Thursday, September 3, 2009

One year ago

I've debated back in forth in my head whether or not to write this post, and as I work on it in an offline text editing program I'm still not sure if I'll actually post it when I'm finished. But regardless, for now it's at least a little bit of therapy for me.

Today is the third of September, which means that tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of one of the worst days of my life. It was on September 4, 2008, that my son revealed to me and my wife that he was addicted to heroin. I remember the day like it was yesterday. Something like that isn't easily forgotten.

My son had just "passed" a random drug test we had given him, but then broke down in tears and told us that he needed help; that he needed to go to rehab. He had been snorting heroin for quite some time, and he was hooked. I was devastated. To add insult to injury, I felt incredibly stupid when my son told us that he'd been using clean urine--saved in a 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottle--for the random drug tests we had been giving him. For weeks my wife and I had assumed our son was clean, when in reality he was hooked on one of the worst drugs known to man.

"Heroin addict" isn't a term I ever thought would be associated with one of my kids. To me, a heroin addict had always been something out of the movies. Or someone you'd see on the streets in the inner city. I mean, it's heroin. Sure, my son had abused marijuana and some prescription drugs in an effort to self-medicate for his depression. We were aware of that and had dealt with it. But eighteen-year-old suburban kids don't use heroin. At least that's what I thought. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

I would later find out that heroin is the new "in drug" among kids my son's age. It's cheap and easy to find. So easy, in fact, that my son was getting it from a house about a quarter of a mile away, just across the nearby main street that separates our suburban "utopia" from the city of Detroit. Who knew? Certainly not me or my wife.

My wife and I worked quickly to get our son admitted to an inpatient rehab facility, where he would end up staying for about a month. I can guarantee you that I'll never forget the car ride out to the hospital: Me in the driver's seat, my wife in the passenger seat, and my son in the back, curled up in the fetal position, shaking, shivering, holding his stomach, and crying. This was heroin withdrawal, live and in person. I remember thinking to myself, This is what heroin addicts look like in the movies. I felt like I was in a movie. It was all so surreal. And so painful. And so very, very hard.

A year later, I can say that my son is doing much better. Have there been some bumps in the road since he got out of rehab? Absolutely. Will there be more bumps in the road going forward? Certainly. But my son is alive and working hard to stay clean. He's going to school and trying his best. He's going to meetings almost every night and to outpatient treatment once a week. And he's trying to move ahead, one day at a time.

It's funny. I'm guessing that most parents don't wake up every morning and thank their higher power that their child is, quite simply, alive. But I do. Because I know that if my son hadn't asked us to get him help a year ago, he might not be alive today. Which probably means that September 4, 2008, was not only one of the worst days of my life, but maybe one of the best, too.

I love my son with all my heart.


  1. Great blog entry, D. Really great.
    Your family has gone thru so much in the last 364's unfathomable.

  2. Whatever happens, whenever it happens, you have the comfort of knowing that you cared enough ... and still care enough ... to get him all the help he needs. The higher powers have taken note of your love.