Drug abuse hits home

Fam­ily mem­bers of ad­dicts tired of be­ing blamed

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY MELISSA JENK­INS

Note: Per­sonal de­tails have been changed to pro­tect the iden­ti­ties of the fam­i­lies in­volved.

Drug abuse af­fects many peo­ple, and not al­ways as users.

Whether you find pre­scrip­tion pills in your son’s back­pack or a bag­gie of co­caine in your sis­ter’s pocket, you are go­ing through some­thing many oth­ers are also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

The hard­est step for those who wit­ness drug abuse in their fam­ily in the Trin­ity Conception re­gion is walk­ing through the front door of the U-Turn ad­dic­tions cen­tre in Car­bon­ear for the first time to seek help, said Kerri, a rel­a­tive of a drug ad­dict.

Kerri and six oth­ers re­cently gath­ered for the weekly meet­ing of peo­ple with a fam­ily mem­ber ad­dicted to drugs. It con­sists of par­ents, aunts and un­cles, sis­ters, broth­ers, grand­par­ents and chil­dren of drug ad­dicts. Any­one with a fam­ily mem­ber ad­dicted to drugs is in­vited to at­tend. It is com­pletely anony­mous.

The Com­pass was in­vited to sit in on a meet­ing to share the ex­pe­ri­ences of those in the group.

The mem­bers briefly say hello and welcome each other back be­fore of­fi­cially start­ing the meet­ing with a mo­ment of si­lence. It is fol­lowed by the seren­ity prayer, the read­ing of the 12 steps and 12 tra­di­tions of nar­cotics anony­mous, and fi­nally, the daily read­ing. It only takes a cou­ple min­utes, and the group be­gins open­ing up.

On this night the group is small, and ev­ery­one around the ta­ble be­lieves there should be many more lo­cals at­tend­ing. They say the is­sue lead­ing to low at­ten­dance is the shame and em­bar­rass­ment felt by those who have drug users in their fam­ily.

“I’d say about 95 per cent of peo­ple in this area that have ad­dicts in their lives prob­a­bly have had ev­ery­thing grow­ing up,” said Ly­dia, the mother of a drug-us­ing daugh­ter.

She con­tin­ues by say­ing it’s an ex­pen­sive habit to get into, and not ev­ery­one can af­ford it. Those that can af­ford it are not stereo­typ­i­cal drug users — they’re up­per-mid­dle class, func­tional work­ing mem­bers of so­ci­ety, she ex­plained.

Ev­ery­one at the ta­ble agreed.

Kerri opened the dis­cus­sion talk­ing about how it has been like to live in a fam­ily with some­one ad­dicted to drugs. She ex­plained how many peo­ple blame the par­ents for the be­hav­iour and for the drug use. She dis­missed the idea en­tirely.

Colton and Mary are the par­ents of two chil­dren us­ing drugs. One has been in trou­ble with the law in the past, but has re­cently be­gun detox­ing. The other is ac­tively in re­cov­ery. On this day Mary is emo­tional. She feels like there’s a weight on her shoul­ders be­cause she can’t find one of her chil­dren the help they need. Colton tries to con­sole her.

“You start ques­tion­ing if you’ve done your job as a par­ent,” he said. “I don’t re­mem­ber his life be­ing that rough.”

Colton ex­plained how many of the mem­o­ries with their chil­dren are happy ones, filled with camp­ing trips and sports. He be­lieves there’s noth­ing they could have done dif­fer­ently when rais­ing them.

Although she shed tears, Mary re­fused to be­lieve she is re­spon­si­ble for the be­hav­iour.

“They didn’t come with in­struc­tions,” she stated.

Ly­dia ex­plained she gave her child ev­ery­thing. The youth was suc­cess­ful in high school and post sec­ondary, but was of­fered Per­co­cets from some­one one day as an adult. That be­gan the down­ward spi­ral.

“I know 300 or 400 ad­dicts that come from the ‘ cream of the crop’ here in Car­bon­ear,” she ex­plained. “But peo­ple con­nected to them be­lieve it has noth­ing to do with them. Well I tell you, one day it’ll knock on their door.”

Ev­ery­one in the room has their own story. Each one tried nu­mer­ous times to get their loved ones help. Each one tried to ed­u­cate them. And all those who are par­ents con­firmed they warned their chil­dren about drugs when they were grow­ing up. But none of that mat­tered. They all still be­gan us­ing.

“You know what it is?” Colton said. “Too much money and too much pres­sure.”

It is ob­vi­ous that each per­son’s ex­pe­ri­ence hav­ing a drug ad­dict as a rel­a­tive is dif­fer­ent. Some are calm and re­laxed, while oth­ers are frus­trated and an­gry.

Af­ter the first 30 min­utes, dis- cus­sions delved more into per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences. The group be­gan to open up.

PHOTO BY MELISSA JENK­INS/THE COM­PASS

The U-Turn ad­dic­tions cen­tre in Car­bon­ear hosts a Nar­cotics Anony­mous meet­ing ev­ery Wed­nes­day evening for those af­fected by the drug abuse of fam­ily mem­bers.

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