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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. . . 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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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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A Safe Harbor

Posted on June 1, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Intervention, Parent of an Addict, The Bottom, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I apologize for not having posted in a while.  I spent a good part of last week with my 92-year old mother and 3 & 5-year old grandchildren.  Plus, today, I started a major remodeling project on my house and seem to be very behind in all areas of my life.  I had started this post on Memorial Day – so, will now just continue as if it still were May 31st.

First of all – THANK YOU, to each and every one of you, for all your comments, encouragement and support. They sustain me and give me the strength and hope to stay focused on my own recovery and learn how to be happy regardless/in spite of my daughter’s tragic life.

To briefly recap, my 31 year old heroin addict daughter, Hayley, as of May 8th, is in recovery and at a treatment center in southern California.  This is truly a remarkable turn of events. Our family conducted an emergency intervention, of sorts.  Even though Hayley had recently indicated that she wanted to get help and change her life, she was incapable, in my opinion, of doing so on her own.

Hayley was in a medical detox facility from May 8th until May 21st, when she finally “officially” arrived at Safe Harbor in Costa Mesa, CA, a small, all women’s residential treatment program.  She called me after arriving, even though I was told that there would be a two week “black out” period with no communication.  (see post)

She called again today – at 7:45 am.  I was awake, but not out of bed yet. I had just returned home from a hectic/demanding 4 days with my 92-year old mother and my grandchildren, ages 3 and 5.

“Good Morning”, her voice rang out. This was the upbeat, sunny voice I once knew – and always felt buoyed by.

“I thought you couldn’t call out for two weeks”, I said.

“Oh, it’s no biggie”, she replied.  “Turn on the Today Show”, she continued.  “They’re interviewing WWII WASP pilots.”

Hayley’s 92 yo grandmother, my mother, earned her pilot’s license in 1942 and had wanted to join the WASPs.  However, at that time, my dad (her husband) was serving overseas in WWII as a battalion surgeon on the front line in Europe/South Africa, and in order for my mother to be able to join the WASPs, she needed her husband’s permission!  When my mom’s request finally did reach my dad overseas, he wouldn’t sign the papers. He thought that the war would be over soon, and wanted my mother to be there when he arrived back home.  He also had mistakenly assumed that these women pilots would be flying dangerous combat missions in Europe.

Mom and Dad had only been married for three months when my dad shipped out with the first troops ship, on New Year’s Eve, 1941.  He was gone for 2 ½ years.  My dad wrote and sent home over 275 typed, perfectly preserved letters to my mother during that time.  I have them all, and am making my way through them as a project for the Center for the History of Medicine, who wants to feature my father’s medical career as a major exhibit..  These letters are a remarkable up-close and personal glimpse of: World War II, Dad’s experience as a medical officer on the front line, involved in over 20 major engagements with the enemy, – – – and, my parents’ courtship and the early dynamics of their marriage.

Hayley is the ‘child’ in the family who remembers these things – and values them the most.  She is sentimental and appreciates all the family stories, artifacts, and heirlooms.  The sad irony has always been that because of her substance abuse, unstable work and living conditions, and ‘quirky’ personality, that she was the least likely to ever have a place or the means to keep and preserve them all.

Hayley’s voice this morning was bright and energized.  The euphoria of  early sobriety was very apparent – and hopeful.  She sounded in touch with some important things.

“Ya know, Mom – I’ve never been comfortable in my own skin. That’s why I always needed an external source of  numbing/affirmation.”

And then, Hayley launched in to a rundown of the first couple of AA 12 steps – that step # 1 meant, you needed to surrender to the power of your addiction – that you are powerless over its control and seduction.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  I’ve been skeptical of Hayley’s ability/commitment to work through the twelve steps and totally embrace their  guiding force – I still am, kinda.  But she sounded so genuine this morning, and encouraged, and positive. I had to scrap all my “devil’s advocate” rebuttals and just revel in her positive attitude and enthusiasm.  “Just for today”, I am going to believe in her good intentions and renewed spirit.

She said that they had traveled to some fabulous AA retreat center on the beach and heard “Patty O.” speak for 3 hours – that it was a wonderful afternoon.  On the way home, as the sun set on the California coast, Hayley was consumed by gratitude and flashbacks to her not-so-distant past.

“Mom – if you hadn’t stepped in, I would have just been lying in bed, dope-sick, and desperately trying to figure out my next move.”

Hayley has been at Safe Harbor now for ten days.  She said they are kept very busy – up at 7:00 am, followed by chores, a meeting, breakfast, more group meetings, etc.  And, she said, “We go to an AA or NA meeting every day.  You’ve got to. If you don’t, you’re on a slippery slope to relapse.”  Again, I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing.

She said she’s only seen her therapist once.  Hmmmm – is this something I should monitor/track?  Thanks, Bob D., for reminding me that I can help my daughter get to treatment, but I cannot and should not try to control the outcome.

