Saturday, 22 November 2014

Your kids and hard drugs - when to step away

It's been a rough week. A VERY rough week. Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the balance I try to strike between the personal and larger picture. When I first started out, that was partly because I didn't know how members of my family would handle me writing, essentially, about us, so using articles I found in mainstream media that triggered memories of how similar issues had been experienced and handled in my own life seemed like a relatively safe way to travel, maintain an element of anonymity, and preserve the privacy of my immediate family members. It helps that many of said family members aren't online a lot, and would tend not to go looking for something like a blog. No.2 did find this one - because he was following my other blog - - and he then kept quiet about finding it for quite some time before owning up and letting me know he thought it was pretty good!

It's No.2 who brings me back to posting because I'm struggling to deal with the latest thing in his life. I wasn't expecting it, so it's been a huge shock, and by coincidence, the Sun Herald published a two page spread today on the topic that gave me some very to the point information that both made some sense of what I'd experienced with him last week, and highlighted what a different position I'm in compared to the parents of the kids in the article. You can read the full article HERE.

No.2 has had a difficult year. Things were, seemingly, beautifully on track for him. He had a good job, an apartment, a slowly steadying social life, and he was in regular contact with me. He lives interstate, so I don't see him all that often, but we'd chat on Facebook, text and call each other, and I'd try and get to his hometown at least a couple of times a year. Illness, on my part, has been a fly in the ointment as far as travel has been concerned more recently, so that's been a bit limited, but he was aware of the reasons. Then, at the end of last year, the wheels fell off. His work contract came to an end, and though a series of strange and still largely unexplained events, he became homeless, was on the streets, in and out of a boarding house his father paid for, and finally ended up admitted to the psych ward of a large city hospital, having cut off contact with me. He was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The consultant psychiatrist at the hospital took him on as a public patient. Plans were made for group therapy too. He was there three weeks; complicated by his homeless state, they held him for longer than usual.

The hospital found him a room in a facility for people with mental health issues and drug use - NOT a nice place. But, a roof, and meals. I thought he'd hit bottom, and with ongoing therapy, assistance from various parts of the system, he could start to rebuild. It was a frustrating six months for me - No.2 didn't seem to be getting far. Didn't like his shrink, couldn't face looking for work while living at the hostel, wouldn't take up any of the training offers I offered to fund to help him get work (simple things - barista training, bar and waiting, etc), didn't appear to be taking up any of the offers of support that were available through the local mental health unit - he said that they weren't interested, didn't answer calls, etc...I have to question that now, in the light of recent events. 

Then a friend stretched out a hand, and invited him to move into her spare room. When her relationship broke down, she, No.2 and another boy found a place and made a new home, complete with a cat. So, no reason to not look for work. But no work eventuated. More excuses. I was starting to feel very frustrated, because at 23, there's a limit to what I can do for him - it has to be his efforts. Then, two weeks ago, the other boy had a meltdown and ended up in hospital. No.2 and his housemate were, understandably, considerably thrown. His housemate works, and just put her head down and got on with it. No.2 disappeared. Initially, I didn't twig - I'd not heard from him for a few days, but that can happen, and he's not always great about responding straight away to texts. Then I found the missed call from very late one night after I'd gone to bed, from an unlisted number, and a frisson of anxiety hit. Then later that day, a message via Facebook, using the hospital wifi (because that's where he was) from a very fragile No.2, who'd been picked up high, and apparently had no memory of where he'd been or what had happened in the intervening four days. I phoned a friend who said she'd collect him when he was discharged, because during that time, he'd lost everything - phone, keys, ID and money - and his housemate wouldn't be home from work til late. He agreed to this, and thanked me for stepping in. Only by the time she got there, he'd vanished. I called the police, who activated a missing persons file. He showed up of his own volition two days later, again high.

I travelled there the next weekend, at his housemate's request. She said she could no longer have him in the house if drugs were part of the picture - which I supported. She was still prepared to give him the four weeks notice that they'd all agreed on from the beginning if someone was to leave the house.
Over the course of the day though, that changed. He was different. We were seeing behaviour in him that we'd never seen before. Even at his most down and feral, I'd never seen such cavalier and brutal lack of concern in him. He never even considered apologising to either of us for the worry of the previous week. There was much bravado, much defiance, and there was NO getting through to him how much we cared, how worried we were, and how difficult we were finding it to reach him - his response was that he just didn't care, only he wasn't that polite. 

No.2 is on Ice. It is one of the most awful drugs that's currently out there. It's highly addictive. It is appallingly destructive. In the article I read today in the Sun Herald, there was a quote that jumped out from the page at me describing some of the effects of the drug, '...all emotional empathy and attachment to loved ones disappeared out the window'. And that's exactly what we were on the receiving of. He was like a stranger. An extremely hostile stranger. In the end, his housemate said she didn't want him there any more, the four weeks weren't going to happen, and could he just leave. I dropped him back at the hospital, hoping he'd access help here, but he walked out again as soon as he knew I was gone. 
The mental health team from the organisation who have him on their books have tried to be in contact with him via the phone they gave him when they saw him at the house before I arrived. He won't talk to them. He's blocked me from Facebook, and won't answer my messages. The team suggested reporting him missing again, so I did. The police managed to locate him this time, and let me know, and that was followed by an extremely hostile text from him to tell me to 'bugger off'. The police had no reason to pick him up, so having spoken with him, left him where he was.

My son is 23. He's a very bright and talented individual. He has many great qualities and inherent talents. He is, quite literally, one of those people who could do just about anything he chooses to do. He's made a choice that I find impossible to understand, to blot out his difficulties with a dangerous, illegal drug, which could kill him. It has already substantially altered who he is. I don't know where he's staying. I don't know how he's getting money. Unless he gets back on track with the various government agencies he's listed with, his government support will be cut off. 

The thing is, at this point, there is NOTHING I can do. In the article, the concerns - rightly so - are for the kids who are getting into this drug at frighteningly young ages. The one spark of hope there is that they're young enough for adults to be able to step in and, initially, force some changes and help get them into programs. I can't do that with/for No.2. He's 23. He's an adult. He makes his own choices. And I have to, for my own sake, step back and accept that I can't control that. It breaks my heart. I love this boy. I'm appalled by this new situation. I am powerless to stop it. All that will happen if I push - as I discovered - is that he will be abusive. That does neither of us any good. His father has bailed. This is too hard. I don't need him to explain how hard it is. I was in the middle of it, trying desperately to rescue something from a situation that was, already, out of my control.