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

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memories and Realizations for Memorial Day

On Memorial Day much is made of memorializing our veterans and of that I am appreciative. My father was a veteran of the US Army. He served in Germany after World War 2. In 1982 he lost his life to cancer.

On this day I do not forget those parents that have lost a child to the monster of drugs and alcohol. Every day another parent feels that unbearable pain. I have met parents and spoke to people that walk and live with more strength than I can imagine. They live with a hurt I am not sure I am strong enough to bear.

As the sun rises on another Memorial Day salute the flags and veterans but do not forgot those parents that suffer in silence and alone. There child did not die for nothing. They died with love inside them that could not escape the monster and disease.

As I remember all of the parents that have lost their child I have a realization of how fortunate, lucky, blessed or whatever word fits that my son is happy, healthy, clear and sober another day. The rest of my life I will never take a single day for granted.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Breaking News!!!

The Partnership at Drugfree.org has re-branded itself into more of what we as parents are looking for, to help our kids.

A new name:  "Partnership for Drug-Free Kids"

Same easy to remember web address: www.drugfree.org

The website is easier to read and navigate. Truth is many of us have been telling them to KISS it for a long time, Keep It Simple Stupid. One of the things I told Tom Hedrick a long time ago, was when we were first discovering our REAL issue with Alex I went online looking for answers, one of the first sites that popped up was The Partnership site. The old site was too confusing to find answers through the tears. Today it is so much better. It's parent friendly.

If you haven't been to The Partnership site for a while, then today is the day to visit an old friend.

If you are a parent that needs to talk to someone, a real professional in addiction call The Parent Helpline. Jerry or Denise will answer the phone, if they are talking to other parents or it is after hours.......LEAVE A MESSAGE! They will call you back. If it feels weird or you are scared to call........tell them Ron told you to call, they know me. You'll be talking to old friends that can help you.

1-855-DRUGFREE
(1-855-378-4373)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Johnson County, KS. Public Discussion About Drug Abuse in Youth

This is a public notice for those in the Kansas City area that Johnson County is holding a frank and public discussion about drug abuse in our community.

I have been ask by Officer Richard Spandle the School Resource Officer at Shawnee Mission South High School if I would be available to answer questions or maybe say a few words as the parent of an addict. I will be there.

I hope you can join me.



STOP Underage Drinking Coalition of Johnson County
And
The Overland Park Police Department Present:

Down the Up Staircase: Addiction is only a few steps away

A short film that documents the recent rise in oxycodone and heroin abuse in Johnson County

When:  May 20, 2014, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Where:  Shawnee Mission South High School, Little Theater

What:  A presentation of the “Down the Up Staircase” film and a frank discussion drug use and abuse in our community with the Overland Park Police.

Who:  This presentation is designed for parents, students, professionals and members of our community who are concerned about the youth in our county.  All are welcome.

Please let us know if you plan to attend by contacting Charlene Whitney at Charlene.Whitney@JOCOGOV.ORG


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Comments From The Anonymous Parent

What is an anonymous parent? Many comment on this blog as anonymous and that is great. Who are these anonymous parents? What is life like to be the person without a name?

I've thought about who that anonymous parent is and what they are going through. Maybe I'm right maybe I'm wrong but here is what I have come up with because I was once an anonymous parent.

The Anonymous Parent is that parent who is up at 2am but their child is not home.

The Anonymous Parent is searching and barely able to read a computer screen through the tears to learn more about this monster and what they can do to help their sick child.

The Anonymous Parent has piles of books and articles colored with highlighter marks in their bedroom.

The Anonymous Parent calls helpline and strangers looking for answers as to what to do and what comes next.

The Anonymous Parent has sat through way too many lectures and meetings trying to understand what is happening to their family.

The Anonymous Parent has emptied their savings and retirement accounts on rehabs and medical bills.

The Anonymous Parent has suffered the embarrassment of the flashing lights of police cars in their driveway at all hours, day and night.

The Anonymous Parent cries at night before going to sleep and feels a level of fear they never felt was possible.

The Anonymous Parent loves a person that by all accounts to everyone else is unlovable.

The Anonymous Parent makes a difference in one life. Sometimes that is all that is possible.

It doesn't matter how anonymous you are, you are not alone. Reach out and take the hand that is offered.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Guest Post: Dear Mom and Dad

Here is a guest post from Lisa. She sent it a while back but it got lost in my in-box. I apologize for the delay Lisa.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I love you. I want you to know that, because I’m sure you’ve doubted it before. I can’t know exactly how much pain I put you through, but I imagine it was a terrible lot. How could I treat the two people I love most in the world so badly?

I was sick, and I think you understand that now. We all learned a lot about my disease through this journey, through my stints in rehab, and I think you understand. The little girl you raised to be kind, thoughtful, and moral didn’t die; she was just sick.

I can’t ever thank you enough for all the support you’ve given me. There were times when I pushed you away and resented you for trying to help me, but that was before I could see clearly. Now that the fog of addiction is years gone, I realize how selfless you were and how truly grateful I am for you both.

I’m a parent now, and things are coming full circle. I worry that my sweet, innocent son has inherited my disease and will one day take the same wrong turns I did. I worry that everything I experienced and learned won’t be enough to help him avoid making the same mistakes. I worry that one day I’ll be in the same shoes you wore.

