Hello Friends – The following is a letter I wrote this afternoon. I wanted to share it with you and give you absolute permission to use this letter. To pass it on to your loved one, perhaps when the time feels right to do so. To share it at a meeting. To give it to a friend.
Yesterday was a difficult and frustrating day for me. I know you’ll understand because when we have an addicted loved one, life seems to be a constant journey, up and down, hope and grief, effort and relapse.
This past year has been a year of homelessness, crack houses, sickness, beatings, hospitals, jail, and detox for Nathan and so for those of us who love him, there has been continued devastation. Devastation sprinkled with hope for those periods when he would detox.
Since the beginning of 2012, he entered designated Detox facilities twice only to relapse on his release and has gone through detox from heroin four times here with me when he could not get into a detox facility. It takes Nathan seven to ten days to detox – to go cold turkey. Ten days of severe pain, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, every inch of his body in severe pain, one minute so hot and the next freezing cold. He had to live with the physical discomfort I had to live with the worry, sleeplessness, and mood swings. Trying to cater to all his requests so as to keep him on course. To detox and then to go into treatment.
This time detoxing seem even more difficult for him. Not only was he coming off heroin, he was also coming off cocaine, crack cocaine and speed. He had dozens of sores all over his face, torso and legs from picking. A common occurrence when amphetamines are used. His right arm was swollen to probably six times its normal size from infection caused from re-using needles. He had open sores all over his swollen lower arm. At one point the arm starting draining like a faucet. Not a trickle. A gush. He went to emergency department and was started on two antibiotics. So for the next ten days as he was going through withdrawal, I was treating his wounds and ensuring he was taking his antibiotics.
Ten days clean. With the paper work in order to get into a treatment facility in two weeks when there is an opening.
He stayed out Friday night. But returned Saturday morning just after 7:00 a.m. I worried all night knowing that if he used he would be gone for days. When the door bell rang I breathed a sigh of relief until he walked in the door.
As parents of drug addicted loved ones, you know the devastation, the highs and lows, the emotional rollercoaster. He had clearly used speed – for the next five hours he talked to himself non- stop. Then he decided he was going out. And left. About an hour later he called to tell me the yogurt brand I bought was on sale. At first I had a hard time understanding what he was talking about. He was a mess and I worried people would be afraid of his demeanor if he was wandering around a mall. I went and picked him up. He agreed to go for a walk. He continued the behavior to where I was completely drained. Eventually he fell asleep and slept through the night without any issues. This morning we had a long talk. Again.
I told him if he uses again while waiting to get into treatment he cannot come back. I set very clear boundaries. I was giving everything I could to help him get to where he needs to go. He has to do his part. Without that, nothing changes.
As we all know, we can talk until we are blue in the face. We can encourage, support, do tough love, whatever we hope might break through that locked door of addiction. Most often it just falls on deaf ears. We are tuned out. So, I thought I would write a letter to my son. The following is that letter. As I mentioned, please feel free to share it with anyone you hope might need to read it.
LETTER TO A DRUG ADDICT: “I COULD GIVE A RAT’S ASS”
Hi Friend, it’s me just waiting to hook you up. Sneak out. I’ll be waiting.
Don’t listen to that “inner voice” your Family talks about. You know the one, “We’re here for you”. “Let’s get you into a Treatment Centre”. “Detox”. “The life you deserve”.
Nag. Nag. Nag. That’s all they do. They say it’s because they “love you”. “They want you to be able to live a full and healthy life”. Well to hell with them. I could give a rat’s ass about that. That right. No pressure from me. I say, it’s your life.
I could give a rat’s ass if you lie, steal or manipulate the people in your life. That’s their problem.
I could give a rat’s ass if you break into houses, steal cars, shoplift or steal old ladies purses. No pressure from me. I’ll be there whenever you want me. I don’t judge anyone. I’m an equal opportunity friend.
You will do anything to have me in your life. You will devastate your Family – your parents, brothers and sister. You will lose life partner. Your wife. Your husband. Your children. You will lose you job, your car, your home, your friends. But I could give a rat’s ass. I’ll still be there whenever you want me.
I am here whenever you invite me. I only show up when you call for me. Your choice. That’s right. As long as you want me in your life, I will be there.
I will be waiting for you when you end up in jail. I’ll be waiting when you are beaten to a pulp. I’ll be waiting for your release from hospital if you lose an arm from using dirty needles. Hell, who needs the veins in that arm anyways. They’re pretty much all collapsed anyways. You can use the veins in your neck, or feet or groin. You have other options.
Your Mom is sitting by your bedside. Tears running down her cheeks. I say, “Get a grip lady”. I could give a rat’s ass about her. But, I’ll be waiting for you. I will always be there when you want me. I’ll never be more than a phone call away.
I don’t let you feel anything. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. I take care of that. I’ll leave you feeling empty. And when you die, well, I won’t give a rat’s ass. There are millions of people whose lives I can own.
Yup that’s me. A fickle friend. I took everything from you. Well, actually that’s not true. YOU GAVE IT ALL TO ME AND I COULD GIVE A RAT’S ASS.
Thanks for the memories.
Your drug of choice, Heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth.
P.S A piece of advice: You should have listened to the people who loved you. They really did
care. But me? Well like I said – I gave a rat’s ass about you.
Written by June Ariano-Jakes, author of Addiction: A Mother’s Story