As a single mother of a teenage addict, I’m up for almost any excuse for a holiday. But you’ll have to excuse me from celebrating Weed Day (4/20).
After three straight years of nonstop concern about my son, I’ve checked myself into Al-Anon and officially declared myself a recovering worryaholic.
Al-Anon is a support group that offers regional meetings based on the same 12-step principles as Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s for those of us with loved ones who suffer from the disease of addiction.
The first step Al-Anon teaches is to “let go” because it doesn’t help to worry. But when you discover your 15-year-old is taking the phrase “high” school literally, it’s hard not to become a ninja worrier.
As a freshman, my son smoked weed several times a day. He stole bottles of alcohol from grocery stores, which he then traded with his fellow students for pot.
He cashed out Amazon gift cards he’d received for birthdays and holidays to buy weed and paraphernalia, some of which he later resold to friends. I still can’t believe that. My baby, a drug dealer.
My son was the Donald Trump of pot smokers. When confronted with the science of how damaging pot is to the developing brain, his response was: fake news.
“It’s only marijuana, Mom,” he assured me.
When he was 15, I sent him to a three-month wilderness program, which was mind-bendingly expensive but seemed to be the answer to my prayers. He rose as a leader. At the end, the boys in his “tribe” took turns sharing what they admired about him – his directness, humor, kindheartedness, willingness to work hard, navigate long hikes, do chores and (shockingly) follow directions. Away from temptations of civilization, my sober son became an Amazon.
Unfortunately, his transformation was fleeting. Just a few weeks after returning home, he relapsed and got involved in worse drugs – OxyContin, cocaine, dabs, alcohol.
Since then, I’ve sent my son to five residential rehabs. He’s had continuous counseling with some of the area’s best counselors, psychotherapy, testing. All to no avail. He’s still using.
Since he’s broken all my rules, I’ve had to kick him out. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. He turned 18 in January. He rents a room at a mysteriously undisclosed location. All he says is that it’s in a “bad part” of south Sacramento.
He gave up athletics and missed most of his senior year because of drugs and rehabs. I pray he’ll finish high school, but he says it’s hard to find time for schoolwork since he’s supporting himself now as a busboy at two restaurants – one in Sacramento, one in Davis – seven days a week.
My son recently qualified for a medical marijuana card simply by saying he has trouble sleeping. Thank you, California, for voting to legalize marijuana so that my son can kill himself more easily.
As if his life weren’t terrifying enough, he just bought a motorcycle.
To help myself cope, I write a list of things I’m grateful for at night instead of imagining worst-case scenarios like I used to.
But, just like my son, I relapse. I start getting the shakes when I haven’t heard from him for a few days.
Worry is my marijuana. It’s my drug of choice. I think it’s going to soothe me but ends up causing way more anxiety. The more I do it, the more I need to do it, the sicker I get. It’s a really hard habit to kick.