Collateral Pain

This weeks discussion is between OD and a 34 year old mother.   She shares the story of how her child’s father, a man who chose active addiction over the support of family and the pleas to get help. She talks about her feelings on addiction and the toll this took on her personally. Here is her story…

How do you feel about addiction?

Drugs are everywhere. In certain areas it is more noticeable than others, but they’re everywhere.  Everybody needs to know this. I feel like it is not a disease or a sickness. I feel like you are predisposed to addictive behaviors. It is EASIER for you to get addicted to legal substances like cigarettes or Vicodin. It also depends on many different factors. The environment the person had growing up, the friends they associated with, the personal choices they made, and of course their upbringing. You have to want to succeed for yourself, and I feel that on some level we all do. I gave the biological father of my son so many chances and he still chose drugs.

What did you experience?

I fell in love with a drug addict in high school and I had that drug addict’s child. I thought that I could change him. I was wrong.  

What were some of the experiences you had dating him that stand out?

One time I thought he had died because his lips were turning blue. This was when I was still in high school. I called everyone I knew, and everybody was done with his shit, they weren’t going to help me. I have been through so many bizarre events because of him. Another time he took me to Flint for a drug deal. He told me to just stay in the car and someone pulled a gun on us. Another time during a scuffle over drugs he got stabbed in the arm with a screwdriver and I had to clean it off with him. I could see the bone.   

Did you ask him what he took the night that he wouldn’t wake up?

I didn’t ask him what he did.  

Did you know he did hard drugs?

I had only seen him pop pills and smoke weed. What bothered me a lot and really made me so nervous was that he was okay being around hard drugs. I realized that I did not know this part of him or his habits. When I was just graduating high school, about eighteen at the time, he had a guy who had just gotten out of prison stay over at his house for a few days. That was the first time I smelled crystal meth. I remember walking down into the basement where the two of them hung out most of the time and I remember smelling this awful burning rubber smell. I asked him what that smell was and he told me, “Meth.”  

How did you feel?

It really shocked me. I mean absolutely shocked me. Like I said I knew that he smoked pot, I knew that he popped pain pills, but when he told me that the awful smell was meth all I remember thinking was, “THAT is a hard drug.”

Did you or any of your friends experiment with drugs?

You know pills WERE the 2000’s, I feel like everyone was sneaking into their mom’s cupboard and taking something. I would consider myself a normal teenager. I drank and I smoked, but not in excess. I really did fall in love with the wrong guy. I was blind to it at the time, and I would have done anything for him. Once I had my son though that all changed.  

How did his drug use affect your child?  

Well, at the time I gave birth to my son we were kind of living together. My son was four months old during this particular incident. I left to go to my parents’ house. I had to get ready to go to work and I told him to watch our son while I was gone. He fell back asleep and never woke up. When I returned over an hour later my child was crawling around unsupervised. I found used needles in the couch, under the couch, under the bed, in the sink. I still wanted to give him the chance to be a father, even after that happened. I left our son with him again. When I returned they were in the basement, we agreed that he was not allowed to take our kid into the basement. When I went down there my son was crawling around on the filthy carpet surrounded by tablespoons of coke that he could very easily reach. I finally cracked and I called the cops on him. I knew that they were looking for him so I said, “here he is.”

What do you think makes some people choose getting high over their kids?

I think these people are predisposed to become addicts and they lose themselves entirely to the substances. I also think my drug addict boyfriend used his poor upbringing as an excuse to delve deeper into his negative habits and away from his child. He was always saying, “Poor me, poor me.” You can’t use your rough upbringing as an excuse to get into drugs. You have to accept responsibility, accept the hand you were dealt, and make it work for yourself. Get the help you need. Realize you have a problem. If you have a child, step up.  

What kinds of programs do you think might better help addicts?

I think we need to be offering military based programs. With extensive physical endurance exercises. Along with that we should offer motivational classes, parenting classes, and education of basic skills like developing social skills and saving money. I think we should do this instead of sending people to prison for drug crimes.  Obviously it depends on the situation. If you are cooking or holding with the intent to sell I think a harsh punishment should remain.

What do substance abusers need to be able to recover?

A swift kick in the ass kind of love. If you choose drugs over your kid you’re a piece of shit. If you continuously choose drugs and substances over your children after your family and friends have tried to help you by offering support then you are worthless and you don’t deserve them. You need to not continue to spiral downward, fix your problems. Don’t continue to choose drugs. Take steps in the right direction

Would you change anything you have gone through?

No, because then I would not have my son. It was all worth it for him. I hope that I will have the tools to give him in order to keep him away from abusing substances. I want him to know that he can talk to me. I want to be able to talk to him about everything.  

Would you support an open discussion surrounding addiction?

I might not feel comfortable because my views are so hardcore and I have no sympathy for people who continue to make the wrong choices. But I fully supporting raising awareness and having difficult conversations. That is the only way that we are going to succeed, together.