Monday, July 18, 2016

Speed of Light Back in Time

(please click on pic to read the sign)

On my way to the lake today I took a different route through Sedalia, MO. It's a bit longer but I just wanted different scenery. Driving through Sedalia on US Highway 50 this sign was in a yard of a house. 

At my first opportunity I made a U-turn. Pulling into the driveway I didn't know exactly what I was going to say but I knew I had to say something. Walking slowly to the front door I worked up the courage and rang the bell then knocked on the door. No one was home. I stood there for a second but felt like I couldn't leave. Walking into the front yard I took this picture.

I still couldn't leave without saying something to the people that posted this sign. Was it their daughter? Was it a friend? Was it a wife? Was she a mother? I didn't know but I knew they cared VERY much for this person and she must have been loved VERY much.

Searching through my truck I could not find a pad of paper. The best I could do was an old envelope from a boat registration. I began writing. It was hard to string words together but I wanted them to know how much good they were doing for others with this sign. Removing the stigma is the first step in the battle to help others.

I wrote till I ran out of paper. Then I took one of the business cards I make available at my talks and I took one of my Partnership at Drugfree Kids cards and wedged them all in the back door.

As I backed out onto the busy highway my stomach was in knots and my heart was hurting, not from the traffic. Driving east on Highway 50 a few miles I was still sad until a tear feel down my cheek for this poor girl.

The realization that on this day I am the luckiest parent in the world struck home. I could have had a sign like this in my yard, but I don't. My son is in recovery today and every day I AM the luckiest father on Earth.

It is sad, but with people like these it gives me hope and confidence that one day we will slay the monster.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Fathers Day

This is a post from a year ago I feel that is worth repeating.

On this Father's Day there are a lot of us that have lost our fathers, some long ago and some not so long ago. While we remember and miss our dad's let us not forget there are others with a hole in their heart.

There are many Father's that have lost their child.

As we remember and miss our fathers on this special day let us not forget the pain of those fathers that miss a child.


Last year I ask everyone to remember those fathers that have lost a child to addiction or for any other terrible reason. I want to step it up this year. All you fathers out there reading this please reach out to a father that has lost a child and send them a message and hug of Happy Fathers Day. Let them know they are not forgotten on this day.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pinch Me, Am I Dreaming

Six years ago in May and June of 2010 we were discovering how deep our son's addiction had progressed. We were in shock and after the shock wore off we snapped back to a stark reality. We began discussing what no parent should have to consider. Darlene and I began openly discussing what happens if our son dies.

We began discussing funeral arrangements, we drove through the cemetery down the street looking at open spots. Our heart was broken and we had not given up but we had resigned ourselves to a horrible eventuality.

Our despair was so evident I allowed myself to post about what we expected in July 2010.
http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/2010/07/untitled.html
http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/2010/07/google-it.html

Last night we attended the Commencement Exercises at Johnson County Community College. In the Commencement Program this was printed:

Associate of Arts and Science

I know many that read here have loved ones still struggling. I guess the only advice I have is to always look towards tomorrow. No matter how bad it may seem none of us know what will happen tomorrow, we don't even know what will happen the next minute or second. http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/2014/08/did-you-say-i-love-you-today.html

Never give up, never stop loving and never stop taking care of yourself. People need you and your loved one needs you too if that day comes when they have a profound experience and enter recovery.

Needless to say I am proud of my son. This is just one step. In these six years since 2010 he has bought a house, works a full time job, is a father to three wonderful children and loves a partner as we all wish we could and should. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

Last Fathers Day I wrote a message about those that have lost their father as I had so long ago.
Not to ignore those mothers that have lost a child I want to reprint my post here with a couple of edits.
On this Mother's Day there are many that have lost their mothers, some long ago and some not so long ago. While we remember and miss mom's let us not forget there are others with a hole in their heart.
There are many Mother's that have lost their child.
As we remember and miss mothers on this special day let us not forget the pain of those mothers that miss a child.

Monday, May 2, 2016

GET OFF MY LAWN!!!!

I've reached that magical age of 60 where I am allowed, or expected to be that crotchety old guy in the neighborhood. Yelling at kids, get of my lawn, turn that down, go someplace else to play.

Not for me.

I have a big yard with no fence. Play in my yard. Throw the ball, mark off a baseball field, ride your bikes, scream, run and play. There are apples, peaches, plums and cherries in the trees. Grapes are on the vines and blueberries are growing in the bushes. You see something you want, eat it. No need to wash it off, fully organic here, wipe it on your shirt. Fly specks and maybe a worm in an apple will not hurt you. The best fruit doesn't come from a shelf in a grocery store. Climb this trees, just be careful and don't fall.

