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Overcoming Denial: Finding Myself Again Amidst My Son’s Drug Addiction

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Please join us in welcoming Renee Kennedy to Intervene!  Renee grew up in an alcoholic home and is the mother of a 24-year-old son that is an addict.  After many years of pain, she is now working on her own recovery through Al-Anon as being co-dependent. 

When I realized how serious my son’s opiate addiction was, I wanted to “fix it”. 

My husband, son and I went to our family doctor, took two weeks off work and tried the family vacation detox — it didn’t work.  We gave my son the option of going to rehab or living on the street.  He chose rehab for 30 days and relapsed the day he was released.

My relationship with my son was self-destructive at best.  We would argue and then he would feel justified in his drug usage.  I gave him unsolicited advice, telling him how, when and what he should do to fix his life.  These frequent arguments would end with him storming off or me telling him to leave, and him continuing to use drugs. 

We tried family counseling for over a year but I was not ready to hear the wisdom of a counselor, just as my son wasn’t ready to hear it either.  At the time I didn’t feel the 12-step Al-Anon program was what I needed.  Afterall, why did I need to be treated — he is the addict — why doesn’t he just stop using since it is ruining his life and making him unhappy? 

My resentment and anger built up and I did not know how to communicate with my son without having a harsh tone.  I just could not let go of the expectations I always had for my beautiful boy, and took much of what he was doing personally.  I thought if he would just stop using then my life would be fine, the pain would be gone and we could all be happy again. 

One day I just became so weary and felt alone.  I decided to go to an Al-Anon meeting at the suggestion of my counselor.  I didn’t like the first meeting, but did go back later and something clicked.  I now attend  meetings when my schedule allows — usually once a week, along with counseling. These sources of support helped me let go of my expectations of my son and realize he has a disease.  You wouldn’t ask someone with cancer to just stop having it.  He has a disease that requires him to be ready to fight for his life.

The battle is his and I can’t fight it for him.  I can conquer my own recovery from being overly involved.  I am not God nor am I cop and it is not my job to save him or police his activities. It is my job to save myself. 

I can now have a conversation with my son out of love.  I can say no to him in a loving tone and hold my boundaries  most of the time.  I still struggle, we all have good days and bad, but the manner in which I choose to deal with it is what is saving me.  I realize I have choices just like my son, and now I am choosing  to put myself at the top of my priority list.

Posted by  |  Filed under Addiction, Recovery & Relapse, Taking Care of Yourself

14 Comments on “Overcoming Denial: Finding Myself Again Amidst My Son’s Drug Addiction”

VJ says:
June 21st, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Hello Renee,

Thanks so much for sharing.

Your post was very insightful but I would like to hear more details from you and/or others on the particulars in how a family can deal with the loss of a child, so loved but so lost to their addiction.

I am presently in that situation where I am battling the “Letting go, letting God” issues of a loving parent and have recently started my own blog to help myself through this very painful period.

I want to learn more on how to accomplish this without losing my soul in the process.

My post entitled, “Grace and Serenity” may be of use to others.


Susan Lea says:
June 22nd, 2010 at 12:38 am

Dear Renee – your story is so sad. I wish there weren’t soooo many stories like yours, and like mine.

Jayne says:
June 23rd, 2010 at 6:12 pm

My life has been lost since my son’s addiction. This is the third summer of his addiction…I know I need help for myself… I am wandering in circles… harsh towards him at times… but loving most of the time… I’m hoping this site will give me the push I need to get help for myself because I know he needs me to be the best I can be….

Renee says:
June 24th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Thank you all for your comments. Jayne, I hope you seek support for yourself as that is when true healing begins. Susan, I wish there weren’t either, but I am glad not to be alone and that we have support. VJ, I have checked out your blog, it is beautiful. I believe we are all working on Letting Go, Letting God, and the more I practice it, the more enriched my soul becomes.

Mary Lynne Marshall says:
July 10th, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I am a mom who was in the same situation when my son started using meth. I tried everything I could think of to help him. The helplessness you feel is so very overwhelming. I did interventions, dragged him off the streets, delivered him to detox, made so many phone calls to rehabs, and lawyers, spent alot of time in court rooms.
When a close friend suggested I attend a 12 step program, or get some counseling I was very offended, I remember clearly stating ” I am not the one with the problem”, was I wrong !
Through counseling, research, reading and time I have come to terms with my sons addiction. I am no longer co dependent, it is like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. It is ok to have a life outside of addiction. I have rejoined my family and friends, and am really enjoying my life again after six years of hell.
I love my son more than ever, but I can not cure him.

R6 lady says:
July 22nd, 2010 at 1:25 pm

In truth, at first i didn’t understand it. But after re-reading I think i understand

Dave says:
September 24th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

My son died of a heroin overdose last year. We did not see an abuse or even use problem until he was already using street drugs. Went into rehab. Came out and seemed ok but left home soon after for 30 days. Clearly, he relapsed. He came home and seemed to be fine for 6 months, going to school and happy. It appears that some stress in Nov hit hard and relapsed and died of an overdose mixed with over drugs – not sure if it was intentional or accidental – a few days later. His life was so wonderful and so promising as a smart, athletic and loving and caring person until college. Compassion and love, not sitting in judgment, yelling or accusing. Detachment preached by so called experts is only an excuse for selfishly protecting oneself. These addicted souls are sick and so sad as to what happened to them often due to one mistake. Grief we suffer after they leave us is nothing compared to the grief they suffer quietly for the loss of themsleves, their futures, their families and friends as they once were able to enjoy them. So be compassionate and always help and be aware. Yes, you’ll suffer with them. It is better tan te alternative.

jamie says:
October 6th, 2010 at 6:56 pm

My most precious and beloved son JASON died of a heroin overdose on SEPTEMBER11,2010. The anguish and grief i feel makes me want to end my own life. I absolutely agree with DAVE as to his comments on treating these poor suffering souls with compassion and love. Do people not understand that they ar e just trying to quell whatever pain they have inside them? Knowing the pain of his loss has only made me more aware of the suffering my poor JASON was enduring. JASON had been in and out of rehabs many times. MY heart has been absolutely shattered by the loss of him. However, I will ALWAYS be grateful for the privledge of calling him my son and grateful to GOD for entrusting this absolutely wonderful human being into my care. I just wish I could have helped him .

