Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peace in the Woodshop

I know why I was able to find peace in my workshop while my son was using.

In my shop I have a Coping Saw.


I know, I know, it's a dumb joke but it works for me.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Are You A Fixer?

The absolute worst thing that can happen to a fixer happened to me this week. This week the hard drive in my computer crashed. I am not a techie but that never stopped someone that is a fixer. YouTube is like crack and meth combined to a fixer.

Off came the back of my Macbook. Screws were laying all over the table. Why stop at replacing a hard drive, why not change the battery too, it's old and getting fire hot when I use the computer too. So old parts laying on the kitchen table, new parts installed now it is off to the Genius Bar to get an operating system loaded. Everything works and the installation of an operating system was free.

This is like mainlining for a fixer. My computer is working again, except that I didn't get a big enough hard drive. So more "fixing" will be in order.

Why would this be important to write about on a blog about addiction? Because us "fixers" don't stop at computers, cars, plumbing, electrical wiring and on and on. We believe deep in our soul that we can fix our addicted loved one too.

There is a world of difference between diagnosing a problem, watching a YouTube video, picking up a screwdriver and replacing the right parts and "fixing" our loved one.

It took this "fixer" years to learn that no matter what I tried and how much "control" I thought I had there is no "fixing" another person until they want to fix themselves.

The worst thing that can happen to us fixers is we dive in the shallow end head first and swim away triumphant. We get that Superman complex and all it does is handicap us when real problems confront us.

It is important we ALL understand our limits and boundaries. Sometimes a "fixer" needs to be a "supporter".

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Parent Support Network

The Partnership for Drugfree Kids has launched a very successful program to help parents of addicts. This is the program I went to New York last year to be trained in the charter group of parents to help others.

The Partnership is looking for more great parents to take part in this groundbreaking and highly successful program. This time the training is coming to you.

If you are in the New Orleans, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Boston areas they are looking for parents to train and take part in helping parents all over the country.

If you have an interest in learning more go to this information page and survey to inquire. From personal experience, you won't be sorry and you won't ever meet a better group of people devoted to helping others. The personal rewards of helping other parents navigate through the hell we have all experienced is rewarding
beyond measure.

Parent Support Network Info and Survey page.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

First Aid Kit for Parents of Addicts

As I walk around my work I see first aid kits on the wall. In many stores, arenas, airplanes you see a heart defibrillator. Driving down the street I pass fire stations and police stations. There are urgent care centers and hospitals. Everywhere I see people, places and emergency kits for people in crisis.

As the parent of an addict where do we turn for our crisis? What do we do when you don't know what to do? Where is our first aid? Who comes to us with lights flashing, sirens screaming and emergency technicians?

Our help is left to us. It's up to us to seek our own treatment, diagnose, what is hurting us and then prescribe our own treatment. Who has a first aid kit for parents of an addict hanging on their wall? Has anyone even seen one before? I haven't seen one yet so I thought maybe we should create our own.

If I had to create my own first aid kit for parents of addicts here are some of the things I would stock.


  • A list of things that no matter what bring joy in my life. 
  • Phone numbers of people that have walked in my shoes that never turn off their phone.
  • Pictures of me in my lifeboat
  • Emergency phone numbers of help lines that can help me or my child.
  • Probably a piece of chocolate.
  • Six inspirational sayings or quotes that speak to me deep inside each time I see them.
  • Reminders: take a deep breath, it's OK to cry, you are not alone, the sun will rise again in the morning.
  • A list of people that love me unconditionally, that know I need them and they don't judge me.
These are some things I would consider essential in a first aid kits for the parent of an addict. What have I forgotten? What else would you add the the kit?

 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Self Care and Schools

Last year when The Partnership at Drug-Free kids brought me to New York to be a part of a new program I was honored and thrilled. Unfortunately, this year at work has not allowed me to be able to help my team. I feel I am not contributing but I am trying to do what I can. I did speak to a couple parents recently but I have not been able to take new assignments.

During training last year "self care" was stressed. It was emphasized about how stressful it is for parents living the life as a parent of and addict, as if we all didn't know. But time has an effect to dull the unpleasant memories to life's daily stress. They also stress how critical it was for us to practice self care because taking on coaching with parents can put us in an unhealthy place too. It's not just parents in the heat of battle that need to take care of themselves.

Thursday and Friday I had a chance to practice a little self care. Some may not see this as self care but for me it charges my batteries. Standing in front of a bunch of people talking about parenting an addict strikes terror in some but for me it is cathartic.