I want to hear the laughter and the fun. It keeps me young. No matter whose kids they are.

There is a much bigger reward in raising kids than raising grass.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Addiction Won't Magically Go Away

This is a very good clip from a mother who lost her son to a heroin overdose.

It doesn't matter how famous you are, or rich, or poor addiction does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone.

Jeannie couldn't just fold her arms and nod her head to fix her son. Barbara Eden suffered with her son too as we all have when a loved one is addicted. I dream that Jeannie could fix all our children this way.

Please watch the 90 second video and pay attention to the end. Break the stigma and reach out. Silence is a killer. The only hope is when we ALL grasp hands outreached.

Grasping an outstretched hand for help is not something only our addicted children must do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXb7q0TC6NM

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Filling My Tank

This is what it takes for me to continue the fight against the monster. None of us can continue this battle no matter if our loved one is active or clear and sober without fuel.

The fuel we require is a fuel for the soul. Yesterday and today I got my tank filled.

Last night I posted an innocuous comment to a Facebook post and linked my blog. Shortly I got a message from someone asking if I could help. The messenger had a problem and knew it but no one else knew. That person confided in a total stranger and ask for help after reading a few posts on my blog. I provided some info and a phone number to reach some professionals whom I trust. Today was to be her first day on a new path.

Today I received an email with comments and appreciation from the college students that provided the questions I answered. I will copy their comments here:

Ron,

I met with my class last Thursday and had students work in groups in writing a response to your answers; here are their responses:

1)    We want to thank you for spending your time to write to our questions.  Seeing that your son now has a child to care and live for, we are sure he is very appreciative for all that you have done for him.  Now that he’s a father he has a sense of what kind of pain you and your wife have gone through and he is very thankful for your support through hard times!
2)    We know it must have been hard for you to talk about this but, nonetheless, we thank you for enlightening us through your perspective.
3)    Dear Ron, my name is *********** and I would like to take the time to let you know that I truly appreciated your responses to our questions.  To be honest, my friend ****** was also at one time a heroin addict.  I clearly apologize if we brought back memories that were in the past.  My friend ****** and I would always think of what the parents must feel. Thanks to your response, and your blogs we and many others can learn about how to beat addiction.  I truly pray that all parents and addicts read your blogs in hopes of finding guidance.  Once again, thank you and God bless you.
4)    Thank you for providing feedback on this sensitive topic.  I am glad that you found the strength to answer these questions and that your son was able to get clean.  By the way, we thought your writing is awesome!
5)    First of all, we just want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking the time out of your day to respond to these questions as we know that these questions were sensitive to answer.  We really liked what you were saying about lifeboats as we believe that to be true.  Your son sounds like he is doing a lot better now and we wish you both good luck in the future.
Thank you again, Ron, for responding to my class’s questions.  I really appreciate it!


Susan Winslow

This is what fills my tank and gives me the energy to go forward.

Break the stigma. Stand up for help, grasp an outstretched hand. Educate yourself and pass it along, you never know who you may touch.



Saturday, March 12, 2016

Does It Ever Get Better?

I am still a member of several Facebook Groups concerning addiction and drug use. Sometimes I'll respond to a post by a parent but mostly I just read the activity. I also read blogs but they seem to be a dying medium.

Still a lump comes to my throat and my stomach knots when I read a post from a distraught parent. "I don't know where my child is tonight." "Pray for my child, in the hospital, overdose." "My child is going to court and could be locked up for five years." I could have and did write many lines just like these.

I know the pain of each of these parents. It is a painful agony to watch a child suffering from addiction. The feeling of helplessness when you are doing everything you know to save their life.

Does it ever get better? No, it gets different. (give me a break. I know the grammar doesn't work.)

Our son entered recover in July 2010. We lived seven years of a nightmare. I know the highs of endless hope and I know the crushing pain of a relapse.

Fear still grips me for every parent that writes about their son or daughter struggling with the monster. (another chance to correct me, i know it is a disease, but I LIKE monster.)

A lump in my throat, a twisting in my gut, a tear on my cheek. This is what I live with even with a son who is clear and sober.

To every mother and father out there struggling through this nightmare; the only thing I can really say to help is, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Keep reaching out to us. We don't have that magic bullet to fix it but we have a hand to hold. We have a shoulder where you can cry. Most of all we UNDERSTAND.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Another Reader Question

Another reader question was submitted as a comment to my last post. As I said, I'll answer anything and do it truthfully.