Hayley said that she especially likes interacting with the staff at Safe Harbor.  They’re all recovering alcoholics/addicts, of course, and, I’m speculating, are close to her own age (31 yo).  She must be connecting with them in some way, because she has called me several times within the last week, from staff members’ cell phones.  Is that ok? Is she manipulating them, as she has done her entire life?  (ok – back off and give it up, Peg)

When I reported this encouraging phone call to Jake, Hayley’s older brother, he was skeptical.  “Mom – she’s always been able to schmooze her way through anything. I’m going to wait and see if there’s any real substance behind all the talk”.  Hmmmm.  OK – guess I’ll slow down a bit.

I’m wondering if maybe Hayley’s age, at 31 yo, is an advantage right now?  She’s probably closer in age to the treatment center staff at Safe Harbor, who are modeling productive, satisfying, clean and sober lives.  She can relate to these women as a peer, and they enable her to tangibly visualize a healthy and happy life.  This is powerful.

I’ve always known that Hayley thrives on a group/communal living environment.  As perverse as it was, the crack house filled that need for her.  And now, here she is, living with other women who are also on the path to recovery, in a lovely residential house setting in southern California.  I mean, if you can’t get sober there, where can you?

I’m still holding back.  I’ve read and been advised that a rehab program won’t necessarily ‘stick’ unless the addict has ‘hit bottom’ and gets themselves to treatment.  I do believe that timing is everything. And on that note, here were the headlines in our community newspaper last week:

Low Price, High Potency:  New form of heroin causes spike in US overdose deaths:

“Mexican drug smugglers are increasingly peddling a form of  ultra- potent heroin (black tar heroin) that sells for as little as $10 a bag and is so pure it can kill unsuspecting users instantly,  sometimes before they even remove the syringe from their veins.”

AND this disturbing follow-up article:

“A 46-year-old Colorado man’s death Tuesday from an apparent  heroin overdose has raised concerns that a potent strain of the drug could be circulating in our fair city.”

Hearing my daughter’s clear, exuberant voice, full of hope and possibility – with some gratitude and humility mixed in – – – well, it doesn’t matter right now how she got there – – – but that she is there, at SAFE HARBOR. The name says it all.

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Saving the Best For Last

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

Since learning of Hayley’s seemingly rough time in detox, I’ve felt discouraged.  As usual, I project ahead and go from 0 to 100 in an eye blink.  I’ve done it my whole life.  It’s called, “catastrophizing”, and I learned it from my parents.  My mother could, and still does, turn a hangnail into an amputation with little effort and convincing drama.

So, when I read this passage on May 17th from Al-Anon’s Courage to Change daily meditations, I slowed down a bit.  Maybe it will speak to you, as well:

“When we talk of tomorrow,” says a Chinese proverb, “the gods laugh.” They laugh, I believe, not because they find us ridiculous, but because they know the future is not predictable.  Thus, we have no choice but to live one day at a time – right now – this moment, this day.

I can make plans, but I cannot determine the results.  No amount of scheming about next week can control what will happen then.  Circumstances will be different, and I myself will be different as well.

I can further compress the focus of this slogan to address one hour at a time, or even one minute at a time. In such small increments, life begins to feel not only bearable, but precious. At any given moment, no matter what is going on, if I concentrate on being right here, right now, I know that I am fine.

Today’s Reminder:

My worst fears about tomorrow need not affect this day.  By letting them go, I am free to grow. What bad habit can I change today?  What fear can I face? What joy can I acknowledge? What good fortune, no matter how modest, can I celebrate?  All I have is today.  Let me make today the most fully alive day I have ever experienced.

Do not be anxious about tomorrow; tomorrow will look after itself.” The Bible

Last Wednesday, I decided to phone the detox facility and see how Hayley was doing.  Actually, I was dreading the call and was scared. Six days before, this was the report from her dad, Brad, and his wife, Jill:

We saw Hayley this morning because we were in the area and the staff at First House thought it would be a good idea.  When we arrived she was lying on the sofa with a heating pad and asked Brad to help her up.  She seemed to be in a lot of physical pain and was really drugged up – not completely nodding off, but fading in and out a bit.  She doesn’t look so good, her feet, hands, and face are extremely swollen, but she assured us that the physician said it was a normal reaction to the Suboxone.

Edie, at First House, answered the phone, and told me that Hayley was doing much better.  In fact, she was being weaned off her meds and would most likely be headed to Safe Harbor Treatment Center towards the end of the week.  I wept with relief and reminded myself, to take “one day at a time”.  How many times do I need to tell myself this?

