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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Trying to Repair Relationships

One of the aims of the BRICK project meetings I attend (,-young-people-and-families/the-brick-project.aspx) is to try to give tips in communicating with our teen who is suffering from drug addiction and tips on regaining the lost relationship. Sometimes we need to try to repair these relationships while in the process of recovery, or even before, but of course this is very hard to do.


My worker at Open Road ( asked me if I ever thought about getting a pet as it would do so much for my daughters emotional well being. Pets are indeed a wonderful source of comfort and affection, as well as newness and excitement.I have indeed thought about getting a pet since my ex husband left, but the timing was never right.


Both of these factors have played a part in trying to mend relationships in our family this week.

A very simple suggestion from the ladies in BRICK, was to play a game that are just questions that they lamented and gave to us. Questions such as:  "If I had one wish it would be..."; "If I could change one thing about myself it would be...; "One of the worst things that ever happened to me was..."

An interesting thing happens when I go to these meetings. The first couple of times I went, I came home to the usual scene of my son shut away in his room and my daughters in the living room. The last few times now, I have come home to all three of my children sitting calmly together in the living room watching tv together. They have started asking questions about how it was and what I did in the meeting. So last Wednesday when I came home, I told them we played a game, which we did. I said that we could play the game too because I was given a copy of the cards.  So surprisingly, they all agreed, even my son. I thought we would all get only 2 cards each and be done, but we went on and in the end we all ended up asking about 8-10 questions. My son and older daughter, who usually have a great deal of friction between them, actually asked each other questions in a very civil manner. All seemed to enjoy it and no one said anything that could have been hurtful though since some of the questions could have provoked quite intense answers.


The following evening after dinner, my older daughter asked if we could play again, and we all did. Though it wasn't quite the same energy as the evening before, everyone, including my son, participated and no one took it as an opportunity to push buttons. So quite a positive exchange twice in the week! Promising in some respects.

Recently I have tried to find us a pet, a puppy. Two very firm opportunities both fell through so we were so upset. My support worker was so kind,  as well as fate being kind, found us a kitten. A wonderful little cat, free of charge! And much to my surprise it was ready to leave her mother this week.

So this weekend was focused on our newest member of our family, Shadow! Our 8 week old black and white kitten!


Upon our arrival home from collecting our kitty the jealousies and competition for kitty's attention began, There was a lot of hurt feelings and a bit of selfishness if I am honest. Everyone wanted Shadow to have their undivided attention. I was wondering if this would prove to be a mistake.

Then a few hours later the amazing happened. We decided that our new kitty would do best in the upstairs bathroom overnight, with it's cardboard box bed, pillow, toys, food, drink and litter box. So there we were, ALL of us, sitting around the bathroom floor watching intently if the kitten, "will relieve himself in the litter box?".  As we watched the cat became lively and wanted to play. So here is where it got interesting. All of my children were playing with the kitten, openly laughing and taking turns and thoroughly enjoying themselves without any thought of who said what before or who has had more turns playing.


I am not saying the weekend turned out perfect, or that we have come to a milestone, but we have made a few little steps in trying to repair our broken relationships. After trying to remember the past week and posting my last post earlier today, I realised that there have been some very nice moments shared this week. I wanted to share these little sweet moments with you,

Time Goes By, But What Actually Happens?

Well a week has gone by in a blur and I am trying to think back and recall any events that happened.  I am finding it difficult.


Last weekend was very dis-concerning and I worried how the week would progress if my son did not have access to the internet, my money and therefore drugs. However, it did not seem to be the escalation that I had worried about.

We started the week with an assessment for my daughter by CAMHS (child adolescent mental health services) to see if she wants to join the Emotional Resilient Group Therapy. All went well, but my daughter was quiet. The little she did say was very poignant. When truthful statements were made regarding the extreme situations we live with at home, my daughter was asked how she felt. It was very heart breaking when my daughter answered, "I want my brother to leave, but I know that he never will so none of this will end until  I  leave". I sat there and wanted to put my arms around her and shout out, "but I don't want you to leave"! The professional running the assessment then said to my daughter, "well, maybe you can turn that into a goal. You are clever and bright and you will probably want to go to university, so that can be a goal of you leaving home". I wanted to shout NO, but also wanted to cry when I saw the hope drain from my daughter's face, that said to me, "See, it will never end".


