I understand that you didn’t choose this path.
I know you didn’t wake up one day and think, “Hey, a drug addiction sounds fun.”
I see that everyone is judging you and making you out to be a just another “junkie,” or a selfish person who chose drugs over your family.
You know it wasn’t a lifestyle choice – you ended up on the path because you are in some kind of pain.
Your parents are telling you to stop. You’ve lost the friends you used to have, and your current ones are in just as much pain as you are.
You’ve burned bridges, and you’ve lost hope. You’ve done things you never dreamed of. You’re ashamed, disappointed, disillusioned, and you feel trapped.
You can’t see the light at the end of this tunnel, and some days you’re wondering if it’s worth it.
If there is any way back to who you started as – if you can turn this thing around and get out from underneath this tremendous burden.
I also understand that you don’t know how. You can’t believe how it has gotten this bad, and you don’t know how to help yourself.
When you say you want to change, you mean it – but the withdrawal is so horrendous, you’d rather stay stuck.
You wished your parents understood. You try to talk to them, but their disappointment is so profound, you clam up and walk away.
You’ve gotten good at walking away – at getting angry and alienating those you love. It’s your defense mechanism. It makes them leave you alone.
I understand that you hate this situation even more than they do.
That you’d give anything to go back and start over – to relive that moment when you thought the drug would make things better and stop the pain.
Maybe you had no idea what you were taking. Someone gave it to you, or it was a prescription after a tooth extraction or a sports injury.
Maybe it made you feel euphoric or gave you a sense of calm and peace that you hadn’t known before, but you liked the escape it gave you from the physical pain and from the emotional pain you’re in.
But it didn’t last. You can’t quite find that first-time peace again, can you?
I understand that you might have a personality that is a bit addictive.
Or, you might be so down on yourself, you wonder how anyone could love you.
A dozen different reasons for the anguish that you are in – depression, anxiety, loneliness, an eating disorder, a dysfunctional family, relationship problems, no friends, no job. It doesn’t matter.
It all hits you right in the heart.
You are a lot more sensitive than most people give you credit for, and you are hurting. You might be acting hard and tough, but you and I know that you aren’t.
You’re still the kid that needs help out of a mess you’ve found yourself in; you just don’t know how to get it.
Your parents used to be able to fix the problem, but this one seems insurmountable.
But it doesn’t have to be.
So how are we going to help you?
How are you going to get back on track?
How can you beat this addiction and get your life back?
I wish I had an easy answer. It’s going to require you to be very brave. To let your walls down. To ask for help. To be honest and vulnerable.
To go all in.
This addiction, this euphoria that it once gave you – it’s gone. Now it’s just a ball and chain that you can’t rid yourself of.
It’s going to take work, it’s going to be ugly, you’re going to feel like junk, and you know it. Your body will ache, your mind will scream, you’ll think you’re going to die, but you CAN do it. It’s worth it.
You are worth it.
Did you hear me? YOU ARE WORTH IT. This isn’t what God planned for you. You’ve been sold a bill of goods — a dirty lie.
The drug may have started out looking like your friend, but you know it’s death. It’s alienation from everything good, and it’s not going to leave you alone until you’re dead.
I don’t want that for you. You’ve got so many people that love you. You were intricately knit together by the Lord to be unique. To fulfill a purpose. To be loved and give love.
To experience life on planet Earth, although it’s broken, and to live your eternity in Heaven with the One who loves you more than anything.
Don’t let go of hope. Don’t let go of that future. I know life can be hard. Believe me, I know, but this isn’t all there is.
Okay, right about now you’re probably asking who the heck I am and why should anyone listen to me? Am I an addict in recovery? A shrink? A counselor? A doctor? An expert?
No. I am not.
I’m John’s mom.
And John died of an overdose.
He was twenty-four years old, and he was amazing. He had his whole life ahead of him, and now he’s buried in a polished silver casket, in his military dress blues, in a tiny cemetery twelve miles from the house he grew up.
I wish I could let you into my heart for a few moments. Into my mind. If you could feel the pain of that loss, I think you’d go cold turkey and never look back.
If you had any idea how devastating losing you will be to your family, friends, and community, it would absolutely break your heart.
I would give anything to have him back. Missing him is worse than any pain I can imagine.
Much like your parents, we tried everything we knew how to do. But it wasn’t enough. We didn’t understand, and we were naive.
We believed him when he said he could beat it on his own.
We understood that he had to want to change and that it was overwhelming for him.
We understood how his injury caused him so much pain that he didn’t know if he could survive it.
His emotional trauma was high, as well. He suffered from severe depression and anxiety. He too knew how it felt to be looked at as less than.
But he wasn’t.
And you’re not either.
He was amazing, and so are you. Don’t believe the lie.
You aren’t the addiction.
It’s a problem, yes, but it is fixable. It doesn’t have to end you.
Your parents don’t have to visit you in the cemetery. Or spend every single moment of the rest of their lives wondering what else they could have done – how they could have helped you.
How they are missing you and living with regret, failure, and a broken heart.
Don’t let it win. It’s a monster.
Fight with everything you’ve got. Try the suboxone, take the shots, do the treatment, check into rehab, go to the groups, send your parents to Narc-Anon, Al-Anon – do everything.
Tell people. Ask for help. Get away from the people you are hanging around who keep sucking you in.
Do it now.
I promise you that there is a better life for you than the one you are currently living.
Please don’t waste it. Don’t let your parents wake up one morning to find you stiff and cold in your room.
Your life is precious, and so are you.