addicts’ behaviors and family dynamics – and imagine that maybe everything isn’t all my fault. Much of the addict behavior described by blog viewers, sounds so familiar. I don’t feel so alone – – – or f—ked up. Thanks.

Just thinking of you today and hoping you have an enjoyable time with your grandchildren 🙂
God bless.

Why don’t we just call it “making nice”. Sorry, I find the quibbling about semantics a waste of time.

The opposing viewpoints give me a headache and an increased heartache. How the heck are we supposed to know what to do? This is not like choosing to buy or not buy a Toyota, balancing the horror reports on the news with the not so horrible reports in Consumer Digest. This is not a car, it’s our beloved child’s life. No matter what I do, if this does not end well, I will feel tortured with guilt to the end of my days.

Amen. So true. It’s the ultimate “no-win” scenario.

What a great opportunity to see David Sheff & his son speak.

Although you haven’t seen Hayley since August, you have definitely communicated your love for her. Which is my biggest thing, I always prayed Heather knew I loved her.

But I’m learning, it’s just important for you to protect yourself, your feelings/emotions. Not seeing Heather since last October, I too have had a “perverse relief” not being sucked into drama after drama.

As far as “hitting rock bottom” – I’ve read both Tom’s and “Dad’s” postings on this. I don’t like to think of it as “hitting rock bottom”, that term makes me sick, and I think it’s different for each individual… but I like to think of it more as praying for, as Dad wrote, “a profound experience” or – an awakening. I just pray that Heather, Hayley, and the rest of our children still using find their way home. And I think each of us parents writing on these blogs are all doing the best we can with what we know and who we are.
I have no advice as to what you should do, but I will pray for guidance for you as you work through figuring out your next steps.
Love & huggs!

I’m sorry I made you say “ouch!”

Please note that when I said that the concept of hitting bottom “excuses those who sit idly by and do nothing to prevent suffering” I wasn’t talking about parents.

My next sentence elaborated that “it gives permission to politicians, treatment providers, probation officers, judges and others to pile on the pain and suffering.”

I don’t often see parents who sit idly by…I see parents who beat themselves to an emotional pulp trying to help…and then let go in a combination of strategy (based on advice), defeat and self-preservation.

That is much different from the effort/lack of effort of those in the other roles I mentioned.

I actually am not advocating that parents be more or less proactively involved.

I’m advocating that parents:

1. set appropriate personal boundaries
2. name them as such
3. don’t use what are really personal boundaries as a way to try to force recovery for their child
4. realize that there are appropriate and effective ways that parents can support recovery

We can predict based on research and experience that some things tend to promote recovery and other things don’t.

It’s not all mystery, and it’s not all up to the individual with opiate dependence.

Dawn, from what I gather you have strong feelings and opinions…and I suspect that is with good reason.

You are raising your daughter’s children. That is huge.

I have no problem with you setting your boundaries and expressing your feelings. You’ve earned it.

And I think your boundaries are probably good for you –and actually good for your daughter in the sense that your history together is such that you aren’t really in a position to constructively offer more than you are…which is a lot already!

But many other parents are not at that point, and many parents would like to contribute to their child’s recovery if they can. I want them to know the range of options, which includes but is not limited to detaching.

I’m on board with detaching because that is something a parent needs to do for themselves or their family. I’m not on board with pretending that it will ALSO cause the opiate dependent person to enter recovery (it almost never does) via “hitting bottom” or otherwise.

Whether you agree with it or not, I hope people will read my post about hitting bottom before commenting on it because I think it will make the comments more valuable (thanks Dawn and others for reading). I consider myself an “honest seeker” and I take each comment as a chance for me to challenge my own beliefs and test the strength of my approach. So please read and comment!

Tom – my “ouch” was because your comment about “sitting idly by” touched a nerve with me – – – it made me realize that I was, in fact, not engaging with my daughter for purely selfish reasons. As much relief as the “detached approach” has provided, I’m realizing that withdrawing from Hayley doesn’t really work, and never has. She just goes deeper in to the hole. Do you have any suggestions as to – – – well, that’s the question – as to exactly “what”, I’m not sure. I guess I’d love to have some one tell me exactly what to do – and be right. I know that that ‘s not possible. Just wishing.

Tom, my detachment had nothing to do with her hitting ‘bottom’ or now. that is HER problem.. not mine. my detachment was only self preservation, if i invested in her recovery emotionally, it would only serve to continue chaos in my life.

at this point i have absolutely no investment or expectations for or of her recovery. i have no part in her recovery. it is totally and completely HER recovery, or lack thereof. she has had many opportunities to recover and has chosen to not be sober. so be it.

I don’t think parents should invest financially or emotionally in recovery more than three times. at that point, you are just setting yourself and your addict child up for failures.

ultimately, it is the addict’s responsibility to recover or not recover. parents can be supportive and detached. i was for awhile.

since it didn’t work, over and over, i just opted for total detached.

Yes – detachment from my daughter has definitely been for my own self-preservation and protection. And, after months of it, I feel stronger and ready to try something else – not sure what.

Theoretically, Dawn is correct in the fact that the addict is ultimately responsible for his/her own recovery. But what if the addict is not capable of this?

Tom, my detachment had nothing to do with her hitting ‘bottom’ or now. that is HER problem.. not mine. my detachment was only self preservation, if i invested in her recovery emotionally, it would only serve to continue chaos in my life.

at this point i have absolutely no investment or expectations for or of her recovery. i have no part in her recovery. it is totally and completely HER recovery, or lack thereof. she has had many opportunities to recover and has chosen to not be sober. so be it.

I don’t think parents should invest financially or emotionally in recovery more than three times. at that point, you are just setting yourself and your addict child up for failures.

ultimately, it is the addict’s responsibility to recover or not recover. parents can be supportive and detached. i was for awhile.

since it didn’t work, over and over, i just opted for total detached.

You’ve asked the $64,000 question!
If only we knew what the right thing to do was. We’ve read the books, watched the documentaries, scanned the websites, spoken to our therapists, researched, questioned – there is nothing, as family members that we have not done to try and find a way of getting our loved ones and ourselves out of this mess. Sometimes we are told to wade in, sometimes we are told to keep away. The truth is the answer lies with the individual. A very experienced psychiatric nurse who specialises in addiction told me that one can’t predict what will suddenly change and make an addict want to live again. It could be a plethora of things – but that doesnt help us much does it?!

I am almost with Dawn. I am not raising my daughter’s kids, because I have never even seen them. I have tried for four years everything I knew to do, and my head started hurting from banging it against the wall. My therapist told me that drug addicts’ thinking is not rational, whereas mine is, and therefore I cannot communicate with her. My life has become much more peaceful since I have last seen or heard from my daughter in May of 2008. My life is too short to constantly worry about how I can get my daughter to realize what she is doing is wrong. Now I am just patiently waiting to see what happens.

oh, I don’t know. I read Tom’s article also. The thing is, after 9 rehabs and hundreds of thousands of dollars….i don’t care anymore if she lives or dies. i just don’t. I hope she does hit bottom, wherever that bottom is for her.

my feelings and opinions however, are NOT popular or accepted.

however, a person can only take so much.

maybe it’s because of raising her kids. I had to choose between her and the kids and the kids won out. oh well


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