What happened or needs to happen to get your child into recovery?
Every time has been different. I think this time we told him we were done supporting his habit. He realized that he had really crossed the line this time with us. He’s done some stinky things before. He’s stolen items and pawned them. Once he said, “I realized I needed help when I tried to load the snow blower into the trunk of my car to go pawn it.” And this was a massive snow blower. He said, “I was going to put it in my car myself and I realized I couldn’t physically lift it.”
This time we’ve totally cut everything off. Jack adores his dad, and it has been really hard for him because his dad isn’t speaking to him right now. I told Jack his dad doesn’t want to talk to him. And that was hard.
Sure we have regrets about it but I think we’ve done the best we can. Now it’s up to Jack. We can’t fix him. I always thought I could fix him. I’m finally to the point where I know that I can’t do it. He has to do it. And that’s been huge for me. I thought if we brought him back home, I could be there for him and I could take him if he needed to go to the doctor. But it doesn’t work that way. Jack is definitely feeling this shift in me. I just pray that this ends well.
Ultimatums. Unfortunately we had to have an ultimatum with my daughter’s children. We told her if she did not get help, she was not going to see her children again, supervised or not. We also had to stage an intervention with our daughter. And even though there were people there that loved her and she heard our statements, it wasn’t until her son stood up and gave his statement that she folded and said, “Okay. I’ll go.”
Well again, it’s really difficult for us because we had an 18-year-old boy who was smoking marijuana. Would it have been beneficial for me to spend fifty thousand dollars to put my son in a two-week in-and-out program for marijuana use and assume that it would stick? Statistically, the cards were stacked against us. That’s why we didn’t really make a big attempt to get our son into treatment. I went to treatment twice myself and failed both times and it cost my family a lot of money and insurance. I do regret a little bit of not putting Brady into an outpatient program.
What I learned in my sobriety was even though I went into two treatment facilities and relapsed on both of them, it planted a seed within me. I was getting educated on all of the tools that I needed to stay sober and they were all within me. So years later when I finally chose to get sober I was able to go “Now I get it.” So now I’m going to use all of those tools that I have refused to use for all these years and put them to use. And by doing that, I stayed sober. I’ve been sober for 17 years. I would have liked to have introduced Brady to some sort of outpatient treatment, that way he could be getting some education and some knowledge and some tools so when he was ready somewhere down the road to use them, he would have had them.
For her, it had to be a significant emotional event. I, the softie, had to make the stand and say enough is enough. You’re done. You’re out. We’re not going to put up with you. For her, that worked. For my wife, the hard one, that would not have been enough of an event because she’s used to that. My daughter would always go to daddy and daddy would basically give her the benefit of the doubt or at least a soft shoulder. It doesn’t mean my wife didn’t care for her or love her. That’s not the point. She just has a low tolerance for BS.
Well, prison for Riley. And I hope it’s a permanent click. Riley was never sober until she went to jail. She was really never able to put in sober time together anywhere else. For Riley it took prison to get her sober. Bailey has gotten sober a lot of times. But she’s afraid now. She is at the point in her addiction where she is scared. She is realizing that with these last two relapses especially – that just a taste – just a little taste of heroin sucks her right back. It just sucks her back in a blink of an eye. Her thought process might be, “I’m just going to try this one time”. Or that, “I’m just going to smoke it and not use a needle and I’ll be OK.” But it just sucks her right back in full speed.
Bailey is 26 years old. Riley has already lost her 20’s. Bailey is on the verge of losing her 20’s. She wants to get better. When Bailey was sick and withdrawing, she said she would do anything to get better. So now she’s in this Fairbanks program. I’ve never met her sponsor. Bailey has been calling me less and calling her sponsor more. She’s figuring things out on her own or with her sponsor or with other people that are in the program.
When their grandmother Betty died, Bailey did a reading at the service. She did a great job. It was big because she was very close to Betty. Family came in from out of town for the service and after we all got together for pizza and to play Euchre. I asked Bailey if she would come join all of us, and she looked at me and she said Mom “I am overwhelmed right now. I’m OK but I need to get back to my people.” That is huge. You know that was just huge. And I said you go. And I’m getting better by knowing to not put down the guilt of “well you know so-and-so is here from Virginia and so-and-so is here and you don’t get to see them often.” Well, that’s not what’s important right now. In the past, I might have told her she really needed to come and that they’re going to be hurt if she didn’t come. I was teaching her to think about others feelings before her own and take care of other people before her own, which I do all the time. And so you know that’s the “great” example I am. So to see her go on her own and say I can’t, I need to be with my people, I just leaped for joy.
Travis: Tyler needed to own where he was at.
So here’s what happens with young people. Most young people are going out and drinking a few beers on a Friday night, going to a bar, playing some pool, hanging out with their buddies.
What happens to a young person in recovery is they start justifying things. They’re like … “OK — I went through treatment; I’m no longer using heroin, but I can go out and drink a few beers with my buddies. Because I’m not doing heroin.” And so they justify that in their own mind. Those few beers will lead them back to heroin. It will take you right back to heroin or cocaine or whatever your drug of choice is. One of the hardest things for a young person to get in their minds is that you can’t go out and drink a couple beers. And that’s so hard for a young person. And that cuts off about 90% of their friends — or whatever the number is. But when you understand it as a disease, you realize those beers are driving you the wrong way. And that is so hard for young people to get. And it takes a long time to accept that I can’t go out and drink beers with my friends like everybody else can.
Christy – They have to be willing to go. They need to be sick and tired of being sick and tired. Tyler went to intensive outpatient therapy first. And that was 2 weeks. Then he went to an inpatient for 2 weeks. And we didn’t know at the time, but Tyler said he didn’t buy into that program. But the second time he went into inpatient at Glenbeigh, he was ready.
I remember that doctor saying it takes a year for your brain to recover. If they would have told me what I know now – which is it is a life long recovery – I would have really lost it. Any one with this addiction or any addiction, it is just a life long battle. You have to change your life and you have to be on guard the rest of your life.
Wayne – We were treating this like a short-term addiction. We thought outpatient therapy for opioid addiction was the remedy.
Christy – You know what hurts so bad having lost our son almost 7 years ago? Knowing that if they would have talked to us then like they do now and if they had been educating people then like they do now, then maybe my son would be alive. That’s what is gut-wrenching.
Wayne – And you wish there were the Tyler’s Light organizations in existence back then and that there was information out there educating parents and kids. But … God plays funny tricks. We were the ones to have to go through it early. We had to start this. And we’ve had people say if it wasn’t for our organization or our support groups, I wouldn’t have had a clue. I was so lost.
Christy – I Believe in God. And I believe that … and I still question this … but I believe that maybe God took our son away from this horrible disease and he really saved him. He really saved him. Maybe he would be alive today but maybe the addiction would still have a hold over him.
Wayne – Maybe the last 7 years would have been just … hell.
Christy – Because we know many people who battle it for 10 years. We have a friend whose son was the same age and he just died in October. And he had been battling it this whole time. And so you have to find something and some reasoning to make sense of it. And we’re never going to know for sure. But you have to try to find some light in it. And to help other people. Maybe God took him to teach other people. Because that is what started the organization and that is what is educating people. And many other parents who have lost a child to addiction have started the same type of thing. So there are these little lights everywhere that are connecting and educating people and putting it out there that it’s ok to talk about it and that it is not a moral failure.