Comment: What is it like to be the mother of an addict?

My daughter was born in May of 1984 on one of the happiest days of my life. I wanted so much more for her than I had growing up. There was alcohol abuse, mental-health issues and drug issues rampant in my family as a child.

I knew I could do such an amazing job of raising my child in an atmosphere where none of those things from my childhood would affect her.

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I loved her beyond words, like mothers do.

I took her to swim lessons, ballet, birthday parties at McDonald’s, whatever her heart desired. I went to her parent-teacher meetings and school concerts and enrolled her in youth bowling, which she loved.

She was such a beautiful child, full of love.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would change. After all, I was a good parent. Then, adolescence hit and the spiral began.

We tried family counselling when she became angry and distant. We thought it was just teenage angst.

Then, in high school, she began experimenting with drugs.

Fast forward and she’s now 35 years old and a homeless drug addict.

She was sober for about seven years and lived a normal life with a job, car and two children of her own. She was a contributing member of society.

Then, something happened to her at her job and she went through a personal tragedy. She made the choice to use drugs again in order to cope. From that point, it has gone downhill.

My daughter has lost everything precious to her because of the overwhelming need to use. She loves her children and family, but the desire to use takes her over every waking moment.

She wants out.

She wants her life back.

But there are obstacles. She reaches out for help, applies for a detox bed and there is a wait list. If you are lucky enough to get a bed, the stay is four to seven days and you’re out.

You are expected to stay sober until you can get a bed in “stabilization,” but there is an even longer wait list than there was for detox.

There is no place to go but back to what you know.

If you are lucky enough to get a bed in “stabilization,” you are newly sober with no coping mechanisms. You are allowed out during the day.

You are encouraged to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings. From a parent’s perspective, you hope that is where your child is going.

If a person makes it through stabilization without relapsing, which is usually three weeks, they need to find a treatment bed that is subsidized.

That step comes with another long wait list.

And there is no long-term treatment facility for women in Victoria.

You can see how hard it is for these people to get help.

I know money has been spent on the opioid crisis, harm reduction, shelters and creating subsidized housing. But more needs to be done in terms of treatment for mental-health and drug-abuse issues.

If a person has money, and that can mean tens of thousands of dollars, they can pay for treatment.

I don’t have that kind of money.

Why is drug abuse treated differently than any other illness? It is an illness.

My heart is so broken.

I cry. I lose sleep.

I wait for that phone call, the one that will bring me to my knees.

This goes on year after year and wears you down until you are just sad, always sad.

I see my daughter try to get up and I see her fall back down.

I see her broken and only a shell of the person she used to be. I see her do things that she never thought she would ever do to survive, her beauty more and more scarred.

She wants her life back more than anything, but can’t seem to get out.

The pain and loss I feel is beyond words. No one but a mother can understand the suffering.

She’s still my little girl, with the pigtails and tutu, winning those bowling trophies, an amazing mother to her children and a kind, loving and compassionate human being.

I know she is still in there and just needs help to find herself again.

There are no words.

The name of the author has been withheld to respect her family’s privacy.

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