Warning Signs of Drug Abuse

When do you know when a loved one is suffering from an addiction? Is it when you notice their growing distance? After too many of their lies have caught up with them? Or perhaps, it is the more subtle moments, when their actions border on the fringe of normalcy and intuition jumps in to warn us that something’s off? For my family the signs were vividly present yet camouflaged with aspects of what appeared to be just teenage behaviors. Looking back I realized, with great anguish, how my stepdaughter Katherine’s disease of addiction manifested right before our very eyes as early as high school. But it wasn’t until college that we finally knew she was using. We thought she was just going through a phase of self-discovery and testing authority with standard acts of rebellion. Little did we know she was experimenting with hard drugs and slipping away further. Before long, drugs had destroyed her sense of family, self-respect and zest for life. Meth had devoured everything she and our family held dear. Our beloved little daughter turned her back on us, shut us out and anchored in a place of loneliness; hopelessness and absolute devastation…and it took everything in our power to get her back.

Katherine’s story is not just ours. Too many families continue to witness the devastating effects of addiction. So as a parent who has witnessed it all and come out the other side with a healthy loved one in full recovery, I would like to share Katherine’s story with you. Over the next several weeks, I will be blogging about her journey from dissent to recovery.

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    karina johnson

    January 28, 2013 at 5:10 AM

    I am at my wits end.I am newly wed,my stepson is using and selling drugs,because my husband is at work 24/7 he is hardly home so i am home most days.I spoke to my husband we confront the kids but he deny it.He says i am lying on him many days i can smell the pot on him.I am concern because it is putting a strain on me cause his other sibling feels i am tattling on him even though they knows he is using.I too have a young 15 year old son but is afraid that if i bring him to live with us he will influence him into usin they will be goin to the same high school so my son is with my mom.I misses my kids but think its best not to bring them into this environment.Can someone tell me if i am doing the correct thing and how do i help my stepson to get out of this phase that he is in.

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    July 17, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    I ran into this thread searching for signs of abuse of klonopin.

    First of all let me say to all of you something my grandmother said “Where there is still life there is hope”. Don’t give up!

