our 9th child,
18 years old,
didn't graduate from high school,
can't drive until he's 21 years old due to drug charges,
lives in a half-way house and washes dishes in a restaurant,
and we simply could not be more proud of him and his accomplishments!!!
Because in one week, we will celebrate a major milestone in his journey...ONE YEAR OF SOBRIETY....Yeah!!!!
At this time last year, we were picking him up from jail and driving him across the mountains to a drug treatment facility. He was so angry that we had to have his older brother ride along for extra protection in case he bolted or got violent. I was literally shaking during the entire three hour drive! Our relationship with him was almost completely broken. We were all hurt and angry.
After 35 days in that treatment center, we drove 5 hours to the next one and he stayed there for 3 more months.
When his time there was up, we had no choice but to bring him home until we could find an available bed at an Oxford House (a clean and sober half-way house). And he's been there ever since.
Its not that we didn't want him to stay home, in fact, I grieved heavily at losing him again. You see, he is such a bright, funny, loving, magnetic person. He lights up every room he enters with a huge smile. Drugs had stolen that person from me since the time he was 11 and then when he had finally gotten clean, and we could see glimmers of the boy we once knew coming back out, he wasn't able to stay. And I felt robbed again.
But his drug buddies lived around us, and he couldn't risk falling into that lifestyle again. Not only that, but he had gotten pretty heavy into dealing drugs and their were several people who wanted him dead...literally!
And now, here we are! One year clean and sober...no alcohol, pot, Molly, mushrooms, cocaine, etc. None of it...!
Here is our story...
I don't want this to come across like we did it right or have all the answers, far from it! But rather, in the hope that it will help someone who is in a similar situation and needs some encouragement, its a lonely road!
It took 3 years of fighting law enforcement to get him arrested enough times or for a serious enough offense that the court would order drug treatment. That's right~ I was the crazy mom who called the police, called parole officers, called the court, called juvenile detention...hours upon hours of phone calls, snapping pictures of every shred of evidence I could find and waving it in peoples faces until someone finally heard me cry..."Help him!!!" ..."Please, someone help him before he's 18 and its too late!"
Why did I need the court to send him to treatment? Because in our state, you can't force someone to go to counseling after the age of 13, let alone treatment. Its ridiculous! He was a danger to society and himself, but unless he admitted there was a problem and chose to seek help on his own, there was nothing we could do. So we hounded the system. Praise God it worked for us, but there are WAY too many people who don't get to enjoy such happy outcomes.
The system is broken. Especially when it comes to drug abuse and mental illness. ( I will tell you about our run-ins with the mental health circus sometime...that was a crazy ride!..no pun intended :P) But along the way, you learn valuable little tidbits that help you out...
For instance--in our state, every time you call 911 on your child his name gets on a list that goes to a Juvenile Court Judge, if he sees your childs name come up enough times, he can order him to appear in court to find out whats going on.
So, like a Mom on a mission to save her child, I called him in for everything you were allowed to call in for; leaving the house without permission, threatening people, damaging property, illegal possession of drugs or drug related items, skipping school...you name it, I called.
Some cops understood my mission and even applauded it. Others complained that I was wasting their time. It seemed to just be the luck of the draw.
At one point, we got him signed up for the Youth At Risk program. Its a program through Juvenile Court where they bring in a mediator to try to assess how bad things are and help the family get things back on track. If the kid won't cooperate, then they turn them over to a Judge, who then takes over the parenting role and consequences for breaking family rules becomes time in detention.
Its a good program for kids like ours, who really couldn't give a darn about house rules or school at all. The Court Appointed Mediator was great and actually gave David and I the green light to lay down some heavy consequences that hesitated to do before. It didn't take long for our little runaway to decide he didn't like the pressure and he decided Jobcorp was a better option for him. But that only lasted about 5 months before he was kicked out for drug use...no big surprise!
Our big break came in December of 2014, when we received a notice from the court that he would have to appear before a judge for a drug charge from 10 months prior!!! Way back in February he had been caught on school property (big no-no) with a baggie of pot. It had taken 10 months for them to formally charge him. So in January, we went to court, he was found guilty and sentenced to 3 days in Juvie-big whoop. But, the best thing that came out of it was that he had to serve 9 month probation, and his probation officer was GREAT! She saw what was going on and was watching him, and all his cronies. If she even caught a whiff of something fishy, she was ON IT. Plus, she really made me feel like we were a team. She understood my desperation to get him help and encouraged me to let her know if I saw him doing anything questionable. Three months into it and he was locked up for a month with an order to go straight from detention into rehab. She had compiled a laundry list of parole violations ranging from being 10 minutes late to out-patient drug counseling to a failed UA (urine analysis drug test). Nothing horribly serious, but enough that the Judge could see that although our son was good at covering his tracks, he really did need some help.
Little did they know how right they were. We found out later, that during that same period of time drug dealers had almost shot him! They had jumped him right in our neighborhood, drove him to a remote location, beat him up and had a gun to his head! He was saved by a curious stranger passing by with a spotlight. True story!
That was the final trip to detention and the beginning of sobriety. Today, he is loving his new life!
And this week we get the joy (yes, it is a joy again! Thank you, Jesus :) ) of spending a few days at the beach with him. We will have a celebration honoring his amazing accomplishments and present him with this token...
I love the mandate that God gave in Joshua 1:7, "Only be strong and very courageous, ...do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go."
In His love,
Read about his celebration...
Had to share this little update...
It was such an honor to celebrate his accomplishment during our family vacation! Remembering the journey and celebrating where we are today, was more emotional than I had expected. It was an overwhelming concoction of pride, joy and painful memories.
Here are a few pics...
|Our boy! Really a young man but he will always be my boy :)|
|Loves from sister...|
|Dad presenting him with his medallion|
|His girlfriend helping him put it on. They met in rehab. She has been sober 10 months.|
|He loves it and hasn't taken it off :)|