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DelMonte
Apr 18th, 2007, 09:36 AM
Desperate measures

Anna Wright is a university lecturer. She also buys heroin for her son. Here she explains why, and describes the strain on all the family of living with an addict

Anna Wright
Wednesday April 18, 2007

Guardian

I am a drug dealer. I park in dark streets waiting for the man (more often the lad) to exchange a small package for a disproportionately large quantity of cash. I subdivide it into 14 wraps and dole it out to my "customer". I use the term customer loosely and in the singular because I supply only one addict who is not a paying client.

My story is not unique. I am one more accidental dealer to an accidental addict.

How did this come about?

The police phoned. They had arrested my 19-year-old son while raiding the premises of a known heroin dealer. Ben had knocked on his door, been invited in by the police, searched and arrested for possession of cannabis. Guessing the police would probably appear with a search warrant, I ransacked Ben's room. There were no drugs, but there was lots of tinfoil with scorched lines on it and a bottle containing a quantity of green liquid. Instinct made me remove these, although at the time I had no idea of their significance.

Ben confessed to the police to being involved in the supply of ecstasy to his friends and was charged. He confessed to us that he was addicted to heroin, that he was "chasing the dragon" (hence the tinfoil) and trying to get clean using black market methadone (hence the green liquid).

The nightmare had begun. We paid his debts to dealers and relentlessly pursued the few and mainly useless sources of help. Meanwhile, the wheels of justice ground slowly, while Ben's addiction spun faster and faster, exacerbated by the threat of prison for the ecstasy charge. Eventually, despite the efforts of two enlightened judges and brief spells in two detox units, he ended up in jail.

He became relatively, although not entirely, clean while in prison. But he obsessed about heroin all the time. He used his release money to score the day he left prison.

My career as a drug dealer began. It was not a decision taken lightly - so why did I do it? I did not want to see Ben go back to jail. By now I realised that his addiction would drive him back to stealing or dealing, and all of his stealing had been from us. He convinced me that part of the problem was the unpredictability of supply. A reliable source of heroin would enable him to get his life together, and we could wean him off it. I say we because I did not take these decisions alone. Ben's father was a key, if reluctant, participant and without his professional salary, financing Ben's addiction would not have been possible.

Hindsight shows the futility of our decision. The idea of security of supply was fanciful. Street heroin varies in quality and quantity for any given price. These fluctuations and Ben's growing tolerance resulted in a rising drug bill for us.

Supplying heroin was not our only strategy. We tried a range of detoxes, at home and residential - counselling, methadone maintenance and Subutex - mostly at our expense and all to no avail. At his suggestion, we also paid for Ben to take a range of IT short courses. These enabled him to develop sophisticated computer skills, even to the extent of designing animated websites.

There were times when everything became unmanageable. Ben's rages when we tried to curb his demands to £30 worth of heroin a day resulted in police interventions and arrests at our instigation.

How has this affected the relationship between Ben and me and relationships with the rest of the family and our neighbours? There have been some positive outcomes. Ben and I became closer. I trained to be a voluntary substance misuse counsellor. I studied drugs and their effects on users and became interested in drug policy. I learned about users and dealers and the workings of the drug market.

Coping strategies

There have also been considerable negatives. Ben has developed few coping strategies. He uses drugs to avoid withdrawal but also to avoid dealing with difficulties. He is entirely dependent on our largesse. He has a comfortable life compared to many addicts but that life is largely empty of everything except heroin. His potential remains unfulfilled.

Ben's brother has become more distant. He understands the problem but feels angry about what Ben has done to us. He may feel resentful about the amount of resources, financial and emotional, that have been squandered on Ben. He probably feels embarrassed that his brother is a heroin addict.

The relationship between Ben and his father has deteriorated. His father has tried hard to provide Ben with breathing space, time to develop skills, grow out of the drug habit and get a life. But the problem has dragged on so long now (10 years) and been exacerbated by theft and lies. They rarely communicate peacefully or directly with one another. I have been forced into the role of piggy in the middle in a vain attempt to keep the peace.

Family, friends and neighbours divide into two camps. There are those who understand and those who think we should throw Ben out. Some neighbours barely acknowledge me because they see us as harbouring a dangerous drug addict and criminal. They fail to see that by paying for his drugs and allowing him to use them at home, we are trying to contain the wider fallout of his addiction.

