My Daughter is Addicted to Heroin
This interview was conducted by AllTreatment.com with a parent whose daughter has been addicted to heroin. This is a part of a series of interviews and articles conducted and written by AllTreatment that strive to give perspectives of several different people that have one way or another been affected by heroin addiction. The following interview is uncensored from the original email.
First name: Dawn
College Graduate J.D.
White, upper middle class, US Navy Veteran
Biological mother of two, stepmother of two, foster mother to 10
Grandparent of four girls.
Custodial grandparent of two granddaughters.
Mother of a 30-year-old heroin addict who was valedictorian, brilliant, college educated.
No drug abuse or alcohol abuse or sexual abuse or physical abuse family background for the addict child (or any of our children except some of the foster kids).
How old was your daughter when you noticed her beginning activities?
The first indication we had that there was any involvement with drugs was while she was in her sophomore year of college.
And what do you think her experimentation was a product of? Friends, school, rebellion, etc.
Experiencing failure for the first time in her life.
How has her drug usage affected your family and household?
Her younger sister was just entering junior high, and her younger brother was just entering his first year of high school. We lived in a very small town of about 3,000. Their sister had been the valedictorian of her graduating class and had received full academic scholarships in Physics and Math. The whole town knew and it was horribly embarrassing to the younger kids.
“For her, it's just a matter of time till she uses again.”
From a parental view, we were devastated. Her older sister was also in college and was subjected to her heroin addict sister stealing and forging checks, etc. The addict daughter stole from everyone in the family, including stealing identities and taking out credit cards in family members names.
She has been through 9 rehabs, 8 of which we funded. She has had three children, two of whom we have custody of. The last two babies were born addicted. Her oldest daughter has multiple psychiatric issues from the mother doing LSD when she was barely pregnant. We are now raising a 7 and a 10-year-old and have been since the 7-year-old was born. We have no retirement, no savings and no life. We are on the 'hook' for another 12 years instead of suffering from 'empty nest' syndrome; we have 'full house' syndrome. I wouldn't trade my grandbabies for the world, but this is NOT how it was supposed to be. We love them and cherish them and have dedicated the remaining years of our lives to the raising and comfort of these children.
How can you trust your daughter and how can't you trust your daughter, and if there's something you can do to build that trust (a tip for others) what would that trust-building activity be?
I can't trust anything my daughter says. I can't think of any way at all that I can trust my daughter. She has been in Methadone treatment this time for three years and still lies and makes bad decisions. I don't think I will ever trust her again and I don't see anything at all that would build that trust. Even after being in MMT for three years, I still don't trust her because this is the THIRD methadone treatment and she has relapsed after everyone as soon as she is weaned off the methadone. For her, it's just a matter of time till she uses again.
If there is one thing you wish you could tell your daughter but can't, what is it?
I've pretty much said it all to her after 11 years. You reach a point where it just doesn't matter what or how you say it anymore, you only speak your mind.
What's something positive going on between you two, if there is anything? (So we can also highlight something optimistic and supportive that isn't 'enabling').
We speak. We are civil to each other. That's pretty much it.
If there was one thing you could tell other parents helping their sons and daughters through this time of hardship, what would it be and why?
I would say, do NOT try to spare your children the adversity that we all went through. It is the very adversity that we faced and overcame which made us into strong and responsible adults. We tried to spare our children that and ended up with kids who do not know how to try, who don't know how to fail and then get right back up and go on to later succeed. We raised our kids to have good self-esteem, and it backfired. Their self-esteem is a little TOO good; they do not see that they are doing anything wrong and too many times when they do get in trouble, we fail to allow them the opportunity to face the consequences of their actions. We bail them out of jail, and we pay their fines, we buy them food, we pay off drug dealers who threaten their lives. We do it out of love, and we do it out of guilt, but it teaches our children that we will continue to rescue them from their stupidity and it keeps them from growing, learning and reaching responsible adulthood. Once a child is addicted to heroin, it takes over their lives, their very soul. At this point, I would say – do nothing for them – not a meal, not a ride, not a prepaid cell phone, not a penny, not a gift card, not a treatment facility, not a rehab, not a detox. None of them work unless and UNTIL the ADDICT wants them too and no matter how much we love them and want them clean, all our efforts are a waste of time, money and love. When the addict decides to get clean, they know where to go, how to get there and what to do. Trust me on this.
Keep in touch with them, continue to tell them you love them, but give them absolutely nothing but love. No beds to sleep in, no "just this once's," no second, third, fourth, sixteenth chances. You MAY save your other family and your sanity.
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