Himself and I spent one of the most difficult days of our lives yesterday driving to and admitting our son to rehab. for alcohol dependency. We are not alone as we have an excellent support system of family and friends and because of our faith in a consistently faithful, loving God. After careful deliberation, I have decided to use this venue to talk about it because there are so many people who are experiencing the same thing and feeling very much alone with it.
The boy, who is seventeen years old, has admitted to drinking alcohol since he was thirteen and drinking heavily for the past year and a half. We did not have a clue. If he hadn’t started becoming very rebellious and difficult to handle we would not have sought help and gotten him into a behavioral day program.
Had I not read an AIM instant message he forgot to delete and had I not snooped around his MySpace account, and had I not discovered he was sneaking out during the night, I wouldn’t have known he was drinking and he wouldn’t have been transferred from the behavioral program to the chemical dependency program. (Actually, he had a positive drug test with a very modest amount of marijuana but even a small amount is too much.)
Had he not been in the CD program, we would not have known that he hadn’t had a sober weekend since he started treatment. Had his case manager and the staff of the day program not been on top of their game my son would not now be in inpatient treatment.
How could we not have known all this before now? His new counselor at the rehab. told us this is not unusual because addicts are master deceivers. They tell you what you want to hear so that they can continue to have your trust and use it to their "advantage."
We have had a couple of people, including The Girl, tell us this is just what teenagers do. They drink. They smoke pot. Well, a good friend of mine who has worked with CD explained it like this: You can have ten friends who, in high school, rebelliously smoke pot and drink alcohol. Ten years later, eight of those friends will just be every day guys and two will be addicts. For some kids it is a rite of passage. For others it is a road leading to a life of pain and sorrow for them and those who love them. And possibly for those who lose a loved one because of irresponsible behavior on the addict’s part.
Parents, be on the look out for:
II. What are the Symptoms of Substance Abuse?
Symptoms of Substance abuse include the following:
- Sudden personality changes that include abrupt changes
in work or school attendance, quality of work, work output, grades, discipline
- Unusual flare-ups or outbreaks of temper
- Withdrawal from responsibility
- General changes in overall attitude
- Loss of interest in what were once favorite hobbies and pursuits
- Changes in friends and reluctance to have friends visit or talk about them
- Difficulty in concentration, paying attention
- Sudden jitteriness, nervousness, or aggression
- Increased secretiveness
- Deterioration of physical appearance and grooming
- Wearing of sunglasses at inappropriate times
- Continual wearing of long-sleeved garments particularly in hot weather or reluctance to wear short-sleeved attire when appropriate
- Association with known substance abusers
- Unusual borrowing of money from friends, co-workers or parents
- Stealing small items from employer, home or school
- Secretive behavior regarding actions and possessions; poorly concealed attempts to avoid attention and suspicion such as frequent trips to storage rooms, restroom, basement, etc.
- (website for more information)
I have been experiencing terrible guilt for not knowing sooner and for his addiction in general. The experts have been telling me to stop feeling guilt. My head says they are right. I’m working on my heart.
This is the first day Himself and I don’t have the anxiety about where our son might be or whether or not he is drinking. Our anxiety is still here because that is the state we have been in for so long. I anticipate that our anxiety will lesson with each day and with each reassuring call we get from his counselor (his counselor called to let us know The Boy is cooperative and working hard because he knows he needs to be there).
Now, a pet peeve. The world of recovery is very big on calling alcoholism and drug addiction a "disease." I say phooey. If you look at the definitions above you will see that the second part of the addiction definition agrees with what the system says. However, that definition is relatively new. Alcoholism and drug addiction are addictions. Period. Please do not compare them with cancer, ALS, MS, etc. I won’t make a big stink about it with the staff and with my son but there you have it. My two cents worth.
I have rarely written an entry about the negatives going on in my life other than mentioning illness. However, it occurred to me that writing about this might help someone. It would also show you my human side.
Prayers are gratefully accepted. Pity is not. Empathy but not pity, okay?
Wishing you blessings and knowing that God reigns, gail