Saturday, November 26, 2011


My son was kicked out of his Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) because he didn't go yesterday. He was pretty much on "final probation" after not showing up for three days in a row last week. They told him if he chose not to show up again, he was out. So, it's not like he wasn't warned. But it's a shame, because he still had multiple days left that the insurance company was going to cover. Oh, well.

I'm just so frustrated. As I told a friend in an e-mail yesterday, my wife and I have done everything we can possibly do to help our son. It just seems like he's not interested in doing what he has to do to turn his life around. He seemed to be doing well for the first month or so that he was out in Palm Springs. But now? Not so much. He talks a good game at times. But he doesn't follow through on anything he says he's going to do. I'm so tired of carrying his baggage. I think it's time to just let him go.

By the way, we never heard my son's voice on Thanksgiving. We tried to call him and he didn't answer his phone. He did send my wife a text message at one point that said "Happy Thanksgiving." My wife replied and asked him to call us, but he never did. I guess that was his choice.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving Day and I will confess to feeling more than a little sad. I feel like there's a big hole in my heart because my son is in California and won't be with us today. Yesterday, while doing some early cooking for today's big meal, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably while cutting and de-seeding acorn squash. Pretty much every time I think of my son lately, I start crying. Go figure.

I hope my son is able to share this day with other people in recovery. The woman who runs his sober living house told us that she has a big Thanksgiving dinner at one of her houses for everyone who is still in town for the holiday. And there is an open house at the IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) facility, too. So there will be places for my son to celebrate Thanksgiving. I just hope he takes advantage of the opportunities.

Today I will cook my ass off and watch some football. Then I will sit down and eat (too much) with my wonderful wife, my younger son, and my family. My oldest sister, who lives in New York, came to town for a surprise visit and will be here for dinner. Joining us will be my parents, my other sister, and my brother. It's been a while since my parents and all my siblings have been in the same spot for Thanksgiving. So I will try my best to enjoy this day.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Monday, November 21, 2011


More lies from my son today. Very disappointing. I know the lies are just another part of my son's disease. But that doesn't take away the pain that's inflicted every time he lies to me and my wife.

No need to go into details about what happened. Just know--if you didn't already--that trusting an addict is something that can't be done. It doesn't matter if the addict is a stranger, a co-worker, a neighbor, a sibling...or even your own son. It doesn't matter if the addict is in the same house, or if they're 2,300 miles away. In their world, honesty is not the best policy. They just do and say whatever they have to in order to get whatever it is that they want. It's so incredibly selfish. And it's part of the disease.

The old sports saying says, There's no "I" in "team." That may be true. But there is an "I" in "addict." And all it cares about is itself.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

When will it sink in?

It's been 89 days since my son went to Palm Springs, California, for his latest round of treatment. After 39 days of inpatient treatment at Michael's House, he moved into sober living. That happened on October 1st. Almost two months ago. And yet, after nearly three months total in Palm Springs, my son still doesn't seem to "get" it.

His recent relapse was disappointing, but it was still something I could deal with. Relapse is part of the disease, and it is a very small percentage of addicts who get sober without ever relapsing. That's just an unfortunate fact of life. The things I do have tremendous difficulty dealing with, though, are the things my son does--or doesn't do--that seem to indicate he just doesn't care. For example...

While he's been away, my son has overdrawn his bank account multiple times. This is the account my wife and I deposit money into so our son has money to buy groceries and other essentials. We've told him numerous times to keep better track of his money, and to be careful not to overdraw the account. But he just keeps doing it. And it costs us money in bank fees whenever it happens. Last night my wife told him to send us his debit card and we would just wire him money from now on. That costs $5.00 a pop, but it's way cheaper than the bank fees.

A week ago yesterday, my son had a first appointment scheduled with a new therapist who came highly recommended by another family whose son is in recovery. We sent the therapist a check to pre-pay for the session. But guess what? Our son decided to just not go. No phone call to the therapist or anything. He just didn't go.

