Today we are featuring a guest post from Mary Ellen, a local mom whose son has been an addict for more than 12 years. This is her story, her experience and her encouragement to you today. We recognize this is a very sensitive topic that may be triggering for many who read it and there may also be a large difference of opinion. The intention is not to scare you or to stir up debate, but to share this mom’s perspective. For that reason, we will be closely monitoring all comments and deleting any comments that are hurtful, blaming, judgmental or shaming. Our intent is to share one mom’s real experience. If you or someone you love is battling addiction, we want to encourage you that you are not alone and that there is indeed HOPE.
I should have been a statistic. Another mom with a son who overdosed or another wife whose marriage was driven to divorce when life pushed it to the edge. I am not, only by the grace of God.
Our son started using drugs and alcohol at age 12. Yes, twelve. No matter how I type it, it still amazes me that he was so young and we were so clueless.
As I type this he is 24 and has been sober from alcohol and drugs for 258 days. The drug that took him literally to the gutter close to death was heroin.
How does a kid who is raised in a loving, intact, two-parent family that loves God and one another and goes to church every week end up at rock bottom?
One step at a time. The same way he has found sobriety — one step at a time.
The first step was taking what was not his to take; someone else’s alcohol, prescriptions, money, shoplifting and the trail goes on until it leads to the gutter.
You may have young kids and think this will not happen to your family. We certainly never imagined it would happen to us. Never did I think my own son would steal my credit card info, my money, my pain medication, or my mother’s jewelry. And that was only the beginning.
What can you do as a young mom?
Pray – a lot and often. Cover your kids in prayer, pray for everyone who comes in contact with your kids and into your home. God has a good plan for you, your marriage and your kids. That does not mean it will always be easy or if you follow a formula your kids will turn out “just right.” It means doing your best and trusting the rest.
Practically speaking, buy a safe. Right now. I mean it, stop reading and go buy a safe. A heavy one with a good combination lock and a key. Put it somewhere out of the way. Memorize that combination, don’t write it down and keep the key with you always.
Place in that new safe credit cards and any papers with the numbers on them. You would be amazed that it takes seconds for a teen to memorize your credit card info and clean you out. Place any cash and your checkbook in there. You can keep a few dollars in your wallet, but only carry what you could spare to lose. And speaking of your purse, never leave it unattended. I have had other mothers tell me they locked their purses in the trunk and kept the car keys in their pocket, even slept with them inside the pillowcase when they couldn’t trust their own child.
I hope it never comes to that for you.
Next take every bottle of medicine you have and put it in that safe, I don’t care if it’s Tylenol. There’s this thing kids do where they grab handfuls of pills everyone at the party has been able to steal and drink them down with alcohol or cough medicine. It’s called “skittleing” and it’s deadly.
If you absolutely must keep alcohol in your home, do two things. One, keep track of what you have. It’s amazing how watered down alcohol can look like the same amount to you. Second, lock it up. Secure it up high with a lock that you install or have a locksmith do it. Starting this when you children are young keeps these items out of accidental reach and keeping them there as they grow up puts up an accessibility barrier that could potentially be life-saving.
And this isn’t just about our kids. You may be saving your own toddler from disaster or your nephew, but maybe also you neighbor or best friend’s daughter.
Start talking openly with your kids EARLY. I can’t promise you’ll know that addiction has taken hold of your child because we spent years in the dark. But the more you can build an environment where they feel safe talking to you about anything and everything, the better the chances they will come to you about something as scary as this.
You can do this, mama. One step at a time.
- Stop Medicine Abuse — The prevention campaign StopMedicineAbuse.org and its Five Moms initiative is working to alert parents and members of the community about the problem of teen abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM).
- Rogers Memorial Hospital Child and Adolescent Treatment Services — Rogers Memorial Hospital is a leader in comprehensive and effective behavioral health care treatment for children, teens and adults. Multiple locations in the Milwaukee and Madison areas.
- Just Keep Going : Spiritual Encouragement from the Mom of a Troubled Teen
- Stop Heroin Now — A Wisconsin-based non-profit with a foundation of awareness and education progressing toward linking families with needs-based resources and services.
- LSS Addiction Treatment — LSS provides an array of services specifically designed to help people with addictions in their recovery journeys.
- Columbia St. Mary’s Adolescent Substance Abuse Program — ASAP is the first program of its kind in Ozaukee County. It’s also the first place parents can turn when they have questions and concerns regarding drug and alcohol use in their children.
- Wisconsin Community Services — WCS has consistently strengthened Milwaukee neighborhoods by giving the community’s most disenfranchised residents the tools they need to be healthy, law-abiding, productive citizens. Behavioral Health Services assists individuals who are in need of treatment programming due to their mental illness, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, or a combination of these.
- Meta House — Meta House ends the generational cycle of addiction by helping women and strengthening families.
- Mercy Multiplied —Mercy Multiplied is a nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to helping young women break free from life-controlling behaviors and situations, including eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, unplanned pregnancy, depression, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking. Mercy accept young women from all over the world and place them in the location they feel best fits each girl’s situation. Top states from which young women apply are TN, CA, TX, NC, IL, MO, FL.