I first learned that my son had a substance use disorder when he was 16. He broke his hand at 15, was given pain pills and after that he kept punching things to break his hand to get more pills.
At 18, he went to heroin. I did not know until he was 21 and had his first overdose.
My first initial thought when I realized he had an issue was, “No way, not my kid, I’ve done everything right … was very active in his childhood.”
That first overdose I had him rushed to the emergency room only to be told, “There is nothing we can do,” and he was sent home. I did not know where to turn.
I made several phone calls and finally my pastor told me about Delmarva Teen Challenge in Seaford. I called and he was accepted and we went. He was there for four months and then left, relapsed, went back and did six months, left again, relapsed, went back did 12 months, which is the requirements for the program … relapsed again, went back for three months and left again. He then went on methadone against my wishes, and was on it for six months. Next week will be one month off of it. So technically he is only three weeks clean.
I’ve learned the best way I could support him was to just be there when he needed me. I educated myself, went to every community meeting I could. I tell people in that time that I was “Addicted to my Addict.”
Now, to support him I just make myself available. He needs to know that I love him and I’m always there.
To any parent going through the same thing, I would say, “Never give up.” Educate yourself. It’s not easy — it was hell. It’s like watching your child self-destruct and there not being a damn thing you can do about it.
Sherry Collier is founder of Mid-Shore Restoring Hope in Women, a local non-profit that links women to recovery services in the area.