If I’ve learned anything, though, it’s that we can’t dwell on the past we can’t change or the future we can’t predict. Here and now is all we have. Here and now, I want to enjoy my son’s childhood AND enjoy the great relationship with my parents that I finally have.

If I haven’t said it enough: I’m sorry, thank you, and I love you. You’re the epitome of great parents and who I aspire to be like with my own child every day.

I love you,

Your Daughter.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Do/Should We Write

Why would I write about addiction, share all of my family secrets and issues, exposing us all to shame and ridicule by so many?

Simple answer, it was because I tried everything else and this was my last resort. I went to meetings spoke to counselors and therapists. I sat in rehabs while addicts shared their stories, me searching for answers. I cried privately. Darlene and I suffered in silence. Writing and sharing worked for me.

I am not discounting what works for others but I am making sense of what works for me.

Parenting an addict is a life of the immediate. If you aren't in the middle of a crisis you are waiting for the next one. There is no time to plan the next step. The next step is about to land on you as you wait.

Writing was a necessity for me. Maybe sharing publicly wasn't what I intended to do, in fact if you read my first posts in 2009 I made a point to be anonymous.

In the heat of the crisis/moment we all react. That is all we can do, many times it can be a matter of life or death for our loved one. When do we have time to deliberate and reflect?

Writing forced that time upon me. It caused me to examine more closely my personal experience. What happened in the crisis, what happened to me, what did I do in reaction and finally the most important point, what did I learn.

Writing held me accountable to myself. In quiet deliberation I could examine my own mistakes, not just blame everything on the drugs. There are answers to this insanity called addiction that makes sense. Writing helped me to find and ask the right questions.

My learning and advice. If you do not write, try it. You don't have to put it online for the world to see. It can be as private as you want. Write a journal or a diary or write on a scrap piece of paper. Put those words and feelings in black and white. Involve the other parts of your body in fixing your heart. Force your hand and fingers into the game. Make your eyes focus through the tears. It doesn't have to be profound it only has to be you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What If It Never Gets Better?

What if it never gets better? I bet that is a question every parent of an addict has ask themselves, probably more than once.

I admit I no longer struggle day to day. Most of my time in dealing with addiction issues involves reflection. Playing Monday morning quarterback is my best position in sports so I have adapted it to life.

What if it never gets any better is that question of frustration. It's usually followed by a statement like, "I've done everything I know to do."

Lately I have been thinking about this question and it is still troubling. For a fixer like me what does that really mean, I failed? I'm not one to accept defeat. There is a fix, I just haven't gotten the right formula. That was always my answer. I always seemed to disregard the real answer because I never really accepted the premise of the question. My failure to accept reality that some never do get better caused me much heartache and much grief for my son.

The last few parents I have spoke with I have ask this difficult question. It's a hard question for me to ask because I know by the time someone would write me, a stranger, an e-mail based solely on this blog there is a desperation and hopelessness that I do personally understand very well. They aren't writing or calling to find someone to tell them give up, they are looking for an answer and sometimes just someone to talk too.

Not until the last six months of Alex's active using did I learn what I needed to know and understand the first six weeks. Understanding and dealing with addiction isn't about the addict.

Understanding and dealing with addiction is about dealing with a disease and yourself.

Granted I can't ask this question to someone that has been dealing with this six weeks but it is something we all need to answer. Put aside the anger, the fixer, the disappointment, the guilt, put aside the past. Don't try to analyze and understand ideas like powerless and acceptance. Make it simple, go off by yourself or with a close loved one.

What if it never gets better? 

What type of relationship do I want to have with my son/daughter/brother/sister/mother/ father/friend or whoever your addicted loved one happens to be? 

When you get to that answer it is easier to begin working on making your own life better despite the heartache you feel for your loved one.

Sometimes it is OK to have a one sided relationship. Life is give and take. Sometimes the scales do not balance no matter how hard you try. (thanks dad, you still speak to me even after 32 years gone.) 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Waiting On Spring

It's been a long winter. Today it is in the 70's but the wind will blow you over if you're not holding on to something anchored down.

I'm still speaking to students. It's going well and I hope some of them hear me. Lots of personal examples of students actions when I speak that keep me going. I have cards with my blog address, phone number and e-mail on them if they want to take them. I leave them sitting next to the door. Any evening after I speak my blog hits go through the roof. Makes me sad in a way.

I want to thank everyone that responded to the Guest Bloggers that sent me posts. I still answer e-mails and have called a few people that ask me to call. I guess this is my way of giving back to all of those that helped me so long ago.

Alex and his family is still doing well. There are a few things I take from his journey:
  • nothing is impossible.
  • hope is everlasting.
  • love is better than anger.
  • never give up.
  • if you need a break take one, then get back at it.
  • accept what is, give up on the world of "ought to be".
  • if the world falls part tomorrow, I still have today.
Can't wait for it to get nice enough to go on a road trip on the bike. I'm needing a little freedom and open road.

This year I hope to get some lake time. The boat has been in the basement for two years. Time to hit he water and I have grandkids to teach how to ski. When Erica was 3 I put her on my ski and took off. We skied a big circle she fell off once and wanted to go again. I got Brooke on the kneeboard when she was 3 but Tyler and Owen haven't had the grandpa experience yet. When I look in the mirror its hard to believe once I skied competitively. How did I get so old and so fat?