Addiction-Where were the parents?!

I see the comment so often when it comes to addiction.  “Where were the parents?”.  That REALLY infuriates me.  It adds to the stigma that is already present and a big reason why so many families keep the struggle to themselves.  We feel judged, people cast downward glances,  unsure of what to say.

Where was I?  When you were born, I stayed up all night long, feeding you, changing your diaper, reading the latest books on parenting.  I rocked you to sleep singing lullabies, holding your little body close to me.

Where was I?  When you were 5, I helped you learn how to ride your bike without training wheels. Memories are flooding in of running down the driveway, holding on to the seat of your bike, while you laughed like crazy with joy.

Where was I?  When you were in the 2nd grade, I taught your catechism class and watched with pride while you made your 1st Holy Communion, surrounded by the love of family and friends.

Where was I?  When you lost your teeth, I was the tooth fairy, sneaking money under your pillow while you slept, and ran into your bedroom in the morning, as I couldn’t wait to see the smile on your face when you discovered it.

Where was I?  When the thunderstorms came, you were scared and we snuggled under the covers, while I rubbed your back to ease your fear.

Where was I?   When you were involved in sports, I came to every game, cheering for you at the top of my lungs and going out for the celebratory ice cream after.

Where was I?  When you were 16, we had a code word “Bible”, that you could text me at anytime, if you were in a situation you were uncomfortable with, and I would pick you up, no questions asked.

Where was I? When you were 17, I rushed to the ER when I got a call that you had flipped your truck, with a very high level of xanax in your system.   I didn’t understand how this happened and we got you into therapy right away, hoping we could “nip this in the bud”.

Where was I?  Frantically driving around the streets of Detroit, trying to find you, with tears streaming down my face, fear in my stomach, yet determination in my heart.

Where was I?  When you came to me in tears, that you had become addicted to heroin and didn’t know how to stop. We cried together, me rocking you in my arms again, promising you that we will get through this together.

Where was I?  When we searched for rehabs together, my head whirling that this was even reality, my sole focus on saving you, as you were in the bathroom vomiting from withdrawals.

Where was I?  For the next 10 years, I was by my daughter’s side, never giving up on her, riding the roller coaster of addiction that practically tore our family apart.  20 rehabs, detoxes, psych stays, 4 different states, countless overdoses, sleepless nights, jail stays, etc.  As a parent, when your child is sick with a disease, you never give up.

That’s where I was.  Go ahead.  Judge me.

 

If you or someone you love is struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out, we have resources that can help you.

katie@amothersaddictionjourney.com

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2017-09-06T09:07:02+00:00

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37 Comments

  1. P. Hi September 6, 2017 at 9:21 am - Reply

    This is such a good dialog. Comments expressing criticism of parents just pushes us to question ourselves. We become consumed by guilt and shame. If love and good parenting could save/cure our sons and daughters, they would be happy and healthy today. Oh how I wish it were that simple!

  2. Meg Carroll September 6, 2017 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Bravo to you. For saying what every loved one wants to say!!! Thank you !!!!!!! Much love to you. Hoping Brittany is doing well!!!

  3. Trish Jung September 6, 2017 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Katie,
    Thank you so much for sharing your life! My son has been battling addiction for about 9 years, sober now for 7 months and doing great! I am a labor and delivery nurse and also see people addicted to drugs frequently. I too get defensive when someone says “where were the parents”? There are some cases where kids were without parental involvement but there are also those with parents who have suffered right along with the addict. People are all too quick to judge when they do not know the entire story! Thank you again for sharing your life and the mission you have!
    Trish Jung

  4. Linda Farrell September 6, 2017 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Thank you for this article as I feel the same way. We fought for 1 year for our daughter but sadly we lost her in April. I am struggling knowing the person who injected her,the person who provided a safe space to do drugs cannot be prosecuted. They were her mother in law and brother in law. They loved her to death. My daughters name is Montana and her friend Allison did a tribute to her that you copied on your site.Again thank you and hope you’re all doing well.

