Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Collateral Damage

There are so many troubling aspects to drug addiction. One that we are dealing with with right now, is how the addiction has consequences for everyone around the addict. My husband and I have been struggling with how to cope with our son for four long, desperate years. Not only have we fought with our son, but we have fought with each other many times, especially when we disagree with what course of action to take. Of course, the stress, fear, and grief over the situation also builds up, and we tend to take it out on each other. We have survived seventeen years of marriage, with many bumps along the way. Sometimes, I wonder if this trial will be the one our marriage could not survive.

Our daughter has suffered tremendously because of her brother's addiction. We have tried to hide as much as possible from her, but I am ashamed to admit, it hasn't always been possible, and she has witnessed far more than any child should ever have to. In the beginning, when she was much younger, any confrontation with my son would result with her in tears, hiding in her room. Four years later, and she has become accustomed to the turmoil in our house. Confrontations do not seem to bother her, and she simply ignores her brother and our arguments. I'm not sure which reaction is more troubling. We are working on having her talk to a professional about the feelings I know she is holding deep inside.

With Justin's latest disaster, the consequences have spilled over to my parents. Justin admitted that he took the jewelry. He owed a drug dealer money, and he was desperate. He sold everything at a pawn shop, including his great grandmother's wedding band. My parents went to the pawn shop to try to retrieve some of the items, but some of it had already been shipped to a gold melting shop and the other pieces had been sold. They are all gone, thousands of dollars worth of jewels, sold for $250.00. The thought of that ring, that had such sentimental value to my mother, being destroyed, is unbearably sad, especially knowing that my child is responsible. Justin has not shown a tremendous amount of remorse, he is simply making excuses for his actions, as he always has.

If there is any good to come out of this incident, it is that everyone now knows how deeply troubled my son is. There is no more hiding, and no more excuses. My parents, my sisters and their husbands - everybody knows. It is both a relief and a burden. My family has been incredibly supportive over the past couple days. They are very worried about Justin and they want to help. The damage of drug addiction just keeps extending its ugly reach, leaving me to wonder where it will end. My parents, being the amazing parents that they are, do not care about the lost jewelry. It is the lost grandson that they are crying for.

I asked my son if he ever thinks about how many people are willing to give him second chances. I asked him if it ever amazes him how people are still willing to believe in him. I asked him how many people he will hurt, before he realizes that his addiction is not just causing him to suffer. My questions did not receive a response, other than a single tear sliding down one of his cheeks. It was the first sign of any feeling, other than anger, that he has shown in a long time. Right now, that single tear is my only hope.


  1. Hannah I just hope that somehow he can find the help that he needs. I hope you and your husband and daughter can too. This disease is so far reaching and can be so devastating to the family. Just when you feel like you have felt all of the emotions that you can possibly feel you will find more lying beneath the surface. I think seeking a professional's advice is a great idea. Al-anon for you and your husband and Al-ateen for your daughter would be great too.

    Hang in there Hannah. I am rooting for you!

  2. It is hard reading your story which strangely is similiar to my own.

    Hold onto hope.

  3. Real remorse would be if he got up tomorrow morning, went to work, and started paying back what he stole.

  4. Oh my. VERY familiar story, except there were more siblings. The baby (now 20)has FINALLY gotten into counseling, and BOY is she messed up from her sisters actions, and quite frankly, from the fact that so much of her parents energy went towards 'helping', trying to 'fix' and dealing with the addict sister.

    I used to have the whole story written down in my blog, but was hugely attacked by others and trolls, and deleted it all.

    quickly said, it took everything we had to hold our family together, and I basically and FINALLY (after many years of trying and several grandchildren as well) just quit loving and caring whether or not my daughter lived or died. Another way to put it is that I gave her to God, and I simply didn't involve myself anymore. I still don't. For us, the battle is going on 11 years now and two grandchildren later. well, 3, she still has the youngest grand, who is 2 years old.

    Yes, she stole from everyone including grandparents. We changed locks. I slept with my purse. We finally got a post office box cause she stole credit card offers right out of our mailbox and sent them in and then intercepted the new cards and activated them. she stole her sisters cars, used her little brother to steal from walmart for her, the list just goes and goes and goes. They all did it out of love for her, she was everyone's favorite sister, grandchild, etc.

    they put up with hearing "we don't have the money' because we were pouring money into the hole in their sisters arm, paying for methadone, paying for a car, paying for gas to get her to and from clinic, having her live in our home while she 'got better'. none of it worked.

