Mother and son sitting together looking happy

Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.


One Mother Admits; I Am Addicted To Helping My Son.


When you love someone struggling with addiction you hear terms like codependent and enabling, but one mother recently took it a step further.  Joanne – not her real name – admits she is addicted to helping her son. Joanne says her life is falling apart. She is going through a difficult divorce and feels bitter towards her husband. Joanne says she and her soon-to-be ex, are on different pages when it comes to helping their addicted son.

Joanne claims she over-functions in her son’s life because his father doesn’t play much of a role. Joanne believes her son’s addiction is due to the lack of attention he received from his father growing up. Cody’s father was away a lot. He worked out of state and had a stressful job. When he was home he didn’t want the responsibilities of dealing with their son, so he left the parenting decisions to Joanne.

Joanne says at first she was okay with it. Although her son had always been a handful, she felt she managed him well. But when Cody – not his real name – started smoking weed and then dabbing in high school, she was in over her head.

Dabbing is when the user smokes highly concentrated marijuana in a vaporized form. Dabbing allows the user to ingest high levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.  Some users describe dabbing as freebasing marijuana.

Joanne says her son changed drastically in a very short period of time. He became defensive when she would ask him questions. He would spend long hours isolated in his bedroom. She could hear him talking to someone but there was never anyone in the room with him.

One day after work she found him on his bed, disheveled and mumbling incoherently. She says his room was dark and littered with dirty plates, cups and utensils. She asked him to get up and he became aggressive with her. He swore and punched the wall, leaving a large fist-sized hole in it.

It was then Joanne realized the severity of Cody’s problems. She sought help. Cody went to his first counseling session. The therapist asked to speak with Joanne. Guidelines were set and Cody agreed to stop using marijuana and to continue with his schooling.

But Cody didn’t make it through one day clean. When they got home he rushed upstairs and closed the door. Later on, when Joanne checked on him, she recognized all the signs. Cody was high again and not happy to see her.

Joanne was between a rock and a hard place. The therapist had asked her to practice boundaries with her son. Her ex-husband said she should kick him out. She didn’t like either suggestion and felt very alone.

Cody continued to deteriorate. Money went missing from Joanne’s purse. Items went missing around the house. When she confronted Cody on it, he blew up at her.

Cody never went back to school and Joanne stopped reaching out for help. She was told to let Cody experience the consequences of his choices, but she wouldn’t do that. Joanne says she would never put her son out on the street.

Although Cody lived in her home, she saw very little of him. He slept during the day and went out at night. If it weren’t for the dirty dishes and clothes littering his floor, Joanne says she wouldn’t know he was there.

One day after work Joanne went upstairs to see if Cody would eat dinner with her, but Cody was not in his room. She took advantage of his absence and searched his drawers. Something wasn’t adding up. Joanne found every Mother’s worst nightmare – a syringe. Beside it was a blackened spoon and other drug paraphernalia.

Sick with worry she paced the floor until Cody returned. Joanne says she blew up at her son. She called him awful names like junkie, and liar. She felt so guilty afterward, she broke down and sobbed. Cody seemed immune.

After the big blow up, Joanne walked by her son’s door afraid to look in. One day, her worst fears were confirmed. Cody had overdosed. As Joanne rode in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, she was numb. How had this happened?

Joanne thought by keeping her son close, she could keep him safe. She thought by giving him everything he wanted, she was protecting him. She thought she knew her son. But looking at him on the stretcher, Joanne realized the person laying there was a stranger to her.

Cody wasn’t the only stranger in their home. Joanne had become so caught up in her son’s illness, she no longer recognized herself.

In spite of everything she tried to keep her son safe, he almost died. Cody and Joanne were lucky. When Cody was discharged from the hospital he went into treatment, where Joanne attended a family program.

Joanne admits she was addicted to her son. She says as long as she could focus on Cody, she didn’t have to feel her own pain. She says enabling Cody made her feel better.

Today, both Joanne and Cody are doing well. Cody is living in long term sober housing. He went back to school and is working part time. Joanne attends a family support group and is learning to let go.

If you or someone you know needs help. Please call this confidential support line for assistance 1-888-614-2379.

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