It's amazing to me how interested students are in my story. They listen intently, ask questions and share their own stories. One class actually applauded when I said my son has been clear and sober since July 2010. By the end of the talk I really believe some of them may be emotionally invested in our story.

The stories and tears students share after class when they want to talk breaks my heart. So many thank me with shaking voices. They pick up cards with my phone number and e-mail address. They know they are no longer alone and there is a hand for them to take if they need to talk.

Parents also attend and share with me after class

For me this is self care. Not to discount a tall cold iced drink on a beach watching waves lap at the sand isn't nice, but nothing turbo charges me like speaking to people and seeing their faces when they realize that they no longer have to be alone.

Wish I could find a paying gig like this, I'd work cheap.

Just a teaser for all of you out there wondering what I do in these classes. The video production class at the high school decided my talks should be a class project. During one class they had four cameras at different places in the room recording my talk along with a person taking stills with a DSLR. They are going to take all of the video and stills and try putting it together into a "professional" type video/presentation. I'm sure the students will do a great job and could do much better if they just had a better person speaking.  lol  When it is done I hope to share it with all that want to see.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Starting School Talks Again

It's that time again, I am getting requests from teachers to speak to their students about drugs and addiction. This I do gladly as long as they will have me. Sometimes it's tough balancing work and time off to do these talks but they are a priority for me.

One thing I have found is that the more parents that attend it seems to have a bigger impact. What's really hard is if I were a parent of a student in high school I probably wouldn't have gone either.

After all, MY KID WOULD NEVER DO THIS!

This time Susan Mayberry, the teacher sent out this e-mail blast to every parent. I really hope there is a packed house and we are scrambling to get more parents in the room.


Dear Parents and Family Members,

Each semester in our Health Science "A" course, we cover the topic of addiction. Within this curriculum topic we invite a community member into visit with our students. 

Mr. Ron Grover will be presenting on Thursday, September 18, 2014 from NOON until 1:15pm. He will also be speaking on Friday, September 19th, 2014 from 9:10am-10:38am, and again from NOON until 1:15pm. 


We are inviting you and your family to attend one of these presentations. Mr. Grover will speak with our Health Science "A" students (your child) in regard to what it is like if a person chooses to use drugs. What this will look like, and be, from a parent's perspective.

Mr. Grover volunteers as a Parent Ambassador for The Partnership at Drugfree.org and also has his person blog, http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/ that shares several accounts of what it is like to live with an addict.

We hope that you can attend one of the three opportunities listed above. For seating purposes, please email me with your name, WHEN you plan to attend, and the number of persons you are bringing.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

We are looking forward to Mr. Grover's presentation. No question in regard to his family and addiction is out-of-bounds. This is a SAFE environment in which to ask questions or listen to the truth about what drugs do to a person and his/her family.

Sincerely,

Susan D. Mayberry
Health Science "A" Teacher! smayberry@usd458.org


If you are in the Kansas City area and want to hear this let me know. You can be my guest.
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Has Addiction Done FOR You

Maybe it's just me but I am a believer that in every experience in life there is a good. At times addiction tested that belief. How do you find good inside what I have described and many others have agreed is hell on Earth?

Parenting a child addicted to drugs is hellish. Sleepless nights, fear of the next minute, hopelessness deep in your heart, that is what we all live as our child is suffering. How can there be good in such a world?

I am not trying to anger some when you think, "sure it's easy when your son is clear and sober now?"

My personal belief is good can be found in anything if we look hard enough and seek the answers we need to help ourselves and our children.

Looking back and answering a simple question has helped me. That simple question is, "What have I learned?"

I learned to be a better father. I no longer took my kids for granted. Perfection is not fair to put on your kids or to put on yourself either.

I learned that people suffering from addiction and alcoholism are not people that can be considered "less than" simply they are afflicted with a disease that I don't understand.

I learned that my bride is more than I ever believed she was or could be. I learned that I am a damn lucky guy she stuck with me.

I learned that when you extend your hand for help to strangers you all reach out, take my hand and help to lead me out of the darkness.

I learned sometimes there are no right answers, sometimes you just have to do what you think is best and accept that may be all you are capable of doing at the time.

These are just a few of my most important lessons that have shaped me into what I am today. I am not the same person I was before addiction. Today I am a better person. Many things must be forged by fire to become better than what it was, glass, steel, gold and diamonds do not become beautiful and precious without tempering through pressure and heat.

