Saturday, 19 January 2013

When a Drug Dealer Calls

Few things make your blood run cold like a threat from a drug dealer.  In one instant, your life is turned upside down because your child’s life is being threatened.  Your natural instinct is to protect them but you are told (by all the experts) to never pay off a drug dealer. If you do pay them off, your child will continue to make debt knowing that you will pay for their drugs. In other words, you will be enabling them to keep on slowly killing themselves with their drug use. If you don’t pay the debt, your child may be harmed. This is just one of the many terrifying things that parents of addicts have to deal with.

One such call came on my cell phone one night when Mike and I were relaxing on the couch watching a movie. Our sons no longer lived at home and our daughter was at a friend’s house so we were enjoying some time alone. We agreed that we would put our constant worries (about our son) aside for the evening and take a break.  It had been a roller coaster of a week with addiction-related drama – that only parents of addicts would understand – and we needed the downtime.

Shortly after the movie started, the “Garage in the Backyard” ringtone on my phone started going off. I got up to answer it in case it was one of the kids calling. The conversation started off normal enough:

Me: Hello.

Caller: Hello, is this Rose?

Me: Yes, it is.

Caller: You’re John’s mother?

Me (starting to get nervous that something was wrong with my son): Yes, I am. Can I help you?

Caller: I hope so. John owes me $20 and says he doesn’t have the money. 

Me (trying not to sound too nervous): Well, I am sorry to hear this but that is between you and him.

Caller: I need that money NOW.

Me (Heart pounding. Oh dear God, no.): Sorry, but I can’t help you. John is the one who borrowed it.

Caller: I need that money and don’t know what to do.

Me (trying to stay strong): Sorry, but I can’t help you. Had you asked me if you should lend him the money, I would have said no. It was your decision to do so.

Caller: Well, if you don’t pay me the $20, I am going to find him and you don’t want to know what I am going to do with him.

Me (Speechless. Trying to compose myself. Tears in my eyes. Heart racing. Panic setting in. Ready to give in but found the strength from somewhere.): Well, I don’t want you to hurt him, but it is out of my control. If you do lay even one finger on him, I’ll make sure the police are contacted and that you pay a price for doing so. Good-bye.

I hung up the phone.

I was so devastated after that call. I cried and cried until I had no more tears left. Poor Mike tried to comfort me but I could not be comforted because our son was in danger. Mike was scared too. We had no way to reach our son to warn him nor did we know where he was. He was couch surfing, going from one friend’s house to the next, at that time.

I spent the night praying to God that this man – who was much older than my son – would not lay a finger on him. Of course, I couldn’t sleep and neither could Mike.

The next day, our son dropped by for a visit and he was not hurt in any way. We were so grateful. We told him about the phone call but he said that he did not owe anyone money, and that the guy must have been trying to get money out of us. He was very upset that someone would do that. Of course, we thought that our son was lying to protect himself. Addiction is a lying disease.

While our son was visiting, my phone rang. It was this same guy calling to apologize. He said that he had forgotten that my son had already paid him!

This is just one day in the life of parents of an addict.

We have another drug dealer story that is even more terrifying but I am too scared to tell it for fear that the people involved are following this blog and may recognize themselves and approach my son about it. This is the one and only time that we paid off drug dealers. He’s had no contact with them since. I will say no more.


  1. ya have to stand up to them, i did takes alot of courage to do that but i had no choice.Glad i did never regretted it .

  2. Thanks for sharing,Rose.I went through this very thing with my daughter.

  3. If some one threatened your child, while they walked home from what would your do? As a parent, you would do what ever it took to protect them. Is it helping or hindering? At the end of the day, you do the very best you can do. Sometimes you can be strong and brave and other times you feel so scared and defeated, it's an emotional rollacoaster that can last for weeks, perhaps even months. It is not what is right or wrong, sometimes we can not even muster up "courage". There are days we as parents are like drowning victims and days we have more than our share of the lion's courage. It takes strength and courage to tell a story and as parents of a young person that suffers drug addiction we have many more to tell. Great Job! Today you had the courage to tell this story!!

  4. wow, Ive been there

  5. Rose, we as well have paid off dealers. Horrific circumstances! We have to work loud and strong to fight this epidemic!

    1. Yes, we do need a lot of voices to fight this epidemic. So glad we reconnected after all these years!

  6. As a relatively new (and young) mom who has grown up in PEI and knows all too well what is going on in the schools and with teenagers this is the one parenting issue which terrifies me to no end. What do I tell my children when they find out I am preeching for them to not try drugs but both parents have? We try our best and hope and pray it all works out in the end, but as a mom and a young adult I can completely relate to both sides of this story. Thank you.

  7. my son is 21 and im living 230miles away from him he owes 2500 to a drug dealer and if not paid by 25th nov there going to kill him I don't know what to do please help

    1. I am so very sorry to hear this. Dealing with drug dealers is one of the scariest things we've had to face. There are no easy answers. Each situation is unique. One time we paid them. One time we did not. Each had a different set of circumstances. Not every parent has the money to fork over either. If we were going through it, I would ask my son to try to work out a payment arrangement of some sort, if that was possible. If you think the threat is very real, you may want to assist him in moving away. These are just ideas. I don't pretend to have all the answers. I am praying for you and your son that nothing bad will happen. God bless you all.

  8. I spoke to a guy once having gone to families anon. He had two sons. Both addicts. One died the other didn't. He could never work out why. I think the one who didn't just knew a different class of people. Either way, having paid off a dealer more than once, it's a hard decision not to. The dealer got shopped in the end & some addicts used the opportunity to escape his clutches while the supply route was broken. Good luck all. Xx


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