"I want my son to succeed. I want to see him clean long-term."

My son is still battling addiction. His addiction began after his father took his life in 2010. It started with Percocet’s and went from there. He has progressed to heroin, crack, coke, and PCP (Wet), as well as other pills.

He has been in rehab now five times and is currently in rehab. He’s visited a crisis center five times, had one short stint in a jail, has lived in one recovery house and one half-way house, and overdosed on his 35th birthday.

The frustrations, fears, worries, and more of a parent of an addict are horrific. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I listen to the cops and ambulances that go by, and if they sound like they stopped nearby, I see if I can see their lights. If I do, then I go down to the end of the driveway and see where and what is happening.

My son hasn’t lived with me in over a year now. He was stealing and lying so much that I was afraid of what else would happen. When he has been willing or receptive to get help, the system is so frustrating. When you go to a doctor for heart problems, it can be pretty simple; this isn’t the case for addiction. I don’t like to say this, but I see why most people give up and decide to go back on the streets and use. It’s a lot of red tape and jumping through hoops. Plus, with the way their brains are wired and the damage the drugs have done, they are very impatient and don’t understand what they have to do and what needs to be done. They can’t go to a rehab in another county unless they get an assessment from a rehab nearby, which is the same thing they still have to do when they get to the rehab. The time limit they are able to stay in a rehab is too low; some are 30 days and, if you are lucky, you may get a brief extension. The resources for aftercare are limited, usually the rehab will give only one resource, and it is because they have a relationship or contract with the potential provider.

My son was recommended to go to a recovery house in Levittown, which ended up being a joke. The residents were given dinner, went to one meeting at night, had a bed to sleep in, and charged $160 a week, yet were sent out on the streets from 9:00am to 4:00pm. When they came back to the house, they weren’t drug tested. This led to one of the guys eventually dying in his sleep. After his body was removed, the other men in the house had to clean up the room and go on with their day, no counseling or any other services provided.

Now in his current stint in a rehab – his first time this year, miraculously – his treatment time is cut in half; instead of 30 days, they are telling him two weeks. I have given him resources to call for other programs afterwards, but I can’t call as he is an adult and they need to speak with him personally. He is only given seven minutes phone time. I am praying long and hard, they will listen to my begging phone calls and a counselor or case manager takes the time to sit with him so he can make these calls and find out what other options are out there for his sobriety. Yet again, they have one option: another recovery house not too far away and not in the best of neighborhoods (although, I know none really are). My biggest fear now is he will relapse again. The time of his care and rehab has been shorter, and his addiction has progressed. I saw it in his behavior one night he came to my door after being beat up.

This is why I am sharing my story. The system needs to change. I read all about how changes are being put into place and I do realize they won’t happen over night, but seriously I see nothing happening. Instead, the problem is going backwards instead of forward. I pray that the people who hold the law in their hands or have more money in their pockets can somehow understand how bad this system is. I want my son to succeed. I want to see him clean long-term. I want to see him live instead of dreading that awful call or knock at the door. Please get out there. Talk to the addicts and their concerned family members. Look into these rehabs and recovery houses, and change them. Find more qualified people to work and actually help the addicts and lessen the hoops they have to jump through to get the help they need.

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