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My son is detoxing from almost 1 month of heroin use

Hi All,
I'm new to this forum but have been lurking for a few days and have been impressed by the support and compassion offered here.

I thought I was trying to educate myself for my sweet niece, 25 yrs old, ~5 yr Heroin habit, and now living on the streets after 1 failed 28-day in-patient detox and rehab 2 months ago. This has been devastating to my sister, my mom and I. Nobody has heard from her for several weeks. (My sister was about to go over the edge, so finally ended up starting on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. I dislike anything pharmaceutical, but I know it was better than the alternative for her.)

However, now I have another interest in being here. I just learned that after 1 year clean and making huge progress in his life, my 20-yr old son relapsed on Heroin for almost a month and just called to share this with me, and ask if he could come home and quit cold turkey, with my help. I would have never ever though this would happen, and it's devastating news, but I am happy that he caught himself and resolved with every fiber of his being to quit, because today he graduated from technical training, top of his class, interviewed with several companies yesterday, and has opportunities for great jobs ahead. He has every reason in the world to get off asap, so I know he's highly motivated. He's already been offered one job but is holding out for the best. He just has to get clean fast... but the right way, so he is really healthy mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

He will be starting tomorrow, using in the morning, working a few hours, then 3-1/3 hour bus and car ride to my house. I've been frantically trying to read up on every way to be ready to help him through this naturally, if possible. He has been doing research as well.

My question for the forum is, does anyone have any experience with someone withdrawing after only 3-1/2 weeks of smoking lower doses of Heroin? I am hoping to hear that the w/d will be less painful and shorter..?

Any other suggestions for getting through this are welcome as well. I know about all the physical issues, I actually think the depression might be the hardest though?

Thanks for any and all comments, and all the best to all of you. This is a hard road for everyone. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and I pray that everyone gets to that light!  Namaste.
26 Responses
271792 tn?1334979657
Is he home yet? Let us know what is going on.
Avatar universal
Hi, there. You sound like an educated, reasonable mom so I hope you won't mind some red flags that struck me while I was reading your story. Why did you never ever think a relapse could happen? A relapse can always happen, but it will MOST likely if the addict is not doing aftercare. So the most important question is: what is he doing for aftercare?

You also said he needs to detox quickly. I'm not sure what that means. We can't control detox, it will take as long as it takes. Again, those symptoms will pass, it's the STAYING clean that's the work for all of us.

And, you wrote that he will use in the morning and then come to you? Meaning he will be doing some before he comes to see you? If that is what you mean that is a huge problem. That won't work. He needs to cut off ALL access to H. Delete ph #s, change his ph #, whatever it takes. If he is gonna use, I doubt his seriousness in getting clean. Which brings me to the next point...

I'm sure as a mom this is not easy to here but you help the addict best by letting him have his own life and consequences. The fact that you know exactly how much and what type of H he is using is a bit alarming because it means you are involved in his addiction. This is where alanon comes in. The loved ones of addicts go thru hell, and need support. I cannot impress the importance of alanon enough. Please look up a meeting.

One more thing, and this is not about your son, but about all us addicts, you don't know how long or how much he is really using. When we are in our addiction we lie. We lie because we don't want to upset our loved ones. So, if you agree to have him at your place to detox (I would reconsider that, too, you want the addict to have consequences, that helps us get clean!) but if you insist, I would keep in mind that anything could happen. He could say screw it after one day. I'm just preparing you. Do not, I repeat do not give him money at all. I would also set a limit as to how long he can detox at your place.

It's the middle of the night for many so I'm sure you will get more support later on. Keep posting:)

Avatar universal
Hi there jifmoc, thanks for taking the time to respond so soon.

I understand the red flags that you mention.  I'm going to address some of them so you know a little more of where I'm coming from.

As far as aftercare, no he wasn't in it, although he would have liked going to counseling if he had time. Unfortunately he was booked 8 AM to 8 PM weekdays. And I didn't push it because I was naïve enough to think he was done. Why would anyone ever choose to revisit hell?

He did move to a different town from where he used before, and had no further association with those people. They weren't who got him back on it. (This time though, we will delete and block phone numbers.)