The loved one of an addict, despite the turmoil, is as clear as glass, has the strength of steel, as valuable and precious as gold and sparkles like a diamond in the sun.

What have you learned? What has addiction done for you?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Breaking the Stigma, Thomas J. MacDonald

28 years ago this weekend I was 20 years old .. I was in the middle of losing my battle with addiction . I had been trying to get sober for a while ..One night I went out had a few beers and tried to get some late night Chinese food.. I was in the back seat of the car of a person a just met .. She decided to make a U turn on the downside of a hill .. We got hit broadside at over 80 mph .. (Drunk driver never convicted) The truck basically hit me in the head ..i woke up in the hospital emergency room and was in and out of consciousness for about a week ..my injuries were a broken pelvis , ruptured spleen. Tore up shoulder .. And a broken face ..I spent about 2 weeks in the hospital .. And years of rehab to deal with all the damage ..I am lucky to be alive ..,the reason I am sharing is .. I got so addicted to the never ending supply of Percocet I was prescribed and from October to January 15th i went on a downward spiral that makes the car accident seem like a fender bender .. On January 14th I got arrested for driving under the influence and would have been incarcerated and on a path of no return ..it's only the Grace of God that I was saved from my addiction .. It's been 27 years since I put down the booze and drugs ... And I have been blessed with miracles every day after ...if you know someone or if you are suffering from any type of addition all I can say is your not alone and don't give up trying before the miracle happens in your life .. God is great and can do anything .. I know .. I am a living miracle... Please keep your eyes open on the road this weekend .. It's crazy out there ..


Anyone that has read this blog for a while knows that I enjoy making sawdust. Some of my efforts may go to the fireplace but that is not my intention. I enjoy working in my shop; that was my place of peace when Alex was using. I enjoy the peace and creativity of my wood shop. If I wasn't down there making something I was trying to learn from many of the masters on TV. One of those master craftsman I admire for his skill and his ability to put such difficult to master skills into simple easy to follow lessons is Tommy MacDonald, host of Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac.

A few years ago Tommy came to the Kansas City Woodworking Show. During his talk to hundreds of fellow woodworkers he sidetracked from talking about tuning a hand plane to safety and what can happen if your mind isn't on your work while in the shop.

After he finished and everyone was done getting pictures and autographs I made my way to this master craftsman. He was probably ready to get out of there but he stayed. I related how I got 8 stitches in my chin from doing something stupid while I was thinking about my son and his addiction and not paying attention to the work I was doing.

Tommy told me about his addiction to alcohol and drugs. He told me how hard it was on his family and his father. I could relate to his father as I listened.

I give Tommy my blog address and e-mail. The next morning Tommy had e-mailed me and told me he had read parts of my blog. He told me to "hang in there," recovery is possible. Alex had been trying to quit and I was still scared he would relapse once again and I would lose him forever. Tommy filled my tank with hope and just the right words when I needed them the most.

Yesterday morning I opened the computer and looked at Facebook. Tommy Mac had written what you read above posted on his page. He told his supporters and fans all over world of his recovery.

Master woodworkers take the gnarliest, ugliest piece of wood from a tree called a burl and create beautiful works of art. Next time you see a person suffering from addiction or alcoholism and they seem gnarly and ugly, do not discount that person as a "less than" it just might be another Tommy MacDonald.

Here you can find pictures of some beautiful works of art that Tommy has created.

http://www.tommymac.us/tommys-furniture-projects/
https://www.facebook.com/thomas.j.macdonald/photos_stream

I wouldn't dare post pictures of my stuff next to these pieces of fine woodworking. For those that haven't seen my work just do a search on my blog using the term "woodworking".


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Did You Say "I Love You" Today?

Did you tell someone that you love them today? Did you show someone today that they are a special person in your life? What would you say or do if you knew tomorrow was not coming?

Last night I was coming home from work. It was a beautiful evening and work had taken me to the country and a drive around the lake. I was following a SUV and we were cruising along not fast, just the speed limit on a two lane country highway in Kansas. In an instant the world exploded.

A one ton truck was coming the opposite way and all of a sudden it clipped the very end of a trailer being towed by a truck in front of the SUV. The one ton truck swerved directly into the SUV. A head on collision at 55 miles per hour. The two vehicles hit with such impact the both left the ground and spun around 180 degrees.