Thursday, I packed a box of things for Hayley: books, photos, stationary, stamps, lotion, and other miscellaneous items, and sent it off to Safe Harbor.  And, I sent her a letter, although, I wasn’t quite sure what to say.  I wanted to be encouraging and loving, ‘newsy’ about home and family, but also remind her of a few important things.  Because Al-Anon’s “One Day At A Time” and “Just For Today” slogans have helped me get through my days, I included the May 17th passage (above) as well as this:

ONE DAY AT A TIME: from How Al-Anon Works

. . . a practical approach to our challenges and fears is to take them “One day at a time.” We can’t do anything about the future because the future is not within our grasp today.  Worrying about it, trying to manipulate it, anticipating it – all these activities simply remove us from the moment. We can’t change the future, but by making the most of this day, we prepare ourselves to be able to handle whatever comes tomorrow.  We can only choose how we will respond today.

We can respond to the changes we see before us, confronting new challenges and fears, and enjoying the gifts that sobriety can bring, or we can allow ourselves to become obsessed with the possibility of relapse or failure.  We cannot know what will happen, and we needn’t deny any possibility, desirable or undesirable.  But wasting today worrying about tomorrow will not make us any better prepared for difficulties that may present themselves.  If they do manifest, those painful problems will not hurt any less tomorrow, whether we have stewed about them or set them aside today.  All of our preparation will not have spared us a single ounce of pain.  In fact, it will have lengthened our suffering, since we’ll have added all that extra worrying time.  So, if there is no advantage to trying to live in the future, it only makes sense to stay here in the present and make the very best of every precious moment we are given.

Another advantage in living “One day at a time” is that we break huge, overwhelming tasks into smaller, more attainable goals.  We cannot do what we cannot do.  Worrying about going hungry tomorrow won’t put more food on the table, it will only make us forget to appreciate the food we have today.  This day is ripe with opportunities for joy, for sorrow, for experiencing the full range of human emotion and experience.  Isn’t it time we took advantage of it?

As I’ve mentioned before, I find comfort and support in Al-Anon – but, I’ve learned to “take what I like, and leave the rest”.  For example, if I had only taken “one day at a time” and had not spent weeks putting together an intricate plan to get Hayley to treatment, anticipating all the possible snags and barriers, she wouldn’t be at Safe Harbor right now.  And, I can’t help but note that for the past year, Hayley has been living her own version of one-day-at-a-time.  Oh, the irony of that slogan.

And yes, according to Al-Anon, doing an intervention with Hayley could be viewed as enabling behavior.  However, my mother’s intuition told me that Hayley needed a ‘hand up’ in getting out of her deep, dark hole – – – and that she deserved at least one chance at recovery – especially since the statistics show that most addicts/alcoholics go through multiple rehab programs before, if ever, reaching long lasting sobriety.  It was time to start.

And now – for the best news I’ve had in a very long time.  Friday evening, I received a phone call from my daughter.  She had just arrived at Safe Harbor from the detox facility.  Her voice sounded clear and strong.  She told me how grateful she was for this chance of a new life, and that she was ready to do the hard work required.  We both cried.  And then, in true Hayley fashion, she added that she ‘needed’ to get her hair highlighted and cut, and that her dad had agreed to pay for this – and, that she also ‘needed’ a massage to get more of the toxins out of her muscles.  Hmmmmm – entitlement at its best.  She’s very good at it.  I just spent $102 getting her a pair of glasses so she can read the daily material she’s supposed to read in treatment .  I told her to just take “One Day At A Time”, and we would see what priorities became obvious.  I still struggle with setting boundaries with my daughter and knowing what is reasonable, and what is not.  And so, it continues . . . “one day at a time”.

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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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AND . . . She’s Off and Running

Posted on May 10, 2010. Filed under: Addiction Resources/Support, Intervention, Parent of an Addict, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Mission accomplished.  As of last night, my daughter is in a medical detox house in southern California and, after 10 – 14 days, will move to an all women’s long term treatment center close by. Hayley is in a race for her own life and it will be more of a marathon than a sprint.  But first, I want to give you the details of yesterday’s live-action thriller.  It’s a frick’in  miracle that it all came off – definitely a case of “divine intervention”, or “cosmic convergence”, whichever you prefer.

(For background leading up to Saturday, you might want to read “Ready . . . Set . . . Go.”)

Here’s a summary.  The ball started rolling about 10 days ago when Hayley called and asked if I’d take her to register at DSHS (state welfare system), a major move on her part.  She’s always been afraid to do this for fear of being arrested for violating her probation.  I said yes, and picked her up.  That day, I was able to spend a couple of hours with her, get her to see a drug counselor at Dependency Health Services, and buy her groceries.  She looked terrible.  Her money and drug supply had dried up, and she was desperate.  She said she thought she was ready to go to treatment. I didn’t let her in on all the time and effort we had been spending to find a place for her.  While at DSHS, she started the application process for the state funded drug treatment program, which I thought was a positive sign – and that this option could always be our/her “Plan B”.  Hayley was to return the following week for an interview and follow-up appointment.  However, when I spoke with her a few days later, just one week ago today, she was dope sick and getting ‘punched and pushed around a lot’ by her roommate, Paula, and drug dealer ‘boyfriend’ – sick, co-dependent relationships, for sure.  I was very afraid for her safety.