Hi Ron, A question for you.

As a parent of an addict did you learn things about yourself that led to questions and change within yourself.


I believe no one can go through something like the addiction of your child and not change.

I am also one that believes inside any action good can be found if you look hard enough. Not to say I would want to go through this again or for anyone to go through it but life is about experiences and how we deal with them, good or bad.

My son's addiction rocked me to the core. I was and still am a person that lives by goals. Before this experience most of my goals were focused inwardly and I had everything laid out; short, intermediate and long term goals drove my behavior and actions.

Today I am more accepting of living life as it is presented. That's a big thing for a goal setting control freak.

I learned that the constants I counted on in life can be changed regardless of my influence. I learned there are limits to my control and influence. It's impossible to effect a change simply my coercion or making a deal. You cannot bargain or threaten away addiction.

I grew up in a family that was not touchy feely. I knew my parents loved me, it was not something needed to be said. In all my life I can remember telling my dad that I loved him once, on his deathbed the day he died. On that day was the only day I can remember hearing those words from his mouth. I didn't see that as a bad thing, that was just how it was. We were not touchy either, hugs were not something shared.

This is how I grew up and the way I lived as a father. My love was not voiced it was to be understood.

Today saying "I love you" is something I do. I hug people, not just family. Through all of this I have learned that demonstrating and voicing my love can be important to others. Assuming something is understood is wrong. After all, we all know how to break down the word "ASS U ME".

Another thing that I felt was a change to me and I hope was beneficial to others was my efforts to write this blog and share my feelings and be open as a father to sharing. Taking that one step further I feel my public speaking about my experience to students, parents and professional groups was a good coming from this experience.

So many things about me changed through this experience. It is impossible to list them all but these are the ones important to me.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Reader Question

While answering the questions posed by college students I was hoping it would spur thoughts or questions by readers. One reader posted a question in the comments and I would like to answer it now.

Anonymous Ask:

I have a question, does your son drink alcohol? I know that most programs say that a recovering addict should not drink alcohol and I was wondering what your thoughts on that were. I know when my son stopped using drugs, he did drink alcohol and then became an alcoholic but I'm not sure that is the case for all recovering addicts.

Yes, my son has an occasional beer at family gatherings and at the lake.

I am aware some addicts simply trade one addiction for another. However, my feelings are an individual that has worked their way through recovery has the responsibility to manage their recovery.

It is fair to voice your concerns if you observe behaviors that go against your personal values but nagging and making it a continuous issue I feel is destructive not just to the person in recovery but also in your relationship. I found the most effective way for a person to see the effects of their own actions does not involve another person telling them. My experience taught me that by providing "opportunities for discovery" results in a person internalizing an issue without words.

I go back to what are the most effective ways for a person understand their own behaviors? What got them to the point of entering recovery? That is what will happen if a person substitutes one substance for another.

The long and short of it is my son's recovery is his to manage. Only he truly knows the darkness in which he lived. He must manage his life in a way not to enter that place again.


If anyone else has questions I would be happy to share my thoughts. You can post them in the comments or feel free to email them to teamplayer@aol.com. I will answer them here on my blog.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Q & A Time Questions 7-10

Today I am publishing the last 4 questions submitted by college students about our experience with an addicted loved one.

I hope everyone found it interesting what the students ask and how I answered. After today's post I will answer any questions submitted by readers. There is one question in the comment of the first set of questions I will answer and if anyone else has question please feel free to leave them in the comments or e-mail me directly.

7.  What is the hardest part about living with an addict?

The fear. Every single time the phone rang or doorbell rang there was a twisting fear inside you scared that this was “the call.”

In fact the only time his mother and I felt any peace would be when he was in jail or prison. During that time we knew where he was and that he was being watched.


8.  How do you stay positive?

You must have lifeboats. That is what I call those things that allow you to remember that you have a life too. I wrote about my lifeboats on my blog. http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/2009/01/lifeboats.html

It’s like on an airplane when the attendant gives that speech that no one listens too about oxygen masts. “In case of a loss of cabin pressure an oxygen mask will drop down. For those of you traveling with small children secure your mask first and then place the mask on your child.”

If you do not save yourself first you cannot save others.

May I take the liberty to change your question slightly? How do you maintain hope?

