A Two-part Story of Hope

Crystal Meth Stole Our Son! – Mom’s Story

We were a close-knit family. Surrey, where I taught school, was home for my husband and me and our two great boys, and we did all the things families in the suburbs do.

But drug use and addiction does not discriminate. It happened in our family and can happen in yours. It knows no boundaries-ethnic, social, economic. Crystal meth has changed our son’s life and our family forever.

What was said to be “typical teenage behaviours” were in fact the signs of a growing addiction to crystal meth. We had no idea that addiction was slowly stealing our son. He experimented with other substances in high school, but it was crystal meth that became his drug of choice. Meth is odourless when smoked. Those long hot showers I often wondered about? He was turning on the shower and sitting there getting high.

He graduated and managed to work and attend college for a while, but soon the drug became his master. He was fired from his job for always being late, he lost his long-time girlfriend, and our family life became extremely difficult.

Four years ago, he went on his own into detox. The saddest thing is that his father and I thought the problem would be solved at that point: as if he were ill with something like chicken pox and would be well in a week. He came home looking and sounding great. Well, he wasn’t okay, and the past four years have been a nightmare for our family.

When our son’s problematic drug use became so blatantly apparent, we did everything we could to access information about the drug, to find support and treatment options. We found information in the Red Book, the Kaiser Foundation website,from local health authorities and from community agencies but soon realized there is little help out there (private or public) for youth.

Our son has been in private residential treatment twice and each time has gone back to his old friends and his master, crystal meth, which suppressed his desire for sleep or food. Crime became a significant part of his life. We waited for that call from the police or from a B.C. correctional institute as he daily put his life and health in jeopardy. We spent much of our time trying to locate him, even if it was just to have a glimpse to know he was alive. When we did get a chance to meet with him we could see the toll that crystal meth was having on him physically and mentally. But he didn’t need or want our help or anyone else’s. He was high, energized and could do anything–full of attitude and bravado!

Our son recently served eight months time in a B.C. correctional facility which, having a sole addictions counselor on staff, lacked the resources to help him. He still had to face his addiction when he was released.

He spent ten days at his former treatment centre (to help make the transition from jail and to reconnect with his counsellors and program alumni) and continued to be very focused on his recovery. Every day was a challenge, but with a loving family, “after-care support” from the treatment centre and the caring support and encouragement of others in recovery, he was making his way back from a life controlled by crystal meth, a very long and difficult journey.

Five months later he relapsed and was again in the clutches of this relentless drug. Our family once again began the gut-wrenching roller-coaster ride.

Recently he was arrested and has further charges to address, but at present he is at a long-term residential treatment centre and we have HOPE.

Sequel:

My Journey Back – Son’s Story

Through out this letter I choose to stay anonymous because of some of society’s depictions and stereotypes of people with addictions.

I’m 26 years old and I have now been sober and completely abstinent from all drugs for just over three years. I made a decision that enough was enough about three and a half years ago. I had been unable to stop this cycle of self destruction. It took being incarcerated before I could once again reach out for help, although this was not my first time within a BC correctional facility. I had also been in recovery and through numerous treatment programs in the past; the seed was planted many years before. Having had that seed planted, I knew there was a way out if I wanted it. Upon my release, I chose to make a serious attempt.

I was extremely fortunate to have a loving family holding out their hand yet again. I was able to attend a treatment centre in a town away from all the clutches of my addiction. It was the beginning of a long road. Scared and lonely, I made a decision to leave behind everything I thought I was. I knew in the back of my mind that if I did not change everything, nothing would ever change. I would always be leaving a back door open.

Thoughts cross my mind as to why I just didn’t do it right the first time when I was introduced to a 12-step program. It varies from person to person – some financial, some mental. For me it was emotional, and until three and half years ago I had not hit that bottom. Sick of the unjustifiable actions of myself and the people I considered close friends, I saw that my life was slipping away and things had escalated to point beyond my own control. Although deluded by drugs, I knew that it had become a serious problem. I had fully become someone I was not.

My life to today is completely different, a 180-degree turnaround. I am lucky enough to be able to live my life just as any normal 26-year-old would live their life. I think reading this may leave an impression on you, but I know the smile on my face would leave a greater one. Thanks to the help of my family, other addicts, and trained professionals I can now function as a productive member of society.

With all of life’s ups and downs I now have knowledge and the resources to overcome situations which used to baffle me. It’s not always easy for one to admit that they cannot do it on their own. I accept help on a daily basis and continue to talk about the day-to-day struggles I go through. I look back at the life I lead and it makes no sense whatsoever to give up what I have today and return to that lifestyle.

Some people think that life will never be the same, scared of every small reminder of the past. Today I am free of any ball and chain, and push ahead toward my future with determination and motivation. I have been around many addicts and know myself that deep down they are all good people just lost in a world of hurt. There are many others out there still stuck in the grip of a progressive illness, and when they too have their moment of clarity, and decide just as I did enough is enough, there is a place to for them to live a normal life free of active addiction.