A Pound of Cure
Elizabeth Willis Barrett.................February 6, 2011
One might wonder how we ever got to the point of having a son living on the canal bank in an Oleander bush. I wonder, too. It wasn’t the first remedy tried, that’s for certain. Just for my own well being, I will tell you the things that we as a family tried to do for Jeffrey to help “cure” his addiction or at least detract from it. Some of these are hospital stays resulting from drug use.
The first serious drug incident came in the fall of 2001 when Jeffrey blacked out during an out of town football game and had to be taken to the Tucson Heart Hospital. We found out much later that that episode was caused by Jeffrey taking several ephedrines supplied by an upper class man. The pills were supposed to help Jeffrey play football better. He was an excellent player already and all that dosage did was take him out of the game and put us deep into our first drug related expense.
After that came Dr. Knighton, Counselor Johnson, Counselor Goldberg and an unnamed psychiatrist who said that Jeffrey was just fine. Jeffrey had a great ability to say just what he needed to say to stay in the drug scene.
When the time to go on an LDS mission came and went leaving Jeffrey in a state of unworthiness, we sent him to the Joseph Smith Academy in Nauvoo, Illinois, for a semester. Then to BYU-I for a semester and to UVSC in Provo, Utah for a semester. Drugs kept getting in the way of prolonging those stays so it was a waste of education opportunity. “Friends” sent him marijuana while he was in Nauvoo. The same friends drove all day and night to Rexburg, Idaho, to take him some weed and he ran into “friends” in Provo. If he couldn’t find drugs where he was, he could always count on his “friends.”
He attended the Banner Health Outpatient program and I watched him put stars on the white board to say how many days he had been sober. Everyone cheered. But he had lied. He hadn’t been sober any of those days.
We put Jeffrey in Chandler Valley Hope for a few thousand dollars and many real friends came to visit and support him. But he wouldn’t stay.
We even went to the time and expense of getting him orthodics for his flat feet because he said his back always hurt, thus the need for pain pills. He never wore them.
We were delighted when Jeffrey finally agreed to go to a drug treatment facility called Renaissance Ranch in Utah in October of 2005. What was a $15,000 sacrifice if Jeffrey could finally be cured? They kicked him out after a month, saying that he wasn’t buying into their program. Right after leaving Utah, he was again with his “friends” doing drugs and called an ambulance himself to pick him up because he thought he was dying. We wanted to leave him stranded at the hospital but our co-dependency kicked in.
We had heard that a Naltrexone tablet inserted into his arm would keep him away from heroin. We tried that for about $1500. Right when the tablet’s potency wore off, he got high on heroin and smashed his dad’s prized VW bug into the back of a parked trailer. That took an ambulance, a helicopter and a lengthy hospital stay to save his life. We were so glad to have him still with us that the $100,000 tab was insignificant. We could only pay a portion of that bill since, as my mom enjoyed saying, “You can’t get blood out of a turnip!” Incidentally, Brad misses his VW.
In August of 2006 we thought we had found the perfect place for Jeffrey: Narconon in Newport Beach. It’s fee was a mere $25,000 for four months with a chance to return if he relapsed after graduation. It was a great place. He got to go surfing every day in between his classes on how to get along without drugs. And in November, he graduated--a new person ready for life. That lasted until April when he couldn’t stay away from old “friends” and had to return, this time to the Narconon facility in Caliente, Nevada. He didn’t like Caliente nearly as well as Newport with its beautiful waves and refused to stay.
We firmed up our resolve a little and said he couldn’t live with us, but his sister welcomed him in Pleasant Grove, Utah, where he stayed for a few months. His ordering of pain pills over the internet ended that gracious hospitality.
By a series of miraculous coincidences, we heard of a village in Africa where some addicts had gone and were healed. We were right on it and off Jeffrey went to Africa in November of 2007. He went to a Pentecostal Church and was prayed over and urged to read the Bible and made friends with the natives. It was an experience of a lifetime and it worked. We went to Africa to pick him up in March and once again he was his old, wonderful, pre-drug self. We stopped in New York on the way back and enjoyed his gregarious and charming personality more than ever.
But after about four more months of sobriety, he was back to his “friends” and back to the drugs. He stayed with another sister in Show Low where we paid for a hypnotherapist. We also paid for another counselor who did eye patterning and character analysis. She made him feel better about himself but wasn’t able to stop the drug use.
We took him away for weeks at a time in the mountains, had him go to the AARP program in the LDS Church, got him on a very unfortunate Suboxone regiment (which later turned into a worse regiment of Methadone), took him to a few more counselors and finally got him arrested for possession of heroin. Then we paid for a lawyer to keep him out of jail and get him into the TASC program which requires periodic UA tests (urine analysis). When a client successfully completes the TASC program, he no longer has a felony on his record. It is a great way to keep someone clean. But half way into the TASC program Jeffrey was kicked out because of dirty tests. We paid a lawyer again to get him back into TASC. By the grace of Heaven and the opposing lawyer who, after we begged for an hour, graciously relented and allowed him back into TASC, he was again on track for getting rid of the felony. This second TASC try was after an unsuccessful stay at The Salvation Army, a short stint at Crossroads Half Way House, a few detoxes at Aurora and at Community Bridges and a $10,000 rejuvenating treatment at River Source.
I’d like to think that all of this “cure” worked together to bring Jeffrey to a point where he could seriously deal with overcoming his addiction. It at least reminds me that we tried to help and give him every chance possible. But maybe the end result would have been the same if we had done absolutely nothing. Who knows? One thing I am sure of, however, is that prevention is much more effective than cure.
Could we have helped prevent Jeffrey’s drug addiction? I will try to figure that out in my next essay: An Ounce of Prevention.