Pimping My Son

750px-Flag_of_Edward_England_svgFor those of you new to this blog, it’s not what you think. You’ll have to read my last post, and maybe a couple more before that, to truly understand.

For those of you who have been following this sad saga, I’ve totally screwed up. And if after reading this you’ve lost faith in me, I understand. I’ve lost faith in myself as well.

I held strong for three days.

Three days of him begging me to drive him to town so he could buy some Methadone on the street to hold him over until he could get a prescription for Suboxane. We’d been trying to get a referral to a specialist to help him with his heroin addiction. But he didn’t think he could hold out that long. He needed something. Now.

Three days I held out, each day listening to him plead: “Please, please, please, Mom! You don’t know how I’m hurting here. If you don’t help me I’m going to call one of my buddies to pick me up and drive me into town. If I do that, who knows if I’ll ever make it back here, where it’s safe.”

“If you don’t help me, if you make me hitch-hike into town, I’ll be shooting heroin again. You know I will. But I don’t want that. I don’t want to OD again! Just help me get some Methadone. Please, please. Help me!”

When I still refuse, he looks at me like I’m crazy:

“I don’t understand! You want me to take Suboxane, right? You say I need it to get off heroin. But you won’t take me to get some Methadone to hold me over until I can get it? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s not my fault the referral is taking so long. It’s not my fault that the system is screwed up. That I can’t get the meds I need legally. Please, please! I’m begging you! I don’t want to die.”

Three days I hold out. Each day worried sick that he would leave. That he would shoot up. That he would die. He’d already OD’ed three times in the past six months. Once on my bathroom floor. It could easily happen again.

And if it did, if he died, and I remembered how he’d begged me, how could I live with that? How could I?

All the arguments he made replayed in my mind. He had a point. If he needs medication to keep from shooting heroin, and if he can’t get it legally because the system truly is screwed up, then what’s the harm with doing what he asks? Was I being too morally pure by refusing to help him get what he needs just because it doesn’t come from a doctor, just because he doesn’t have a prescription for it?

So it came down to this: Do I stick to my principles and stay morally pure? Or do I cave to his pleas and possibly save his life?

I caved. Twice. When his referral to the doctor got delayed, and we found out we’d have to wait another week for his appointment, I caved again.

Hating myself both times for doing it, hating him for talking me into it, hating our broken healthcare system for putting us in this position

I drove my son all over the county, taking him into seedy neighborhoods while he tried to find someone to sell him Methadone so he could keep from shooting heroin.

Or so I told myself.

The crazy fact is, I had no idea if what he was actually buying was Methadone. Or even if it was, if shooting that or snorting it, or whatever it was he was doing with Methadone, was any safer or saner than heroin.

Each time I watched him disappear into someone’s house, or down an alley, I felt like a pimp. Like I was pimping my son. Driving him around town, looking for drugs, selling him out.

I was letting his addiction, the thing that is ruining his life, that is killing him, talk me into buying him drugs. And all the arguments about how I was just helping him, saving his life, seemed incredibly naive and twisted.

“We’re just buying Methadone until he gets a prescription for Suboxane!”

“We’re just plugging the holes in our broken healthcare system.”

“We’re just trying to keep him from using heroin and dying.”

But I don’t even know if it’s Methadone he’s buying! It could have been heroin all along.

I see its skull-and-cross-bone face now, grinning. “Thank you, Mama!” it tells me. “Thank you for selling me your son.”


34 thoughts on “Pimping My Son

  1. Thank you for sharing such honest and raw words. There is such depth and courage here. I can’t bring myself to click the “like” button on such a painful situation, but I had to comment. My heart goes out to your family. Thank you for posting and being real. Please keep writing.


  2. Don’t beat yourself up too bad. Honestly, in some cases it is safer to help the addict get methadone or suboxone off the streets until they can get the help the need. I wouldn’t even blame you if you did get him heroin, I’ve known people to get it for their loved ones and give it to them as needed. I believe strongly in harm-reduction, and that belief system is that any single thing that can help to prevent harm, whether it be a syringe exchange or simply doing a bit less heroin, or doing it somewhere safer than usual, is a good first step and can help save lives.

    I would recommend, however, to see what he is getting. I have been on methadone and suboxone so I have a pretty good knowledge of both, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

    Also, there are many support groups on Facebook that you might be interested in. Often they’re good just to vent or for advice.

    I hope things get better for you as fast as possible.


    • Oh! Also, I don’t know if it’s legal or not in your area or even where you are, but more states and counties have been legalizing Naloxone or another form of a life-saving overdose medication, which you may be able to get certified to carry. I can also look into that for you if you’d like.


    • It’s good to know that I’m not alone in doing this, which in hindsight seems so incredibly stupid and terrible. I don’t know if this may have saved his like or not. I tried to get him to give me the drugs so I could dole them out to him as needed. He refused the first time, and the second time when I insisted he did give them to me, or so I thought. Later I learned (he told me) they were aspirin (although a weird looking aspirin I-2 on them). He kept the real stuff. So I don’t know what he was taking. He’s gone now. Left yesterday after an argument. Today is his long-awaited doctor’s appointment. Don’t know if he’ll make it there on his own.


