Hi, my name is Ann. I am the mother of 3 boys, 2 of them struggle with the disease of addiction. My middle son Lance struggled for 7yrs before he lost the battle. Lance had behavioral health issues that started as a toddler. He saw counselors in school and private but was never officially diagnosed with a mental health issue. I thought since the doctors didn’t diagnose him maybe this was something he would eventually grow out of… but he didn’t. When he was a teenager, he started selling marijuana and getting in trouble with the law. He would sneak out of the house and run away often. This started the year of 2006 when addiction was not in the news. Resources were not available, you couldn’t “google” treatment facilities or counselors, or get funding. There weren’t any meetings to attend to vent and get information from other parents that were going through the same thing. No one could explain to me that this was not a choice for Lance to live this life of destruction but the disease that took over his brain. My son may have gone out partying with friends, drinking, smoking pot and cigarettes like many other teens do, but my son was genetically predisposed to this disease. That one night of poor judgment, lead him to a lifelong difficult battle.
While all of this was going on with Lance, my oldest son was doing well…so I thought. We never got the phone calls from school, the police or people coming to our house as we did with Lance. He did well in school and after he graduated, he surprised us with the news he was joining the air force. This is when I found out he was not doing well…he was an alcoholic! After Lance’s passing in 2014, our family was never the same. My youngest son was 7 and the oldest was 23 when he passed.
My youngest is now 14 and the oldest is now 30 yrs old. Instead of trying to shield my youngest from what was going on around him, I now use it to teach him. He has seen firsthand how the disease of addiction affects you. I am hoping that he will not make that one decision that will leave him with a lifelong struggle. I feel lost with my 30yr old. I have the knowledge and resources now to help him but I cannot and I still feel like I am in the dark stumbling around to find my way out. Having him live at home is both a comfort and a nightmare. I am able to watch over him but I also see how he is destroying himself and it is also destroying me as well. It isn’t fair to him as a 30 yr old adult that if he goes out I want to know where he is going and what he is doing and if I don’t hear from him for a period of time I am calling to check on him. Every parent of an addict has that one thought that you push way back in your mind in hopes it will never happen. That thought stares me in the eye every day and that is not fair to my oldest. Just because Lance is no longer with us does not mean this will be the case for him. Because of that fear, I am not allowing him to take control of his life. I want so badly for him to be a happy, healthy, independent adult. Because alcohol is socially accepted, it is hard for him to go out with friends that hang out and drink. Having one drink and dinner isn’t that easy for him. The way he described the situation is:
“People know that sticking a needle in your arm is wrong but the view on drinking when you are out in public is legal and acceptable, so it is more difficult”.