Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
My Addicted Adult Child Needs Help. Will He Ever Be Well?
You gave birth to them. You snuggled them. You tucked them in at night. You scared away the boogey man and you kept them safe. Some say, there is no deeper love than a Mother’s love for her child. There wasn’t anything you wouldn’t have done for them. You had such big plans. They were your whole world… until one day your world shifted and then everything fell apart. Now you’re left with the broken pieces, trying to glue it all back together again. Only they don’t fit together the way they once did. And you’re wondering if your precious babe will ever be the same. Heather – not her real name – says her son was a charmer. As a baby, he cut his first tooth at four months. He was pulling himself up on the furniture by six months. At ten months, he was taking steps. By twelve months, he was running. Heather says her son Blake – not his real name – did everything early, including trying drugs. Blake was only 13 the first time he tried marijuana. By 15 he was drinking alcohol and using crystal meth. Blake entered his first treatment program at 16. Since then he has cycled in and out of rehab many times. Heather says Blake’s had periods of time when he’s clean and sober, but it doesn’t last. When Blake first gets out of rehab he is full of life. But Heather says he is too full. Like over the top full. Blake talks about chakras and auras and universal energy. Heather says her son looks for signs and relies solely on God. While Heather thinks God is a good addition to Blake’s life, she doesn’t think her son should rely entirely on him. Going into rehab, Blake is withdrawn, depressed, malnourished and dope-sick. Completing rehab, he is just the opposite: happy, healthy and hopeful. Blake wants to be a drug and alcohol counselor. He likes helping other people and being needed. Blake doesn’t listen to suggestions. Although newly sober he says ‘he’s got this.’ Blake believes that because he’s been through treatment so many times, he knows a lot about getting clean and sober. Blake cares about his old using buddies and wants to help them too. But hanging out with active users he ends up relapsing. Blake’s trouble is he sees himself as the teacher, not the student. In other words, Blake talks a good talk. He’s an all-star in treatment. Blake does know a lot. He can spout off text from the Big Book and he knows what powerless means. Blake admits he’s an addict and talks about it openly. Blake’s problems aren’t in what he knows. It’s what he doesn’t. Blake is unaware that leaving treatment he’s experiencing what people in the room’s term as “a pink cloud.’ Meaning Blake is high… On life, on wishful thinking, on feeling good, on being a savior. But pink clouds don’t last. Every single person in early recovery experiences their pink cloud. I rode mine for months. Life was just so damned sweet not waking up dope-sick every day. Being free from the dealer, the crazy lifestyle, the lies and the 24/7 quest of finding more was such a relief. In treatment, it’s easy to be clean and sober. Your meals are being cooked for you, you have a comfortable bed with clean linens. The hollowed out scarecrow look fades quickly with three squares and dessert every day. You bond with the other people in treatment. You’re tight with them. You may even fall in love… with rehab. But if you aren’t doing the work and following suggestions, no matter how smart you are or what you think you know… YOU WON’T STAY CLEAN AND SOBER. Although Blake can talk a good talk and does well in treatment, he can’t walk it. All the knowledge in the world won’t keep him clean and sober if he doesn’t change the places he goes and the people he hangs out with. Heather is still wondering when she’ll get her son back. But what Heather doesn’t know is although Blake is an adult, he doesn’t have a good sense of who he is either. Long before Blake started using drugs, he was a performer. He likes constant stimulus and feels empty inside without it. Blake likes the highs of sobriety, but he can’t deal with the lows. If he’s to ever have a chance at long term sobriety, he will have to take the mask off and start getting real. Up until now, Blake has medicated or performed to escape uncomfortable emotions. Feelings that aren’t shared or debriefed become unhealthy actions like relapse. Blake is struggling with delusion and grandiosity. His sense of self is bigger than is healthy. It’s not Blake’s job to fix other people. Blake does not know more than others in treatment just because he’s been numerous times. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Blake is actually sicker than someone attending for the first time. If Blake really knew as much as he thought he did, his actions would change, he’d take suggestions and he wouldn’t keep relapsing. While Blake has attended many 28 day programs, what he really needs is long term dual diagnosis treatment at a facility that will develop a personalized plan to address all his underlying issues. Blake will also need long term sober living with a group of peers and professionals who will hold him accountable and call him on his delusional and grandiose thinking. With the right help, Blake can be successful and fulfill all his dreams of making a difference in the world by helping others like himself. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 844-451-0263.