A Mother’s Choices: Residential Drug Treatment or Possibly Dying

We begged my mom for years to go to a residential drug treatment center.  She was using a melodic plethora of drugs for most of my childhood, not to mention her utter absence in my younger siblings’ lives.  For years, we lived our lives without our mother, bouncing between various different relatives’ homes and growing up at an alarming rate.  I doubt that my mom realizes what all those years of refusing to go to a residential drug treatment center has done to her children.  Some days, I am still very angry about the decisions that she made during my childhood.

But, she is my mother and, in life, you only get one mother; I cling to that. There were a lot of nights where I did not know where she was – well, I knew it was on the streets – and I waited for a phone call from the police, telling me they found her somewhere, telling us there was nothing they could do to save her. A child should not have to go to sleep with those thoughts on her mind.

How many people can say they have watched their mom shoot up?  Well, I can: more times than I can count! That feeling of dread that gathers in the back of your throat when you know that something bad is going to happen – that’s what would happen every time I watched her take her next hit.  I thought that every needle was her last but not because it was her last by choice.  I lived in fear.  I lived with a persistent and aching anxiety.  If I could just support her a little bit longer, I would tell myself, maybe one day she will wake up and realize that she has two options: residential drug treatment or death.  I prayed that she’d choose treatment.

To hear my mother say that she didn’t want to change her life, to hear her say that she didn’t want to let go of her addiction, was the hardest thing for me to process.  And, she would say it constantly.  She would refuse to believe that anything was wrong with her.  It broke my heart.  It dumbfounded me.  I couldn’t understand why she didn’t see how her addiction was hurting me.  Eventually, I understood that she didn’t want to see it.  In her world, she was happy with her addiction.  She freely admitted to being an addict.  She would use the word “addict” so nonchalantly, with zero remorse.  Then again, why would she be upset by it?  She was still doing what she wanted to do and manipulating everyone in the process. She didn’t realize how she was affecting me or my brother or my sister.  Her biggest concern was her next hit and how she could talk us into loaning her the money to do it.  Most of her “allowances” came from the hands of my grandmother.  We begged and pleaded with her to stop giving her money.  Eventually, we asked her to kick her out of her house.  We knew that we had to make my mom uncomfortable enough that she would agree to go to for help.  We knew that she would have to hit that homeless-rock-bottom feeling before she would agree to go residential drug treatment. And, in the end, we were right.

Andrea V.
Haverhill, MA