Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
“Mommy Please Come Home.”
Addiction comes in every color, shape, sex and form. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what you do for a living, or how much money you have in the bank. Addiction is our great equalizer. It impacts everyone, but no one is more affected than our children.
The addict’s child is often neglected, abandoned and left to be raised by a family member or shuffled off into foster care. There are very few resources available for the kids.
The psychological damage to children of addicted parents is complex. They will experience anxiety, loss of trust, abandonment issues and low self-worth. Toxic stress can occur. This happens when a child goes through prolonged adversity such as neglect, parental substance abuse and emotional distress.
“Children of addicted parents are the highest risk group of children to become alcohol and drug abusers due to both genetic and family environmental factors.” – NACoA.
We need to discuss addiction openly. We need to tell the truth. For it isn’t just the addicted person who gets hurt. Everyone in the family suffers in the process. Some of us never talk about the scars we leave on our children. Perhaps if we did, there would be more help available for them.
Personally, I devastated my kids when I was caught up in drugs. One particularly awful experience stands out for me.
It was 3 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. I’d been up for days. I eyed the little white flap in front of me. The powder in the tiny envelope was almost gone. The party had dwindled down to me and the two strung out guys beside me. None of us had eaten, slept or bathed. We were in a different world than the one that exists when you’re sober. This world had no rules, or time, it didn’t consist of responsibility, work, or family. There were no mortgage payments or utility bills or household chores or television commercials. There were no parents, or marriage, or children. Nothing real lived here. Only oblivion, oily skin, burning eyes and an insatiable need for more. More drugs, more drugs, MORE!
Addiction is a hungry beast with an unstoppable appetite. I was on a suicide mission.
There were not enough drugs left to get the three of us high. Panic was setting in. Just as I was considering a grab and run, a knock sounded at the door.
It wasn’t the loud knock of an angry person. It wasn’t the bang, bang, open up knock of the police. This knock was small and weak and fragile.
Before I could say, “Stop!” The guy beside me reached over and jerked open the door.
On the other side of the door was my little girl. Her lip trembled and her eyes filled with tears. I did not run to her. I was frozen in my tracks. I wish I could tell you I felt love, or compassion, or anything motherly. But I did not. I felt anger, rage even.
As I looked beyond her searching for my husband – the bastard who brought my daughter to a crack house – my little girl spoke up. Or rather, she squeaked. “Mommy please come home.”
Then she broke down sobbing.
I raced past her to hurl insults at my spouse. What kind of man brought a child to a place like this? We screamed at one another with our little girl sandwiched in the middle of us, hearing it all.
I took no responsibility. He was crazy. He was selfish. He was a bastard. He ruined my party.
For outsiders looking in, it would appear I was the most cold-hearted mother to ever live. I certainly felt that way. The shame I felt afterward was horrible. Factually, I was a bad mother. My kids couldn’t trust me. They couldn’t count on me. I made promises I didn’t keep. I let them down time after time. I thought there was something very broken in me. For each time I promised it wouldn’t happen again, I really meant it. But something bigger than me and stronger than love was in charge.
Because I couldn’t fulfill my promises, I stopped making them. I gave up trying to appear normal. It was a very dark time in my life. For when an addicted person gives up, they go heavy.
Since then I’ve learned I wasn’t a bad Mom, just a very sick one. The kind of sick that most people will never understand.
If you’re like me, you have no stop button. Our button is set to self-destruct. That’s why rock bottom doesn’t work. With each new fall, rock bottom moves. What once was intolerable becomes the new normal. And the line keeps moving from there. Eventually, there is very little left of who we once were. Addiction owns us. By then, the road back is long and difficult. For addiction takes over the way we think, feel and behave.
I’m told you can’t force an addicted person into treatment. I say, why not?
It worked for me. I thank God every day, I was forced to go. I had given up. Left to my own devices I would surely be dead.
Recovery gave me the gift of time. It brought me home to my children. Recovery gave my kids the mother they had always deserved. One that was happy, healthy and loving. In short, a mother they can trust and count on.
The best chance your addicted loved one has is you. Don’t give up on them. Fight this battle by learning everything you can. Get in the way. Don’t enable. Involve an interventionist. Set boundaries and call the number below. Vertava Health has a team of professionals who will answer your questions and provide support for you and your family.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1-888-614-2379.