When he recovered, he got into a training program and loved it. He got a part-time job and loved it. Was busy 60 hours a week, plus homework. There didn't seem to be any reason for him to relapse. He was happy and moving forward. Living with friends who didn't use. But I should have seen the red flag when he sadly told me that a friend of his from high school was using, and he was trying to advise her on quitting. I'm sure he was, but now I know how that goes.

When I said he needs to detox quickly, I meant cold turkey rather than doing a suboxone taper.  The sub taper was what worked for him last time, but this time he is determined to get it over with, without subs, so that he can be move forward with the job interviews. Last time he did the whole thing himself with a sub doc, but tapered himself off much faster than the doctor was going to do it.  He felt like the suboxone was a life-saver, but couldn't wait to put it all behind him. This time, he doesn't have time to do a sub taper and still interview for jobs in January.

He is coming here by bus, so he won't have a car to go anywhere. We are out in the country, so no way to walk to town either. Because he has to work several hours tomorrow then take the bus for 3 hours (a van with no restroom), he can't be in full withdrawals en route. That's why a couple of days ago he got only enough to get him through 2 days of work, school interviews and graduation, and take the last dose (smaller) to get through work and the trip over here.

The place he lives has too many people around, and no way for peace and quiet to detox and nobody to help. So he really needs to be here with me in a quiet environment. He just wants to sort of hibernate and deal with it, with my support. If I refused it would probably be setting him up for failure. Oh I should mention that he has never lived here; I married and moved here after he graduated so he has no roots here (i.e. friends or places to go).

I feel like he is truly suffering the consequences of this bad choice. He now has to pay for it with the stress of getting through this to be ready for the job he has worked so hard to get. I don't need to add any further punishment by turning my back on him. He has a great future waiting for him, with a great-paying job that he's going to love, and he was really looking forward to it. He is highly motivated.

He agreed to be in a 12-step program or some kind of aftercare, and I have a list of all the local AA and NA meetings and the Al-Anon for me. The only thing that scares me is I heard an addict say they scored their next hit from someone at a meeting.... my husband is also concerned about him being immersed in that environment, and says why can't he get involved with people who are busy advancing their lives who have nothing to do with drugs, and keep his mind busy with productive, non-drug-related things? Maybe we are too naïve by thinking that. I've had quite the education in the last few months though, watching what my sister is going through with my niece. Sad to say, we don't even know if she's alive at this point. She left with just the clothes on her back. I don't like to think about how she is supporting her habit. My sister was setting up an intervention, but her daughter can't be found. Hopelessness is a horrible feeling for families. It tears them up.

I don't think I'm involved in his addiction. I just found out 3 days ago when he called me to ask for help. I could tell he was stressed, scared, upset with himself, and hated hearing me cry. He was totally honest so I could know what he needed to do. I do know, though, that an addict, no matter how great a person they really are, has the capacity to lie if it serves their purposes.  In this case though, it served no purpose. He was determined to get clean and needed help.

Well thanks again, I still look forward to any responses to my question about whether the w/d might be lighter due to only 3-1/2 weeks of lighter use (far lighter than the 6 months he used last time).

I appreciate your time and energy. I do know that what you are saying is right :-)
Avatar universal
Hey there. Okay, firstly a big YAY on the AA/NA for him and the alanon for you. Honestly, that is the biggest route to success...for all of you. There is no way I'd be clean (for me, vicodin) w/o being part of the program. So good for you.

Yes, good call on saying no to subs. That is yet another drug he will need to withdraw from so better just getting it done in a couple of weeks. To answer that question, there is no way to know if it will be a "better" detox. Just plan on the usual physical symptoms (sweating, shaking, nausea, vomiting, insomnia etc.) Look up the Thomas recipe on here and tell him to get the stuff on there before he comes to you. Again, the detox will be a mere blip compared to his whole life, where he needs to learn to live w/o drugs. That's where the focus needs to be. Take it from us who have been there!

