In this episode, I chat with Annie about her son’s drug addiction that started when he was just a Junior in High School. Annie’s own mother fed into her son’s addiction by covering for him, keeping secrets for him and even taking him to get pills. This episode is a mother’s perspective on her child’s drug abuse and the great lengths Annie went to to investigate and prevent his addiction from going any further.*

Annie says she was born into a world of chaos. She is the youngest of six kids and they were not expecting her. Previously, her family had moved from place to place because of constant evictions. During her mom’s 8th month of pregnancy with her, their house burned down and everything was lost. After she was born, they continued to move from place to place. Her parents did not get along, so there was non-stop arguing and stress. Annie never knew what or who she would be going home to each day after school. Because of all that, Annie really struggled socially clear into her 30s.

Annie Highwater - Quote 1

At 18, she had her own child. She married the father, which was the first boyfriend she’d ever had. At that time, it became clear to her that she could not raise her son the way she was. Annie would read therapy books and biographies of others to find some sense of how she wanted to raise her son. She was looking for normal. Annie went to great lengths to make sure her son was safe, functional, clean, taken care of and didn’t go without. It took her a while to realize that she was parenting the way SHE needed when she was a child, not the way that her son needed.

Annie Highwater - Quote 2

When Annie’s son was a Junior in High School, he suffered a broken jaw at football practice and was prescribed Percocet to help with the pain, then shortly after, Vicodin. “We were pretty much off to the races once opioids entered our house.” He would get better, then would relapse and Annie didn’t realize that he had relapsed because his manipulation game was better. She admits that she got crazier and crazier as it went on. Annie would interview pharmacists and take notes on the opiods. She would interview recovering addicts and drug dealers to get insight on the monster she was dealing with and how she could save her kid. Annie was obsessed with preventing his death. She was a “one man SWAT team.” It became clear that no matter what she did, the addiction still got worse.

Annie Highwater - Quote 3

When Annie was 13, her mom was in a car accident. She was prescribed pills to help with the pain. Annie and her siblings would notice their mom taking a lot of pills or when she was out of them, but somehow, more always appeared. They didn’t realize at the time it was an addiction because nobody talked about it. A pill addiction was unheard of at that time. As Annie was going through this with her own son and doing lots of research, she realized her mom’s addiction and how it had affected all of their lives.

As Annie would investigate her son, she would constantly find her mom in the middle of it. She later found out that her mom was keeping her son’s secrets and was actually one step ahead. Her mom would take her son to dealer’s homes to buy more opioids. Annie’s mom would let her son know that Annie was out looking for him and where she was. Annie’s mom was an enemy to the cause. When Annie would confront her mom about keeping her son addicted, her mom would say that she didn’t want him to be sick and go through withdrawals.

Annie Highwater - Quote 4

After 6 years of the back and forth with her son’s addiction, Annie had had enough. She couldn’t do it anymore. She went away for about four days. While she was gone, her son booked himself a flight to Malibu, California and checked himself into treatment. Two weeks later, he relapsed. He ended up in a different treatment program with someone that worked with addicted athletes. Annie’s son has since been clean for 7 years and lives a great life.

Because of all these things, Annie has written a book on what she went through – something she never found for herself during those hard years.

Listen to the full episode to hear all the details.

*Please note: this is the guest’s story. Their story is how they perceive it. It is not my judgement or responsibility to determine whether or not this story and the things said are true. Please be open minded when listening to/reading these stories.

-Annie’s books: Unhooked and Unbroken
Annie’s podcasts
Annie’s article on tough (smart) love
Annie’s Instagram
-Annie’s favorite book: Rising Strong by Brene Brown and Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
-Annie’s favorite product: Coconut oil
-Annie’s song recommendation: I’m Still Standing by Elton John (listen on the Hard Knocks guest list on Spotify)
-My ending song recommendation: Riot by Rascal Flatts (listen on the Hard Knocks playlist on Spotify)
Annie’s Facebook page
Annie’s blog/website

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves. That will make them successful human beings.”

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