Jeanette Ballien joins us in this episode to share her story of strength, perseverance, and hope in dealing with her daughter’s heroin addiction. In case you missed part one of this series, where I talk Jeanette’s daughter Emily, it is available here.
When I found out about Emily I was very distraught. How could this happen to my daughter? She was never around drugs, she had a happy life, with a mom and dad who were always around her. We didn’t know she had her own problems. She hid them very well. Most people do. That’s why it is so important that we respect one another, and listen to one another.
Jeanette had a lot of the same perspectives as many do when they think of addiction and drug use. This seven year journey with her family was sure to test them, but they had the will to fight back, and to change.
I had the same view/stigma as every other person. I thought addiction was only on the streets. Only homeless people struggled with these issues. I didn’t see the young children who were struggling with problems in their mind. I didn’t see the parents struggling to help their children. Didn’t see the mom or dad who broke their leg and got addicted to opiates. I definitely had a different outlook once it impacted our family. One of the things I felt was ashamed. I didn’t want anyone to know about it, (I) wanted to hide it. I did not know anything about Heroin at the time.
We talk about how the family wasn’t prepared or educated on heroin use. Jeanette brings up a very valid point that there is really no place for friends and family members to go and talk about their personal experiences with addiction. Jeanette has taken so much from this seven year battle. She has tenaciously sought out education for herself.
The War Wages On
Jeanette didn’t give up on her daughter and continued to hunt for resources.
I read everything i could. Talked to everyone I could but i found out that there weren’t anything for parents. I had nowhere to go, I had no resources. I had to search it all on my own. When she would go to rehabs they would give you pamphlets with numbers to call, and I would call the numbers and half of them weren’t even available. They didn’t call me back.
Her struggle wasn’t just about her daughter, Jeanette also lost a piece of herself.
I thought maybe there’s something for parents there. But there wasn’t… What I found was so amazing but so stupid at the same time. I was only allowed to attend open meetings, but at these open meetings you couldn’t speak. You’re there to listen to the addicts. So I thought ok, how is this helping me… My goal is to have a group of parents who can get together and talk about what to do. So many parents have a hard time letting their kids go. It took me nearly 6 years to do it. As a parent we nurture, but we need to let go. You can’t fix her and you have to let go. I mean that stuff damn near killed her. And everything she went through wasn’t enough, she went back. That is how strong addiction is.
The most beautiful moments to realize was Jeanette’s acceptance and her strength to stop enabling her daughter. “You have a heroin addiction, and you’re in recovery. I’m not going to hide that.” One of the hardest things she ever had to do in her life ultimately saved her daughters life. Furthermore, Jeanette did find the type of support network she was looking for in Families Against Narcotics. Please check them out if you might benefit from this sort of group.