I slammed on my brakes and was barely able to steer around the truck while avoiding another pickup coming towards me. I stopped fifteen feet in front of the truck. The driver was half ejected from the truck and be was barely breathing. I called 911 and went to tend to the driver. His breathing hesitated and his eyes met mine. I reached down to his hand and lifted it in mine to check his pulse. He exhaled his last breath.

I went to the SUV and the driver of that vehicle obviously did not make it. I could tell from following he never knew what hit him. He didn't even have time to hit his brakes.

Still on 911 talking to the dispatcher I kept repeating that they're dying, they are dying, hurry. Emergency vehicles arrived quickly, probably 3 minutes. There were people stopping but the two drivers were already gone.

I was close enough that as I swerved to avoid hitting the truck, debris and fluids was showering down onto the hood and top of my truck. Broken windshield pieces and a windshield wiper were in the bed of my truck.

Life is a matter of seconds all strung together. One second later and it would have been me instead of the SUV. My life, his life they are all the same. Sadness grips another family that is unspeakable. When the name was released I looked on Facebook. He was a husband and father to three children. He was 39 years old. I have an unspeakable sorrow in my heart for someone I had never met until I saw him in the SUV.

No one expects it to be their day. Life is about seconds that mean minutes and turn into days. Seconds matter to each of us. We allow our seconds to tick by without telling and showing people how much they mean to us.

Did you say "I love you to someone today?" Did you show someone today that they are a special person in your life?

Don't let the most important second of your life tick away.

http://www.wibw.com/home/headlines/271761781.html


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Who's Fault Is It?

Who's responsibility is this? Why is my child using drugs? Where does this crap come from? Who is doing this to my baby?

I bet I'm safe to say that every parent of an addict has ask themselves these questions. I know I spent many an evening thinking about these questions and even tracking down friends and dealers phone numbers on my sons phone. Calling friends that are police officers, one the chief of police in our city and another a friend I grew up with since 12 years old that is the elected sheriff of a major county in KC. All in a futile effort to control and fix this situation.

The question still remains, who is responsible for my child's addiction? To save every new parent of an addict I will provide those answers below so that you can move forward faster in this process than I did in my struggle.

First of all and probably the biggest suspect is Dad and Mom. Unless Dad and Mom are the ones supplying the drugs and pushing that needle in their arm we must rule out our responsibility. I'd wager that we have all told our children, "Don't use drugs, just say no." Many have gone much further than that and repeatedly educated our children about drugs and the danger. Could we have done more and had a different outcome, no answers for that but we did the best we knew to do at the time.

It's must be the fault of the police. They don't do enough to keep drugs off the street and unavailable to our children. Sorry to say but this problem is bigger than the police. Law enforcement is doing what they can.

Dealers are the scum of the earth. The drug dealers and drug cartels are poisoning our society and ruining life as we know it. You won't get an argument from me on that one but one Dad and Mom will not change a thing in this world. If I get my son's dealer arrested there will be another one standing in line to provide what he needs. The line of dealers will never end.

It's those friends he hung around with. We ALL knew they were no good. Teenagers make bad decisions. When two or more teenagers are together the amount of bad decisions multiply exponentially. That was happening when you and I were teenagers and it was happening long, long before us. That is just the nature of teenagers as far back as stories are told.

Big Pharma! This is the result of greed by pharmaceutical companies that produce these drugs. They don't care about our children they only care about putting another dollar in their pocket, they are no different than the dealers and drug cartels. With all their faults big pharma does have a place. Life saving drugs are produced and marketed by them. (discussion about excessive cost is for another blog) Even opiate based pain medicine has it's place. I'll speak from experience, I was grateful when I had them after a complete shoulder replacement surgery.

WHO'S FAULT IS THIS?!

Sorry to disappoint but spending time looking for fault is us living in the past. We want to know because somehow we think if we can answer that question it may somehow change the past or change our future. We may be able to learn from the past to share to with others to maybe help keep another mother's child from doing this but it will not help our situation.

Our addicted children live in the present. They live daily, hourly, and minute by minute with their addiction. As parents we must learn to live as our addict. We must learn to accept what is and deal with that reality. We do what we can to help them but we also must do what we can to help ourself.

The truth is as we begin focusing on ourself the answers we seek about how do we help our child becomes much clearer.


Monday, August 4, 2014

How Do Adults Learn? (Including Our Addicted Children)

Most adults learn through experiential learning. We relate experience to what we come to believe that is true. For instance, a child learns through belief. 2 + 2 = 4 because they believe it to be true because someone tells them it is true. As an adult I believe 2 + 2 = 4 because in my life I have experiences to validate that statement.

