Saturday, November 11, 2017

The day I drank my daughter's Ritalin

The story I'm about to tell you is disgusting. Repulsive. The story I'm about to tell you might possibly make you think differently of me. The story I'm about to tell you might possibly make you think that I'm an unfit mother. The story I'm about to tell you is the hardest thing I've ever written/talked about. The story I'm about to tell you HAS to be told, because I can no longer keep it hidden.

Our youngest daughter has attention deficit disorder, or ADHD. We figured this out pretty early on, but decided to try more conservative measures rather than medicating her. However, nothing seemed to work and her pediatrician decided to try her on Ritalin, a stimulant that treats ADD/ADHD. I had never really been into uppers, so I wasn't too concerned about having this drug in the house. One thing that I quickly learned, however, is that a drug addict can essentially find an affection (or possibly affliction) for any type of substance that can be abused. In the end, a high is a high. And in the end, we will do anything we can to get high. Before I went to treatment the first time around, I had started sipping on Ritalin every now and then. I developed quite an affinity for it, and was often even proud of myself for how much I got done while experiencing a stimulant high. It might just make it to the top of my drug of choice list. One day while everyone was at school, I installed a floor to ceiling shelving unit...all by myself. I was super proud. What an amazing wife/mama I was when I drank that magic syrup. Or so I thought.

Anyway, I went to treatment and vowed that I would never do anything that atrocious again. I came home after 100 days and my family resumed life as normal. Well, everything was normal other than the compulsive desire I had to check the medicine cabinet to see if the Ritalin was there. It was like I was being magnetically pulled toward that cabinet. I didn't want to open it, but eventually I just couldn't resist. And the Ritalin was still there. I remember standing beside my inground swimming pool, med bottle in hand, on the phone with my sponsor. I told her that I was having a hard time, just didn't tell her how hard of a time. I managed to put the bottle back that day without taking a drink of it, but, as time went on, my resolve dissipated. My new morning routine began. I would give my sweet little girl her medicine, then I would take some for myself. There was a large quanitity (like several of those nice big liquid medicine bottles), so I wasn't really concerned about anyone discovering that it was dwindling.....quickly.

Well, I soon noticed that the Ritalin was dwindling quickly, so I did what any respectable mother would do. I started filling my daughter's medicine cup up with water and giving it to her. On the days I didn't dose her up with two teaspoons of water, I would give her the choice of whether or not she wanted to take it. I reminded her that it sometimes made her tummy hurt, and she would say she didn't want to take it. I then made her promise not to tell her Daddy because he might get mad at us. She was pretty thrilled with our arrangement, and I guess I was too.

Much to my dismay, one morning I found the bottle empty. Bone dry. I'm pretty sure I didn't even remember finishing it off. I took the kids to school then came home to look for something, anything, to get me high. I'd already finished off all of the cough syrup, pain pills, and muscle relaxers in the house. Running out of options, I decided I would have to make a trip to the Urgent Care, but not to the one I usually went to because I was red flagged there. Getting high takes so much work. Trust me. I got into my van and as I proceeded to pull out of my driveway, I had a great idea. Instead of taking a right at the bottom of my hill to head toward town to the Urgent Care, I hit my left turn signal and headed down the road....right out to my kids' school.

I pulled up in front of the school and just sat there for a minute. I'm not sure if I was trying to talk myself out of or into what I was about to do. I looked down at myself and realized I was in pajama pants, my husband's hoodie, house shoes, and no bra. I had makeup from the previous day staining my face. I decided not to let my killer looks hold me back and I got out of the van. I walked up to the door and pushed the buzzer to be let in. I walked through the doors and asked where the nurse was. They pointed me back to her office, and as I approached the door, I noticed the nurse and the principal were sitting with a little girl who appeared to be quite upset. From what I gathered, they were helping the young student bear the news that her mother had overdosed and died. Not even a sight that tragic could stop me from what I was getting ready to do. I stood outside of the door and thought to myself, "Man...I wish they'd hurry up...I need in there" (such compassion). Finally, it was my turn and I walked up to the nurse's desk and began the speech I'd rehearsed. 

Me: I just wanted to let you know that we've decided to take Addy off of her Ritalin. It makes her stomach hurt and just makes her mean and grouchy. I just think that it's not for her.

Nurse: Ok. That's fine. I will make sure we don't give it to her anymore.

Me: Ok. Great. 

I stand in awkward silence, not sure how to continue.

Me: So, what do you think would be a good medicine for us to try with her? (manipulation)

Nurse: I'm not really sure. Have you talked to her doctor?

Me: Not yet. I'm planning on getting her an appointment over Christmas break.

Nurse: Ok. Just let us know what you decide.

Me: Ok. We will.

She waits for me to leave. I can tell she's got a million other important things to get to.

Me: Well, does she have any medicine left?

Nurse: (opening up the medicine cabinet) Yes, she's got quite a bit left.

Me: Well, do you mind if I just take the rest with me so that you don't accidentally give it to her. Plus, she might actually need it over Christmas break.

Nurse: I can give it to you, but I need you to sign this form.

I signed the form, and once I stepped out of her office, I put the medicine bottle in the pocket on my Chad's hoodie. I walked down the hallway and passed the principal, Sandy. She asked how I was doing and I responded with "good."  I was in no mood for a conversation. But, as I wrapped my fingers around that bottle in my pocket, I felt so ashamed. I got to my car and almost immediately the shame turned to excitement. I couldn't get home quick enough. At this point, I would love to tell you that I walked into my house and poured that medicine down the drain; however that was not the case. I consumed every drop in the bottle, and I'm pretty sure I did it rather quickly...maybe even with a straw. Ritalin is often referred to as "Kiddie cocaine" or "poor man's cocaine" and I immediately knew why. I probably did my daughter a favor by consuming it myself. Better me than her. 

