June Ariano-Jakes has published a book chronicling her struggle with her son’s years of drug addiction.

June Ariano-Jakes has published a book chronicling her struggle with her son’s years of drug addiction.

A son’s descent into addiction

Surrey mother shares struggles of her son's drug addiction in new book

Every night before she goes to sleep, South Surrey resident June Ariano-Jakes says a prayer for her oldest son Nathan, a drug addict who is no closer to recovery now than he was 20 years ago when he first started using.

“Please keep an angel on his shoulder until he finds his own power,” Ariano-Jakes asks.

She estimates she has spent about $460,000 trying to save her son, $14,000 of it on a lawyer, once, and the rest sending Nathan to some of the best addiction treatment centres in Canada and the U.S., without producing a lasting cure.

Ariano-Jakes has just published a book that describes her son’s descent into hard-core drug abuse after he survived a near-fatal collision at the age of 13 and discovered he liked how he felt on morphine, Demerol and codeine during his hospital stay.

He went on to abuse heroin and cocaine.

Ariano-Jakes says she hopes that Addiction: a mother’s story will help other families learn from her experience.

It took her three years to write and she delayed publishing it another year while she considered the effect on her son.

She says when she told Nathan, he didn’t object.

“I know it’s a book that needs to go out there, but I don’t want to read it,” her son told her.

“I know what’s in there,” he added.

It is an unflinching account of a battle for a drug-free life from the point of view of the mother who waged it on behalf of her son.

It does not have a happy ending.

“There are so many books written by professionals, but there isn’t a whole lot written by parents (of addicts),” Ariano-Jakes says.

When Nathan first drifted into drug addiction, his mother believed she could pull him out and she fought with everything she had, mortgaging and remortgaging her home to pay for a cure that never arrived.

She still loves her son, she says, and she remains hopeful he can get clean.

But she knows she cannot force it to happen, no matter how much time, energy and money she throws at Nathan’s addiction.

It was a very hard lesson to learn.

“You think if you love them enough, that should be enough,” she says.

Ariano-Jakes says a drug user is like a marionette whose strings are pulled by their addiction.

In turn, the addict pulls the strings of his or her family, manipulating them to feed their need.

“Nathan loves his family,” she says. “He just loves drugs way more.

“It’s like a passionate love affair, almost, the pull is such that he keeps going back.”

Ariano-Jakes says her movie-star handsome son would sometimes waste away, the five-foot-10 Nathan dropping from his normal, healthy  205-pound weight to 102 pounds on one occasion.

At his sickest, Nathan would agree to go into rehab and stay just long enough to get healthier, then immediately return to drug use.

She has had to learn to let go of Nathan, to understand that giving up trying to control an uncontrollable situation wasn’t the same as abandoning her son.

Continuing to fund Nathan’s brief jaunts into rehab was no longer an option after she lost her house, unable to keep up with massive interest-rate payments racked up borrowing money to pay for those trips.

Ariano-Jakes now lives in a small rental apartment in South Surrey with a few items of furniture she kept from her former home.

To feed a $500-a-day dug habit, her son robbed banks, “lied, stole, manipulated and used good people,” Ariano-Jakes says.

“…those of us who walk this journey all know that addicts or drug users are liars,” she writes in her book.

“Sorry, but it is a fact. If your child is using drugs or your child is an addict, accept the fact that he or she is also a liar. Addicts need to be. They always have to cover their tracks.”

If she could do one thing differently, Ariano-Jakes says she would be firmer with her son, drawing lines not in the sand but “in concrete” by setting limits, establishing consequences and following through with them rather than letting her son off the hook the way she used to.

“It’s a disease with a choice,” she says.

“No one chooses to be an addict, but they choose to let it continue.”

She says she doesn’t care if the book makes a profit, so long as it can help other families fighting the same battle she did.

Addiction: a mother’s story can be purchased at Visions Book Store in New Westminster, Chapters in Langley, PriceSmart in White Rock, Save-On-Foods at South Point in South Surrey, Books & Company in Prince George, as well as online through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com and www.addictionamothersstory.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

High winds Friday made perfect conditions for kite-surfers near the White Rock Pier. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: Kite-surfers take flight near White Rock Pier

Aerial performance put on near iconic waterfront attraction

White Rock City Hall (Peace Arch News photo)
City of White Rock seeking input on draft financial plan

Plan includes tax rate increase of 4.28 per cent

B.C. researchers are asking for the public’s help in monitoring the bat population. (Cathy Koot photo)
Semiahmoo Peninsula residents asked to monitor bat activity

Researchers keeping eye on spread of white-nose syndrome

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

The Alzheimer Society of BC is hosting a number of webinars next month to help people prepare for financial and healthcare needs. (Contributed photo)
Alzheimer Society invites White Rock residents to series of educational webinars

Planning Ahead: Do it Now! webinar to be held March 10

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Lorne Ginther

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for missing Chilliwack woman sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother Shaelene Bell

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read