Mad or bad?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Rumpole, Sep 15, 2012.

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  1. Rumpole

    Rumpole New Member

  2. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You are making a lot of assumptions that are invalid. We do not feel our difficult children,are bad. What you did worked for you but that does not mean it works for all. I assume you never got into legal trouble with your addiction. Here in the US that would disqualify you from being a lawyer.

    I have a lot more thoughts on your post but they will have to wait until tomorrow.

  3. Rumpole

    Rumpole New Member

    I made an edit and delete, I saw your post and I had an opportunity to think about it, and had a think about what it was that bothered me about how some of it was characterised. But I think better that I deleted it as I was far less clear than I could have been. Had an opportunity to reformulate in the other thread, so I've written up what it is that bugged me, but without the unsolicited advice.

  4. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    There are so many misconceptions in your post, that I am struggling to decide which one of your tangents I should address.

    First and foremost, thank you for seeking to provide the addicts point of view. However, you failed to mention how or why you decided to overcome your addiction. What was the turning point?

    Instead, you chose to cast aspersion on me and my dear friends- all of us broken hearted, struggling, aching mothers of addicts who are spiraling out of control.

    You paint us with a brush of indifference, as though asking our children to leave is some sort of premature knee jerk "my way or the highway" reaction. Did you even bother to read some of the back posts on this board? Do you think we really don't have knowledge of or give a hoot about mental illness or addiction science? That - as mothers - we don't recognize the underlying issues that fuel our beloved sons' & daughters' substance abuse? Or worse, that we don't care?

    Perhaps, you were a rare breed of addict who never lied to, stole from, or tormented his/her family members. If so, kudos to you. Maybe your familial home was filled with light and laughter, free from the volatility that accompanies life with an addict. Or maybe you didn't notice the pain your family felt.

    We have not been so lucky. I live in a state where I cannot compel my child - once over the age of 14- to get help. I can write a huge check to a university to pay his tuition, but the university can't tell me if he is attending classes, passing classes or has taken a refund of the tuition money we paid. Furthermore,while its nice that I am worried about him & know that he needs help- frankly school administrators aren't interested in his well being and won't violate his privacy by checking on him just to make sure he is alive. FERPA laws fwiw.

    I am going to sum this up as succinctly as I can. We have a front seat to active addiction. We didn't cause it, can't cure it. We can't force them to get help. (We all wish we could. Trust me. ) We have tried everything. We can't love them out of addiction. And the more we try, the worse they treat us. Until we are walking on eggshells in our homes and within our families. Their addictions are claiming the lion's share of our attention & our family's resources. We don't use, but we too are enslaved to their addiction. And it would be worth it- if only it helped. Instead, it fuels their addiction & mal behavior towards us. And our jobs suffer, our marriages suffer, our sweet & innocent (other) children are brought down by the tumult of life with an addict.

    Until we realize that we've tried everything & there's nothing left to try. We can't stop addiction from destroying them. We can only stop their addiction from destroying us and what's left of our family. It's a crappy choice. (Not unlike Sophie's choice) We talk about not enabling- true. Because at this point, all of those resources we've directed at them have been abused by them so that they can use drugs.

    We can't save them from themselves. But we can try to save ourselves & our families from the chaos, volatility, and the pain that they have brought into our home. We can chose to make our home a safe and peaceful place again. It's a long shot and it will take a long time but there will be no chance of calm unless they leave. And it breaks our heart to make them leave. But the pain of our broken hearts is preferable to the pain of helping them and watching them self destruct under our roof. Please believe me.

    So we come here, and fret, look for collective strength, virtually hold each others' hands. Especially late at night when our hearts race because we hope and pray they are ok. When they stumble or they call- we hope "this" will be the moment they find the desire to turn their life around. And when it's not, we console one another.

    You write from the pain of addiction. I appreciate it & have compassion for you. As a non-addict; I can't understand your journey. Likewise, you can't understand mine - and I pray you never need to.
    Lasted edited by : Sep 15, 2012
  5. Rumpole

    Rumpole New Member

    Thanks for the heartfelt and insightful post. I appreciate it, though I must say that I don't entirely agree with your characterisation of what I said. It wasn't an attempt to cast aspersions, it was a sincere attempt to address a subject that is fraught with bitterness, on both sides.

