When looking at her son Grant McMaine as a child, longtime Richmond resident Martina Hackworth never could have thought he would become an addict. The bright, intelligent boy was always kind to others, was close to his mother and sister, and was somewhat of a dreamer.
Unbeknownst to her at the time, Hackworth said McMaine’s journey into substance abuse began when his father died of a heart attack. Hackworth and her former husband had already divorced at the time of his death.
“He was an alcoholic and I didn’t want (my kids) raised like that,” she said.
On the night he died, McMaine’s father had been suffering chest pains, but refused to go to the doctor. The 15-year-old boy woke up in the middle of the night to find his father dead. Hackworth said her son always blamed himself for not forcing his father to see a physician.
The concerned mother tried to get both her son and daughter in counseling following the loss of their father, but neither was ready to talk.
“But I always talked to my kids a lot about drinking and drugs,” said Hackworth. “So I felt I had covered my bases on this stuff. But heroin wasn’t something you had ever really heard of at the time. It was the last thing I would even think to talk about because it wasn’t something that was in the realm of our world.”
At 18, McMaine came into money from his father’s estate, was living on his own in Richmond, and had a job making $40,000 a year. Soon, he met a woman and became a father.
Hackworth questioned the crowd her son was spending time with, but still had no inkling of his drug use. Only later would she learn that McMaine had begun taking Xanax, originally given to him by a friend because he couldn’t sleep. McMaine would end up losing his job after the substance abuse induced heavy sleeping patterns making him miss work.
“Then he went from that to those Percocet 30s that are sold on the street and he got addicted to them,” said Hackworth. “Then Percocet got hard to get and he progressed to heroin.”
According to Hackworth, McMaine told her he didn’t “shoot up” at first, adding he couldn’t imagine doing so in the beginning. But after smoking and snorting it, and hearing how great the high from injections was from other addicts, he gave it a try.
Still, Hackworth could not tell McMaine was using, stating she just attributed several actions to laziness.
“He never acted high,” she said. “He didn’t stutter, he didn’t slur his words, he just didn’t look well kept.”
Then, two years ago, after celebrating her new marriage, Hackworth learned of her son’s addiction to drugs, after her son-in-law, whom McMaine worked for at the time suspected drug use.
Seeking an answer, Hackworth said she invited her son over to her house and surprised him with a drug test. He complied and tested positive for opiates.
“He told me he was addicted to Suboxone and I was very gullible,” said Hackworth.
The worried mother, a registered nurse at Baptist Health Richmond for 20 years, began fiercely researching Suboxone and addiction.
Fighting to save her son, Hackworth helped McMaine and his girlfriend, whom she said was also suffering from addiction, get admitted to a Suboxone Clinic in Mount Vernon.
“I thought everything was good. They seemed happy to be there and they had me really convinced,” she said.
A month later, during a large snow, Hackworth said she got a call at work from the couple saying they couldn’t get to the clinic for their appointment and they were going through withdrawals. They wanted money to get Suboxone off the street.
Hackworth called the clinic hoping to get the doctor to call in a prescription, but she found out her son and his girlfriend were no longer patients. Hackworth said the clinic had given them three chances, and they never could pass a drug screening.
Hackworth called her son, asking him to allow the clinic to tell her about the drug test he had taken and McMaine agreed. After talking to the nurse at the clinic, Hackworth learned her son had tested positive for everything but Suboxone, including marijuana, cocaine and heroin.
“When (the nurse) said heroin, it was like someone handed me a death sentence,” she said. “All Grant (McMaine) would say is ‘I’m sorry mom.’”
Another attempt to detoxify was made with a doctor in Richmond. This time, the couple would take Suboxone to get off the other substances they were using.
Once again, it would end in failure.
“Within two or three months they were selling their Suboxone and going back to the way they were,” said Hackworth, who confronted their doctor for not making them bring in their Suboxone film to make sure they were taking the medication.
Hackworth said the doctor told her that she was making the couple backslide into drugs because she didn’t trust them. Asking once more for her son to be randomly screened, the doctor complied. McMaine was tested and failed.
Desperate for answers, Hackworth began attending Nar-Anon meetings in Danville.
“They told me to stop doing anything for him, but I had a grandson, how could I?” she asked. “I was almost ready to call social services.”