You wrote:
." The only thing that scares me is I heard an addict say they scored their next hit from someone at a meeting.... my husband is also concerned about him being immersed in that environment, and says why can't he get involved with people who are busy advancing their lives who have nothing to do with drugs, and keep his mind busy with productive, non-drug-related things? "

I can see how as non-addicts you both would think that. But oh boy, it doesn't work that way. Your hubbie needs alanon, too. He seems to not understand addiction. If a fulfilling, productive life was the answer to drug addiction, there would be no addicts. Phillip Seymour Hoffman would still be alive. So would John Belushi. You get the point. Don't be worried about scoring at meetings. I have never experienced anything like that, neither has anyone I know. I suppose it could happen but that's like don't go on an airplane, it could crash. Same concept.

Btw, for your niece, I'm sure it's so scary not knowing where she is. I cannot tell you how many folks I met at meetings who were in her situation and it was their "bottom" and it made them WANT to get they got help. So, you never know what could be the best thing for someone. No matter how exciting a job opportunity is or a relationship or whatever, the addiction will come first if not properly arrested. We do that by getting major support. I have absolutely zero external reason to abuse painkillers. Great, loving family, money, education, absolutely no addiction in my family, yet l'm an addict. As they say it's "cunning, baffling and powerful."

Your openmindedness will be a GREAT asset to you. So good for you. As you've prob read, folks post constantly, so post as much as you want. There is so much knowledge on here. It just will come in a few hours:)
Avatar universal
It is impossible to say if his detox will be easier. Addiction is progressive, when we start to use again, our brain picks up as if we never stopped using. His brain has memory of how it responded to drugs before, so it can go right back into that state quickly, no matter how long one has been clean. Heroin physical detox is about a week, but the reasons we used and the mental detox take some time and work to build a strong relapse prevention plans and coping skills. Quitting drugs is the first step in a loooong process, it is often described as the easy part. Staying clean, as he just learned, is the hard part. He won't be physically ill for a long time, though the real healing only begins, after that.
Avatar universal
Thank you all so much for the advice and support! He will be here tonight, just starting w/d. I'm going to the store to get supplies, so thanks so much for the tip on the Thomas recipe. I will look at that right away.

Definitely understand about the healing that is needed after the w/d. We both know about the depression, etc. so meetings will be important. I'm wondering how soon can he start going... like on day 6 of w/d maybe?

God bless you all for the help you give. I hope someday I can help other moms in this situation.
Avatar universal
My meetings encouraged me to go, even when I had to sit by the door, in case I had to hurl. It was good for reminding them of what it is like, and it was good to wake up, or regain my consciousness, surrounded by support who gets it. From my experience, the sooner he goes to meetings the better.
2107676 tn?1388973859
Hi there and welcome
I think you are awesome and that your son is very lucky to have you as parents.  It is wonderful that he can be so open and honest with you.  I'm sure he doesn't want to disappoint you so being accountable to you will help him in the long run.
I can understand him wanting to be with you.  Withdrawals are very scary and some compassion from you will help with the depression especially.
Please let us know if we can help in any way and tell your son to come on and chat with us if he feels up to it.  There's always questions and concerns going through this.

Hugs
Pat
271792 tn?1334979657
I applaud you for helping the way that you are. Your son is truly blessed. I always suggest some form of aftercare to every member I speak with here. So few do it and follow through and each time I see a member return who has relapsed I ask "Are you engaged in any form of aftercare?" And sadly the answer is always no. I could not do this alone. I have a disease called addiction for which there is no known cure. I have to work on my recovery every day and I do not do it alone. I will be an addict for as long as I live. I have the choice to be a active addict or an addict in recovery. I make that choice every morning.

It is imperative that your son work on the issues that cause him to use drugs. He needs to learn life skills and coping skills and he needs to learn relapse prevention. He needs to work on his triggers. Getting away, or moving, from one place to get away from the people he used with is great. But he can easily find new people. There is no geographical cure and if he is like the rest of us he will find drugs on a deserted island if he wants to.

Again, I think what you're doing is wonderful but at some point he will need to go it without you. His recovery is HIS and your Al-Anon program is YOURS.

As soon as he can let him go to a meeting. If it is day 2 that is great. As long as he can get there. He doesn't even need to talk. He can simply listen for the first few days. That is important as well.

I suggest that he come here and become a member so we can support him and guide him through this. Again, this is his recovery.