The next morning I woke up feeling even more hopeless. I, once again, had nothing to use...and I had just robbed my kid's medicine from the school nurse. I had truly reached a new low. (Thankfully that was my all time low. I'm not saying that because I'm proud of it, I'm saying it because I'm grateful that I didn't have the chance to go lower. But for the grace of God...) The next couple of weeks were a blur. Luckily I developed a cough, so I was able to get some cough medicine with codeine prescribed to me. That got me through the rough days of Christmas. I finished off all of the liquor in the house (Chad is an amazing cook and has a couple of recipes that require a certain kind of alcohol). I only meant to take a few swigs of it, but I found myself filling an empty liquor bottle up with water and hiding it back in the pantry. He'd never know the difference. 

The guilt (from taking the medicine) and the misery (from no longer having the medicine) left me a wreck. I had been blowing off counseling appointments with my pastor because I wasn't really interested in having to lie to yet another poor soul. I happened to be at the church one evening for our recovery program (that, yes, I was still involved in) and my pastor walked in. He walked up to me and told me he'd been trying to get a hold of me. I lied and said I'd never received his calls or messages. He then asked me to come back to his office. How was I going to get out of that?! He almost immediately asked if I'd relapsed, and I told him yes and allowed him to believe it was because of the recent surgery I'd had. He pretty much told me I needed to come clean and get my rear end back to treatment. That night, on the way home, was the night that I confessed to Chad what I'd done. That night was the night he kicked me out. That night was the night that I knew that he was finished, that his threats were no longer idle. That night was the night I knew I was going to die if I didn't quit this crap. 

I made the decision to go to treatment partly, because I knew I needed more help and partly because I needed a place to stay. January is an awfully cold month to be homeless. On the Sunday before I left for treatment, we decided to go to a church down the road because I couldn't face my pastor or my close church friends who knew what was going on. While there, I ran into Sandy (the kids' principal/our family friend) and she asked me to sit down and talk to her. She then proceeded to ask me if I took the medicine from the school. I said that I did. She then asked me if I drank the medicine or if I threw it away. I could have easily lied at that point, but I was just done with it. Lying was going to kill me. I told her that I indeed had consumed it myself and that I was going to treatment. She told me that she already knew that I had taken the medicine because after she passed me in the hallway, she just knew that something was off. She'd asked the nurse what I was doing there and quickly put it all together. She told me that there were only three endings to the life I was living: jail, institution, or death. I knew there was at least one of those I wasn't okay with. She told me all of the things I know: that I'm so fortunate to have a husband who loves me the way he does; that I have some of the most beautiful children on the face of the earth; that I had way more to offer the world than what I was doing; and that I was going to die if I didn't stop. I believed all of those things, especially the last one. She informed me that she would be checking to make sure I went to treatment and stayed there and she offered to write me letters. That evening I stood in my bedroom staring at the wall, thinking that I wouldn't go to treatment. I couldn't make it through a second time. My phone dinged and I picked it up. It was a message from Sandy that said, "Are you packing? Still going, right?" There was no turning back.

I obviously went to treatment, and at the end of my program when I was about ready to go home, I began working on the things I needed to do before I left. I had to write a resume and put together an action plan. I worked on a calendar to try to give myself a schedule for when I got home. I put together budgets and got utilities turned on in my new apartment. But, after that was all done, there was one thing I still needed to do. I needed to make amends. I called Sandy with my case manager and told her that I needed to apologize. I respected her more than what I did that day, and I respected my daughter more than that. I was sorry and I couldn't believe I'd done something like that. She forgave me and told me that my honesty when she asked me about the Ritalin saved my butt. She further informed me (in true Sandy fashion) that she would make sure I NEVER put my hands on my daughter's medicine again. Kind of embarrassing, but it is what it is. (Sandy is now a close friend and great accountability partner. She may very well be one of the busiest people I know, yet she makes sure I know that she is always a phone call away. Kind of funny the way God works sometimes). 

It is absolutely insane how far addiction can take you. I never in a million years dreamed I would be the mom pulling a trick like that. I never in a million years dreamed that I would put my needs before my daughter's. I never in a million years dreamed that I would walk into a school looking the way I did that day! That should have been a red flag in and of itself! But, that's what addiction does. It makes us people that we truly are not. 

Months later, I went to the school to make amends with the nurse. I needed to tell her that I was sorry and that I was changed. I walked into her office much the same way I did on that cold December morning. But, this time I entered the door with dignity, and walked out with pride....and empty pockets.

 To read about the day Chad kicked me out (pack your sh** and get out), click here


  1. Thank you for your courage to share this! The beauty of you is reflected in your writing. This brought back difficult memories, of similar stories from my own battle with addiction yet also, a renewed gratitude to GOD for the freedom from the obsession. Thank you.

  2. I love your stories and my Aunt Sandy! She has helped me so much in my recovery. She has no idea how big of an inspiration she is to people! I’ll never forget the day she took me to treatment!! She’s truly an angel!!

  3. You amaze me Misty. I know being honest like this is hard. You are a true inspiration. Continued prayers for you and your family.