Where should we send our son?

Where should we send our son?

After months of trying to hide that their child is abusing drugs, parents often ask me, “Where did you send your son to ‘get well’?”

I know what they really mean.  They know Jacob is healthy now.  So they must be asking about the treatment center I “sent” him to, because it “cured” him, right?

A sharp memory returns.  So does the panic.

I am sitting in a hotel room in Naples, Florida attending a conference.  The day before I visited Jacob.  He was one month into his third, inpatient stay, this time at a rehab facility on Florida’s east coast.  Until then, I’d never seen or heard of the place.

Weeks earlier there had been an urgent call from his counselor in Florida: “Your son needs detox badly.”

Within hours, 1,000 miles away from our home in Maryland, my 21-year-old son was admitted to a place I prayed was the “right” place.

Visiting him a month later, I tried hard to overlook that the building resembled a renovated motel – and likely was. No fancy entrance. No gardens.  Not even a parking lot.  Just a rambling, two-story white building with faded siding and a few picnic tables on a cement slab out-front.  That’s where Jacob and I were permitted to sit while he savored the bagel sandwich I’d brought him, while I sat mutely, near tears to see him alive and “safe.”

Later, alone in the hotel room doubts assailed me.  Was Jacob in the “right” place?   Wouldn’t he be better off somewhere else, where at least there was a patch of green?

Worries mounted.  Over the phone I grilled Jacob.  Was he “happy?”  Did he want to move to another place?  I even called one of the “better known” facilities nearby and spoke at length with a counselor  who agreed to consider my transferring Jake.

“My” transferring Jake.  Even saying it today recalls the absurdity of that moment.  What right did I have to uproot him from his recovery, or dictate where he should be?

Jacob DID get well.  Right where he was.  But first, I had to back off – and let him get well.

As he tells me often, Mom, an addict can get well anywhere, if he wants it badly enough.

 And I need to remember that recovery – for Jacob and especially for me – is not about where we go, but where we are.

2 Replies to “Where should we send our son?”

  1. Right on point!!! It is so hard to tolerate uncertainty when your child’s safety is at stake, until you can mitigate your own addiction to control. Excellent experience to share…

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