Onedayatatime doesn’t know what to do when her Loved One goes missing for days – even weeks – at a time. Though he doesn’t answer her texts when he’s gone, she knows from past conversations that he is struggling and wants some help. What kind of shifts could serve to build their connections so she can get him the help he needs?
My son’s drug is meth. He has been in and out of jail for his drug use for years. He finally racked enough points to go to prison. Right away he was ready for change. I asked why now and he said he never thought he would go to prison. He stayed clean the 13 months he was there. He read his Bible, memorized scripture, prayed, went to classes… but not 12 step program… another one. When he got out he had to do treatment 3 times a week and over 6 months down to 1 time a week. He often came home and shared. He was involved in church, life groups and on the welcoming committee. He got involved with a girl. Wasn’t going to for a year. She came on to him. He thought she was the one. After he told her his background and told her parents (who all supported him) she broke up after 10 weeks. He was devastated. He stayed strong for about another 2 months until the family started to see a change. He kept saying he was not using…but after a few more months we got into it cause he would not let me know when he was leaving. He then stayed away for 6 weeks. I would contact him via text. Send him things…no response. I would ask if he was ok and once a week he would say he was. He finally came home last week. Was sick with a cold, and it was his 32nd bday. When he first came home he shared everything… about 3 hours we talked. He did say he needed a counselor, but only drank and not often so he did not need treatment. I asked if I could help find a counselor. He said yes. 3 days later I shared what I found. He would not answer..
So no go. The next day I asked him what his plan was. I told him even though be no longer had a car (bad choice…tried to help a girl get "sober" and her ex-boyfriend destroys his car.) We told him we could help if he wanted it as long as he was ready to no longer hang with these "friends". He said no, that he already had plans with them. He knew we were having a bday dinner for him on Sat. At olive garden. He left Friday afternoon while I was at work. When I texted him he said he wanted to see his bro. and family and have dinner. I picked him up at a Starbucks. He had dinner… we watched a movie together. I hoped he would go to church with us. He even told me to wake him up at 10:15 so he could get ready. When I went down the next morning he was gone. It is going on a week. I again have been sending him messages. I have asked twice if he is ok.. no response. Not sure if I should have done anything differently. Also when he is using meth, I often cannot tell. Is that unusual?
Methamphetamine is a very difficult drug to stop. Your son has made real efforts. Going to prison forced him to abstain for 13 months. Since coming home things have been sketchy. Your account reminds me so much of Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff. The book is a father’s story of his own journey through his son Nic’s methamphetamine addiction.
Methamphetamine users binge. They use for days, so they disappear for days. The drug is the most problematic in that it takes a very long time for the mind and body to recover from it – longer than any other drug.
The treatments are limited. Like cocaine, treatments focus on incentives for abstinence: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-treatments-are-effective-methamphetamine-abusers
Our suggestion is to look for long term residential treatment (6-9 months minimum). Make this your message when the opportunity arises. Be prepared to repeat this message over a period of time, with calmness and compassion. Sort of like planting a seed – plant the idea and know that the more you repeat the message, the more the idea will have time to take root and grow.
Since your son is religious, perhaps a religious retreat? Even if that sounds unusual, the drug is that incredibly difficult to overcome. Though it can be challenging to find treatment, don’t let that stop you. Just know that you might need to think outside the box. Perhaps a monastery could be a safe and healing place for him to land? When your son first was released from prison he was involved in treatment and church. This slipped away… but he still has that as a reference. This is very helpful. After 9 months he can come back to this set-up and will be more likely to remain abstinent. The prison gave him a head start. A retreat will do the same – in a much more comfortable setting than prison, fortunately! This will be a significant opportunity to bring him further along the path to recovery.
Use CRAFT to move him towards the treatment. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the Learning Modules to help guide you in your day-to-day experience. This includes your communications with him, and the way you tend to yourself when he is not around. Think about this as cleaning up your side of things – especially in your communications – to create the environment that is most supportive of his getting treatment. Through your daily actions, you are shining a light on a path for him to take.
We encourage you to make full use of the Allies in Recovery community: the discussion blogs, the resources and the support of the other family members on this site. Dive into the stories, the insights shared, the books recommended. We all have so much to learn from each other here.
Your son’s interest in religion and the bible, and his willingness to talk to you are all very good signs. It’s encouraging to have this as a foundation – for both of you. When your son is binging, he will be absent. He will come home, very depressed as he withdraws, and will sleep it off. I’m not sure whether he can use and look otherwise normal… I doubt it. If you haven’t already checked it out, you may find it helpful to look at the Signs and Symptoms of Drug Use in our Resource Supplement. There is a category here for methamphetamine/ stimulants in general. Are there others on this site who can speak to this?