We’ve seen our son relapse before. That time, his recovery was short and shaky at best, but he went through the motions. He tried to go too fast in returning to work and he thought he could use marijuana and alcohol recreationally. The relapse was quick and deep rendering him homeless again; however, within a few months it led him to a new treatment program and a period of nearly three-and-a-half years free from opioid use.
This time, the period of sobriety and recovery was steady. He participated in a 12-week, high-intensity out-patient program; began MAT, went in daily at first and graduated to weekly; saw his counselor regularly – the same one for three years; saw a mental-health professional for the first year; got and held a job; got his own insurance; earned tuition; returned to college, got straight A’s, earned his associates degree in mathematics and was accepted for a B.A. program. Moreover, he rebuilt trust with the family. Still, he struggled with social anxiety, depression and developing friendships.
Things started to shift and in spite of our efforts to be supportive, to address things directly but compassionately, a relapse begin. We saw it coming. We wished we could stop it. We did try to the extent that anyone can. Almost 11 months later, he’s lucky to be alive and to once again pursue recovery. What a rocky year, but what a hopeful outcome in the making.
Although I’ve updated the OYA Community from time to time this year, it hasn’t been as real-time or detailed as years past, so today I compiled a list of what we’ve experienced thus far in 2017.
The list that follows reflects just some of the things we observed. On the surface, some of these seem like not big deal or something that you could explain or rationalize. In reality, each represents a change in his sober behavior and that’s what concerned us most.
Right around the first of the year … January 2017
- Going to bed early – even before 7 p.m.
- Getting up early – leaving the house by 4:30 a.m. “to go to the gym and study before his 8 a.m. class.”
- Taking frequent, deep-sleep naps.
- Retreating to the basement to re-watch episodes of TV series he’d already watched several times.
- Playing video games at home.
- Taking extraordinarily long showers.
- Saying he’s no longer able to study at home.
- Becoming less and less conversational.
- Not interacting or participating in family life.
- Spending less time at home.
- Air fresheners in the car and leaving the windows cracked open.
- Finding lighters.
- Finding wine-bottle openers.
- Not wanting to travel out of town for spring break.
- Keeping secret a romantic interest.
- Falling asleep at the girlfriend’s house and not letting us know he wouldn’t be home.
- Skipping a day of classes and science labs to hang out with the girl.
- Not responding to text messages and phone calls from Mom and Dad.
- Not wanting to talk about “it” let alone “anything.”
- Spending more and more time with one of his former using buddies.
- Going shopping and buying expensive clothes and shoes.
- Arguing about the positive attributes of cannabis.
- Self-medicating with cannabis including marijuana and cdb oil to combat anxiety and depression.
- Going out drinking with coworkers.
- Not communicating his whereabouts or schedule.
- Not coming home night after night.
- Finding pipes, a large quantity of marijuana, cbd crystals, wine and vodka bottles in the car.
- Family meeting with his counselor.
- Says he’s relieved he no longer has to keep his cannabis use a secret.
- Blatantly not following the family rules.
- Going cold turkey off Suboxone without tapering or utilizing the support of his treatment team.
- Experiencing withdrawal.
- Admitting he’s spending all day, every day staying high on marijuana.
- Waking and baking, every day.
- Not wanting to celebrate his 25th
- Not opening his cards or presents.
- Not eating any home-made cake.
- Ignoring the dog.
- Continuing to experience PAWS.
- Getting a prescription for anxiety meds, but quitting these three days later.
- Dropping out of his college classes and not making arrangements to apply his hard-earned tuition to a future semester.
- Going on a bender that landed him a two-day stay in detox due to public intoxication with a BAC of .26.
- Missing work.
- Losing his job.
- Not coming home or responding to calls and texts for a whole week.
- Coming home, handing us his car keys and wallet, asking us to hold onto these for a while.
- Visiting his cousin at rehab and noting, “he’s in denial and not ready for recovery.”
- Five days later, going on another bender.
- Smashing his car into a guard rail.
- Getting arrested for DWI.
- Refusing to take a breathalyzer.
- Staying in jail for 48 hours.
- Meeting with a DWI attorney.
- Getting a voluntary chemical health assessment, but not acting on recommendations to go to treatment.
- Enrolling in the state’s ignition-interlock program.
- Interviewing and getting offered a new job.
- Taking an Uber, instead of driving, to hang out with friends.
- Not coming home that night.
- Not showing up on the first day of his new job.
- Drunk dialing and texting people.
- Walking home 7 miles in the rain because his phone was dead.
- Ringing the doorbell early on Sunday morning because he lost his keys.
- Scrapes and scratches on his face.
- Less than 48 hours later, heading out on another bender.
- Sitting by the mudroom door the next morning.
- Losing the spare set of car keys, the extra house key and his phone.
- No memory whatsoever of where he had been – said he woke up on a park bench not far from home.
- Agreeing to another chemical health assessment.
- Not liking but agreeing to inpatient, dual-diagnosis treatment.
- Waiting, waiting, waiting for a bed to open.
- Hanging in the basement watching TV and playing video games.
- Sleeping a lot.
- Unable to start his car due to it detecting alcohol in his system.
Finally, riding with his dad to treatment two hours from home … October 27, 2017.
Welcoming us on family night … November 1, 2017.
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