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Their Story: 'Her life was wonderful before drinking and drugs — then everything crashed'

A mother shares her struggles of what it's like to have a loved one with an addiction. (via Shutterstock)

Stigmatization is one of the barriers for individuals stuck in the cycle of addiction and for family members seeking support for themselves and their loved ones. Understanding the deeper personal stories of those who use prescription and illicit drugs as well as those who gamble (some casually, others regularly), is one way of debunking slurs.

Revealing why people choose to try and continue using drugs or gambling is one way of understanding how addiction affects so many people in our community. They are someone’s son/daughter, husband/wife, father/mother, brother/sister, uncle/aunt, nephew/niece, cousin, grandchild. 

Their Story is a space for those who are struggling (or have overcome) to share their stories and experiences. It's also a space for family members struggling with addiction within their family. The interviews are compiled by Eileen MacLeod, a retired Kamloops resident who has a passion for social justice.

For privacy reasons, KamloopsMatters will not be publishing the identity of those who contribute to this column. If you or someone you know is interested in participating, email or call 250-572-0369.

Which of your loved ones is struggling with addiction? 

My youngest daughter. She's 32 years old.

What was the first mind-altering drug she used, that you’re aware of?

I am not sure what she started with other than alcohol and marijuana.

To the best of your knowledge, what do you think made her try it?

I believe she started drinking as a way to fit in and deal with her anxiety.

What is she currently addicted to?

She is an alcoholic as well as takes drugs, but not sure what she takes. I do think she abuses prescription drugs when she drinks.

What benefits do you think she gets from using drugs and drinking?

I believe when she gets drunk and high it numbs her pain, gives her "confidence" and relieves boredom.

How has her drug use impacted your family?

Our family has had to grieve for our daughter, sister, cousin, that she used to be. Let go of all the dreams that her father and I shared for her and come to terms with the fact that her life has gone in a drastically different path than what we had hoped and what she had planned and prepared for. The hurt never goes away. Her brother just cannot face the addiction or understand it; therefore, has turned his back. The tears flow easily, the dream dies a little more each day.

What was her life like before drugs?

Her life was — in my opinion — wonderful before drinking and drugs. She graduated, had a ton of friends, always had part-time jobs, a vehicle, did some travelling after graduation and met a great guy. Saw lots of the world, was attending college part-time, had a job that offered her growth, advancement and travel. Then everything crashed.

How do you think people see you, as the mother of a loved one with an addiction?

I have never truly thought about what people think of me as a mother of an addict. Personally, I could care less. My friends who do know about my daughter are extremely supportive and kind. It took me a very long time before I let people in. I needed to accept it myself and try and understand it myself before I could bring myself to talk about it without tearing up or clearing the huge lump in my throat whenever I tried to talk about it.

What have you done to try and get help for your daughter and what has she done to get help?

My daughter has been in rehab many times. She has also been in the hospital psychiatric ward many times, doctors, specialist. ... I think everything that there is out there, we have put her in, joined, taken part of, read, we have done.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I want to say that my daughter does try. She really does. Some days she appears stronger than the day before and it gives me a little bit of hope. I know I am blind at times and perhaps naive as well, but I have to believe she wants to get better and is trying everything she can to do so. Perhaps this thought keeps me going, face another day and mostly have hope.

I wanted to say that having a child who is an addict, we have learned to be thankful for every day that she is alive, for her every breath and celebrate little accomplishments. I continue to hold my breath when the phone rings and be jolted awake by nightmares. I have come to hate a knock on the front door or when asked when I pick up the phone if my name is (blank); the fear that this brings inside tears me apart. When a few days go by and I have not heard from my daughter, I mentally prepare for, well, anything I guess. I beg each night for another day with her and another day for her to not get bruises, not be treated like she is nothing, and for the next day to hold the magical key to unlock her strength and fight like hell to be stronger than the drugs. Maybe tomorrow.

I am absolutely terrified of losing her and am guilty of enabling her, a guilt I can accept. I am her mom. How can I turn my back on her, even if it is the right thing to do?