A young mum who had a life-changing experience at Holyoake, shares her feelings about the day she discovered her son’s drug secret.
She hopes this will help other parents who may be confronted with a similar situation.

So I was lying on the sofa at about 10pm watching TV with my husband and my daughter, and cuddling my gorgeous dog. It was almost our bedtime. My 15 year old son was at his friend’s house for a sleepover.

My phone rang and I saw it was my son. I knew something was wrong as he never phones me from a sleepover. He sounded very serious on the other end and just said can you please come and get me. I jumped in the car and drove straight there (thankfully I didn’t have to think twice about this since I was sober).

His friend’s mother answered the door and told me to come in and that my son had something he needed to tell me. As I entered the kitchen to find him and his friend sitting at the table, I noticed a bong straight away. My son admitted that he brought some weed to the sleepover and they had been caught smoking it out in the garden.

His friend’s mother was very upset because her brother has issues with drugs and it has caused a lot of problems for them as a family. We ended up having a grown-up conversation about the risks we all take when we allow ourselves to be altered by substances. Some people become dependent, some don’t but there is always a risk. I shared that I have overcome my own issues, both weed and alcohol.

I was still there at midnight, having a discussion with this mother and our two sons, about what makes people run that risk. We talked about YOLO (you only live once) and how common this attitude is amongst young people today. I explained that I too had thought like that once upon time, but I learnt the hard way… that whatever I choose to do today will impact on what happens me tomorrow… and yes, I will live once but I want to live a happy life every day, not just today.

We talked about how the urge to escape from ourselves and our environment is in most of us and we need to be aware of that and challenge it. I asked the boys about what other ways they could have a good time without taking on too much risk. They both said that they love the buzz of mountain biking and they also enjoy achieving goals. We talked more about this in terms of the importance of little goals, not just big ones… because we need to build ourselves over time.

It was midnight by the time I took my son home, after he apologised to the family for bringing weed into their house.

But the conversation didn’t stop there. Back home, we sat in the kitchen until the early hours while my son admitted to me that he has been doing weed regularly. I was completely shocked. I had no idea. He managed to hide it so well from me. How did I miss this? I have been sober for almost 18 months!

But look… he came clean. He offloaded everything. He told me he felt so much better for ‘unburdening’ himself. He said he really doesn’t want to continue down that path as he knows that addiction is a horrible prison for many people. That he is beginning to understand that it isn’t always about the substance… but about the mindset of the person in the first place. We talked at length about this mindset. We agreed that as long as we think a substance is going to make us happier then we continue to reach for it. What we need to do is challenge this thinking and listen to our hearts more.

We finally got to bed at 2am after hugging each other. My son was incredibly grateful to me for listening to what he had to say and for not getting angry about it. I told him that if I had been drinking, I would have reacted very differently. I would have been shouting and crying and would have had to drink to comfort myself for I would have thought it was all my fault.

Instead I was able to see with the clarity of sobriety that this is just a young man trying to find his way. He was pushing the boundaries, experimenting with forbidden fruits, learning about himself and coming home to the security of a family that loves him. He also realised that we care deeply about him and want him to be happy. Rather than shouting, I just talked to him about how the choices he makes today will impact on the choices he makes tomorrow… and will determine how he feels about himself and how his life turns out.

The next day he woke up with remorse but grateful for our support. He spent the whole day repairing bikes for people in our neighbourhood. We grounded him for the next six weeks, and he lost the privilege of his phone for a while. He agreed that he needed to learn from this experience. Not having a phone and not being able to see his mates will be reason enough. And he accepts this.

My son is my first born and as such I am on a huge learning curve. The bottom line is that I dread the thought of my son suffering in the way I did with addiction. I want to help him find more positive strategies to help him deal with life’s challenges rather than reaching for a substance to make him feel happy.

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