Last week was a blur.  Our family conference call exactly one week ago today (Sunday) led to another family conference call Tuesday evening, with interventionist Kristina Wandzilak.  We thought we had found a good treatment center for Hayley, but at the last minute, discovered a major conflict of interest and perhaps a breach in confidentiality by a staff member there.  So, we were back to square one.  That’s when Kristina referred us to two other possibilities, and after days of phone calls talking to both treatment centers, medical detox facilities, and a variety of professionals, we selected Safe Harbor, in Costa Mesa, California, an all-women’s program that could potentially deal with all of Hayley’s problems.  In the meantime, I was trying to stay connected with Hayley so we didn’t ‘lose’ her.  She doesn’t have her own phone and moves between two different drug houses.  Nothing is reliable.  I’m always apprehensive about setting up a meeting time with her, her following through with it, and just being able to reach her by phone when I need to.  When I call her ‘roommate’ Paula’s phone, if Paula doesn’t feel like passing the message on to Hayley, she doesn’t.

By Thursday, we had firmed things up with the treatment and detox facilities.  Airplane tickets were purchased. I had consulted with the only addiction physician in town who wrote 2 prescriptions to keep Hayley more comfortable during the long trip, when she would be in withdrawal. I had shopped for Hayley – buying all new clothes and gear. I didn’t want her taking anything except her ‘blankie’ with her. She still didn’t know the details of our plan. So, I arranged to spend an hour or two with her on Thursday, which I did – it went well.  I told her that we would drive 3 hours to Seattle on Saturday morning, pick up her brothers, Jake and Brian, and then go to the airport where Brian, who had flown up from San Francisco the night before, would escort her down to Safe Harbor in Costa Mesa, California.  I encouraged her to spend Friday night with me, but she said no – that she would be fine.  In essence, she wanted to use right up until the last minute.  And, emotionally, she was a wreck.  She had become involved with and attached to her drug dealer boyfriend, who was facing 7 felony charges (5 years each) after his crack house was raided two months ago. I think that this development of Bill most likely headed to prison, also was a factor in Hayley choosing treatment.  Timing is everything, right?

The departure plan was intricate and tightly scheduled.  We needed to be on the road by 9:00 am Saturday morning in order to connect with her brothers,  Brian and Jake, and then make the plane flight at 2:30 pm.  I was a nervous wreck.  So much could go wrong.

There was just a bit too much time between Thursday and Saturday, in my opinion, to be able to successfully pull this mission off – too much time for Hayley to change her mind, to OD, to have the plan sabotaged in some way by her drug addict ‘family’.  On Friday afternoon, I tried to call Hayley to just check in, and got a message from Paula’s phone that it could no longer receive messages.  I went ballistic – – – my mind catapulted to the worst-case scenario in a millisecond.

Finally, after many phone calls, Paula did pick up – and handed her phone over to Hayley.  “I’m fine, Mom”, Hayley chirped.  I burst in to tears.  “When I couldn’t reach you, Hayley, I thought the worst.  I’ll pick you up at 8:45 am.  Be ready. And if you need or want me to pick you up anytime earlier, just call.”

Friday afternoon and evening flew by, with all my packing and organizing for Hayley.  There were lots of details – and, I was in my highest level of obsessive-compulsive mode.  It was getting closer – – – a chance for Hayley.

I went to bed and was amazed to actually fall asleep.  And then, at 5:30 am on Saturday morning, the phone rang.  I bolted upright in a daze, my heart pounding out of my chest.  “Can you come get me”, Hayley sobbed.  I didn’t know what was wrong – or what I’d find when I arrived, but I quickly dressed and flew out the door.  Hayley was at drug house # 2, where Bill was now living. Everyone was there and apparently they had been up all night. When I pulled up, there she was on the front porch, saying a tearful goodbye to her drug dealer/boyfriend. I got a good look at him – and actually felt some  pity for him.  He was facing prison, losing his ‘girlfriend’, and a dead-end life with little light or hope.  She hugged him several times, walked away, and got in to my car.  I was stunned.

“I want to pick up some things at the other house”, she said.  “And, I need to meet my bail bondsman at 8:00 am to sign some papers before we leave”, she casually added.  WHAT?  I immediately felt a dread in the pit of my stomach.  “What bail bond?” I asked.  “It’s no big deal, Mom. It’s just from when I was arrested last fall for violating my probation.”  I tried not to panic, but my anxiety was building. I was already a wreck – and now, this monkey wrench.

