Personal Note

My most valued possession is my family. Even if you are living in a box somewhere, and you have the love and support of your family, you will always be wealthy. Love really is all you need. From love, great things will emerge. From your thoughts, you can create greatness.

This is what I need to remind myself of everyday to be the best person that I can be. Live your life with gratitude. Be thankful for all that you have everyday, even if it is your eyes to see or your ears to hear or your feet to walk or your hands to create. Understand your place in this Universe; how infinitesimally small you are, but how huge a contribution your Spirit is. Don't wear blinders to the world around you, you're not the only one here. Be kind, considerate, don't be judgemental, love others, and yourself. Know that you are perfect inside; that you are love.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Inconspicuous Killer...

In my last post I touched on a subject we keep fairly close to ourselves in full detail. But I have chosen to break that silence. We tried already to conquer it without much "to-do" over it to anyone outside our closest family and friends. I slowly started to open up about it to friends who are a little further outside our circle and have mentioned it in my writing, as well. I have hit a point where I cannot keep my knowledge of this danger silent any longer.

I have researched and watched and learned all I can and I get more anxious with every article, thread post and TV show. I don't feel like I am being responsible or doing what I have set out to do, if I don't come clean and share this with you completely.

The dangers of "Huffing" are real. I had no idea. I just thought it was a cheap substitute for the narcotics we ensured our son could no longer get. I knew it was dangerous, mind you, but I had no idea how addicting or how necessary it became to our son, until recently.

I want to start at the beginning and give you a timeline of sorts, so you can see the progression that we went through. Not everyone's situation will be the same, the progression of abuse differs from person to person and affects all families differently, but the similarities are hauntingly similar. Too similar to ignore.

December 2013: my husband and I find evidence of drug use in our son's closet while we are switching rooms around. This was a shoe box with a plastic bag, a spoon, a used insulin syringe, an empty ball point pen tube, cotton balls and aluminum foil and a light dusting powder covering everything. I immediately thought meth or heroin. I called my son home, confronted him and found out it was Percocet. Heavy dose pain killers my father is prescribed. I then thought it was brought on by:

  • my mother's death
  • my son's DUI and totaling of my car (that I thought was a result of my mom passing)
  • my husband's mother's murder
  • my brother's alcoholic death
  • Any of the above would send you over the edge, right? 
No. His abuse of Percocet (about 8 per day for about 5 years from Freshman year of high school to Freshman year of college) came after seeing an episode of A&E's Intervention the summer before freshman year of high school started, and the knowledge that my father had an abundance of narcotics at his disposal. My dad did not act irresponsibly with his pills, necessarily, it's just that we never, ever would have thought he would ever do something like this, so nothing was ever hidden. He was never raised in an environment with drinking, smoking, drug abuse, etc. As a matter of fact, my son has never met his biological father because of this reason--violence and drug abuse. There are so many things that can be said right now regarding why he started: "he never knew his father" (he was always spoken to about the need to meet his 'father', and that I would support him any time he was ready), "his biological father (and uncle) were addicts" (this is true, so if there is a such thing as an 'addiction' gene, my son probably has it) "maybe he was too sheltered" (I always wanted to keep him safe from seeing anything on TV/Movies that was too inappropriate) "maybe he wasn't treated stern enough/treated too sternly as a child" (my husband and I did our very best, but as parents, we will always ask ourselves this question more that any of you could).

The truth is, even he says he doesn't know. He just wanted to try it and liked it. The end. That's sometimes all it takes.

After we found out in December about this drug use, we took him to his Primary Doctor. Our son had been diagnosed with ADHD at five years old and took medication since that time. He was always an honor roll student, except for a few times in high school, but was always able to bounce back. His primary Dr. took him off the Concerta because it is considered a controlled substance. So, now, he has no medication to help him with compulsive behavior. All means of him getting pills were removed and a close watch was put on him. He had already gone months without using and had no job and was confined to home. 

But it didn't help. He got back to the pills (addicts are sneaky) and this time we put him in rehab. 

May 2014: As soon as I found out, I called my insurance company to inquire about what services were available to us and what was covered. They were so helpful, I could have wept. The very next day he had an appointment for an assessment. He was placed in Acute Intensive Outpatient Group Therapy. He received medication, treatment from doctors and the group therapy was a life saver. Of course, he couldn't drive and therapy was an hour away, three days a week, for three hours a day. I took off work to take him and not leave him alone at home while I worked and slept. It worked. Mostly.

June and/or July and/or August: He relapsed. Twice. On Percocet. He told the group and the doctor. He was told "once more and you will have to go into the inpatient program." I believe this is when he started using the "duster" heavily, too. I stopped allowing him to go to my dad's house. This was unfortunate because dad is alone most of the time since mom died. My son is my dad's buddy, but he couldn't be trusted, so that put an unfortunate strain on their relationship. Then, he was discharged from group. A group of people he grew to know and trust. They became like a family that everyone had the same struggles in. This took a definite toll on him, having to go it on his own, so to speak.

College: He had already strained his college education, as well, getting placed on Academic Probation for dropping his GPA. For the Fall semester I took him to school and sat down with he and his counselor. We signed him up for classes that he got to pick, that would be easy enough to get through and changed his major to accommodate easier classes. 

