Mission Moment: Don’t Give Up

Advice from a mother with a son in recovery

She discovered her son smoking marijuana. He was 14. “It turns out he had been smoking weed since he was 12 and I didn’t even know,” his mom said. “But I started to see a change in him, and then he decided to get brave and smoke it in our home.”

Increasingly, mom explained, he’d been hanging with the wrong crowd and getting in trouble. “He was disobeying at school and had difficulty staying in control because he is bipolar,” his mom said. “His medicine wasn’t right, he started rebelling hard and he was acting violent. I was worried because he was self-medicating with marijuana. He told me it made him feel better, but I don’t know about that. It was discouraging to see him like that at such a young age.”

His actions landed him in Drug Court. “They put him in a short-term program in central Mass,” his mom said, “but he violated probation by continuing to use. So Drug Court gave us a choice: DYS (Department of Youth Services) custody or a residential recovery house. We chose recovery.”

CHD Goodwin House is the only 90-day residential recovery program in Massachusetts for male youth 13 to 17 years old. “It was great there, with people of different races and backgrounds living together,” his mom said. “My son had a couple moments of trying to test people, but the structured environment was good for him. His treatment wasn’t just about his drug use. They also worked with him on his mental health. They taught him life skills and responsibility for himself. At Goodwin House he learned how far he can get if he wants it. He knows he can put the resources in front of him to good use.”

Her son recently graduated from Goodwin House. “Being away for three months helped him break away from some of those bad people he used to hang with,” she explained. “Now he’s not getting in trouble. Judging by his behavior, I am hopeful he isn’t smoking anymore. And staff from Goodwin House check on him regularly to see how he’s doing and guide him to make good choices. It helps that he still has that connection, even after he finished there.”

Mother and son

Her son is now enrolled in a recovery high school, but he has a chance to go to Job Corps to learn a trade or job skills. “He’s hands-on and I think he’ll do better when he learns by doing,” she said. “He thinks he wants to get into metal fabricating or welding.  It’s the next step for him to stay on the right track and earn his GED. As his mother, that’s my goal for him.”

Now that she has a son in recovery, the mom has some advice for other parents. “Stay on top of what your kids are doing and stay positive. If you’re a working, single parent like I am, it can be hard, but find whatever outlets you can to help them do the right thing. Help them find good friends and keep them away from bad people. Know where they’re going. Don’t give them money, even for doing chores, if you think they’re using it to buy drugs. Smoking weed can escalate to something else. And stick to your guns. You want them to know they can come and talk to you about anything at any time, but you have to be the one who’s in charge or they’ll lose respect for you. Remember who is the kid and who is the parent. And most importantly, don’t give up.”

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