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Personal Stories: Forced detox would prove to be lifesaving.
Personal Stories Our son is 28 years old. We believe he has been a meth addict for the past 7-8 years.

XXXXX was a bright child, full of promise for a future of success in any endeavour of his choosing. He graduated from high school with honours, having been in the PACE program, completing international baccalaureate studies and accepted to UVIC. XXXXX was also well liked amongst his peers, having no lack of friends or social activities. In addition, he was a musician who formed a band, that become well known in the city as they performed professionally.

Rather than pursue his academics, he left home immediately after grade 12 graduation. XXXXX decided that he wanted to follow his musical inclinations and it seemed to us that he needed ďtime outĒ.

During the next year or so, he left BC with some schoolmates, moving to Alberta for a few months. XXXXX decided to stay in Surrey and work, while the friends returned to Victoria. Unfortunately, sometime after this, he was introduced to crystal meth. We think, perhaps, by someone he worked with.

We did not see a lot of XXXXX during the time he lived and worked in Surrey although phone contact was regular. I can recall one or two calls where I was concerned that he may have a mental health problem, but nothing I could really identify, and certainly, nothing that he would discuss. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and how I wish I had followed my instinct and given more credence to my concerns.

XXXXX moved back to Victoria nearly six years ago. He arrived home with his beloved cat, George, in tow. He was looking thin, unshaven, and in need of family. How little did we realize what had really been going on and what it was he really needed.

We were so happy to have him home, thinking that good food and a nice to place to live would give him the lift he seemed to need. We didnít put any pressure of him, concentrating more on getting him back to looking and feeling better. We had absolutely no idea that anything more serious than the need for family, food and love was required to get him back on his feet.

XXXXX was here about 3 months, when he left for work in the interior of BC. Shortly after he arrived at the work site, we received a phone call from him that lasted for 3 hours. He was in a phone booth, telling me that someone was trying to kill him, and that he couldnít sleep because if he did thatís when he would be killed.

The nightmare of that phone call still lives me. In the course of this event, and with a phone call to his boss, it became apparent that the use of drugs had caused this psychotic episode.

Eventually, we were able to get him to drive back home, and I took him to a walk in clinic and then to our family doctor. He was given a prescription for an anti-depressant.

XXXXX got a job here and continued to live with us, but there were ďepisodesĒ that in looking back, I can see, were directly related to his use of crystal meth. At that time, I no knowledge about the drug or the harm it was causing.

In the spring of 2002 XXXXX was admitted to Eric Martin, the result of a scary (for us) psychotic episode. Thus began his connection to the mental health system. XXXXX was diagnosed at some point, as being schizophrenic, and he was placed on oral medication. He refused to take the meds and at some point he was placed on injections of influephenezine la.

Since 2002, XXXXX has been in Eric Martin, I think, three times, and he also had one stay in the Surrey psych unit having moved back there for a short period of time.

The last time XXXXX was in hospital, he walked away, and he has refused to take medication or to have any voluntary contact with his mental health caseworker.

This brings us to today.

XXXXX is without a place to live, having been evicted from the room he rented. I have since been told that the room was deemed unfit for human habitation. XXXXX told me it had ankle deep water during the rainy Christmas season, resulting in the growth of mould on the walls.

When it came time for XXXXX to move, he still hadnít looked for a new place to live. He simply wasnít capable of looking for anything. I know that his unkempt appearance would deter any landlord from giving him housing.

As a result, XXXXX moved back into our home, but he has told from the start that we would not tolerate drug use or the resultant behaviour. We also told him he would have to practice good personal cleanliness. Of course, he canít help himself, and in the first 3 weeks the pattern of abuse emerged, and we told him to leave.

XXXXX thinks that as long as he doesnít hurt us, he should live with us (ďweíre family and thatís what family doesĒ) regardless of his drug abuse. He is not able to see the harm it does to us, or to himself. While the hurt isnít physical, our own good mental health is at risk.

Since then, he slept under our patio, and currently he sleeps in the forested area close by. I did get him housed in a motel for 1 week, but further attempts to house him in motels were fruitless. One look at him, and the desk clerks or owners would just say no.

He shows up here for food nearly every day, which we give him (enablers?). On a day when heís not being nasty, I have allowed him to visit with me and Iíve listened to his disconnected chatter for hours on end. After all, he is lonely and Iím his mom.

We have made a point of not allowing him into our home while heís high. As a result, the police have been to our home 3 times in the past 3 months. Since he hasnít threatened to harm himself, there hasnít been a need to take him to hospital. (I see that need differently)

At this point, XXXXX must have housing. Living in the forest isnít safe, and the stress it causes to us canít be measured.

Regardless of what XXXXX thinks, essentially, he needs housing before all else. It must be housing that is safe, where he feels secure, and where he will have easy access to outreach workers. I believe that the presence of outreach workers in his daily living would eventually lead him to ďdrinkĒ the healing waters of detox and rehab voluntarily. This is what I want, and what I feel would be best for not just our son, but for all those who suffer like him.

The use of crystalmeth ( and other unknown drugs) has destroyed his ability to think clearly, and to make reasonable decisions. He is nearly incapable of organizing his thoughts, or his days. Having said that, I believe the he and others who have been using CM should be forced into detox and then into treatment. This should happen the minute they come onto the radar screen of any gov't agency. This includes the police, social services or mental health. After a lengthy detox, the addict would have a fighting chance of making good decisions, and would more likely be able to accept treatment.

Those who are addicted to CM are harming not only their body, as the appearance of sores and scabs would indicate, but it causes brain damage. It's this very brain damage, which prevents the addict from making any good choices. Since they are a threat to themselves, it would seem to me, that forced detox would prove to be lifesaving.

It should not be necessary for our son to commit a crime, or for us to press charges when he causes a disturbance, just in the hopes that the legal system will force detox/rehab.

There is so much more I could have written. I could have written about all the days Iíve listened to his endless chatter. The numerous times Iíve had to prove Iím his mom becaue his psychosis at the time makes him think otherwise. The anger that rises up and spills over when Iíve endured too many days of his drug induced insanity. The time he had to keep looking at his driver's license to remember who he was. The time he phoned the police because he thought there was a bomb ticking in his truck. The hospital stays, and the legal drugs they administer, but to what end. Hating to see him come to the door because I just canít deal with it that day. Six years of hell. We know itís hell, XXXXX doesnít.

I have done much reading about crystal meth in the past six years. Unfortunately, I have not found much information about dealing with adults who are addicted to this particular drug. Certainly, there is very little for the parents of an adult CM addict.

In closing, I must emphasize how important housing is. Without housing, those with mental health issues and drug additions face a bleak, hopeless future. A future without a job or education, is a future without hope. I believe that Hope is part of the foundation of life.

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