‘We can’t save them’

Lo­cal Nar-Anon group shares strug­gles about ad­dicted rel­a­tives


Note: Names have been changed to pro­tect the iden­tity of the fam­i­lies in­volved.

Emo­tions ran high dur­ing a nar­cotics anony­mous meet­ing ear­lier this month at the U-Turn ad­dic­tions cen­tre in Car­bon­ear, where fam­ily mem­bers of drug ad­dicts meet weekly.

This was an es­pe­cially emo­tional meet­ing be­cause the group in­vited along a Com­pass re­porter to help share their strug­gles.

In an ar­ti­cle in last week’s Com­pass ti­tled “Drug abuse hits home,” those in at­ten­dance ex­plained how many in so­ci­ety blame the par­ents and fam­ily mem­bers for drug users’ ad­dic­tions.

Although they all have dif­fer­ent sto­ries, each paints the same pic­ture — the strug­gle with hav­ing a drug ad­dict as a fam­ily mem­ber is dif­fi­cult and stress­ful.

Ed­u­cat­ing their kids

Each per­son shar­ing their story was shocked to find out their fam­ily mem­ber was tak­ing illegal drugs. Most had ei­ther brought home brochures from the doc­tor’s of­fice as ed­u­ca­tional tools or dis­cussed the dan­gers of drugs with their chil­dren, sib­lings and oth­ers.

The ed­u­ca­tion was not enough, said Mary, the mother of two drug ad­dicts.

“We were al­ways open with our kids while they were grow­ing up,” she ex­plained. “They were ed­u­cated.”

The Cana­dian Cen­tre on Sub­stance Abuse says that 60 per cent of il­licit drug users are be­tween 15 and 24 years old. Most in the group have wit­nessed users be­tween these ages.

Ly­dia, whose daugh­ter is a drug ad­dict, said she al­ways gave her daugh­ter plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties in life and re­ceived an ed­u­ca­tion.

Both par­ents be­lieve the ad­dic­tions are not be­cause of how they were raised, but rather be­cause of the easy ac­cess they have to the drugs.

“We can’t save them,” Ly­dia said. Mary agreed.

Ac­cess­ing drugs

Many who ini­tially used drugs for recre­ational use be­gan to see them as a ne­ces­sity to get through the day. And the drugs can be easily ac­cessed in the re­gion.

“In our neigh­bour­hood, I can count five drug deal­ers,” Mary ex­plained.

With such easy ac­cess to opi­ates — the pri­mary drug of choice for the fam­ily mem­bers in­clud­ing Per­co­cet, Di­lau­did and Oxy­cotin — the habit turns into an ad­dic­tion. The ad­dic­tion turns into a de­pen­dency with se­ri­ous health com­pli­ca­tions, said Ly­dia.

“Noth­ing is go­ing to change un­less peo­ple re­al­ize that it’s not a so­cial is­sue, it’s a health is­sue,” she said.

Ad­dic­tion to drugs is costly. They’re pay­ing a lot of money to make them­selves sick, Mary said.

Ly­dia has stopped help­ing her daugh­ter out fi­nan­cially to help curb the ad­dic­tion. She is now in a methadone pro­gram, which Ly­dia said has not been ben­e­fi­cial. Her daugh­ter re­lapsed while in the pro­gram be­fore and is now on the same dosage she was on when she be­gan it years ago.

“How is that get­ting help if they’re still in the same place they were when they started the pro­gram,” she asked.

Un­for­tu­nately for Mary, not hav­ing ac­cess to money to feed the ad­dic­tion has led to some le­gal strug­gles for one of her chil­dren in the past. One of her chil­dren is re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing, while the other is detox­ing.

Buy­ing drugs

Jas­mine, whose son is cur­rently go­ing through a drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram, be­lieves the drugs aren’t just com­ing from drug deal­ers in the area ei­ther, even though she knows dozens in her town.

“It’s any­body and ev­ery­body the ad­dicts are ask­ing,” she ex­plained.

In fact, she was in­formed of a prac­tice where ad­dicts look­ing for a fix ap­proach strangers in phar­macy park­ing lots and of­fer cash in ex­change for pills.

Oth­ers, Mary added, get methadone at the phar­macy counter, drink it in front of the phar­ma­cist and ei­ther re­gur­gi­tate it in a cup to sell to oth­ers users when they leave the phar­macy or place a sponge in their mouths to ab­sorb it to sell.

Colton, Mary’s hus­band, said it is a con­stant prac­tice be­cause no one is look­ing for peo­ple selling their methadone or buy­ing a few pills off an el­derly or ill per­son com­ing out of a phar­macy.

“The cops are look­ing for a drug king­pin,” Colton said. “But they don’t ex­ist. It’s a bunch of lit­tle fish… Peo­ple buy­ing from those with pre­scrip­tions.”

Ev­ery­one at the meet­ing said they would like to see a heav­ier po­lice pres­ence at phar­ma­cies and known drug houses around the area.

“Po­lice need to be more in­volved, doc­tors need to be more reg­u­lated and schools need to con­tinue to ed­u­cate,” Jas­mine added. “It takes a com­mu­nity to raise these kids.”

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