While there is no doubt drugs have a huge economic impact on our community, but there is another price addiction carries with it – the toll on our families.
The VOICE spoke with one local mother who is dealing with a young son caught in the dangerous web of drugs. To protect her identity, and that of her son, we have changed their names for the purposes of this article.
Beth and her husband thought they did their best raising a happy, well adjusted young man. But, even with a strong home life, their child, Tim, fell into a habit that has put his live at risk and places immeasurable stress on his parents.
“We taught him the risks and consequences,” Beth said. “We thought that knowledge would help him make more informed decisions.”
Tim, now 21, apparently was first introduced to drugs at an alarmingly young age.
“We learned he was introduced to marijuana by older friends when he was a freshman in high school,” she said.
When confronted with his marijuana use later on, Tim shrugged it off and rationalized that it wasn’t harmful, and would probably be legalized soon anyway.
“He and his friends think marijuana is harmless, they don’t see it as a problem,” Beth said.
But that “harmless” drug soon opened the door for other substances, and Tim became an addict.
Beth says his behavior changed from a bright, happy teenager, to a withdrawn and secretive man.
“It was heartbreaking,” Beth says. “It is hard to reconcile the memory of my young man with what he has become.”
A few days before Tim graduated from high school, he moved out of the house, and the contact with his family grew more infrequent.
“There was a lot of anger all the time, he didn’t like us trying to help him – thinking we were trying to run his life.”
On the occasions after that where she saw her son, Beth said the toll the drugs were taking on him were evident. But he resisted and refused all offers to get him help.
“I was watching my child wither in front of me.”
Beth said she would often give her son money when he asked for help paying bills and such, but she soon realized where the money was really going, and made the difficult decision to cut off his support.
“I realized I was enabling him,” she said. “I realized the money I was giving him could cause him to over dose or hurt someone.”
Tim was eventually arrested on a DUI charge. After a few days in jail, he agreed to go to rehab, but the cleanup didn’t help, and Tim soon fell back in to using.
Not long ago Tim was arrested again, and spent a few months in jail. When he was released the second time, he came home to his family, but again, eventually fell back in with old habits and relapsed.
“One weekend everything changed,” Beth said. “He moved out again and went back to his friends.”
The fear and anxiety over their son takes its toll on Tim’s parents. His mother is in a constant state of worry, and has broken down in public when someone asked about Tim.
“The fear and worry are so sharp I can’t breathe some times,” she said. “I will never lose hope, never going to lose faith, but it is so easy to give in to the fear.”
“We have went places to look for him and bring him home but he always refuses.”
“He just wants us to leave him alone,” she said. “He says he understands what we are going through, but he feels he doesn’t see a way out.”
“The addiction wears down a person’s self-esteem. It alters their mind.”
Beth believes it is only a matter of time before Tim runs into legal trouble again, but that could be a blessing in disguise.
She says being arrested again would be a good thing for her son.
“I’d rather visit him in jail than put flowers on his grave,” she said.
The experience with her son has taught Beth and her husband more than they ever wanted to know about the drug culture. She says they have new respect for law enforcement and the seemingly endless task they have fighting the seemingly endless stream of drugs into the community.
“We have reached out to different law enforcement agencies, shared names with them,” she said. “When you deal with this in your family you can’t help but learn some things.”
“It seems when ever one gets arrested, three more people spring up to fill the gap.”
Beth believes there is still hope for Tim, and prays constantly for his deliverance and others with the same affliction.
She understands his recovery will be hard on the whole family, and tough choices will have to be made if and when he decides to get away from the habit that is killing him.
“He needs to leave McCreary County,” she said. “He has to change the people he associates with and the places he goes. That is the only way for him to get back to being the boy I remember.”
Beth says her experience has taught her things to look out for and warns other parents to take an active role in their children’s lives if they see some of these warning signs.
The child suddenly withdrawing from the family and wanting to get away.
If they start to show no interest or effort in doing the things they normally enjoyed.
That’s when parent’s need to step in, Beth said.
“I still support being open and honest with your kids about drugs,” she said. “You have to be very involved in what they are doing and who they are doing it with.
“Search their vehicle, room, check their cell phone,” she said. “You can’t feel like you’re invading their privacy or betraying their trust.”
Speaking with the parent’s of your child’s friends is important, especially if you have concerns.
“We didn’t want to go though what we have gone through,” she said. “We would have wanted someone to tell us,” Beth said.
“No one knows what it is like until you go through it yourself.”
Until the day Tim returns home, safe and healthy, Beth said she will continue to pray for the return of her prodigal son.
Next week we will speak to someone who works with individuals and families to help with their drug-related problems.