Saving My Teenage Junkie

Haley doesn’t understand her own mortality. She could be one careless combination of substances away from death. If she was home, I lived in a continuing state of fear. I realized she had to be in long term treatment, I couldn’t allow her to destroy herself as well as the family.

teenage-junkieWe stood outside the entrance doors. Three to six months at the minimum, I had been told. I was numb, emotionless, tired from this long crusade. This is her fourth rehab in nine months. I wanted to be on my way home, speeding down the NJ Turnpike, done with the dispassionate and tedious process of admitting my teenager to yet another rehab. Craving a morsel of fresh hope before I walked away, I told her,

“Haley, you have to go down this road alone. I can’t come with you. Please get better this time, please,” I pleaded with her.

“I am by your side no matter what,” I tell her.

She looked at me spaced out, distracted. Her dark brown eyes were glazed over and bloodshot.

“How much longer is this gonna take? I’m exhausted and crashed. I need my midday dose. I can’t be late. The nurses in the hospital were right on time. I can’t wait any longer.”

I knew better. There’s no room in her mind right now for heartfelt sentiments. But I couldn’t help myself.

It’s the Ritalin she manipulated some doctor into prescribing that she is itching for. Smart. Feed the junkie drugs. But she had managed, as she always does.

Finally, a peppy twenty-something girl called us into a small, dark room to go over the paperwork. The process was very straightforward and impersonal.

“Sign here, sign there, here’s your copy,” she instructed me, whizzing through the stack of paperwork like a well oiled machine.

I waited for the part where I could tell her about Haley’s history and my reasons for making her start treatment once again. It didn’t happen.

It felt irresponsible to not have a conversation about her condition but she instructed me that the therapist would be in touch on Monday.

“She handles all that, I just do admissions,” she informed me.

After all, she was transported there in an ambulance straight from her two week detox stay at a local hospital. Haley was carted out of the ambulance with her Coach purse on her lap and looking like a space cadet. She had just thrown a fit as they were prepping her to leave the hospital. It was another panic attack. What a really solid attempt at gaining just one more dosage of Klonopin before the drought started.

After the paperwork, the admissions robot announced it was time for goodbyes. Detached, Haley gave me a weak, halfhearted hug.

Walking away from her, I felt a surge of guilt but I had to keep going. I forced myself to show no sign of hesitation. Despite wanting to look back, I didn’t. My daughter could smell weakness on me from a mile away. I focused on getting to the car. The blackout period had started now and I couldn’t see her or talk to her for seven days. A much needed temporary reprieve.

Haley is a challenging case no matter where she goes. Her long, lean body, sharply intelligent mind and charming people skills make her a force to be reckoned with. She’s a 17-year-old mini doctor, very well read on every kind of controlled substance and antidepressant and their effects on specific neurotransmitters in the brain. At times I’ve been embarrassed by the breadth of her knowledge. Sitting in her cave of a room drawing diagrams and making detailed lists, she devours any piece of scientific information on drugs and their interactions, side effects and symptoms needed to obtain them. She hides her knowledge disguised under the perfect recipe of symptoms to get the coveted blue piece of paper that meant her temporary mental freedom and ability to trade for other drugs. Read more at “the fix”…

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