Birthday Gifts

Posted on April 5, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I received this text from my daughter at 1:00 am on Easter Sunday morning, from an unfamiliar phone #:

Hey mom, it’s Hayley. Hope u are ok. Was hoping to get my **** stock money.  Could really use for food, bills and bday. U still have?  Please let me know.  Love u.  H

Hmmm – and there you have it – it all eventually boils down to money, doesn’t it?  My desperate heroin addict daughter makes contact after not hearing from her for weeks, to ask for money.  Granted, it is legally her money.  However, I now have Power of Attorney (POA) for her, and feel entitled to apply my discretion in her financial affairs.

I’m grateful she’s alive.  I learned a few days ago that she was in the ER on March 5th.  I received a bill from the hospital addressed to her, at my home address.  She owes $350 to one of our two community hospitals for this most recent ER visit (her last ER visit in July was to the other hospital).  From a quick assessment of the hospital statement, I’m assuming she went to the ER for injection site abscesses.  I can’t help but think about how long she must have  waited and how bad it must have been, before she finally got herself to the ER. Her father was a very successful radiologist and practicing physician in this small city for almost 35 years.  Her surname is unique enough, that any ER doc/staff would recognize the name and know who she is.  I shudder at what it must have taken for Hayley to overcome the name recognition, shame and humiliation to finally go to the ER.

My newly acquired consciousness regarding the inhumane treatment of drug addicts in hospital and emergency room settings, is heightened.  I refer you to this post, Puss-y Stuff for details and a new perspective on compassion for and more humane treatment of drug addicts.

I was raised in a very religious family, went to church every Sunday, and sang in the youth choir for the first 17 years of my life. I eventually married a Jewish man and ultimately acquired a more diverse world view and perspective on “god” and different spirituality practices.  For this, I am eternally grateful.

Today, I attended the First Presbyterian Church Easter service with my 92 year old mother, my brother and sister-in-law.  And even though I couldn’t bring myself to take Communion and pledge myself to Jesus Christ as my “Saviour”, I sang all the familiar hymns and doxologies with sincerity and gratitude.

Here are some phrases and song lyrics that resonated: From this day forward . . . and,  . . . all that I’ve done before won’t matter anymore . . .

At this service, I filled out a prayer card to ask for my daughter’s desire . . . and courage and strength, to change her life.

And in that spirit of hope on this Easter Day – and with my daughter’s 31st birthday approaching, I’ve found peace in the decision to make an extraordinary effort to meet with her on Tuesday, her birthday.  I will deliver a bag of small, modest gifts:  2 packages of new underpants, tampons and panty liners, an aqua hooded sweatshirt and pants and fleece (from Costco), fresh fruits and veggies – – – – and, $130 in cash – which is ½ of her annual stock dividends.  I know this money will be going directly up her veins.  That’s ok.  The other ½ of the stock dividend money I will be delivering to our community hospital as partial payment of her most recent ER bill. And, I will ask to speak to a social worker and have Hayley’s chart flagged, in hope that the next time Hayley visits the ER, a social worker will be called to speak to her and offer her some options for treatment and recovery.

My message to Hayley on her birthday will be one of love – – – and to offer the possibility of “Harm Reduction” versus detox and a “cold turkey” rehab treatment center.  Thanks to Tom at RecoveryHelpDesk, my perspective on realistic approaches to moving opiate addicts away from their risk of acquiring Hepatitis C, HIV, a variety of infections, pregnancy, physical/sexual abuse, and criminal acts, takes precedence over getting them in to some 12 step program that won’t allow diversion alternatives such as suboxone and methadone.  I’m hoping that Hayley will consider this option, and feel she could maybe take this step.  Personally, I feel that Hayley wants to stop the addiction cycle, but doesn’t want to or cannot do the work required to completely abstain from all substances.  Perhaps she needs a transition – a phased move in to recovery.  Wouldn’t suboxone be better than using heroin?


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20 Responses to “Birthday Gifts”

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well, i hate to say it, but POA or not, it’s Hayley’s money, Hayley’s life and Hayley’s decisions.

you have no right to it, no responsibility to see that the ER bill gets paid.

you are still trying to control the situation. stop it.

call the hospital and give them her LAST KNOWN ADDRESS for billing purposes. make sure it is NOT your address (therefore it is not linked to YOUR credit score)….or go rent a PO Box in Hayley’s name..and give them that address.

the money is hers. Not yours. to hold onto half and make decisions for her is still holding on to enablement and lack of responsibility and all that goes with it.

trying to control it just makes you crazy.

Peggy – what a big day today is. I’m sure your heart will be beating in your chest as you wait to see her but the strength you have inside will prevail. I hope your conversation will go well and look forward to hearing about how she reacts to your suggestion for harm reduction. My sister Hannah spoke about harm reduction quite a lot and I never knew what she meant. I need to read up on that a bit as it seems recovery is not going to be as straight forward as I had hoped …I shall be thinking of you today.

