Q. I am a 19-year-old heroin addict striving toward recovery. I go to five Narcotics Anonymous meetings a week, but I have occasional setbacks. After the most recent incident, I left drug paraphernalia in the bathroom. I took full responsibility and was ashamed and disgusted with myself. But the first thing my mother said was, “Did you leave that out on purpose so your sister could find it and start experimenting? She’s only 13!”
Annie, my sister is anti-drugs, and I talk to her a lot about the subject. I believe openness and honesty are the keys to avoidance, and I will do everything I can to save her from making the same mistakes I have made.
My parents will never understand addiction, but I wish they would try a little harder. I have repeatedly asked them to come to one NA meeting. I wrote them a three-page letter explaining the importance of my going to meetings and how valuable their support would be to me. I arranged for people to talk to my parents so they could ask questions that might be too uncomfortable to ask me directly, but they had no interest. They discourage me from attending meetings, and when I brought home literature from NA for them, they left it on the floor and the dog chewed it.
I am heartbroken and need their support so much. Fighting my addiction is hard and scary, and instead of helping, they attack. I don’t know what else I can do. – Begging for Mummy and Daddy
A. Your parents are frightened – for you and for your sister – and they also don’t trust you. Getting off of hard drugs is a difficult process, and we commend your efforts. Your parents’ support is important. But if your setbacks include using drugs in their home and leaving paraphernalia in plain sight, it contributes to their anger.
Would your parents help with the cost of a reputable rehab facility? The Salvation Army also offers a program. You are making progress, but it is often beneficial to be separated from the culture that contributes to your drug use. Please show your parents this letter, and tell them you wrote it. We hope it helps.
Dear Annie: My father has Alzheimer’s, and I have attended a support group for five years. I have learned a lot.
Please let your readers know that the Alzheimer’s Association offers support groups, as well as information on local services, how to find good medical help and social workers who can assist with problems, including wandering, driving and medication. You can learn how others have dealt with similar problems. There is informational literature on how to prepare for what may happen next with your loved one.
People who do not live in the area with the affected relative (considered a long-distance caregiver) also can benefit greatly from attending a support group where they live. The association’s focus is on all dementias, not just Alzheimer’s. Thank you for spreading the word. – Caring for Dad
Dear Dad: We often mention the Alzheimer’s Association in this space. It is an invaluable resource, and we are grateful to you for delineating what they do. Readers can contact them at alz.org.
Dear Annie: We, too, went through the same turmoil as “Indiana Mom” because of a vindictive daughter-in-law who convinced our idiot son (he’s a Ph.D.) to prevent us from seeing our grandchildren.
Finally, no longer willing to tolerate this form of “grandparent abuse,” we disinherited my son and grandchildren and will never see them again. It was a painful decision, but we had to do it in order to maintain our stability. In retrospect, it was the right decision. We have regained our emotional equilibrium. – California