OK, how is this relevant to addiction and our lives as parents of addicts?

Most of us entered this world of drugs and addiction unexperienced. That means we were unlearned in what to do when our child is addicted to drugs. So, naturally we fall back on our experiences and what we have learned in life to solve and fix problems. The trouble is that as experiential learners it was impossible to learn from experiences we never had.

We all do or did this, myself included. We knew if we just exerted more control, loved more, provided more things and more happy experiences to our child it would all work out. Then when that didn't work we fell back into what worked at times for our young child, negative reinforcement, tough love, the adult equivalent of time out, and at times in anger maybe even resorting to physical attacks. Nothing seemed to work, we were working from a convoluted paradigm. What we learned from our past experiences did not apply in this situation.

What do we do now? Nothing seems to work. There comes a time when we must unlearn. Unlearning is our most difficult learning. Unlearning what we believe to be true, a parents love conquers all, makes us all vulnerable and unstable. Panic and fear takes over our lives. We come to believe our good or lack of parenting becomes a life or death situation for our child.

At some point we must let go of our old learning and step into a new reality. We may be parents but at this point we do not control this adult child we still see as a 5 year old running through the house. We must learn new through the experiences of our life today.

At this point we must learn to take care of ourselves. We must learn a new way to support. We must learn to love while allowing natural consequences. We must learn to capitalize on ability to provide  opportunities for discovery. Our addicted child, despite their condition, must discover that life is or could be better without drugs as it is with drugs. That is their FIRST step then their hardest work towards recovery begins.

All of this is not easy. In fact, I will attest to it was the most difficult thing I ever experienced. But, it is necessary. I would go as far as to say it is required.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Controlling my Control Issues

Sorry, I have been remiss in keeping up with my blog and posting regularly. My job is overwhelming right now but this is not the time or place for that discussion.

Right now I am on vacation with the family. Son, daughter and 3 grandkids at the lake. Things are great to be on vacation at least for 24 hours before I was tested.

Anyone that has read my blog long knows I began this journey with control issues. Ten years ago I knew if I exerted just a little more effort I could control my son's addiction and we would all be back on tract. Five years later trying harder and harder I finally got it through my thick, hard head that wasn't working. That's when I began working on me. If he wasn't going to get better I needed to find a way for me to get better.

Yesterday I had the ultimate test of my control recovery. We are on vacation and Tyler my 3 year old grandson, Alex's son, fell off the top of sliding board onto the dock. He broke his arm in too. Alex and Kristy rushed him to the local hospital while still in their wet swimsuits. I followed them a few minutes later with dry clothes. It was a very complicated break and he was then taken by ambulance to another hospital in a larger city 50 miles away where they had the resources and personnel to take care of him.

If that isn't a test of controlling your control issues then I don't know what could be designed more difficult. Picture this grandpa with his little buddy his arm is broken and he is in terrible pain and crying. Grandpa stood on the side offering support to Tyler and mom and dad just the way he should. Probably wouldn't have happened that way a few years ago.

This morning my little buddy is doing well. A cast but he is managing much better than I expected.

Thinking about last night it became clear to me what was happening with me during this crisis. The question, "Is this mine to control or is this mine to support?"

Wish I was able to have seen that question more clearly a long time ago when we were dealing with a son in active addiction. It seems so clear and so much more simple now.

For a parent with a child addicted and using we are NOT in control. We are the support crew and support can only be effective when the recipient is willing and accepting.

This all falls back to understanding OUR boundaries. Continually pushing against your boundaries and straining the rope to its breaking point often leads to unintended consequences, for ourself and our addicted child.

Last night I respected the boundary, I stepped into my role of support. In the end it made me proud to be a father and it made me proud of Alex and Kristy too.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Children Lost in a World of Hate

I normally stay away from politics on my blog. Many close to me know where I stand on the political spectrum but something is going on now that I believe reaches beyond the political spectrum and has to do with children. I just cannot let it go with commenting. Feel free to express your comments either way. I won't love you or hate you any more or less.  ;-)

Many of us have suffering children we have done anything and everything we know to try and help them and save their life. I'm talking about addiction and the danger drugs pose in our loved ones life and in our life too.

Today I see parents doing anything they can to save their child's life and many of our citizens are spewing hate towards those children. I'm talking about those children crossing our southern border. Parents have given up the most important thing in their life to save their child's life. They have sent their own child to our border, many knowing that they may never see their child again in their lifetime.