      • As you know, everyone’s path is different. You and he will eventually find what works for you. Can you call him? Maybe put things to the side to make sure he gets there?

        I don’t really pray, but I’ll be hoping for you that he gets there and things get better soon!


        • Oh no=[ Well, that’s all you can do right now. My suboxone doctor is very understanding if I have to reschedule, the only other thing I could think to do would, if you haven’t heard from him by the time of the appointment, to call them and see if he can come another time.


  3. I am so sincerely sorry for the suffering you and your son are enduring. I wish I had more a substantive thing to say. Thank you for blogging so honestly about this situation.


  4. This is a tough blog to read. Tough and significant. It’s important for us alcoholics and addicts to read stuff like this. It keeps the damage we once did current in our heads, and helps prevent relapse. For me it does anyway. Remember that we don’t want to hurt you. We’re crazy. Our addictions consume our souls and turn us into animals. We manipulate and shouldn’t be trusted while in the throes of our addictions, and even for sometime after getting sober. I hope your son gets help, and buys into a recovery program wholeheartedly. Young people have less of a chance of making it through to the other side; they haven’t suffered as much as older folk. Their egos and self-will fight harder. But recovery does happen reasonably often, even among those who would seem hopeless cases. I wish you all the best with this. I ache for you and, in being reminded by your posts, for my own loved ones.


    • Thank you, Eric. I know he doesn’t mean to hurt me, that he can’t control what the drugs do to him, and he’s been doing this so long, it probably feels more “normal” to him than sober feels. It helps hearing from people who have been through this and made it to the other side. I am so glad you stopped here and shared your thoughts.


  5. Oh, what could you do? I would have done the same. How are we to know what’s truth in such insanity? Be gentle with yourself. You are a good mother and like any of us, doing the best you can.


  6. I agree with the others. This reminded me of a scene in The Basketball Diaries. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. I wish you and your son peace.


  7. I’m so very sorry. I’ve been through a similar dilemma. So so tough. And if anybody hasn’t been through it they can’t understand all the conflicting worries that plague you as you try to make a decision, especially considering we get so little help from the people who are supposed to be trained to help. xo


  8. I saddens me to read this. I really have no words. I can only think of you as a mother who would do anything for her son to make sure he was kept from all the pain. The pain of the world, the pain of withdrawal, the pain of overdose. I have not read but two of your posts. I was wondering if your son started his addiction with pain pills? Irrelevant to your post, but I am curious.


    • Thank you, Marnie. I’m not sure what started his addiction. I know he smoked pot as a teen, but I don’t think it started there. I know he abused alcohol as he got older and it was when he was living in New Orleans that he started his heroin addiction.


  9. Just a little technical note: Suboxone is a fantastic substance. It blocks the opiate receptors and weans the addict off gently (or gentler, at least). It is non-addictive and if the addict stays with the regimen and follows up with recovery, they can get and stay drug-free within a matter of days or weeks (but that’s a big “IF”). Kicking methadone is roughly 1000x more difficult than kicking heroin. Where the withdrawals from a heroin kick (cold turkey) will last about a week, the withdrawals from methadone can last as long as 6 months or more, depending on the dosage. I don’t know why, but there is something about the drug that makes it far worse to get off of. Yes, if your son has problems with OD’ing, then methadone is probably safer in the short term… but if he’s not using already, then neither methadone nor suboxone will help him. Once you’ve begun the kick, especially after you’ve got a day or two under your belt, there is absolutely no reason an addict would need to go back onto any sort of opiod.

    And a little non-technical note: He will continue to use you as long as you continue to enable him. It takes roughly 6 people to support an addict. Whenever one stops supporting him, he is forced to adjust his lifestyle. He will not get sober until he’s ready, regardless of what you do. The only thing you can do, and the best thing you can do for him is to take care of yourself. Get into al-anon or therapy or something – find out why you have a compulsive need to take care of a full grown man who wants to act like an entitled little brat.

    Yes, I know that was harsh, but I’m a recovering heroin addict myself, my ex-husband is still an active heroin addict and I spend my life working with other addicts and alcoholics. We cannot get anyone else sober if they don’t want to. Just like we can’t make anyone else use if they don’t want to. Be strong, mama. I know it’s hard, but if you don’t get help for yourself it’s just going to get harder for you.


    • I appreciate your honesty, Laurie, and your tips about suboxane and methadone. Unfortunately he was unable to get the prescription for suboxane and has now started a methadone detox at a clinic.

      As for why I have “a compulsive need to take care of a full grown man who acts like a brat”, I’m still working on the answer to that. Although there have been long periods of time that I did not support him, where I cut him off, but that didn’t seem to help either. I just don’t want him to die. And if I can help keep him from dying, that’s my main concern. After 3 overdoses in the past 6 months, once on my bathroom floor, once in a motel room where his “friends” abandoned him, and after living on the streets for weeks, covered in a staff infection, talking about death, even then I did not go to “rescue” him. My latest try to help came after he’d been picked up and jailed (thank God) and released. I thought now here’s a chance to help him while he’s “clean.” Turned out he wasn’t clean in jail, and I got caught up in old behaviors that I deplore. I knew they weren’t right. I felt awful. I felt helpless. I felt confused. And honestly, hard as it is to say, if I was in my son’s position, I think I would give up, I don’t think I’d have the will to live any longer, and especially if everyone I love had abandoned me.

