Pubdate: Tue, 08 Sep 2015
Source: Compass, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2015 The Compass
Author: Melissa Jenkins
Page: A1


Family Members of Addicts Tired of Being Blamed

Note: Personal details have been changed to protect the identities of 
the families involved.

Drug abuse affects many people, and not always as users.

Whether you find prescription pills in your son's backpack or a 
baggie of cocaine in your sister's pocket, you are going through 
something many others are also experiencing.

The hardest step for those who witness drug abuse in their family in 
the Trinity Conception region is walking through the front door of 
the U-Turn addictions centre in Carbonear for the first time to seek 
help, said Kerri, a relative of a drug addict.

Kerri and six others recently gathered for the weekly meeting of 
people with a family member addicted to drugs. It consists of 
parents, aunts and uncles, sisters, brothers, grandparents and 
children of drug addicts. Anyone with a family member addicted to 
drugs is invited to attend. It is completely anonymous.

The Compass was invited to sit in on a meeting to share the 
experiences of those in the group.

The members briefly say hello and welcome each other back before 
officially starting the meeting with a moment of silence. It is 
followed by the serenity prayer, the reading of the 12 steps and 12 
traditions of narcotics anonymous, and finally, the daily reading. It 
only takes a couple minutes, and the group begins opening up. On this 
night the group is small, and everyone around the table believes 
there should be many more locals attending. They say the issue 
leading to low attendance is the shame and embarrassment felt by 
those who have drug users in their family.

"I'd say about 95 per cent of people in this area that have addicts 
in their lives probably have had everything growing up," said Lydia, 
the mother of a drug-using daughter.

She continues by saying it's an expensive habit to get into, and not 
everyone can afford it. Those that can afford it are not 
stereotypical drug users - they're upper-middle class, functional 
working members of society, she explained.

Everyone at the table agreed.

Kerri opened the discussion talking about how it has been like to 
live in a family with someone addicted to drugs. She explained how 
many people blame the parents for the behaviour and for the drug use. 
She dismissed the idea entirely.

Colton and Mary are the parents of two children using drugs. One has 
been in trouble with the law in the past, but has recently begun 
detoxing. The other is actively in recovery. On this day Mary is 
emotional. She feels like there's a weight on her shoulders because 
she can't find one of her children the help they need. Colton tries 
to console her.

"You start questioning if you've done your job as a parent," he said. 
"I don't remember his life being that rough."

Colton explained how many of the memories with their children are 
happy ones, filled with camping trips and sports. He believes there's 
nothing they could have done differently when raising them.

Although she shed tears, Mary refused to believe she is responsible 
for the behaviour.

"They didn't come with instructions," she stated.

Lydia explained she gave her child everything. The youth was 
successful in high school and post secondary, but was offered 
Percocets from someone one day as an adult. That began the downward spiral.

"I know 300 or 400 addicts that come from the ' cream of the crop' 
here in Carbonear," she explained. "But people connected to them 
believe it has nothing to do with them. Well I tell you, one day 
it'll knock on their door."

Everyone in the room has their own story. Each one tried numerous 
times to get their loved ones help. Each one tried to educate them. 
And all those who are parents confirmed they warned their children 
about drugs when they were growing up. But none of that mattered. 
They all still began using.

"You know what it is?" Colton said. "Too much money and too much pressure."

It is obvious that each person's experience having a drug addict as a 
relative is different. Some are calm and relaxed, while others are 
frustrated and angry.

After the first 30 minutes, discussions delved more into personal 
experiences. The group began to open up.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom