The following is an interview with someone who has been affected by a loved one’s drug addiction. We sat down with Ann to ask some questions about her son, Mike, who recently overdosed but survived. Ann was willing to speak with us in the hopes that by discussing her son’s drug addiction openly, she could help other families.
Question: Did you have any idea that your son had a drug problem?
Ann: Well, at first I just thought he was experiencing the normal challenges of growing up. But, when he came home in a blackout from drinking one night I noticed a pot pipe on his dresser. After this incident, I noticed some dramatic mood changes and did realize that he wasn’t just “experimenting”.
Question: So, did you confront your son about your concerns?
Ann: Yes, and he got very angry and defensive. He said he did not have a problem but that he was just doing what “normal” kids do.
Question: How did his drinking and drug usage progress?
Ann: It got to be daily and the mood swings intensified. He also started using harder drugs and it was devastating. He did go into treatment but relapsed once he got out. Next, he was living on his own and this became the most stressful part of his addiction. I constantly thought and worried about him.
Question: Did you ever question whether or not his addiction was your fault?
Ann: Everyday, I asked myself what I could have done better as a mother. Was I too strict, too lenient or could I have been a better communicator? Was I loving enough? So many times I went over and over in my mind…what did I do wrong?
Question: Do you have any other advice for parents out there and can you talk about the importance of self-care?
Ann: Yes. I joined a support group with other people who have been impacted by a loved one’s addiction. I learned that it was not my fault and that addiction can happen to anyone. For so long I never talked about my son’s addiction. It was a big secret and I felt ashamed as a mother. Today, I have supportive friends who I can talk to and socialize with! I no longer feel guilty and I take care of myself physically, mentally and emotionally. Unfortunately, my son is still out there using drugs and it is just heartbreaking.