The Big 21

Well, she has been home for 4 days at this point. They haven’t been 4 bad days. They have been sort of like tightrope walking. In the wind. Over the Grand Canyon. Ok, maybe not that bad. And probably not even close to that bad. The truth is it has been pretty uneventful. But, in fairness, the first few weeks and even months after JoDee is released from any program she is usually in pretty good shape. The goal this time is there is no next time. One can hope for that, thought I am hopeful for that each time. The events leading up to her being home were a little stressful. Due to snow JoDee wasn’t able to call on Sunday. She was out of change for the pay phone and to call from their phone she needed to do it with her clinician whom did not make it in. I waited all day and called the facility Monday evening. The social worker I spoke too, a different one from the day we visited, told me JoDee was on schedule to leave on Tuesday and could not tell me when she might be home but snow or not, she was leaving. My anxiety level spiked knowing she would be free to her own devices however, it was out of my control. Control is a funny thing. Control by definition means many things but as a noun it is defined as the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events. Any parent that says they do not try to control their child out of addiction would be lying.


There is not enough control in the world- other than the willpower and high power of the addict themselves- that can prevent an addict from using. I put a lot of thought into my conversation with the social worker and JoDee at the Family Support Session last week. Even if I don’t like her delivery, her message was somewhat accurate. There are many, many types of enabling. I may not enable her to be an addict, exactly, but I give her reasons to run and she doesn’t have to work at her recovery because I do it for her. It’s time I let her grow up a little bit, so I am going to really let her handle her own affairs. Let me tell you how this went.


She called me when she got home, I had dropped her cell phone and her clean clothes off at her sober house so they would be there when she got there. She seemed ok. She was anxious, had a lot of things to do before starting her IOP. The snow has made it impossible on her street-parking-only house to have her car, so she had to figure out the bus schedule. She had a new roommate, she needed to meet with her house manager, and she needed some groceries and toiletries. She kept going back and forth about whether I should pick her up, whether she would go to a meeting, in honesty, she was stressing me out. I simply told her that I had work to do, figure out her plan and let me know if she needed me to pick her up, I would be willing to reserve some time for her. A couple hours later, she called me to ask me to pick her up to take her to get some groceries. I know there is a fine line between enabling and helping. If JoDee is working toward clean time I will be willing to help. I heard what that weirdo-smile social worker said about JoDee taking responsibility. JoDee handed me all of her discharge paperwork when she got in the car. I handed back to her stating she should review it and let me know what she needs help with. She sort of panicked a little saying she couldn’t pay for her prescriptions. I said give those to me but you need to handle the rest of them. I was convinced that she wouldn’t go to the IOP, but she did. So far she has managed to do all the things she was supposed to do. So far.

However, should I ever need a reminder of how quickly she can go from great to rock bottom, I will always have one. When we pulled up at WATC for our Family Support Session, I got a work phone call. I need to write something down so AC was digging around in my glove box. He sat back suddenly, with sort of a stunned look on his face. Yup, you guessed it. A needle cap and syringe. Not together. Who knows how long they have been there. She hasn’t driven my car in so long, it had to be a long time, but it doesn’t matter. It could have been two weeks ago. Two years ago. It is still a reminder that it happened. In my house. In my car. In my life. To my daughter. Totally sucks.

In other news, I have noticed more and more attention being brought to addiction, the whole point of this blog. On Facebook I have seen many posts about the number of over doses since the start of the year. Sadly, I have seen a few obituaries which means another young person lost their life, but the families did a very brave thing by pointing out the real reason the person died, and not just “died suddenly”. And lastly, I saw this ( great article in the Metro section of Boston Globe. Recently this particular writer had written a few articles about the homes I recently took over, so I sort of follow her blog to see what comes next. I am so happy to see someone point addiction as a societal problem for all of us to fix, and commend someone for fighting their way back to life, instead of pointing fingers and judging. Addiction is such a wide spread problem. Problem? No. War. It’s a war. Some win the battle, some lose but it is definitely a war. There is a recovery high here on the North Shore. And it has had a lot of success. I wish there was more of that sort of thing. Like a Recovery University that addicts out of high school but not old enough to be in real world can go. I can’t see JoDee going to a college like a normal college student now. Not because she can’t succeed, but because she is not a normal college student. She has gotten high, partied like a rock star, and like a rock star, gone to rehab, relapsed, rehab, relapsed, etc. That is not a normal path for a college student. Well, actually, in 2015 maybe it is. And that is another reason we should have something “else”. Some program, some path, some THING that can help our addicts find a future.

JoDee is lucky. Even I know that. Not only has she lived, despite the odds. But she has us. A big dysfunctional, screamy, nutty family that supports her and fights for her when she isn’t able to fight for herself but there are many, many people that don’t have that. And a lot of the time, people don’t have that because of their actions while using. Something that happens to many. A lot of that, to me is sort of the chicken before the egg. Are they an addict because of mental disease or did using making them wacko? Who knows, all I know is that I know now, after everything I have been through, that if JoDee were to use again, I would cut her off again. I would march into court to have her sectioned again if I had too and I would certainly distance her from the rest of us, if I had no choice. So, I certainly understand why a parent or loved one gets to that position. But if the addict decides to better their life, there should be an alternative path for them. Because, they will be anything but normal.




8 thoughts on “The Big 21

  1. Jill says:

    Oh my gosh! I love this concept–offering an alternative to these kids during the early years, but something different than the alternative school format! I’ve gotten sick of hearing people tell me the past few years to just wait until the law takes care of my girls for me. While I admit, there are times where I’ve hoped they did get in trouble with the law as a way to make them stop using (even if it’s a brief time).

    I like your idea, too. I work at a university and I can see where it could be overwhelming for someone who struggled with addiction. With my youngest, she has a lot of anxiety and I know at times she used that anxious feeling as her cue to use. I enjoyed the article and I’m right there with ya–the more attention that can be brought to this subject, the better. Small steps may lead to big changes at some point.

    I am glad that JoDee is doing well for the time being. I don’t remember reading in your blogs if she’s lashed out at you for what you did, so I hope there’s a part of her that is appreciative. Even if it does mean she has to be a big girl and deal with her own groceries, appointments, etc…she’s alive to do those things and that’s what counts! Good job, mom!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually JoDee did not lash out at me. She has thanked me several times (again, very lucky!) saying she absolutely needed it. She never would have survived if something drastic didn’t happen. I, too, have hoped that JoDee get in trouble to get help but that is punishment versus recovery. There should be a way to get help without picking up a charge. At the time being, it is really the only way.


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