Later that day, my son had a doctor's appointment in which his key worker came to collect him from home and went with him and brought him back again. Upon returning we sat down to talk about the appointment. The GP prescribed my son some anti depressants that should also help him sleep, with the aim of sorting his sleep pattern back to a normal routine. It was told to the GP that my son has barbiturates at home, so the prescription can not be filled until the drugs are disposed off. The three of us discussed this at home and my son refused to get rid of his drugs, so the key worker has held on to the prescription. She is aware and said openly that my son is being obstructive and difficult, thinking he knows best.

I had pointed out to the key worker the mess that still remained by the kitchen sink, the last remnants of my son's opium tea preparations. She told him that I am right in expecting him to clean up his own mess, especially if it is drug mess. So he got up and with a few angry moans and words, but he did listen to her and started to clean up. She then left and as soon as he did so, he stopped cleaning, though he was not finished.

This got me thinking, why did he listen to his key worker, but does not listen to me? Well, all I could answer myself was that when my son was a child I was his role model, but when he started adolescence he started looking more at his male role model in order to learn how to become a man, the process he was embarking on. My ex husband, never listened to me. He was very good at pretending to listen, nodding and saying that I am right, then turning around and doing what he wanted to do anyway and most often what he did was in direct opposition of what I was talking to him about. So now that my son is "a man" he is treating me in the exact way that my ex husband did, by paying no mind to what I say and in fact deliberately contradicting me and undermining me. My ex, through years of learning, could keep his anger at bay but it was none the less clearly felt. My son, being a hormonal teenager, of course has taken his role model learning but has not learned to manage his anger, so his reactions are much more explosive. The bottom line still being that he has learned not to listen to me now that he is no longer a child.

Wednesday was a long day full of appointments for me and my BRICK meeting in the evening. In between all that was a meeting at home with all my children, the social worker, my son's drug services key worker and a manager from Family Solutions. My son deserves an academy award of his performance of a well mannered, thoughtful young man who is ready to change and commit himself to working toward that change.

The outcome of that meeting was that of course my son will engage and of course he is committed to change. We will be de-escalated by social services, but if need be we will be be escalated to child protection, My son said he understands this and therefore will consider the community rehab and engage with the services at Open Road with his Key Worker. The fact that he has not disposed of his barbiturates and also that he has not applied benefits despite a mentor taking him to the GP to get signed off three weeks ago, and me filling out the long application, was also deflected by my son in the meeting.

My son is entitled to state benefits and he would receive some income in which he could contribute to the household, or even if he spent it on drugs, he would not be trying to steal from me! However, my son is too lazy or unwilling to sign the form and have it sent off! My son is unwilling to try the meds the GP wants to try, because he knows better. He says it wont work on the same part of the brain as opiates and sedatives, therefore he is not interested.

Over the course of the week I had to listen on a few occasions how I owe it to him to give him money or buy him beers or help him order Valium as a reward for giving up opiates and also since I have not shown any support or positive reinforcement. Of course I stood my ground and refused. Somehow he managed to sneak my phone away from me long enough to get on the internet and order his Valium, which he somehow paid for with out stealing from me. He also managed to be awake when the post came while I was out and sign for now he is happier...but I am not.


I continue to be honest and try to make my son understand how things need to change, not so social services and everyone else will be satisfied and go away, but because I want things to change, for good. He asked me what he would get out of it all. I told him he would get a better future and a better life in the future, unfortunately he is still in denial and still thinks he can live his life at a satisfactory level with drugs.

Also in the meantime I continue to try to empower myself through knowledge and support. The BRICK meetings, the mentor training, my support worker sessions, this blog (and all the people involved in these) are all helping me feel that my intentions are right and good and that I need to be true to myself and stay strong. I am starting to rediscover that I am capable of so much and I will not be walked on by my own son but I will continue to try to get him the help he needs.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Harsh Words in Harsh Times

Roller coaster rides can be thrilling and exciting as well as terrifying and alarming. An emotional roller coaster is just the same feelings except times 100! After a while you are no longer screaming from the downs you are experiencing, all you desperately want is to get the hell off and be on a straight, even flowing emotional state for a while.
Last night my emotional roller coaster dipped below my normal threshold which it occasionally does, but has not done in quite a while. Last night was one of those nights in which I lost control and started shouting  the things I usually control myself not to say!