Then one morning McMaine and his girlfriend pulled their Jeep into a local gas station.
“A police officer who was off duty walked by their Jeep and saw them both slumped over, with (their son) in the backseat,” she said. “He tried to wake them up but couldn’t. So he had to call EMTs and police. Social services came and took (my grandson) away.”
McMaine’s girlfriend was able to wake up, however, Hackworth said her son wasn’t breathing. Hackworth would learn about the incident at work, when she received a phone call — her son had been taken to the hospital.
Doctors were forced to give the young man two doses of Narcan to bring him back to consciousness, according to Hackworth. Emergency custody of McMaine’s child was granted to its maternal grandparents.
Things only got worse.
Hackworth said the young couple ended up shoplifting and getting arrested in Lexington. For 30 days, they stayed in jail. During this time, convinced her son would die if the situation stayed the same; Hackworth sold her son’s home and put the money in savings for him and his child. McMaine’s girlfriend went to live with her parents, where she would pursue her own route to recovery.
McMaine would stay for two weeks at The Hope Center in Lexington, before he was back on the streets in Richmond using, and according to his mother, likely selling drugs.
“I would meet him every so often and bring him food to eat,” said Hackworth. “He would sit (in my car), we would talk, I would feed him, I would hug him, tell him I loved him and drive away crying all the way home. All I wanted was to bring him home, just give him a meal, and let him clean up. But I knew if I did that, it was just going to go on. I would tell him ‘When you want help, I’ll be here for you.’”
The young addict still maintained he wasn’t ready. Hackworth said she couldn’t sleep at night fearing to hear a knock at the door telling her that McMaine was dead. Hackworth began developing anxiety and heart problems due to the amount of adrenaline and worry.
After another arrest, McMaine agreed to attend The Isaiah House in Willisburg. Hackworth said he stayed there three weeks before walking out and came back to Richmond.
McMaine livened on the streets for a few months before he ending up in jail again for shoplifting. After some time, he called his mother and said he was ready for help and asked to use the money from the selling of his home to send him back to The Isaiah House. They readily accepted him.
Truly believing her son’s downward slide began with depression stemming from his father’s death, Hackworth had her doctor assess McMaine. He was diagnosed with depression, and began treatment, which The Isaiah House allowed him to continue.
Since going to The Isaiah House for a second time, with personal determination, Hackworth said her son has progressed amazingly well,
“It’s like he isn’t the same person,” she explained. “He has found God, he got baptized, and he’s a life counselor there and is helping other people who come into the facility. He was ready, that’s what it amounted to.”
While McMaine was in jail, Hackworth said, he dreamed he was going to go to prison, even telling his mother he had shoplifted on purpose to get caught and avoid completing tasks for a drug dealer.
Now, Hackworth said McMaine wants to get a job at the facility that is overseeing his recovery and has no plans to return to Richmond to live. The focus now is to make a life for himself and his son.
During the worst, Hackworth said God has been her rock, along with the love and support of family and friends. And as a mother, watching her son heal, Hackworth said she has been happy.
“I’m just soaking up every moment like it is sunshine,” she said smiling. “I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m going to enjoy every second with him that I can while he is (sober). It’s like cancer; I say he is in remission. Whether it will last, no one knows. Will it rear its ugly head again, maybe? That’s why I’ve got to take it one day at a time.”
And after this mother and son’s journey, that might just be enough for now.
• • •
Through her hardship, Hackworth has found her purpose in helping others struggling to come to terms with their child’s addiction. The resilient mother now hosts a Nar-Anon group at First United Methodist Church in Richmond, as well as being part of The Addict’s Mom Facebook support group.
On Sunday night, Hackworth hosted The Addict’s Mom Lights of Hope candle light ceremony, which included speakers and music.
“The reason I’m speaking out is for mothers,” said Hackworth. “When you get handed this news, you don’t think you could ever be happy again. How can you be happy when your child is a drug addict? How can you have fun without thinking in the back of your mind, is my child going to overdose tonight? You think your life is over, but there is a way through it.”
Hackworth said parents of addicts have to step back and allow themselves to have a life, not live their life through their child, and work on becoming happy and healthy, even if it seems impossible.
For those interested in attending Hackworth’s class, visit Nar-Anon.org.
Reach Critley King at 624-6623; follow her on Twitter @critleyking.