      As far as help for myself goes, creating this blog was my attempt to get help for myself, a writing therapy, writing through the grief, the hopelessness, the confusion, the craziness. And my spiritual practice–prayer, meditation, and reading, lots of reading on the subject of addiction and co-dependency and spirituality.

      Does he want to be helped? I think he does. I know he doesn’t want to die. I know he’s “trying” to get through this, the pain and torment in his life, in the only way he knows how. I think he wants to get off the drugs–sometimes, when he’s feeling strong, hopeful. And he just want to slip back into a stupor when things go awry.

      I’m at the point where I am letting go again. I’ll be writing more about that in my next posts. But do know I appreciate your “tough love” approach in trying to get me to seek help. I am joining a Nar-Anon group online, to go with the prayer, reading and writing therapy. Baby steps, for me too, I guess.


  10. As the mother of an opiate addict, i can definitely relate to your post. I have never been in that specific situation, but I have surprised myself at what I have been willing to do for my son. We are all just trying to do the best we can to save our children and sometimes that means harm reduction or whatever it takes to save them for one more day. I am confused about why a suboxone doctor would delay your son’s treatment for so long. My family actually had the opposite situation. Once my son agreed to treatment, he was told how long he needed to be in withdrawl before being inducted with suboxone. He was on his first dosage within 24 hours. Expecting a heroin addict to wait days for treatment to start is not reasonable. Also, I differ with the information the above poster stated. Suboxone is indeed very addictive and if the patient stops taking it they will experience withdrawls. Suboxone can be a life saving medication if used properly and it has changed my son’s life dramatically. The key is finding a doctor/program that requires your son to be responsible and work on recovery rather than just hand over a prescription. Don’t give up- there is help for your son.


    • Thank you for writing. Yes, sometimes harm reduction seems the only way forward for us. On your question about suboxane, in the past I paid for it, and he’d been going to a psychiatrist, but at that time it didn’t work, he was abusing his meds, went downhill, and ended up back in jail. This time we were trying to get his meds through Medicare, and his primary doctor could not refer him to a psychiatrist. The best he could do was to refer him to a pain specialist who could also prescribe suboxane for pain (so my son tells me). When his appointment kept getting delayed I offered to pay for him to go to an addiction specialist to get the meds, but it would have been expensive out of pocket and my son didn’t want me to do that. So maybe that answers your confusion. Yet, either way, whether someone is in pain and needs meds or in an addiction crisis and needs meds, you’d think they would get you in ASAP. That’s what’s been so frustrating.


  11. My absolutely heart breaks for you. Your story is my story with my son. I strongly, strongly encourage you to seek counsel for yourself – it will help you. I know it will. I am praying for you. There is no judgment here. I have made all the same mistakes. You just need some extra wisdom, strength, some extra arms around you.


  12. You’re an amazing mum.to keep fighting for your son so much. All the prayer and meditation is also giving you a place to release the trauma you go through and urge you to get as many people supporting you such as counsellors and support group and listening partners who can help with the release work


  13. Wow, this really hit home. I’ve done the same thing with my son. He is finally off of Methadone, which he was on for 10 years. Then he went on to benzos. Finally just got off of them, but can’t sleep and it’s been weeks since he’s really slept. So I caved. I took him to get something so he could sleep.

    It’s so hard, isn’t it, to know the right thing to do in this kind of situation? Whatever you decide makes you sick to your stomach. You always think you’ve done the wrong thing, and that you’re the worst mother in the world and who else would actually take their kid to score drugs?!

    Thanks for the honesty displayed here. It can’t be any easier to write these things than it is for some of us to read it. But the world needs your contribution. I pray you and your son will come out of this, and be stronger than ever.


    • I don’t think we are the only parents or loved ones to do crazy things like that. I’ve heard of parents taking drugs to show their kids what it feels like to be on the other end of the rope. Addiction just warps our judgement, or maybe we are just better able to justify risky or doubtful behavior because it’s in the interest of “saving” someone. But like you say, it makes us feel sick to our stomach, even when it’s a decision we’ve made. We feel helpless, pushed into a corner, ready to go to any extreme–whatever it takes. Sometimes it comes down to asking myself: “OK, if I don’t do this, and he does something crazy and dies, will I be able to forgive myself?” And the answer is always, “no.” So in a way, it’s as much for me as him. So I can live with myself if the worst happens. I do thank you for sharing with me that you’ve done the same thing. It helps to hear that, from someone who’s been there, done that. I wish all the best for you and your son.


  14. This post touched me in so many ways. So many reminders about my own addict daughter begging, pleading for “help.” When all along the real truth, that neither she nor I knew, was that she was using me. Addicts are such master manipulators. They know when someone loves them that they want so desperately to help. But sadly, any and every thing we do to help an addict may be “helping” them to an early grave. Hugs and prayers for you and your son.


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