One Year Ago . . .

Posted on April 6, 2011. Filed under: 12 Step Recovery Program, addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Intervention, Parent of an Addict, The Bottom, Treatment Centers, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I just spoke with my daughter, Hayley, who has been in recovery from heroin/crack/alcohol addiction since last May 9th.  Tomorrow, April 6th, is her 32nd birthday.  She called to tell me that she had just had a wonderful dinner with her older brother, Jake, and his wife, Megan, who were in southern California attending a business meeting.  “It was so good seeing them,” she said – and “I really do miss my family so much.”  She went on to say that she had also re-connected with her original AA sponsor, Brooke –  which was a ‘big deal’ in a number of ways.  Hayley had let this relationship slip over the past few months and, hence, hadn’t been actively working through the 12 steps of her recovery program.  Having a good sponsor, with whom you relate, is  a wonderful resource in recovery: for general advice, a cheerleader when you need comfort and/or support, someone to hold you accountable and check in with.  Hayley  realized that she needed to ‘make amends’ to Brooke – and re-establish this important sponsee-sponsor relationship.  And apparently, she pushed aside her ego and called Brooke.  They met yesterday, and Hayley said it felt really good – that she will try to do things differently this time.

All of this was very good news for me, on the eve of my daughter’s birthday.  And, I couldn’t help but think back to a year ago at this time, when circumstances were very different, and I was getting ready to meet with my daughter for the first time in seven months.  In June 2009, I had learned that Hayley had become a heroin/crack cocaine addict and was living in a crack house.  A couple of months later (August 2009), she had reached out and asked for help – specifically, would I get her in to a medical detox facility?  She had managed to get herself out of the crack house and had found a safe place to stay for a few days.   She was dope sick, covered with abscesses, and desperate for help.  Of course, I donned my ‘supermom cape’, and whirled in to action. 

The logistics of quickly getting Hayley in to a medical detox facility were complicated, since there was no such facility here, in our small-ish city, and no available beds in the detox facilities 150 miles away.  We needed to first get her on antibiotics to treat the abscesses, before any facility would take her (MRSA risk). And, I procured some hydrocodone for her, to try to keep her off the heroin and away from the crack house. After 72 hours of constant phone calls and involved paperwork, and buying food and clothes for my daughter, and checking in on her, and trying to keep her hopeful and moving forward, and not using heroin (this was my fantasy, as it turned out), a bed finally became available at midnight, and I drove Hayley three hours to the detox facility.  The plan was, after detoxing for ~ 5 days, Hayley would go directly to a women’s treatment center 50 miles away.  However, after 4 days in detox, Hayley walked out AMA (against medical advice) and talked a taxi drive in to driving her the 150 miles back to our town – and her drug life.  One of the many ironies in this chain of events, was that the crack house wouldn’t take her back!  Can you imagine? This is a whole story, in and of itself. 

We decided as a family, at that point, to pull back and let Hayley really hit “bottom” –  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 believed that she knew where to go to get help for herself.

And so, for the next 7 – 8 months, we had little to no contact with her – just an occasional text, since the failed treatment attempt.  During that time, I was desperate with fear and worry, and felt overwhelmed with helplessness. However, after about 5 months of not speaking to or seeing her, I had reached some kind of “tipping point”, and decided to try to contact her. It all started with a text, then a phone call, and then a few more, culminating in my determination to actually see my daughter on her birthday in April.  We had re-established enough of a connection to build the foundation of trust and desire necessary for our eventual birthday meeting.  I was convinced that Hayley’s life was at stake and time was running out –  that I needed to make one last valiant attempt to help her get the help she needed to change her life.  If I could appeal to her and tell her, face to face, how much I loved her – – – and that we, her family, would help her get the help she needed when she was ready, maybe it would make a difference. I had to try.

My reaching out to Hayley was influenced, in part, by Tom, a drug counselor at the  Recovery Helpdesk blog, who made a good case for challenging the notion of  Hitting Bottom– 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.”

It was uncomfortable to read this, because it challenged our family’s position that Hayley needed to feel enough pain before seeking help, which was what most professionals/groups/literature advocated.  Leaving Hayley alone for 7 months hadn’t really had the effect we had hoped for – she just seemed to spiral further down in to the deep dark hole of addiction and become more entrenched in her risky lifestyle.  And from what I could tell, she was getting more desperate – dope sick almost every day, no money for drugs, let alone food.  I was driving myself crazy contemplating how my daughter might be getting her drugs.

My post, Birthday Gifts, gives you the details of my preparation for this crucial meeting with my heroin addict daughter.  And Yes . . . She’s Still in There is the account of the actual meeting.

Thinking back to this time a year ago, is still very painful – and a frightening reminder of how close we came to losing our daughter completely.  But, it also is a powerful testament to hope – and miracles –  and how the most desperate circumstances can change.

There are so many variables that affect an addict’s recovery – timing being one of them. Apparently, for Hayley, the combination of our birthday meeting, followed by a crucial/random phone call from an acquaintance, subsequent phone calls and texts from family members, and other serendipity events –  all came together in to a powerful vortex that started to draw her in – and remind her of the ‘normal’ world and life she had left;  that there was a possibility of a different kind of life; and maybe she could accept help.  Escalating physical abuse at the crack house was the final straw – and when her dope dealer ‘boyfriend’, Bill, confiscated her “blankie” and threatened to burn it, the switch flipped.  Who knew, or could predict, that these somewhat arbitrary events could converge in to the powerful push my daughter needed to walk away from her life of addiction.

A phrase of drug counselor Tom’s, at Recovery Deskhelp, kept running through my head: that taking action to enable recovery is very different than enabling the addict’s drug use.  I was convinced that my daughter was incapable of getting the help she wanted or needed – that navigating the complicated labyrinth of getting herself into a detox/treatment center, was too overwhelming – and I was right.  I am grateful to Tom for articulating what I felt in my gut – and for his strong voice in advocating harm reduction and a wide range of recovery options for drug addicts.

Tom’s most recent post at Recoverydesk, Tough Love Delays Recovery For Heroin Addicts,  is especially relevant to this discussion and his view that “enabling” and “tough love” are the two “black and white” extremes – both of which can be harmful to the drug addict’s recovery.  There’s a lot of gray area in between that is sensible and reasonable and should be considered.   

I ended my post, Open For Business, a little over a year ago, with this:

Hayley’s birthday is a little over a week away.  She’ll be 31 years old.  What do I get her for her birthday?  What does one buy, wrap up, and deliver to their heroin-addicted child?  I know, I know – love, encouragement, hope – – – and recovery, are what she needs most.  At this point, I just don’t know how to give and get those gifts to her.

I guess my point in recounting all of this is, to never give upthat as long as ‘your’ drug addict is still alive, there is hope for recovery.  My daughter is living proof of this miracle.

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Recovery – Hers and Mine

Posted on February 21, 2011. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

I apologize for having been gone so long. I’ve had other personal/writing projects in the works, as well as tending to my 93 year old mother’s increasing needs and care. And with Hayley now in recovery, there isn’t as much high drama to report on and vent about.  The reality is, however, I need to focus on my own recovery from my daughter’s addiction, more than ever.  And, I struggle with that process.  More on that, later.

First, a Hayley Update:

Hayley has now been clean and sober for nine months. During that time, she was in medical detox for 12 days, then completed a 120 day residential drug treatment program, then moved to a sober living house for 5 months, recently acquired a California driver’s license, bought a car, started working at the treatment center from which she ‘graduated’, and just moved in to an apartment with two other women in recovery.  So far, so good.  It’s a lot.  These milestones in her recovery are all very encouraging, and I’m so proud of her hard work and commitment to sobriety.  It’s almost difficult to comprehend – and fully embrace.  I’m very aware of the enormous amount of financial support that was required to facilitate her recovery – and that NOW, with that financial tether mostly severed, the real work of genuine, lasting recovery begins.  Hayley has just begun to deal with the reality of managing her own time, money, impulses, and recovery program.  Unfortunately, getting sober didn’t automatically reverse or eliminate many personal issues/traits that eventually led to her descent in to drug addiction.  So, I’m somewhat guarded – and trying to just take one day at a time.

To those of you new to my blog, Hayley was a heroin/crack cocaine addict (or anything else she could get her hands on) – and was living a high-risk, dangerous life of depravity and desperation in a series of crack houses. She became a serious drug addict at the age of 30, after years of ‘dabbling’ with a variety of substances, from alcohol, to pot, to prescription painkillers, et al.   As a beautiful, well-educated young woman from a family of ‘privilege’ who had been given/earned a variety of enviable opportunities throughout her life, Hayley defied the stereotypical drug addict profile and predictor statistics.  Yet, there she was, less than a year ago, with only two possible outcomes if she continued doing what she was doing: death or jail.  She came close to both.

I want to offer hope to those of you in desperate need of good news, information, and help for your own situation. First, if you haven’t already, you can read about the harrowing events in the months and days leading up to Hayley’s dramatic turnaround and walking away, with our family’s help, from the world of addiction. My January through May 9th 2010 posts chronicle the timeline leading up to my daughter’s recovery.  Timing, luck, synchronicity, opportunity, higher powers and who-knows-what-else, all converged to create the perfect storm for Hayley’s decision to change her life.  I am grateful beyond words, humbled, and still mystified by this bloody miracle.  There is no magic formula for such a positive outcome.  However, there is support and help for you to get through what you thought you never could .

