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a father's anguish

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I read this article in the times yesterday. recently a friend of mine told me a very similar (but with a more tragic ending) story of her own family. several people I know have had boughts with extensive drug use. I haven't been exposed to much drug use myself, but I am curious if anybody has been a heavy drug user and then stopped, or used heavily but never got "addicted", what were the reasons that they were able to control it, and if their family were supportive? curious. My Addicted Son By DAVID SHEFF Published: February 6, 2005 ne windy day in May 2002, my young children, Jasper and Daisy, who were 8 and 5, spent the morning cutting, pasting and coloring notes and welcome banners for their brother's homecoming. They had not seen Nick, who was arriving from college for the summer, in six months. In the afternoon, we all drove to the airport to pick him up. At home in Inverness, north of San Francisco, Nick, who was then 19, lugged his duffel bag and backpack into his old bedroom. He unpacked and emerged with his arms loaded with gifts. After dinner, he put the kids to bed, reading to them from ''The Witches,'' by Roald Dahl. We heard his voice -- voices -- from the next room: the boy narrator, all wonder and earnestness; wry and creaky Grandma; and the shrieking, haggy Grand High Witch. The performance was irresistible, and the children were riveted. Nick was a playful and affectionate big brother to Jasper and Daisy -- when he wasn't robbing them. Late that night, I heard the creaking of bending tree branches. I also heard Nick padding along the hallway, making tea in the kitchen, quietly strumming his guitar and playing Tom Waits, Bjork and Bollywood soundtracks. I worried about his insomnia, but pushed away my suspicions, instead reminding myself how far he had come since the previous school year, when he dropped out of Berkeley. This time, he had gone east to college and had made it through his freshman year. Given what we had been through, this felt miraculous. As far as we knew, he was coming up on his 150th day without methamphetamine. In the morning, Nick, in flannel pajama bottoms and a fraying woolen sweater, shuffled into the kitchen. His skin was rice-papery and gaunt, and his hair was like a field, with smashed-down sienna patches and sticking-up yellowed clumps, a disaster left over from when he tried to bleach it. Lacking the funds for Lady Clairol, his brilliant idea was to soak his head in a bowl of Clorox. Nick hovered over the kitchen counter, fussing with the stove-top espresso maker, filling it with water and coffee and setting it on a flame, and then sat down to a bowl of cereal with Jasper and Daisy. I stared hard at him. The giveaway was his body, vibrating like an idling car. His jaw gyrated and his eyes were darting opals. He made plans with the kids for after school and gave them hugs. When they were gone, I said, ''I know you're using again.'' He glared at me: ''What are you talking about? I'm not.'' His eyes fixed onto the floor. ''Then you won't mind being drug-tested.'' ''Whatever.'' When Nick next emerged from his bedroom, head down, his backpack was slung over his back, and he held his electric guitar by the neck. He left the house, slamming the door behind him. Late that afternoon, Jasper and Daisy burst in, dashing from room to room, before finally stopping and, looking up at me, asking, ''Where's Nick?'' ick now claims that he was searching for methamphetamine for his entire life, and when he tried it for the first time, as he says, ''That was that.'' It would have been no easier to see him strung out on heroin or cocaine, but as every parent of a methamphetamine addict comes to learn, this drug has a unique, horrific quality. In an interview, Stephan Jenkins, the singer in the band Third Eye Blind, said that methamphetamine makes you feel ''bright and shiny.'' It also makes you paranoid, incoherent and both destructive and pathetically and relentlessly self-destructive. Then you will do unconscionable things in order to feel bright and shiny again. Nick had always been a sensitive, sagacious, joyful and exceptionally bright child, but on meth he became unrecognizable. Nick's mother and I were attentive, probably overly attentive -- part of the first wave of parents obsessed with our children in a self-conscious way. (Before us, people had kids. We parented.) Nick spent his first years on walks in his stroller and Snugli, playing in Berkeley parks and baby gyms and visiting zoos and aquariums. His mother and I divorced when he was 4. No child benefits from the bitterness and savagery of a divorce like ours. Like fallout from a dirty bomb, the collateral damage is widespread and enduring. Nick was hit hard. The effects lingered well after his mother and I settled on a joint-custody arrangement and, later, after we both remarried. As a kindergartner, when he wore tights, the other school children teased him: ''Only girls wear tights.'' Nick responded: ''Uh, uh, Superman wears tights.'' I was proud of his self-assuredness and individuality. Nick readily rebelled against conventional habit, mores and taste. Still, he could be susceptible to peer pressure. During the brief celebrity of Kris Kross, he wore backward clothes. At 11, he was hidden inside grungy flannel, shuffling around in Doc Martens. Hennaed bangs hung Cobain-like over his eyes. complete article: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/06/ma.../06ADDICT.html
post #2 of 20
I read this on the weekend. Extremely well written article and the son fits the discription of a family friend who unfortunately went through the same ordeal. Such wasted potential. A.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Aaron, any comments? unfortunatly, I read an article like that and the only thing that I can think is "well, if I do a good job, that won't happen". but I am sure the authro, and your friend were thinking the same thing.
post #4 of 20
I read an article like that and the only thing that I can think is "well, if I do a good job, that won't happen".
