Addiction, Disease and Are We Having Fun Yet?




a. Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance: a drug used in the treatment of heroin addiction.
b. An instance of this: a person with multiple chemical addictions.


1. A pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms.
2. A condition or tendency, as of society, regarded as abnormal and harmful.


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


17 responses to “Addiction, Disease and Are We Having Fun Yet?

  1. At least it’s out in the open and being treated. Thank you for the transparency. I believe that’s what God wants in his children, so we can help each other. I know someone will be helped by your honesty.
    Prayers and hugs,

  2. Sorry for the generic message, but I just wanted to let all of you, whom I visit on a regular basis, know I am getting prepared for a really routine procedure and following that I will be staying in the hospital for a few weeks to give my personal care attendants some well-deserved time off. They honestly haven’t had a caregiver respite for more than four years now and the last time I was admitted at all was more than three years ago. For some reason the VA calls this particular visit a "respite," but it is in no way a vacation for me.
    For the next several days I am going to be getting my household prepared and all of my things in order and therefore will probably not have a lot of time to devote to the joy of reading everyone’s blogs. I may check in every now and then, but once I am admitted to the hospital I will not have access to a computer. So, you most likely will not hear from me again until early August.
    I am still working on a few entries and if I do manage to get them done prior to going on "respite" I will post them. In the meantime, I will probably be trying to get out a little more often to see some movies, eat some decent food, do some last minute shopping, and things that I will not have an opportunity to enjoy once I am sequestered from the mortal world. I could have used the word imprisoned, but that would definitely be a little too harsh. They normally treat me pretty well and I do seem to be able to get a significant amount of reading done, as all there is to do is watch television and read when I am up in the chair.
    I’ll definitely be missing you all, as many of my fellow Spaces bloggers have become like an extended family.

  3. Hey there Gorgeous (at least SOMEONE knows what the "g" stands for…
    Still praying for you!  (and also, the most talked-about movie I have never seen?  "Titanic" — I know how it ends)
    Had another discover my sign yesterday…I felt like saying, in true Bill Engvahl style, "here’s YOUR sign"  but I resisted.
    Take care, things are fine, the Canadian is yet once again delayed til Monday…gave that whole thinb over to God — HE deals with delays better than I do.
    Loving you lots, will have some of Himself’s fave breakfast food (other than hash) in honor of you both!! (still have tons in the freezer)

  4. Thanks for sharing this so openly G. I thank God you both got him there safely and he’s checked into good hands. Pray that the therapy will go well….that he will realise things he has to make right… also praying that God would open his eyes, ears and heart towards our Heavenly Father who guides us through all things.
    Take good care G.  

  5. Keeping you in my prayers.
    And ask you for the same. We just learned our son is once again using. Dealing with the same emotions I know you have been experiencing. You are fortunate that you have rehab centers nearby – something not readily available in our area. -c

  6. Some people (ultra liberals) believe it is wrong to spy on your kids…all I can say is #$%^ you!!!  Spying on your kids’ just means you give a shit!!!  We are responsible for our kids until they turn 18, and if they get into trouble before that age we as parents are usually seen as the culprits ~sighs~.
    There is no explanation why one person becomes a drug addict an another one doesn’t.  It works very much on the same scale as cancer.  It attacks whoever it wants indiscriminately ~sighs~.  There is no single class that suffers from addiction anymore than another class.  Every race, creed, religion and financial group suffers from it.
    I don’t believe that Gayness, Drug Addiction, Pedophiles, etc. are diseases/genetic dispositions in the respect that all disease must rely on three criteria, which these diseases cannot protest.  It is a social disease and usually happens because of the way an individual perceives the world i.e. artists, Empathic, ADHD, Neurotics, etc.  For whatever reason we do not see the world as normal people and are incapable of dealing with the pain in the world as normal people do and so we find a way to blot ourselves out of existence.  I still do this with pot on occasion and my wife is sure to let me know when I am ~snickers~.
    Also, as a kid I was lied to by my parents and institutions, which told me, Marijuana was bad, but when I smoked it all I did was laugh and have a good time, so I assumed they were lying about other drugs too.  Unfortunately “meth” has a 95% addiction rate on a normal person, so you can imagine how addicted an addict like myself became to it.
    Addiction is a social problem, not a disease or a criminal disorder.  I believe it happens more to people with a greater intuition on the inner workings of our universe/reality, which causes escapism, or those who suffer from artistic depressions.  It has taken me 12 years to get where I am, and I am still not very good at dealing with societies lies…it just makes me angry and I hate being angry so I want to disappear, but I feel so much better when I go through an emotion or a problem and I got through it without escapism ~cheers~.
    I know you are very busy hun with grandkids, kids, himself and life…but if I can suggest anything to you it would be “Al-Anon”.  It is for the sufferers who love addicts.  It helps you learn to separate any codependency you may be having, after all we as parents want to protect our babies even though at times we may be hurting them ~smiles~.
    As you know I was a “meth” addict for decades.  I finally got help at the age of 30.  Some people never seek nor accept that help.  Just the fact that he is in a rehabilitation center gives him an edge that may help him recover quicker and get his life back instead of starting at the age of 30 or like so many NEVER! ~sighs~.
    I did the 12 steps several times and that was the key to my alleviation from addiction.  I also had to find God, because without some form of “Higher Power” I would have never neither escaped nor seen my addiction.
    I am praying for you and your boy!  You all have a rough road to hold for the rest of his life.  Remember relapse is a part of recovery and he may fall on occasion.  The important thing is he get back up on that horse and realizes that he will probably never be able to drink again.  Believe me when I say deep down inside addicts want to be able to drink one beer, or maybe two but it always ends up being a 6pack or a 12pack then we feel like shit about ourselves and take it out on everyone around us ~sighs~.
    I love you guys and I will have Julie’s church pray too, sounds like you can get all the help you need right now hun, and if you want to talk to someone who has been through the ringer let me know I’ll give you my phone number and you can talk to my wife.  It was her resolve that saved me and made me see the mess I was in ~smiles~.  It sounds like you have your head on straight though and you are not enabling him ~cheers~.  Believe me as parents every fiber wants to protect them in ways that are detrimental ~smiles~.
    I wish I could magically fix this, as do you I’m sure!  You are loved at home and abroad, so you do have a great support team ~smiles~.
    If your writing helps one parent, or one person then Heaven’s Doors shall surely be open unto you ~smiles~.

