Your Child, the Addict: A Mom's Struggle

Sheri Reed

Flickr photo by kamshots
Blogger, author, and mom Katie Allison Granju doesn't have the time anymore to think about "what if?"

Her 18-year-old son is currently hospitalized after a drug overdose and a severe assault in an apparent drug deal gone bad.

When I agreed to talk to CNN a few weeks ago on the subject of teen drinking, I didn't realize how unprepared I was to talk about my plans as a parent -- for my boys if and when the teen drinking (or drugs) happen in my house.

I've been sober over nine years now, but because I overdosed on alcohol at a dance my sophomore year in high school, this was one of those times I wished I had bottled my teen-aged self so I could take her out and ask, "Why??? What was missing? What did you need? What would help? What do I need to do for my kids, as a parent?" I wished for this, even though I know better. My teen-aged self knew no more what she was missing than my alcoholic adult self who carried on drinking, often out of control, for 16 years longer.

Unfortunately, for fellow mama Katie Allison Granju, her time for thinking about all the preventative stuff that may or may not work is up and has been up, at least for one of her children. Her son is an addict and last week nearly died as a result of that addiction.

According to Katie's blog, her piece on Babble, and the Motherlode column that Lisa Belkin wrote about Katie's family yesterday in the NYT, Katie's son Henry was rushed to the intensive-care unit and placed in a medically induced coma after the tragedy. Since then, Henry has awoken and his body is slowly but progressively healing. A possibly lengthy string of neurological and physical rehabilitations will follow.

Unfortunately, the physical healing is just the start for Henry. Katie writes about this today, "It breaks my heart to say this -- and I PRAY that I am mistaken -- but my gut tells me that as horrifying as his current situation is, we may not be at his personal 'bottom' yet -- the place where he will understand and accept his addiction for what it is. I am terrified by this -- absolutely terrified. I can barely sleep at night wondering how we can possibly get through to him before he is right back on the streets where this happened."

This fact about addiction is excruciating, especially, I imagine, for a parent. To know there may be nothing you can do for your child and his deadly illness.

Alongside experiencing this parental nightmare, she's also struggling with how to write about it. She's kept Henry's personal struggle offline (and thus her own, as his mom) but has now chosen to talk about it on her blog. She's openly struggling with the ongoing debate about how much mommy bloggers can share about their kids' lives -- even when their kids' lives have gone out of control.

It's being proven time and time again that moms are finding good, authentic, and true support and friendship on the Internet through message boards, social-networking sites, blogs, and beyond. And as Lisa Belkin points out, keeping Henry's story silent might have been enabling his addiction in some small way, and sharing it openly could just "save another teenager from repeating it."

For me, along with praying and sending my best thoughts for Henry's all-around recovery, I'm hoping to learn from this mom. If our tragedies can't turn into hope or lessons for other people, then what are they for? And if nothing else, maybe sharing her own experience as the mom of an addict, above Henry's personal challenges, can and will save her own life.

Stop by Katie's blog or Facebook page to leave your thoughts and prayers.

Do you have an ongoing story about addiction in your family? Do you choose to talk about it online or not?

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