    I come from a family of addicition. My father, my brothers and me. My father left when I was three for the bottle. I never even received birthday cards from him, it was as if he fell off the face of the earth. That was 1962. My mom was left with five children to care for and he paid not a dime in support. Poverty. Mom did what she could just to put food on the table. We moved nearly every year so never had roots anywhere. When I was 12 I started smoking ciggs and then pot. I had new friends that accepted me and were dysfunctional as well. We started doing LSD when I was only 13 and I had a BAD TRIP and went crazy, going door to door on my street scaring the residents. The cops were called and I was arrested and taken to the hospital.
    Fast forward, don’t ever believe one drug doesn;t lead to another! They were all fair game and interesting when they became available. By the time I was 19 I was addicited to methamphetamine and would do heroin to finally calm down and go to sleep after being up as many as 10 days in a row without sleep. It was a dangerous life, people I was hanging with were dangerous, carrying guns, living in paranoia of each other and the police.
    10 year sentence in prison is what I ended up with and it was the best thing for me. I was first sentenced to a drug rehab, inpatient and was there for 11 months doing well when one of the counselors switched her urine sample with mine. Hers was hot for barbituates and I was thrown out. I then had to finish my sentence in a state correctional facility. No one believed me and can you blame them?
    I was bitter but it was for the best again. It really drove home the point I dont belong there or doing what I was doing. I was too smart but I was lost and needed to find MYSELF. I did. I was released at age 23 and never looked back though through the years alcohol played a part in my life. I fooled myself into thinking it was “acceptable” since it was legal and socially expected. Worse, from my intravenous days I contracted hepatitis C which I have not been able to cure despite several attempts, the latest this year and I was SOOOO SICK from the meds I thought I would die. Here I am age 53 still PAYING for my mistakes 35+ years ago. Hep C is a killer. Ive been lucky it hasnt destroyed my liver yet but I have seen people that it has and its not pretty.
    I have been successful in life despite dropping out of school and my history of abuse. I AM AN EXCEPTION and Ive told my own kids that. I was motivated to succeed. I made a 6 figure salary. Owned my own businesses. Worked for major global companies. Owned 6 homes in my life. Seems to be success right? Well despite that surface stuff the addictive personality is always a challenge. I have suffered for years from chronic back pain. Debilitating pain. More than 5 years ago my docotr finally told me we cannot cure it only treat the symptoms. Heres a script for oxycontin. Wow. Nothing like giving a gun to someone who can be suicidal. So for 5 years Ive been on it, I cant say Ive abused it but taking it everyday has developed a physical addicition. IF I dont take it I get sick. Im stuck for now and I hate it.
    But the point that brough me here is my son not me however I wanted to share with you my story.
    He is 23 and suffering from manic depression. Last year his girlfriend gave brith to a beautiful baby, my granddaughter I call “pumpklin” 🙂 I love her so much. They lived with us since before the birth though we did not want his GF here, she is lazy! Both my wife and I work hard to have a nice life and we fouhd ourselves with two dysfunctional parents and people living in our home. My son was working but lost his job due to an “accident” at work. Now we had two non working people here, the baby, and we find them completely unmotivated to get work. The GF thinks all she has to do is take care of the baby. My son was sleeping until 10 or 11 in the am despite my pleas to get out and find another job. We started having clashes and I was on the meds for the Hep C and so sick I couldnt handle the stress. I thought I was going to die, literally. Then came the In My Face confrontations where he was out of control, his pupils were LARGE and he was screaming at me and accusing my of being a control freak in my own home. He was over the top andI threatened to call the police. I felt threatened, physically and emotinally and feared for my wifes safety from my own son! Then theres the baby. Needing love, comfort, a place to lay her head that is safe and warm. What an emotinal struggle I had. I knew I couldn’t get custody and I knew if I asked them to leave it meant the baby had to go too. I was depressed. Anxious. Sick. I hated my son and his GF for what they were and that they were taking advantage of us knowing how we felt about the baby. They were USING US. One time he told me he was going out to find work and left the house at 8 am. Sounds good right? But my intuiton said it was a lie. At 11 we went by his friends house in a trailer park and saw his car there. I called him up and told him dont come home, I was done with this BS. The Sh*t hit the fan. His GF crying uncontrollably at the house. I told her she and the baby can stay but he is not coming home until he finds work. I releneted the foloowing day and he returned. 🙁 The day after that it was 9:30 am, I open their bedroom door to find them sound asleep, the baby crying in the next room. I flipped and yelled out GET THE F*K out of bed and find a JOB!!!! and left the room.
    He came out and got in my face again looking all wild eyed and dangerous. I warned him again to get out of my face and I pulled the phone out to dial 911. He backed down then but this episode turned into an acute manic one, and for the next week he was like a different person but I knew something else was wrong. It wasnt drugs – yet. He was rambling on and on about life and how he “gets it now” and what a great dad I am and what an idiot he is and he is going to change RIGHT NOW. And for the next few days he was getting up at 5am putting on a tie and going out looking for work but this non stop talking just kept going. He was approaching strangers and talking philosophically about life and death. I was very worried. Then he calls me one day while out looking….we had told them that we had set aside a few bucks to help them get an apartment WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT. He asked me for the money so HE could manage it. I refused. He went ballistic and hung up on me and an hour later was home and in my face again. I dont know how I did not die during this. The Hep treatment was devastating me and here I am dealing with some psychosis with my kid. I told him flat out, if he didnt go to a doctor the next day and get checked out I was putting his clothes out on the steps and he was out of here permanently.
    HE saw I was serious and agreed. I called our docotor to clue them in on his behavior. HE went the next day and was diagnosed as have an acute manic epsiode and they put him on lithum. That slowed him right down and he spent the next couple days in bed. At least we had a reprieve……
    Two weeks later he asked me to watch the baby that he and his GF had a counseling appt. I agreed. Appt was at 1PM. At 3 PM my back had given out and I couldnt lift the baby. I was in agaony despite the oxycontin. I texted him I needed them home asap. After all it was 2 hours after the appt. My wife was at work but knew about what was going on. At 5:30 she comes home to find me feeding the baby dinner and my son and GF no where in sight. At 6:30 they came home all excited…. “Look at our new tatoos!” And there they were, new tatoos down both thier arms. That was THE final straw for me. I didnt say a word, I just got up and walked away.
    I laid down thinking about this and realized right then and there that this was never going to change as long as they had the luxury they were in now. They didnt worry about the bills for the house etc, we did. They had nothing to DRIVE them to do the right thing and fighting with them over it wasnt going to change anything. I told my wife we had only two choices. Accept this as it is OR we tell them they are leaving, we stake them to an apartment, pay the security needed and two months rent and tell them in two months you will have people to pay who wont accept that you dont have it. Simply put, pay the rent and other bills or lose what they represent. We agreed on this strategy.