    • Rebecca Hoskins September 15, 2017 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Oh Linda, I’m so sorry for Montana’s death. I can’t imagine your pain. Hugs for you.

    • Viv September 18, 2017 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      I am so sorry

  5. Cynthia September 6, 2017 at 9:54 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this. My daughter did not get into addiction, but she made some choices that placed her in a cult-type environment, estranged from us for several years. Being in a homeschooling community and a small, family-oriented church, we suffered almost as much from other people’s attitudes as we did from the pain of our daughter’s choices. People actually wanted to help us study the Scriptures to see what we had done wrong! We nearly made ourselves physically ill and put our marriage in jeopardy, analyzing every decision we ever made, trying to find the problem so we could fix it, before I finally gained enough strength to start answering people in a way similar to what you have written here. In retrospect, I think some people were afraid that if it happened to us, it could happen to them, so they wanted to find where we had messed up so they could reassure themselves they had done better. Continued prayers for your family.

  6. Peggy September 6, 2017 at 9:59 am - Reply

    People need to hear this! It’s so very true! Moms will do anything not to see their child suffer, especially in addiction! Moms become crazed with it and hide it for fear of stigma. Thank you for brining awareness to the disease of addiction and letting go of the stigma attached. So many are hurting quietly. Thank you again!

  7. Susan September 6, 2017 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Thank you for this post Katie. I often feel so alone in this journey with my daughter. Thank you for giving a voice to those of us who maybe haven’t found their voice yet or are afraid to share.
    God bless you,

  8. michelle September 6, 2017 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Thank you for speaking the truth and acknowledging our reality…..may we all persevere with strength and hope.

  9. Mechelle Bridges September 6, 2017 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    You are defending yourself as I have for years; private Christian school and loss of scholarship to college for athletics. Carpools for youth to church and putting up posters when he was missing from
    11/10/13-2/27/2014. Now 38 rehabs/mental health commitments and prayers he is in department community corrrctions rehab 5 hours away; I am frantically trying to keep my home that was declined a modification and not file bankruptcy or hurt myself while working 7 days a week/11 hours a day to try hold on while making sure he has $14 a week on his account for tuna and peanut butter. May God help is all. What help is there for mothers?

  10. Bonnie September 6, 2017 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    They have no idea

  11. Ken Mintz September 6, 2017 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Going through this too! #standtogether, #beataddiction, #daughtersareworthit

  12. Liz Donchey September 6, 2017 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this! I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, so people can criticize all they want. They have no idea what a roller coaster ride addiction is! Thanks again!

  13. Maura McCoy September 7, 2017 at 10:50 am - Reply

    Where was I? I fear that the majority of people asking this question know exactly where I (and her dad) were, because they know us and how we raised her. They once saw a great kid from a good family and now that is negated by disease. I can’t answer the “what happened ” question because I don’t even know myself. But I do know that I am grateful that she is alive, in recovery and that there are those that never asked that hateful question. They just love her, and us and lift us up. I choose to pay that forward. Blessings to you and your daughter!

  14. Tracey Daniels September 7, 2017 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    We can be there for them at the lowest and the highest but ultimately it’s up to them to welcome change to their lives!!

  15. Cam September 8, 2017 at 12:10 am - Reply

    I’m so glad I found this post! I really needed to see and read this post and all of the comments tonight. I’ve been struggling with this disease for 32 years now, with two of my sons. Where was I? I was right there with the rest of you, doing all the same things. Keeping my personal life quiet. Continually asking myself what did I do wrong? What did I do to have to struggle every day and night being afraid and wondering what is going to happen next….. And not being able to talk to anyone about it…, except for the rehab counselling and al-anon groups. I’m still struggling with being a mom of adult addicts everyday. I thank God that they are both still alive and I love them unconditionally. Those that criticize, judge and place blame on the parents of an addict need to step back and walk in our shoes sometime. Unfortunately they don’t have a clue.