    I know that this is an incredibly difficult issue, it's one that i don't ever speak to my Mum about, and almost a decade later I'm *just* starting to remember with indifference rather than profound resentment. Violence or abuse are never okay and do warrant expulsion from the family home, but short of that I find it very difficult to see how it can be justified. I know it's a difficult decision, I know for most mothers it's like being asked to gnaw off their own arm... at the same time, its difficulty doesn't give it absolute exemption from analysis or criticism. The attempt subsequent to say that the offspring in question is being done a favour... i

    With regards to never lied, stolen from or tormented my family? I've never stolen from them. Lied and tormented? A teenager telling a lie isn't exactly a shocking occurrence. As for tormenting them? I wouldn't use that word. Yes, it was difficult for them as well. But I do remember, I was there. And I didn't choose it.

    What I find particularly galling, and utterly reject, is that people who accept addiction is an illness nonetheless express hopes that their child will experience "rock bottom"; as if we didn't already have enough complication and misery in our life, with learning difficulties, mood disorders, substance abuse issues.... we reallly need to suffer, in the most degrading manner imaginable, to "redeem" ourselves from something that is in fact an illness, not a character flaw or a petty rebellion. The first response of any true addict to rock bottom is to pick up a drink, a pipe or a line.

    In terms of light and laughter, sometimes it was. The years from when I was about age 14 to about age 18 were certainly difficult ones, though I think blaming one on the other might be mixing up which was the cause and which was the effect.

    I sympathise there, I truly do. That wasn't the way I behaved.

    Certainly difficult, destructive, upsetting for all involved. But the salient point was that no one chooses addiction, and I think young addicts with learning and mood disorders generally should be given the benefit of the doubt that they do not want to be like that. This is not some 40 year old married person running off and taking up cocaine. So I would think there is no issue of innocence; being ill doesn't taint you. It might make them an unpleasant person to be around, but it doesn't make them a bad person, and ultimately the difficult child is the one who lives with unfulfilled potential, broken relationships, memories of rock bottom, and so on.
  6. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Despite the clear labeling of this forum as a support forum " a SOFT place to land for weary parents" you've decreed that we are not exempt from criticism in our safe corner of the world wide web. That your need to be understood (perhaps even to justify the pain you caused your own mum?) shall come in the form of a "critical analysis" of our heartfelt parental struggles under the cloak of well meaning advice.

    Did you even read the About Us? was created "to give us a place to share our experiences and support each other." A place - unlike our in real life world - where we are free from "enduring the constant scrutiny from well-meaning extended family and friends..."

    I cannot speak for my board sisters. From my own point of view, it is my fervent belief that this is not the place to address the bitterness of an adult addict being no longer welcome in the family home. Our very definition actually DOES give us exemption! Certainly, criticism and analysis has no place in a parent's support forum designated as a soft place to land.

    There are many other corners of the web that welcome such discourse.

    If you are desperate to tell your side, perhaps your mum's kitchen table would be a good place to start.

    We've often welcomed and embraced recovering addicts who have provided us a window into the struggles & pain of our sick kids. We are constantly seeking a better understanding of the problems we & our kids face.

    Never fear, there is no lack of criticism in our real world. We are our worst critics. We are far harder on ourselves than you could ever be. Perhaps if you had taken the time to know us - to build a rapport- you would recognize that.

    As I said, I speak only for myself. The other members may feel differently.

    I'm finished here.
  7. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member


    I agree that addicts don't "want to be like that" however, THEY ARE like that...difficult, destructive, upsetting and so much more!

    Addicts will literally destroy a mother, a family and all involved. I see them as drowning. And the tendency I know I had was to go out into the deep, dark, unsafe waters and SAVE MY SON'S. And you know what their drugs and alcohol addiction told them to do? Do for self and if you destroy your mother in the be it!!! Yep, they would drown me with them to use/abuse their drugs and alcohol just alittle longer. I could not save them from themselves (as noted above by another poster)...though G-d knows I tried.

    What I have learned has told me that when we set ourselves up as Martyr's...sacrificing ourselves/our families for our "sick" addict children, we are telling them that we are G-d...When in fact, we are not. We are also "telling" them by our actions that they can use/abuse people wherever they go to continue their drugs and alcohol.
    I believe in the program of AA. I believe that AA repeatedly points the addict in the direction of a "Higher Power" because addiction is bigger and stronger than a families love...than a mother's love.

