I may not be a great storyteller, but raising awareness on such a serious issue as ignoring signs of drug addiction gives me no choice. Please, stay with me till the end of the story.
So, I had a wonderful little boy. Or so I thought because he suddenly grew up and created a little distance from his parents. We knew it was a phase and trusted our son completely. I always wanted to be a parent who wouldn’t restrict my kid not to break our relationship apart.
I still think it’s a great tactic, but if there was a little more pressure from my side, maybe my boy would still be with me. I’m not going to mention his name for understandable reasons if you allow it.
He was 17 years old when it all started. A new group of friends he met at a festival, exciting stories about their adventures, he seemed so happy with his life. And we were happy for him. There were no signs and symptoms of drug addiction back then.
I knew many teenagers try drugs early on to discover the world. This isn’t what they should discover, but there’s little we can do. Locking them up in their rooms is harmful to their psyche, and, unfortunately, we are still far from proper education on the dreadful danger of teen drug abuse and addiction.
And you know teenagers. Anything you say is dangerous, they will want to try. Plus, my boy was very easy to influence, especially if the person was older than him. He trusted adults because this is how we do things in our family. Love, trust, and gratitude. It’s still hard to believe that in such a household, we had such a tragedy happen.
Later on, he created a kind of distance from his family and other friends aside from that festival group. This is fine, we all have a phase of “I’m self-sufficient and need no parental authority”. We respected his changes and communicated when he needed to. But then he started asking for more money to “go on vacation together with friends”, yet my buddies spotted him in town.
When I confronted him on the issue, he became aggressive and told me to leave him alone. Over time, situations deteriorated, until he, for the first time, said: “I’m frustrated that you don’t trust me anymore”.
That hit me hard, so I decided that this is a false alarm, my friends spotted the wrong guy, and this wasn’t one of the signs of drug abuse and addiction. I apologized and told him that I trusted him fully. I thought, maybe he was lying about the money, maybe there’s a girl he didn’t want us to know about yet, or maybe a guy. We’re very loyal and are open to any kind of news, but I understand why he would hide a relationship from us.
I also was a teen and had times when parents were the last people to know all the news of my life. I was afraid of a sudden change in attitude, of long lectures on how to live properly, etc. So, I thought maybe he was in this phase. The thought of drug use has left my mind till the end. And I still feel guilty for letting this happen.
Over time, this has turned into a blind belief and denial that there’s a real problem. Every time he asked for more money, we thought: “The kid is trying to discover life. He wants to travel with friends and make awesome memories.” I didn’t have the chance to travel a lot when I was a teen, and I really wanted my little boy to take everything from this life.
He did, but not only the good things, unfortunately.
At the beginning of summer, my son was so excited about the warm season coming that he was out almost every day and night. We all can remember the time when we could party without sleep and go to work the next day. He had a freelance part-time job and told us he was doing tasks every day.
After one such night out with friends, we never got a call from him again. Or a message. Or an “I love you”. Or even “Come on, why don’t you trust me anymore?” Just a cold body we came to identify. And even more shocking was to hear “heroin overdose” as the cause of his passing. We were horrified and thought maybe there was a false statement that didn’t belong to our boy. He was never acting weird. We didn’t see any changes in his body or mind. You know those signs of drug addiction in adults when the person is taking them for too long.
The doctor later told us that his addiction wasn’t going on for a long time. He was playing with death for about half a year. That one last dose was fatal to the body of a young man. It took a long time for me to realize this is the right report with my son’s name on it. And then, I started to remember all the occasions when he asked for money and wasn’t at home for several days, saying that he’s with friends at sleepovers. I recalled our talk when he told me I didn’t trust him anymore. He must have been so afraid to share with me and get treatment. My little boy...
It was impossible to comprehend that our baby isn’t with us anymore. There will never be another warm conversation, he will never come back home with amazing stories about his adventures. I will never have another chance to look him in the eye and share words of wisdom when he needs it.
All we can do now is talk to the skies and his pictures and cry while watching videos of him smiling.
This has created an empty void in my heart filled with guilt and self-loathing. How bad a parent can be not to notice signs of teen drug addiction? I guess we all want to see the best in our kids, totally oblivious to the fact that there are so many harmful things that can turn a phase into the end of a young life.
I should have known so many things. If I had, my son would be alive. I should have learned:
Nobody thinks this could happen to their children. But it does happen, and very often before the kid turns 18, let alone 21. Every parent must know the alarms that may mean their young one has an addiction.
I was in denial. I was sure we were doing a great job trusting our kid blindly, listening to him, and being there for him. But we didn’t understand that he must have been so scared to tell us. Or maybe he was also in denial and thought all that wasn’t a problem and he could get off heroin anytime he wanted.
I should have contacted a local rehab center. We have a great one not far from the city. I should have talked to my son and helped him realize just how dangerous his path was. In 2019, over 70,000 Americans have died because of drugs. And the number doesn’t decrease.
You know why? Because going to a rehab center is deemed shameful in our society. Everyone thinks that other people should just hide their problems.
Well, I’m not going to do this anymore. I was arrogant and I paid for it the highest price in the world - the life of my son.
Google “drug addiction signs look” or similar queries and read the hell out of the articles about teen drug addiction. Look for local facilities that can help. Talk to your children, educate them on the danger of drugs. Show them cases of people who have been so damaged it took years and years to recover from the addiction.
Never think that it’s just a phase. Don’t be self-centered as ‘a good parent’ like I was. Check on your children. Keep that balance between harmful control and neglect. Be interested in their lives and always, ALWAYS, look for addiction treatment if you see alarming signs.
I wish no parent would ever experience what we have. Drugs are a temptation for many people. They are romanticized way too much. Having fun? Partying all night? Becoming omnipotent? This all lasts temporarily. What you’re left with is a terrible health condition, organ failure, and death.
There’s always a way out. We have to speak honestly and openly about the issue of drug abuse and do something about it. Rehab centers around the country help millions of people start a new, sober life. Anyone can make it out alive if they act in time.
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