  16. Ava Doane September 8, 2017 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Well said. Please use a more readable type color. Thanks

  17. Laurie Plante September 8, 2017 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Katie, I am a huge fan of your blog. As the mother of a heroin addict I am grateful for your honesty, and tireless efforts to help break the stigma of addiction. When people find out that your child suffers from Substance Use Disorder, they are not running over to your house with a casserole. I am so tired of people saying how lucky they are because they have good kids. I, like you, was right by my daughter’s side taking care of her, helping with homework, cheering from the sidelines, driving her to her many sporting games, making memories on vacations? Etc. My daughter is not just a good kid. She is an amazing, insightful, caring, loving, funny, and smart young woman who struggles every day against a disease that can take her away from all who love her. No one chooses to become an addict, but sadly it happens. The last thing my daughter, or anyone who suffers from SUD, needs is someone to Judge them when they, themselves, have never walked in their shoes. Addiction does not discriminate. It can happen to any person, in any family, any place, at any time. There is too much hate in this world. Hate the disease, not the person.💜

    • Deborah Revelle September 13, 2017 at 4:00 am - Reply

      Appreciate this blog. I have never had a child who was addicted to anything but I didn’t take credit for that anymore than I took credit for anything they did. My heart goes out to every one who loves a person with an addiction. My understanding and love also surrounds the addict. No one grows up saying I think I’ll be addicted to heroin, alcohol, cigarettes, weed etc. Addiction is a complicated problem. I don’t think blaming anyone helps. We all need to work on a different approach to addiction. A way to not blame. I pray for all those touched by addiction. I wish I could never see or hear the phrase ” you can’t help an addict until they decide to change” it only lays blame and guilt on the poor addict trying to recover. Please consider my words next time you judge an addict or their parents. Only God can judge. God knows their hearts and their fears. He can heal them . I have seen it but it had nothing to do with the addict having enough faith or will power. Just pray and show love to those affected. Everyone needs a safe place where they are loved not judged. Be that place for someone and pray over them so they know God is fighting their battle along side them.

  18. Sunny lockwood September 9, 2017 at 2:47 am - Reply

    Thank you for this. My 20 year old son is in a 12 month residential substance abuse program. We are praying to avoid any time in DOC for him. But i have been wondering, are there any mothers who, yes, have done all of those things that we all do for our children, but are also dealing with their own addiction? Theres got to be somebody. Please. I cant talk to anyone. I feel so guilty, and i dont think anyone understands. Plz message me if u are having this problem. Theres no info online, no mommy and me addiction groups, so if anyone can relate plz mssge. Im so lonely and afraid

  19. Roxanne Talarico September 11, 2017 at 12:23 am - Reply

    THANK YOU FOR REACHING OUT TO US, PARENTS. AT THIS TIME, MY DAUGHTER IS LIVING IN A SOBER LIVING HOME. SHE IS NOT THE SAME PERSON I BROUGHT UP. I THANK GOD THAT SHE WAS SPARED WHEN SHE OD’ED LAST FEB 2017. SHE BOUGHT THE DRUGS SHE OD’ED ON FROM THE NJ REHAB SHE WAS IN. AFTER HER HOSPITAL STAY, SHE WAS BACK HOME FOR A FEW MONTHS BUT, SHE REMAINED A DIFFERENT PERSON. WE WERE UNABLE TO TRUST HER.SHE MOVED OUT ON MOTHER’S DAY. OUR RELATIONSHIP HAS BEEN ESTRANGED. MY HEART BREAKS WHEN I SEE PICTURE OF ALL SHE WAS AND KNOWING THE PATH SHE IS ON NOW. HER ADDICTION/ACTIONS TURNED THE FAMILY INTO MAYHEM.SIBLINGS FIGHTING, MY HUSBAND LYING TO COVER HER PATHS. ADDICTING INVOLVES THE ENTIRE FAMILY.

