Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Doorway to Recovery

To say it's been a very interesting couple of days around here would be an understatement.

On Tuesday, my son went to his regularly scheduled appointment with his addiction specialist, who is the doctor who writes his prescription for Suboxone (a narcotic medication used for the treatment of opioid dependence that my son takes). A condition of my son continuing on the Suboxone is complete sobriety--no use of any drugs or alcohol--and he has been told this repeatedly by his doctor.

Well, on Tuesday my son was randomly drug tested and tested positive for marijuana. Because of the dirty test, the doctor gave my son an ultimatum: Move into a three-quarter house/sober living facility by Friday--as in three days later--or lose the Suboxone prescription. Since withdrawing from Suboxone "cold turkey" can be a pretty horrible thing, my son had a pretty big decision to make. So did my wife and I.

When my wife broke the news of this development to me on Tuesday evening, I went ballistic. I let my son have it verbally. In hindsight, I was probably too harsh on him, and probably dropped about 20 more f-bombs than were necessary. But I couldn't help it. I was pissed. Incredibly pissed.

After I went off on my kid, I grilled the steaks I had been preparing for dinner, then went on a bike ride up to the local Little League diamond to watch some kids play ball. I just needed to escape for awhile. I wasn't really surprised that my son had tested positive for pot. He had gone to the Movement Electronic Music Festival in downtown Detroit the previous Saturday, and I was definitely concerned that that environment might provoke him to use. But even though I wasn't surprised he had used, I was still disappointed. I was also a bit shocked by the ultimatum the doctor gave him.

I came home from the Little League diamond, went to bed early, and pretty much avoided the whole situation until the next day. During the workday on Wednesday, I communicated with my wife a few times about what we should do. And after work we talked about it some more and started looking for potential places for my son to go. We also talked about the possibility of sending him to rehab again, in order to kick the Suboxone totally, once and for all, in a safe and monitored setting. But after doing some research online and making some phone calls, it appeared the only rehab facility that would take him in to withdraw from prescribed Suboxone was a private pay facility; and they wanted $15,000.00 up front. That wasn't an option, so my wife and son continued to look for a three-quarter house.

Luckily, one of the programs recommended by the doctor--The Doorway to Recovery--had a bed open in one of their houses. So my wife and son arranged to meet with the program director today.

This morning the three of us drove out to the Doorway to Recovery office and met with the director. He himself is a recovering addict, and my wife and I liked what he had to say. Our son, though, was still resistant. At one point, he got up and walked outside to have a cigarette. After a few minutes more of talking to the director, it became apparent that my wife and I had to convince our kid to give this program a shot. And if we couldn't do that, having him return home could not be an option.

We went outside and talked to our son and pretty much laid it on the line. We gave him two options: 1.) Give the three-quarter house a real chance. Or 2.) Find someplace else to live.

After a few minutes, our son finally came around to the three-quarter house idea. So we filled out the intake paperwork, wrote out our check ($445.00 for the first month), and then hopped in the car to follow the program director to our son's sober living facility.

The house our son will be living in is in the town of Plymouth, Michigan. The house has a total of 13 men living in it and is within walking/biking distance of a nice downtown area, lots of stores, a library, and several parks. It's a pretty nice setting, really.

While we were there, my wife and I met several of the guys living in the house. All of them seemed like very nice guys and they all told us they know exactly what our son is going through. One of them, who was sort of hand-picked by the program director to mentor our son, seemed especially well grounded and told us he'd work with our son and show him around the area.

The whole process today took around five hours. But it felt like ten times that. And I can't even begin to tell you how emotionally draining it was. As I'm typing this post, I've got tears running down my face. Some of them are tears of sadness, because it's hard to "commit" your son, whether it's to a psychiatric hospital or a rehab facility or a sober living facility. But some of the tears I'm crying are tears of joy, because I really feel like this could be a great place for my son. There is a ton of structure there, and structure is something recovering addicts need desperately. And, to be perfectly honest, my kid was getting absolutely no structure at home.

On Tuesday, I was pretty devastated to hear that the doctor gave my son such a harsh ultimatum. I thought that took a lot of balls. But tonight, I'm incredibly thankful that the doctor had the balls that maybe I don't have. I probably should've given my son a similar ultimatum a long time ago, AND followed through with it. But that really isn't as easy as it sounds. In fact, nothing about being the parent of an addict is easy. Nothing at all.

I am exhausted now and am looking forward to a good night's sleep. I am also praying that this experience goes well for my son, and that he embraces this opportunity and makes the most of it. I'm hoping he'll stay at this three-quarter house for at least 30 days, and maybe longer. And that the program gives him the structure he needs, teaches him some much needed life skills, and increases his confidence and self-esteem.

Oh... There's one more thing I'm really looking forward to: A much needed "vacation" from the world of addiction for me and my lovely wife. We so deserve it.


  1. This sounds like a good move. I hope you rest easy ... sleep well. <3 Christamer

  2. I know exactly what you mean....I need a "vacation" too. Sad that it takes rehab and such to get it. :o(

  3. I have learned that Life is managed not "cured". It's the only reason I have stayed sober for nearly 10 years. The desire to drink dry white wine is always in full force for me in the Spring. As is it at nearly every celebration or end of a hard day. But, I've learned to be kind to myself. Surround my self with a non-drinking environment & supportive friends. Constantly reassessing why I choose to stay sober now. The reason has changed over the years. Originally for my children, so I could be "present" for them, unlike my my Mom was for me. Now as I watch my 18 year old daughter experiment with different things it terrifies me. Will she become an addict? If so will she have the strength to work a recovery program? There are a lot of "if's " here. I realize only time will tell & this is her journey. we can't protect them from Life, only guide them & give them the best tools we know. And pray, I pray a lot.

  4. I also sympathize with you. When I was busted, back in 1971, there was nothing like spending the night in jail, meeting my folks upon release and actually watching my dad, for the first time ever, cry. I was mortified and, for the first time ever, considered acting like I wasn't immortal.

  5. We were faced with making a decision to place our daughter in a three quarter house as well. We went to Doorway to Receovery and spoke with the Director there. At first, after speaking to his assistant and hearing about all the rainbows and sunshine, we talked to him and were then sold that this was the right program for our daughter. We have so far been happy with HER decision to enter a recovery house. She is now learning how to live freely (with boundaries) and clean. Some of the life skills that she didn't learn while being high are now coming. It's good to meet my daughter (the real one that I thought might be lost forever).