I understand that when trying to cope and deal with a child’s life-threatening illness, you gather as much information as you can, and don’t rule out anything.  And, of course, addiction is an illness. I encourage you to reference and visit the sites I’ve listed to the right of this post.  They can provide you with important resources, information, and the emotional support you need to soldier through the roller coaster of addiction:

Addiction Recovery Blogs are written by those currently in recovery themselves. They have walked the talk and know more about addiction and recovery than any professional ‘expert’.  Their perspective and insight is of particular help to me right now, and a credible source of experience, strength, and hope. Professional interventionist, author of The Lost Years, and recovering alcoholic/crack cocaine addict, Kristina Wandzilak, just came out with a new blog worth visiting: Sober and Shameless. And, I highly recommend Guinevere Gets Sober. “Guinevere” is recovering from a prescription painkiller addiction, is a mother, wife, and eloquent writer. Actually, I don’t mean to necessarily single out any one of these blogs.  All those listed are worth visiting/reading.  They offer hope and a realistic glimpse of the daily struggles a recovering addict faces.  I find myself wanting to learn more about addiction, especially from the addict’s perspective.  These blogs help.

Addiction Resources will give you a variety of good, practical information about the signs and symptoms of addiction, definitions of terms and drug language, descriptions of drug paraphernalia, treatment options, and more.  Become educated about what you’re dealing with.

Favorite Blogs list some good blogs by other parents who are struggling with addiction in their family, where you can get a wide range of perspectives and scenarios, and, perhaps, not feel so alone.  The ‘community’ of other desperate parents, dealing with their child’s addiction, is such an important resource.  Even though my daughter is now in recovery, I still like to visit these sites and take the time to give any words of support that I can.  I so appreciated viewers responding to my own posts that were usually written in despair and in the midst of a crisis.  Their support would often keep me going through, what I thought, were impossibly painful and frightening circumstances.  I also learned through these blog posts, that many situations were worse than my own. It helped keep things in perspective for me.

•Inspiration For Living your Best Life: blogs that don’t necessarily deal with addiction, but will lift you up and inspire you to live your best life.  I make an effort to go to these sites regularly, to help keep the focus on myself rather than my recovering addict, and expand my knowledge on how to be my best self.

My Own Recovery

Trying to take one day at a time and keep my focus on changing the things I can, is a process and takes time – it is and will most likely be, a lifetime of work.  I am trying to recover from my obsession with what my daughter is or is not doing. The daily vigilance and monitoring become a nasty habit.  There is a fine line between enabling and truly helping.  It is incredibly hard not to interfere with the natural consequences of my daughter’s choices.  And, I will continue to seek out the help and support I need to stay within my own hula hoop.  We cannot climb up a rope that is attached only to our own belt. William Ernest Hocking 

Right now, I feel that I’m taking a break and stepping back from almost 10 years of constant worry and anxiety.  I am slowly shifting my focus – and working on not letting my daughter’s life take over my own.  It’s time to face my own demons and create the life I want for myself.  Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop. Ovid

This from Al-Anon’s Courage to Change:  . . . I was busy projecting a horrible outcome to my loved one’s crisis and dreading the ways in which the consequences might affect me.  The slogan, “One Day at a Time” reminds me that, in spite of my fears, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  Why am I leaping into the future?   Perhaps I’ve given my feelings no room to exist.  Part of me gambles that by worrying in advance, bad news will be easier to face if it comes.  But worrying will not protect me from the future.  It will just keep me from living here and now.  “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its strength.” A.J. Cronin

Will I ever overcome the effects of my daughter’s addiction?  Anger, resentment, and fear are my demons.  Can I accept the reality of my life? When I try to control a situation by making suggestions, asking prodding questions, and feel the compulsion to comment, I am losing my focus and need to put my energy back where it belongs –  on myself. We should have much peace if we would not busy ourselves with the sayings and doings of others. Thomas a Kempis

I still struggle with accepting that I am just as powerless over my daughter’s  recovery, as I was over her drug addiction. Trying to” let go and let God” and break the cycle of my addiction to worry and fear, is difficult – it becomes a convenient distraction from focusing on my own life and what I need to be working on:  my own actions, behavior, motives, and relationships.  Am I afraid to live life for myself? We’ll see.  In the meantime, I will  try to stay in the present – it’s really all I have.

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. . . But A Molecule’s Difference

Posted on December 8, 2010. Filed under: 12 Step Recovery Program, addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Intervention, Parent of an Addict, The Bottom, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

One of my favorite blog readers, Nora, who also has a blog of her own, Works Aside, recently left this message regarding her sister, Hannah, who is a heroin addict:

Last night, my family and I found out that Hannah is in a bad place. Despite telling us all she has been clean since she left rehab in April she actually been using heroin since then. Her ex-boyfriend Dave rang my mum to tell her she had just been to his house to ask for money. We are back where we started. The shock. The turmoil. The pain. The fear. Even though this isn’t the first time we’ve had news like this, it slaps you right between the eyes.

Your last post, Waiting For Bill was incredibly poignant to read because last night my parents asked me what they should do.  Everyone says “do nothing” –  but how can they? Is there anything you can suggest we do? We don’t know where she is what state she is in, etc. Should we at least try and find her?

That, of course, is always the $64,000 question and the family’s painful dilemma.  There’s a lot of debate around what to do and not do –  and, there doesn’t appear to be a ‘right’ or simple answer. So, in response to Nora’s burning questions and passionate plea for help, I can only recount my own daughter’s road to recovery and hope there will be some relevance to her/your own situation.  This is just one ‘case study’, one story of recovery.  Please take what you want and leave the rest.

A year ago at this time, I was as desperate as Nora.  My college-educated, 31 year old daughter, Hayley, had been living in a crack house for about seven months, using heroin, crack cocaine, and anything else she could get her hands on.  I knew where she was, but had little contact with her.  After she walked out of medical de-tox AMA (against medical advice) in August 2009 and returned to her abusive, sordid drug addict lifestyle, we, as a family, decided to take the “hands-off” approach.  We had gone to extreme lengths to get her to a medical detox facility a couple of hundred miles away (there are none where we live) in response to her call for help.  After de-toxing, the plan was for her to go to a reputable women’s treatment center near by.  But after 4 days in the de-tox facility, she ran, and talked a cab driver in to driving her 175 miles back to her old life.  

We were stunned.  It hadn’t occurred to us that after courageously extricating herself from the crack house and deciding to get clean, she would give up, part way through detox.  After that failed attempt to get Hayley in to recovery, we/I had virtually no contact with her for five long months.  I nearly drove myself nuts thinking about and envisioning how she was living, what she was doing to herself, and what she might be capable of in order to procure her drugs. I was a wreck, valiantly trying to just hang on to my own life and sanity.  Al-Anon meetings helped, I saw a therapist, and started writing this blog.  Still, I felt devastated and hopeless, and found myself thinking more about preparing myself for my daughter’s funeral, rather than her recovery.

I must say, that after a few months, it became easier to compartmentalize and detach.  This was mostly a coping mechanism, based on fear and complete despair.  The logistics of trying to do a formal intervention and ‘rescue’ seemed impossible.  Plus, most family members had been so badly ‘burned’ by Hayley walking away from de-tox, they were not especially interested in having any further contact with her.  “Let her find her own way to recovery”, was the unified front we all adopted.

Around January, after Brian, Hayley’s younger brother, had not been able to reach her by text, my ‘mother lion’ instinct kicked in.  I realized that I needed to do something. Was she even alive?  Although a professional drug counselor had advised me to cut off all contact with Hayley so she could feel the full consequences of her choices, I had reached my saturation point – my bottom. I needed to hear from and see my daughter.  The scale had tipped – one tiny atom had changed valence and upset the ‘balance’. 

In early March, the ‘perfect storm’ began to gather and gain force.  On March 4th, I was headed to Seattle to hear David Sheff, author of beautiful boy, and his recovering addict son,  Nic Sheff, speak. In re-reading my notes from beautiful boy, I was inspired to try to call my daughter and “break the ice” of her shame/guilt-driven isolation.  That, combined with a serendipitous series of events and Hayley’s pending 31st birthday in April, pushed me to action.  I was determined to be with my daughter on her birthday, to remind her of who she still was and how much we all loved her.  My daughter was going to die if I didn’t intervene in some way.  She had never been through drug rehab and I felt strongly that she deserved a chance to get sober.  I knew she couldn’t do it on her own – and that I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try to help her.

Some of you may be familiar with blogger, Dawn (DHAM).  A while ago, Dawn sent me this excerpt from a recovering addict’s blog:

I was zombie like–running on automatic. Addicts don’t desire financial ruin, loss of self respect, ruining good relationships with family or friends, or spending time in jail/prison.  Those are all just consequences of being an addict. People w/o addictions generally make their decisions based on their conscious motivations.  An example, normal people get jobs so they can pay bills and support their families.  For me as an addict, my decisions were made based on an impulsive, physiological drive for drugs.  Every decision I made in life was centered around my drug addiction.  The only reason I got a job was so I could pay for my drugs.  If it was a choice between paying bills and copping a bag, the bag would always win.  If I had a choice between eating a meal and drugs—-drugs.

