This is my son, Tyler, at 2 1/2 years old posing as a “little tea pot.” Today is his 21st birthday. I love him as much now, as I did then; he is my only child and the love of my life. He’s been through some stuff these last few years, we all have. He has faced the shocking deaths of both of his grandma’s and my brother, his uncle. But, most of all, he’s faced and battled his own demons, and, he’s still fighting. Tyler is a recovering addict. If anyone tells you that “they can help it, they just don’t want to stop,” then, they don’t know what they are talking about. It consumes you, eats at you, and makes you feel lousy–not just in your physical body (though, he suffered a lot with that, too). Addiction robs you of your dignity, purpose and passion for anything other than your next high, whatever it may be. It puts you in a tunnel that there is no light at the end of. It makes you live as a person you don’t recognize in the mirror. And, you can’t get out because you just don’t care. Tyler’s drug of choice was, at first, pills–pain killers. Then, after he went into treatment and got help for the pills and they became inaccessible to him, he switched to the easiest and cheapest drug he could get–duster.
Duster, or computer duster, is a compressed gas that people use to clean the dust out of the keyboards and motherboards of their computers. It also causes “Sudden Sniffing Syndrome” and can kill you instantly. It literally suffocates your lungs stopping the flow of oxygen to your brain often causing you to vomit or even pass out. Then, you wake up and do it all over again…for about $2.50 per can. (We went to Wal-Mart where cases and cases are sold and asked them what the possibilities were of getting them to lock it up behind glass. Run around and red tape is all we got. We will have to start a crusade, I guess.)
The most terrifying time with my son was not when he was little and wandered off or when he was 11 and rode his bike up the street to the library by himself for the first time (though, you can ask my husband how it went when he was not home until 5 minutes past dark…talk about panic-stricken). Nope, it was when I found out he was using this stuff, was really addicted and was really good at hiding it. For the longest time, I would be too afraid to go up the stairs to check on him if he slept in for fear that I would find him dead in his bed. So much had already happened to us, I would have shattered into a million tiny little pieces if that happened.
We stuck by him. Took him to treatment, gave him rules and ultimatums but, they only stick when the addict is either so terrified that they finally stop, or they just become ready on their own. There is almost NO forcing an addict to quit. When he got into trouble with the law over it, he finally saw the light. It scared him so bad that I think it literally scared him straight. Maybe the fact that we came down on him harder than ever with tough love-you WILL move out if you don’t clean up your act, seriously”–and the constant reminder of how it was tearing me up to even imagine him dying from this, gave him the wake-up call he needed.
Tyler has sought out the treatments he needed, has taken responsibility for himself and his actions, and has grown up a lot in the last year. He can only go up from here. He has all of our support but knows that we won’t stand by and watch him self-destruct. He’s had his two strikes, we won’t be around for number three, and he knows it. But, I don’t think it will happen. At least, I hope it doesn’t. He finally understands that he is hurting far more than just himself. He just got lost for a little while, we all do, sometimes.
I am as proud of him now as I’ve ever been. But, what I think isn’t as important as what he thinks of himself. I think he finally sees what I see: a strong, sensitive, kind, caring, sweet, intelligent, loveable human being that the world is better with him in it.
But, then again, I’m pretty biased…
Hold on to your babies just a bit longer. It really does go in a blink of an eye. As I type this I think, “where has the time gone?” That’s always been a bit of a cliché to me, but, boy how it’s true. Do NOT be embarrassed or afraid to talk to your kids about drugs. If you see different behavior out of them, go with your gut. Get in their business, ask the questions, and go through their room. They might be mad for a while, but, you are the parent and it’s your job to keep them safe.
To learn more about my son’s addiction and some stories of others who have suffered the unimaginable repercussions from this poison, you can read this post I wrote, “The Inconspicuous Killer.”
Also, here are some books that may help:
I truly wish you all the wonderfulness you deserve.