by Laraine Stumpf
Imagine that one day you are wearing your mom hat—running the kids to school and doing laundry like always. I usually check the pants pockets for any coins and other objects. The last time I did not check pockets I washed my son’s mobile phone. After that, I carefully went through my son’s pockets and discovered part of a joint in his camping clothes. No one was home so to whom could I show this joint? I certainly had questions. With a sense of resolve and willpower, I opened the phone book and started looking for an adolescent outpatient program, which was impossible! After combing through listings, I contacted Laurelwood, a 40-minute drive from my home, three times a week, only to determine that the facility lacked programs for a child. I would receive a call when a program was established that would be appropriate for my son.
After a month, my son attended his first session. Although not allowed to be present, I was a student at the time so I had had homework and studying to keep me busy. Still, everyone was telling me that I acted too hastily, that I jumped the gun. Be that as it may, this was my baby and I was not about to second guess or compromise my values with my youngest child.
The session was a complete social hour for my son, a way to meet other addicts and nothing else. The experience truly opened my eyes. As I finished school and completed my degree, I noticed a different group of kids visiting my home since I had more time available to be home. Soon I began to observe that some of my personal property was missing. Was I losing my mind? Meanwhile, I noted that my son’s grades were slipping and his appearance was changing. I approached him and expressed my concerns, but in reality he wanted money to buy drugs. I was not raising him alone but at times it felt like it when I had to stand between my husband and my son so no punches were exchanged. This was way out of control, my world was crashing down on me! With reluctance, I sent him to live with his father and the arrangement did not work. His father and I knew he was addicted to something, everything– except life. To think that my son may have thought I did not love him enough to bear his burdens breaks my heart to this very day! I tried to do what I thought was best for him, and it looked as if he just gave up on life.
My son’s pediatrician recommended Edwin Shah Rehabilitation in Akron and found him a counselor. But my son being my son could not produce a urine specimen. After the third attempt, the counselor admitted him to his first inpatient rehabilitation. Oh dear Lord, my heart was broken!
My son’s counselor suggested a facility in Cleveland for dual diagnosis. He would be away for a minimum of 45 days–absent for his 16th birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. At this point, nothing brought this mother to her knees, all I could do is cry! Knowing that my son would be gone and unable to speak to him for a 10-day blackout period as they called it was trying. His father and I learned that this place was not reputable, they were so few and far between especially for adolescents. After a few family sessions, we started hearing reports of abuse involving the patients and staff. I was working full time and I was absolutely torn! My heart told me what I had to do but it was very time consuming as I had a job that required more than 40 hours a week. The thoughts were unbearable—was my SON being abused? Were the other children being abused?
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