Addiction, family and God
I was about 15 or 16 years of age and at high school when I began to smoke marihuana. I was in it for the fun with a few friends and within three years I was addicted. Some years prior my younger sister had a serious injury and for years required constant treatment. Eventually she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which put a lot of pressure on our family’s resources.
As my parents had to work around the clock to help cover costs, I didn't see much of them. My dad was a policeman who did not earn a lot. He needed to get a second and third job to help cover all the costs. With my parents so caught up working, I was free to go my own way but clearly I got lost.
To pay for my addiction I began to steal from home and from others. I had begun university studies but soon dropped out and just hung about with my friends who were also into drugs. I didn't study, had no job and had given up on life, including on my family.
Eventually, on seeing the suffering that I was putting my parents through, I began to take stock of what I was doing.
I was 22 and my only constant activity had become smoking marihuana. I saw mum crying; she pleaded with me to stop. She had to hide anything of value in the house. I wanted to stop the marihuana habit but could not do it alone. I desperately needed help and knew my parents were there for me. If it weren't for their patient and determined insistence that I reform my life, I doubt I’d ever have beaten the drug habit.
Because of the marihuana I stopped participating in the parish youth group where I was a catechist in the first communion programme. My dad tells me how I used to cry and promise him that I’d change but, at the same time, he was finding little packets of marihuana in my room. Mum would buy me clothes because all I had was old but I sold what she had bought me. Mum didn't ask me what I got up to away from home but friends and neighbours told her; I know it hurt her so much.
We didn't have a close family life due to the pressures of work. I know that dad later felt that maybe, if he could have been around more, then things would have been different. However, I don’t want to blame him for anything; I feel he did the best he could.
Dad became concerned after I had stolen his police revolver to go out and commit a robbery with my friends. The stress and worry caused him partial paralysis of the face. If I had done any harm or been caught with the weapon, he would have been punished severely by the police for being irresponsible with his pistol. Dad got a real fright and that also frightened me; I realised the gravity of the situation I had caused.
Not long after, my parents finally got through to me and with the help of Columban Fr Leo Donnelly (Padre Leo), I started rehabilitation at a nearby hospital.
Around that time some women from our small parish community came to the house to invite my dad to a retreat and he persuaded them to invite me. Of course, he told them about the problem I was dealing with. That invitation came at just the right time for me.
During the weekend retreat things changed for me in a major way. I met others who had been through a similar struggle. I saw what their faith in God had led them to. I saw how happy they were with their renewed lives. I began to read the Bible and to pray the rosary. I’d already broken with the drug habit thanks to the support of my parents and Padre Leo, but I needed something more to keep going with my life, to be hopeful and happy about myself. I found it through involvement with these weekend retreats. I had returned to my family and the retreat helped me return to God.
Things began to change for me. I got a job. In consultation with my parents I moved out of home in order to put some distance between me and my marihuana-smoking friends. I made friends at work and lived by myself nearby. I feel so grateful to God for all that I have been able to change in my life. Prayer and faith have given me so much inner strength to face up to this terrible addiction that I’d allowed bury me alive when I should have been pushing ahead with my life.
Dad has become a real friend to me. He is an honest man and a man of God; he would always to go his Bible study meeting in the parish. We are very close due to sharing the trauma of my drug addiction.
I am now 27 years of age and have a good job selling financial products in a credit union. I feel so grateful to my parents for hanging in there with me and for Padre Leo who in supporting my parents, helped make my recovery possible.
Ronald Tasayco is a parishioner in Fr Leo Donnelly's parish.