The day my son agreed to go to rehab it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. He was finally going to get the help he needed. To be honest, after the chaos and drama his addiction had brought to our lives, tucking him safely into rehab would finally give us time to recharge as a family, which sounded really good. The time between his agreement to go and pulling up to the front door of the rehab center was less than 24-hours. We knew we needed to act quickly before he had a chance to change his mind.
Going into rehab would be admitting he was an addict, admitting he was out of control, and admitting he needed help. This would be very difficult to do since he had been using drugs to numb his feelings for years. I could see he was nervous as I ushered him inside where we were greeted by an admissions team.
My son was brought to a separate room for a physical exam, and I was left with the intake coordinator who came around her desk and gave me a hug. “It's okay here. Nobody is judging him or his family,” she assured me. “All we need are completely honest answers so we know how to help him.” As the mother of a drug addict I had mastered the art of being evasive. Whenever I was asked about my son, I always gave a vague answer that didn't tell the real story but hinted at its core. For the first time since we started the crazy addiction journey, I exhaled.
I was asked a lot of questions about his drug of choice, amount of use, addiction-related legal problems, family history, and other things designed to give them insight into his problems. They were asking him the same questions and more in the examination room. The intake took about 45 minutes, and then it was time to say goodbye.
In many families, ours included, an addict's journey sucks the whole family in. It isn’t long before much of the day is used trying to control the addict's movements, behaviors and choices. These were not things that helped my son, but until we got family counseling, we thought what we were doing was right. Saying goodbye and trusting that others would take over for us was not as easy as I thought it would be.
He hugged me tight, told me he loved me and said not to worry about him, that he was going to be fine. The nervousness in his eyes let me know he wasn't that sure, and he was saying the words to reassure me. And with that he picked up his suitcase (which the intake team had already searched) and started down the hall to his room.
Putting my son in a rehab was only the beginning of our recovery. I say “our recovery” because addiction is a family affair. While he was getting help with starting a sober life, we would also be seeking help to heal our hearts and to know how to react if relapses occurred later on. Recovery is a lifetime journey and checking him into rehab then driving away alone was our very first step.