"I hate this life".
"Why am I trying so hard to save this family?"
"I hate all of this and I do not know why I bother, you should be out there living on the street instead of  making your sisters and I suffer like this".
"Most parents would not tolerate this disrespectful insolence for as long as I have".
Then the worst thing a parent can say, "I hate you!".

This was in response to a fall out over the fact that my son has not cleaned up all his mess from his poppy preparation, only some of it, for weeks now. Instead of accepting that he needs to clean up more, he challenges me and turns it into a role reversal in which he is telling me off as if I am in the wrong.

Statements form my son hit me hard and disgusted me and that is why I started to react in such an irrational emotional way. My reaction was much more than anger and disappointment, it was also a deep sense of frustration that I have no control over his behaviour toward me or his sisters. I would almost be able to accept that I have no control over his personal decisions that affect his own body and his life, but when I have no control over how he treats me or his sisters and how I have no influence over what he deems as acceptable behaviour, that frustration is overwhelming at times. That is when I snap.

This is some of the onslaught I experienced from my son:

"I am doing it for you, I really really really don't want to do it."
"I told you, I told you, I told you".................(so many statements started with him shouting those three words aggressively at me that I do not even remember what followed all the "I TOLD YOU"s).
"I am clean, because I have had no opiates for two days, but smoking legal highs, drinking and popping pills, that is normal."
"You need to stop being such a cunt. You are insulting me because you don't see my achievements, You never appreciate when I am clean".
"Having no opiates is not nice, having the the runs, feeling like shit and you don't even care".
"You are selfish."
"You are in no way supporting me, it's all a lie".
"You should not criticize me for my drugs when I am doing it for you, sacrificing everything for you".
"You have no authority to be a cunt, you have a responsibility to make me wedges or chips or whatever I want when I want, midnight or any time, because it is your duty".
"You have given me no motivation, nothing in exchange for drugs, except being a selfish, cowardly, cunt of a mother who doesn't give a damn that he is doing this all for her".


Some of these statements were before I snapped and some were after and there was many ugly words being thrown about last night. It started because he did not finish the job I set out for him ages ago. The job that has been waiting weeks to be done and a few days ago it was halfway done. Because of a simple chore set by a parent, he retaliated and tried to put me in the wrong. Boundaries are always being crossed and I pointed that out! Because of this completely disrespectful behaviour I refused to make him dinner (the girls and I had pizza a few hours before, but he does not like pizza so I said I would make him something later).

When I started to walk away from the situation the remote control was flung at me with such force that I could hear the air swishing by me as it missed me. The last time, years ago, I got in the line of fire of a remote being thrown I had a split lip! Don't get me wrong, these more physical aspects of my son's anger are not every day behaviours and in fact do not happen very often. He has never laid a hand on me or his sisters, but as I said in another recent post, it is all relative, and it is not the number of times he has been aggressive or in what manner, the fact that he has been aggressive towards me and his sisters is enough to make it wrong.

Tomorrow he sees his key worker with a possible visit to the GP as well. Wednesday we are being visited by the Social Worker along with  a member form the Family Solutions team to "see" whether or not we are the right "candidates" for their service! I am tempted, oh I am SO tempted to say on both occasions that I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!

Or do I keep on persevering and being beat down in hopes that soon someone will get through to him? Do I wait and see if he gets into the community rehab in Dec/Jan? I really honestly do not know how much more I can take, how much more I can allow. I have been at this point of inner conflict before, many times before! Each time I feel I am closer to my breaking point. No matter how strong we are, we all have a breaking point, yet I am consistently trying not to reach that point. Then I ask myself, am I really doing that? Am I fighting so that I don't reach my breaking point, or am I ignoring the writing on the wall and simply allowing things to continue as they are?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Rainy Day

We all try to save for a rainy day. While most of us try to put a few pennies aside, my son puts some drugs aside for a rainy day. So while I expected and waited for more of his wrath to be unleashed, as it began Thursday night, yesterday was not so bad...thanks to his hidden stash!

"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before." Edgar Allan Poe.

My son sees glimpses of his darkness and can not face them, he needs the fuzz and blur that overshadows his fears....he has planned for these times, but one day he have to face his darkness.

Realising that his attempts to get his drugs ordered were of no use, as well as his attempts to get money from me to buys alcohol to help take the edge off, he dipped into his rainy day fund of depressants and all was calm....for now!

We shall see what tonight holds in store for us, as he sleeps the day away.

