The following is a heart-wrenching yet eye-opening letter of a mother who lost her son to drug addiction and misses him so much. Although this is in a Western setting, the problem of addiction affects families and cultures globally in much the same way: family members are shattered, spouses are broken hearted and parents cry out for the lives of their children.
Here in the Philippines, hundreds, if not thousands, die out of drug addiction-related complications, as well as of crimes brought about by the influence of drugs and alcohol. Drugs has deeply ingrained itself in our culture that it is not just causing deterioration in the lives of individuals and their families, but in the whole of society as well.
The letter was published on Shatter Proof last January 31, 2014.
To My Dear Sick Child:
I find the word “addict” a disrespectful label and therefore shall use the term I prefer, addicted person, to preserve regard and respect. The general public by and large fears addicted persons because of the high crime rates associated with the addicted persons’ need for another fix. However, as a bereaved mother who lost her grown son to drug intoxication eleven years ago, I have a different perspective. I respect you and your right to life. I want you to live a long life. You don’t scare me and your behavior doesn’t scare me because I understand your illness.
Are you fused to your drugs? Has the line blurred between where you begin and the drug ends—and vice versa? Or has that line disappeared completely?
Addiction is a brain disease in which the human brain is held hostage by drugs.
The part of the brain that helps us survive is fooled in believing that the body needs drugs like it needs food and water. Perhaps, therefore, absence of drugs may feel like you are starving to death or suffocating. Yet the very thing the person who is experiencing cravings to use drugs must do, is literally, come up for air, “come-to” and develop the strength and awareness to return to reality.
To me, drug addiction is like a psychic cancer, and as a parent who lost a grown son to drug addiction, I will tell you that I’d rather be dead than endure the experience again of trying to help him get off drugs and not being able to do a damned thing about it. It is hell. The pain and anguish experienced by family members of persons who are addicted can not be described in words. They feel and are helpless watching their loved ones choose self harming behaviors.
Like any patient with a manageable disease (the experts tell us that while drug addiction is not curable, it is manageable), such as diabetes or other chronic endocrine disorder, an addicted person must take responsibility for his treatment—and ultimately recovery—if he hopes to live a life not punctuated by relapses, hospitalizations, and loss of life’s joys. That involves a commitment to stick with it, though there is a perilous, thin line between “one more hit for the road” – and the forest of ne’er return—death.
It means cultivating other interests in life, perhaps sports or art or other intellectual study.
It means developing faith in a higher power—God; Allah; Buddha; Krishna, whomever your spiritual guide is, in the depths of your soul—however you call that loving power and know that loving power. If you can’t find faith in a higher power, ask someone who prays to pray for YOU!
Recovery means having a support net and accountability. For many, this means going to meetings. For others, this means committing to open, honest communication with trusted friends and family. Lying to yourself and/or others never works.
For many, recovery means working with addiction psychiatrists and/or psycho-pharmacologists. Many benefit from talk therapy.
PLEASE, if drugs are the only thing that makes you happy –RUN—don’t walk—for help. Go to your nearest emergency room. Find a sponsor you can call at 3am in the morning or call the national 24/7 free hotlines.
Recovery is up to YOU and I know it’s easier said than done. I am rooting for you. I know it’s a life-and-death battle, a do-it-or-die intimidating project and a struggle of epidemic proportions, a monkey on one’s back that one must choose to push off—moment by moment-each and every day—when it seems easier to just ingest another hit already. I know that drug addiction is unremitting and persistent. It is bigger than all of us. I salute you for trying to end your addiction! And I hold you in highest regard for trying again to turn away. Please try again. Don’t stop trying. I pray for you and wish you recovery, wholeness and well-being.
It is up to you in the end, the “you” underneath the cloak of addiction. I challenge you to reach deep down inside and pull out the YOU that has lay so dormant and hidden for God knows how long. You are hired for your new job: Recovery. It’s a grueling one with no breaks or time off. But the pay and benefits are priceless.
Are you willing to live without drugs?
Make your recovery “shatterproof.”
*the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), offeres 24/7 text hotlines: 0999-8888-PDEA (7332) / 0927 915 0616 / 0925 573 PDEA (7332)