‘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.
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.
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.”