*Frank has been supporting his son for over 20 years
“I first found 21 years ago out about my youngest son using drugs. My eldest son told me about his brother. I confronted him, he admitted it was true and I got him on a treatment program immediately. I would call him regularly to ask him about his treatment but I found out that he’d been lying to me about his treatment and about many other things. In the same year he came to live with me following the death of his older brother. During this time his drug use got worse. I got him into a rehab unit and I visited him daily, but he was kicked out of the rehab for alcohol use. He came back to live with me but over time I had to ask him many times to leave. I found out that money was going missing from my wallet.
Things didn’t improve yet he still managed to hold his job down despite his drug use. The situation caused me so much stress, so much worry, so much anxiety, so much heartache and his drug use has continued to this day. I feel as though I’ve tried everything. I’ve supported him. I’ve shouted and screamed at him, I’ve punished him. I’ve showed him compassion and understanding. I’ve kicked him out. I’ve brought him back into my home. None of it has worked.
I suppose I’ve been very naive about how dependant drug users get and how desperate they get for their drugs. But I’ve had to learn very quickly. The arguments, the mistrust, the stealing, the lies and deception, the visits from police, they all took their toll on me. Yet I couldn’t turn my back on him, I couldn’t turn him away, he’s my flesh and blood. I missed certain signs that he was using drugs, signs that I now know to have been withdrawal symptoms of drug use. Over the years, there were all sorts of things that my son did that he got into trouble for, and many more that he didn’t get into trouble for. But I didn’t want to be the one responsible for reporting him and causing him more problems, even though I could have, many times. I preferred to try my own way to help him.
On one occasion we argued about his behaviour. Matters got out of hand. I grabbed him by the throat. He was punching me repeatedly. Police were called by him, by my own son, he was accusing me of domestic violence. Yet he’d been using drugs earlier in my bathroom because I found used needles in there. I still received a letter some days later from the police warning me of the seriousness of domestic abuse, me, a father who was simply trying to stop his son using drugs. Last year my son used some contaminated drugs. He was admitted to the critical care unit in hospital. He was in a coma, and spent twelve days in hospital. He has recovered now but I really don’t know what the future holds. I’m worried he will go back to using drugs and that this recent scare won’t deter him.
I still love my son, and I don’t want to lose him. I’m 80 years old and I’ll still do whatever I need to, I always will....if I can only help him get better and stop using drugs.”
*Frank's name and image have been changed at his request to protect his anonymity.