Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
A Message From The Addicted Person’s Mom
Cheryl (not her real name) is a business owner, wife and mother. She has a loving, attentive husband and two beautiful children, a son and a daughter. Like all other Moms, she wants the best for her kids. Cheryl works hard to provide a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and a beautiful house to call home. Cheryl’s daughter is in university, thriving. But the same can’t be said for her son. Cheryl’s precious baby boy is addicted to heroin.
She doesn’t like talking about her son, Brent (not his real name). Cheryl says people don’t understand and can be judgemental. Brent was the apple of her eye. He excelled at everything he did. He was smart, charming and funny. She imagined her son as a doctor, lawyer or a politician. She was sure Brent was destined for great things. Never, ever, did she think her son would turn to drugs and become addicted.
Cheryl says being an addict’s Mom is lonely. She feels ashamed all the time and is constantly looking back to see if something she did, caused her son’s addiction.
She says, ‘My mind tells me it’s not my fault, but my heart doesn’t believe it.’
Cheryl tries to avoid talking about her son because it’s awkward. She says her friends feel pity for her and she doesn’t want that.
Cheryl tried many strategies to help Brent. She sent him out of state to private school, hoping the change of scenery and new friends would make a difference. For a little while, it looked promising, but it didn’t last. Before long Cheryl was hearing the same old news… Brent was spiraling out of control.
The more Brent spiraled, the worse Cheryl got. She says his demons became her own. She rode every up and down with him. Cheryl says she thinks it was worse for her. While her son was getting high, her eyes were wide-open. She knew it was only a matter of time before he would become another statistic. Every time the phone rang she panicked, sure it was the call. Cheryl says worrying about her son affected her sleep, her work, her appetite, her mental well-being and her relationships with her husband, daughter and friends.
Cheryl was so focused on her son, she never noticed what was happening to her. She ignored the warnings signs her body was sending her. Cheryl said her son’s disease moved into their house and took over. It was in bed with her, it followed her to work and rode next to her in the car. It went everywhere she did. She never got a break from it. Cheryl says she didn’t know she was getting sick. She just got used to feeling exhausted and stressed out. She had no idea she was headed for a nervous breakdown. It wasn’t until she couldn’t get out of bed one morning that her husband stepped in.
Cheryl attended a family program. She learned a lot there.
She wants you to know addiction doesn’t just happen to bad families, it happens to good families too. Cheryl is an intelligent woman. She manages her accounting firm and has loyal customers. Cheryl did all the right things as a parent. She was a loving presence in her son’s life. He had the best of everything. Nice clothes, good schools, sports, loving parents, family vacations and loving grandparents.
Cheryl spent her life trying to make Brent’s life, easier. She could fix his scraped knee and almost anything else. But she couldn’t fix his addiction. The harder she tried, the more she lost herself. Cheryl admits she has never felt so powerless in all her life.
She says when your child crosses the line into addiction, you’re not talking to them anymore – you’re talking to their disease. The best parents in the world are not powerful enough to undo that.
Cheryl sought professional help and says it’s the best thing she ever did. Listening to people that aren’t educated about addiction, is dangerous. She is tired of the mixed messages. She was told her to kick her son out. Others said to keep helping him. But she doesn’t think either message is right. Loving an addicted person is not black and white.
Cheryl doesn’t like labels. She says labeling parents codependent, or enabler just keeps them from reaching out and getting the help they need. Cheryl says she was just doing what any Mom would do when their child is in danger, she was trying to help.
Addiction is a very powerful illness. She says you don’t have to use drugs, to get sick from them. This disease preys on love, guilt, shame, secrecy, isolation and fear. Her best advice; reach out. Involve professionals. Surround yourself with people who are going through similar experiences. Open up. Purge your emotions before they become unhealthy actions or physical, psychological, and/or mental health issues.
Addiction is a progressive brain disease that is terminal in nature. Cheryl says she will not abandon her son to his disease. Instead, she is fighting back by taking care of herself and learning everything she can.
If you or someone you know needs support, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1-888-614-2379.