I can only hope that one day he will be successful in wanting and reaching recovery. As I read a young man's blog of being clean for a year after a 7 year opiate addiction, I am reminded, yet again, that there is hope. 

I will leave you with this wonderful blog, from a positive and brave young man:

Friday, 20 September 2013

Back to "Normal"

What happens when an addict is running out of drugs? They panic of course. What that panic turns into is abusive behaviour towards others who will not "help"him get more drugs. Obsessing about how they will get what they need, trying to convince others that that is what is best for them, that they will suffer without it and if they go without it is ultimately your fault because you refused to help, you let them down.

Pleading and shouting, wanting money. It is just like the the old slogan goes, "beg, steal or borrow", because the focus of every minute of their day or night revolves around how they will get their drug. They can not stand the thought that they will not get any more. They become very irritable and unpredictable.

Last night my positive attitude was put to rest because my son awoke and was very moody all evening because he wanted to "borrow" £50 to buy some benzodiazepine powders. The answer of course was no and that eventually opened the floodgates of abusive and vulgar language onto me. Words that begin with letters like "f", "b", "c", "p" and so on, I will let your imagines go with it.

My son once again burst into my room after I had gone to bed to demand that I give him money and when I said no, he wanted me to explain why! I wanted to keep things short and just said I do not need to explain, the answer is "NO". He demanded to know how giving up drugs would benefit him. When I said that it will ultimately result in a better life for him, he was furious, insisting that I am the only benefiting from "all of this".

My son has no internet at the moment, no money and very little drugs left. He does not know that my bank card has been cancelled and if he does access the internet (by taking my phone, for example) he will be very unpleasantly surprised that the order will not go through! So I think some very difficult days are coming.

Give me strength! Give us strength!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Feeling Positive

Today all I want to say is that I feel that maybe this is the time when all the pieces will come together and we might actually find ourselves on the road to recovery! I say, "we" because we will all be on that road, not just my son. As a family we will need to heal and recovery and it will take time. I am not sure why I feel like recovery may be in our sight soon, but I do, for now.

I do not have any specific or significant events that has made me feel this way. It is a series of events and there still needs to be a lot of work and nudging to be done that is for sure.

Some of the things I feel good about are:
My son attending an appointment with his key worker at the drug and alcohol recovery centre.
My sessions with my support worker.
My meeting with the BRICK project (,-young-people-and-families/the-brick-project.aspx ) for the past 4 weeks.
My 5 mentor training sessions, with 13 more to go.
These last 3 have enabled me to have many discussions and meet some dedicated and caring people. One of the facilitators in the BRICK project said, it may be "fate" that has brought me to the project and the mentoring to find the right people who will help my son. Though we have tried in the past with agencies, doctors, support etc,  perhaps the time was not right and the "right" contacts were not made. Maybe now things are "right".

My daughter is open to starting her own journey to recovery by extending the help she receives by starting "Emotionally Resilient Group Therapy" provided my our local child and adolescent mental health services. This is in addition to her weekly sessions with her support worker. My youngest daughter for the first time ever has agreed to some school clubs so she now has things that will keep her busy and take the focus away from home and help build her self esteem.

Also my son has had a few very open and frank discussions with some professionals that might actually be helping him to see things more realistically. The threat of Social Services raising the stakes by possibly making this a Child Protection case is not a good thing obviously, but the fear it evokes can be used positively.

After walking away from a very unhealthy marriage and being a stay at home mom for the last 18 years, coupled with the focus on my son's drug usage for the past 6 years, I have become to feel very insecure about my abilities to succeed or perform or contribute to anything outside the family home. Actually even my capabilities as a mother has often been challenged over these last few years as a result of the addiction and the downward spiral of behaviour and  family relationships.

Ultimately, the more active I become the better I feel about myself as a person and as a mother. These factors provide me with a greater sense of hope that we will eventually embrace recovery. Comments such as, "You will be great as a mentor", "Your daughters are a credit to you for coping well and achieving at school", "You are doing very well and more than many parents would do" have allowed me to feel more positive. I can also see that there is one or two people we have come into contact with that really want to help us, because they really care.

Of course there have been things happening that aren't so great or positive, but do you know what? I don't want to think about those situations and worries today!

