My God, I’d spent years smelling my teenagers’ breath for alcohol, looking for dilated pupils and asking them if their friends were smoking pot. Our kids were even fully involved in the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in school. How could this be happening to our family?
We drove straight to the outpatient rehab facility, located inside our local hospital. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience as we rode the elevator up to the floor labeled “Chemical Dependency Treatment.” I never imagined our family would be here and hoped I didn’t see anyone I knew, at least not for the time being. I didn’t want to have to explain anything, just yet. When we reached the front desk, the reception staff was very friendly and asked us if we’d like water or coffee while we waited. I’d rather have a new life, I thought.
Jaime began the program the next day and was assigned to a counselor whom she’d see weekly, and who could randomly drug-test her. She received a behavior log, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, written rules of the program, and she attended her first patient meeting that night.
“How was it, Jaime?” I anxiously asked when she got home.
“It was okay,” she despondently answered. “I just don’t think I belong here.”
“Maybe it’ll get better with time,” I said, sensing this was not going to be the easy fix I was hoping for.
It was a big life adjustment for all of us. While Jaime went to daily patient meetings with other addicts/alcoholics, we were expected to attend meetings twice a week, Mondays and Fridays, in the same building. Stu and I were labeled co-dependents. Initially, we thought co-dependents were the interested parties attached to the addict or alcoholic. But we soon learned that co-dependency is a behavioral issue -a tendency to behave in excessively caretaking and/or controlling ways. Our name was all over that one. Stu and I had a lot of work ahead of us if we wanted healthy relationships. Who knows? Maybe Jaime’s disease would make us healthier!