Self control was non existent for me.  My probation officer told me if I failed another piss test at one point I’d go to prison for five years.  So for two weeks I’d quit using 3 days before I saw my probation officer.  Then the lack of self-control took over me.  During my 3 days of not using, I’d continually obsess over the drug, and despite the potential consequences of 5 years in prison, the drug would win.

The drug came before everything in my life.  The high was more important than my family, my friends, money, food, water, my health, my future, my own life. Consequences never even crossed my mind like they do for ‘normal’ people.  I needed it.  I lived it.  I breathed it.  It became me…

And, my now recovering daughter, would add:  . . . it got to the point where I wasn’t using heroin to get high –  I needed it in order to not become violently ill . . . to “stay well’.

Back to the story.  I had an advantage at that point.  I had seen on the news that the crack house had been busted by federal agents and Hayley’s drug-dealer boyfriend was arrested.  As a consequence, her ‘easy’ drug supply had been seriously interrupted. I received a text from her after the crack house raid that she was ‘ok’, still at the crack house, (now boarded up with no power), and living with Paula, the tough, ‘professional’ junkie and crack house ‘operations manager’, whose fierce competition with Hayley for drug dealer Bill’s attention and favor, often led to violence.  Hayley had no money for food, let alone drugs.  I was afraid of what she might do in order to “stay well”.  I knew that Paula shoplifted at Wal-Mart regularly, and who knew what else, to generate cash flow. Hayley was most likely desperate enough to overcome her shame and guilt and agree to see me on her birthday to perhaps ‘score’ some merchandise that could be sold for drugs.  In fact, that is exactly what happened.  Soon after the crack house bust, I received a text from Hayley asking if I could meet her to deliver her quarterly stock dividend check (a couple of hundred dollars).  I jumped at the invitation and told her we’d meet on her birthday, a week later.  That would give me time to investigate some treatment centers, develop a plan,  and gather her Birthday Gifts.

After that first meeting with Hayley in months  (Yes, She’s Still in There . . .), I continued to stay in contact with her.  I took her grocery shopping and on a few other errands.  Each time we were together, it was easier and not so awkward. She began to talk more and revealed disturbing details of her life. We laughed about silly, mundane things.  I brought her some make-up samples, shampoo, and underwear – and was gradually able to introduce the possibility of treatment, the facilities I had researched,  how/when it could all happen.  She was interested yet, at the same time, terrified – especially of the de-toxing process.  On one of our visits together, I called “Lloyd”, the security guard and groundsman I had been in contact with at the small, all women’s 6 bed detox house we were considering.  Lloyd reassured Hayley – his voice was gentle, and confident, and full of hope for her.  He, too, had been where she was – and spoke her language.

But after each visit with her over the course of a few weeks, I would drop her back off at the abandoned crack house and just pray that we could get her to treatment before she OD’ed.  That month of contact (combined with  other serendipitous events and phone calls from other family members and a couple of random ‘normie’ friends) built a foundation that seemed to be the tipping point. 

These words, from Mr. SponsorPants, are particularly insightful:

Sometimes I think there is but a molecule’s difference between helping and enabling . . . between hope and expectation . . . between faith and fantasy . . . and further more, sometimes all the clever slogans in the world can’t help you discern when one slips into the other.

Hayley has now been clean and sober since last May 9th.  It’s a bloody miracle.  Our family’s journey through hell and out the other side is just one story – and it’s not the end of the story. We all know that Hayley’s sobriety is one day at a time. How/why  Hayley embraced recovery at that particular time, when the option was offered to her,  is still not completely clear.  Ultimately, it is the addict that needs to want to change his/her life – I know that.  Yet, it’s not always that simple.  The addict is often incapable of taking steps towards change on their own – even if they fiercely want to.  In my mind, the clock was ticking – it was a “dice-throw” as to whether or not Hayley could get herself out of her drug addict lifestyle before it killed her.  

There are some things, I think,  that seemed to help Hayley walk away from drug addiction and get on the long and winding road to sobriety.  More importantly, these things helped me stay sane and take charge of my own recovery – the only real control I have.   (Thanks to Guinevere Gets Sober for her words: “. . . be present and have low expectations . . .”)  I hope you can find something here that brings you a molecule of hope and possibility:

•Be Present: stay in contact with the addict – but not excessively. It will help narrow the gap between the ‘normal’/real world and the addict’s crazy, dangerous drug life.  Today, Hayley says that it was easier to compartmentalize and ‘forget’ about family and ‘normal’ life than it was to stay in contact and connected. In her case, the less contact we had with her, the further down she spiraled, in to the deep, dark abyss of addiction.  The shame, guilt, and fear of her situation were overwhelming to her – and paralyzing.  In order to cope, she isolated.  Her drug user ‘friends’ and ‘roommates’ became her family –  one that didn’t judge her and accepted her for who she was – right at that moment.  Even though they stole from one another and often couldn’t trust each other, they also shared what they had (food, drugs, fringe-y lifestyle)  and ‘covered’ for each other.  They all had a lot in common, and lived for the moment.

After Hayley walked out of medical detox in August 2009, our family essentially washed our hands of her.  This was her first experience in medical detox, and she was then scheduled to go to a woman’s treatment center in Seattle.  I just learned that after almost 5 days of de-toxing, with the worst behind her as far as physical withdrawal symptoms, she was ‘sober’ enough to actually feel her own anxiety and fear.  She just couldn’t face going to treatment.  That unknown seemed too overwhelming to her, whereas going back to using heroin and its accompanying life style, was something she knew, was familiar with, in a ‘community’, of sorts. She had earned a place there.  A sense of belonging is  a very seductive reason to re-join and/or become a part of any group, as evidenced by the abundance of gangs in our society.  The ‘disenfranchised’ are welcomed.

Kristina Wandzilak, in her blog, The Kristina Chronicles, had this to say regarding “Fear and the Addict”:

How much is fear responsible for a person’s descent into addiction and inability to retrieve him or herself from it? Addicts, in general, are fear-based individuals. I’m not sure that fear has a lot to do with the manifestation of the disease, per se, but once we’re in it, fear keeps us from getting better.

We’re afraid of what will happen to us. We’re afraid of success, of failure, of living and of dying. We’re afraid to try to get better. It can feel easier to be resigned to a life of addiction than to live a different, sober life. Sobriety changes everything.

Through some of Hayley’s ‘friends of friends’ and acquaintances, I became ‘educated’ about the underbelly of our ‘fair’ city.  I salvaged and saved every scrap of paper with a phone number or name on it that I found in her apartment when she was evicted. I spoke with drug counselors, our two community hospitals’ social workers and ER staffs, and found a ‘mole’ within the drug community who was willing to give me periodic reports on Hayley’s condition.  I found out where all the crack houses were and dropped off letters to her – and, a Christmas present from her grandmother.  I discovered that texting was  a more non-threatening and reliable way to reach Hayley and get a response.  (However, usually her own cell phone was out of minutes or not charged -so she was dependent on her ‘friends” phones, who often exercised their power over her by refusing to pass on messages, etc.)  When I did hear from Hayley, I noted the phone number and kept it on file.  The bottom line was that Hayley always knew how to reach me and other family members.  But, she seldom initiated the contact herself. When I increased contact with her in March and April (2010), it helped  break through that barrier of shame and guilt on Hayley’s part, and of helplessness on mine.  Being with her reminded her of some things – that she had choices, that she was loved, that it wasn’t too late to change her life.

One caveat: if you’ve tried to ‘help’ your addict multiple times and it just hasn’t worked, you may need to step back and let him/her come to you – in their own time and on their own terms.  You do need to protect yourself from the roller coaster of the addiction drama – it can suck you in and eventually use you up.

•Have a Plan (but not an outcome): Do some legwork and research in to possible treatment facilities and options. What type of treatment center would be best – short (28 days) or long term (90 days or longer)? all female or co-ed? 12 step based program? post treatment options? medical detoxing prior to treatment – and if so, how and where?, etc.  Hayley was very fearful of the detoxing process.  It was a huge barrier for her. During the last few months of her drug use, she was constantly dope sick.  She didn’t have the money/means to reliably maintain her habit. Being dope sick was so unpleasant and withdrawal so horrible, that she would have never agreed to detox without medical supervision and palliative drugs to get her through the worst of it.

And, I guess, consider an intervention.  The kind and degree of intervention can be tailored to your situation.  We used a professional interventionist, Kristina Wandzilak, as a consultant rather than as an actual interventionist.  She advised us regarding good long-term treatment centers of which she had personal knowledge.   She served as a non-biased facilitator/mediator during two conference calls involving our entire family, as we expressed our individual  concerns and fears. We all had our own diverse opinions about what we should do or not do and Kristina skillfully acknowledged and managed them all. And, there are so many treatment centers out there, it’s difficult to know which ones are truly effective.  They all look good on the internet and sound great on the phone.  The recovery industry has become huge, and is ‘big business’, with little regulation.  It helps to get professional expertise and experience in choosing a reputable program.  Getting Kristina involved was the best $450 we ever spent.

Go to this blog post to read about our family’s debate/discussion regarding an intervention with Hayley. Another post,  Al-Anon vs Intervention, also discusses this controversial topic.

Hayley said that knowing there was a treatment plan in place was an incentive and helped make it become a real possibility.  She would get immediately overwhelmed at the thought of needing to initiate the process herself.  Just filling out the necessary paperwork required to receive treatment through the state seemed impossible. She was so ashamed – and was such a prisoner of her addiction cycle and physiological dependence on the drugs, that she could really only think a couple of hours ahead – and that focus was always on how to get her next fix.

