In our series of real-life teen stories, mums of teens talk about issues they had with their kids and how they overcame them.
goodtoknow user Helen, 43, is mum to 2 boys and step mum to a girl. Helen was shocked when she found out that her 18-year-old son had been hiding a drug habit for 2-and-a-half years. She shares her story and tells us how she helped him to beat his addiction.
When David was a teenager he would stay out late and sleep a lot, but I thought that was typical of boys. He had got quite thin, but I assumed that was because he wasn’t eating properly, and he’d become quite distant and argumentative – I just put it all down to growing up.
‘The safe had been ripped from the wall’
David was just about to turn 18 and a few weeks away from finishing his apprenticeship as a joiner when I came home one day to find the safe had been ripped out of the wall.
David wasn’t in, but he’d left a note saying that he needed his bank book. I tried to ring him but got no answer. When he came home he burst into tears and told me a drug dealer was threatening to burn down the house because he owed him £500. He admitted that he’d been taking weed, cocaine and crack cocaine. He’d started smoking weed when he was 15. I was completely stunned, but I got him the money to pay off the drug dealer and we talked a lot. I told him that I’m the best friend he’ll ever have and I’ll always be here if he needs me.
On that day I never thought about throwing him out, I just thought he needed help. But the next day he disappeared and I had no idea where he was. He came home later that day and said he’d just been to see a mate, then his younger brother asked me where I’d put his PSP games. I hadn’t moved them and when I looked at David I knew he’d stolen them.
I wanted to just curl up and make it all go away. Yesterday he was terrified of drug dealers, today he was stealing. I had my 11-year-old son and 11-year-old step-daughter living in the house and I couldn’t have him putting us in danger. I walked to the door, opened it, turned to David and said: ‘You need to leave until you want to get out of this.’
David was gone for 6 weeks and I didn’t even know where he was living for some of the time. Eventually he rang me from a pay phone and said he wanted to come home. I said that I wasn’t sure he was ready, but he assured me he was, so I went to pick him up.
When we got home I asked him what he wanted to do and he told me he wanted to get help. I said, ‘I love you son, but you only get one chance with me because this is too painful.’ He promised not to let me down.
‘His life was really affected’
I took him to the doctor who referred him to a drugs programme and I went along to that with him too. He’s now been off drugs for 4 years. He works as a bus driver which means he gets randomly drug tested and him and his girlfriend are expecting a baby at the end of this year.
He’s sorted himself out, but his life was really affected – he didn’t get his apprenticeship, he lost all his good friends and he ended up on the dole. And I lost trust in him, I would never leave him on his own and if he went out I’d wait for him to get home and check his eyes.
I think what really made him change was the shock he’d got when the drug dealer threatened to burn down the house. It terrified him. He’s not a fighter, he’s just a normal kid.
‘You trust your kids’
The hard thing is, you trust your kids and you want them to grow up so you let them go out. It’s easy to judge yourself if something like this happens, but I know I did nothing wrong. You have to realise that it was out of your control and all you can do is try and get it back under your control.
My advice to other parents in the same situation would be to be their child’s friend, as well as their parent, because they already have enough nagging. Just listen to them, be there and be honest. But it’s hard to give advice because everyone reacts differently.
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David and I have built our relationship up again, but the experience has changed me. I’m much more protective of my other kids now. They’re nearly 18 and I make sure they come home by 10.30pm. I know I suffocate them, but I don’t want to go through that pain again.
Have you got a teen story or advice for other mums who are having problems with their teens? We’d love to hear from you – drop us a note on facebook or leave a comment in the box below.