From the Waiting Room to the Parking Lot

Midwestern Mama continues observing the comings and goings of Methadone and Suboxone treatment participants.

Other than the first day my son started the HIOP (high-intensity, out -patient) treatment program, I haven’t returned to the waiting room – at nearly 22 years old, he’s a big boy and doesn’t need Mom to come in with him nor does he want me to. Now, I wait in the parking lot and let me say it’s no less insightful.

Each morning, we arrive between 7:30 and 8:15 a.m. There are taxi cabs, medical transportation vans and cars of all models – from luxury vehicles to ready-for-the-junkyard clunkers held together with duct tape (yes, I have actually seen this). Some people walk from the nearby bus stop while others ride bikes.

Of the people arriving in cars and vans, it seems more often than not they are passengers not drivers My mind wonders if the participants have cars of their own or perhaps they have lost driving privileges.

That’s my son’s case. We had provided him a car from age 16 to 18 and then let him drive our car for work purposes until last year when we continued to find drugs and paraphernalia. We put our foot down, that we couldn’t support drugged driving. Subsequently, his driver’s license was suspended for unpaid tickets related to underage drinking and driving and underage public consumption. Right now, he’s doing odd jobs for us and family friends to build a tab that we will apply to his tickets, but we don’t have a sense of when we might let him drive one of the family cars.

I also wonder about the relationship of the drivers and program participants. Some appear to be parents, but mostly it seems like boyfriends and girlfriends or maybe a roommate or else a professional driver in the case of the taxi cabs and transport vans.

The other day, my son and arrived a few minutes early so we sat together in the car. A middle-aged man was sitting on the curb and after a few minutes began gesturing to us. Not sure what he was indicating, my son rolled down the window. English was not his native language, but he explained that he thought my car had a leak of some kind – turns out it was just condensation from the air conditioner, but I appreciated his concern and initiative to tell us.

Yesterday, I parked next to a man in a newer Toyota. He noticed our dog’s nose sticking out the cracked-open window. He approached the car and asked me if it was a people friendly dog. Oh yes, our dog is friend to all. As he patted the dog, he commented that the wait time was taking longer than usual. We exchanged a little more chit chat when a young woman came out and he introduced his daughter to our dog, who kissed her face and barked a happy bark. “See you tomorrow,” we said as they got in their car to drive off.

Speaking of dogs, there are quite a few who come and wait for their people friends. A Golden Retriever played fetch with a teenage girl on the small patch of grass near the parking lot. A Black Lab poked his nose out of a car sniffing the air with great gusto.

And there are young children – preschoolers, toddlers and infants. One adult is holding the child while the other goes into the clinic. Again, I wonder about the home situation and hope that the parent is truly on a path of recovery and a healthy lifestyle.
My perspective from the parking lot is positive. This is a busy place where people arrive at all times of the morning to make a healthy start to their days. Regardless of where they have been, this is where they are now. Interestingly, I haven’t noticed any true loners – everyone seems to have someone with them, at least in terms of someone who gets them to the clinic for treatment.

Although my son could easily enough take the bus here, I am glad his dad and I are his transportation. It gives us peace of mind that he’s going and demonstrates our commitment to support his recovery. It also gives us some dedicated talk time during the 15-minute commute each way – just long enough without being too long.

As for the parking lot, there really is something encouraging about the comings and goings, and given the road we’ve been on, I’m pleased to be here for the time being.

Midwestern Mama


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