•Timing is Everything: and often something over which you have no control.  Hayley was a college graduate and started using heroin at age 30.  Addiction is a progressive disease – and Hayley began with seemingly innocuous pot smoking and some alcohol use in high school/college.  In 2002, having graduated the year before from a small liberal arts college, she was diagnosed with a serious eating disorder (bulimia).  As a result of her ED, she developed some chronic dental issues and irritable bowel syndrome that lead to legitimate prescription pain killer use and, of course, eventual abuse.  And, it all compounded to the point of moving through and using cocaine, methadone, smoking crack and ultimately, shooting heroin.  After almost a year of living in a crack house, going to the ER multiple times to treat abscesses and GI problems, having her unemployment checks discontinued resulting in no source of legitimate income, getting beat up and abused, being dope sick almost every day, there were few options left. However, she told me recently, that she had resigned herself to being a junkie for the rest of her life, and dying a junkie. She couldn’t see any way out.  And then, Bill, her drug dealer/boyfriend, started ‘messing with’ her blankie, which she has always had since she was a baby.  Bill started hiding it and threatening to burn it to sadistically tease and control Hayley.  That was the final straw, Hayley later recalled – but all of these factors collided with each other and accumulated into a critical mass that ultimately resulted in Hayley walking away from her life as a drug addict. And, at age 31, she was finally realizing that she didn’t have time to f*ck around. 

•Keep Expectations Low (but keep trying): one small step can shift the balance; one atom moving into a different orbit may make the difference for bigger changes down the road.  Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and failure.  We have no way of knowing when an addict is ready to recover – or what small things can have a significant impact in shifting an addict’s desire/ability to get and/or receive help.  Just don’t ever give up.

•Get Support and Work a Recovery Program For Yourself: I started going to the anonymous fellowship of Al-Anon over 8 years ago when Hayley’s eating disorder was first diagnosed.  I am still learning how to shift the focus from Hayley to myself and be happy in spite of what Hayley is doing or not doing.  To have such a safe place to find help – – – and hope, has been crucial in traveling down this road of drug addiction with my daughter that I didn’t choose, or know how to navigate.  I’ve learned that if I apply the Traditions and Principles of Al-Anon to my life and relationships, serenity is possible (I’ve gotten a glimpse of it) and there are no hopeless situations. I invite you to Take a Seat.

Seek out true friends who don’t judge and want to listen – who rarely offer advice, and only when asked.  I have discovered some  Unlikely Friends and Neighbors whose compassion and support have been so incredibly comforting – and often, a pleasant surprise.   Journaling, blogging, reading Al-Anon and addiction  literature and good recovery blogs, all add to your body of knowledge about addiction.  They can calm your mind, ease some frustration and guilt, and give you hope.  All these resources helped me feel not so alone, for which I am grateful.  See my BlogRoll and Recovery Blogs in the far right column, for reference.  And, a Gratitude Journal helps to regularly think about, remember, and write down the things and people in your life you are thankful for.  It’s a bit of a diversion tactic that helps to get your self out of your own misery for a while – and focus on what is good and positive in your life.

And finally, try to be of service to someone else who is in pain due to or struggling with addiction.  This may be as simple as setting up chairs at an Al-Anon meeting, reading and commenting on blog posts, calling a friend who needs support and encouragement, giving someone your full attention and truly listening to them.

•Luck, Serendipity, a Higher Power, God: they all play a part that is impossible to predict or control.  I don’t discount any of these and try to remain open to their presence.  I will say that as of May 9, 2010, I do believe in miracles. And, I’ve learned that it helps to let go and turn some of the burden of worry and despair, over to a higher power. I’m still working on this.

So, Nora – I know this has gone on far too long and that I’ve left some things out.  I don’t pretend to know what to tell you to do regarding Hannah.  But, I do know that there is always hope, that YOU can find serenity, and that miracles do happen.  One tiny molecule can make all the difference in the world.

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Word Games

Posted on August 23, 2010. Filed under: Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Parent of an Addict, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , , , , |

It was just a few months ago that the term, “Getting Well” took on a whole new meaning for me.  My 31 yo heroin addict daughter, Hayley, was living in a crack house, ‘shooting up’ and smoking crack.  Her lifestyle circumstances were desperate – and sordid – and frightening.  I happened to speak to her on the phone one day, and she said she was ‘dope sick’ and needed to “get well”.  In other words, she needed to find some heroin.  What a euphemism. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines euphemism as:  “the use of a word or phrase that is less expressive or direct but considered less distasteful, less offensive, etc. than another.”  What an understatement.

Today, my daughter is “getting well”, in the more conventional context.  She has just completed a 90-day drug treatment program and last Friday, moved in to a sober living house.   This is, of course, the next logical step in her recovery – but, nevertheless, it scares me.  The nurturing,  safe, ‘scheduled’ environment of the treatment center has been replaced by a house of 7 recovering addicts, all trying to stay sober and move forward with their lives. 

Basically, each of them is on their own, with no schedule or formal program.  They are monitored, somewhat, with random urine tests.  And, I think there are general house rules and expectations.  Ideally, they are all working their program and supporting each other.  However, it’s a bit of a dice throw.  Hayley needs to find a job, attend AA/NA meetings, work on getting her driver’s license restored, tend to some legal issues resulting from probation violation, deal with the thousands of dollars of debt she owes, figure out a way to get thousands of dollars of dental work done, monitor a chronic health issue, and on, and on, and on.  Post treatment is when the real work of recovery begins – and the steady, meticulous effort to build a new life is daunting.  I’m overwhelmed with all she faces – and am wondering how she’ll ever get a decent life back.

Hayley sounds strong and still very committed to the 12-step program.  Yet – – – I worry about her ability to handle all that she faces.  Today, I had to remind her to send a letter to her court-assigned attorney regarding her upcoming court date on Friday for probation violation.  Should I have to do that?  Shouldn’t staying out of jail be at the top of her priority list?  How long will I have to ‘baby-sit’ her? What is appropriate at this point?  Hayley needs to not only work at staying sober, but also  learn and practice independent living skills.   She does need help, in my opinion, but it’s a delicate balance. 

My worst fear, of course, is that Hayley will soon be overwhelmed with the details and demands of life – – – and then, . . .relapse. The professionals say that ‘relapse’ is a part of recovery.  I know.  However, when you’re a heroin addict, ‘relapse’ seems to have such dire consequences.  And, there I go – jumping ahead and worrying about what hasn’t even happened yet.

I am so grateful for Hayley’s sobriety and hard work. I am trying to live “one-day-at-a-time”, as is she.  But it’s very hard.  And so – – – I think I need to take myself to an Al-Anon meeting and try to ‘get well’, myself.

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Posted on August 9, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Parent of an Addict, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

. . . surrender does not mean submission – it means I am willing to stop fighting reality, to stop trying to do ‘God’s’ part, and to do my own. Courage To Change

The First Step prepares us for a new life, which we can achieve only by letting go of what we cannot control and by undertaking, one day at a time, the monumental task of setting our world in order through a change in our own thinking. One Day at a Time in Al-Anon

It’s been a week now since I returned home from visiting Hayley in California.  I’m still a bit numb – almost in denial, that she has so completely embraced her sobriety and the 12-step recovery program.   I’m still wrestling a bit with my daughter’s history of manipulation and mastery of ‘talking the talk’.  In realty, Hayley has ‘walked the talk’ for over 90 days now.  The recovery statistics for heroin addiction are abysmal – around 13 %, I think.  So – I’m a bit hesitant to jump in with both feet.  This skepticism is evidence of the work I still need to do for my own recovery.  Although Hayley’s recovery seems almost too good to be true, her response seems genuine and, in her own words, Mom – I don’t have time to f*ck around.

Hayley has not only surrendered to her powerlessness over alcohol and drugs –  she seems to have also undergone a spiritual transformation.  This is not necessarily a “come-to-jesus” religious experience, but rather, believing that her personal journey led her to Safe Harbor, to the women that are there right now, and to a fuller, richer, and yes, sober life.   Allowing herself to consider the possibility of a higher power and turning over some of her fear and anxiety to that higher power, has been one of the biggest changes I’ve witnessed, besides the obvious of getting sober.  This concept of surrender is something I’ve never seen in my daughter before.  For her to acknowledge that she might not know what’s best and to be able to draw upon some entity outside of herself for strength and guidance, is a totally new approach to life for Hayley.  (OK – the truth is that Hayley did go outside of herself for help in coping with life – in the form of alcohol, pot, pills, crack, and ultimately, heroin.  Now, however, ‘using’ the concept of a Higher Power to cope with her anxiety and surrounding herself with sober people who’ve had success in recovery, provide her with a healthy, more sustainable framework for living.)    AA’s Step Three suggests to try to be receptive, to open yourself to help from your Higher Power.  Hayley appears to have done this.

For 31 years, my daughter has maintained a certain “know-it-all” persona.  I am not only completely amazed by her current humility and willingness to defer to recovery professionals, recovering addicts/alcoholics who have significant sober time under their belts,  and a Higher Power, but I’m also blown away by her new-found – – – well – – – serenity.  I have to attribute Hayley’s personal transformation to the program and staff at Safe Harbor, to the ‘cosmic convergence’ of timing, opportunity, and to the benevolence of some kind of Higher Power.   My god – this must seem like a ranting testimonial for Alcoholics Anonymous, and the 12-step program.   I guess it is, and I couldn’t be more surprised, myself.  I never thought this particular recovery program would work for my daughter.  I thought she was too far gone and her ego would prevent her from the concept of surrender.   Guess I was wrong.