Hope is very dangerous when misplaced. Once I had pretty much lost hope and someone told me “Where there is life there is hope.” Easy to say and comforting to hear but then reality is snapped back and you realize your son is suffering from what can be a fatal disease. Then I thought more about what hope really is as it relates to life. You can read it here: http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/2011/03/where-there-is-life-there-is-hope.html
There are times you can’t be positive and maintain hope. When we found out our son was speedballing. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speedball_(drug)) This is when his mother and I began making his funeral preparations; we were just waiting on a body. Speedballing is usually fatal. If you read about the famous people that die from drug overdoses, many are from speedballing.


9.  Did your son’s addiction affect your family financially?

Financially I DO NOT want a final total of monies expended. I do believe as far as direct dollars it would be in the high five figures or low six figures. Indirect monies spent on ourselves to try and make us feel better, “retail and beach therapy”…… I do not want to know the total amount.

My wife and I had good jobs that paid well. We were fortunate. I know people that bankrupted themselves dealing with a child’s addiction, lost homes, cars and retirements.

Addiction and mental health is not accepted by many as a legitimate health issue, this includes many insurance companies. Our health insurance at the time mandated no more that 30 days treatment for addiction or mental health. 30 days of rehab is accepted by most addiction professionals is not enough. Can you imagine what would happen if insurance companies only allotted 30 days treatment for cancer, heart disease or diabetes?


10.  Did he show signs of addiction when he was younger?

Not sure how to answer this question.

He was a normal kid. Played video games, at five years old he thought he was Michelangelo of The Teenage Mutant Turtles.

My son was very smart. Honor rolls all through school. Math was simple, he took pre-calc and trig as a sophomore in high school, that was the highest math class in our school and he just breezed through the class.

He played sports, basketball and football. He was a star on the forensics team and qualified for state.

Most times he was center of attention. Our high school had about 800 students. He was one of the “cool” kids everyone wanted to be his friend.

Guess I cannot understand what signs you are looking for in this question. I am sorry.

 ____________________________________________________


Thank you all for allowing me to share my story with you in this way. It hard and painful to share but it must be done to battle the monster. Removing the stigma of addiction is the first step in recovery and educating everyone that addiction can be beat.

Your questions brought emotional moments back to the surface. Thank you for those painful remembrances. It keeps me focused on the present and the gift I have in my son today that we came so close to losing.

If you or other loved ones have any other questions of a personal nature I’d be happy to discuss them with you either through e-mail teamplayer@aol.com or by phone (913) 909-2810.

Sincerely,

Ron Grover

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Q & A Time Questions 3-6

Yesterday I posted a couple of the questions sent to me by college students. Today I am going to continue with the list of questions and my answers.


3.  Do you feel as though there was anything you could have done to prevent his addiction?

With this question you really know how to make a parent feel bad. 

Every parent of an addict struggles with this every day. What could I have done, what did I miss? Even today this is the question that haunts me. In Al-Anon they teach the 3 C’s. You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. It’s easy to say, catchy and very hard to accept.

I’ve been asked this question many times in many forms. After a lot of reflection I have finally come to peace with my struggle in this manner, I wrote a blog post about it that might be appropriate. Here is a link. http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/2013/04/what-do-i-wish-i-had-done.html


4.  Did you seek therapy to cope with his addiction?

We sought many forms of therapy. We went to family counseling with psychologists. We attended Nar-Anon, NA, AA and Al-Anon meetings trying to learn from others. I actually went a drug rehab and was invited to take part in all activities with addicts and alcoholics for four days. The drug rehab was an enlightening experience but it still wasn’t what I needed.

What helped me most when I was at the end of my rope was in January 2009 I began writing my blog, “An Addict In Our Son’s Bedroom”.  I am not a professional writer; I’m not even a good writer. I just began writing anonymously to chronicle my experiences. People began reading and commenting. I wrote more and more people commented. The blog and the commenters became my therapist, counselor and therapy. Sharing my experiences and reading other blogs about other parents experiences provided me the outlet and learning I needed.


5. How is your son able to stay clean now?

Truthfully my son does not like talking about his time of active addiction. I respect him, his recovery is his recovery, and my recovery is my recovery.

From observation I believe a key component in his recovery and staying clean is his son. He has a four-year-old son and from my perspective he lives for that boy. He is the center of his life.


6. How does it feel to help someone who is intentionally harming his body?

Helplessness.

There is emptiness and frustration inside that is impossible to describe. I am a “fixer” but I couldn’t fix addiction.

