A Father’s Story
My son's first encounter with drug use occured when he was 15. He had purchased a legal product, morning glory seeds. He had heard from friends and read on the internet that you could get a good high by ingesting them. Having eaten a packet of the seeds, he did get high -- but also felt very sick. His stomach began to hurt, eventually getting so bad, he aksed to be taken to the emergency room. I thought that experience would have been a good warning as to the side effects of drug use, but he did not stop there.
Soon we started finding bottles of cough syrup hidden in his room or in the trash. It became clear that he had started abusing cough syrup. He and his friends were also smoking grass. People told us this was pretty normal high school experimentation and not to be too worried.
Soon we found pills. He said you could buy almost anything you wanted on campus cheaply. Xanax and aderol were popular among students. Vicoden and oxycontin were also popular and readily available. Xanax becams his drug of choice. All this time he was competing at top level in sports and maintained a 3.8 grade point average. But we kept finding pills in his pocket and could see changes in his behavior.
Throughout this time, and despite overwhelming evidence -- he adamantly denied using drugs. The pills weren't his. They were his friends. No matter how strong the evidence was, he simply denied, denied, denied. But the signs were clear. By his senior year, his drug use began to impact his performance. He was dropped from the varsity team. His GPA dropped from a 3.8 to a 3.3. But based upon his performace in his junior year in high school and his high SAT scores -- he was recruited into one of the best public universities in the nation.
His first quarter in college, his drug use deepened. His performance on the team dropped and his grades fell. He needed at least a 2.0 to stay on the team. When his first semester grades came in, he had a 1.8 GPA, -- not good enough to stay on the team and putting him on probation with the school.
In the middle of the next semester, he suffered an overdose. This time a combination of xanax and a very dangerous drug known as bath salts. He became violent while on bath salts, was arrested and spent the next few nights in jail and at the hospital for evaluation. After this experience, he asked for help. He wanted to enter a treatment program. We got in contact with the Betty Ford Center and entered him in their 90 day program -- a $65,000.00 program. Within a month at Betty Ford, he relapsed right there in the facility. Patients were "cheeking" their medications and selling them to other patients. All kinds of drugs were available -- including xanax. He stayed in the program throughout the 90 days but went back to xanax within days of getting back home. He would attend AA meetings but refused to go through the 12 step process. All this time, he refused to see a string of misfortunes as the result of his drug use.
He then asked to return to school. Always, there were promises and more promises that his drug days were over. He had been passsing all of his random drug tests so perhaps he was in fact clean? We learned later that he had been buying fake urine and bringing it to the drug testing lab in a bottle.
Throughout this entire story, he was with his high school girlfriend who was also a drug user. They had a tumultuous relationship, but it always seemed to endure through all the misfortune. During his next semester at school he was introduced to morphine and heroin. We had no idea how bad things had gotten. He always assured us school was going great and that things were on track. He had rushed one of the top fraternities on campus and was accepted. Toward the end of the semester, after having not seen him for months, he had lost a lot of weight. His skin looked yellow. He looked sick.
When his grades came in, he falied to get a 2.0 and was no longer eligible to stay at the school. He painfully kicked the heroin habit about a month ago and is now living at home and working a full-time job. He is attending AA meetings but we don't believe that he is clean & sober. We have come to realization that our son is an addict. This may be a long road he is traveling. We are giving him until this summer to move out into his own apartment. We have given him unwavering support these past few years but it is now time for him to live on his own and without a safety net. We can only pray that he commits himself to sobriety and makes the right choices moving forward.