My journey started on 3/28/1989 at 9:13 p.m., when my son Matthew Hayes was born. He was premature and during the first few weeks of his life he was very sick. He was sick and near death many times. Through those trying times, I turned to my faith in God to pull us both through. I knew that God had a plan for us both.
In the spring of 2010, Matt came to me and told me he was misuing Percocet. During high school, I felt in my heart he was “experimenting.” The signs were there. I even randomly drug tested him, but he was always clean. Looking back, I now know why. There was always a friend with him with clean urine.
I was so naive that I couldn’t see or believe that my son was addicted. My husband and I talked often about how addiction was nothing more than a choice. I have learned so much over the last seven years. Matt was in a toxic relationship in 2010. Between the drugs and the relationship, he ended up in jail for assault. I immediately found a detox facility and after what I thought was tough love bailed him out after a few nights in jail.
After completing the detox, he landed into a long term facility. I knew my son was heading back to me. He lasted in the facility for about four months. I was a nervous wreck when he came home. He landed a job soon. We were both so proud. That joy ended the same day. Two hours after he was hired, I received the call at work. It was the call mothers of sick loved ones dread.
Matt had overdosed and it didn’t look good. After a couple days on a ventilator, our God intervened again and saved my son. The day he came home from the hospital was a day of hope but also the hardest day of my life. My husband refused to let him live with us any longer. My son was homeless for the first time. The last seven years, we both have lived in hell here on earth. It would have been easy to lose faith. But faith is all I had keeping me sane and Matt safe.
While Matt has been in and out of treatment centers, detox facilities, sober living, and living in his car or on the streets, I too have lived it. His relationship with his natural father has not been good over the years. He is and will always be Matt’s hero. Their strained relationship is a trigger for Matt. However, I feel I am the reason he wasn’t succeeding. I am his enabler. I was slowly killing my son. When I looked at my son, I saw him dying, and I know that enabling him brought him closer to death. I made excuses for my behavior. I gave him money. It only made it easier for him to buy drugs.
Our whole family is broken by this sickness. We each have our own opinion of whether addiction is a disease or a choice. Today, my choice is to help save my son by saving myself first. I currently have temporary custody of both of his children, who are one year old and 10 weeks old. They are my rocks!
Through this journey, I have met many people in different organizations. I am fortunate to have many warriors in my corner. I am active in our local chapter of Parents of Addicted Loved Ones and am a cofounder of a group we call HEROES (Helping Educate by Reaching Out Ending Stigma). We are just a little over a year strong, but are making strides in our small community. One of our biggest events to date was Narcan training for 92 people, including our local police officers and sheriffs.
Where is Matt now? After three overdoses from June 25, 2016 to September 26, 2016, I filed Casey’s Law on him. I am so thankful for Charlotte Wethington for her courage to lobby for this law named for her son, Casey, who lost his battle. My son was ordered to complete up to 360 consecutive days or complete the six month program that I found for him.
On October 10, 2016, he entered the program. Not only did he complete the program but is staying an additional three months to work as a peer mentor! For today, I will enjoy this moment and support Matt on his path of recovery!