I saw my daughter on Friday, July 30th, for the first time since May 8th.  She was tanned, and toned, and beautiful.  She exuded a “joie d’ vivre” I’ve never seen in her before.  But more importantly, she seemed calm and serene.  The most outwardly visible evidence were her hands and nails.  For the last 20 years, Hayley has bitten her nails to the quick and picked her cuticles until they bled.  They were always red, puffy, and swollen – very difficult to look at.  I felt that the condition of her nails and cuticles were an external barometer for her internal level of angst.  Here’s a picture of her hands now,  after I treated her to a manicure and pedicure – – a visual metaphor for her personal transformation, in my opinion. 

Last May, Hayley’s appearance was startling.  I took some pictures of her right before she boarded the plane to the treatment center in California.  (the harrowing tale of extricating Hayley from the crack house is one that has been indelibly seared in to my memory bank)  The color “gray” sums it up.  Her skin and hair had a deathly pallor that was both frightening and heart breaking.  She looked years older than her age – – – and was, essentially.  The woman that walked towards me a week ago Friday, was not the person I have known for the last too many years.

Hayley greeted me around 10:00 am on Friday at Safe Harbor.  She showed me her room in one of the cottages behind the main house, and toured me around the facility’s grounds.  I was impressed with the home-like/residential setting of Safe Harbor, the caring staff, and the well-appointed, orderly, immaculate living conditions.  “Velvet runs a tight ship”, commented Hayley.  This tidy, organized living situation for Hayley was significant since, for most of her adult life, she has lived in filth and chaos. 

Once again, I pinched myself.

At 11:00 am, I met with Hayley and her therapist.  The session went very well, although, it was too short.  Instead of asking a lot of questions about Hayley and her “issues”, I ended up tearfully sharing my own revelations and regrets as a mother.  I felt that a door had been opened, and that I could have shared some of my deepest, most intimate fears, hopes, disappointments with Hayley, in the presence and with the guidance of a professional.  I did a little of that, but there just wasn’t time to say all I wanted to say.  However, the important point was, the stage was set and the spigot opened, and for the rest of the weekend, Hayley openly answered every question I asked, as well as offering information that gave me insight in to her road to addiction.

Marissa, Hayley’s therapist, is a big proponent of psycho-drama, and explained this technique’s process and why she thought it could uniquely access buried emotions and new perspectives/insight.   I was impressed with her commitment to Hayley’s therapy and, more importantly, felt that she was able to deal with and cut through Hayley’s “bullshit” quotient.

At noon, we attended an AA meeting a block away.  And at 1:30 pm, I met with Hayley’s case manager.  All of these meetings were emotional and therapeutic – both for myself, as well as for Hayley.  Our casual conversations throughout the weekend were honest, and revealing, and satisfying.

Later in the afternoon on Friday, I checked in to my hotel.  Hayley spent Friday and Saturday nights with me in my room.  I can’t tell you the joy I felt in seeing her peacefully asleep in the bed next to me – with her blankie, of course.  I haven’t witnessed that image since December 1996.

On Saturday, we did some shopping (bedding for the Sober Living house and other supplies ), and went to a beach in Laguna.  There, as my daughter and I basked in the sun, I saw the black track marks on her thighs and breasts.  Yes, they are fading.  Nevertheless, there they are – – – visual reminders of her desperate, sordid past.

Sunday morning, at 7:00 am, Hayley and I attended an AA meeting where I met her sponsor, Brooke.  Brooke got clean and sober at 31, like Hayley, and now is married with two darling children.  She pushes Hayley and requires a lot of in-depth writing that takes a full year to work through all 12 steps of AA.  She sees Hayley twice a week – at a Thursday evening potluck dinner women’s meeting, and at this early Sunday morning meeting where an older, more professional crowd attends.  These meetings, connections, and support are instrumental in keeping Hayley sober.  She will tell you that.  She believes it.  She is living it.

Attending the two AA meetings with Hayley was emotional.  I’ve gone to Al-Anon for 8 years, but had never been to an AA meeting.  The meeting process, language, and principles were very similar to Al-Anon’s, and I felt at home.  Sharing personal stories of experience, strength, and hope is courageous, as well as therapeutic.  There is no judgment in the room – just focused attention, active listening, and support.

AA is one way to heal a person’s brokenness. I’m sure there are other ways that work.  All I know is that the 12 step program appears to be working for my daughter – and that, is a frigg’in miracle.  I feel guilty giving such a glowing report of my daughter’s recovery. I’m sorry that so many of you are still experiencing the pain of addiction in your family.  All I can say is, don’t lose hope.  And to quote Tom at Recovery Help Desk:  “ . . . enabling recovery requires action.”  All for now.

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Rescued From the Sea

Posted on July 12, 2010. Filed under: addiction, The Bottom | Tags: , , , , , |

I’m cruising a bit today.  It’s summer, and I feel I haven’t played yet.  The days just fly by, with me tending to ‘important’ details of my remodeling project, Hayley’s recovery, family demands, and – – – life!  And so, instead of hacking out my own post, today I am featuring a ‘guest columnist’, professional interventionist Kristina Wandzilak. This is her most recent post, June  30th, from her blog:  The Kristina Chronicles. Kristina’s fabulous memoir, The Lost Years, is a story of hope.  I read this book last summer, when I was certain that I had lost my daughter to heroin and crack cocaine, forever.  The book was informative, touching, raw, and honest. Kristina and her mother, Connie, wrote alternating chapters – from the addict’s and mother’s points of view.  You may also read reviews of Kristina’s television series, Addicted, on my previous blog posts.

And so – if you are feeling despair, and hopelessness, and overwhelming grief and fear that your addict ‘child’ will never get clean/sober – or even survive, take a look at Kristina’s story and journey to recovery. It can happen.  It does happen.

Rescued from the Sea

I drowned today.

In a sea of memory and emotions, I drowned.

Just like the ocean, the memory took me over slowly. The water covered my toes and feet first, the sand melting away beneath them; then my knees, thighs and stomach. My chest next, with a slight loss of breath as the shock of the cold memory swirled around me. Then my shoulders, and finally my face was the last to go under as it looked up at the sky. My mouth let out a small gasp — and then bittersweet submersion as the memory pushed and pulled all around me.

I was very naive when I first hit the street. I learned very difficult lessons, the hard way. I was taken in by a man who told me he had a bunch of crack and he wanted to share it. I know — looking back, I should have foreseen what was coming — but I was lost, hurting and hopelessly addicted. And when he held up the bag of rocks, I could not turn away.

We went into a muggy motel room and he put down the bag and a pile of cocaine for us all to enjoy. It was me and an older black woman who was very thin and looked hard and a little scary. She had a scar above her eye, and I remember wondering how she got it. Her eyes were a deep brown, like dark chocolate, her hair short with a bandana wrapped around her forehead. I could tell she was pretty at a time in her life, but the street wears hard on pretty faces and kind souls. She had on a torn lavender T-shirt and tight jeans, dark blue. She was wearing a pair of white K-Swiss, I remember because I had a pair of the same exact shoes, at some point. She did not say much but took hit after hit off the crack pipe. It was warm in that room — smoky and dirty — but warm. The drugs were endless. It was heaven.

After some time of getting high and simple talk, I went into the bathroom, which was through the bedroom. I left the front room, and when I came back the man was standing in the doorway, blocking me from walking into the main room where the older woman was partying and listening to music, ABC by Jackson Five. I’ll never forget it. It was such a happy song for such a shit place.

He said to me, “Pull up your shirt and pull down your pants so I can see how much you’re worth.” I was shocked, speechless, and fear shot through me, making my hands shake. He said, “You didn’t think this was free, did you? You’ll be paying before you leave.” He just stood there blocking the doorway with a sleazy smile and a creepy look. Panic flooded me. My head was dizzy. I felt weak and sick and terrified. There was a knock on the motel room door, which distracted him. He said, “I’ll be back,” and stepped away to see who was at the door.

The moment he was out of the doorway, I gasped “…I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do this.” I slid down the wall and began to hyperventilate. “I don’t know how to get out of this…” The older woman stood at my feet. She took a hit off a crack pipe, knelt down in front of me, pulled my face to hers, placed her lips on mine, and blew into my mouth. I inhaled as deeply as I could. The crack smoke filled my lungs like a baby’s first breath. Then she lifted my chin and looked into my eyes and said, “You don’t belong here.” Just those words, nothing else. She pulled me up off the floor, led me into the bathroom and helped me escape through a small window. She told me not to return.

As my feet landed on the walkway outside and the fresh air filled me, I ran. I ran blocks away. I ran as fast as I could. Running when you have nowhere to go is like a nightmare. My feet were moving so quickly, my breath was fast but it was like I was stuck in a dream I could not awake from. There was no escape from what I had done to myself. So I ran until I simply could not run anymore. I slept on concrete that night, at the far end of an alley, pushed into a corner. I closed my eyes until dawn was upon the city.

I do not know her name; I will never forget her face or the mercy she showed me that day. I was not so lucky the next time.

