ADDICTION: Heroin and Pills, A Family Affair

warning the following program contains content and language that may be inappropriate for younger viewers there are graphic depictions and portrayals of addiction that will be shown parental discretion is advised hello i'm steve kendall your host for wbgu-tv the newest documentary addiction heroin and pills a family affair as part of our ongoing efforts to tackle opiate and heroin addiction we chose to take an in-depth look at how addiction affects the family structure in this program we'll sit down and talk with six family members as they share with us their daily struggles in dealing with other family members that are addicted for some time now opiates and heroin addiction have been the lion's share of overdose deaths in Ohio and across the nation the state of Ohio alone is losing six lives a day to this epidemic and it's up to us to help inform and educate our viewers on this dark subject I now present to you addiction heroin and pills a family affair from that first visitation seeing your son in the orange jumpsuit with the handcuffs and the shackles and he says mom I need suboxone because I'm addicted to opana and first my initial was addicted what do you mean addicted how can you be addicted to anything what is opana what is suboxone how do you know about this and that really was my eye opener to the road of addiction my daughter has been I guess she's been kind of self-medicating and she called it for years and we didn't really pick up on that right away me as a parent and finding your child has an addiction for one you don't believe it okay so I spent at least a year and a half of my head in the sand denying and denying and and my wife is kind of catching on but still we'd never never anticipated that and in fact I mean it was just so beyond my comprehension I was at work one day and my cell phone rang and I answered it and it was the school officer at his high school letting me know that I needed to come pick him up because they just caught him with two used syringes that he was shooting up at school between classes and I was shocked I thought who is this you're not even did you call the right number who I don't know who you're trying to reach just I was completely floored I had no clue none he was an honor roll kid he played three sports he was every parent's dream kid I am the mom to three the stepmom to three and the surrogate mom to one so we have seven children and a blended family I have five children that have dealt with addiction issues I sometimes tell myself that I must be a failure as a mom I have actually had people look at me in the eye and say did you ever wonder what you did wrong and it's pretty much a stab to the heart when somebody says that to you because it's not something that you didn't already ask yourself as a parent when something like that happens yet you do think you failed I just couldn't get through to my son and how it was affecting us I even told him I said son you're gonna end up either in jail permanently or we're gonna get a phone call and I'm gonna have to come to the morgue and I don't want to do that I don't I don't want to come see you there you know you think you've done everything right you know you tell your kids that's me not getting to apparently no matter what you do no matter where you come from you know and that's the problem we have right now everywhere not just me is not you it's just everybody in the film has the opportunity to fail and get into that just a disbelief that this is my kid my kids taking drugs middle-class America both of my children did did well in school and up until we divorced and he started I guess the cliche is hanging with the different crowd of people and from that he was introduced to these pill parties and from that progressively went to heroin IVs pill parties you know that's the big thing that they're doing what scares me the most is we're losing a whole generation the whole younger you know in the 20s we're losing that whole generation to the heroin epidemic and what about the next generation their children you know what's going to happen to the children that are being raised by somebody else and not their parents the addict is now the common middle class suburban kid and there's no no discrimination with with the drugs none whatsoever and I had a hard time with this I had a hard time with it for a long long time until I learned more about who exactly is using who's not using where it can be found how it can be found and the big question was why as far as his addiction some of it was my fault when I had the idea of it I I should have had her gotten rid of painkillers and stuff that I had had because of previous surgeries and stuff but I didn't I left them left I'm writing to help because I trusted him there was times when you know dad I got a problem while help me help me so you help them so you go along things are good things are good so you reward this and this was part of the process we learned when we went to counseling and he then they fall back in and I believe they become very good liars as far as you know telling you what you want to hear it is such a struggle when you find out that your child is an addict when you don't know anything about addiction you don't know anything about opiates and the problem that's going on in the United States and of course this is all looking back on it because after I've realized what I was doing I corrected my behavior but he would steal five dollars from my husband I would give my husband five dollars back he would steal $200 that was you know designated for a deposit to make the mortgage payment and I would pay that $200 back I wanted to fix it you know and since then I've learned that we didn't the three C's we didn't cause that we can't control it and we can't cure it labeling is a chemistry topic because you do it without realizing it you do it because you want to help I had surgery I tore my Achilles tendon so I had surgery on that so they gave me some percocet so I took some percocet you know but I broke out in it you know so I didn't take it and they gave me something else so so she complained on she's got a migraine or dad can I have one of those sure you know hey great that I can help you honey you know get rid of this nasty headache you know never realizing that I'm feeding an addiction there's a lot of regret you have looking backwards on some of the things have done as a parent to you know to able not knowing it you know but I don't know I mean it just we just supplied her too many things for too long a time I never really understood enabling when people would talk about you know other people who had children with addiction or spouses or or whatever like I never understood the whole enabling thing I always knew you can't give him money if I would have given him 40 bucks when he wanted it and then he shot up with that forty bucks and then he died I would have never been able to live with myself the fear that I had was that my younger two were going to get caught