    "Hitting bottom" is not what we aspire to have for our children. We just want them well and hopefully living happy, healthy, productive lives. But..."Hitting Bottom" is often what it is necessary. The pain and consequences of drug/alcohol use must hurt enough for them to realise that they need help beyond what they have tried so far...beyond all the people, places and things they've used so far.

    In the support group I used to attend, there was much talk of surrendering.
    The phrase "Let go and Let G-d" is what I try and hold onto today.
    I try and keep the faith in my heart...the knowledge that addiction is bigger than me and that if I try and stop it I will get hurt in the process.

    I have already been hospitalised when my oldest son was in prison. I literally lost my mind. I went psychotic.
    I do not have the strength to chase my difficult child's around any longer and lovingly try and convince them with all my heartfelt words to stop using. I don't even have the strength I once had to go into my closet, let out primal agonizing screams and pleas, begging, praying to G-d to save my son's. I, in many ways, have let go because my physical body requires it now and my sanity depends on it. The Dr's have said that if I ever "have another psychotic break that they may not be able to bring me back". I don't know if it was all the years of my son's addict behaviors that "broke me"...but I am not the same person today that originally found our CD Board some 10/11 yrs ago. And really...I am grateful as my "loving efforts" were destroying our family...I can see that today.

    None of us wants our addicts to suffer.
    I think that many of us still reflect on the "child that was" and long to see them finally evolve into the adults they should be. I know I don't hardly go a day without looking back at the innocence of my children. Without seeing them swimming in the backyard, swinging from the tire swing in the front yard...skiing down mountains as silly as they could be, tucking them into bed reading "Hank the cowdog" with my most animated voice, lol.
    Picking out a new puppy as a family and watching the kids play. Birthday's, Christmas', etc...You get the idea. My heart hurts emmensely.

    I suppose I've said enough...Just want you to understand that we hurt for our children...but we must carry on. And sometimes shutting the door on them is absolutely the right thing to do. We are not shutting the door on our "child that was" we are shutting it on the parasitic drugs/alcohol that have taken over our child and seek to destroy everyone in their path.

    I hope I made some sense this morning...It's early.
  8. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    As I tossed and turned last night trying to get to sleep after reading your posts little did I know that my board sisters would be replying much better than I could ever dream to reply. You see we live this nightmare every day and so we have a perspective thatyou don't have from the other side. Addicts tend to only see themselves when they think about their addiction. We see it from everyone else's side.

    Then you obviously never stole from anyone else. You were either financed by your parents and didn't have to steal for your drugs or you were not an addict in the first place and you just experimented occasionally. By the time our difficult children steal from us and society they are addicted, they need the drugs to stay normal in their skins. They don't want to steal either but they do what they have to do to survive. I have seriouse doubts whether you really were an addict. Most addicts can't just decide to look at the future they are wasting and decide to stop. I know many young people who use drugs, and they go to college and hold jobs and don't get into legal trouble. They are not addicts, they do not have the addiction gene. They can stop when they need to go to work or study or be sober.

    "What I know in hindsight would have induced me as a 17-year old would be to describe my life now, tell him what you can do with a modicum of effort and without any chemical assistance, that in exchange for giving up heroin you get real freedom (financially, in terms of travel, socially etc), experiences, memories, anecdotes, that are far more gratifying than drugs. I know now how important it is to have a clear direction and path in life, so that you always know where you're going."/I]

    Do you seriously think we haven't done that? Do you think all the therapists we have taken our difficult child to, all the teachers, all the police who have interacted with her, haven't told her that? If she was able to see and cared about her future don't you think she would want to get sober? She can't see any of that through the glassy eyes of an addict.

    One other thing, have you ever gone to an AA or NA meeting?

    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I read all of this to my 28 year old daughter who was an addict (before the edit). She thought you were wrong. In fact, she thought you were very wrong. She believes that making her leave was THE #1 reason she quit using and she said she DID make a conscious decision to use drugs that she knew could cause her to become addictive. It would be interesting if you had a chat with her.

    Maybe there are cultural differences here...who knows. All I know is that my daughter, an ex-addict, thinks you are wrong.

    As her mom, any child putting herself in danger is tormenting her family and loved ones. Period.

    This is a parent's forum. I'm sure there are forums for addicts to give one another support.
  10. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    One more thought R, you may get a different reaction if you just tell us what worked for you instead of taking our experiences and comments and telling us how wrong they are. Your tone and choice of words are coming off self righteous and totally disregard our experiences or that of most of the addiction community.

