At the time when moms should be letting go and young adults should be transitioning to independence, we risk our own health and well being at the discovery of their drug use. We naturally want to help them, to understand what's going on and whether it's a phase or a spiraling addiction, and we want to get them in to treatment and on to recovery. Our role as a mom takes a turn we never expected, and with it comes a significant shift in how we see and take care of ourselves.
My journey began when my middle son was 16 years old. This smart, popular, athletic kid did an about face. He was staying up all night and sleeping all day. He was breaking rules. He was argumentative and irritable. Could it be drugs? We didn't find evidence right away. Could it be depression? The family doctor suggested counseling. The counselor said our son denied drug use ... but never tested him.
By senior year, he was getting high five times a day every day. He barely graduated. He postponed college and when he did go a semester late, he ended up one week later in the emergency room followed by detox. From there, it deteriorated even more.
Clearly our son was suffering and even the treatment experts were confounded by his trajectory while telling us we were doing "all the right things."
Nothing felt right for me. Here I was a 40-something mom who was holding it all together. The next several years were an emotional roller coaster. With my own mental health at stake, I embraced a healthy lifestyle and mindset. This empowered me to thrive even as my son withered. It empowered me to survive some of the darkest days (and nights) imaginable.
I lost nearly 35 pounds from poor-eating and work-related stress accumulated over the years. I decreased my caffeine intake (most days!) and lowered my blood pressure. I began journaling and blogging. I began meditating. During the worst of the worst, my own health soared!
This health surge provided me the energy and wherewithal to parent a young-adult with a substance-use disorder. Today, nearly seven years later, my son is sober and in recovery. I did for myself what I could not do for him, and now, he is healing, too.
Moms are not prepared for the havoc and distress of young-adult drug use, and yet this is a rising problem facing every community throughout the world. Mom to mom, woman to woman, we can rise to this unexpected and unfortunate role in a way that taps the very essence of being a healthy woman.
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