How much courage does it take for a parent to send their child away to the unknown because the known is that where they are today their child will die? How much love does that take? Could you send your child into the unknown on a hope and prayer that they will live? Could you send your child into the mouths of monsters, abusers and what they call "coyotes" to transport them in a new life?

Then when they arrive at their destination they are face to face with HATE. The stigma of an "illegal alien". We are awfully good with labels in this country aren't we?

I don't care where a child is from and what nation, these are children that are in a place called hell. Life is not what we want or believe in other lands. Children being used as slaves, drug runners, shooters and terrorists this is not what any of us want for children, not our child or someone else's child.. These children want what our children want. They want a parent to love them, they want to laugh, they want to play, they want to go to school and learn. They are not invaders and criminals.

The parents sending their children off on this journey want for their child exactly what we want for our children. Just like you or I, we want our children safe, happy and to have the opportunity we never had, they do too.

It is time we stop spewing hate towards these children and recognize them for what they are, they are refugees. No different than refugees we see in other parts of the world fleeing danger, hunger and almost certain death.

Let's break this stigma. So many of the labels foster hate and are intended to make a person less than what they are and could be. These children are not illegal aliens, these are children far from home and alone.

The history of our nation has been filled with hate towards others. It's time to break that cycle.  


Friday, June 20, 2014

Siblings: A Comment That Deserves Its Own Post

I wrote about how addiction is a family disease and how it affects everyone it touches, including siblings. Tori over at "The Recoverying" Addict In My House" ask her son how his brothers addiction has affected him. She used my post "Break The Stigma IV - The Siblings" to provide him questions about his thoughts about his brothers addiction.

This is an important read for us parents. Addiction is a family disease but I know from experience that it becomes central in our thoughts and heart to save our addicted child's life and there are times we leave those other people to fend for themselves. No matter if we intend to or not.

1. Addiction is a family disease. We have all heard that but what really does it mean. How far does it go?

The standard answer is that addiction effects the entire family. But it's more complicated than that. Any decent mother or father gets severely affected by an addicts disease, same thing with a wife or husband. When it comes to brothers and sisters, a few different factors apply. The first and most important is how close the relationship is. In my case, my brother is 7 1/2 years older than me, so by the time I was 7 years old he was hanging out with the "thugs" (wannabe's) and didn't want anything to do with me, and I think the fact that we are not super close has helped me be less affected by it. If we were close, than I believe it would affect me more emotionally. What does effect me, and the second factor, is how they act around us. What makes his disease mine is having to listen to him scream at my mom, act aggressive towards me, and then come around 2 hours later begging for money that I know he won't pay back. The fact that I had to study for my final exams having to listen to "SHUT THE FUCK UP!" and my mom cry all day is what makes it my disease. Honestly, if he didn't live here, I don't think I would give his addiction another thought. 

2. Easily we as parents see how devastating it is to us...

Talking to other siblings and children of addicts, I've noted that there are really three reactions that can occur. Sadness, anger, and indifference. Sadness develops into depression, and these people may end up becoming addicts themselves. The sad children's grades drop as their siblings addiction consumes them, and they try to cope any way they can. Unfortunately, this can include self harm, drinking, and even their own drug use, creating a bloody cycle. When the children react angrily, it's usually from not coping at all with emotion. They become angry, may start fights at school or work depending on their age (don't forget this will always affect them), and in general have a negative outlook on life, not so much as sadness but still significant. Finally, they can react with indifference, which is what I do. They try not to think about their siblings addiction whenever possible, and when they do they don't really feel emotion. While this may seem like the best of the three, it's not. People who react with indifference can end up becoming withdrawn from their relative. Before you know it it's not your brother or sister its the guy or girl that lives in the same house or the person at Thanksgiving or the family reunion.  No difference between them and the cousin who lives two states away and you see twice a year. 

3. Unconditional love:

Unfortunately, I don't think that unconditional love is automatically instilled upon siblings. Unconditional love develops over time, just like a husband and a wife. Sure, stumbles are okay, but if a sibling sees more bad than good, this unconditional love may never come to fruition. My brother is always going to be my brother and I love him, but if things keep happening we won't be close at all. We are not really that close now. We're not going to be the brothers that go out for drinks once a week. He's not going to be Godfather to my kids. We'll probably only see each other on Thanksgiving and Christmas, because God knows he won't remember anything else. So to answer the question, unconditional love is possible between siblings, but it doesn't naturally appear the way it does with parents and children. 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Break the Stigma IV - The Siblings

What happens when a brother or sister is addicted to drugs?