Both of you are in my prayers. I hope we hear from you and you continue to post. Someone is always around should you have questions.
Avatar universal
Thanks so much everyone. It's hard to believe how much people here care :-)  He got here tonight, doing OK. Last use was 8 AM this morning. He had a good dinner, trying to eat while he still has an appetite. We have gathered a bunch of suggested over-the-counter meds (Imodium AD, Advil, Advil PM, a remedy for RLS, sub-lingual B complex vitamins and multi-vitamins, BenGay, and have Withdrawal-Ease daytime and nighttime formulas. Epsom salts for lots of hot baths. Bottled water, Sprite, soup & crackers and peanut butter, etc. Some nice tea that helps with sleep. I'll be available for massages as needed. I know the next 3 days are going to be hard. I'm sharing your comments with my son. We really appreciate your feedback, concern, and especially prayers! I hope all of you are doing well!
2107676 tn?1388973859
Well it sure sounds like you are well stocked and prepared.  That is huge.  Maybe you could run a small rehab after this?  lol, kidding.
I hope it's not too bad for him.  I'm sure he knows that withdrawals get worse the older we get.  He is so young and doesn't have to have all of the wasted years that so many of us have, regret and wish we could do over, clean.
Please check in and let us know how you are ALL doing.
Avatar universal
Thanks Pat!  Actually my heart is with all addicts and I would certainly like to find a way to help make the world a better place, free of addictions and drugs and medical systems that contribute to addictions. I wish people knew of other, better ways to reduce physical and emotional pain. I do think there are but we have a lot to learn about all that, and it takes lots of time. I'm working on it!

It's 28 hours after son's last dose, he's all bundled up in bed and not feeling great but he says he thinks he can eat lunch, at least some of it. That's a good thing, because he may not feel like eating for the next few days. Hopefully the NFL will keep his mind busy for awhile today.

Thanks again for the support, it helps :-)
Avatar universal
Hi, I was wondering how you were doing today. And yes, I mean how YOU are doing:) Did you look up an Alanon meeting? Now is the time to go, trust me on this one.
271792 tn?1334979657
I wrote with regards to him attending meetings, amongst other things.

If he is able to get up and eat then he is surely able to go to a meeting. The fellowship suggests 90 meetings in 90 days. The sooner the better. As I stated, he will have his disease for the rest of his life.He needs to learn about addiction and recovery. If he believes that he can just put the drug down and Poof..he is cured then he will be in scary place down the road. You stated that he had one year clean started back on Heroin again. Why? He needs to get to the root of the problem.  I know he is your son and you want to help and you are one heck of a mom to do what you are doing but there is a fine line between helping and enabling. I am concerned for both of you.
Avatar universal
Hey y'all, thanks for staying in touch.  It's 11:30 PM, 39-1/2 hours into it. He is feeling pretty rough but we have been doing various things to help. He got up and had dinner with us, and we had a good discussion. My husband made it clear to him how hard this is on me. Hubby asked the question about how and why something like this can happen, when the consequences are known, so my son tried to explain to us how an addict's brain works when confronted with triggers, i.e. the internal arguing back and forth, rationalizing, etc. We also talked about going to meetings. I think we can go Tuesday (starting day 4), that's the only weekly Al-Anon meeting here, and there's an AA meeting nearby at the same time. My husband told him he wanted to film him each day so he would look at it and never want to use again. My son said that would probably be good, so later on my husband took a video when he was on the couch with RLS and twitching, and asked him a couple of questions. He will add more each day. Someday when he's sober and feeling wonderful, he can look at that when he wants to be reminded of what he never wants to experience again.

As for me, I'm good; just happy he is here and determined to get back to the successful life he was building for himself. He has to be clean to pursue this career, I think they sometimes have random drug tests at the job he wants, so I feel hopeful that it will be a good deterrent as well as his desire for a good life ahead, and his desire not to hurt people who love him. I know the next 3 days will be harder, but I think I'm ready.  And he is strong and determined. And we believe in prayer :-)
Avatar universal
Hmmm I know for a fact I wouldn't have wanted anyone taping me going through my detox 3 weeks ago,I couldn't stand to be touched let alone video taped and stared at. But I deff hope it helps your son!! Everything you're doing for him is amazing btw! :)
Avatar universal
Hi, glad you checked in, too.