All attempts at detox have failed. These failures rob us of hope. They leave me wondering if it is Ben's lack of commitment, their lack of professional skill, or worst of all, that nothing will ever work. Sometimes I wonder if by detoxing and rehabilitating people we are simply trying to make them come to terms with a world and self that cannot be reconciled. We might be trying to brainwash people because they turn to illegal escapisms. Ben still says he wants to get clean - but despairs of ever being able to. Life is unimaginable after this long on heroin. He blames this or that "cure" or treatment, but doubtless knows that his will or heart has so far never been in it. Knowing this drives him to demand more heroin to anaesthetise himself from self-knowledge, or to use crack to achieve a quick, but far from cheap, thrill.

The relationship between Ben and me has now become a war of attrition. He nags me for heroin. I try to balance his need, or sometimes just his wants, against our budget. So I nag Ben to cut down, he begs, pleads and cajoles and then rants and rages and bullies. If I don't give in I have no peace. If I do I feel depressed because of being too weak to hold the line.

It is now difficult to talk to Ben. We used to share a joke, discuss politics or talk about addiction. His horizons have shrunk to just obtaining and using gear. My life consists of balancing all the spinning plates. Ben's behaviour swings are difficult to live with. If he has had more than enough heroin, he talks non-stop, repeating things again and again as he paces up and down; or he slumps on his bed nodding, half watching TV. If he's had too little he's angry, explosive, unpredictable and intimidating. Lies have become a way of life and challenges are met with shouted denials, which are repeated endlessly until I doubt my own reason. I have to constantly find new places to hide the heroin. Ben ransacks my belongings as though we are playing some sort of hunt-the-heroin game.

Ben lives a one-dimensional life but he is not a one-dimensional man. His addiction drives his behaviour but as well as being demanding, threatening and difficult, he is also sensitive, creative and intelligent. He is shocked by the destructive force of his own rages when he is craving gear. He is ashamed of the impact this has had on us, although this doesn't result in any change in his behaviour. Maybe nothing can or will.

Tough love

Many professionals will probably blame Ben for not having come to terms with his addiction. I will probably be condemned as a co-dependent suffering from motivated mother syndrome, someone who needs to learn and apply the lessons of tough love. But if your child has a disability you don't walk away, you try to find help and give support. Ben did not commit a murder, molest a child or commit a violent crime. Addiction may be self-indulgence, but it also almost certainly has causes beyond the will of the addict. It may be both, who knows? Living with an addict is heartbreaking - lies, stealing and often squalor come with the territory.

So why do we continue with a course of action that isn't working? There seems to be no solution, just a range of possibilities that work for some addicts. We are still buying time for Ben but can't do so forever. People sometimes say "why did he do this to you?" I try to explain that he did it to himself - we are just in the fallout zone.

· All names have been changed. This article first appeared in Black Poppy magazine

http://society.guardian.co.uk/drugsandalcohol/story/0,,2059067,00.html

Kart
Apr 18th, 2007, 10:44 AM
I will probably be condemned as a co-dependent suffering from motivated mother syndrome, someone who needs to learn and apply the lessons of tough love. But if your child has a disability you don't walk away, you try to find help and give support.


Unless I missed that part in the article, her son is not disabled.

Wigglytuff
Apr 18th, 2007, 11:54 AM
Unless I missed that part in the article, her son is not disabled.

no he is not.

and all she is a drug dealer. she supplies his, feeds his dependency as is its a cure. how sad is all of this.

jellybelly
Apr 18th, 2007, 12:04 PM
This is the problem these days. People feel like a victim all the time and think that they are helpless when actually they are enabling bad things to happen by not taking responsibility and control of their life. The answer to her son's addiction is NOT to give him free supply of heroin

kabuki
Apr 18th, 2007, 12:31 PM
Ugh. This family is enabling their son. If he know's there is a safety net, why bother even trying to stand alone?

chapel
Apr 18th, 2007, 12:48 PM
weaning is never a good way to stop from an addiction may it be heroin, weed or even just cigarettes. if you want it to stop, cut it out of your system at once. otherwise, you will always think that intake in small amounts means you're still in control. give it some time and you'll be back to your old ways.

venus_rulez
Apr 18th, 2007, 02:21 PM
What a deeply unfortunate situation.

Dementieva_Dude
Apr 18th, 2007, 02:52 PM
This is sad, but not in a way that makes me cry. I think it borders on pathetic. I understand you do whatever you can to help your children through horrible situations, but there has to be a point when enough is enough! I can't believe this has gone on for 10 years. Surely, after 10 years, they must all realise that this isn't healthy for anyone involved.

