Saturday, March 31, 2007


My 10-year-old cousin, Paige, sleeps on the floor of her parents’ bedroom every night because she is scared.

She is scared because her mother is ill.

My aunt, Jennifer, stands 5'8" yet weighs under 100 pounds.

She’s addicted to painkillers.

Jennifer has had neck problems for a while. She had surgery, less than a year ago, which was supposed to subdue the cause of her pain. Instead, Jennifer has gone steadily downhill.

She told my mother that she takes three Lortab (each of which are equivalent to two Vicodin) and three of something equivalent to two Valium – as well as a cocktail of other drugs.

And that’s what she TOLD my mom she takes. From what I understand, addicts usually underestimate their usage.

What she takes, my mother said, is more than she would give to a 250-pound man confined to his bed. Not putting his two precious children into his SUV and getting behind the wheel.

She does that.

And she’s finally starting to crack. We had a family party last Sunday. At the party, she mumbled to my mother about how she would like to get the names of some psychiatrists she would recommend. My mom didn’t ask any questions; she simply promised that she would get her some names by the next day.

Jennifer left the party early. The minute her car pulled out of the driveway, my uncle was ranting. "She’s losing it," he said to my mom and his sisters, "she called me today, while I was at work. She was crying, saying that she couldn’t make any decisions, that she couldn’t stand being around the kids."

They listened. My mom promised that she would follow up with psychiatrists the following day. But, she pointed out, she might need something more.

She’s addicted, Mom said, quite bluntly. You need to be prepared that she will need to approach her problems with inpatient care, be it for her mental health or for her substance abuse.

My uncle said that he understood. That he would do everything within his power to help Jennifer get better.

On Monday, Mom went to their house. She sat with Jennifer (my dad occupied the Paige and Max) while she sobbed. She admitted that she needed help. She agreed to impatient treatment.

But she wanted to try to get through her workweek. When the week was through, she would go to the treatment facility she and my mom agreed would be best for her and she would, at the very least, be evaluated. From there, the professionals would determine if she would be best for impatient or outpatient treatment.

Mom went back to their house on Tuesday. Jennifer remained a shell of a person.

By Thursday, she wasn’t going.

My mom is furious. Logically, she knows that addicts often back out on potential treatments. She knows that intervention wasn’t likely to work this time. But she wanted, so incredibly badly, for this to work. That’s my mom. She wants to fix the world.

My uncle is all "we should support her decision." My mother is thinking more along the lines of "she needs to hit bottom again. The sooner, the better." Because the sooner she hits bottom, the sooner she’ll go into rehab, the sooner she finds a solution to this problem, the sooner her kids have their mom back.

She told my mom that Max, who is six, has never known her unmedicated.

That’s the family drama I was alluding to. It’s so sad.


Kate said...

Hey A.
I have read this post three times and I don't even know what to say. I can see why you needed some time to chew on it.

I kind of agree with your mom, people like that need to see the consequences of their actions. But can the rest of us politely "stand by?"

x's and o's,

Amy said...

A - wow, that is a seriously tough situation - for everyone. I hope that your uncle realizes how serious the issue is and perhaps helps your aunt to reach rock-bottom. So many times it seems as though people think they are demonstrating love by protecting and aiding an addict instead of showing them the reality they have created. Easy for me to say, I know.

I do hope for a recovery soon and quickly. God willing.

Blog Template by Delicious Design Studio