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The last lunch

This is #2 follow up to this article:

Saturday Charles

We arrive at the sober house to pick Charles up for lunch, anxious to see the bubbly fun “Saturday Charles” again. It was intoxicating the previous day.

The house is neat and quite nice.  The house manager doesn’t know where Charles is.

Charles had texted that he went to the river and got lost. He had zero sense of direction and like me, can’t find his way out of a paper bag. He should have been back by now though.

charles-annemoss
Charles and me around December 2014. He died June 5, 2015.

We are texting and calling and he’s not answering. I notice the house manager, Lee is equally as confused.

Where is he? Finally, he calls.

Awesome. He’s fine.

He tells his Dad he’s at a McDonald’s. On Commerce Street. The house manager’s eyebrows raise. I read his reaction and try to calm myself. It’s fine. He’s fine. What’s he reacting to?

My husband and I leave to go pick him up for lunch. At McDonald’s before we go to lunch? We get there and my husband goes in. He’s not there. Then we finally get a text that he’s in the bathroom. His stomach hurts. “Post withdrawal symptoms'” he tells his Dad through the bathroom door.

We wait. And wait. And wait. With each moment, our anxiety grows. After about 30 minutes he comes out.

Not looking like Saturday Charles

He looks ill. He looks terrible.

He gets in the car and again says he’s suffering post withdrawal.

Randy and I are both alarmed and confused. I didn’t research this part!

On the way to the restaurant which is not far, he keeps falling asleep. It’s freaking me out and I’m not sure what that is. He keeps telling me it’s post withdrawal. (See the complex explanation below)

I try and look things up on my phone but I know I’m not using the right search words. Later I would find out this is called “the nod.”

We get to Crossroads Restaurant in Forest Hill (Richmond, VA) and park the car. Charles still feels nauseous and I let him lean on me on the way in. I’m not sure what to believe but it doesn’t matter, I want him to lean on me. We order and get our food.

Charles keeps saying what a great cheese sandwich it is. He repeats himself a lot. Something is wrong.

We are outside and then he turns his head and throws up on the ground. Then he says, “sorry” and turns back around and continues eating like nothing happened. He doesn’t miss a beat. Randy and I are shocked. What should we do? Is this really “post withdrawal?”

The waitress comes out and doesn’t look happy. The diners nearby are not so happy either. But I can’t say I let it bother me because I have a bigger issue only I’m not sure what it is.

He’s not right. But what’s wrong? Post withdrawal? Drugs? But he had no money. So it can’t be that right?

We drop him off back at the sober house. I hug him and he tells me he loves me. He hugs his Dad and says the same.

Randy and I talk on the way home about what’s up with him and then we get a call from the house manager. “Did we notice anything weird about Charles?” We have to say yes.

We both feel sick. The house manager says he’s going to drug test him. Charles could never pee on demand. When he gets anxious, he can’t go. They are pumping fluids in him and no pee.

We wait hours and go to bed and wake up the next morning to the house manager calling and saying, “It’s dirty” meaning he tested positive for Benzos and Opiates plus other things that they put in the mix.

It’s been less than 24 hours and he relapsed already?

Randy immediately has a eureka. He blames himself.

He brought Charles home from rehab to the house even though they said to take him straight to the sober house. He came to get the checkbook. He figures out Charles must’ve had money stashed in his room. That’s how he was able to buy drugs. And he walked the 4 miles downtown to score. Randy beats himself up and I try and talk him out of it.

The sober house policy is to take him somewhere but he can’t stay there. It’s a sober house after all. He is cleared at the hospital and they take him to the psychiatric hospital. They turn him down because he is a drug addict. “We don’t take those patients any more.”

So where do you take a child with mental illness and addiction for acute care? They take him to the Healing Place. With just one hit, withdrawal shouldn’t be that bad. We try to let them handle it. Lee calls or texts with updates frequently. We are way out of our league here. We don’t know what to do since this is our first rodeo with the illness of addiction.

He’s checked in and about to go back when someone he knows walks out of the bathroom–a resident there. Charles and this friend talk. The house manager has to go as he has another appointment. He has gone above and beyond as it is.

Later the Healing Place calls the house manager and says that Charles left with that friend. Lee can’t believe the odds of him seeing someone he knew. The only person he actually saw as a matter of fact.

Lee calls us and lets us know. We are stunned and frightened. But to date, no one has taken more time to explain what’s going on than Lee has. We are thankful for the information he provides. He is straightforward and honest.

We don’t know where Charles is. But when he did text us earlier he was mad. The test is wrong he says. They are sabotaging his effort to be clean.

I know this is not true.

We’re outside when the house manager calls and tells us we need to know something

He tells us it’s not oxycontin that Charles is addicted to but heroin. And because they mix Xanax with it, he’s addicted to that, too.

No needle marks because he snorted it. I had no idea you could snort it. I kept thinking there was some way to stop him from getting to heroin and it turns out that’s what he’s been on for about 5 months now. He was ashamed of being an heroin addict.

We are shocked. The addiction was so new and recent. I was reading like crazy but there is so much to learn. I didn’t know the “nods” and the vomiting. I feel so naive. And so defeated. I’m fighting an invisible monster.

All these years of struggle with sleep disorder, ADHD, depression, drug abuse that is now a full blown heroin addiction.  My baby is a heroin addict? I remember Charles telling us at some point way in the past that smoking pot “wasn’t like he was doing heroin.”

And here we are.

Now I don’t know where he is or who he is with. Randy says he thinks he’s down at VCU with his old buddies. I let him hold onto this fantasy.

I know that’s not where he is and my heart sinks. I’m a wreck.  To be honest, the premonitions are coming in so strongly I can barely stand. I’m not feeling confident he will live through this.

I beg my brain to think positive.

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Who’d have thought my child’s worst enemy was in his own head?

———-Below: Visual of Charles’ text from when they were drug testing him. Manipulation is part of the illness of addiction. So hard for us parents to see what’s real and what’s not. 

The manipulation is so tough to see through
The manipulation is so tough to see through

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

2 thoughts on “The last lunch”

  1. The saying “When do you know when an addict is lying”? is so true.
    “When they are moving their lips”.
    They’ll do anything and say anything to hide their secret.
    It is part of the illness. Thanks for sharing, Anne.

  2. Like so many of your others, this article leaves me filled with sadness just imagining the agony you and your husband went through that day. I’m so sorry for Charles, too. No one wants to be a heroin addict. He loved his family and friends and never wanted to cause pain to those he loved. Your bravery in sharing so honestly the events of his struggle will save lives. Thank you, AM.

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