up in the tornado and the storm that was happening with him if you can imagine that your house is on fire and you're standing out at the curb and my oldest is in the house upstairs in the window screaming mom come help me and out with the curb with my younger two and they're crying and I'm crying and I know I can just run in and get him I can run in and bust the door open and save him and pull him out but if I do that my younger two are gonna go in with me and then they're gonna get they're gonna get stuck in the fire and I'm not going to be able to save all three of them so it was like I had to choose to stay out with the curb with my little ones and watch him go down in the fire because I couldn't save all three of them and it was the hardest probably the second hardest thing I ever had to do with him was when he turned 18 I put him out I put all of his clothes in his car and that's when we had to leave looking back on my youngest child I believed that I was her number one enabler I didn't realize that giving her a free place to live you know letting her and her side move in to my home and I took care of him and bought him things you know all I was doing was freeing up her money in her time so she could go out and party when she would call me up saying mom I'm hungry or you know mom I can't pay this bill I would just seemed like there I was you know going over there again handing her money for food or taking her to get food the hardest thing I ever had to do was let her go live in a homeless shelter you know after after we took her child away from her I had to just let go of her you know and let her go be homeless so that she could hit her bottom my other sons credit card came up missing and there was $500 missing out of his account we all knew where it went and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do I called his probation officer and said he's at this address I let everybody in the house know that the police are coming he was arrested so I can I actually can say that I had my son arrested and it's heartbreaking it really is but you know it you come to that point where you have to just you have to let go for your own sanity you have to let go and you have to live your life and it addiction is messing with your life to that point you have to get rid of the addiction and unfortunately your your child is attached to it we don't get together a lot of times like we like I'd like to do addiction you know in the family and the things that causes you know resentment my son resents his sister he resents his parents because we have enabled his sister to continue unknowingly contributed her drug usage and we tried to help her out whenever we can thinking we're not an you know you don't think you're an enabler then till you go to go through this and you find out geez we did everything again I had helped her along my son had stole from my sister had stole from my niece had stole from my great-niece and they were mad and they were upset but I had told them so that's the addiction that's the heroin that's not my boy that's not your cousin that's not your nephew it's not your grandson that is the drug there's always this big quiet elephant in the room purses are suspicious suspiciously absent at family get-togethers everybody looks at each other if somebody spends too much time in the bathroom or falls asleep on the recliner it's unfortunately the new normal when I was raising these kids I had you know a lock on my bedroom door and I slept with my purse underneath my pillow in bed and you know it's just crazy that you know your family can't even come over to visit and they're lacking their personal belongings in their car in the driveway it affected us terrible I mean it put her in I at odds my ex-wife we we were at odds over stuff because I had my way of believing things should be done she had her way of believing things done and then we were getting told something totally different I would say that my relationships with my siblings through our adult life have been pretty much non-existent they always looked at me as kind of a goody two-shoes or that I was they called me a conformist I really struggle with anger towards my sister primarily I have custody of her son he he will be five in March and I've had him for almost two years and I think that my anger towards her is the fact that I can't imagine being a mother and not and choosing something over your child I worry every single day that I'm gonna get a phone call and have to explain to her son that he doesn't have a mom anymore that's probably my biggest struggle when he was using he wasn't allowed to live at home and then when I would catch him using then he would have to go and I would have to put him out my youngest son in him were so close that was his buddy and he just always looked up to him and they were always they were always really close and every time he'd get caught and he'd leave then my youngest son would just again he would be devastated again there would be tears again and every time you know every time it would get caught and I put him out would be the same the same feelings all over again you know here we go again the whole rollercoaster I think my siblings feel like they're going through this alone and I don't think that they realize that it impacts everybody in their family and even their friends that are watching it from afar and so although I've kind of withdrawn myself from their situation so that I can deal with my own side of it my own emotions my own children my own life my you know that I feel like sometimes they think like I've abandoned them but it's almost like a protection like like I'm just guarding myself because I don't know what is around the next corner because I don't know anything about drug addiction other than what I've learned over the years there's so many of those addicted in my family that I'm always afraid when they go outside that they're trading drugs I know that the ones that are sober sitting in the house rolling their eyes when they see them all trail outside together there's a there's a lot of resentment in in the family there the trust is just not there anymore I can't even trust that they're not high when they're there the sense of relief that I felt when he was in jail versus not knowing where he was at was so large it's kind of hard for a mom or dad to say that I am glad that my kids in jail because I know he's not dead that is it's horrible to hear that if I didn't hear from a long period of time and I'd get that phone call and inmate would come up on my phone I knew he got arrested again the financial impact about addiction with addiction on a family can be astronomical a lot of times the first rehab doesn't work and rehabs are very very expensive in the thousands and thousands of dollars I've heard of people getting bills for ten thousand dollars from a rehab just for drug testing because they do get drug tested in sober living as well on pretty much a daily basis I know a handful of moms personally who are raising their own