I bring her words with me into each intervention; no one deserves to be caught in the wicked, lonely, despairing disease of addiction. I have intervened on homeless drug addicts and fortune 500 CEOs, and I can tell you the desperation is the same; the fear, the madness, the brutal cycle of shame and self-loathing is our common denominator, and no one belongs in it or deserves to die of it.

When I doubt — and trust me, at times I do — that there is a higher purpose for me and a reason I survived, I picture her face, I remember her words, and she gives me strength to carry on and to continue to wage this war against addiction.

Sober and Shameless, KW

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Pinch Me and Pink Clouds

Posted on June 13, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Intervention, Parent of an Addict, Treatment Centers, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

A little over a month ago, I was certain my daughter would be dead or in jail very soon.  And today, she is thriving in a drug treatment program in southern California.

I glanced through my journal from a year ago, and was quickly transported back to the nightmare I’ve been living for the past 12 months. It was in early June 2009 that I first learned that Hayley was living in a “crack house” and was, essentially, a full-fledged, hard-core drug addict. I immediately donned my Superwoman/mom cape and spun in to action.  I was certain that I could save my daughter – just get her out of that environment and in to a drug treatment program. After hours and days of super-sleuthing,  I was able to locate the drug house where she was living and trace down phone numbers that could potentially provide access to her.  And after countless “drive-bys”, trying to get a glimpse of her, and phone calls to all the phone numbers she had left scattered around her apartment, I was finally able to speak to her.  Her message was,  “Mom – stop. You’re putting too much focus on this place. These guys don’t like it. You’re going to get me in trouble.” And, actually, I think that was why she came home for those few days.  The crack house kicked her out because they were feeling too much ‘heat’.

During those two weeks in June a year ago, when Hayley came home from the crack house for a night or two, she seemed sincere in wanting to get help and go to our local drug/alcohol treatment facility.  However, the treatment center’s admissions requirements proved to be huge barriers –  primarily, the TB skin test that needed to be administered at a medical clinic, read after 24 hours, then a narrow admission ‘window’ in to the treatment facility within the next 24 – 36 hours.  Hayley was never able to meet and follow through with those time-sensitive deadlines.  I thought the process was insane.

At that time, Hayley was “just” using cocaine and smoking crack.  She soon ‘graduated’ to heroin.  How could it all have come down to this – my beautiful, talented, college-graduate daughter, a heroin addict?  It all seemed so surreal.  I was numb.

I discovered that on June 1st, 2009, an eviction notice had been posted on Hayley’s apartment – and I began negotiations with the landlord to be allowed access in to the apartment that Hayley had abandoned.  After paying two months of back rent and June’s rent, I was able to enter, sort through, clean out and salvage some personal belongings from Hayley’s chaotic life over the past five years. That beautiful polar bear Cowichan sweater I knit for her in high school, family photos, her photos and awards from high school and college, her beloved Cuisinart – – – I just couldn’t bear to see her entire life, up to this point, hauled off to the dump.  She deserved some personal history so she could start over some day, didn’t she?  However, this salvage mission was a very traumatic experience.  Witnessing Hayley’s inability to function as a ‘normal’ adult was a disturbing and definitive indication of not only drug addiction, but possibly a serious mental illness. I felt as if I had been in a war zone.

And after one more unsuccessful attempt last August to get Hayley into medical detox and a treatment facility, we went for about 7 months with virtually no contact with her.  That was the “let-her-really-hit-bottom-and-find-her-own-way-to-treatment” period. She not only hit bottom, but kept on digging.  She was in such a deep, dark hole, I just knew she could never get out on her own. After seeing her on her birthday April 6th, I decided that she needed a hand up.  The drama leading up to Hayley leaving for treatment on May 8th was harrowing.  (And She’s Off and . . . Running) But the bottom line is that Hayley has now been at Safe Harbor Treatment Center For Women for a little more than three weeks, was in medical detox for almost 2 weeks prior to that, so has now been clean and sober for 36 days .  This is where the “Pinch Me” comes in. 

Within the last ten days, I’ve received two notes from Hayley and a couple of lengthy phone calls. She sounds so good – so strong, so committed to her recovery program.  She genuinely seems to be embracing the 12-step program at Safe Harbor and finding comfort and support in the staff and all that is involved with the recovery process.  Her voice is strong and joyful and full of promise. Here are some snippets from our phone conversations:

Mom – I’m showing up for everything, even if I don’t feel like it.

You have to attend an AA/NA meeting every day.  If you don’t, it’s a slippery slope to relapse.

I’ve been making myself go to the gym everyday – my body is so damaged.  I don’t have time to fxxk around.

Dave, the cook, wants me to be permanently assigned to the kitchen.  He thinks I do the best job of cleaning up. The food is good – we had mahi mahi last night with mango salsa and coconut rice.

I can’t believe I’m here.

And these excerpts from letters:  We are kept so busy here, time just flies. I had to get my blood drawn this AM – it was a huge trigger for me.  I got real emotional.  Am also scared for the results. I have no power over the outcome at this point though, and have to just deal with the results when they come. I love you so much and miss you.  Am staying strong, healthy, and hopeful.

And this from her most recent, artfully decorated note:  This is a gratitude card. I am sooo grateful to be here at Safe Harbor. I do not take this opportunity for granted and know that I have been given the greatest gift that anyone could ever give me. Thank you, Mom, from the bottom of my heart. I am so peaceful and happy. My future is full of endless possibilities, at last!  I love you, Mom.

WOW!  I know that some of this is the euphoria of early sobriety.  Becky, the program director, calls it the “Pink Cloud”. Becky also warned me that often, at 3 – 4 weeks of treatment, the client will fall off a bit from working the program – emotionally relapse some, I guess you could call it.  However, she also assured me that they are prepared for this, and watch for it.  They coach and mentor the patient through this, if necessary.  Just for today – – – I’m with Hayley – in the pink cloud.

Hayley said that she met the founder/owner of Safe Harbor this week – “Velvet” – who runs a very ‘tight ship’ there.  They are all required to do daily chores, work hard, and contribute to the good of the whole.  This discipline has been very good for Hayley, and she seems to have responded to it.  She said that she takes pride in doing even the most menial tasks well, which is a newly acquired attitude/skill. She said that it makes her feel good to follow through and do these chores well.  Truly – she was sincere and genuine when she told me this.

I think that Hayley has always preferred to live with other people – and that as perverse as the crack house was, it provided a certain sense of community for her.  Thank god that she is now able to experience this phenomenon in a clean and sober living environment. I do think that her age (31 yo) has been an advantage – that she not only relates well to the staff – as a peer, really – but that she also has a level of life experience and maturity that has made her realize that this is, indeed, a crucial turning point in her life.  And because she’s often the oldest client there, she also may be doing some mentoring herself, to younger clients.

She got her hair highlighted (she talked her dad in to paying for this) – has been on walks/jogs/yoga classes to get her body back in shape – and seems to have a greater appreciation for the short time we all have here on earth.  She’s truly engaged in all her group sessions, and reached a revelation with her therapist last week.  For whatever reason, she’s always felt very pressured to excel in a high-powered career – which fed in to her anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.  In reality, it was quite paralyzing for her.  With her therapist, she realized that she just needs to be successful at life – at living a happy, healthy, responsible existence – that this is truly enough.  Everything else is gravy, and may or may not happen.  Often, once you achieve this goal, other things come.

I asked her what was different about Safe Harbor vs La Montagne, the eating disorder treatment facility she was in, back in 2002.  She said that there was no comparison.  First of all, she acknowledged that she is older and more ready to really listen and learn.  And also, the many daily group sessions at Safe Harbor, provide more opportunity to connect and build a sense of community.  And, because the staff members are all recovering addicts/alcoholics around her age, she relates to them in a very personal way.  Also – a huge factor, is that Safe Harbor is in a residential setting, smack dab in the middle of the real world.  Every evening, they all go out in to the community to attend an AA or NA meeting.  Hayley felt that this interaction with the real world was very helpful and motivating.  At La Montagne, they were in a remote/country setting with little/no interaction with the real world.

I heard gratitude and respect for life in Hayley’s voice and talk. Honestly – she sounds transformed.  I think she was ready for this program and changing her life.  I have tried to keep a certain distance from becoming totally invested in Hayley’s recovery. I know what the statistics are for recovering heroin addicts.  They aren’t good.  But, hearing Hayley talk and reading her words of gratitude, I can’t help but think that she has a very good chance of beating the odds.  We’ll see. The fact that there is a huge community of clean and sober young people where she is, is promising.  I think that she feels that she can make a life for herself there, with the support she needs to stay in recovery.

Hayley said that last week was rough.  Her roommate relapsed, as did two of the other ‘girls’.  My gosh – how does one relapse in a treatment facility?  I hadn’t even considered this possibility.  Hayley said that these girls brought in alcohol.  She commented that this really pissed her off, because it put everyone in jeopardy.  “Mom – alcohol is not my drug of choice.  Had it been heroin that was brought in, I’m not sure what I would have done.”  At least she’s being honest.

Hayley has received quite a bit of mail – and she has felt a great sense of accomplishment by responding to each of those letters.  Writing, addressing/stamping notes of her own and getting them in to the mail was a very big deal to her.  The notes I received were very genuine and sincere.

I have to believe that if Hayley does not ultimately recover from her addictions, at least her struggle will somehow be a transforming experience to those around her.  And – just for today . . . I will float in the “Pink Cloud”, along side my daughter.

