A mother at her breaking point is sharing her story of living with a family torn apart by addiction.
In an essay published on Love What Matters, Sandra Snyder shared the difficult decision she was forced to make after her 26-year-old son suffered a drug relapse and began using heroin.
Snyder, who lives in Greensburg, Penn. said her son Josh developed an opioid addiction when he was in middle school shortly after the death of his best friend. Josh began skipping class, his grades began to plummet and became much more secretive and private. Snyder said she chalked his behaviour up to being a typical challenging teen.
After high school, Josh announced he was going to defer post-secondary education to work instead.
“During this year he would come and go from work and hanging with his friends, and we were none the wiser,” Snyder wrote. “I’m not sure how far into drugs he was at this time, or what type of drugs… I had never been around anyone that was an addict and I had no clue what the signs were.”
In 2014, Josh returned to Pennsylvania after living across the country with his sister and brother-in-law and helping take care of his niece. Snyder says the move back signalled the beginning of their family’s “nightmare.”
Josh’s personality had drastically changed and he began having mood swings. By 2016 he was missing car payments and his family was feeling the wrath of his temper.
“We tried to approach him so many times. We would ask if he was having problems that he wanted to talk about, and as our radar was going up, we began asking him if he had a drug problem,” Snyder recalled. “He was so convincing that he wasn’t. He was hurt that we would even think that. We then felt guilty for assuming such an absurd idea. Our son would never be involved with drugs…right? We started noticing money here and there disappearing, not just from the house but our bank account. Then larger amounts, then enough to put us in financial difficulty. We were now certain.”
After a family intervention, Josh revealed he was abusing Oxycontin and heroin. The family scrambled to educate themselves on rehab facilities and how to help a loved one struggling, but the family was crumbling.
“I had no clue how to handle my own emotions within myself towards my husband and my daughter. This was all foreign to me and I felt as if I was drowning. I was saying the wrong things to the ones I loved most, or not asking the right things of my loved ones,” she said. “I felt as though I was continually hitting speed bumps and there would no longer be a smooth ride.”
Once Josh agreed to go to treatment, the family admits they naively believed he would be OK after he went to a detox centre. A relapse soon after prompted his family paying for him to attend a long-term rehab program out of state for three months.
Josh returned home 30 pounds heavier, looking healthy and seemed back to his old self. Snyder says her “funny, compassionate and loving son was back” but the transformation was short lived.
“The Devil returned this year,” Snyder said. “We aren’t quite sure when, but again he was back into full swing addiction. He had stolen from us, both money and items to pawn. is ugliness has returned.”
In the past month, Josh had been to three different rehab facilities, but checked out after only a day. Earlier this week, a neighbour notified Snyder that they had witnessed Josh running up to the family’s home.
Snyder said she caught up to her son as he was getting in the car to leave and spotted her debit card in his hands.
Josh said he was going to use $100 to help pay for Suboxone, a narcotic often used to help ease the side effects of opioid withdrawal.
“There is always a part of my heart that so wants to believe in my son,” she said. “I in turn gave him the money, which was much cheaper than him taking $500, which I know he would have done. I handed him the cash and looked him in the eyes and said, ‘I will always love you and I pray you are telling me the truth, but this will be the last dime you ever get from us.'”
The family learned that Josh had broken into the house through a basement window. Snyder checked her bank accounts and learned her son had stolen checks and had already cashed $830 that week.
After filing a report with the police, Snyder said she received a phone call from Josh asking to come home and get help.
“I made the most difficult decision in that moment,” she said. “I called the police to let them know where he was…My son has until Tuesday to turn himself in. If he doesn’t, then a warrant will be issued for his arrest.”
In an update, Snyder revealed Josh turned himself in to authorities and was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond with a promise to appear in court on Feb. 1.
“Heroin has stolen my son from me and from himself,” she said. “You can say what you want about an addict, but until it is someone you love with all your heart, your opinion will change.”
Despite being heartbroken, Snyder hopes her son will one day understand her decision send her son to jail.
“I love my son when he is sober and I love my son when he has relapsed, but I know in my heart I’ve done everything I possibly could to help him,” she wrote. “It’s up to him.”