Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My daughter is a Heroin Addict.

The purpose of this blog, hopefully, is frank/open discussions about parenting an addicted child.
My husband and I have 6 beautiful children between us. All of our children are GOOD people. Every one of them. We raised them all with abundant love and care, equally.
This blog is something about me as a parent and my youngest daughter, who I love dearly. Dearly. You might be shocked. I am. But I don't mean it to be all about me, of course... Hopefully this will open a dialogue for us all to share virtual hugs, support, ideas - and yes, smiles and laughter, because those are also intergal parts of parenting... Thank Goodness. When my children were little I remember thinking "Aha! THIS is why children get sent to their room - so that we can laugh."
Oh, I wish right now I had concerns about childish behavior... I've gotten good at dealing with that. No, this is something I never, ever, EVER even considered that I would have to deal with. My 18 year old daughter is addicted to heroin. Mine. My. Child.

I am frightened, embarrassed, angry ... but after doing some research, I think I am not alone. If your child is addicted, YOU are not alone.
I'm not going to hide - I'm going to fight. I'm going to share my experience in the off chance it will help my child - anyone's child. I have already learned that until my daughter is ready to fight, too, there may be little else I can do but write about it.

If you are a frightened parent like me, rest assured that even my biggest worry will never mean that your own are trivial... It's something I taught my children early about compassion, in terms they could grasp: If one person breaks their leg, and another person breaks their finger - they are both in pain. Whatever pain a person has, if it's the thing that hurts them most, it is important... It is never acceptable to discount as trivial what hurts or worries another person.

It's been a rough year ... Yes, I've been on the dreaded teenage "Roller Coaster" before, but was thinking that I was at it's end. I also thought that my youngest daughter and I had been through the worst - and we have certainly been through a lot in the "teenage rebellion" stage.

It seems that what was happening in August of 2006 was a truce of sorts - I was facing the possibility of a serious illness and she rallied in a way to relieve me from worrying about her. I know now that she wasn't actually staying out of trouble because she had turned over a new leaf, just being more cautious not to make waves... and, due to the overwhelming health concerns, Dr. appointments, work, etc, etc - she was flying under the radar quite easily.

In many ways she is a sensitive compassionate person, and that gives me strength.

Gradually, things got back to "normal" here... In November 2006 my daughter turned 17 and made the decision to go live with her father, rather than follow the very basic rules that we had for her here... Basically the Who, Where, What questions about her activities were the rules that she couldn't abide - a reasonable curfew, simple household chores, do well in school. She also was "dating" a totally inappropriate 19 year old that I overheard making a phone call to have someone deliver drugs to my house (!!) - An absolute rule was that he was not to come to my house nor was she to see him. Alas...

After the move, she seemed to be doing well living with her Dad in the small town she grew up in, about a 45 minute drive away. She was doing well in school, eventually dropped the above mentioned "boy" and she got her driver's license and her father got her a car. She got a job, she sounded happy. Unfortunately, I learned that she had also taken up with a 28 year old man, her new "boyfriend".

She quit her job on the last day of school. She drove in to see me a couple of times a month, mainly for money to go to the mall or out to eat... I was happy to see her and held my tongue about the boyfriend, hoping she would make the right decision. She is in many many ways a very bright girl.

The first part of June, I got a call from her one evening... she was in jail! I really had thought that she was doing ok, but she and her 28 year old "boyfriend" had been arrested shoplifting right around the corner from my house... I was mortified, and confused. I would have given her money if she needed it. I always had. She knew that.

Based on her history, the "roller coaster ride" that over the past few years has included counseling, rehab, truancy court, etc... her father and I, step-father, her brothers and sisters - we all decided NOT to bail her out this time... we felt it was important for her to understand that being the "adult" she wanted everyone to treat her as came with heavy responsibilities and consequences beyond our rules.

She was transferred to the county jail, which is not a nice place. We learned that she was in the jail infirmary... Oh - I worried! She is my baby, after all. Her father paid to get her car out of impound, and disabled it.

After 3 days she was able to arrange her own personal release bond - and I went with a family friend to pick her up... at 4 in the morning she was finally released, defiant. She looked like hell.