    I have a reason for asking whether you ever attended an AA or NA meeting.

  11. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    An apology would be nice. There are many suffering mothers here.
  12. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    As far as rock bottom etc.... I can see the point of view that you dont want to punish an addict for being an addict but I don't think that is the motive of most people talking about letting them reach rock bottom. I can also see that for some addicts being at a point where they are reaching out for help is enough... my son has reached out for help several times after he ended up homeless etc... and I do believe every time he did this he wanted help and every time I got him help. Every time. And he still ended up walking away when it didn't suit him.

    My feeling now whatever his bottom is he has to reach it to get to that place that he himself is committed to really getting help... that place that no matter what he will do what it takes to turn his life around. I have no idea if he will ever get to that place, he may not.

    I do know however that I can not put our house, our retirement, my daughters college fund at risk to help him. I will always be there for emotional support and to let him know I love him..... but in the end he has to be the one to do the work to get clean. So far he has not really been willing to do that work and I don't know what it will take for him to get willing really.

    I have a friend who was a long time addict (27 years of heroin addiction) who has said he did not get help until his mother stopped buying into his manipulation and stopped enabling him.

    Rumpole I am wondering what worked for you and how long you were addicted. I am really interested in your story.

    I do know that at this point I need to take care of myself and my family.... and I have to stop making my life all about my son.

  13. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I may be wrong BUT this person just joined the forum in September 2012 AND the posts are very simliar to posts a couple of months ago that were not very supportive of the parents, US!

    Most of the members on this forum have tried everything we can possibly think of and possibly afford to help our difficult children. We are stressed and tired, we come to this forum to find unconditional support for each other. No home or set of problems is exactly the same. We support each other regardless of the decisions each of us make.

    I know pastors and counselors that were previous addicts that have turned their lives around, all support AA and Alanon, all advise detachment.

    I find your posts hurtful - whether you intend them that way or not.
  14. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Rumpole, I agree with you up to a point.

    However, addicts do make a choice every time that they feed that addiction. The very premise of AA and NA is to take one day at a time and make a choice not to drink that day. The fact that you are no longer an addict (if you ever were) proves that point. You made a conscious choice to stop being a substance abuser.

    As far as having a mood disorder, once again there is a choice. A person can seek therapy and take their medications as prescribed or choose not to and live a very unstable life.

    As parents of adult children with mental illnesses/substance abuse issues, we can only love and support them when they make the right choices. We are not obliged to let them destroy our lives and financial well-being when they make the wrong ones.

    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012
  15. Rumpole

    Rumpole New Member

    Thanks for the reply TL. I think your question, and TO33's comment below

    And Nancy's question about whether I'd been to AA/NA, they get to the crux of what this is about. The answer is that I've been to a few AA meetings, and I absolutely hated it. I knew it was entirely inconsistent with what is known in medical science about addiction and psychology and neurology. The internal inconsistency of their belief systems was quite apparent to me immediately, and it confirmed what I had been told by perhaps the best addiction specialist in Australia; that studies show it's no better than a placebo or spontaneous remission rate, and that few people at the top of the field and familiar with the double-blind studies actively encourage their patients to attend.

    (simultaneously believing that we are wretched, powerless addicts with no self-control, but then blaming the addict for not "working the programme" if they fail... how does that work? Either the addict is powerless or they're not. Equally, if they have turned themselves over to the system and God, shouldn't someone be blaming the 12-step programme and whichever deity they were praying to?)

    AA/NA have an emphatic opposition to all the benefits that have been brought by medical science and addiction medicine, so those people put into the programme are denied the potentially life-saving benefits of drugs like Suboxone (opioid maintenance, means you can't feel heroin if you take it) or disulfiram (causes the patient to become ill if they drink alcohol).

    The belief of pastors and counsellors in AA's efficacy is sincere and well-intended but misplaced and not based on any empirical evidence; there seems to be a general belief in the salutary effects of the 12-step programme in the American court system and non-medical professionals like pastors. The acute lack of doctors trained in addiction medicine also means that there is often nowhere other than an AA programme to which you can send an addict.

    I think part of this is also about cultural orientation. Another one of the commenters in another forum mentioned that her son was on a Suboxone programme but was thrown off for having positive drug tests, and that psychiatrists wouldn't treat him until he was drug-free. In Australia or the United Kingdom this would likely be seen as a gross breach of medical ethics and Hippocratic principles. The point is that her son is unwell and suffering from a medical condition, and one that is alleviated by the treatment they're denying him.