I am a simple guy. Many times I speak in analogies and scenarios. This is a time for one. Imagine yourself as the father of a son. Your son is standing on the railroad tracks and a train is barreling down the tracks towards him. He hears nothing. You begin running towards the tracks as hard as you can and arrive in time to knock him from the tracks but the train hits you. That’s what fathers do. We give our life to save our child. With addiction it doesn’t matter. My son would be standing on another set of tracks the next day.

The frustration got so great one day I told my son to get his stuff and put that shit in my arm so I could enter his world and drag him out of it. His response was he would never do something that bad to anyone.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Q & A Time

A couple or three weeks ago a college professor, Susan Winslow from an small college east of Los Angeles ask me if I could speak to her classes. Susan's classes had been studying drugs and addiction and had been reading my blog. Los Angeles is a little far for me to travel to speak to students and as with most institutions of learning funds are tight and they couldn't pick up expenses so I thought of a compromise. I ask the professor if as a class they would be interested in compiling a list of questions that I could answer and I would make myself available by phone or FaceTime if they wanted.

Last week I received a list of 10 questions from her classes. That very morning I fired off answers. Susan replied that they would be discussing the list and my answers this Thursday.

I asked Susan if it would be OK to share these questions on my blog. Her response was of course, please share them.

Over the next few days I will share all the questions. Probably a couple per day, depending on the length of my answer, some a bit wordy. But of course regular readers would expect that in my writing.

Most importantly I would love for you all to share how you might have answered or if you think my answer was complete BS share that too.

Prior to answering the questions I wanted to make sure the students knew they were not talking to a professional but merely a dad that had lived through the experience of an addicted loved one.

First of all I want to qualify my answers with the fact that I am not an addiction specialist, counselor, teacher or any other professional in the field of addiction. I am merely the parent of an addict that lived the experience of a son addicted to drugs for seven years. My knowledge in this subject comes from experience and reading. Anything I answer to your questions is borne of my experience and does not in any way construe expert or professional counsel in this subject. Just call me Dad; I am no different than your fathers and the millions of other fathers out there that would love their son through a terrible disease.


1. Do you think your son’s addiction has to do with his environment, or is it a disease?

This is like two questions in one. I am going to take liberties with this and answer it in two parts.

I certainly believe environment can influence experimentation with drugs and alcohol. However, I will not accept that environment is determining factor in the use of drugs. In my experience I have met addicts from rich and poor homes, religious and non-religious homes, broken homes and with married parents where both parents are in the home. Addiction does not discriminate; it is uniquely individual just as any other disease.

I do believe experimentation with drugs can strongly be influenced in peer relationships. What people perceive to be an accepted norm can become an influencer in choices and behavior. In the beginning experimentation or using drugs may be a choice, it becomes a disease.

Addiction is a disease. I struggled with this idea mightily for five years. I read and knew about the physiological changes in an addict’s brain and body. I’d seen pictures of an addicted brain and non-addict brain. I could compare and see the physical differences. Personally I couldn’t accept the disease model. In my mind, he made a choice to take drugs, simply make a choice to stop taking drugs.

I didn’t “get” it until one very bad day. I saw needles in our son’s room. We argued, screamed and cussed at each other for one hour. Fighting literally for a full hour at the very top of my emotions. Exhausted we both went downstairs and sat at the kitchen table. With my head in my hands and crying I begged my son once again to stop.

He asked me to play a game with him. He asked me to hold my breath as long as I possibly could hold my breath. During that time he said he would not think about drugs, getting drugs, using drugs, how drugs made him feel. He told me that I would win the game every time. He began to cry and begged me for help. He said he couldn’t even sleep in peace, he dreamed about and had nightmares about drugs.

At that very moment in time I understood. It was my light bulb moment. My son needed drugs as much as I needed oxygen. Simply asking him to stop would be as effective as asking me to simply stop breathing. That was when I internalized and accepted the disease model of addiction.


2.  What was your first reaction when you found out your son had an addiction?

Denial, denial, denial and oh, did I mention denial.

It’s just a little weed, boys will be boys.

Our first real acceptance that this was a problem was when the phone rang at 11:30PM while we were asleep. It was Overland Park Regional Hospital emergency room calling to inquire about our son. A young man without identification was pushed out of the backseat of a car onto the emergency entrance sidewalk unconscious and not breathing. The only thing on him was a book of checks with our name.

We were told that if this might be our son we should come as soon as possible. When we arrived he had been given Narcan and was conscious. This was really our first realization that our son was an addict.