People can survive addiction and come out still having a loving family and a positive future, and we will be one of those.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

It's All Relative

Like with so many things we experience in life, especially with the difficulties we have, it is all relative. What may seem like a very stressful situation to some, may seem commonplace to others. I appreciate and understand this, yet sometimes feel I should not be feeling like I do about my son and his addiction.

I have heard stories now, through this blog and the various communities around addiction and mental illness on Google+, where parents have lost their children to suicide or overdoses. I have heard stories in which families are permanently torn apart and those broken relationships are never repaired. People who have lived on the streets for years and living horrendous lives because of their addiction, sometimes suffering from mental health issues as well. Also as I am attending more and more training sessions for my mentoring, and I hear stories of people who lived the life of an addict for 10 or even 20 years before getting and staying in recovery. And I am feeling helpless, drained, guilty, worried, frustrated, ashamed, devastated, parentally unfit, disgusted, distrusting, depressed, scared....because my son has been using drugs since he was 13 and has been an addict for about 3-4 years!? He is still alive, he is still at home, I still have my daughters, I still have our house, we still have options and seems wrong to be so deep into my feelings of despair when all around I know so much worse has happened to others and is going on all around us.

Now as I said, it is all relative. I have no experience of addiction before. I have had many issues in my own life around poor health and times of depression and anxiety. I have watched both my parents die. I have uprooted myself from my country and started a very different life and a life very different to what I imagined. I lived in a very bad marriage for many years,  in a home environment that was very tense and controlling and at times emotionally abusive for the children. But before all that, when I look back into my childhood, though I battled with my illness from the age of 7, I was HAPPY. We lived in a nice home, in a nice area with nice people. It was all very nice.  I loved my parents and they loved me. I had an exceptionally good and kind and loving and supportive mother. My father always provided for us and was there when we needed him. Even after my parents divorced, they remained friends and he would spend the majority of his weekends with all of us in our family home. There was never an issue if my mother needed help whether financially or otherwise, he would help his family, because we were still a family even after the divorce.

I was educated and enthusiastic and open, hoping for a wonderful life ahead of my and with all my dreams, my biggest dream was always to be a mother! That is another time I can remember being HAPPY, when I learned that I was pregnant with my first child. I remember repeating the pregnancy test, and again, and then looking in the bathroom mirror, and with tears in my eyes saying aloud to myself, "You are going to be a mommy". It brings tears to my eyes now as I remember.

I am so very sensitive and feel things so profoundly and my son is the same. Are relationship could not have been more perfect and more loving. Despite everything else that was wrong, having him was right! Having him all to myself for his first 5 years was wonderful and I was so confidant that we successfully created a firm foundation for our son and that he will have that foundation to build himself on. So child psychology would like us to believe, but that proved to be anything but the case for us!

Each time I fell pregnant, if everything else was wrong, being pregnant was always right and in a perfect world I would have had more children because to me nothing surpasses that joy.

With that joy comes responsibility and sometimes anguish as well, as I now know.

My pain to me is very real, even when I know it could be worse, as it has been for others. My son's life is difficult for me to observe helplessly. The pain and sadness I see in my daughters faces are not illusions, they are real as well. The years of their precious childhood lost. So this is my reality and my experience and to me it is dreadful.

Today as I wake up to my son more or less passed out on the sofa, with all his messes around him and the mess he has left for me everywhere, I feel empty. I feel life is wrong and I want to make it right. I feel we are approaching the end of the line soon. The drugs will have to end, the stealing will have to end, the abuse will have to end and ultimately for my son, his denial will have to end and he will need to face up to his demons.

I hope he will and I know that the road ahead, if he chooses a path to recovery, will be even harder than this life with drugs, and I hope he will come out of it a survivor. I do not want us to be saying these same things 10 or 20 years down the line. I do not want to loose my son to homelessness or suicide or an overdose.

My heart goes out to all those people out there whose reality is darker than mine, I admire your strength, courage and resiliency. I do not know if I could survive what you have endured. I hope other people out there will not have to either. I hope we all have brighter and happier days ahead of us!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sunday, Not So Funday

Generally you would think that a weekend in the life of an 18 year old would be busy and maybe you would not see too much of him unless he was hungry or needed some cash to go out with his friends or wanted to borrow the keys to the car.

Things are a bit different in our house, except the not seeing much of my son part, but that is because he has slept most of the weekend away, as every day. While I write this, it is 6:45 pm and he has still not surfaced. We are about to have dinner...hmm oregano chicken and rice for breakfast son?

