Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
Parents Reveal Their Fears, Knowing Their Child May Die From An Overdose.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be the parent of an addicted person? Imagine your loved one is terminally ill, but instead of receiving an outpouring of love and support, you’re met with a wall of silence. Following up on last week’s topic – I asked people in recovery why they used fentanyl and other opiates knowing it could kill them – Today, I’m talking with their parents. Although this conversation is difficult, the parents want to share their reality with you. As you’ll see reading this blog; living with their child’s addiction isn’t just killing their child, it’s tormenting them. Keep in mind addiction is a delusional disease. There are no bad guys here. Only sick ones. When I was using I didn’t believe my choices were impacting my family – to the level they were. I was self-absorbed and self-centered. It was all about me and what I wanted. That’s the nature of this beast. It’s my hope that active or not, if you’re reading this, you will understand that addiction doesn’t just affect the person with it. I’ve been on both sides, and from my experience, it’s a lot tougher to be in the families shoes.
I ask parents what it’s like; knowing their addicted child may die from a drug overdose. Here’s what they had to say.
Darlene M – I live my life in agony and torment wondering if I did enough, or I did too much. If I caused the addiction, or enabled it, or did I not do enough to help? Diane A – Truthfully? I live in fear because he thinks he’s invincible. I always wonder, even now, if I’m doing the right thing. Intellectually, I know there is nothing I do that can affect his choices. As a mother, I constantly worry. We all know the daily horrors of people overdosing. It kills me to know that the possibility exists that I may bury my son if he does not make changes. Tanya C I – I always say I feel haunted by my daughter’s addiction. No matter how much help I get for myself and although that help has allowed me to live happily and functional, it still haunts me. Margaret D – My son is in recovery now but when I first learned about his addiction I went on adrenaline, my first words were…. I will not let my son die, I will fight & I did! Sherrie K – It’s absolutely heart wrenching knowing your child could die at any given moment. Have faith that GOD will help them with the things we cannot. As parents we have to take care of ourselves. We have to live our lives. Get to an Alanon meeting ASAP or a parent support group. We are not alone. Prayers to all families of addicts. It’s not easy, but with love, faith and support we will get through it. Jenny O – I live in fear that he will overdose. Every morning I say a prayer before I walk into his bedroom. I also live with a lot of guilt since I’ve been an addict all of his life. Trisha – How do you describe living with immense anxiety, fear, pain and worry of what could very well happen at any given moment – and that you have absolutely no control over? Insanity….I kept a “diary” under my bed for years, and kept notes of the daily chaos that filled my life. I did this because I thought I was going crazy. I have educated myself and go to my own meetings to keep myself healthy. We need to be healthy and strong to deal with this disease. My qualifier has been clean & sober for going on 7 years now, I am grateful, to say the least. Brenda T – I live in fear with every siren I hear, every unanswered text or call, the fear of “are those sirens going to my son?” When he’s not responding to my text or calls, I wonder is he alive? I dream of a day when these fears and thoughts are no more, and pray he’s still alive should I reach that point. Bev H – You’re questions are my reality Lorelie, since my boy Pete (#forpetessake) died from an overdose. 17 years of existing stuck somewhere between hell and insanity, waiting for the next or “final” shoe to drop, and it did. The madness finally stopped for me on July 25th of last year when that dreaded phone call came. Now seared into me is the pain that a parent feels from the loss of her much loved child. I dread my first upcoming Mother’s day only followed the next day with what would have been Peter’s 39th birthday. My heart aches terribly for all those mothers out there who have yet to receive their call, and those mothers who walk this path with me already. Crissy G – The worry never stops. Every phone call from a number I don’t know brings a burning pit of dread to my stomach. It is always in the back of my mind. It has changed the person I am. My son has been sober since Dec 1 but the worry does not go away. Tracy Y – My son almost died of an overdose when he was 17. Thank God I found him in time. I’m still going through the insanity of it all wondering if it will ever end. Heather J – Knowing your loved one is addicted to something that can kill them, puts a fear deep inside your soul. It makes it hard to deal with normal life. When the phone rings or a knock at the door, your first thought is oh no, is that the dreaded call? Addiction is a hard thing to deal with. You can’t even put into words, what it feels like to love someone who can be gone in a short minute. All you can do is feel your heart and soul slowly being consumed by their addiction. Rhonda HB – Feeling the heartache of not knowing if but when. I’ve already lost one so the whole scenario goes through