  20. Gloria September 11, 2017 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    There is also alcohol addiction and it will tear you apart. I raised my granddaughters because my daughter just couldn’t and now she is in jail for 6 years and suffering with stage 4 liver failure. I also did everything with her as a child and teen , watched out for her friends love her with all my heart. She is an extremely wonderful person would always be helping anyone who needed it but somehow could not help herself. Once you are in prison they do nothing to help the problem and if they are in bad health they make you beg for help. There are so many young kids in there with her it’s horrible. I don’t know how to help her but to show her I still care. It’s hurtful to see her children want nothing to do with her because of the hurt she caused them. And it gets expensive for families because they give them nothing at the jail.

  21. Karen Paperd September 12, 2017 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Good for you ladies! Keep fighting the fight! You have helped so many people! When I reached out to you for a friend you didn’t hesitate assisting her in getting help for her son. Because of a mothers deep love for her child, your help and experience, she has her son on the road to recovery! It’s a shame you’ve been judged makes my heart hurt for you! I thank you for being strong and selfless to share your story because by doing so I know of at least one life you two have saved ❤️

  22. Mary Baldwin September 12, 2017 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    Thank you..

  23. brandi edmonds September 12, 2017 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Live to fight another day momma!! No one is immune to addiction. So glad you are speaking out!

  24. Pam Highsmith September 13, 2017 at 3:41 am - Reply

    I am the mother of a 36 year old son who is incarcerated due to addiction. He was stealing to support his habit. The final straw was a home invasion with two other addicts . He was sentenced to 8 years in prison has served 5 years. He has been clean for 4 years (he says) and says getting locked up was the best thing that could have happened. While he has been incarcerated I have been very supportive and make sure he always has money on his books for commissary.
    He became friends with a female addict who I tried to help only to have her steal and lie. Last week I discovered he was taking money off his books and adding it to his phone account so he could call her.
    Today I find out he had given her my credit card number which she has been using (approximately $500.00 in two weeks).
    I am so upset with him for doing this however, don’t know how to approach him. I know he will try and lie his self out of it. Apart of me wants to cut him off.

  25. Pam Highsmith September 13, 2017 at 3:45 am - Reply

    I am the mother of a 36 year old son who is incarcerated due to addiction. He was stealing to support his habit. The final straw was a home invasion with two other addicts . He was sentenced to 8 years in prison has served 5 years. He has been clean for 4 years (he says) and says getting locked up was the best thing that could have happened. While he has been incarcerated I have been very supportive and make sure he always has money on his books for commissary.
    He became friends with a female addict who I tried to help only to have her steal and lie. Last week I discovered he was taking money off his books and adding it to his phone account so he could call her.
    Today I find out he had given her my credit card number which she has been using (approximately $500.00 in two weeks).
    I am so upset with him for doing this however, don’t know how to approach him. I know he will try and lie his self out of it. Apart of me wants to cut him off.
    I really need help with how to handle the situation.

    • Tammy September 18, 2017 at 8:17 pm - Reply

      Yes, cutting him off financially is the most loving thing you can do. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. (((HUGS)))

  26. Ami September 14, 2017 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Thank you to the parents of addicts that do everything in their power to help their children heal. Thank you for seeing that your child needed help. Thank you for making their life and their well-being a priority. Not all addicts are that lucky.

    My husband has been battling addiction for several years. I found out about it 2 years ago. From the moment I discovered what was going on, I reached out to his parents. I begged them to help me get him to rehab. They told me he couldn’t afford to lose his job. HIS JOB WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO THEM THAN HIS LIFE. It didn’t matter how many text messages I showed them between him and his dealers. It didn’t matter when I handed them the heroin I found in his car when I was 9 months pregnant. It didn’t matter how many things he stole from them and from me. None of that was enough to convince them he had a problem.

    Now, I’m alone with an 8 month old daughter. My husband is finally in rehab (and only there because he lost his job), my in-laws have basically shut me out, and I’m struggling to make ends meet.