We stopped at the crack house, drove around the back, and Hayley climbed over the garbage and discarded furniture strewn about. She crawled through a small window and disappeared into the house.  No one was there – they were all down at the house we had just come from.  She finally appeared with two bags stuffed with filthy clothes. She went back in to bring out and show me her’ rescued’ stray dog, Kali.  She sobbed hysterically as she held Kali and said goodbye.  It was heartbreaking.  Finally, we were on our way to my house.

As I pulled in to my garage and Hayley unloaded her things, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – one bag full of dirty, torn, smoky clothes I had never seen before, and another full of cheap mystery paperback books. I told her to just keep everything in the garage and that I would wash and send what I could, later. I had already packed her bags, and there wasn’t room for one more thing. (Actually, today I dumped everything into the garbage.  It was all too far gone – and I didn’t want Hayley to ever put on any of those clothes she had acquired (lord knows how) as a heroin addict.)

By now, I’m anxiously watching the clock.  I needed to get myself ready to go, fix breakfast, and get the car loaded.  Hayley took a shower and got dressed.  She couldn’t wear the slip on sneakers I bought for her because her feet were too swollen from shooting up.  “I need an iPod”, she whined.  Oh brother, I think.  That familiar, entitled tone and attitude were still alive and well.

By the time we got out the door, we were late for our 8:00 am appointment with the bail bondsman.  I still was confused about this whole kink in the plan – I knew nothing about bail bonds, what they were, or how they worked.  Hayley assured me everything would take just ten minutes.

We arrived at the bail bond office, which is directly across the street from the county jail.  Hmmmm, I thought to myself. How conveeeeeenient. A young man was there, waiting for us, but knew nothing specific about Hayley’s paperwork.  He called his boss, Javier, who said he’d be there in ten minutes.  So, Hayley and I went next door to a new, ‘happening’ coffee shop to get espressos.  I saw my dentist there with his wife and chatted with them while Hayley waited in line.  When it got close to 9:00 am and the latte’s still weren’t ready, I told Hayley to go back to the bond office to start the paperwork.  Finally, our coffees were ready and as I put lids on them I looked up to see Hayley walk in the coffee shop door being “escorted” by a 350 pound, shaved head, tough looking mother-f—er in a tank top.  “I’m taking her to jail”, he announced to me and to everyone else in the coffee shop.  “Her bail has been revoked”.  It then dawned on me that Javier had set us up – that he had never intended to show up at the office himself and then let Hayley leave town. Hayley had a court date scheduled on Friday, May 14th, and if she didn’t appear then, Javier would be out $3,000..  It was purely business.

I couldn’t believe what was happening.  As I followed Hayley and the ‘MF’er’ out the door, Hayley was pleading, “Please, let Javier talk to my mom.  Can’t she just call him?”  In two minutes we were across the street and “Thug” was punching in the code to the jail’s back door.  And then by some miracle, the ‘big guy’ handed me his phone to talk to his boss.  Javier asked me questions about my self, where I lived, my work history, etc.  I told him that Hayley was going to a drug treatment center in California, and Hayley’s attorney (my brother) had advised us that the treatment center would send a letter to the court testifying to Hayley’s presence.  Javier asked if I would sign a promissory note for the $3,000 bond.  “Yes, of course”, I answered. “And leave a $500 check for deposit”, he added.  Groan.

And then, we were outta there – a few minutes behind schedule, and narrowly averting disaster.  It would have taken hours to have processed Hayley in jail.  Not only would all the carefully planned logistics of physically getting Hayley to treatment have been fouled up, but she would also have been in heavy withdrawal by then. “I never would have gone through with it all, Mom. I would have changed my mind.”

We actually swung in to the Starbuck’s parking lot in Seattle right on schedule.  Brian and Jake were waiting for us.  It was a tearful reunion. The boys hadn’t seen their sister in over a year, and she looked very different. Hayley seemed to be in one of her manic modes, ordering coffee drinks, pastries, and sandwiches – on top of the coffee and food I had purchased a few hours earlier – not to mention the lunch I had packed and the snacks Hayley grabbed from my pantry.  Is this her eating disorder rearing its ugly head?  Here it all comes.  I’ll fast forward a bit, because this has gotten way too long.

On the way to the airport, Hayley’s conversation and humor seemed inappropriate.  She tried on my sunglasses and quipped that she guessed she wouldn’t steal them because they were prescription lenses; she remarked to Jake how lucky he was to have such huge veins in his feet – that she couldn’t find any on her own feet any more; and when she asked Jake about his job and he told her about a recent business trip to Amsterdam, she asked him if he had gotten high there – and recalled being totally blitzed out of her mind when she was there in 2000. Later, Jake told me that Hayley seemed to be her same ‘ol self-centered, brash, entitled self, with a harder edge.  “And the scary part is”, he went on to say, “is that she acted that way before she became a heroin addict. ” He was disappointed and was expecting at least a shred of humility, contriteness, surrender, and gratitude.  It just wasn’t there – in fact, Hayley almost seemed to enjoy dropping little bombs/remarks regaling some of the details of her drug life.

