My husband and I are currently raising our soon-to-be 5 year old grandson because our daughter and his dad are both suffering from addiction. I'm not complaining about our grandson, because he brings us immeasurable joy and it will be a very sad (but happy!) day for us when our daughter is able to start caring for him full time by herself and he's no longer living with us. Thankfully, my husband and I are both still working and in good health, so we have the financial and physical means to do this with ease, though I know there are many other grandparents out there who don't have it as easy as we do. This horrific disease has certainly educated me on the opiate problem, but I've also gotten to know some really great and inspirational people that I would have never known before. I hope that I can be an inspiration for others as well!
I believe that where there's life there's hope and should I ever be in the position where there is NOT life, I would still advocate for more education about this horrible disease and the funding to eradicate it!
My daughter's road to recovery began with a case of head lice, and I'm so grateful! Like most other parents, we were aware that our daughter had a problem and had tried many different things from outpatient treatment to tough love to try and help her turn her life around. I'm certain that we never went far enough. Our family is a "normal" middle income class family living in the Midwest. My husband and I have been married to each other for 35 years. We both have college degrees and good jobs and we did all of the things that come with that--we live in a decent, safe neighborhood, both of our daughters were involved in dance and sports teams, we ate dinner together as much as we could, attended church regularly and vacationed with extended family at my sister's lake house every summer. In short, we were a close family involved in lots of activities. Things were fairly okay until our youngest daughter entered 6th grade. She had always been an average student and we were a little tough on her because we felt like she wasn't trying as hard as she could. We had her tested and there was no indication of any type of learning disability--just seemed more like laziness than anything else. When she entered 6th grade, her grade school had two different classes and the better students were in one class and she ended up in the class for less stellar students. That took her away from her little group of friends that she'd been hanging around with for the first few years of grade school, and even though they were all still at the same school, her not being in the same class all day long seemed to kind of put her "out of sight, out of mind". It was around this same time that she started being bullied about her appearance by some of the boys at her school. While she was not drop dead gorgeous, she was a really pretty girl and there was absolutely NOTHING about her appearance that would have warranted any type of criticism whatsoever (and let me say, there is NO EXCUSE for anyone to bully another person, REGARDLESS what they look like). She forbid me to talk to the principal or guidance counselor, and frankly, because there seemed TO ME to be no basis for the criticism, I felt like maybe she was overreacting to all of it and told her that she should just ignore them and not respond, but also not to let them get to her, since what they were saying just simply wasn't true. Apparently, the bullying affected her more than I thought it would and led her to start hanging out with the "wrong crowd" who was totally accepting of her and said nothing negative about her appearance. She then began to fail classes once she got to high school and became very rebellious. Those high school years were very tumultuous with me feeling a knot in my stomach most of the time. Once she graduated, things really didn't get any better. We forced her to go away to college, which was just a waste of money because I don't believe she even earned one credit hour during the year she was in school. She never had problems getting a job, but could never keep one for very long, and there were many excuses and reasons why she would lose one job after another. She also never seemed to have any money, despite living at home and basically having no expenses other than gas. We changed the locks and kicked her out of the house for about two months one winter because she refused to come home at a reasonable hour. During that time she became pregnant and our grandson was born November 2013. The two of them lived with us and she stayed clean during her pregnancy and even for a few weeks after that, but then started back using opiates which then turned into heroin, though we didn't realize it at the time. She was actually able to land a decent job as a Customer Service Representative for a moving company, and during that time was able to get a prescription for Suboxone, so I felt a little better that she had things 'under control'. I knew that things still weren't right though because there were too many unexplained absences, she never showed up where she was supposed to be on time, I had to wake her up for work some mornings, and then other mornings she would leave the house at 4 AM to "avoid the traffic". Nothing made sense and we knew she was lying about her whereabouts, but when we would threaten to tell her employer about her problems, she would say she would leave and take our grandson with her. It never occurred to me at the time that if that had happened, we could have called CPS. That kind of thing just wasn't in my life experience, and there was no way we were going to let our grandson suffer. So...back to the head lice--on April 25, 2016, my grandson's day care provider had texted my daughter to let her know that she was closing her home day care for two days because one of the kids had head lice and she wanted to get the placed scoured down to make sure other kids didn't get it. My daughter was unable to find someone to watch her son, and even though I work from home, I had multiple meetings and he was 2 1/2 and wouldn't just sit quietly, so she had to stay home from work with him. Around 9:00 AM on 4/26, I saw her backing down the driveway from the front window where my office is in our home. I texted her and simply said "drug run?" and received no response. Not long after that, I got a call from a check cashing company, asking if I had written a $90 check to my daughter (of course I hadn't). She had already left by that time, and about 30 minutes later, I got a call from my bank asking the same question. At that point she was still at the window, so they kept the check. I then called her and was shocked when she answered. I told her she needed to come home and figure out where she was going to go for treatment because she'd just done something I was sure she never thought she would do. I wasn't yelling and spoke with her very calmly. Money had been missing here and there from my husband's or my wallet, but this was the first time she'd taken a check from me and tried to cash it. She did eventually come home and ended up agreeing to go to a non-medical detox/treatment center called The Healing Place in Louisville, KY. She admitted later that the ONLY reason she agreed to go is that she couldn't bear the thought of having to take care of her son for the next two days. She knew she was going to be dope-sick and had no money to buy anything. She begged me to give her $10, and of course I refused, as I wasn't going to be a potential party to her killing herself so that she could take drugs "just this one last time". I would love to say that all was well once she entered The Healing Place, but there were several relapses after that. She's been living at The Healing Place continuously since 9/17/16 and has now graduated the program and become a peer mentor. It's amazing to see the changes in her and how responsible and mature she's become. To anyone else with a 26 year old, this would be considered normal behavior, but compared to where she came from, it's nothing short of a miracle. The day before my birthday, 9/26/17, she will celebrate 10 months of sobriety. In the meantime, I started going to Al-Anon meetings and that has helped me greatly. The daily readings remind me how to "lovingly detach" and not continue to try and make her into the person that I want her to be, as well as helping me to live "one day at a time". For TODAY, I have hope! I never found out which kid had the head lice, but whoever it was, that person may well have saved my daughter's life!