I reached under the bathroom counter to get some cleaning supplies and saw it, a syringe with a bright orange cap. Suddenly, I had no oxygen. It felt like the air had been sucked from the room, the house, and my very life. I had suspected that my son was using drugs for several years but always pills, never this. He always denied my accusations, and without evidence I managed to convince myself I could have been wrong. Now, as I held the syringe in my hand, my vision blinded by tears, my heart actually hurt from the pain. Heroin? I had no idea it was even still around, let alone in our smallish, country town.
That was eight years ago, and I want you to know there is always hope. Today, my son is clean and sober, happily married and raising a family. For how long, I can’t say. Along the way I learned that his addiction is his alone to battle and I have no control over the outcome, but today he is sober. He was a “junkie” before it became so prevalent - meaning I had nowhere to turn. Support groups, therapists and well-meaning friends all reacted the same way when I said my son was on Heroin. A crumple of the face, a quick attempt to hide their dismay and then the inevitable, “Oh my God, I am so sorry to hear that,” as if I had just announced his passing. Even among parents of other addicts, my son was viewed as a lost cause. I was repeatedly told, “Once they get on Heroin it’s over, you might as well give up.”
Well, I refused to give up. I won’t lie to you; it was a rough ride. His four overdoses, several jail stints and several failed rehabs changed me more than I ever thought possible. I am not the same person today as I was eight years ago. I am more jaded, a bit withdrawn and always, always mindful, as I read the stories of celebrity deaths due to Heroin, that if my son relapses he might die.
But that knowledge also gives me the foresight to fully embrace each day with him. I delight in the small things. Other moms take it for granted when their son stops by to hook up the new television. Me? I savor each moment as he tells me about his day at work, a new food the baby tried, or his plans for the future. He doesn’t do anything unusual. He goes to work, he comes home, spends time with his family, and every so often stops by to see dear old mom. The difference between him and others is how far he had to come to get here. I am so proud of the man he has become that sometimes I feel I could burst.
Heroin is a biggie, but then again, when it is your kid, any drug is a “biggie.” It’s so easy to get bogged down in the negatives of addiction that it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There can be. Keep encouraging treatment. Most of all, remember, as long as they are breathing, there is hope.