This past Friday, we got a call from the head of the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at Michael's House. He said our son hadn't been to IOP in three days, and that if he didn't call or show up by Monday they were going to discharge him, because he wasn't living up to the terms of the program. When my wife called our son to tell him this, he said he's been having trouble sleeping and hadn't been able to get up in time to go to IOP. That story sounds a bit fishy to me, but at least he called the head of the IOP late Friday afternoon and told him he would be there on Monday. Will that actually happen? We'll have to wait and see.

It's these types of things that make me wonder if my son really cares about getting sober. Or if he thinks he's just on vacation out in California for a while on our dime. To be perfectly honest, my wife and I are very close to telling him that we're cutting him off. No more money, no more assistance with anything. That may seem harsh, and it would probably really hurt us to have to do that. But I'm not sure we have many choices left. We continue to be taken advantage of, and it's getting old.

If we cut him off, I can't imagine what would happen to our son. He has no job, no car, no driver's license, no other place to live. There are only nine days left in November, and when the end of the month comes there will be hard decisions to be made. Do my wife and I want to continue financing what seems like a less-than-sincere attempt at recovery? I don't think so. Can we possibly come to the incredibly painful decision to cut our son off completely? I'm not sure. But the clock is ticking.

There were two more little things that happened yesterday--which happened to be my twenty-third wedding anniversary--that really made me sad.

During an exchange of text messages with our son about the bank issues, my wife finally texted him from the restaurant we had gone to for a celebratory lunch and said, "I'm done talking about this for now. We're celebrating our anniversary." She got no message back. Nothing at all. It might sound a bit selfish, but we both thought it would've been nice if our son had at least replied with "Happy anniversary." But he didn't.

Then, late yesterday afternoon I posted a quotation to my son's Facebook wall. It was a quote that I really like, and I felt it was rather appropriate:

"Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it." --Bill Cosby

I was hoping my son might find some inspiration in that quote. But instead, he deleted the post from his Facebook wall. That may sound like a trivial thing, but it kind of hurt me. On the other hand, maybe he is afraid. Maybe that's why he deleted it.

I think it's going to be a tough week in our house. Thanksgiving is coming up on Thursday, and this will be the first Thanksgiving we've ever spent without our son. I'm sure there will be some tears shed. He can be a tremendous pain in the ass a lot of the time. But we do miss and love him. I just hope the whole recovery thing sinks into him soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Addiction's effect on the family

Over the last several years, I’ve thought countless times about the adverse effects my son’s addiction has had on our family; especially how it has affected our younger son. There’s no denying it: addiction is a family disease, and it takes its toll on everyone in the family.

Well, yesterday I came across one of the most powerful and moving pieces I’ve read in a long time. It was written by Nic Sheff. Nic is the son of David Sheff, the author of Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction—one of the best books I’ve ever read. Nic is also an author, and his first book, Tweak, was published around the same time as his father’s book. The two books tell the tale of Nic’s addiction from two different perspectives.

The piece I read yesterday was written by Nic Sheff for a website called the fix: addiction and recovery, straight up. It’s a great site, and there is plenty of good reading there. But this piece, entitled “Brother and Child Reunion” really hit home for me. The story tells how Nic’s addiction affected his little brother and sister. And his family. Needless to say, our family has experienced a lot of what Nic writes about.

Reading this piece was tough for me, and I was in tears by the time I got through it. But I am so grateful that Nic wrote it. And that I came across it. I also e-mailed the link to the story to my son in California. I asked him to do me a favor and just read the article. My hope is that maybe some of what Nic Sheff wrote will strike a chord with my son, and maybe help him realize that his addiction is not only his disease.

Do yourself (and me) a favor and take a few minutes to read this wonderful piece by Nic Sheff. Here’s the direct link:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home for the holiday?

My wife got a text message from our son yesterday in which he asked if he was coming home for Thanksgiving. He said that "all his friends" from sober living were going home for Thanksgiving. So he wondered if he was coming home, too.

