March 20, 2011

Today I had a 55 year old, black woman and grandmother of many come into my office. I am always curious as to why someone of that age would be in this predicament. She stated that she just finished her drug treatment program that was ordered by the court several months ago. However, she relapsed and, subsequently, picked up a new arrest and another case.

As usual I asked my client why did she believe she needed to use drugs. She stated “because I liked it.” By the way that response is in the top five responses given by the client. I then pursue with the next question. “Why did you like?’ I asked her to really think about the “why” of her drug use. After a few moments she told me it helped her to deal with her problems. “What problems?” She stated, “all kinds of problems in my life.” So I asked her to be more specific. She stated that her family nags her. I asked her what her family did that made her angry and caused her to relapse. She finally let it all hang out. She stated that she is the oldest of 8 children whom she had to raise when she was a child. She stated that all the responsibility fell on her to where she became the third parent. My client mentioned that even to this day her siblings are constantly nagging her, making demands, and not allowing her any peace. She stated that her, sickly, mother is probably the main culprit. She wants to know my client’s whereabouts at every moment. Then she talked about how there are constant rotation of grandchildren in and out of the apartment and that the phone never stops ringing. She stated that one day the phone started ringing at 7am in the morning until 10pm at night. (The calls where about wanting to come over and visit)

As she was telling me the story I was thinking about was she was “needing” at those moments and the needs that were not being met at that time. It occurred to me that since she was the oldest child she was “that” child that her siblings looked up to for the answer and that being the oldest never stopped. And since she assisted her mother with the kids at a young age, her mother continues to look at her not as an adult but as a her child helper. The needs that my client was unable to get were the following: choice, independence, self-empowerment and solitude. It appears she never had time for what she wanted to do because of the demands that were put upon her by her family members. Her frustration came because her siblings and other relatives were constantly making demands on her where she would become overwhelmed and resort to what she knew would give her some “peace” temporarily. She decided that cocaine would allow escaping her problems for awhile. She stated that she had used cocaine for many years just so she could put up with her family.

So I asked her did my explanation make since as to why she used cocaine. She stated that it made perfect since and that no one ever put it that way. I stated that your drug problem lies in the fact that your family does not allow you any solitude or peace so when their focus on you becomes too much for you to handle you escape by using cocaine. So, I asked her how can she get that need for solitude, choice, independence and peace (just to name a few) made? She stated she never thought about it. So, I explained to her that instead of using cocaine to get her needs met for peace what could she do instead. I mentioned that she needed to take control of her life and discover what she would like to do for herself. In other words, she needed to become “selfish.” She gave me a look of disbelief and tears began to run down her face. I asked her why she was tearing and she said, “you are the first person to understand my problem and give me an answer as to why I was using cocaine.” So, I gave her some suggestions about empowering herself so she can do the things she desired without her family interfering. She decided that she would participate in events that she always wanted but never thought she could and not feel guilty.

So, at the end of our conversation I asked her how she felt. She stated that she felt relieved, relaxed and happy. She thanked me again and stated she would let me know how her new outlook on life turn out on her next visit.

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