Lee Ann says:
May 27th, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Stumbled onto this blog. Don’t know if it’s still active. My heart goes out to you, Jamie, with having to undergo the pain of losing your son to a heroin overdose. I have faced that possibility with our daughter, & at one point figured she would not survive. Many yrs. we trying to help her detox. She maintained on methadone for a long time; then was low enough in dosage to rapidly detox. As far as we know she is still clean. We are now dealing with the discovery of her genetic depressive brain chemistry issue, which has created a whole new set of problems, i.e., hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, anger, etc. I went to a bi-polar support group for info, & am trying to learn what she’s dealing with. She’s into denial, & coupled with a very strong will, it’s become a challenge for us emotionally. Even though I don’t understand all of how God works I believe He cares & is working in her life. I pray a lot. Any resources anyone has to offer to me to understand addiction, what the addict goes through following detox, depressive brain chemistry issues, & dealing with stinking thinking I would appreciate you sending the info my way.

Dodi says:
June 5th, 2011 at 5:19 am

My 22 yr old son went into a 30 day rehab facility and did fantastically! About 3 wks ago I suspected something was up and last week I found a rib fully loaded and ready to go. He was flying high last night and all day today and when I confronted him he became mean telling me how I am a horrible person. I realize this is the drug speaking not my son but it still hurts. I knew relapse was a reality in his life so therefore in ours but he was doing good causing me to get comfortable. Back to square 1 now…absolutely no trust, he can’t use my car or have the cell phone my mom so kindly lets him have. Do I call his PO and have her pull him in for a test and go to jail where he’s safe or do i just sit back and remember i didn’t cause it and I can’t control it and he’s gonna have to face his consequences…should I kick him out – I really don’t want this behavior in my house! Do I try to get him back into inpatient treatment or do i just sit back and see what happens? Ideas please!

leah says:
September 8th, 2011 at 2:52 am

my 18 year old son took his life 13 years ago, he had major bi polar w/psychosis which could have been brought on by his marijuana usage….I have 2 other sons 25 and 20, my 25 year old is very responsible, married and a good job. My youngest has been using drugs – started out w/pot, then opiates which led him into addiction which he has been seeing a doc for and supposedly is off of….he has been living w/me and never worked or went to school just kept saying he wanted to be a skateboarder and it may seem funny to u but he has videos out and is sponsered by 4 companies. I really looked the other way as far as the pot and was very tolerant thinking most kids do it- but he has been selling it and has put me in danger – I have been burgelerized 3 times and a few weeks ago I had to leave my house because some gang members came over with masks on and help a gun to his back in the front yard! They were trying to rob him, the police asked him if he was selling dope. My son has a good place to stay about 4 hours from here but he refuses to leave this town, I am staying w/a relative – he has options but just cries and begs me to find a new place – i am waiting to give him the time to maybe hit bottom and grow up but he does have places to stay that r good – he just wont take it – I saw him and he looks so pale and skinny – I am suffering so badly – I even found a gun once in the house and he said it was a friends he was holding – I feel so cruel saying I wont get a place but if I do he will go back into the same routine – I am scared please comment

Sidda says:
July 23rd, 2012 at 3:38 am

I cannot buy into the cancer patient theory I have heard it countless times people who have cancer did nothing to deserve it the addicts became addicts because of their own poor CHOICES.

Karyn says:
March 10th, 2014 at 12:13 am

I have a 24 year old son who is an addict in recovery. He has been clean for about 9 months now. I am the happiest I have ever been but I know that could change within minutes. I hold onto the happiness with the understanding that things could change if he relapses. With that said, I will take the happiness and what I have learned through all of this and concentrate on myself and my young daughter who I am still raising and move forward. I have to continue the love and support I have for my son and that will never change. To Sidda…you will never understand unless you go through it. All I can say is that it IS a disease and those of you who have never been through it can not even begin to comprehend what it is like for the addict or their families. I know in my heart that my son never wanted to become an addict. His body chemistry is not the same as mine. The opiates he so innocently took because it was prescribed to him for a college football injury took over his brain and his life. He did not choose to be addicted, just as a cancer patient does not choose to have cancer. It happened. and we all went through hell for three years. But I choose to accept the remission with open arms. And for those of you who have suffered the loss of a loved one or a child, my heart goes out to you.

Renee says:
March 11th, 2014 at 12:50 am

Sidda, Addicts don’t wake up one day thinking “wow, I think I want to become and addict”. They don’t deserve the addictive brain anymore than someone doesn’t deserve cancer. People with diabetes that don’t take care of their health and disease don’t want to die…they have addictions to foods or alcohol. Until this country understands that addiction is a disease, there will always be judgmental people who have never gone through addiction with a loved one who say “they have a choice and made bad choices.” That is not the truth and I hope to God you never have to find out on a personal level.

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Welcome to Intervene. We are a community of experts, parents and caring adults concerned about our teens’ alcohol and drug use and have come together to share our insights, inspiration, guidance and help.

A free service to help you determine if alcohol may be harming your health or putting you at risk.

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