    We did the 'going to the hock shop to recover family heirlooms' as well.

    I am not real popular because of what I am going to say.

    your SON is dead. there is a thing walking around in his body. Once heroin enters them, they are NOT the child you gave birth to. There is such a small, small chance that they will ever stay clean.

    And, the energy drain on you and the other members of your family is incredible, and dangerous 10 years down the road.

    Mind you, I did everything everyone else is trying for over six years. I supported, I cheered her on, I put her in rehab after rehab, I celebrated when she got out, I trusted, I prayed, I had hope.

    Not now. Now? I just get through each day raising the babies, and when I have to interact with her, when she comes over to visit the girls, I am polite, civil and guarded. She is not left alone with the girls or in any room (my husband is now insulin dependable and we have a cupboard full of needles).

    I put her out on the street when she was four months pregnant with the 2 year old, and yes, it was in fact winter, snowing.

    I have to stay, pray for hope, but do NOT hold onto it. The odds are so horribly against it and I hate to see any other family suffer the emotional devastation

    I am so sorry.

  5. I feel so bad for your parents and your mothers ring, that made me so sad.
    He is stuck and out of control with his addiction his single tear showing that there is something left of him that does feel and had compassion and that's a starting point.

    You just gotta get hom to egt some help, is there a reahb anywhere that will help him, is he willing..or can he be forced.
    Don't let all your lives be destroyed by your sons actions from his disease.

  6. Thank you all for your comments. Fractalmom, your comment broke my heart. I'm so sorry for what your daughter has put through. My son is still so young; I have to keep trying - I have to hang on to hope...

  7. Oh, how I wish that an addict's tears carried the addiction away and a mothers tears could cleanse the world. I wish, I wish.


  8. I keep you and your family in my prayers, unfortnately I know what road you are traveling since my son has the same addiction as your son.
    Six years ago my father passed away. He left me a very expensive coin collection and some other items that I have held dear to me and my son felt that I no longer needed them and stoled them from our home and sold the coins for pennies on the dollar. I was crazy mad for months and still to this day, 3 years later, I Still can't hardly stand to think of it without crying.
    I know one day he will see and feel badly for what he has done to our family, but until then we have really been put through it. The latest is he is stealing money from his sister and lying about it. I just don't know who this kid is anymore.

  9. My wife's jewelry was stolen by a 14 year old boy who was working with his grandfather at the house. The kid denied it. We lost about $40 K worth of jewelry, including her antique diamond engagement ring. We had to let it go. We could not prove the kid stole it and the jewelry was never found. I wonder now if the kid was involved in drugs. I'm sorry for the loss. Worse though is the loss of respect and trust for your son.

  10. This sounds awful but maybe your parents should call the police and charge your son with theft.

    The tear, I'm sure your son does feel bad but doesn't mean his behavior will changes.

    I spoke with my son last week, he lied to me about where he was working, he's not working and he got caught. When I asked him if he was selling drugs again, he said no and then I asked him if he was lying about that too. I talked to my therapist about this, she told me to leave my son alone and concentrate on my own problems. Tough to do though.

    Getting your daughter some help is a good idea. It's just as hard to be the good kid as it is to be the bad kid.

    Sending a hug.

  11. I wish I could offer more than just words of how much I can relate to the pain and hopelessness as well as to the hope regained when they show the smallest sign of remorse etc. I cannot count the broken promises, compromises, anymore, I cannot remmeber how often actions were taken but not consistently executed. Each and every time my hope appeared just to be smashed again. After 5 years, having lost job, money friends and any confidence I have had it. Sometimes I remember I was full of laughters, mischief and a very positive outlook of life. Now I am an exhausted frigthened person with a pitch black conecpt of life. I wish you well, One day, Hannah, one day we will travel the colors of the rainbow together. Love across the pond

  12. lou is right on about remorse...(she is awesome)

    and i remember fractal moms story. i still pray for her..

    these woman have been where you are. trust them

    your are loved
    Brother Frankie
    A Biker for Christ