Thursday, April 2, 2009

"I'm going for a walk."

"I'm going for a walk."

For most parents, hearing those five words come out of their child's mouth would be no cause for alarm. In fact, hearing their kid say they were going for a walk would probably make most parents feel good. Unfortunately, my wife and I are not "most parents." Hearing our son say, "I'm going for a walk" scares the hell out of us.

My son is a recovering heroin addict and the house that has supplied him with his drugs in the past is located probably about a quarter mile from our house. It's just across the main street that's at the end of our block; the street that separates our affluent suburb from the city of Detroit.

The last time my son announced he was going for a walk was back in the fall, shortly after he got out of rehab. I was suspicious back then and ended up doing what no parent really wants to do. I followed my son. He walked down this block and that block, never suspecting that his father was driving slowly behind him, waiting to see where his son ended up. Believe me, there's nothing like not trusting someone you love to the point of following them. I felt dirty doing it. But on that occasion, my suspicion was right on. My son ended up on the porch of that drug house. And I ended up pulling up in front of the house and ordering him to get into the car. The bottom line is that I prevented my son from using drugs that day. Who knows? I might've saved his life. But I still feel guilty about having followed him.

Fast-forward to today. About 40 minutes ago, my son came to me and said, "I'm going for a walk." When I heard those five words, my heart sank in my chest. I told him that I hoped he wasn't going to do anything he wasn't supposed to. His response was, "I don't do that anymore," as if to suggest I was crazy for raising the issue. I told him that I have concerns, and reminded him about what happened last fall. I was being 100 percent honest with him.

My son left the house to go on his walk and I wanted to follow him again. I wanted to follow him in the worst way. But instead I called my wife, who was taking my other son to his therapy appointment. I told my wife about the walk, and that I was concerned. I could sense that she was concerned, too. I said that part of me wanted to follow him, but the other part of me didn't want to play that game anymore. What am I supposed to do? Get in the car and follow my son every time he says he's going for a walk? That's crazy. And that's what being the parent of an addict will make you. Crazy.

I let my son go on his walk and I didn't follow him. As hard as it was for me to do that, it had to be done. I do not want to be a slave to my son's addiction anymore. If he went for a walk to the drug house and ends up using, we'll find out about it. His therapist has plans to drug test him at his appointment tomorrow. So for now, I'll just sit and wait for my son to come home, hoping that he didn't make any stupid decisions while he was gone on his walk.

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