I'd love to hear from brothers and sisters. I only can write about what I observed in my family with our sons sisters.

Addiction is a family disease. We have all heard that but what really does it mean? How far does it go?

Easily we as parents see how devastating it is to us. This is our baby. Immediately we jump to fix it and be the savior. We all know how well that works. But what about the other kids? Older and younger, how are they dealing with this upset in their family?

Parents understand unconditional love. It's something a father and mother have that is impossible to explain. What about brothers and sisters? A sibling has a different perspective.

Both of our daughters were older than our son, one by 10 years and one by 2 years. Both with different family situations. Both with different reactions. Neither of them were right, neither of them were wrong in the way they handled the circumstances. As a parent I had to accept both of their decisions and reactions.

I'm leaving out a lot of the details but in summary our oldest daughter never left our sons side. The sister closest to Alex's age had a baby and made a choice she could not have an addict in her life, even if it was her brother. For a father it was hard to accept what they had decided but after a long time I came to realize that both were right in their decision.

Addiction is not just about an addicted child and a parents. It affects every person that loves the addicted person. This is a family disease.

Once our son entered recovery each person including me made amends in the family. It's not just the addicted that must recognize the current state as built by the past. Today love flourishes and all is well. There were no big apologies or explanations. In our family we are more a family of actions and prove it. Don't tell me what you're going to do, just do it. (I'm not stealing from Nike, they stole it from us)

Breaking the stigma is not about living in the past with all the hurts and pain. Breaking the stigma is standing up in the present and accepting ANYONE for who they are. Today is the day that matters most.

Break the belief and stigma that addicts are losers and will be forever. For some people, they cannot let go. But that is a problem they must live with, it is not a problem we all must suffer.

Be the light, not the darkness. Recognize in yourself that each of us have the power to bust the stigma of addiction and dispel the myths and untruths of what addiction has come to represent.

Loving Sisters

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Disease...You Give Yourself (stigma III)

Addiction, it's a disease you give yourself. When does the addict accept the responsibility for themselves and own up to that it is their fault they are addicted to drugs? No one forced the drugs on them. They chose to smoke that joint, they chose to take that pill, they chose to snort that line, they chose to jam a needle in their arm. Why is it societies problem? Why should I care?

We all know the arguments from those that start off with that very paragraph. Most times it does no good to quote the statistics so you appeal to logic. Many smokers get lung cancer or emphysema, no one doubts that lung cancer and emphysema are diseases and the medical community agrees smoking directly causes these diseases. Eating too much red meat and the wrong diet leads to heart disease. We even call that one a disease in it's name. Overweight, no exercise, improper diet leads to diabetes which in turn can cause blindness and amputations of extremities. There are countless injuries attributed to activities we do and we know those activities can lead to injuries. Sit and talk to runners and the discussion will eventually turn to the injuries they have or are suffering so they can run.

No one sits around and verbally beats up and chastises people with these diseases. Myself included, I have sent get well cards, delivered flowers, driven them to doctors appointments and cooked meals for them.

But the person that suffers from addiction is different. They deserve the stigma of ADDICT. Yep, in capital letters.

For myself I never used drugs. Not even when growing up. I had other vices. So it was very hard for me to accept the disease model and understand, why don't they just simply quit? In fact I freely admit it took me 5 years to understand. 5 long years of internal struggle with myself and struggle with my son on the outside.

Myself not using drugs at times still makes it hard to understand the, "Why start?" question. I assume there are as many answers to that question as their are drug addicts.

However, I do understand one thing. Teenagers do dumb stuff. I hope I can get agreement on that one thing by all. Teenagers have been doing dumb stuff since the beginning of time. I don't care how old you are or how conservative you are now, it is only by sheer luck you survived your teenage years.

Our teenage children do dumb things and some of them try drugs. Some of them put them down but some of them can't. For lack of a better way of saying it, switches are flipped in them that are not flipped in others. They become addicted because their brains are different and then their brain is about to become very different due to the chemicals. THIS IS THE DISEASE.

For those of you that never did anything dumb in your life, I'll accept your criticism and judgmental chastising. For the rest of us it's time to look at people suffering from addiction and alcoholism without a stigma. It is time to realize that there is a person inside there and without help and love that person will be forever trapped in their own prison. No matter what we do to them on the outside.