One of the most difficult decisions is when they have money that is legally theirs, and we have control over it. Why don’t we want to give it to them? Because, deep down, we know it is likely to go for drugs, and we don’t want to enable their drug use. However, the truth is, whether you give her that money or not, she will find a way to get the drugs, until she is ready not to. So the decision is, is giving her the money helping you to deal with your codependent issues and behaviors? I’ve learned, very much the hard way, that there is generally little to no value in keeping money from my child that is legally his. And letting go allows me to let him manage his life, right or wrong. It is a tough decision to make, but “check your motives.” I will be praying for you and this decision you have to make.

I think midnitefyrfly makes a very important point. I have found it so helpful when recovering addicts have participated in Alanon meetings. I’ve learned a lot from listening to them. It was a recovering addict who taught me last year that when an addict is using, nothing and no one means anything, just the need for the drug. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but important to know. In other words…try not to take it personally.
The main point I want to try to make to you, Peggy, is to pray hard for strength. Try not to let things get ugly or escalate with Hayley. The longer you can try to talk to her calmly and lovingly, the better chance you have to reach her if she’s in a reachable place right now. And if she’s not ready to be reached, be prepared for the pain as best you can, because there’s a good chance that’s what you’ll find.
I was thinking about this, because my daughter and I had a terrible argument Thursday night, and it escalated, mainly because I allowed it to, forgetting that sometimes she is simply unreachable . I wrote her a long, calm explanatory email later, sticking to my guns, but making it clear that I love her. I didn’t hear from her for several days (sweat, sweat, has she relapsed because of our argument?!), and when I did, she was somewhat conciliatory. I guess my point is, steel yourself to be a refuge of calm and comfort to remind her that there is a better life away from the chaos. (Easy for me to say this, huh!)
Oh, one more thing I wanted to say in this way too long comment, I was raised by a Protestant mother and a Jewish father, so my beliefs are probably similar to yours, Peggy. But I’ve been praying to God and anyone else who’ll listen for Hayley and for you.

From the addict end, in my opinion, I do not think you should keep her money from her. She will have to choose what to do with it and I am certain she will find a way to get more drugs with or without her money.

I think that keeping her money from her is in no way going to help her make a choice to not use. I do not think you should give her any of YOUR money.

I hope you are able to enjoy some time with her on her birthday, despite the circumstances.

Thanks for this. My thought was that it is her money. I was compromising by giving her 1/2, and using the other 1/2 towards payment of an ER bill.

Shawna – you have no idea what a big deal it is to hear from you -someone who has “been there” and has the perspective from the other end. Thanks for your input. Your just being there and participating in these blogs of struggling parents, gives me hope.

One more thing…If she’s like my daughter, if she doesn’t get the money, she’s might take off in fury. But if she’s like my daughter, she inject that money in her vein within 24 hours. Conundrum.

What to do? It is her money. If it allows me to see her and stay connected in some way, would it be worth it?

Hi, Peggy- Once again, I’m rushing, but I do have some concerns about giving her even the $130 all at one time. Anybody else concerned?

I’m concerned about it too. I know she’ll act entitled and pissed if I don’t give it to her. I’m already intimidated by the potential scene. I’m also afraid she owes so much money for drugs, that the dealer is forcing her to do this – or, go rob a bank or something. I’m open to any suggestions or ideas you may have. Peggy

I wish you the very best in visiting Hayley! I agree with harm reduction and hope Hayley will take some steps in that direction. You’re a wonderful mother. You seem sure of yourself and strong and hopeful. 🙂

Thanks, Barbara. My self-esteem as a mother can be very shaky, especially in regards to Hayley. What was it that I didn’t give enough or too much of? I’m meeting with Hayley tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 pm. I’ll pick her up across the street from the crack house. I’m not as strong as I sound – I have my moments. I’m questioning whether or not to give her the cash. Since she asked for it, and it’s hers, I guess I’ll give her the $130 I was intending to. The other half of the $, I’m going to use to make a partial payment on her ER bill.

Just like decisions made by addicts are rarely “black or white,” the decisions that we have to make as the parents and loved ones of addicts are always “all shades of gray.” As long as you “check your motives” and what you are doing is out of love and caring and not because you can change or fix her addiction, you are doing the right thing. Addicts are still are loved ones, and if at all possible, we have to continue to demonstrate that we love them and care for them.

Thanks for these words and good reminders, Lisa. Stay tuned. P.

My thoughts are with you. Only you can make the decision on what to do since it is your daughter. Prayers are continuing for her and you. Sending hugs.

The difference between this post and last year’s birthday post are miles away. The growth you have shown in taking care of your needs while at the same time showing Haley love is evident. This is what all of us in the miserable club strive for, detachment with love. I hope your meeting with Haley is filled with laughter and joy. You are a good mom.

Your message of “Love” is so important. It tends to be pushed back by fear, anger, sorrow! I know you are on a mission, but please remember that healing yourself is very much connected to healing others!

I believe that taking Suboxone medically is better than using heroin. It works for some, but not for others.

I’m trying to focus on “love” – and examining my motives and perhaps, hidden agenda. Hope I can be who and how I want to be.

Peggy – In answer to your last question… absolutely!! Suboxone can be the difference between life and death. If my daughter has to stay on one Suboxone tablet a day for the rest of her life, so be it. As expensive as it is, it’s still a lot cheaper than heroin, plus they can work and function normally on it, and best of all, it offers hope!
I have so much more I want to say to you regarding this post, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I’m just glad you’ve got a plan that works for you.

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