At the airport, Jake and I helped Brian and Hayley get checked in.  Brian, a documentary film maker, had all his camera  and personal gear with him, having come directly from a shoot in Albuquerque. He had his hands full managing all the equipment, bags, Hayley’s meds, and just keeping track of her.  By the grace of god, airport security accepted Hayley’s expired driver’s license and passport as her photo ID.

Jake and I got in to my car and waved goodbye.  Jake was driving, and put his hand on my leg. “Let her go, Mom.  It’s up to her now.”  Brian’s report to us was that the trip went fine.  Hayley slept most of the way.  However, she tried to buy a beer in the airport terminal, and they wouldn’t accept her expired ID.  She had better luck on the plane itself.  Does she realize she will have to give up alcohol, as well?

Brad (Hayely’s dad) and Jill, his wife, were there in California to meet the plane – as was Safe Harbor. And then, it was finished.  The master plan to get Hayley to treatment had been completed.

For about an hour on Saturday, I was with my three children – all of us together at the same time, on the same team, to get Hayley help and out of the risky lifestyle she had been living in for over a year. It was a miracle – – – and the best Mother’s Day present imaginable.  However, now comes the waiting.  Will she stick it out? Can she schmooze her way through a team of professionals like she did in 2002 at the eating disorder treatment center? Who and what has she become?  Can you “undo” ways of thinking and behaving?

P.S.  I drove back home from delivering Hayley to my sons, yesterday, and this morning got back in my car and drove two hours to spend Mother’s Day with my 92 yo mother.  At around 1:00 pm at brunch, my phone rang.  It was the detox center, and my heart sank.  “Hi – – – this is Megan at First House Detox”, she said.  “Normally, phone calls aren’t allowed, but I have your daughter here and she wants to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.”  I was thrilled to hear Hayley’s voice. She sounded good.  Her message to me was sweet, and sincere.  She seemed pleased that she had slept so long that now, it was time for her first suboxone dose.  Hmmmmmm.  That phone call was testimony to Hayley’s incredible persuasion skills.  I just hope that the treatment center staff is up to dealing with them. 

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Ready . . . Set . . . . . . . . . . . . GO!

Posted on May 6, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Intervention, Parent of an Addict, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

My daughter says she is “ready” to go to treatment. And so, after a very intense and frenzied 10 days or so, we are “set”.  Now, we just have to “go”.

Waiting for the “go” is the hard part.  There’s way too much time from now until Saturday morning at 9:00 am when I’m scheduled to pick Hayley up at the crack house, drive 3 hours to the airport, and send her off.  Will she truly be ready?

We have definitely reached a major milestone.  A couple of weeks ago, after virtually no contact with Hayley for ~ eight months, I decided that she might never get herself to treatment, and needed a “hand up”. If the heroin and other drugs didn’t kill her, the dangerous lifestyle would.  She has never been to a drug treatment program, and I felt she deserved a chance – – – to change her life, to get clean and sober. I know how her brain works – and understand her anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed.  Since seeing her on her birthday, April 6th, she has been saying to friends and some family members that she wants to go to treatment. In reality, I suspected that her shift in attitude was due to her drug supply being seriously interrupted.  After the crack house was raided a couple of months ago, she no longer had easy access to her drugs.  Whatever . . . in order to be able to live with myself and know that I had done everything possible to help my daughter, I decided to take this “ball” of opportunity, and run with it.

In the last couple of weeks, I  have spoken with a number of professionals and multiple treatment centers. The choices are dizzying – and confusing.  It’s like trying to choose a college by speaking to an admittance counselor over the phone. However, our family has been counseled and directed by a well-respected interventionist, who has really helped us define our goals and narrow down treatment centers and options. Kristina Wandzilak is definitely an experienced and talented coach and professional.

Hayley will be going to go to an all women’s treatment center in southern California, where they will be able to treat her addictions, eating disorder, and ‘trauma’ issues.  It’s a 90 day initial program, with a minimum six month after care program that can be extended, if necessary.  Hayley will need a one to two year supervised living situation where she can learn and practice  basic independent living skills. And, she will hopefully get a thorough psychiatric assessment and the follow-up counseling necessary to re-build her self-esteem, learn behavior modification techniques to moderate her impulses and manage her anxiety.  It all seems overwhelming.  But, I am allowing myself some hope, for the first time in years.  If the timing is right, and Hayley can grab hold of this opportunity to pull herself up, well . . . it will be a frigg’in miracle.

