My daughter is a drug addict. There, I’ve said it. My sweet child, my dear little one, is a drug addict. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating, embarrassing, confusing, and a host of other emotions.
At twenty-four, she’d been drinking for years, lost her job, her car, her apartment, her five-year-old son, started using drugs, and still told me, “It’s not as bad as you think, Mom.” Well, it sure as hell wasn’t good.
Getting treatment, even when she wanted it, was next to impossible since she had no insurance and had not gone to social services to apply for Medicaid. We found out later that there would be a forty-five-day waiting period anyway. God help those in crisis in the great state of New York. We finally got things started by having her admitted to a pysch ward on a seventy-two-hour mental health watch after bringing her to a local emergency room and saying she was going to hurt herself. From there, the Medicaid process was started and she had follow up visits for mental health depression and an outpatient drug rehab group. She is now in her second week of a two-week inpatient drug rehab program. Without the daily prodding of her counselors and myself, we would not even be this far. It takes tremendous effort and energy to grind these wheels. It takes a lot of love and even more toughness. And somehow, you have to have or be both of those at the same time.
But just how tough is tough love? Where’s the line between detachment and amputation? How much insanity do we expose ourselves and other members of the household to in the name of loving the addict?
I can live as a prisoner to this; locking up my valuables, going to another room to avoid the verbal spew, staying away from friends and family because I have to baby-sit my grown daughter. And I could do it for the rest of my life (In fact I have an aunt and uncle who have been supporting their junkie son for twenty-five years!), but is that what I’ve worked so hard to create my life for?
She will continue to use drugs and abuse those who will allow it in order to get what she needs, whether it’s money, food, a warm dry place to sleep, the occasional shower, or just someone to rant at and blame for how her life sucks.
Or I can stop. I can send her out to live her chosen life. The friends she has left are junkies too, and in the same boat, so no help there. Shelters? Taking a chance on the street? Ahh, this is where I start to waver. You see, I don’t live in that world and I don’t understand how this once beautiful and promising child has come to choose it as her own. I can’t quite let her enjoy the rotten fruits of her choices because I am so afraid. Afraid she will die. Overdose, get jumped and beaten, pimped out; all the big fears. And they are real.
The thing is, I am not in control. Oh sure, the rules and boundaries I set in my home help me to create a facade of control, but this girl could lead me around by the nose! (Funny, since she is the ones with the nose pierced.)
Let her work for me? Paying her bills? Bailing her out? Move them back in to my homes? Who’s kidding who here? I rearrange my schedules my job, my household, my relationships with others, my retirement accounts, hell, my entire life for her!
Here’s the tape that runs in our heads: “She needs help and she can’t get help if she doesn’t have (fill the blank) and she can’t get that unless I (fill in the bigger blank). Because I’m the only one she has left. There’s a power trip, eh?
But it ain’t necessarily so! Mine is a very resourceful, smart, and manipulative young woman. She will find a way to get what she wants, whether it is drugs or recovery.
My love for her changes nothing. My willingness to do what it takes means nothing. My belief in her stands for nothing. She need to love, act for, and believe in herself.
Pray for us, will ya?