It’s nice to get a dad’s perspective on parenting a young addict through to recovery. Today’s guest blogger shares his story. MWM
Growing up, I experimented with methamphetamine on a few occasions. I was socially pressured into doing it but thankfully, it never took a hold of me. For some reason, the abnormal ecstasy put me off and I stopped after a few tries.
When I became a father and as I watched my kids grow, I was overwhelmed by the crippling fear that my kids may experiment as I did, and I wasn’t sure if they would be as lucky as I was. I tried not to talk to them about drugs or substance abuse because I believed if I avoided it, it would not come up.
My son, Jake started taking drugs at 14. I missed the initial signs and I have never stopped blaming myself. Reading Rose’s post on addiction tell-tale signs, I can’t help but think things might have turned out differently if I had known what to look out for.
How It All Began
Jake was never a gregarious child but he seemed more withdrawn soon after his 14th birthday. His grades also started to drop and we worried he was struggling with some emotional changes as a teenager.
My wife and I tried to talk to him, but he never indicated there was a problem. We tried to be more communicative, did all the fun things he liked, and paid more attention to his study habits. This seemed to work initially as he talked a bit more and got more involved at home. But he was never the same and his grades didn’t see much improvement.
As time passed, Jake started finding more excuses to go out at odd hours, became disrespectful and stopped caring about his appearance. He didn’t do well at school and could care less. He would have mood swings from talkative and animated to withdrawn. He would also get uncharacteristically aggressive on occasions.
Jake was away at school most of the time, so we did not see his condition progress.
It Was Not Very Obvious
When you think of drug abuse, you think of prominent symptoms like dilated pupils and conspicuous, uncontrollable cravings. This wasn’t the case with Jake as far as we could see. Also, he hardly ever asked for money so we were more concerned than suspicious.
The changes in him caused us enough concern to seek help from counsellors. It was suggested that Jake may be dealing with substance abuse. We broached the subject with him but he would always deny the fact. Something was wrong but we were at a loss for what it was.
Discovering the Addiction
A year later, when Jake came home for a summer holiday, he was far gone in his addiction. He was skinny, outright depressed, was very easily agitated, slept a lot and was often tired. He also had a seizure once. It was clear to us by then that he was struggling with substance abuse.
Our first reaction naturally was panic. We wanted to immediately take him to a rehab center but a friend of the family advised us against that. She said any action had to be taken with his consent and after due consultation with him. According to her, taking any actions without first talking it over with Jake was likely to put him in a “me vs them” mentality.
Thanks to her advice, we were able to first:
- Discuss the situation with Jake – At first, he was defensive. But he eventually acknowledged that his addiction was harming him and that he needed help. He wasn’t very forthcoming with information. He would not tell us why or how he started abusing drugs but we were content to leave that to the specialists.
- Agree on treatment – We were able to get Jake to agree to professional help. This was tough. As a teenager, he could not face the reality of being a drug addict. The psychological implications of getting help was more profound than we imagined.
Please note that these processes took several days. We did not try to immediately stop him from taking the drugs because we understood stopping cold turkey without professional supervision could be dangerous.
Jake’s Treatment, Recovery and Rehabilitation
After researching our options, we found a rehab centre out of town. Jake wanted to be away from the people that knew him.
The rehab professionals were amazing. It’s hard enough dealing with a teenager that has no addiction problems. The experts were able to get through to Jake in a short time and his outlook changed. I may not be able to go into details, but his treatment involved:
- Counselling by rehab experts; and
- Clinical therapy (nutrition, exercise and medication) to manage detox and withdrawal – this helped to soften the withdrawal symptoms like agitation and irritability, anxiety, fatigue and depression.
The terrible thing about substance addiction of any kind is the lasting effects it has on your body even after the addiction. We learned that drug chemicals lodge in fatty issues, which not only exposes the patient to health risks, but can easily trigger relapse. We are sure the detox process went a long way in making his treatment effectual.
Youth Support Group Overseen By Trained Professionals
The rehab centre had a support group for youth where they were made to relate with each other on a broad range of topics other than their addiction. I think this significantly helped Jake because it made him learn to communicate again, to feel like a normal individual with more to him than his addictions.
We were also counselled on how to relate with Jake and provide him with the kind of support he needed to stay strong. We provided him with a warm and loving environment, taking care not to make him the centre of attraction as this could cause him to withdraw.
Treatment, especially the detox phase, was not easy. Initially, there were times when Jake would ask to come home, promising to stay sober. He would also try to blackmail us into feeling that we had left him alone to suffer at rehab. We remain grateful to the rehab experts for how they handled the situation and for their advice on responding to every scenario.
We were also advised alongside Jake on how to deal with tricky situations such as:
- Meeting friends from his addiction days.
- Meeting his old drug dealer(s).
- Handling romantic relationships from his addiction days.
- Finding meaning and substance in life through sober eyes.
Jake has been sober for one year now. We all continue to get counseling from the rehab specialists and we believe that Jake is on his way to a fulfilled life.
About Today’s Guest Blogger:
Today’s guest blogger is a father from North-West London in the UK. His son has been clean for a year now but he’s always conscious that problems like these never really go away. He appreciates if you would read the tale of his son Jake and how the family missed the signs of his drug addiction. Just knowing he’s been able to help other families out there with their tale helps immeasurably.
Article Source: addictionhelper.com
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