The family friend had already discussed with me his desire to try to help her. He & his wife were going to offer her a job, a place to live and a very rigid schedule to help her get back on track. This is someone that she loves and trusts very much. She turned him down... I hugged her and put her to bed. She looked so ill...

In the morning, her "boyfriend", also released from jail, called. I told her again that she had a choice to make - Her family's love, help, RULES, or to leave my house. She chose to go with the loser boyfriend... the 28 year old... And, I let her go.

Between the time she made the decision and actually left with him, I learned that the reason she had been in the infirmary is that she has been doing heroin and was going through withdrawal. I had no idea. I thought nothing could shock me, but this had the same effect as if I had learned that my daughter had a terminal illness. And, I let her go. I knew from experience she would have gone anyway... and her associates where people that I felt put my entire family's safety at risk. OMG - I let her go. I told her I loved her. I told her as soon as she wanted help, I would help her, but that meant rehab. I asked her to call me regularly and let me know she is alive.

During the next few weeks she called a couple of times. She said she was "safe", but I had no idea what "safe" meant to her anymore... Actually, I guess I did - I could hear in her voice that she was not well, strung out.

There is an "epidemic" in Dallas right now, called "cheese." I can't believe it has touched my family. "It could never happen to my child" I'm sure I would have thought if I had even bothered to think about it at all... Deadly $2 heroin aimed at young teens.

Read More http://athenarising.blogspot.com/2007/12/my-daughter-is-heroin-addict.html


Norman said...

I was there, love, yet I am still moved by your writing about it. Please do continue to write when you feel like writing.
I love you.

pat said...

Again, I am touched by your honest open writing. Thank you so much.

indistinct said...


You write so well about the pain of parenting an addicted child. While our circumstances don't change, seeing the courage in you gives me courage to keep on loving my addicted love one.

Thank you for sharing.

dadonfire said...

It is great to see your efforts and I am very happy to reciprocate by sharing your site with my viewers. Keep up the great work. God bless your daughter. BILL

dadonfire said...

Beautiful pose in the face of such adversity. God bless you and your daughter.



Jacqueline said...

I know this was posted years ago, but thank you for leaving it up and thanks for writing it in the first place.

My husband and I are right where you were with my step-daughter, his daughter (minus the pregnancy, but it's not like that couldn't happen at any time). There are frustrating, er, did I say frustrating, I meant unique, yeah, unique! challenges to parenting an addict in the context of divorce, and then when you throw a junkie boyfriend and his family into the mix, things get even messier. There is nothing we can do except avoid enabling. I'm a fixer, so this is a really hard conclusion to come to...

Your story (your daughter's story) gives me hope:) Thanks for sharing it.

Athena said...

Sorry to hear you and your family are going through this Jaqueline - it is frustrating (Unique!) and requires a lot of re-examining traditional parenting roles, to an amazing degree.

The other parents on my blog roll have been a life-saver... having the outlet of a blog has been a sanity keeper.

My daughter still has many challenges - we are a ways from declaring total victory, but much closer than than I dreamed was possible a year ago.

Hugs -

Kathy Monroe said...

I don't know what to do, my daughter has alot of problems and now she says she is addicted to heroin. She is 22 and has been put us, her family through hell for the past 5 years and now this...

Athena said...


I'm sorry you are going through this. Parenting a heroin addict can be particulary heartbreaking, and there will be so many twists and turns. 1st - be sure to take care of you.

I have found so much support through my blog. I hope you'll consider starting one of your own... But it's not necessary... Read the various blogs and share where you are comfortable.

A good place to start is http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/

They are all wonderful, but Ron is particularly active ... And he started just like you, and me, and all the rest.

Maybe your daughter's admission of heroin addiction is the 1st step in understanding the trouble leading up to it... The voice of experience also makes me warn you against being manipulated... Does your daughter want help, or is she telling you as an "excuse?" Is she asking for money? Trust your instincts.

Read up on my blog (which spans over three years) and others, and I think you'll see what I mean. Stay strong - it's a rocky road.

Anonymous said...