In my experience I think whether or not a person will become addicted to something is highly contextual and situational.  In our family friend's case it was an amazingly successful, solid and down-to-earth family. Their oldest son was highly intelligent, passionate, and unfortunately, very impressionable. He was always a bit of an outsider and he was accepted into a dubious peer group. He left high school and became a heavy drug and alcohol user.  He has relasped multiple times. The family is extremely candid and honest with their feelings about the situation (which I find amazing). What really resonated with me was the last paragraph where the author talks about the optimism he has to see his son make a full recovery. The family I know said almost the exact same thing. In both these situations it would be very easy for the parents to just throw up their hands and say "I give up." and go about their lives. But they don't, they keep trying to improve themselves and their children, I find that incredibly powerful.  As for parenting in general I think the case in the article and what I have described above is fairly rare. My parents have always been very liberal about alcohol (usually a glass of wine at dinner) and have instilled in me a joy for life, not an overconsumption of it. I think kids need to be given the freedom to experiment, make a lot of mistakes, and know that their family will be there for them when they need guidance and assurance. I feel very blessed to know I've received that. A.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
this summer in my company we fired the bookeeper, a very hot young lady, after she became addicted to heroin and stopped coming to work. it turned out that she had stolen a nice chunk of money from us, and she is now going to jail for a while. since her education was in bookeeping, she will have a lot of trouble making an honest living when she gets out of jail, and it looks like it won't be easy for her to get off drugs in jail. It struck me as a very sad story, and I felt very bad for her parents over this.
post #6 of 20
I have a long and illustrious acquaintance with illicit substances. That is not something of which I am proud, obviously, but it gives me a fairly realistic base from which to relate to this article. Methamphetamines are the most addictive drug in circulation right now. As the author noted, meth is not new; I remember some fairly scary dudes who used "crystal" during my youth, and they were not people I liked to hang around, even when I was high on someting or another. It is the "ease" of manufacturing meth today, I think, that has brought it from the edges of society to the prominent place it now occupies. I don't know how one deals with an additiction within one's family, other than to try to intervene. Offer love, certainly, but addicts cannot get better as long as they are using. I've told my children, as they come to the stage in their lives when I think they'll be confronted with booze and drugs, that there are many, many things worse than smoking a little weed. I frankly would rather have my kids smoking pot than drinking, but, alas, society and our legal system frowns upon such an attitude. I have casually advocated legalization of marijuana for many years, but I do worry about how easily children can move beyond pot to something else. I don't buy into the "gateway drug" concept. The more accurate characterization is a "gateway dealer". When I was a kid, I bought my reefer from people who also would sell speed, meth, coke, acid and what have you. That is a gateway dealer. I'd just as soon my kids neither drank nor smoked pot. Of the two "adults" one drinks socially, but uses no drugs; the other is a strict abstainer from all alterants. My experience is that the worst thing a pothead will do is eat all your Twinkies. I can deal with that. I tell anyone who asks that meth is the most dangerous drug around; a user is unpredictable and often dangerous.
post #7 of 20
It's interesting that you mention legalization and ease of manufacturing. Admittedly I didn't read the article, but it's hard to believe meth use would be so widespread were it easier and cheaper to buy other drugs. When I was in college, it was notoriously easier to buy pot--hell, in NYC they deliver--than to order a drink in a bar, provided you weren't hitting a dive or were an attractive female.
post #8 of 20
The two things I will never touch are Meth - both Crystal Meth and speed - and Heroin. Never had a desire to. Heard too many bad stories involving meth, and anyone who watches the movies Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream must have some real balls to want to try heroin.
