Hello from a grandmother who has experienced raising a couple of grandchildren because of a daughter and a son-in-law's drug addiction. It has been a roller coaster dealing with the consequences of drug-addicted adults.
First of all, with the addiction comes a separating from the family and the beliefs that have been held for many years. No matter how much a mother or father tries to warn the addicted person not to do what he or she is doing, the addicted one refuses to admit that he or she is doing anything wrong. The addict’s outlook on what he or she is doing is so off base (because of the drugs).
Then there are the so-called new friends—always hanging out. In time, home, children and family mean nothing—only the addiction matters, and trying to hide it. Money is a big problem, as drugs are expensive. Selling, trading or pawning possessions may come first; then stealing from family to buy drugs, not only for themselves, but for their friends too.
The house is totally neglected to the point that it is so filthy, no one not addicted can stand to go inside anymore. Warning the addicts doesn’t work. We tried saying, “If you are selling, using or buying drugs, you will get caught!” These words go by the wayside; drug addicts become numb to the real facts. Then comes the time when you try to visit with them at their home, and you are stopped at the front door—you are no longer welcome. All kinds of excuses are made why you can't come in the house to visit with them.
The children are neglected. They no longer have neat or clean clothes and hair. They start to miss more and more school and are left alone more and more. The older child now has to get the younger one up each morning to catch the school bus. The school nurse calls repeatedly to the grandparents’ home phone, asking, "Why is the child coming to school with filthy clothing and dirty hair?" Yet the school authorities may not check on the parents, and most of the calls to the home go unanswered. Often it’s because they are sleeping off a drug-induced stupor, only to come alive late at night when everyone else, including the children, needs to sleep.
Then the police finally came in the very early morning hours with a team, broke through the door and handcuffed the occupants who were all sleeping. This was very scary for the children, seeing their parents arrested and taken away. The Child Protective Services people were called in, and the children were each taken away. The teen went to a shelter in a faraway city, and the younger child was put into a foster home until a relative could be reached.
We were coming back from the Feast of Tabernacles when we received a cell phone call that our daughter was arrested and our two grandchildren were in homes “somewhere.” When we got home, it was very hard to find out where the grandkids were. The Child Protective Services had to know who we were and how we live.
After many, many meetings and court appearances, we finally got full custody of the two grandchildren. The responsibility of taking in children in our senior years at first was very hard. We were used to a certain peace and quiet, and now we had a totally different schedule revolving around our two young ones. Even our finances suffered a radical change, with us having to provide for all their physical needs.
The children have been affected by all of the changes, for both of their parents were now in prison—one for five years and the other for two years. Just try to put yourself in the children’s shoes for that many years—how would you feel? Can you imagine what life would have been like, living in a druggie house and having so many strangers coming in your home and locking themselves in a bedroom? There would be days when you wouldn't want to go home, yet you wouldn't want your cousins, aunts or uncles and grandparents to know what was going on in your life. Without realizing it, the children tried to protect their own parents!
Prayers are needed for the children of drug addicts, and it takes professional counseling to try to help the children, which, in the long run, can have its own problems too. They have to tell someone how they feel about it all, and that is very hard for a child to do. Often they have to repeat their experience over and over again to complete strangers.
Sadly, the Child Protective Services told us that the majority of relatives will not take in or help the children of drug addicts, so the state has to take them and place them in what the government decides is a “good” place for them to live.
Drugs are so easily bought. Meth especially is one of the hardest drugs to get out of a person's system—it takes over the mind of the person. It shows no prejudice of race, color, age, religion or whether you are rich or poor. It literally changes the “look” of a person. Someone who used to be vibrant and cheerful changes into one who is lonely and miserable, with the teeth getting black or falling out, the hair and skin changing to a “ratty” look and, in many cases, the skin breaking out in sores and scabs. So long-sleeved clothing is often worn on a daily basis, even when it is hot weather. This is done to cover up the telltale marks.
Our oldest grandchild turned 18 and has moved back in with his parents, and the younger one will soon be back in her own home again, too, as soon as this year of school is over. We will have to go to the Child Protective Services to find out where to start this process.
Do not ever try taking meth or any other addicting drug, no matter what anyone tries to tell you—you will be sorry!
Only God can totally take away the addiction—which He did, in our daughter's life and in the life of her husband. They truly have repented! They tell others how it is, the real story of addiction and going to prison and all, and not the movie version of it, which is too often not telling the whole truth of drug addiction.
Remember—God never leaves us; He loves us and He wants us to be with Him. If you are thinking, ''Oh, it won't affect me!'' it will, but a loving and merciful God truly does help you to ''break free!''
This article appears in the following topics: Substance Abuse