grandchildren now now they're having to be parents again at you know 50 55 years old and they're they freeze their kids they've done their job but now because their kids are addicted to opiates it's either take their grandkids themselves or let them get taken into CSP and then going to foster care and then who knows what will happen to them as grandparents will become the parents and industry enough is it's good and bad but it's okay it's fun I mean you know I mean if you can start out with a grandkids that story is true that would be the best thing to do you know if you bypass the kids have grandkids that would be fantastic because they're fun you enjoy them in my case though she lives here so I can't say goodbye I'm 42 years old I can't imagine if I had to start all over with daycare again you know because I was paying for my child's child you know because they're struggling with addiction I'm gonna retire in two years who would have thought that you know it's possible that I could end up raising my grandkids I thought that I would be you know putting my toes in the sand at this point in my life not packing lunch for a four-year-old it's every mother's every parent's nightmare it's stole my son my firstborn it took him and there was nothing I could do about it I was completely helpless and no matter how hard I tried and what I tried to do I couldn't get him back and he went from this sweet helpful polite respectable amazing young man and traded him out for this other person and he was disrespectful and mean and hateful and sneaky and deviant I couldn't trust him anymore and that was a horrible feeling to feel like every word that comes out of your own child's mouth is a lie is just as a mom it's just you feel like a failure as a mother like how could I raise a person who who would act this way and do these things so long it's been swept under the rug and if we continue to just say you know we don't want people to know what our problems are in our house and we're going to keep the doors closed and not let people know that it happens to everyone that people are going to suffer alone and they're not going to know that you know it happens anywhere it's not it does not if you know it just as every single person has to do with it does not discriminate we have two problems to resolve the first problem is the folks that are already in active addiction and you know figuring out the way that we deal with that in our community and in the u.s. in general but also the children that you know are getting either raised by their family or have drug addiction and their family just having programs that are reasonably priced that are local that people don't have to go away I think a lot of people are afraid to leave their community to get help sometimes it's good because I think like they need to have a program where they're far away from their suppliers and from the people that kind of influence them to make bad decisions but I think that there's not enough programs that are available or not enough resources for people to go to for your family that can't happen to me okay I'll tell you what you better start thinking a little differently because it can happen to you and I mean in our case I was basically it was pain medication trying to take care of pain mishit pain tissue but she also had anxiety and depression issue get involved early and quickly okay so you can understand them because that's gonna be one of the most important things you can do to help your your child education is where this country needs to go we also need to get funding for rehabilitation because there's so many addicts that want help in our on a waiting list we need beds we need rehabilitation we need funding we need donations we need sponsors we need people to wake up and smell the coffee until people really are educated and really understand what addiction is and why why it affects people the way it does they'll never really accept that it's a disease and if they don't really accept that it's a disease then they will still think of the choice and if they still think it's a choice they will still think it's a moral shortcoming and then they will still say well you're doing this to yourself you could just quit but let me tell you it's not spring break there's no wet t-shirt contest there's not keggers going on there not partying it up fun they're not choosing it they're not choosing to live in alleys or in abandoned buildings or to be homeless and estranged from their families no one chooses that we also have to hold the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies you know responsible you know to be a little more mindful of how much they're prescribing to people and the statistics show that there's a 99 percent relapse rate for heroin abuse and that is just staggering to think that only 1% are never going to relapse if these people don't get the education and the help to you know learn the steps that they need to follow to keep from being one of those 99% then you know they're going to die education is going to have to start where the kids are most sponge-like where they absorb the knowledge and that's young that's the little ones you have to tell them drug use is death in any shape it's gonna be death heroin use is death it is the enemy the enemy comes to kill steal and destroy and that's what heroin is and if there was a formula for this is what you have to do to get your child free from addiction we would do it we would all do it we would have done it the day we found out about it if it were that simple it's not that easy and it's not that easy because it's a disease of the brain if your child is still actively using an active addiction and it's still those heart-wrenching daily you know just terrorizing moments the the one thing that I would say to those parents is just don't give up don't lose hope they're in there your child's in there and even though you shouldn't give him 40 bucks and you shouldn't let him use your car and you shouldn't probably let him sleep at your house it doesn't mean that you can't love them and it doesn't mean that you can't be their biggest cheerleader because you can I'd like to thank all of the people who participated in this program without their stories of struggle and sacrifice there would be no story it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there for the entire world to see but this is what it is going to take in order to turn the tide in this epidemic communication and education must be at the core of our prevention efforts if we ever want to change the course of addiction to prescription opiates and heroin don't wait until it's too late seek help now and get the support you need for wbgu-tv I'm Steve Kendall we'll see you next time if you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction please call one of the numbers on your screen recovery is only one call away you can also log on to the state of Ohio's start talking website to get more information and assistance you

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