So sad and tragic...7 years ago my husband died of cancer and my daughter has never been the same..in and our of rehabs for heroin and in and out of jail and I am so heartbroken feeling as if I am grieving her life...
How could this be our life? She has been court mandated to rehab and took off again..and I see her face and my heart breaks...how to get through it..how to make her see what she is doing to her life...it all seems impossible..I love her so much..how do I survive this? And what if she dies...how will I survive that?

czuniga said...

My daughter too is a heroin addict. It is heart breaking I know. I've taken her to wound care for the past two days due to two abscesses from injecting. My beautiful daughter is slipping away in a sense, and yet, I feel close to her still. She hates this demon called Heroin and wishes she could go back and say no. She fears she won't be able to escape it. She is going to rehab soon, but is set on returning to her parolee, addict boyfriend, who supposedly is going into a program while she is away. I hope while she is away she changes her mind. I love her so much. Pray for our children.

Anonymous said...

I am crumbling inside. My daughter is going to be 24 in one week is addicted to heroin. We brought her home from the hospital in January from having a "blood infection" which we later found out was from using. We put her in an expensive detox/rehab program and she spent 90 days there. She was showing some progress, then moved to sober living and it using again. We are distraught. I feel like I can never be happy again in my life. I am full of tears. I found out this morning that she does not want to go back to rehab. We have taken her car, cell phone, and changed the locks on our doors. We are beside ourselves and comsumed with the thoughts of guilt if something happens to her. I'm almost at the point of asking her "do you want to be cremated or buried?" my heart is heavy.

Athena said...

Anonymous... I am sorry for the pain you and your family are going through. Your fears are normal, and sadly, not unreasonable ones. You cannot control her addiction. Control what you can, take care of you, save your resources for when *she* wants help. The ride will be bumpy and long, and it's no good if you burn out early.

You will find support in the parents who have been through and are still going through what you are. Writing this blog was so helpful to me, maybe you would find some comfort doing the same - even when our children were/are unreachable, other parents and addicts have found strength in finding they are not alone. (If you do decide to do a blog, I'll add you to my blog roll and spread the word. You will find compassion and truths)


dennis said...

I used to feel a sense of hope when it came to my daughters heroin addiction but over the many months it has all but vanished. My daughter started like so many others with mariguana and escalated to that killer called heroin. It started with her at around age 12, she was diagnosed with depression,and self esteem issues.Things got so bad in school that an IEP was done and she was sent away to complete school in utah where she graduated 1 year ahead of time. Within 2 months back at home she picked up where she left, and now skip forward to age 20 and she is addicted to heroin, living in the streets, and I believe she is prostituting her self to get money for the drug.I am beeing strecthed every way and im about to break. So much money for rehabs she has walked out of,money for the prescriptions which she won't or wind up selling for drugs. She is a mess and has lost so much weight, I fear the day I get that phone call no parent wants to ever hear. She's only 5'4" all of 20 years old, smart as hell, but will do nothing to save her own life. I just don't understand it at all.

Anonymous said...

I am in the same boat as the rest of you, and I feel that it is sinking! My 21 year old daughter is a heroin addict. She admitted this to me a year ago and went through rehab on her own. She came back home to live after that. I thought she would be ok since she was away from her drug addict boyfriend until 6 months later when I got a call from the police that she was in the emergencyroom from a heroin overdose. She made it through and now had charges against her for drug use. So, in my mind she couldn't be using because she had to make it through drug court to get the charges dropped. Then I stumbled onto an open facebook that had every message ever made from the overdose to 4 months later scheming on how to get money to get more drugs and who to buy them from. When I confronted my daughter and gave her the choice to go back to rehab or move out, she chose to leave & now refuses to speak to me. That is until last week when she got in a head on collision because she fell asleep at the wheel & needed my help to fix her car. Thank God, no one was hurt. Now, she is back to not talking and I'm afraid the next call will be a very bad one, and I don't know what I can do to change this. I feel so helpless!

Athena said...

I am so sorry you are in this situation - please consider blogging - you will find support from fellow bloggers. I will keep you in my thoughts. Please take care of yourself

Anonymous said...

