By Mary Marcuccio, Guest Columnist
Last month, I shared a story with readers about a close encounter with addiction and what that looked like. INSANITY. Repeating the same behaviors, expecting a different result.
Story #2. For readers following this series, I shared in June that my son, Matt, was getting out of prison in Connecticut, expected to be late summer. Well, August 19 hit like a train. My ex-husband Pete, Matt’s dad, picked him up outside the jail, they grabbed a bite to eat, and Matt started what Matt always does – trying to make the bad feelings go away. He got a bunch of medications from a hospital that afternoon and took them all. The rest of the week, more doctors, more meds and drinking. He’s saying to me on the phone, “I don’t want this life anymore Mom” – as he’s taking half bottle of pills.
On August 25, I awoke to a text from Pete – Matt overdosed, I found him on the floor unresponsive; he’s in the hospital. We discovered that Matt had attempted suicide via heroin overdose – for the umpteenth time in his life. He was in the psych ward until August 30. Pete picked him up and brought him back to his house, despite my request that Pete require at least rehab. They’ve been struggling since then. Pete is sad, worried, angry, forlorn – and Matt is “trying to be good Mom.”
Here’s what trying to be good looks like to my addicted son.
9/4 – intentional suicidal overdose at a friend’s house, friend hit him with Narcan; he lives
9/12 – intentional suicidal overdose behind a dumpster near a vacant building in Hartford, CT., friend with him freaks out and calls 911, police/EMT’s, Narcan, hospital; he lives
9/16 – accidental overdose on a side street in Hartford, found by passerby, calls 911, police/EMT’s, hospital; he lives
New days. Same choices. INSANITY.
Do you know that Matt was VERY angry when he woke up from overdose #1, #2, #3… He had called me from the hospital after OD #1 and, knowing that this had been a suicidal plan (been there, done this for years) my first words to him were “hey honey… so you woke up” to which he said quietly and with a mixture of sadness and anger in his voice, “yea, I can’t even do that right. I keep F****** waking up.” Overdose #4, according to Matt – “Mom, I wasn’t trying to kill myself. I was just trying to get high. I didn’t think I did that much.”
I’ve offered my son help; he still chooses not to take it. Recent phone call from Matt: “If I hear you say rehab 1 more time, I’m hanging up, will never talk to you again.” He still hears the voice of addiction louder than any other. He has chosen not to hear his God voice… yet. I have a very dear friend, sober 33 years, who is prone to say that “my disease has one job – separate me from everyone and everything that could stop it.” At support group meetings, he shares with families of addicts that “my disease isn’t trying to HURT you; it’s trying to HELP me – forget, be numb, not feel…” Instead of going into a psych hospital or rehab, Matt left his dad’s house on 9/24 headed to Massachusetts with a girl he met online a few days earlier! Matt has carried his addiction with him; his life partner.
As I pointed out in the previous article, the couple I engaged with recently had two choices: Continue using drugs, being homeless, hungry, estranged from family; survive a hurricane outdoors OR Go to a FREE detox/rehab, BE SAFE, get medication, eat well, clean clothes/shower…NEW CHANCE!
They chose the voice of addiction. The “bad” one, as it were. It was louder, stronger, more powerful than their God voice. They made a choice of which to hear, and addiction continues. For addicts, life is to be endured while trying to get high/drunk. It doesn’t make sense to those of us who are sober with no drug history. As I’ve said before, we don’t have to understand; we have to LOVE. We don’t have to agree, we don’t have to support their poor choices, we SHOULDN’T enable. But we must LOVE.
I was working at the treatment center in Orlando on Monday 9/23, where I do family coaching. Once a month I share my story with the clients themselves; it’s usually a very engaging and emotional experience for all of us. A month ago, I told my story to a group of clients; have been getting much positive feedback from them since. On that Monday, a client – Suzie, a beautiful, young woman in her mid-20’s, took me aside and told me that, that very morning she had “had it/gotta leave,” was planning to leave rehab and go use (heroin). She said that she heard my voice in her head, having recently related to my story…that she remembered the pain I shared…that my words sounded like her mom’s. She went to her therapist, they called her mom, together they discussed leaving/staying. She decided to stay! She told me this because she wanted me to know that as hard as it is for me to talk about Matt, my sharing gave her a new voice to hear!
In wisdom that has come with age, I understand that we ALWAYS have choices – I refer to them as voices; the good and the bad, light and dark. Our addicts hear voices – the call of addiction vs. their God voice. It’s like two warring creatures; the side that wins is the one that gets fed the most. Our prayer should be, as with Suzie, that the day comes when our addict’s God voice is stronger than that of addiction.
If you have an issue with substance abuse, or are the family member of a loved one abusing drugs/alcohol, please contact me for support and treatment options, by calling 860-877-8707 or by emailing email@example.com.