A Mother’s Journey with Her Son’s Addiction
“Being a mother brings great joy and great sadness when it doesn’t go the way you planned”.
Katherine’s son, Tom, was a polydrug user, addicted to Marijuana, alcohol, amphetamines, and Nangs (Nitrous oxide). This is Katherine’s story of recovery.
My son, Tom was a happy boy growing up he had a lot of friends. Our family is a very close and supportive one. His father is a Doctor and Tom had a very supportive and stable life growing up.
Things changed around the age of 14, Tom started to become disconnected from school and his family, he was less interested in learning and more interested in being “cool”. He started drinking and smoking cigarettes, then started smoking marijuana.
Watching my happy and intelligent son change was heartbreaking. Tom was attending a good school and had great opportunities. However, he was very rebellious against authority and was angry at what he perceived as an unjust world.
When Tom was in year 11, we went to America for 6 months and Tom was doing his schooling via correspondence at a school there. It was meant to be a great time for us as a family and an amazing life experience.
Tom was caught smoking marijuana and as the school had a no-tolerance policy for drugs, they suspended him for 6 months. He was then home with me for around 5 months, he was very negative and difficult to be around at times. This was the first time Tom’s drug use had consequences and caused family issues.
In years 11 and 12 I got an email saying his Naplan results didn’t match his school results. He was smart but just didn’t apply himself at school. His drug use was often more important, and he appeared to be interested in little else.
Even so, Tom went to university and finished his degree in psychology. I thought that his life was back on track. He was 21 and in a good relationship with a lovely girl that was a good influence on him. He had some good friends, and they had a lot of fun drinking which appeared to be normal for his age. I wasn’t worried about him and felt he was doing well.
Tom was very anti-establishment. He had always felt there was injustice in the world, and he focused on it. He was very rebellious and found it hard to be happy.
Around 23 his relationship broke down and he became extremely depressed. He didn’t want to be around people, so he got a night shift job on the Gold Coast and we did everything in our power to help him launch.
One day he came to us and said, “I need to get sober; I need to stop drinking and stop using drugs.” I was so happy he had reached out for help and wanted to assist in any way we could.
We told him to come home, and we would help him, but even at home with us and with the biggest desire to change, he couldn’t stop using. He was out of control. I feared he would end up dead or in jail. He had been arrested a few times and was often heavily intoxicated while driving.
He went to stay with my Mum, her house was a good circuit breaker for Tom, we would send him there to detox and be supported. We gave him an ultimatum. We told him to get help, or he couldn’t come home to us.
It was very difficult to be around him. He used my credit cards, he spent thousands of dollars on drugs. He would always be so remorseful, but I could see it was out of his control.
We kept propping him up all the time, giving him money, giving him a place to live and now I know now I was enabling his drug use. I had no idea what that meant before the family education sessions at the Hader Clinic.
I thought giving him money and support would help him, but we were enabling him to continue his lifestyle with very few consequences.
After some research, we found Hader Clinic Queensland, and Tom was admitted there shortly after. The first week was tough for him. We wanted him to stay for 90 days but he decided to come home after 28 days.
The day he was getting out we were ready to get him, and we had tested positive for covid. My mum had to get him and he was really upset about this, he couldn’t come and stay with us and had to go back to his flat in Kangaroo Point. He lapsed that day.
I realised then that this was not going to be a straight road. The Hader Clinic had given me so many tools from the information session and group education sessions with other family members of addicts.
This helped us in so many ways. We learned that we can’t do everything for Tom, if he was going to get clean, he needed to want it for himself. Enabling him by giving him money and fixing things for him was harmful.
After this lapse, I was really disheartened and wanted him to go back to rehab. Tom believed he could do it himself.
I could really see a change in Tom when he came home, he had a complete change in his attitude, focusing on living in the day and caring more for other people. It has been 3 months now and he is doing really well, he is regularly attending meetings and staying clean. He uses so many of the tools he was taught at the Hader Clinic, he even teaches us how to practice gratitude at dinner time. It’s so beautiful to have our son guide us in gratitude at dinner. I know that this is because he was taught the fundamentals for success in rehab.
Hader Clinic Queensland’s education has made me understand the disease of addiction in a way I never could before. I really understand that this is a sickness, that there is no pill and no cure. For him to be happy and free from addiction he needs a community and tools. It is not something I can do for him.
Going to the family groups helped me connect with other parents going through the same situation. Hearing the other families’ stories gave me hope that we could get through this.
Their stories were really emotional and humbling.
I am so happy that my son got to the Hader Clinic. It has completely changed the outcome of his life. He is fully aware and has a very good understanding of how addiction works and is attending as many meetings as he can get to which really help support him in his journey.
I know that we will face challenges ahead, but I feel that we have the tools and support to get through this.
My biggest advice for other families struggling is to get help, it is so hard to do this on your own, it is a chronic illness, and it is so important to seek support from people that know what to do.
It’s been such a privilege to work with the Hader Clinic Queensland. I have my happy son back. He is journaling every day and is teaching me so much. He is a very calm presence in our house, and we love being around him.
Thanks to the Hader Clinic I believe my son has been given a second chance in life.
Names and photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.
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