December 2014: He falls into what I can only describe as depression or the return of his abuse. Not taking care of himself or his belongings (like the brand new Mac I bought him for school). He starts sleeping in past class, etc. I question him; always know when he's lying (like today, for instance) and he confessed that he had been pretending to go to class for at least a month and a half. Since he was on financial aid suspension, I paid for his full tuition this semester, all down the drain. I know he keeps some things from me to protect me, but we could have come up with a solution if he had told me sooner. Until the solutions run out, that is.

January 2015: He gets a job. Hallelujah! Something to get him out of the house and give him some responsibility. He does great at his job. Wakes up, goes on time, actually enjoys the sense of accomplishment and responsibility. But, then he starts falling back into the routine of not showering, not keeping his room or car clean, sleeping endlessly (this got a little better when he started working)...his room was a disaster that I don't even want to discuss. But know this: Duster makes you vomit. A lot. And drug addicts want to keep things hidden. So, there you go. We came to our breaking point. He started doing little things that weren't like him such as taking things without regard for anyone else but himself (yes, drug addicts steal, he didn't steal from us like you would think, he hadn't reached that lowest point, yet. Besides, he had his own job, his own money...but he took things without asking, did things that were disrespectful. Not like you think of a heroin or meth addict, he's not that bad, yet, and we want to keep it that way.)

February 27: (Friday) My generally otherwise passive husband hit his breaking point. He planned on dropping the hammer Monday. Why Monday? We work. He works. A lot. 12 hour shifts. Tyler works until after his dad is asleep, I work when everyone is asleep, I sleep when everyone is home or at work. So, Monday, it is. 

March 1: (Sunday, and what would be my mother's 72nd birthday): I am having what I used to believe was just waves of depression. I've had these waves since high school; that's as far back as I can remember my first one. I have always described them as feelings of "home sickness" or waves of sadness. My sister tells me what an anxiety attack is described as by her residents/patients: nervous inside, uneasy, jittery sadness...Anxiety attacks. That makes sense being as I was anticipating this confrontation the next day. I can't shake it. I don't want to find out the worst, and to be honest, I don't want to go through any more hurt. In the afternoon, I am just resting with the cat, and start to have what I think is the irritable bowel flare up of the century. I haven't had one of those in years, but I know what is looming on the horizon. I run to the bathroom and do what I haven't ever done from anxiety or anything other than the flu for years, as well. I vomit. Not from the flu, not from nausea, but from the pain of my guts protesting the anxiety that is welling up inside of me. The fear of losing my child, my son, my one and only, my "best favorite", as I always called him when he was little...still do.  The thought of climbing the stairs and finding him cold next to a can...could you bear it?

March 2: (Monday): We call him down. Various discussing ensues. No real yelling, no screaming; my husband doesn't yell. But our son knew he was serious, and that this was it. The end. The threats of taking his computer, throwing all his belongings away, etc. were over. We were taking him to the hospital and he was going into rehab. We had found over 25 or more cans of Computer Duster in his room, stuffed in a laundry basket with a blanket wrapped around it. His vehicle was littered with used cans...more that could be counted. Bags of vomit were tied up in his room. Dirty clothes that he refused to wash or bring down to wash were laying everywhere. Food containers, drink containers everywhere, even next to his keyboard. Everything we gave him months to remedy and fix were laying at our feet in a bold "F YOU" of disrespect. But, at least, there was no dead kid...this time.

We arrived at a special hospital an hour and 15 minutes from home to have him assessed. 5 hours later, and a full extensive background interview detailing his use, coupled with his prior report, he is deemed ok to go into Acute Outpatient therapy again. I just don't understand. Do they not see the dangers of this stuff? I asked them, "If he does not go into inpatient, how do we keep him from getting the duster?!" She didn't have an answer. My God. 

So, the very next day my husband took our son to his assessment and his first new session with group therapy. Three days a week, three hours a day, one hour drive both ways. He goes to NA meetings here in our town at least once a week according to his work schedule, twice if he can. I insist. He turns his paychecks over to me and I allot his money to him for gas and food. I get his work schedule forwarded to me from the email his boss sends him ( a boss who, I might add, is super understanding. He was willing to keep my son's job for him and understood his need to go into rehab). But, even that doesn't help the worry. He slept though Group last Monday and this Monday. I am making him go to the evening group today. I also found out, because I knew to ask, that he had used, again. Last week. He tried to lie to me. I told him he was lying. He had to confess. And I knew that he was probably keeping some of the money I allotted him for gas to buy duster, instead. Another bingo. I had read yesterday, when searching what can be done to get stores to remove this from their shelves, two articles that scared me to death. Enough to give me nightmares. I want you to read them. I want you to share them. Get the word out on how dangerous this stuff is. The article that was written by the girl who was a recovering duster addict and her mom could have been written by me...almost. My boy hasn't succumbed nearly as far as she had, especially with the law, yet. But, if I don't stay in his face, well, I don't even want to entertain staying out of his face. I am willing to do anything. I have to have more time at home with him. I have to be available almost everyday, not sleeping my life away all day because I work it away at night. I need the sunshine, I need the air...

We need to be a part of the living again, both of us.

I urge you to read these two articles: here and here. They are not long, but pack a wealth of information. A K-9 officer even lost his young boy to duster. He had no idea, not many people do, of the danger this seemingly inconspicuous little can holds. I am also including an episode of A&E's Intervention: Allison to show you the devastating effects this drug has on abusers and their families. I urge you...please share this, these articles, this video; spread the word while I work on getting something done to remove this killer from our store's shelves.

Thank you so much for listening, 


1 comment:

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