    Equally, I'm horrified that AA/NA actually tells parents that your child being in jail is actually a good thing, for them to "dry out". In all honesty, I think that's barbaric. I suppose I'd ask, how has AA/NA worked for your children?

    Unlike AA, maintenance has been proven over and over again in double-blind studies that Suboxone and Methadone are incredibly effective at treating heroin addiction, so much so that it is actually now considered to be unethical to do double-blind studies (in the same way that a doctor can't do a penicillin-placebo double-blind).

    The answer to TL is that I left school at 15 and tried heroin. I used it intermittently until about 16 when I became an everyday-use heroin addict. I went onto a methadone programme at age 18, and stopped using entirely. I've had two relapses, one for three weeks when I was 21, and one for six weeks earlier this year. AA/NA would see the fact that I have relapsed as being a sign that I have failed. I tend to look at it as I've had 9 weeks of relapse in exchange for 7 years of productive life, and as soon as the novelty wore off with each relapse, I could go to my doctor, ask them to increase my dose of suboxone back up to what is called a blockade dose (no heroin will get through to the receptors) and the relapse stopped that day.

    What helped me stay off for years at a time, and kept the relapses short, was both the fact of the treatment and the fact that I could get back to my normal life without being told by AA-adherents that in fact I had failed catastrophically, was back at square one, and had to make propitiations to some deity or power to atone for my wickedness. The few people I know who haven't used maintenance and tried AA have all suffered from very long relapses. It seems to me that the well-meaning intentions of pastors, judges and non-specialist doctors with AA/NA and addiction in fact causes huge amounts of unnecessary suffering and prolongs addiction. Vincent Dole, the inventor of the methadone programme, said this

    AA/NA is made up of unqualified, non-licenced people acting as therapists. They're not in a position to say this is medically sound, this is simply their personal opinion, coloured as it is by AA's belief that addiction is a morality issue. There are times when in fact the love and support of a parent might be just what the doctor ordered.
  16. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I find your arrogant posts hurtful - so I will no long read or comment on your posts, you seem to love to debate and the attention you are receiving from it. You are a student and yet you try to convince our members that you know more than experts in the drug programs.

    There is no right or wrong - I am so glad your path worked for you - and your family had the unlimited finances to find a program you could respond to. Not all of us have been that blessed.

    Blessings on your future.
  17. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member


    You have just proved why I was so offended by your posts.

    And Nancy's question about whether I'd been to AA/NA, they get to the crux of what this is about

    Please don't use this forum for your own agenda.

  18. Rumpole

    Rumpole New Member

    I assure you it was far less salutary than that. Going onto a methadone/suboxone programme meant I didn't have to make the choice, it was made for me. And it doesn't take much to convince an addict to go onto one of these programme, involving as they do more drugs. It would be the same with any alcoholic who's prescribed disulfiram; they don't have to constantly test their strength and willpower, if they drink, they will be ill.

    Certainly that's a difficult issue, I think what makes it particularly so is that the rational and logical side of the patient is not operating, when someone with mental illness makes a decision not to take medication. I would imagine that it is made even harder in the US by the lack of a public health system and the very high prices of prescription drugs.

    I suppose my perspective is that information is power; I think that, provided with information about the possibilities for treatment, parents are less likely to have to face the more difficult and unpalatable choices that you've described.

  19. Rumpole

    Rumpole New Member

    I'm sorry you were offended. I came on to post in response to Teree's questions because of the link with suboxone and the dearth of information. I don't have an agenda except to provide people with information about what works. I won't bother you anymore but it's certainly worth keeping in mind that you've been provided with bad information by well-meaning individuals about AA.
  20. Rumpole

    Rumpole New Member

    Not expert, but having been in treatment for about a decade, and being naturally curious, it's something about which I've done a lot of research and spoken at length to my doctor (who is the best addiction specialist in the country.... and it's not about unlimited finances, it's because we have a universal healthcare system). The point is that addicts don't need to see a top doctor to benefit from maintenance, they just have to take their medicine.

    It wasn't luck or fate or a particular deity, and I didn't have to be lucky, It was having access to the right information and outlook. I'm terribly disappointed that there's a view about that all treatments and approaches are equal, they aren't and the double-blind studies prove this.

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