His weekend has been one of sleeping during the day. Drifting in and out of sleep on the sofa at night while watching TV. He became extremely anxious on Friday night because he was asked to meet a friend and his friends at the pub. He was anxious because it has been many months since he has done any socialising. After taking copious amounts of opium to calm himself down, the plans were cancelled. Saturday he was meant to meet that same friend at 1:30 pm at the park since Friday's planned fizzled out, but my son slept through the day, until his friend was trying to get some sense out of me, but I was not home. Saturday afternoon and evening he spent feeling guilty and anxious about not knowing what to do about said friend because he did not know what to say. I also tried to talk to him about "things" Saturday. Sunday morning he went to bed at about 7:30 am after more than likely falling a sleep for a bit on the sofa. I came down to see that the sofa was drenched in beer because he probably fell asleep with the beer in his hand and eventually spilled it. During the course of the weekend he has had opium, benzos, barbiturates (phenobarbital), quaaludes (methaqualone in the UK), codeine syrup, alcohol, and smoked some substance in his vaporiser. Saturday he never even got dressed. He talked to no one other than me. He did not go out.

So my son does not live alone of course. I am here and so are his two sisters, 8 and 13 years old. Saturday was OK because I had plans to take my youngest to see a friend and her mom for coffee. While getting into the car when we finished we bumped into another friend of mine and I ended up giving her a lift to work and having another coffee and a chat since she got to work so early! It felt good to be out and be spontaneous and share a few laughs and not being at home!

However, I was disappointed that my other daughter would not come, she is starting to get into this, "I don't want to do anything" stage and I am sure much of this is to do with the emotional stresses at home. Once home though, my energy vanishes and my mood changes. I spent some time on the computer and cooked a nice meal, which unfortunately we at in front of the TV because none of us can really face sitting down around the dinner table together any more.

Sunday has been a very lethargic day for us all. I feel responsible for this in regard to myself and my daughters. Can you believe we woke and came downstairs, I saw the wet sofa cushions and the room reeked of beer. I knew my son had just gone to bed so that he would be out all day. I felt ashamed that he bailed on his friend and no contact had been made. I was disgusted by the mess of ground up opium poppy husks and all the mess from his detailed preparations that were still in the kitchen. I knew we had no plans for the day. We were cold and it was grey and dismal outside. My daughters and I sat down, had breakfast and all of us sat like zombies (either playing on a phone, on the laptop, or watching cartoons. We sat like that for 3 hours, I am quite embarrassed to admit that!

No one understands that the atmosphere in the house is hindered by this constant involvement from drugs and the affects it has on us all. We have all become dysfunctional to some extent or another. The mere fact that I know he is sleeping it off all day and has no life, drains me from wanting to do anything. The guilt in me that even if I would try to have a "normal" life with my daughters while he is locked away in his room either sleeping or taking drugs or doing nothing, alone, alienated, excluded is too much for me sometimes. If he was away from home than that would be less of a powerful deterrent to me, but I do not know of course how I would feel if he was no longer here. Much would depend on the circumstances on where he was and how he would be living.

Finally we all showered and dressed, besides my son, who continues to sleep. We did manage to go into town and do a few things. The low mood in the house remains. I feel I should have within my power as a mother, the head of the household, the only responsible adult here,  to shake myself out of it and get energised with outgoing enthusiasm and teach my daughters to get up and lets enjoy life to the fullest....but I am not doing that and it feeds the vicious cycle of guilt.

Tomorrow though, we will get up and start our day fresh. My daughters will go to school, see their friends, enjoy themselves and come home and tell me all about my day. I will get up too and make sure the girls get to school and come home to make my phone calls and run my errands etc and talk to my friends. We will have appointments, training, clubs, meetings etc during the week, thank God! My son....he will sleep. He will start his week as an unordinary teenager which will be exactly the same as his weekend.

 I know my blog posts can vary from being contemplations to informative to just venting, so I hope you all bare with me if my posts sometimes seem to be random at times, but like the life we are living with an addict our lives and thoughts are on a roller coaster and maybe so to are my blog posts at times!

And if anyone is interested in some of what my son is taking, names some of you might not be familiar with, here are some links. Most bought on the internet. Many times disposed of by me, but always replaced by him, often after the stealing the money from me to do so.

