Family Recovery Stories > Parent > Lorraine
My introduction to the devastating effects of drug addiction began with my husband. From the very early years of our marriage, we came to know that he struggled with anxiety and depression. He had to work very hard to overcome these feelings each day. He worked closely with a counselor and also shared his feelings with me on a regular basis. We had a wonderful relationship based on love and trust, and he was also a very devoted and loving father to our 4 children. He didn’t have a healthy relationship with either of his parents, as they both have mental illnesses in varying degrees. Because of that, he really looked up to his grandfather for parental love and guidance. They had a wonderful friendship that my husband cherished. When grandpa passed away just before Christmas, my husband was absolutely crushed, and there were many days that he felt so sad and empty. Shortly after grandpa’s death, my husband had a small surgery and was prescribed pain pills. Each time he took the pills, he felt so much euphoria, and was amazed at how ‘happy’ he felt. Very quickly, he became addicted to finally having a way to be relieved from his depression, anxiety, and every other negative feeling he was dealing with.
He felt like he had finally found the answer to all of life’s down times. Little did we know, he was headed down a very scary road. We both have alcoholism and drug addiction in our extended families, but most of those struggling were not able to be very successful in important areas of their lives. My husband was running a successful business and still being a wonderful husband and father, so we did not recognize his using pills for happiness as an addiction. He went on this way for several months, buying pills from online ‘doctors’ anytime he wanted them. There finally came a point where he expressed to me that he felt like he was dependent on the pills, and knew he would need help to get off them. He began looking into ways to get the help he needed. One weekend we went with a few families from our neighborhood on a four wheeling trip. I could tell by his reckless behavior that he had taken something different than he normally did, and expressed my concerns for our family’s safety with him behind the wheel of a four wheeler. For the first time ever, he got very angry at me for expressing my feelings of concern. He quickly packed up our things and we immediately left for home. He was driving so fast, pulling a trailer with four wheelers on it, that I was afraid for our lives.
I knew he wasn’t himself at all, as he was coming off a high dose of narcotics. As soon as we got home, he quickly left again. I thought he was just angry with me, but he was really leaving to get another substance to get him through the effects of coming off his previous high dose. He was gone a few hours, while I was left to worry for his safety. Finally he called me and told me how sorry he was and why he had acted the way he did, and most importantly, that he desperately needed help to stop this cycle he was in. As soon as he got back home, he called our Bishop and talked to him about getting the help he needed. They made a game plan for how they would proceed. My husband and I then talked some more and he expressed to me his love for me and how truly sorry he was for putting our family at risk and making us worry. I also expressed my love for him, and told him what a wonderful father and husband he was, and that I was so grateful he finally recognized the need to get outside help for this problem. We went to bed that night, and my sweetheart didn’t wake up in the morning. The substance he used was too much for his organs to handle, and he died that night. I was devastated that the help he needed didn’t come in time to save him. I had so much guilt for not recognizing how much he really needed help.
After my husband died, I put the whole cause of death behind me. When people would ask me how he died, I even embellished the story form the truth of ‘accidental drug overdose’ to ‘died from a bad reaction to a new medication’. I didn’t feel like it was anyone’s business really, and certainly didn’t want to diminish my husband’s good memory in any way. Our children didn’t even know the real details of his death. The last thing I wanted was for them to feel any shame or ugliness about how their dad died, especially knowing the way most people view drug addiction and how they talk about it during red ribbon week at school. I wanted to protect them from the ugly details. Unfortunately though, I was also hiding from the ugly details instead of learning more about the disease of addiction.
Fast forward about 4 years to the time our oldest son began his long journey of addiction. Since I didn’t know that addiction is not only a disease, but also has genetic components to it, I didn’t realize that our children would also be at a greater risk of falling into the same trap my husband had. I again felt so much shame and humiliation that our son was now caught in this cycle. I had no clue how to deal with it. Because of my lack of knowledge about the disease, I was even contributing to his substance abuse in many ways that I was unaware of. We spent many years of trying different things to help my son that didn’t work, until finally finding the answer; Knowledge. We needed to learn how addiction works, and why addicts behave the way they do, and why I was behaving the way I was. As a codependent mother, I was every bit as sick as my son was. The more my son and I have learned about addiction, the healthier we have become. We have found many of the answers we have needed in the LDS addiction recovery 12 step program. We have learned how to apply our Savior’s atonement more fully to our lives. We have come to know that the Lord does have a plan for each of us. I am so grateful for the things I have learned by having addiction as a part of my life. Though there were many days, weeks, and months of despair and hopelessness while being in the middle of addiction, I have felt the hope and pure joy on the other end as well.