Wow am I excited to tell you this!! I get messages every day from someone at one point or another along the journey of having a son or daughter who is struggling.
A Mom emailed me early this week asking for suggestions for a therapist and updating me that her son, an IV Heroin user had relapsed.
In short, she had started a support group after he was in treatment 30 days for his first time, thinking it was over. I could tell they were deeply enmeshed and sick with the situation. I had stopped in a couple times and become friendly with her. I was concerned about the family because they were convinced they had done all the right things and he was most likely clean for good. Like we all hope. Weeks after my last visit there I got this email.
In it she said she had dropped her son off that morning at a gas station, he had slept outside at this same one for months before he entered treatment that first time. She said she left him there and felt like she would die, but believed she had to at this time.
That said, my response to her was how painful I know that to be. I gave her a couple of examples of going through relapses with my son. A recent story I had heard about a mother, I actually mentioned it on our holiday podcast, who had dropped her son off at a homeless shelter between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I also told her my favorite phrase going through the hardest of times, “it ain’t over yet.” I swear I want that engraved on the plaque!
I mentioned things from Allies in Recovery, and told her to write either in a Hallmark card or on an index card the name and number of treatment centers and other resources that he can call in a moment of clarity or desperation and to give it to him anytime she sees him or is able to. That would be a soft intervention and give her something productive to do in the midst of the situation. I take these emails on with my heart!
I mean my heart EXPLODED reading that! She said she never would’ve thought to do that, and had she not sent that index card, she probably would’ve spent the night in mourning, or driving past the gas station… and it would’ve led into another night, and more nights to follow that he would’ve been out there. I'm not saying that this is it for him—we know it’s a journey—but no treatment is wasted. And this is one family with hope reignited—during the holidays!
Thank you for everything you have taught, for the heart you have for this, and for all you are doing. It matters! It mattered to this family!!!
Annie Highwater is a Writer, Speaker, Podcast Host and Family Advocate. She has a particular interest in family pathology and concepts of dysfunction, addiction, alcoholism and conflict. Annie published her memoir, Unhooked: A Mother’s Story of Unhitching from the Roller Coaster of Her Son’s Addiction, in 2016. Her story sheds light on the personal challenges facing the affected parents and family members, and illustrates how family dynamics both help and hinder the recovery process. Annie’s second book, Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache was published in August of 2018. She resides in Columbus, Ohio and enjoys writing, long distance running, hiking, the great outdoors and visiting her son in California as often as possible.