Trying to "Get through"

Today I am not pondering love or the genetic factors in addiction. Today I am thinking about yesterday. Yesterday I was just trying to have a civil, adult conversation with my son before he started consuming various substances which makes rational conversation more difficult.

I was trying to ask him what it will take to make him finally have that moment of clarity that things need to change. He insists nothing will make that happen. Surely there must be something that scares him enough to think if that would ever happen than he would know enough is enough. I am asking too much I guess because he is of the mindset still that if he stays in the comfort of his home, hiding from reality, taking his drugs, eventually it will all go away.

So much seems to be happening, from my point of view, yet nothing has seemed to cause a reaction that results in a change in behaviour from my son.

Random recall now makes me remember yesterday as the clearest. The psychiatric nurse from the early intervention in psychosis team came by yesterday and talked to my son for about 2 hours. While discussing my son's "issues" with drugs and behaviour and the ramifications of his actions and the implications it has on the family all my son could say in a casual way was that "all this is an over reaction to someone who just wants to take drugs". My son expressed his resentment that he feels he is being forced into doing things that he does not want to do. The nurse then asked my son if that means he feels "manipulated" by others and that he feels powerless about it. My son agreed that that is how he feels. When the nurse then pointed out how the substances that my son is taking is in fact also manipulating him and making him react in ways that are untrue to him and that those chemical reactions are out of his control, my son did not have an answer. What he did say though was that drugs give him a sense of well being and a sense of self and without them that well being would be taking away. Most people work toward a sense of well being through work, relationships, security etc and with drugs that is like "cheating", he is getting the reward without the work or effort but that reward is getting smaller because the drugs do not give him as much as he would like as well as the added pressures now on him from outside factors to give up that reward system.

The outcome from the visit was that EIP (Early Intervention in Psychosis) is not a service that can offer my son any support because he is not displaying any psychotic symptoms and the key issue is his drug taking. Of course he can experience some disjointed thinking and his brain patterns have been altered which affects his thoughts and behaviours, but it is not psychosis. He will write the necessary professionals but he will be discharged from that service.

Yet reading the information on this link, it states that:

 Mental illness can cover a range of conditions including depression, anxiety, stress, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, phobia, addiction, eating disorder, self-harm and personality disorder to name a few.

Yet, if you are not presenting with psychotic symptoms they apparently are not the correct service for you. How about the addiction, depression, anxiety, stress and possible personality disorder?

Of course the psych nurse tried to put the emphasis on how life will not improve while he takes the drugs, and that he is too intelligent to believe that the drugs are improving his life. He also tried to reiterate that his sisters are a concern and that agencies are involved. My son did not seem convinced, he seemed indifferent.

Speaking of agencies involved, we have had our third Social Services " Child in Need" meeting. I have expressed my opinion more than once regarding the so called "help" that Social Services has offered us. I feel that our new Social Worker is not much of an improvement from the last, however, he seems to be taking matters more seriously, which may at first seem like a good thing, but in fact may prove to make all this a very serious matter indeed.

 Welcome to our new, interactive advice and information area for parents

In our meeting it was understood that things need to change drastically. We will be discharged from Social Services when the agency, Family Solutions, begins work with us. However, my son is expected to start attending sessions with his key worker and get on board. If Family Solutions is unhappy or dissatisfied with the way things are going or if any new information is disclosed and another referral to Social Services needs to be made, then we will be looking at a much more serious intervention from Social Services in the form of A Child Protection case, that is when removing children from the family home becomes the object of the case if serious changes are not made.

Not even this realization that the matter will be no longer in my hands but in the hands of Child Protection, doest it seem to hold a big enough reality check for my son. My son is still adamant that things are not so bad,  or correction, things were not so bad until I started making an issue of it all. He admits he hates Social Services' involvement, however he does not see that he must start playing ball or the outcome may be devastating. When I was trying to get him to answer my questions about how things can start getting better, asking him what he thinks needs to be done, his answer was, "I am being forced into all this and I have to keep doing what I am being forced to do until they go away". I pointed out to my son that he has been saying this for weeks and yet in fact he has done very little in regard to what others want him to do, so in fact he is not really being "forced" because he is not doing them. As even the psychiatric nurse observed, my son might actually be doing things on his own accord (such as keeping a log of what he takes, when he took it, and how much) but as soon as someone tells him to do that thing he has already been doing, he stops. He likes to be in control and he likes to challenge people.