my mind. Going to the funeral home, choosing poems and cards, picking a time for the viewing, looking at his beautiful face for the last time and walking away from the casket. Chris Ann P – When my daughter was still using I felt so many emotions. I felt sad, angry, very scared – the days of no contact were the most frightening – heartbroken always, as well as physically sick in the pit of my stomach. Mostly though, and the hardest, was that I felt powerless. As a parent, we are supposed to fix, make better, help, and protect. I was powerless to do any of that. Teresa W – My son overdosed the first time on my birthday in January of this year. The second time was 7 weeks later while driving through a drive through with my 3 grandchildren in the backseat. I never want to celebrate my birthday again. EVER. I worry every day, all day. Guilt! Turmoil and worry rule my life. I’m fighting a battle that isn’t mine and my fists land in the air. My hell is right here and I can’t get out. Only he can bring us out. Yet, his addiction is winning. Stacy V M – I believe the biggest healing or revelation a parent can come to is knowing that God created our babies and loves them more than we ever could. If God decides that this world is too much for my son, then I have to be OK with that. The ultimate “letting go” is allowing God to love them the way they need loved and if death is His answer then I have to be patient until I see my son again in Heaven. I love my son, but loving from a distance is best for him and me right now. Shannon L B – Speaking on behalf of my parents, it’s like this. I watched my mother beg, plead, argue, love, love, and love. When my brother came to us cuz he had nowhere else, he lasted 9 mos. Tomorrow marks his 2nd anniversary of his death. We all lived in panic every single day. We endured 3 ambulance calls, 3 hospital stays, and my mother was there always, not to enable, but to show love. You see, we knew the outcome was going to come so we chose to love until the end. We were lucky, it lasted 9 mos. Some people last years. It turns your world upside down and sideways. No mother should have to bury her son. I am sorry for all still living this nightmare. You can love and pray from afar. Watching my parents suffer is hard on all their other children. It’s an illness that takes down the whole family. Gina W – Being the mother of an addict has been the saddest journey I’ve ever been on. Visualizing him shooting heroin, drooling, slurring his speech, slumped over, overwhelms me with fear. Anxiety, depression, loneliness that comes from grieving the loss of a child who’s still here. I sit in his room where he grew up and cry for my son. I miss his laughter and beautiful smile. We no longer see him on holidays or birthdays. The heartache is unbearable at times. The panic when the phone rings late at night, knowing what it could mean. My life is fear and sadness most days. I’m always wondering how I can help him, what did I do wrong? As a mother I’m supposed to make everything alright, but I can’t. I find myself going back in time to remember the good days. My hearts broken. My once healthy child is knocking on deaths door. His disease has us all sick and feeling helpless. I put that fake smile on at work or around family, but in reality I’m so broken. I’m praying and trying to keep faith that he’ll get better one day before it’s too late. Lois M G – My son lost his struggle with heroin on October 19, 2015. While he was using I always worried about him and when the phone would ring, we wondered if this was the call. Miss him terribly but his suffering is gone and he’s safe with God. Carla R – What it means is truly up to the parent and the extent they would go for their child. To me it meant giving up my life. I took food to him in an alley because I didn’t want him to starve. I visited him in jail the first time because he was scared. I supported him every single time he tried to get clean. I planned his funeral. I buried him many times in my head. But I NEVER gave up hope. I learned about addiction. Taught myself to help my child and spent multiple hours in therapy. I had a nervous breakdown and at times I wanted to become an addict myself not to kill the pain, but to understand it. Kelly G – Hatred. I hate heroin. Loss. I miss my son. Horrified. At what this disease has done. Lonely. I miss my son. Terrified. It will never be over. Dread. I don’t want “the” phone call. Sadness. The help he needs seems so out of reach. Helpless. Only he can ask for help. Anger. This is an epidemic. When will something be done? Anxiety. I miss my son. Hope. My son is smart, funny, loving, he is in there somewhere. Adoration. When I think of my little boy. Peace. What I must find to handle all these feelings and thoughts that invade my mind. Love. No matter what, I love my son. *** Unfortunately, I couldn’t post all the comments. There were just too many. I would like to thank all the parents who participated in this. You allowed us to see beyond the mask. I am inspired by your courage. Without support, it’s easy to lose yourself in your loved one’s disease. Please know there is comfort in connecting with people who are going through similar events. Joining a support group and reaching out for professional help will ensure the best results for all involved. Together, we really are stronger. If you or someone you know needs help please call this confidential support line for assistance. 888-601-8693.