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This week (November 30th, 2021 2PM PST/ 5PM EST) I spoke with Cindy Petersen (Chapter 37 – Loving My Child Through His Struggle With Addiction).
During our conversation, Cindy shared her family’s over decade long journey with her son through his struggle with addiction. After coming home during a college break for a routine dental procedure, her son was prescribed opioids – and following that experience – in what felt like overnight – he was on the streets addicted to heroin.
I appreciate Cindy’s willingness to speak with me because I know she is someone who would rather not live in the public eye. She agreed to speak with me because if her story can help another mom or dad feel less alone or provide a better understanding to others about addiction and prompt compassion for those on the streets, then sharing her story is worth it to her. This is a story about heartbreak, joy, and the unfailing love between mother and son.
Cindy and her husband, Ed, are involved in Not One More Seattle/Tacoma which can be found at https://notonemoreseattle.org/
For those outside of the Seattle area, local chapters may be found at https://notonemore.net/chapters/
Cindy’s 3 words of advice for families whose children are on the streets due to addiction:
Cindy: “When your son’s addicted, just remember the person that you’re seeing is not your son anymore. It’s an addict and that son you knew is gone, it’s a disease and it’s going to get worse. It’s going to get ugly. (1) By learning to support them and not enable them is very important. Don’t keep throwing money at them. You can be kind and loving and not continuously giving something, because most likely they’re going to use that to get more drugs, because they’re huge at manipulating.
(2) Have that one or two people that you can call up and just pour your heart out to and know that they’re not going to judge. They’re going to keep your confidence.
(3) And don’t ever use the phrase, “Not my child”, because I’m going to tell you, it gets really ugly. They steel, they lie. Um, and it just, and it’s not just from the families – It could be from others, too. So, just remember you can support them, but don’t enable them, let them do the work because they’re the only ones that can do the work. And it’s tough.”
And there were/are some bright spots in the journey:
Cindy: “Well, I think one of the bright spots was when his son was born. He was there to witness his son’s birth – so that was one of the bright spots. Um, the other bright spots were when we would go to visit him. We’d take his son with us. We would visit during the times that he was in a recovery, living in a sober home. When he was in Portland, when he was in Spokane, there were families that would just open up to him and try to help him. And, he would try different programs, whether it was church or groups or sporting events or whatever, these families just tried to get him involved and do something other than drugs. So we ended up making a lot of friends because of this experience.”