The problem is that while we wait for Family Solutions or Social Services, or the Key Workers, any professionals or me for that matter to try to "get through" to my son, we live the same way despite all my efforts. I am worried that in the process of all this waiting, the message being sent to my son, and my daughters, is that he can get away with it, he is in control, nothing is "working" and mom is unable or incapable or too weak to make the changes needed to make everything OK again.

As I have said so many times before and I keep saying, I still cling on to hope that one day things will be different and better for us all.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Genetics or Learning, or Both?

Are we all predisposed to addiction? Is there such a thing as an addictive personality?

There are definitely socially acceptable addictions such as exercise/sport addictions and legal addictions such as social networking addictions! Of course we have all known "workaholics" and "shopoholics". These are all forms of not being able to function without something and has in essence taken over the person's life. However, we praise and admire the athlete who trains endless amount of hours each and every day, who in fact feels unwell and unsettled  if not able to train. We often praise the workaholic who spends his life working to "provide" for his family. However there are many forms of addiction; whether it be sport, food, sex, gambling, shopping, work, social networking, mobile phones, video games, the internet, alcohol or the most stereotypically negative which is the drug addict.

As far as people being predisposed, well I think there is enough evidence to say that , yes, we are predisposed to addiction. It does not mean that that is the only factor in addiction. Of course there are behavioural factors such as poor coping mechanisms, learned behaviour and psychological elements which of all part of addiction as well. Yet there is no denying that genetics play a role, we have always heard comments such as, " he is an alcoholic, his father was an alcoholic, so what did you expect?". For many years I think people thought is was just the way it was with some people. Don't get me wrong, there is truth in learning negative, self destructive behaviour, but I think there needs to be something in the brain that make some people become addicts.

I am sure I have intimated before that my ex husband has many issues of his own and one thing that was an issue for me but not for him, was his drinking. I still tend to believe that while we were together my ex husband displayed an alcoholic personality. I think this because for one, if he had one drink he could not stop at that. He could not calm down and relax and enjoy any social situation without having quite a few drinks and in fact would get quite agitated if he was not "allowed" a drink. As the years went on, the amount of drink he would consume in one sitting increased and as it did so his aggression and tension also increased while he was "sober". I once set him the goal not to drink for a short period after our first child was born and after just a few days he became very angry that he could not sleep and he was not feeling well because of it so therefore he will no longer entertain my silly "challenge" and went back to drinking. Many times he would look unwell, red beady eyes, puffy and smelling horrible in the morning as he went to work.

When ever the subject would come up that maybe his drinking is turning into more than just casual, he would refute this argument with the "I do not have a drink in the morning, therefore I am not an alcoholic. I do not have a problem, you do". Not all alcoholics drink in the morning, that is at least my opinion.

My ex husband's father also drank a lot and in all honesty it was the norm and the excepted thing that men drink, they go out drinking, they drink a lot, so let them be.

While my ex husband and father in law were quite compelled to drink and could not easily stop when they did, my ex sister in law, in my mind, also has an addictive personality but always used that compulsion to  do things excessively to good use; studying, working and especially running. She can not imagine life without running and sometimes would design her holidays and work trips to coincide with races, training, etc.. Having children did not even stop her, she was out there running the track while pushing her baby's buggy!

I believe that my son has a genetic predisposition to addiction, he has been psychologically "damaged" which led to the desire to escape through drugs as well as having a role model from whom he learned behaviours such as using substances/alcohol as a coping mechanism which help us we hide from our emotional pain.

I do not think it is easy to explain addiction and it is different for each individual while those individuals share many similarities as well. Genetics is of course only one element of addiction.

More interesting is that of all the addictions, drug addiction is still portrayed as the junkie shooting up, the low life, the pot head who sits in a cloud of smoke all day, the "off his face nutter" in the street. Well it is not like that as everyone reading this knows! People also seem to think that giving up drugs would be "easier" than giving up many other addictions, that also I do not understand and is again as we all know, not at all the case. For the addicted, it doesn't matter what the addiction is, what matters is the painful emotional dependency as well as the physical need to continue with that addiction.

Anyone who is addicted has their reasons that are often multiple and very complex. Giving up and relearning coping skills, learning to fill their time with other things that are productive rather than destructive, reforming relationships as well as saying goodbye to others, the list goes on, takes a lot of work and courage and perseverance. We need to try to understand and never forget that these people who suffer from addiction are people who need support.