  7. My thanks to all for your kind comments and prayers.  Today has been an especially difficult day because it has finally sunken in; my son is an alcoholic.  There is very little that can make me cry.  Very little.  Now that we are a couple of days away from dropping our boy off I am crying.  It has hit me like a ton of bricks. 
    Adam, your words are so true.  I agree 95% or so with them.  That is a high percentage, don’t you think?  People, it was Adam who first told me my son has a substance abuse problem.  He cared enough to be a straight shooter with me and, because of that, I was more able to see the truth.  Bless you Adam for your heart which is so very big and tender.
    I count on prayers, dear ones.  As I said before, I have a very big support system in place locally.  However, my community here has become so important to me and your prayers lift me up.  Bless you and thank you.  gail

  8. Keeping you and yours in my prayers.  I know the road is long and hard.  I have a good friend who is an addictions counselor (LCSW) and another friend is an RN working with women with addictions and their children.  May God always be with you during this trying time. 
    Love,  Carol

  9. Hello Gail,
    I am so sorry for the problems you are facing at this time. The road is never easy under these circumstances. One day at a time is all that can be faced. YOU DID NOT DO ANYTHING WRONG! Stop with the guilt trip or you could end up in the hospital for any number of reasons. Too many people care about you and love you for that to happen. Many prayers are being said for You & Your Son. The most important thing he needs to remember is that You love him unconditionally now and forever. A Mother’s love never ends no matter what the child does, neither does a Father’s love – men just have a harder time showing it. No addict starts out with the conscious though, I am going to become and addict." They start out with the sole intent of just trying the drug and then the drug takes control. For some people, the first drink is one drink too many, the first joint is too many. A person never knows if one hit or one drink will be too many or not.
    Thank you for having the courage to share Your story with us. You are far more courageous than I am.
    Peace, Prayers, & Blessings to All of You.

  10. I certainly know that"How could I be so blind and stupid?" feeling.  Been there and felt that; but the counselor is correct in kids being master deceivers.  Do not blame yourself for trusting your boy.  That is something he will need to see in the coming days.  He will need someone who will let him know they trust him, they believe in him and they support him.  You were trying your best to provide what he needed – the failure was on his end, as he took your trust and violated it by deception.  That is not your fault!
    I believe the Lord is bigger than this current problem.  In time, great good will come from this!

  11. Wow!  This explains a whale of a lot!  I would imagine that to some degree it is a relief to finally know what’s going on.  While it’s emotional, I would think that the not knowing would be the hardest part.
    And I agree with you about the whole disease thing.  I went through treatment and rehab as well, and I never did quite buy into alcoholism being a disease.  When they introduce that whole concept, they say that an alcoholic is like someone who loses a leg: only the the alcoholic loses the ability to decide whether or not he takes a drink.  Basically, what they’re saying is the addiction takes over and makes all the choices for the addict.  That is true, but to call that condition a disease is a far stretch in my estimation.
    I love you and will certainly keep you and The Boy in my heart and prayers.
    I love you!!!
    Carol 🙂

  12. I don’t think anyone doubted you had a human side, G. 
    I do know how hard this is.  Just remember you are so much better off than before you knew – even if it doesn’t feel like it.
    Listen to the experts and remember it is NOT your fault.
    ps- I don’t think I agree with the ‘disease’ connotation either. 

  13. I am sorry to hear this, my friend. I figured it to be this, but I’m no doctor. Whether or not he is predisposed to abuse alcohol (or any other ten jillion substances) you will find out someday. I think people use drugs/alcohol in order to avoid the past, present and possibily the future, they enjoy the boost of confidence alcohol gives them and then it also releases the inhibition of the harder, deeper emotions.
    I pray he finds what he needs. Namely Jesus.
    Keep us informed, we all know or have someone in the family who needs this, too.
    More later about my ‘vacation’~

  14. Pingback: “Deja vu All Over Again” « gail's Great Atlantic Northeast

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