I’m a bit numb – trying to keep myself focused on the many necessary details to still arrange, and also trying to keep my hope within realistic limits.  I swing from one extreme to another. I’m trying to keep myself going through these next uncertain days and praying Hayley makes it too.

We decided that we would not need to use the intervention process now, as Hayley already seems willing to go to treatment.  However, the power of the family collectively coming together and professing our love and hope for Hayley, is something that we may do after 30 days of treatment, when she is more clear-headed and may need a boost of energy and resolve to continue on.  They say that the hard work of recovery actually begins after the residential treatment program ends.  And then, there are the 3 – 6 month “fuck-its” that need to be overcome. I hope we can cheer lead Hayley through  these vulnerable periods of recovery and empower her to do what she needs to do.

So,  here’s the plan.  I will pick Hayley up on Saturday at 9:00 am and head to Seattle.  Along the way, we will drive an hour or so and meet my brother, who will be waiting for us with my 92 yo mother.  After a brief hug and some well wishes, Hayley and I will continue on to pick up her older brother, Jake, and younger brother, Brian.  Brian will have flown in from San Francisco and will then personally escort Hayley down to southern California, where they will be met by Brad, their father, and Brad’s wife, Jill.  It’s really a tag team effort, with all major family members involved and able to spend time with Hayley, give her some encouragement and support, and any personal message they may have.

Hayley and I had planned to meet today, Thursday, at 2:00 pm.  I am definitely trying to stay in closer contact with her as departure day looms.  Today, I was going to give her more details of the treatment plan, time table, logistics, etc. – essentially everything we discussed with Kristina on the family conference call.  I was nervous, and have been very anxious that something will foul up the intricate plan – especially since last night, when I spoke with Hayley, she was crying and in bad shape.  She said she was tired of being “punched and pushed around”, yelled at, and generally, treated poorly. She’s enduring a lot of physical and emotional abuse, just to procure her next hit.  This conversation broke my heart, and scared me.  What would these drug addicts plan/do to sabotage Hayley’s effort to get clean?  She sobbed that ‘they’ were even threatening to burn her blankie.

At 1:45 pm today, Hayley called to say she had overslept and could I pick her up at 2:30 pm instead of 2:00 pm?  My stomach dropped a bit – but, at least she called, right?

When I swung in to the driveway of the crack house, she was ready.  Whew! As we were driving, I called “Lloyd” at First House Detox, affiliated with Safe Harbor Treatment Center in Costa Mesa.  Lloyd had told me yesterday that he would love to talk with Hayley and reassure her – which he did.  He was very sweet, encouraging, and tried to  put Hayley at ease.  He talked about using suboxone during detox, but that it was very important she not use it in treatment.  He sounded very convincing, and made some good points, which, I promise, I did not prompt him to do!  It’s amazing how things sound so much better coming from someone else.

We picked up some lunch at Quiznos and took it to my house.  One of the things I was most concerned about was whether or not Hayley had some photo/picture ID, so she could get on the plane.  She assured me she did, so I decided to not worry any more about that – cross it off my list.

During lunch, we had a good talk.  I told Hayley some details of the drug treatment center program, its length (90 days, then 6 months extended care/sober living, then maybe even more supervised living if that’s what the professionals recommended).  And, I told her that if she did not fully complete each step of the treatment program, she would be on her own – that we would have no further contact with her.  I think I was able to convey our excitement for her to have this opportunity to re-start her life and reinvent herself, our hope and confidence that she was capable of doing it, although it would be hard work. She seemed very receptive.

I essentially bought Hayley an entire new wardrobe: (from Target, Shopko, Costco): shoes (she’s had no shoes since September – only random flip flops), clothes, luggage, toiletries – everything to be in California for several months. Basically, I encouraged her to leave everything behind at the crack house – just bring her blankie and a couple of special things.  She agreed to this and seemed to understood the rationale.  In fact, when I returned her to the crack house, she gave me her blankie, one pair of favorite jeans, and a sweater to wash.  I’ll pack them in to her bag.

I’m still quite anxious that Hayley’s druggie ‘friends’ will try to sabotage her leaving – and discussed this with her.  She assured me that they wouldn’t, that she would be careful, etc.  I suggested she stay with me Friday night, but she declined.  I told her to call me Friday night before midnight, and Saturday morning at 8:30 am, and that I would come pick her up any time she wanted me to prior to the Saturday morning departure.  She sounded strong and determined. She truly seems ready, and was very touched by the family “tag team” effort of sending her off and taking her down to CA.

So – I think things are on track – – – and I will be sooooo relieved when she steps in to the car with me on Saturday morning – and then,  gets herself through airport security, isn’t too dopesick on the plane, and is picked up and delivered to the detox facility in California. I am incredibly anxious about these last couple of days.  I know that any heroin injection is potentially fatal.  And, Hayley’s drug ‘friends’ are f–ked up enough to hurt her and/or make her “pay” in some way for leaving. There are so many ways the plan can fail. I’m trying to send out positive energy – and hope that Hayley can feel it and stay strong.  Keep your fingers and toes crossed.