    It is HARD to do the RIGHT think and to show TOUGH LOVE but this is what we and YOU needed to do. This came at a cost of losing the baby being with us every day and maybe being withheld from us out of anger. My heart was breaking BUT I knew it was THE ONLY WAY and for the parents sake they NEEDED THIS to grow up. For the babys sake she NEEDED her parents to grow up and take responsibility.

    We told them the next day. This is what it is and they agreed. I told them they had no idea how that looked coming home with tatoos after leaving me here, already so sick to watch the baby and then not coming home when I was unable to continue. I drew the line.

    Two days later we found them an inexpensive apt. 495 a month for two bedrooms. THEY signed the lease, we would NOT put our name on ANYTHING. Two weeks later we moved them in after painting the babys room and makig it real nice for her which we paid for. When the GF asked for mney to do their own room and buy curtains, we said no. Our concern is the baby. When you get working and have money get your own.

    So theyve been there now for a few months. My son found work but at 8.00 an hour. Nothing else was around. They struggle but they did pay the first month they were resonsible. He needed security money for electric. I told him sell some of his possessions. Not my responsibility. He did, at the last minute. I held my ground.

    My son has been continuing with a pychiatrist for his depression and anxiety. This is where the story gets a twist. He is working his GF is not. She WONT work. She WONT clean the house. She does nothing but hang with the baby all day as if its impossible to do anything else. I keep telling her my mom did this with FIVE kids. She CAN work when he comes home, they CAN work together as partners and coordinate responsibilities and both of them bring in money. She has some defiance disorder. No one can tell her anything to do, she does the opposite. So Ive given up.
    My son is shoudlering the financial weight, he is ticked she wont help. He doesnt know how to deal with all this responsibility that is NORMAL and billions of people have done before, despite advice I offer, he doesnt listen but now its up to them.
    Meanwhile my concern now is he is OVER medicated OR abusing the Klonopin the doctor gave him. He is SLOW, his speech is SLOW and slurred. I told him this more than once I can see it I can hear it and I am concerned. He is driving around ( his GF refuses to get her license ) with the baby in the car and his refelxes are slow. I am very concerned.

    So while the tough love route was THE only way to go it is not the end as I see. I suspect that at this rate we will end up with the child to care for. I HOPE they both wake up before then. I begged my son to go to another doctor for another opinion. I told him I was concerned about him from what I see and I dont want him to die. His daughter needs him. He did finally agree though I do believe he is over medicating himself with the Klonopin, he is way too doped up to not be. I hope the doctors see it and take it away.

    So for all of you that are struggling with loved ones with addictions, dont give up hope but dont be a patsy either. TOUGH LOVE is the only way to go or you will ENABLE them to continue in the path of destruction. They may choose it anyway but it wont be your doing. Stay the course. Be strong. Keep hope and PRAY for help and strength to do the right thing. This is coming to you from someone who has been on BOTH side of the fence, an addict and a father who loves his kids who refuse to do right and find an escape in drugs because they dont know how to deal with life.

    My oldest brother died a few years back. He was lost for many years. heroin, alcohol…..he stepped off a curb and was hit by a car and lost most of the use of his arm which gave him more reason to drink and drug. Finally the alcohol wore his esophogus so thin that a simple cold with a cough caused it to rupture and he bled to death in his bed.

    It doesnt have to be. Intervene. Practice tough love. Read about co-dependency and break free. I wish you all the best. I know the heartaches you suffer.

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    August 19, 2009 at 12:50 AM

    I am going through something similar, but not with my children, with my husband…he recently got laid off at the end of may. then in july started leaving at night for a few hours. then it became till the early morning…now hes never home. only sometimes comes to shower. but he has been telling me that there is this thing that hes doing thats going to make us money.” it wont be forever” he says…i believed him untill he said he didnt want to be with me anymore, then he wants to, then he doesnt….i recently discovered that hes selling.. i know hes using also because the “friends” that hes hanging around were his brothers friends and now his brother is in prison….i have 2 lil boys under3 and a half and im 8 months pregnant. he avoids our kids, he never comes home to see them at all..we are soon to be homeless. we have no where to go. i am not working and i dont have any money. he has given up on everything except these people. he says he cant live this double life, but i feel we were here first why choose them over us?…..i have hope for him, but he is so stubborn and narrow minded that he will not listen to anyone because he thinks he isnt doing anything wrong..and why doesnt anyone believe him…i need some advice on what to do because i want to be here for him, but if i leave i dont want him to think i have abandoned him…i love him too much to turn my back on him….Help!!!

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