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“. . . And ‘Justice’ For All”.

Posted on May 17, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Parent of an Addict, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

I spent last week Cleaning Up Her Messes, just a fraction of the devastation left behind after my heroin addict daughter left for treatment in southern California.

Hayley had a court date on Friday, May 14th, for violating probation – and, since she is now in California after our intervention of sorts, she would not be able to appear.  In April 2009, Hayley officially entered the ‘criminal’ justice system when she served 4 days in jail for a minor (misdemeanor) shoplifting offense that had been committed the previous July (2008).  We, her family, knew nothing about this crime – she apparently decided to handle it on her own, the result being that finally, more than 10 months after the crime had been committed, she was sentenced to 4 days in jail and two years of probation.  I happen to think that carrying the shame, uncertainty, fear, and anxiety of this pending sentencing for 10 months, along with losing her job, dog, and a variety of other factors, coalesced in to the ‘perfect storm’ of escalating drug use and her eventual heroin/crack addiction.  (I really should qualify this by adding that for at least the last ten years, Hayley’s poor choices and chemical dependency on something, were building towards this eventuality.)

Apparently, last fall, a warrant for her arrest was issued for probation violation since she hadn’t kept her probation appointments for several months. Last fall, on a routine traffic violation stop, a check was run on all the car’s passengers, and Hayley’s arrest warrant was discovered.  She was arrested on the spot and taken to jail.  And, I guess her drug ‘buddies’, primarily her drug dealer/boyfriend Bill, posted bond for her and she was released after about 12 hours.  I’m still not absolutely clear about how bail bonds work, but here’s a little help from Wikipedia:

Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail (and possibly be brought up on charges of the crime of failure to appear). In some cases bail money may be returned at the end of the trial, if all court appearances are made, no matter whether the person is found guilty or not guilty of the crime accused. If a bondsman is used and a surety bond has been obtained, the fee for that bond is the fee for the insurance policy purchased and is not refundable.

I think that Hayley’s bail bond was for $3,000, which usually represents 10% of the bail that was set (so, $30,000?) and probably $300 – 500 was paid to the bondsman to secure the bond by Bill, the drug dealer. I’m guessing this.  More co-dependence built between Hayley and Bill.

For those of you who have been following my blog, you will recall that the morning Hayley and I were to leave town to go to the airport, the bail bondsman, Javier, revoked her bail bond (via phone instructions) and his ‘thug’ commenced to march Hayley across the street to jail.  This was a potential disaster. After intense, furious pleading with the 350 pound ‘thug’, I was able to speak to Javier on ‘thug’s’ cell phone, agree to sign a promissory note for $3,000, and leave a $500 check as a deposit.  Hayley and I were finally able to get on the road . . . literally, to recovery.

Last week I spent days getting letters written, documentation from Safe Harbor that Hayley was enrolled as a patient there, and then delivering these packets of info to all the necessary parties: public defender, prosecuting attorney, probation officer, and bail bondsmen.  Hayley’s PO, Freida, was very helpful and sympathetic and made a call to the prosecutor to let them know I’d be delivering important information regarding Hayley’s case.  And the bail bondsman, Javier, and my new best friend, was surprisingly cordial, knowledgeable, empathetic, and willing to help advocate for Hayley.  Of course, he had $3,000 at stake.

Javier told me to show up at court on Friday a half hour early – that he would meet me there and look over who the assigned prosecutor and judge were to be and then know more what to expect and exactly how to proceed. At 1:15 pm, Javier still hadn’t arrived, so I called him.  He was ‘running late’, but promised to be there in ten minutes – and, he was.

There were probably 25 or more cases to be heard that day. Other than the judge and attorneys, I was the only person there in a blazer and khakis – shorts, tank tops, flip-flops, and tattoos prevailed.

Javier sat in the court room with me for over an hour.  After showing him the letter I wrote on behalf of Hayley, he seemed impressed and asked who wrote it for me.  “I wrote it”, I said.  Yeah – I can write – wanna hire me?

When Hayley’s name was finally called, I stepped up to the table and chair beside the public defender, whom I had never met. She did, indeed, have the material in hand that I had dropped off, as did the prosecuting attorney.  When the defense attorney told the judge that the defendant’s mother was there, representing her daughter, the judge sounded a bit perturbed as he commented, “ . . . highly unusual . . .”  Yikes.  After I fumbled over a few words (did I actually say, Your Honor, as I had intended, or did I forget, and that’s why he cut me off?), and the prosecutor and defense attorney mumbled a few words to each other (as I’m frantically trying to interject important considerations that they hadn’t addressed), the judge, along with the prosecutor, agreed to a 45 day continuance – until July 9th, when the case would be revisited.  In the mean time, the treatment center would need to send every one reports on Hayley’s progress.  At this point, I didn’t know what my role was, whether or not I was to appear again in court on July 9th, what, even, was the attorney’s name who was ‘representing’ my daughter?  This all transpired in less than a minute, with random whisperings amongst the three of us, on the spot, in front of an impatient judge.

What do most people do who are facing some kind of criminal charge, unable to afford a lawyer, and no one to really advocate on their behalf? It’s mind-boggling – and disturbing – and frightening.  The answer, of course, is that ‘justice’ is served, along with privilege – on the same tray.

On Monday, I guess I’ll follow-up with all of this – get the name of the court-appointed attorney, arrange for the treatment center to send reports regularly, update Hayley’s probation officer, yadayadayada.  I’m not sure I trust everyone to actually receive and keep track of the required info – so, should I hand deliver  it to all parties?  I guess my paranoia would be quelled a bit if I did.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to not assume – – – anything.  And, do the work for these people – make it as easy as possible for them – they don’t have the time or resources to properly do it themselves.  It’s sad, but true.

And Javier and I – well, we will stay in touch.  I really like this guy, believe it or not – and I am important to him, since I’m the one who will eventually have to pay Hayley’s $3,000 bond, if necessary.

And now, some news about Hayley in detox.  Hayley’s dad, Brad, and his wife, Jill, stopped in to visit Hayley on Friday.  They had just returned from a cruise that had docked near where Hayley was located. When they arrived at the detox facility, Hayley was lying on the couch and needed help getting up.  Her feet and legs were very swollen, and she was in a lot of pain.  I hate imagining her physical condition, and what she must look like.  Brad suggested she get some exercise – primarily walking, to help the edema. However, the detox facility can’t really arrange for this.  Hayley seemed grateful to be there, and was looking forward to getting to the actual treatment facility.  She asked for a new pair of glasses – that she really needed them to read and watch TV – that she was getting headaches.  Of course, she has lost or broken probably six new pairs of glasses over the last several years.  I, on the other hand,  still have my first pair from the 7th grade!  What’s reasonable? What do we freely give Hayley now, and what should she work for/towards – – – earn?

Thanks to all my ‘fans’ for your comments, encouragement, and support.  As usual, Dawn, as devil’s advocate, keeps me wondering and questioning whether or not I’m enabling my daughter vs giving her a ‘hand up’.  This dilemma is constant, and there never seems to be a satisfying answer.  I am really trying to not do for my daughter what she can do for herself.  However, my rationale for decision-making often revolves around the fact that Hayley doesn’t seem capable of much right now – and definitely suffers from arrested/distorted development regarding basic adult life management skills.  How much of this is due to chemical dependence, brain chemistry, genetics, underlying mental illness, enabling by family members, and/or the red dye in the multi-vitamins she chewed as a toddler? Who knows?  Will it all ever get sorted out, fixed, undone, re-done?  I can get overwhelmed by it all.  Right now, I’m practicing trusting myself – and trying to maintain a shred of hope in what seems to be an almost impossible mire of obstacles to recovery.

Please know how much your comments help navigate this winding road to serenity.  There appears to be no distinct map – so your ‘sign posts’ of encouragement and support keep me from getting totally lost.  Thank you.

P.S.  I’m hoping to catch up next week with those of you whose blogs I follow.

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“Addicted”, Intervention, and An Addict’s Fear

Posted on April 29, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Intervention, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I was all set to tune in to the program, Addicted last night at 10:00 pm on TLC; however, it wasn’t on.  I’m not sure why.  Did its contract only run for six programs?

I have ‘enjoyed’ the show, in that, even though it’s difficult to watch, I’ve learned things I didn’t know about a variety of drugs. Although my daughter is a heroin addict, I’m sure she has probably tried the entire menu of drugs out there, depending on what was available at the time. Actually seeing how certain drugs are used, the paraphernalia involved, the living conditions of drug addicts, their enabling families, every one’s desperation – all of it adds to my knowledge bank – which is, of course, a painful deposit.

I had also wanted to make a few comments regarding Kristina Wandzilak as a professional interventionist and her process.  First, I found her to be entirely genuine – very authentic in her emotional connection to the addict and their families. Allowing herself to spontaneous emote along with the addict and family members can not be scripted, in my opinion.  And, Kristina’s ability to relate to the addict in a very personal way is unique, I think. Her own journey through addiction and recovery give her insight and strategies that cannot necessarily be taught, but are only learned through experience.

It occurred to me that one reason Kristina is so effective, is that she follows her clients through the rehab process, serving as their personal coach, advocate, and liaison to family.  This is a crucial component, I think, to keeping the recovering addict on track since they can easily detour off the prescribed path towards sobriety.  I wonder if Kristina does this with all her clients, or just those being filmed for the TV series?  I don’t know – but this technique is so crucial, I think, that I would consider using it if and when we do an intervention with Hayley.