    I envy those that have supportive parents. I can’t help but wonder how different our lives would be now if his parents had been willing to admit their son needed help.

  27. Cynthia September 16, 2017 at 11:25 am - Reply

    I was there many similar times for my son. He dies in a car accident 7 years ago DUI .292. Thank God no one else was killed, injured but not critically. At 29 he left behind a 10 yo son and a 5 yo daughter with different mothers living in different states.

    No longer do I wait for that phone call or that knock on the door. In many ways life is much easier.

  28. Katahleen September 20, 2017 at 11:49 am - Reply

    These are truly a beautiful stages of our lives with our children from they day they are born and forever!!! I too have a daughter who is a recovering heroin addict. She has been clean for a 1 1/2 but I still hold my breath everyday. She gave birth to a sweet 7 month old boy. I think God gave him to her to save her. I pray every single day for her and all the addicts, sill or recovering that they beat this horrible demon and live a strong and beautiful, happy, loving life.

  29. Mary Turner September 21, 2017 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for your article. Our son is in jail for the second time and get out in a couple of months and has no were to go He says he wants to do good this time but his dad doesnt want him to live at home with us He says he has to prove himself We are taking care of his 10 yr old son who is ADHD It has been a terrible road to travel and I do not wish this on anyone, as bad as it sounds while he is in jail at least I know he is eating, has a roof over his head and is drug free.. My heart is breaking and I worry about what I can do to find him a place to live when he gets out. God bless anyone who is going through this.

  30. A September 21, 2017 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    Great article! No one knows the struggle families go through when a loved one is addicted, unless they’ve gone through it themselves! However, the end statement I totally disagree with. Drug addiction is not a disease, it’s a choice.

  31. Tammi Bowles September 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    My heart goes out to you, but my heart also commends you. My younger sister passed away last year from a drug overdose. She was 39 years old. My mom never left her side through over 15 years of her addiction. There were many times that we wanted her to. We wanted mom to not bail her out or put her in another rehab. But this is what moms do. They do for their kids, no matter what. I am a mom of two teenagers and I am scared to death of them becoming an addict and living the life my sister lived. I am terrified of being the mom that my mom was, but I know I will do exactly that. I will love them no matter what and do everything in my power to help them. Addiction comes in all shapes and sizes. It might be the kid that has a bad home life and the parent is pretty much non existent. It might be the kid that has it made with the best parents in the world. There is no difference when it comes to addiction. Addiction is ugly and can take anyone. I miss my sister every single day and would not wish this kind of situation on anyone. Tell your daughter to work for the life she wants and deserves. Love her but do not enable her. Get her the help that she needs but if she doesn’t stick with it, cut her off. I know how hard this will be, but it could save her life.

  32. Maree Dee September 22, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    I loved this post. Although I have not dealt with addiction to drugs with my child, I have been blamed countless times for my daughter’s mental illness. I love what you said, but I disagree on one thing. Not all parents stay in the fight. I have sat in many treatment centers where my heart broke in two for the girls where their family had given up on them. At first, I was shocked at how a mom could give up but then I understood. It is a hard path.

    One must navigate with help. One must find support, and it is out there. I am so glad you did not give up on your daughter.

    You are an amazing Mom. I look forward to reading more. Our stories are not the same, but I see similarities running through them. We are MOM Warriors.

    Maree

  33. Lucind September 24, 2017 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    Hi, my son and I have been on this road for 20 years and then in the midst of it my daughter joined him. The sadness of a life you see being destroyed is unbearable. My daughter was arrested and had to “get clean” laying on a jail floor where a guard walk in nudged her with his boot and said “are you dead yet?” every hour. We went to court and begged for treatment but no. Instead they gave her 6 felonies and 3 years in prison. She is out now and still clean. Everyday I celebrate her and her commit to stay healthy, her story is very inspiring. My son is still using…..

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