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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-572-0369.
What is your current shelter/where do you live?
Here in Kamloops with my mom because I'm looking for a place. I've just come from a really bad relationship.
And you want to talk to me about being the mom of a 15-year-old boy who's addicted to marijuana, yes?
What was the first mind-altering drug he used?
He says marijuana.
Has he tried alcohol?
Yes, he has. I'm really blind-eyed if he's tried anything else. I want to believe he hasn't.
When did he start using alcohol and drugs?
Thirteen he was smoking marijuana; alcohol not until late last year.
What do you think made him try it?
His group of friends I think. He wants to fit in. He very much has some self-esteem issues. He wants to be part of whatever his friends are doing. He's a follower. ... He also wants to escape from everything that he fights with day to day, with the grieving of his father passing away. (His) dad didn't treat him like he treated my other two so that made him feel really bad.
Does he have any mental health issues?
Yes. Anxiety. Depression.
What's he currently addicted to?
Marijuana, like awfully bad. Now he's doing these head rockets, when marijuana is mixed with tobacco.
What benefits do you think he gets from using drugs?
Nothing. It makes me sad. It does. I seriously watch him go out there...he'll come back in and if he does enough head rockets, he's passed out on the couch for 20 minutes. When he comes back, he eats and wants to go back and do the same thing.
Do you think he gets any benefits from it relieving any of his mental health problems, like his depression and anxiety?
I think it's not healthy, it just buries it. If he's not doing head rockets, he comes back in. He's talkative, he's nice, he's laughing. I guess in the sense it's like a coping mechanism for him.
How has his drug use impacted your life?
It's made my life very stressful at times. To deal with a rebellious teenager slamming doors at me and screaming at me...with all these mood swings he goes through. It's more stress on me; also, not knowing how to handle it at times, but I've gotten better. ... I've caught myself feeling like I've failed as a parent. Where did I go wrong? I've been told it's got nothing to do with me. It makes me feel sad. It's not good. ... It feels like if he didn't get his marijuana today, I know by this evening he'll be full out screaming at everybody around him, but I'm not going to give in. He needs to learn a lot of things and I just don't know what to do anymore some days.
How has it impacted his life?
In a lot of negative ways. It's made all his schooling (suffer). He meets these groups of friends who aren't the greatest. He's not out socializing in youth groups like he used to. Everything. It's just spiraled backward.
What was your family life like before he started using?
He was more loving to his brothers. He would do more family things. He was more open to talk to people. He was a totally different kid. That's why it's so hard to watch.
How do you think people see him as a drug addict?
Apparently, he's the cool kid. Among his peers, it's made him cool.
How do you think people see you, as the mother of a child who is an addict?
Well, I feel like I can get judged sometimes. The groups of friends he hangs with, I don't know their parents because I just moved here. Going back to my hometown, he used to hang out with a boy and they hung out for years and years. And I know his mother never judged me but I know (another kid's mom) judged me. She quit talking to me. She quit everything.
What have you done to get help for your son/what has he done?
He refuses to do anything to get help. I haven't reached out to see what's out here to get help. Even if I got resources set up for him, he wouldn't go.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I hope one day he sees a different perspective in life and doesn't do it as heavily as he does (now). I understand that marijuana can be done for medical reasons. It isn't the worst drug in the world, but it's also a drug that can overtake someone's life.