Which brings me to that controversial topic of –  INTERVENTION. I’ve raised the intervention issue several times in past blog posts.  Our family considered it last summer when we first learned of Hayley’s crack cocaine use – which quickly led to her heroin use. (Graduation) I can understand the rationale for both sides of the intervention debate.  However – – – things have deteriorated so horribly for Hayley in the last couple of weeks that I’ve decided to try an intervention – for myself, really.  My daughter has never had a professional intervention, and has never been to a drug treatment program, even though she has probably been chemically dependent on something for the last 10 years.  I truly believe that yes, Hayley can be very resourceful in terms of procuring her drug of choice, but is still incapable of getting herself out of this deep, dark hole of addiction. And so – in order to truly know that I tried every thing I could and was available to me to ‘help’ my terminally ill daughter, I want to try this – an intervention. I feel strongly that Hayley deserves a chance – with help – to get clean and sober enough to then be capable of making important decisions for herself and her future.

After Hayley walked out of medical detox last August, our family essentially washed our hands of her.  This was her first experience in medical detox, and she was then scheduled to go to a woman’s treatment center in Seattle.  I just learned that after almost 5 days of de-toxing, with the worst behind her as far as physical withdrawal symptoms, her anxiety issues kicked in and she just couldn’t face going to treatment.  That unknown seemed too overwhelming to her, whereas going back to using heroin and its accompanying lifestyle, was something she knew, was familiar with, in a ‘community’, of sorts, where she had a place.  “Belonging” – – – a very seductive reason to re-join and/or become a part of any group.

Kristina Wandzilak, in her blog, The Kristina Chronicles, had this to say regarding “Fear and the Addict”:

“How much of fear is responsible for a person’s descent into addiction and inability to retrieve him or herself from it? Addicts, in general, are fear-based individuals. I’m not sure that fear has a lot to do with the manifestation of the disease, per se, but once we’re in it, fear keeps us from getting better.

We’re afraid of what will happen to us. We’re afraid of success, of failure, of living and of dying. We’re afraid to try to get better. It can feel easier to be resigned to a life of addiction than to live a different, sober life. Sobriety changes everything. “

Some of you may know blogger, Dawn (DHAM).  She sent me this excerpt from a recovering addict’s blog: (

“I was zombie like–running on automatic. Addicts don’t desire financial ruin, loss of self respect, ruining good relationships with family or friends, or spending time in jail/prison.  Those are all just consequences of being an addict.

People w/o addictions generally make their decisions based on their conscious motivations.  An example, normal people get jobs so they can pay bills and support their families.  For me as an addict, my decisions were made based on an impulsive, physiological drive for drugs.  Every decision I made in life was centered around my drug addiction.  The only reason I got a job was so I could pay for my drugs.  If it was a choice between paying bills and copping a bag, the bag would always win.  If I had a choice between eating a meal and drugs—-drugs.

Self control was non existent for me.  My probation officer told me if I failed another piss test at one point I’d go to prison for five years.  So for two weeks I’d quit using 3 days before I saw my probation officer.  Then the lack of self-control took over me.  During my 3 days of not using, I’d continually obsess over the drug, and despite the potential consequences of 5 years in prison, the drug would win.

The drug came before everything in my life.  The high was more important than my family, my friends, money, food, water, my health, my future, my own life.    Consequences never even crossed my mind like they do for ‘normal’ people.  I needed it.  I lived it.  I breathed it.  It became me…”

I guess it sounds as if I’m trying to justify and make a case for doing an intervention with Hayley.  I am – and, I’m not.  This blog helps me articulate my feelings, think “out loud”, and get some clarity.  Essentially, I’ve decided to do what I can to get Hayley to treatment.  It’s a matter of life and death. She needs help to do this, and deserves a chance  – at life.

P.S. our apple blossoms are in bloom – as is most everything, now. The image at the beginning is a photo I took last year – and represents such hope of new life, new beginnings, re-birth – – –  I sometimes dare not look at it.  But today, I’ve allowed myself this beauty and joy – and I’m feeling a glimmer of hope, that I’m trying to ‘contain’ and keep realistic.  After all, it’s all I have.

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A Perfect Storm

Posted on April 3, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Yesterday, on April 2nd, it snowed for several hours with white out/blizzard conditions.  This was unusual and must have resulted from a number of variables converging to create just the right conditions for a spring blizzard – the “perfect storm”.

Exactly one year ago, there was another type of “perfect storm.” My daughter, Hayley, was turning 30 years old and I had a birthday party/celebration for her. I didn’t think any of her current “friends” would be organizing any kind of party for her – so, I felt I needed to. I knew that this birthday was a big one for her, and that she was struggling. She hadn’t worked since the previous October and was receiving unemployment with no good job prospects on the horizon.  She seemed to be having a really hard time paying her bills – but then, she always was in some kind of financial crisis. Her dad had moved away to California in January with his relatively new, much younger wife, Jill.  Hayley and her boyfriend of almost four years had broken up months before, and he was now seriously involved with another young woman. Hayley’s “checking-in” phone calls to me became much more sporadic and we weren’t getting together as often.  I had a huge sense of dread in the pit of my stomach, but “stuffed” it. Whenever I asked Hayley if she was ok, or wanted to talk, she said she was fine – to “get off her back”.  I felt this family gathering, in honor of her 30th birthday, was important – a genuine display of our love and support for her.

I invited the few friends I knew of Hayley’s (just 2) and flew her younger brother, Brian, home from California.  Her older brother, Jake, and his family came – wife, Megan, and 2 and 4 yo darling children, Luke and Lucy – and, I drove 2 hours to pick up my 91 yo mother so she could be with us.

The family all gathered on Saturday around noon, had lunch, then decided to take a hike through the river canyon, a short distance away. It was a beautiful day, spring flowers were beginning to bloom, and we had a few hours before the dinner guests would be arriving. To our amazement, Hayley announced that she couldn’t go on the hike with us, that she had “errands” to run.  Huh?  We were shocked. Hadn’t we all come together to celebrate her birthday – and now, she was telling us she had to run errands?  The whole purpose of the weekend was to spend time together with Hayley, and it had taken a fair amount of planning and effort to do so. Nevertheless, we shrugged off Hayley’s quirky behavior, which we had become accustomed to over the years. She was always finding excuses not to participate fully in family activities.  And, she was notoriously disorganized – perhaps she needed to pay some bills?  (she had no checking account or debit card – they’ve caused huge financial problems in the past. She carries wads of cash around to pay bills for which she has to get a money order and then make a delivery in person, in a car that barely works and is usually out of gas – talk about making things hard for yourself.)  Still – we couldn’t quite believe it.

The dinner party was festive and wonderful, and Hayley seemed thrilled that we were all there to ceremoniously launch her in to her thirties. Everyone dispersed around 10:00 pm, with Hayley going home to her apartment.  The plan was for the family  to convene the next morning for breakfast at 10:00 am, after which Megan was going to cut and highlight Hayley’s hair before they (Jake and family) headed back home over the mountains.

Ten o’clock came, and went. As did 11:00 am, 12:00 noon – and no sign of Hayley.  We all were waiting to eat, and finally went ahead without her. We  tried to call her on her cell phone, with no luck.  Finally, at ~12:45 pm, Hayley called to say she had “overslept” and was not at her apartment and didn’t have her car.  This seemed so odd – and troubling, on this birthday weekend we had planned for her. Things spiraled down from there.  At lunch on Monday with my mother, Brian, and Hayley, I learned that Hayley’s power and water had been turned off in her apartment.  She was couch surfing at night with friends, she said, and was at her apartment during the day. Her grandmother took her birthday shopping after lunch at Target – supposedly to buy thngs that Hayley might need for a new job.  What ended up in the bag seemed seemed totally inappropriate to me.  And when we stopped at Costco to buy Hayley much needed house/toiletry supplies, she decided to stay in the car – and was sobbing.  I thought it was due to the 30th birthday milestone, with no job, boyfriend, overdue bills, etc.

Later in the month, after not seeing Hayley since the birthday party, she called me to report that she would be going to jail for 4 days for a shop lifting offense (her third) from the previous summer.  She sounded pissed – at me, of all things!  She said that I didn’t sound “supportive”.  Apparently, her shoplifting offense stemmed from a “beer switching” attempt at a grocery store, where you put more expensive beer in to a different brand carton and check out, paying less than was due. However, cameras in the beer aisle videotaped her doing the beer switching.  Hayley never told us about this charge – and had apparently been trying to deal with it on her own for ~ 9 months. That week of her birthday, she was in court for several mornings to receive her sentencing, which was the real reason behind her sobbing when we were together in the afternoons.  And, I later learned, when cleaning out her apartment after she was evicted in June, that the” errand” she ran on her birthday party afternoon, was to a dentist to get a prescription for hydrocodone.

I’m emotional and kinda shaky this weekend.  Hayley’s 30th birthday party was exactly one year ago.  This has been a year from hell watching my daughter lose everything and slide in to crack, cocaine, and finally, heroin addiction – a variety of circumstances and choices coming together to culminate in . . . “the perfect storm”.  And next Tuesday, Hayley will turn 31 years old. What’s in the forecast? Even Willard Scott or Al Broker can’t reliably predict.

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