I truly feel sorry for their other son, who probably gets as much attention from his parents in real life as he recieved in the article.

alfonsojose
Apr 18th, 2007, 03:07 PM
Poor brother :sad:

Kart
Apr 18th, 2007, 04:33 PM
weaning is never a good way to stop from an addiction may it be heroin, weed or even just cigarettes. if you want it to stop, cut it out of your system at once. otherwise, you will always think that intake in small amounts means you're still in control. give it some time and you'll be back to your old ways.

I don't think it's quite that easy ;).

Still, if she wants to help him she could be getting him methadone not a banned class A drug.

Rocketta
Apr 18th, 2007, 05:36 PM
I don't think it's quite that easy ;).

Still, if she wants to help him she could be getting him methadone not a banned class A drug.

well in the article she does say they tried methadone. They should get him into that program where they put the people in an unconscious state until their body is no longer addicted to Heroin. I believe they say that it is the hardest part of getting clean from heorin the physical withdrawal symptoms. :shrug:

Denise4925
Apr 18th, 2007, 06:02 PM
First of all, why doesn't she just go out, buy a gun and put it to his head and shoot him :shrug: I have absolutely no sympathy for parents like these. He is a spoiled selfish brat, addicted to heroin and she's a weak parent. No program or detox or whatever is ever going to work for him and he's never going to get the help he needs because he knows that she will do whatever he wants and give him whatever he wants to the detriment of herself, her husband and other children. Why should he stop doing what he loves (getting high) for free? He's never going to stop until he hits rock bottom where there is no safety net, i.e. his mother rescuing him or he's dead. That's the bottom line.

Obviously this article is a cry for help on her part, but she's just as addicted to him and his addiction as he is to heroin. Her husband and other family members need to stop enabling her.

LoveFifteen
Apr 18th, 2007, 06:08 PM
I'm addicted to big, thick cock. I wish my mom would buy some for me! :bigcry:

NyCPsU
Apr 18th, 2007, 06:10 PM
my mom bought beer for me and my friends once like 4 years ago :o and she was bitching about doing it the whole time :lol:

but yea, they both need help, not just her son

Kart
Apr 18th, 2007, 06:13 PM
well in the article she does say they tried methadone.

My point was more that if methadone is not working though the answer is not to go back to heroin. Though I concede it's easy to pass judgement from the sidelines.

Heroin addicts are a nightmare to detox from what I've seen but it can be done if the addict is a dedicated and willing participant.

This woman cannot remove her son's addiction for him nor can she home detox him. He needs more help than she can give him and there is help out there - albeit underfunded and hard to access - but in our current climate of patient choice vs capacity vs consent to treatment, he's got to seek it, not her.

The question for me is whether she's going to realise that and try salvage what's left of her family before it's too late.

It's all very sad.

Rocketta
Apr 18th, 2007, 06:46 PM
My point was more that if methadone is not working though the answer is not to go back to heroin. Though I concede it's easy to pass judgement from the sidelines.

Heroin addicts are a nightmare to detox from what I've seen but it can be done if the addict is a dedicated and willing participant.

This woman cannot remove her son's addiction for him nor can she home detox him. He needs more help than she can give him and there is help out there - albeit underfunded and hard to access - but in our current climate of patient choice vs capacity vs consent to treatment, he's got to seek it, not her.

The question for me is whether she's going to realise that and try salvage what's left of her family before it's too late.

It's all very sad.

yeah, it's sad. I can't help but think the mom has some control issues. :unsure:

alfonsojose
Apr 18th, 2007, 06:46 PM
I'm addicted to big, thick cock. I wish my mom would buy some for me! :bigcry:
You need 20 cms of Dickaine :p

Lord Nelson
Apr 18th, 2007, 06:48 PM
I'm addicted to big, thick cock. I wish my mom would buy some for me! :bigcry:
and I am addicted to pussy but fortunately I don't need to ask my mum to get some. :p

by the way I am joking. I am not a sex addict but could not resist saying this. :lol:

alfonsojose
Apr 18th, 2007, 07:13 PM
and I am addicted to pussy but fortunately I don't need to ask my mum to get some. :p

by the way I am joking. I am not a sex addict but could not resist saying this. :lol:

Try some cock :p