BREAK THE STIGMA. Change the dialogue. Nothing will get better until we do things different and change what we believe about addiction and those addicted.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Breaking The Stigma, Part II

This blog is about our struggles and what Darlene and I learned through parenting and addict. There are times I almost feel I have to go back in time and read old posts to remember.

It's easy to put it all behind me and forget. However, something pulls at me to remember and stand tall to break the stigma. I am drawn to stand up and show that parents can survive this too. I know every single parent reading this knows exactly what I mean. There are times you wonder about your own survival, mental and physical. "How much more can I take?"

Where there is life there is hope. I have something to share. Every parent has the same dream but dreams are exactly what they are called.

It is heartache, it is pain, it is work and I am not talking about what your addicted one is going through. I am talking about every single parent. We must work on ourselves every bit as hard as our child must work on themselves.

This is why you work must work so hard.
Our Son

Monday, June 2, 2014

Breaking The Stigma

You are not alone. Four simple words but being the parent of an addict is the loneliest and most desperate place I have ever been.

What I found out long into the process is that we feel lonely because we choose that place. There isn't something from on high that dictates this is our problem and others cannot be troubled. We choose this because not only of the stigma of addiction for our loved one but also the stigma of being the "parent of an addict." Over and over we replay their childhood, what could we have done different, what did we miss, if only.....

A parent playing those games with themselves makes for poor company to anyone but another parent suffering through the same trauma. Just because a person hasn't been in your shoes does not mean they do not have the capacity to support and love you.

A big part of our problem lies in the public stigma of addiction. Addiction still is perceived as a flaw in a persons character, not a disease as it is recognized by the medical community. Even today I hear people say that when we call addiction or alcoholism a disease that is nothing more than an excuse, cop-out or simply permission for an addict or alcoholic to use or drink, "I can't help myself, I have a disease."

To break the next barrier in developing treatment for our loved ones is to break the stigma.

Drugs are illegal. Many of the symptoms of the disease involve illegal behavior, stealing, dealing, driving while impaired. I am not saying make drugs legal. Now I understand that being addicted to drugs involves multiple levels of illegal activity and many times those activities are symptoms of the disease.

An addict must suffer the natural consequences of their illegal activities but there comes a time the "system" must recognize and deal with these symptoms in a different manner in which it does today. Current methods used in the criminal justice system has had minimal effect in our treatment of addicted individuals. "The War On Drugs" has turned into "The War On Addicts". Today we are doing the same thing that has been done for 50 years with the same miserable results. The strategies being employed by the justice system were developed before our children were even born and they still work just as poorly then as they do now.

From my point of view this is one of the root causes for the stigma surrounding addiction and alcoholism. This keeps us parents and society from standing up and demanding different treatment than what has been failing for so long.

I want to rid myself of the stigma. That is why I am public with my name and contact info.

I am the parent of a son that was addicted to drugs. Today he is clear and sober, a father, home owner and a contributing member of society. Your addicted child does not have to be clear and sober to stand up to the world and be proud of them and to show them they are loved.

We are proud loving parents.
We all should be proud loving parents.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Guest Post: US News and World Report

I received this e-mail today. If you would like to talk to this reporter please contact her directly and mention you saw this on my blog. Hope this can help minor age addition treatment.

Hello,

I came across your blog when I was searching online … and I’m hoping that you can help me with a story I’m working on.

In a couple of weeks we are releasing Best Children’s Hospitals. This guide does not include a list of hospitals that have inpatient psychiatry units, because there are so few of them.

When I looked into this, I realized that the services for addiction in children’s hospitals, within psychiatry departments, were even more grave. I decided to write a story about it, and I have talked to many policymakers and doctors about why this is.

I’m hoping to provide the patient’s voice in all of this. I noticed you have an extended network—could you connect me with someone I might talk to? I prefer someone who has a child who is 18 or under. We are simply looking to tell their story, and to help other parents understand that when they face this they will have to look hard to find services that meet their children’s needs. I would need to speak with someone today or tomorrow.

I’m happy to discuss changing any names to protect children as they are going off to college.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Thank you all for your support. Kimberly sent me a response and said she has ll the interviews she can handle and has promised to link me to her article when it published. When I get the link I will post the article and link on here for all to read.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What We Feed Grows

Annette over at Just For Today... wrote a great post for anyone, not just parents of addicts.

What we feed grows. Those four words carry so much when you apply them not just to addiction but to life.

I can't say it any better than Annette so I am just going to link you to her post right here: What We Feed Grows