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Mother's love rescues teenage son from addiction
By Dawn Brazell | News Center | May 14, 2013
Derick Hammond and mom Amy Bailey tell the story of how tough the road to recovery can be.
Derick Hammond may just be 17, but he’s wise beyond his years. Jail time can do that.
He and mom, Amy Bailey, sit in a room at MUSC’s Center for Drug and Alcohol Program (CDAP) and discuss the circuitous route that led Hammond through several treatment programs, jail and finally treatment that is enabling him to get clean of the drugs and alcohol that have ruled the past several years of his life. He will be volunteering with CDAP’s Adolescent Substance Use Skills Education Training groups known as ASSET in hopes other teens will hear his message and avoid the painful path of addiction.
He glances at his mom, Amy Bailey, who has tears in her eyes. “I finally got my son back.”
The years of loss took their toll on both of them. Oddly enough, it was jail that finally woke Hammond up. But that’s the way addiction works – the denial and the layering upon layer of lies until the truth is no longer recognizable.
Bailey said that’s part of the advice she gives to parents in similar situations. “It stems from wanting to believe them. I look back and shouldn’t have listened to anything he said. You have to trust your gut even if you don’t want to believe it.”
It pains Hammond to look back at the stress he caused his family– now that he can see clearer. “I didn’t realize it was spiraling out of control until I started getting into legal issues.”
Hammond used alcohol and a variety of drugs, including synthetic marijuana, and would seem to be doing better only to relapse into old patterns. He went into a variety of treatment programs, but none seemed to stick. Bailey said the emotional exhaustion parents endure is indescribable. “You get up and you don’t know if your child is going to be alive at the end of the day. I don’t know how I did it. You just keep going. I did try very hard not to enable but to continue to push and push and push so that the light bulb would go off.”
Her strategy worked.
When Hammond ended up in a County Detention Center with a $20,000 bond since he’d been in trouble twice before, she decided to leave him there. When he called begging her to get him out, she kept repeating that she loved him but that he had to agree to go to a 24/7 residential treatment center called Charleston Recovery Center before she’d get him out. Hammond resisted.
Then the inmates got to him. “They were telling me, ‘You have a mother who’s answering your phone calls?’” They compared stories, and Hammond had what he calls a ‘God-moment’ when a shift in attitude allowed him to see how lucky he was, he said.
Then Bailey got the best call of her life. Her son phoned from jail to tell her he was sorry, he loved her and he needed help. All the phone calls that had ended in anger and him hanging up on her no longer mattered. This is what she had been waiting on for so long. She immediately began getting him transferred to the treatment center.
Bailey said in the end teens have to make up their own minds that they want help. All parents can do is consistently and unrelentingly tell them they are loved and there are people who can help. “You many think they’re ignoring you, but some of it is sinking in.”
She has had to set up a medical fund with www.gofundme.com to help defray the costs. Financially, the burden is tough. She placed her son at Charleston Recovery Center with no idea of how she was going to pay for it. She knew she had to, though, because she works fulltime and had learned the hard way that an addict’s brain goes 24 hours a day. She couldn’t watch her son at all moments. She had to remind herself of that when her son called begging to be released from jail.
“I told him, ‘I can’t be a part of setting you up to fail. You do not have the tools to succeed at being sober.' That was the hardest thing to tell him no.”
Bailey has no regrets, especially seeing how well he’s done since joining the center March 13. He will return home after six months at the recovery center. She said she's amazed at the physical and spiritual transformations in him. “It’s worth every penny to see the change and transformation for him. It’s nothing short of amazing to see the man developing that I knew he could be.”
Hammond wants to tell his story in churches and treatment programs to help other teens. “I tell them, ‘Recovery will be the best thing you’ve ever done. Do it as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.”
Hammond said he’s learned he has an abnormal reaction to any substance – drugs or alcohol, and that he can’t stop once he starts. “It’s an illness of the mind. It’s an obsession. I can’t help but think about it.”
He’s looking forward to being sober, rather than dealing with life from a high or drunk perspective.
“I get to remember what I did yesterday. Miracles happen every day in my sober life. Every day has something new for me. I’m proud that I get to go back and help adolescents and tell them that there’s something better out there than addiction.”