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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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“Addicted”: Programs # 5 & # 6

Posted on April 23, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Intervention, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Addicted:  Programs # 5 & 6; Wednesday @ 10:00 pm on TLC

I’m going to try to keep this brief.  Instead of a blow-by-blow summary of these programs, I’m just going to list some common themes and pertinent pearls.

In all six of the programs I’ve watched, the physical transformation of the addict/alcoholic after being clean and sober for just 30 days, was remarkable, and gives me hope. The recovering addicts’ change in attitude, willingness to embrace their sobriety and work a program, were also impressive. How long this “honeymoon” period lasts in reality, I don’t know. However, addict Mark, in Night Navigation talks about the 3 – 6 month “fuckits” – when the thrill and euphoria of sobriety wear off and the real work begins.  Recovering addicts are particularly vulnerable during this time. Follow-up programs at the 6 to 12 month recovery stage would be interesting and insightful –  and, perhaps, give us a more realistic picture of an addict’s difficult struggle and how to better support their recovery.

Interventionist, Kristina Wandzilak’s involvement with the addict through out the treatment process is a crucial component, I think, to the intervention and treatment program’s success. She coaches the addict, takes him/her on motivational “field trips” , and is a fairly neutral (non-family member)  mediator when problems arise.  Perhaps this is what’s necessary to sustain long term recovery?

Almost all of the addicts’ parents and family members seemed intimidated by “their” addict – somewhat ‘afraid’ of them. They were also experienced enablers. (aren’t we all?) Jeremy’s mother articulated my own feelings:  “I feel like such a failure”. She added, “ . . . every time I say yes to him it’s helping him die slowly . . . “  Jeremy’s mother’s intense need to be liked by her son, interfered with her ability to effectively parent.

“Jeremy”, in program # 5, smoked oxycontin, which I had never seen before. And the fact that Kristina had worked with Jeremy two years ago, was interesting. I would have liked to learn more about that first intervention process and how/why it failed.

In program # 6, Annie and Michael were “speedballing” heroin and cocaine. Watching Michael desperately try to find a usable vein on Annie, was difficult to watch.  Annie was bruised from head to toe with injection-site infections and cellulitis.  Ultimately, Annie has to use veins in her neck in order to get a fix.  Mike’s arms were also totally ravaged, infected, swollen.  In fact, he could barely bend one of his arms, or use it in a very functional way. The absolute desperation of the addict  – in trying to score some junk, pay for it, find a vein in which to inject it – – – all of it was exhausting and full of unbearable suspense.  Annie’s intense craving and battered body reinforced the mental images I have of my own daughter. The unbelievably difficult lifestyle of a heroin addict was dramatically portrayed. Annie said  she hated the lifestyle, but was afraid to leave it. It recalled something I said to Hayley when I met with her on her birthday, April 6th.  I told her that if she could be a heroin addict and all that that lifestyle entailed, she could do or be anything.  Ironic, isn’t it?

The agitation, physical pain, and power of heroin withdrawal in Program # 6, were raw and unpleasant to watch, but gave me a better idea of how difficult “kicking it” can be.

One of the things that bothered me, however,  was Mike’s statement about speedballing: “ . . . it’s ruined my life.”  This statement seemed to shift the blame and accountability from himself and the choices he made to the drug itself. He sounded like a victim:  “We don’t have any money to keep us well. We’re screwed.”  “WAAAHHH”, I wanted to scream.

Kristina’s words to the family were : it’s possible to be happy, joyful, free, regardless of what the addict is doing.

And to the addicts she re-iterates: “You have to do the work in order to change”. And, “Take a step at a time.  You’re not going to get it all at once.”

And to all of us, she says: “With addiction, it doesn’t really matter how much someone loves you.”

I still wonder how, during a 28 day treatment program, are addicts even capable of reflecting, or doing the necessary personal work to change and sustain sobriety? Aren’t the first 30 days or so essentially just getting the toxins out so the addict can think more clearly?

I truly can’t imagine Hayley getting herself out of the powerful addiction cycle without help, ie: an intervention.  I feel as if I’m merely waiting around until some catastrophic event occurs. And this is my haunting dilemma.  How much time do we have? I’m not sure I can rest until we’ve tried an intervention to give my daughter a chance to get clean and clear her head. And then, if that doesn’t work, I can feel better about stepping back and letting Hayley find her own way – to recovery – – – – or, whatever.

I did check out Kristina Wandzilak’s blog, The Kristina Chronicles, and think it’s worth visiting.  Her post on Wednesday, April 21st,  Take A Seat, was pretty good.

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