Im rather new to all of this. I saw my 22 year old smart, funny, beautiful daughter off in a flight to long term transitional living. After reading some of these posts I realize how lucky I am. But as reality had hit me just yesterday (after a year) I am griefstricken with the reality that my daughter is an addict. How did this happen? How will ALL of us go on? We are all so freaking clueless.

tkh said...

Ok, I have a daughter who is an addict. She recently put herself in a rehab and they admitted her to the hospital for detox. She decided she didn't need the re-hab, she would attend meetings and do it herself. Last week she was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. She is not using heroin, saboxim or going to the meth clinic currently, but is drinking and smoking pot. She was calling me on a regular basis at first with a much better attitude when she attended meetings. I can tell she is not attending regularly now as she doesn't call and her attitude has detiorated with the news of the Hep C.

Problem is now my health. I am falling apart again. I have been through too much with her since she was 15 years old. Cutting, abusive boyfriend, OUI's, loss of job, kicked out of school, on and on. I am getting help with the nervous breakdown but struggle each day to get out of bed and function with some kind of normalness and joy. I seriously can't stop obsessing about it. I am filled with fear and sometimes wish "the something bad" would just happen and get it over with. That is not my true desire but I can't handle this. I attend Alanon and meditate but I feel so hopeless. I avoid her because I am so disgusted. I do help her financially but am cutting that back in a couple months. I feel guilty but I can't afford to support her take care of myself. When she is doing well I am on board. She still lies to me about small stuff and I don't always see the committment I am looking for on her part. I don't know that she isn't using a substitute drug.
I just need support and so I am reaching out to other parents in similar situations. I hope there are a few success stories and I am under the impression you can never get off heroin. Small success rate. I have never loved anyone like I love her. My heart is shredded and I sometimes feel like I need to escape from this travesty myself. But it is my job as a parent to stay strong. Yeah. How do you do that under these circumstances. I am a single parent. Her father is an addict as well. He actually introduced her to heroin. Not directly but indirectly. What difference does that make. None. He is a huge part of her problem and has been but it doesn't seem to matter that I have been there through it all and been a good parent because she seems to think he is more important anyway. Some of this is my messed up perception of things but she has been so hard on me and I am hanging by a thread. Any thoughts.....

Athena said...

Oh, I'm so sorry you're struggling with this... There are success stories, but with addicts there are also relapses. You sound like you are doing the right thing in distancing yourself when your daughter is using - save the energy and resources for when she is really ready to get clean - my email is jsoeur@gmail.com and if you email me I can probably help you with some resources.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 19 and six months pregnant she is scheduled for an induction on Tuesday to help her get on subutex. Her and her boyfriend use together and they were living with his mom until his heroin addict sister got out of jail. Now they live with me help!!!! I want to help them!!! His mother is a big enabler. I just don't know what the right thing to do

Chris said...

My heart is broken. My daughter is a herion addict and she refuses to get help. I am helpless to help her. So I sit by a watch her waste away day by day by day. I am so afraid that I will one day find her dead. I walk around all day everyday with that thought and worry. All I know is that if that ever does happen, and I fully expect it to, I will never ever be the same person that I was. I will love her and miss her forever. For now, I pray for her every single day. I love my daughter with all of my heart and being. I'm sorry that I didn't comment on your story. I am just so sad and overwhelmed with pain.

Athena said...

Chris, you did comment - I'm sorry for the pain you are going through, and I hope your daughter gets help. Many parents have been where you are, sadly. If it helps, I have felt the very same way ... Hopeless... And yet, now, my daughter is ok. One day at a time. Set boundaries, take care of you, remember the 3 C's


Anonymous said...

When my daughter told us she was addicted to heroin it was the worst day of my life, I felt sick. She told us how and where she obtained it, the worse parts of the city. This was my baby and now her arms are full of scars from injection sites. We dont know what happened, she had everything, we loved her, she was a happy person, my wife is blaming herself. All of our jewelry is gone, my wife engagement ring, jewelry from past generations, things that can never be replaced, she swears she did not take but we know better, she became the best liar. We have a very close family and knowing she is a heroin addict will destroy them. I feel alone, ashamed worried afraid all the worst possible emotions. She was in jail for possession, and shop lifting. I want my daughter back and I dont think this will ever happen, I just need to hope