post #9 of 20
When l was younger l was a cronic drug user and alcoholic. lnfact, l used drugs and alcohol everyday until l was 32. Here is my storey: When l was at Uni (18 years old) l began having large amounts of magic mushrooms twice a week. (The first time l took magic mushrooms was the most amazing time of my life. l travelled back in time to the 1850's + the universal music. Spiritual giants can tell you about the universal music. l also smoked pot twice a week. (l could always play the piano better when l was stoned- l would always play the fast passages like a maniac and the slow passages like a sensitive GOD. Music would always sound better as well [when you were stoned]. ). By the time l was 19 l was smoking a gram of pot everyday via a joint. l was a good student with a part-time job, drugs had not affected me adversely at this point. When l was 25 (and doing my Masters) l felt the affects of too much pot - my studies began to get affected. l scraped thru with my masters. Fortunately l was able to get a good research job. The magic mushrooms continued regularly for around 4 years. They were a mind altering experience and fun but never addictive. The thing which l found really addictive was pot. l was smoking my usual gram a day and l couldn't stop until l was 32. l tried Herion a few times but l never liked it. l had XTC a few times and never liked it. l loved LSD but found it hard to get good stuff. My favourite drugs were: crystal meth and cocaine. My good paying job allowed me to finance a twice weekly crystal meth/cocaine habit. l injected a gram twice a week. This was the most enjoyable period of my life - l partied hard in the best clubs in town. l also went to heavy metal and death metal concerts. l enjoyed shooting up and l became highly addicted. l was still smoking pot everyday at this stage along with drinking 10 cans of beer a day. Crystal meth is a bad drug. Much worse than Cocaine, speed etc. lt addicts you and completely destroys every part of your body. lt kills you spiritually, mentally and physically. lt robs you of everything. Eventhough l gave it up 5 years ago, l still dream of it regularly. l would love to do it again but my preservation will not allow it. Crystal meth made me very violent, slowed my brain (long term) and cost me my sanity. lt even made me listen to satanic death metal. lt also turned me into a sexual deviate at the time. The two worst drugs are: crystal meth + XTC. l am not proud of my former lifestyle. lt cost me my business. Fortunately l am rebuiling my finances and my life. lt has been 5 years now. l now exist on a cleansing diet of raw srpouts and grasses. l am now an expert in diet. l no longer take alcohol or drugs. Raw greens and sprouts and wheatgrass has done much to regenerate my health. The most addictive drugs are: crystal meth and pot. l still wish l could smoke pot and inject meth to this day. lt still haunts me. Eventhough l was addicted to meth, l found it much easier to give up than pot; this is because there are more dire consequences with using meth compared to pot. l always saw pot as a soft drug therefore l was never tempted to give it up. Pot was my most addictive drug. When my mother and father were around, they never opposed my drug use. l was always upfront to my parents. They never had a history of drug use. l've also bolied daitura lillies. 5 times more potent than the most potent LSD. l will never do that again. P.S: eventhough l have done pretty much everything, l still managed to hold down a good job. lt was only at the end when l lost control. P.S.S: l know hundreds of professionals and business owners that have taken hard drugs. A former druggie can usually tell a drug user.
post #10 of 20
Thanks to those who posted their experiences.  Thanks to the globeanator for starting the topic.  I will add-- There is drug addiction in my family.  Most are not, at the present time, using.  While drug-induced experiences may seem "deep" or "profound," and taking certain drugs (i.e. heroin, meth) may seem like something that "it takes balls to do," none of those experiences are nearly as profound as facing life sober.  Period.  Taking drugs, no matter the type, is not an act that requires courage.  Period.  An act of courage, in fact, is a rather bland experience.  Often life requires from us such bland courage.  An example I am familiar with is raising a son. What are some of the things that mind-altering drugs do? 1) Cost a lot (money, time, blood) 2) Take time away from one's life work (and money away from one's wardrobe) 3) Provide experiences that often do not translate over to sobriety 4) Make what is an act of selfishness and cowardace appear to be mind-expanding and bold I do not mean to sound judgmental or judge what anyone here or anywhere has suffered. Rather, I am simply sharing what I have come to learn from my own experience.
post #11 of 20
Some drugs are predictable and some aren't. XTC, LSD and magic mushrooms are not predictable - they take balls. Amphetamines and pot are predictable [for most people]. Facing life clean is far more exciting. Drug highs are short lived. Try living on 16 oz of wheatgrass juice for 4 months - now that is a real HIGH.
post #12 of 20
Wheatgrass? Wow, what do you blend it with? Or do you blend it?
post #13 of 20
You should always blend wheatgrass juice with 30% distilled water. (This is so the cleansing elements are not too harsh on the kidneys, liver etc). lt dilutes the solution nicely. l prefer to mix 6oz wheatgrass juice with 4oz alfalfa sprout juice with 1oz fenugreek sprout juice, .5oz radish sprout juice. 2 lemons. 4 oranges. Enemas are the best and least painful way to deliver nutrients to the large intestine.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
my brother used a lot of pot, not any more than anybody else who was a teenager in the 70's, but that's a lot to me. I have an inlaw who was addicted to cocaine for more than a decade and lost almost everything do to that. but niether of them ended up dead or in jail. I myself have only used pot a dozen or so times, and most of that was in amsterdam. I have a (minor) friend who is a recovering addict. it really makes you wonder what keeps people from crossing that line. what makes it ok for some kids to smoke pot, and others end up stealing from their family or selling their bodies for drugs and ruin their lives completly
post #15 of 20
l prefer to mix 6oz wheatgrass juice with 4oz alfalfa sprout juice with 1oz fenugreek sprout juice, .5oz radish sprout juice. 2 lemons. 4 oranges. Enemas are the best and least painful way to deliver nutrients to the large intestine.
That almost made me vomit.
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