Guest posting with Sean Dustin
In addition to being the mom of a person with substance use disorder, I happen to be a nurse who works in recovery of a different nature.
I work most often with girls in residential treatment of eating disorders.
One day, a worried Mom called and asked, “My daughter has been there a week now, and I’m just having a moment and wondering at what point will she finally ‘get it’?”
I drew a long slow breath in as I tried to think of how to answer this impossible question.
How many times have I tried to answer this very question with my son, but in a slightly different context? As a person in active addiction, he has hit so many rock bottoms that he has nothing to his name, except the clothes on his back.
With every new ‘rock bottom’, I hoped beyond hope that he would finally ‘be ready’ to try recovery again.
He had been there once, over a year ago; from a forced intervention we had arranged. He stayed clean for 73 days, which was amazing considering he had been battling addiction for a few years by then.
Of course many times during that stay, I was just like that mom who called that day wanting hope and reassurance. “Is he finally ‘getting it’?” I would ask during each small victory.
I tried to reassure & give hope to that Mom as best I could, to live each day for what it was, because that’s what her daughter would have to do too. A few days later I came across this post from Sean Dustin, who runs a podcast called Nowhere To Go But Up
“There is no set time to when a person is going to get it. Rehabs are great for profitability but not so much for getting people well. They do not usually address the issue which is not drugs. Drugs are a symptom of a couple of things.
Addiction has 3 layers. The bottom layer is the initial trauma that is usually from childhood but not always it could happen later in life.
The 2nd layer is the behavior that is the result of the untreated trauma that usually is followed by unhealthy connections with everything that you touch.
Last is the self-medicating that comes from trying to forget about all the damage that your behavior has caused because you have not resolved or made peace with your trauma/traumas.
So, you must fix it in reverse order. The current models separate the addict from the drugs and then try to address the trauma or underlying issue, but never address behavior or make it a small part of the process.
Behaviors are habits that get formed while drug-seeking, attention-seeking. These are lying, stealing, cheating, manipulation, verbally/physically abusive, narcissistic, etc….
I believe that you must address and remedy the behavior before you can address the trauma” -Sean Dustin
This rings so true with my son’s situation because after quite a few years of being a functioning and even dare I say “successful” addict; his house of cards tumbled fairly quickly.
His slide into heroin from pills was the culprit. Heroin has the distinct ability to make a person feel like they need nothing else except the euphoria that it provides.
Until it doesn’t anymore.
By the time the dose has been increased to achieve the maximum high, the person is just maintaining; living and using day to day just to AVOID being sick.
At that conjecture, my son had lost everything he had built for over 10 years: A huge business, a new custom-built ( by him) house, 12-year marriage, 2 precious kids, and 25+ vehicles.
When he was able to come up for air, I believe he was so completely overwhelmed at the damage he caused, that he sunk deeper and deeper into his tormented darkness.
To a healthy brain, it’s easy to see how to fix it. One step at a time. You go to detox, you get clear-headed so you can pass a drug test. You get your license reinstated. You negotiate with the bill collectors and the courts for damages done while feeding your addiction. You find a supportive recovery community, a knowledgeable addiction specialist. All those steps and more were pushed and prodded along by none other than me- Momma, to help him have hope and get to some semblance of a manageable life again.
But to a shame-filled hijacked brain, even one step looks impossible. Their fear of failing at recovery, as they did in dealing with life in the first place, runs front and center in their thoughts. The more that people from their past, including family and clean friends, hound them; the more they turn toward the people who are just as stuck and sick as they are.
Those people aren’t going to criticize or ask why they aren’t doing this or that. They’re not going to ask why they abandoned their kids because THEY probably did too!
My son resisted my efforts to help him get his life back. Instead, he stayed 4 hrs away and just out of touch enough that I couldn’t count on him to follow through with anything- including court dates.
Just as Brandon Novac stated in His video:
“My rock bottom was so low, that the curb looked like a skyscraper”.
Hundreds of thousands in debt from his businesses, 5 felonies, and every possible bridge burned with family; my son, with his loving heroin friend still whispering sweet NOTHINGS in his ear, chose instead to tell me how he was going to do things “his way”.
Still believing his own BS, the drug seemingly wins this round. My son has lost 120 lbs, has 5 warrants for his arrest, & has isolated even more from his family.
At this point, the “detach with love” advice doesn’t really appeal to me, even in order to save my sanity.
Yes, I do need to be able to function, but my empathic Mom heart can hardly bear going more than a few hours without a huge lump in my throat.
So, I’m back to that Mom who called seeking re-assurance about her daughter.
Instead of saying what i wanted to:
“Your daughter is safe, she’s with professionals, peers in recovery, she’s eating 3 meals and 3 snacks a day, and
‘sʜᴇ ᴅᴏᴇsɴ’ᴛ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴀ ɴᴇᴇᴅʟᴇ ɪɴ ʜᴇʀ ᴀʀᴍ’!!!
But instead I say: “She’s doing fine. She’s safe & learning more about her illness every day. She will be home soon”.
I wish I could tell myself the same……….