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Hitting The Bottom - The Crash and Burn Philosophy and My Daughter's Harrowing Tale of Addiction to Heroin

by Christine
(San Jose, CA)

I am struggling terribly with the hitting bottom approach. I also have a daughter who is an IV Heroin user. She turns 21 today. What a birthday!


She has gone through 3 residential rehabs and 5 sober living houses. She hasn't stayed clean for more than 5 months since the age of 15. (Using IV Heroin only over the last year). She says she wants a real life and a relationship with her family and to become a person of integrity. Yet she is terribly depressed even on Suboxone and other psych meds, and tends to hide in sleep as much as she is allowed.

She has a hard time believing she will ever find happiness without drugs. And although I think she believes it when she says she wants to get well, She is flakey and unaccountable, misses appointments, attends meeting but has a hard time being fully engaged and eventually makes the wrong friends at meetings or in recovery and goes out, stealing from those she loves to buy her drug.

So I have been trying to pull back, let go let and god and all that, and accept the fact that I know she is selling her body for drugs and lucky if she eats a piece of bread in a day. So today... she just divuldged to me that she went home with a man that takes "care" of girls in her position, giving them money for drugs and food in exchange for service. He has a room set up with chains and a swing and handcuffs and about 6 computers with porn on the screen. He walks around naked and locks her in a room "so she won't steal". He told her that she needs to get permission to leave ...

I understand that most people feel that this may be a good thing and that now she may finally reach her bottom (probably after being raped and beaten and robbed of her phone, wallet and car keys, so that she will be cut off from contact with the outside world. But if she gets out she will have really learned a lesson. Maybe.

So I broke the cardinal rule because I figure what good is this marvelous lesson if she just winds up dead or if he keeps her drugged and captive and never lets her our of there. So I pleaded with her to get out of there. I told her if she goes back there I will call the police. This guy is sick and twisted and dangerous. As we were speaking, she got a call from a friend from her last treatment program who miraculously remembered her birthday and invited her to come and let him cook her dinner and stay the night. Her "master" reluctantly let her out, keeping her GPS for collateral.

It just makes me sick that this is the best "treatment" we can come up with. There must has to be another way. Its like research in this area isn't valued because after all were just dealing with a bunch of lying dirty addicts.

There is a drug - actually it is from the bark of a root from the Iboga plant - called Ibogaine. It was approved for clinical trials years ago by the FDA. A Doctor from the University of Miami was conducting the research had remarkable results but ran out of money and hasn't been able to find funding for further clinical trials. It is successfully being used in Mexico and Canada and numerous other countries.

This drug was actually reported to in most cases, arrest the addiction - reset the computer so to speak, often with only 1 treatment. I don't know what the potential of this drug may be - how cost effective it may be, all of the risks, ect., but it has changed lives for many and deserves to be studied.

We as a society have let down those suffering from this disease. We recognize that it is a disease, and that when actively using they are out of their minds and incapable of making a rational choice. And yet we criticize their poor choices.

We know that Heroine addicts have a 10% chance of recovery, yet we still are OK telling them go out and crash and burn and in hopes that the light may go on IF THEY LIVE (after all they are so resourceful and crafty that they just might be in the lucky 10%).

We hear the miraculous stories of the ones that make it but the ones who didn't don't show up to speak at meetings. But its all OK because they own their choices and we did everything we could. Or did we??

Yes I sound angry and hurt and scared...because I am.

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Also Hearbreaking
by: C-P

It's so sad to hear stories like yours because as a mother it must be devastating to watch your daughter go through what she is currently. I agree with you that you would think a problem as massive as addiction, that destroys so many lives, would have made more progress in finding a more successful form of treatment.

Have you considered long-term treatment for your daughter? When I say long-term I don't mean your typical 4-6 week residential program. I'm talking 6 months to a year. It sounds like your daughter has so much to work through, she needs to be in an environment where all she does is focus on getting clean and working on her recovery, for an extended period of time, that normal residential programs just don't provide.

The only way anyone successfully recovers from an addiction long-term is to find something to replace the void addiction fills. Some find it through the 12 steps and meetings, others religion, some spirituality, even healthy living and personal development ... what could that be for your daughter?

If your daughter is open to a faith based type homestudy program, I've heard a lot of positive things about the Addiction Free Forever Program, and considering the low cost, it may be worth looking into as an alternative interim measure if nothing else.

I know the tough love or crash and burn philosophy has its merits because an addict has to learn to be accountable for their choices and actions. But in your case I would find it difficult not to intervene because your daughter is engaging in such risky behaviour, e.g. with this other man. Have you been to any Al Anon or Naranon meetings yet to speak to other parents and find out what they may be doing in similar situations?

I only hope that somehow a light does go off in your daughters head and she reaches the point where she is truly ready to surrender and do whatever it takes to overcome her addiction.

Thanks for sharing your story - it couldn't have been easy writing this.

God Bless

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