This caught us by total surprise, because having our son come home for Thanksgiving hadn't really entered our mind. When he agreed to stay in sober living through at least November, we assumed that meant he'd be in California for Thanksgiving. Maybe that was wrong on our part, but that's what we thought. And that's what my wife told him when she replied to his text message.

To be perfectly honest, we don't have the money to fly our son home for Thanksgiving and then fly him back. The expense of rehab and sober living has drained us financially. A flight from Palm Springs to Detroit at holiday time, especially on this short notice, would be completely unaffordable--if there was even a flight available.

We also wonder if in fact "all" of our son's sober living friends are indeed going home for the holiday. We find it hard to believe that everyone has the means to fly home for Thanksgiving and then fly back. These guys are from all over the country, and airfare isn't cheap. It could be that our son is just homesick; or maybe he's looking for an excuse to come home for whatever reason. We don't really know.

When my wife texted him back yesterday afternoon asking him if all his friends were really going home for Thanksgiving, our son never replied. Eighteen hours later, he still hasn't replied. So he's probably angry with us. Or maybe "all" his friends aren't really going home for Thanksgiving. Who knows. But all of this was a big stressor for me on an otherwise beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Maybe we'll hear back from our son today. Or, maybe we won't. In any case, him coming home or Thanksgiving isn't really an option. And we're reasonably sure that someone he knows will still be in Palm Springs over Thanksgiving, and that they can do something to celebrate the holiday.

This whole incident is just another example of why it's so hard to detach myself from my son's addiction. There are constantly things coming up that require some sort of action by either my wife, myself, or both of us. The only way to eliminate these issues would be to cut our son off completely; and I don't think we can really do that at this point in his recovery.

Until our son is totally self-sufficient, I think we have to be there for him to help with certain things. (Without enabling, of course.) But as long as we are always there to help him with certain things, our son may never become totally self-sufficient. It's a big, fat Catch-22 for sure.

On a brighter note, I went to an Al-Anon meeting with my wife yesterday for the second week in a row. These are the first two Al-Anon meetings I've ever been to, and I have found much comfort and support there so far. I had been to Nar-Anon meetings in the past, but found them to be much more depressing. I usually left those meetings feeling worse than I did when I walked in. Maybe it was just a "bad" meeting that I was attending. In any case, I eventually stopped going altogether. But I will keep going to this Al-Anon meeting. It really helps to share with others, and to hear the problems others in similar situations are having in their lives. It helps to know that I'm not alone.

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Back to the crib"

My son was able to move back into his original sober living house yesterday and is really happy to be back. He commemorated the event on his Facebook page with this status update: "outta the crash pad, back to the crib."

He's thrilled to be back in a familiar setting, around the supportive group he knows best. And he says he's learned a lesson. We talked to the woman who runs our son's house, and she agrees. She said the incident was a huge lesson not just for our son, but for the entire house. She called it "very powerful."

Yesterday was an incredibly tough day because my wife and I were dealing with another family crisis. So it was nice to have good news about our son. A little bit of positivity can sometimes go a long way. To that end, if you happen to have a spare prayer or good thought you could send my family's way, we would greatly appreciate it.

"Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible." --Charles Caleb Colton

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Unfamiliar surroundings

After a delay of a couple of days because of a shortage of space, my son finally went to another sober living house on Monday to serve out his three-day "sentence" for relapsing. So, tonight should be his last night there. That's assuming he is clean(er) tomorrow, which would allow him to move back into his original sober living house.

The temporary house is in a different part of town, so the last few days have been kind of tough for my son. He's in an unfamiliar location, so getting around town and figuring out where things are has been a challenge. He also hasn't had the benefit of getting rides to meetings from guys in his original house. But maybe this is all part of a lesson learned.

I love my son so much. And despite his relapse, I'm incredibly proud of his progress. Hopefully he can get back into familiar surroundings tomorrow, which would be a very good thing. The guys in his house are a great group, and I know their friendship and support mean a lot to my son.

Fingers crossed.