You are an amazing Mom that's for sure. I don't wanna keep harping on this but I will anyway:) building a good life, random drug tests at work, new friends or a million dollars will not keep ANY addict sober. Unless he/she works a program. That's why after a year your son relapsed. He cannot, cannot, cannot (cannot) go back out there and do this alone. So, good that he is going to a meeting. He needs to go daily like IBKLEEN wrote.

Another thing, I hope you are not waiting on him while he is w/ you. This  experience needs to be a consequence of his actions. Resist the urge to ask him how he feels, what his symptoms are etc. I know that goes against every motherly urge you have. They call it detaching w/ love or tough love. He's not on vacation and he doesn't have the flu. He's experiencing the results of a heroin addiction.

And don't forget, tomorrow, go about your business. Same w/ your hubbie. No matter how sick he is.

Keep posting and let us know how you are.
Avatar universal
Hi there! I have been reading the posts and now I'm going to reinforce what everyone is telling you about your son, yourself, and husband getting into an aftercare program. You will hear it over and over but it is so true... Getting clean is the easy part, staying clean is the hardest. I am a prime example! No matter how much I love God and love my family I continued to go back to using. I prayed, cried, and begged for this addiction to be ripped away from me. 4 yrs ago I broke down and told my family. I did not do any aftercare. Here I am again, detoxing from a large amount of oxy(synthetic heroin). I'm so embarrassed that I don't want to tell my mom. I don't want to let her down once again. I did come clean to my husband so I'm not totally alone. (Thank God) I did all the right things as far as cutting off contacts with all my friends, suppliers, doctors. I changes my number, had a good job, ect. The problem is that is as far as I went with it. I figured I could go at it alone. Each time I relapsed I took higher and higher doses. This is how a lot of people OD. It's a miracle that I am still alive. Addiction is a very serious issue and I thank God that I finally see that I can't do this alone. I'm praying for you and your family-Jess
2107676 tn?1388973859
I hope all is going well.  Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
Avatar universal
Hello there, and thanks for your comments and sharing stories of your own.  Jess I wish you much success as you go through this time of healing. You got this, believe it!  Pat, yes, thanks, there is a light at the end of the tunnel :-)

My son is through 4-1/2 days and doing as you would expect, maybe slightly better because of all of supplements, healthy meals and healthy environment, etc. Yesterday was a better day, tonight he's up and down (all the usual issues). Nights are always bad. All normal, I suppose. We talked a LOT yesterday during his good time, very good open and honest communication and information exchange on addiction. He is having a hard time getting motivated to exercise, although I keep encouraging him. The freezing cold outside doesn't help, when he's already chilling, but he did 10 minutes on the elliptical indoors a couple of days ago. Hot baths with Epsom salts have been helpful.  He remains positive about getting this done.

He hasn't physically felt like attending a meeting, but he said he will, and I will encourage it by this weekend. I've been emphasizing the importance of aftercare to him and sharing some of your comments.

Just an update so you know that we are making progress. He's strong and determined.

All the best to everyone here.  What a great community, to jump right in and offer support every day---thanks for lifting us up, I will do the same for you..... God bless you all.
Avatar universal
Hey, glad you checked in:)

What about your Alanon meeting? It's vital now more than ever to start!
Avatar universal
That's great!! You should also get him on this forum his self. It's helped me a lot.
Avatar universal
So glad that you checked in! This forum has helped me a lot too! God bless! --Jess
271792 tn?1334979657
I am so glad he is getting through the physical detox. that being said, I am very concerned that he claims he is not ready to attend a meeting. He needs to get into aftercare ASAP and be around people who are clean and getting clean. These people understand him and can guide him and help him with his issues. If he doesn't get in to some kind of aftercare I guarantee he will relapse. This relapse what was missing? Aftercare. I stress this because I have been where he is too many times and I finally listened and got help.

I had asked if he would create an account and come here and talk with us. Is he willing to do that?

I really fear for him. Two simple things were suggested and he has not done either. He still believes that he has a drug problem and that he can put the drugs down and be ok. If only. I will pray for him tonight.
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