Journal of an addict’s mom: ‘I never gave up on my son’

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Heidi Sanderson with her son and granddaughter, a stop on the way to Farnum Center where her son is entering treatment for addiction.
Heidi Sanderson with her son Brendan, and granddaughter,  on his way to Farnum Center where Brendan is entering treatment for heroin addiction.

MANCHESTER, NH — My son is a recovering addict. He has been clean since January. I won’t go back to the beginning; I’ll start from when he went back to prison on a parole violation in September of 2014, for using heroin. His parole officer insisted on 9 months with 6 months suspended upon entering an in-patient treatment center, even though we had a bed for him at the Friendship House in Dublin.

Anyway, he detoxed in Brentwood and immediately began using again while in prison, once transferred to Concord. He saw his counselor and tried to get into rehab, but could not secure a bed anywhere. The waiting lists were too long and he could not use the phone on a daily basis to check in.

He finally got on the waiting list for the prison drug treatment program in Berlin but got caught using suboxone, so he was removed from the list and sent to CCU. He detoxed by himself again in CCU and applied to get into RTU, fhe Residential Treatment Unit, a co-occurring treatment unit.

He got into RTU in April. They basically focused on his mental health but also dealt with his substance misuse. He was put on Prozac and Remeron. Once in this unit he received the counseling and therapy he needed and also the assistance from a case manager to help secure a bed in a treatment facility.

He applied to Farnum Center in Manchester back in September and finally was notified a bed was available. I picked my son up on June 29. My daughter and two granddaughters came with us, one of whom is my son’s 4½ year old daughter he hasn’t seen since September. My son looked great. He gained weight, his skin was clear, his eyes were bright and he was smiling. He was excited and happy. I can’t remember the last time I saw him this way. I had my son back!

We took him to Friendly’s so he could change his clothes. We then went to his parole officer’s in Manchester so he could check in. After that he called Farnum to make sure it was OK if he went out to lunch with us before checking in. We went out for pizza, we laughed — we laughed a lot — we talked and my son didn’t let go of his daughter for one minute! Finally we had to take him to Farnum. We said goodbye outside. I held back the tears as we got his bag out of the car and hugged. He hugged me so tight.  I didn’t want him to let go.

He promised to call me and let me know how he was and when we could visit and how everything was going. That was on Monday.  Tuesday came and went, no call. Finally Wednesday,  mid-morning he called. He said they are split into groups and groups are assigned days they can use the phone. They each have individual time slots to use the phones. He said he liked it there, his counselor was great, and he was going to groups. counseling and meetings for 13 hours out of the day.

He said he applied for Tirrell House, a sober living house, because he knows he needs the structure when he gets out of Farnum. He does not want to relapse. It has been a long difficult road for my son, myself and my other children, but this time seems different. This time my son wants recovery! I have hope!

I never gave up on my son. I love him unconditionally and always will. Tomorrow night we are going to visit him. It is children’s visit night, meaning we are bringing his daughter to see him again. We are all excited to see him again. Now when I climb in my bed and cry, I cry happy tears!

Heidi Sanderson with her son and granddaughter, a stop on the way to Farnum Center where her son is entering treatment for addiction.

Heidi Sanderson of Salem has volunteered to chronicle her experiences as she supports her son, Brendan, 25, who just entered rehab at Farnum Center in Manchester.


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About Carol Robidoux 5855 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!