Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Relapse and Overdose


In the news is a story about Demi Lovato, actress, singer and celebrity. She makes the news because she relapsed and overdosed. The story goes on to detail that her life was saved when she was brought to the hospital and administered Narcan.

There is not a single parent of an addict that cannot relate to this news. We have either experienced the same with our loved one, imagined the same, or lost our loved one because help wasn’t there in time.

As I devour the news about Ms. Lovato it brings back my own horrors as a parent of a son actively using and getting that call from the emergency room. Arriving at the hospital and hearing how close we came to losing our son.

Relapse and overdose are so closely related. 

I remember the mistakes I made in dealing with my son when he relapsed. How much damage I may shoulder is incalculable but I do bear the remorse.

Relapse is a bad thing because of the danger it poses but it should not be considered a betrayal of trust as I took relapse. Time and experience allows me to understand things I could not while caught up in the drama and actions.

Now I understand how addiction is a disease and with that disease it may come out as a relapse. Other diseases do the same thing.

Imagine these scenarios:

I am a diabetic, it is a loved one birthday. I slip up, birthday cake and a Coke. My blood sugar spikes, emergency medical help is required.

I suffer from heart disease, out of shape, but that fried chicken, mashed potatoes smothered in gravy looks so good, two helpings fill me up. The next day I am feeling pains in my chest, 911 is called.

I am old, I am fat, I am out of shape, of course it snowed last night 18”. My body is that of a 70 year old, my mind is that of a 25 year old. Of course I can shovel that snow. Last thing I remember was grabbing my chest and falling into the snow. 

We can all imagine so many scenarios like these and probably more. In those scenarios loved ones gather around and tell me and tell me how much they love me and want to help me from doing that ever again.

When a person that suffers from addiction we stand around and belittle them. We shake our head and mutter something like, “just and addict, what do you expect.”

It’s time we learn from these actions. I did the just an addict….. until I understood. When an addict relapses they need the love, concern and help the same as any other person suffering from a disease. 

Reach out to those that relapse and to their loved ones too. “How can I help?”, is a perfect opening line. Every person suffering from addiction deserve just as much love and help as anyone not dealing with this disease.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Believing In Someone

A few months ago The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids ask me to write an essay for them to update their readers on our family progress. It's been several years since I have written for The Partnership so a catch up was interesting to write.

I am going to post my essay here on my blog too. It's been a few months since I updated my blog. The drama and daily crisis isn't the same as when my son was actively using, so the need to write isn't as urgent.

Here is what I submitted to The Partnership.


Believing in Someone


It’s been many years since I wrote posts for Partnership for Drug Free Kids.org. Maybe it’s time to catch you up since my first post in November 2009, “7 Truths About my Son’s Addiction That Took 5 Years To Learn.” Since that time, my son has been clear and sober since July 2010.

As the parent of an addict in long-term recovery it involves another learning process. How do you live with and parent a child in recovery?

I am going to take liberties with my language. It is my opinion that parents of a child addicted to drugs that enter recovery do suffer from PTSD. It’s not natural as a parent to suffer nightmares of your child using and death, its not natural to find tears flowing down your cheeks for no apparent reason, it’s not natural to be suspicious of every action and word, even a simple I love you. The fear and suspicion is overwhelming.

Trust has been broken at the core level. 

The good news, it gets better. 

Slowly we heal. It’s a struggle learning to trust a person that hurt you so bad. You see struggles and actions by that person that allow you to support and brings back that belief in someone your love so dearly.

No one has to suffer in isolation. None of us are alone. Just as you do while living the horrors of a child in active addiction reach out and grab those extended hands of help.

Recovery is a hard road for both your child and you. My hardest lesson was no one is perfect. We all must be allowed mistakes and we all must accept forgiveness. Addicts in recovery are not perfect. Parents in recovery are not perfect. Pointing out every misstep does not help either of us. Each of us make mistakes, critical for all is the need to ask that all important question, “What did I learn?” 

There were many mistakes of good intention made by all during our son’s recovery. Talking and communicating helps us both recover and heal.

Since July 2010 my son has become a college gradate, works a full time job, owns a home, is a father and is raising his own family. There IS life after addiction.

Another difficult lesson to learn that I hope you learn is that their recovery is theirs to manage and your recovery is yours to manage. Recovery is different for everyone. Do I consider myself fully healed? No, there are still flashbacks triggered by random thoughts and encounters. You find a way to deal with the triggered horrors and random tears that flow down your cheeks.

One of my recovery processes is speaking to groups of young people and adults about being the parent of an addict. To this day seven years later when I speak to groups my eyes well up recounting our experiences.

Life is good. Every cliché you hear is what life is like. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. They all work as long as you work them. 

In closing, I’d remind you where there is life there is hope. Continue to love and never stop believing. Loving your addicted child is natural. Believing in them is something you must do and show in your actions. Believing in a person is powerful. Use your power of belief to help your child suffering from this horrible disease.




Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My Speaking

I write a lot about my speaking to students, young people at detention centers and to adults when I am invited.

A couple of weeks ago a teacher utilized the video production class equipment at his high school and videoed one of my classroom talks for me. Unfortunately the class was shortened by 12 minutes due that day being an assembly day so I had to edit myself on the fly. However I tried to make sure I captured what I think are the most important parts of my story.

At this time I have stopped talking at our local high school out of respect to our son. He ask me not to talk there while his stepdaughters are attending that school.

This talk was given at Blue Valley Southwest in Leawood, KS.

Attached is a link to the video. If you take the time to watch it, I am always open for helpful critiques. (It's that nasty habit of mine of always asking, "What did I learn?")

Feel free to share this with others that you think it might help.

https://vimeo.com/254028894/0330ffe4f8

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

You Can't Do This Alone

A part of my recovery process as a parent of an addict is speaking to young people about addiction and what happens to a family.

Last night I spoke again to young people for the Johnson County Department of Corrections. It energizes this old man to do these talks.

After I finished a young man hung around until everyone left. He said to me he used needles. He told me he had never heard what he was doing put in a way I spoke. No one said it in a way that made him think until today. He said he had a lot to think about, a lot to think about what he was doing. Then he kept thanking me over and over.

So many amazing things done and said by these young people I can't detail on here because of confidentiality.

I am not naive enough to believe one talk will change a young persons life but I do believe bricks build strong foundations and I am happy to be a brick.

When my son was actively using I struggled with the concept of why I seemed to have no impact on him no matter what I said or did. Nobody loved him like his mother and I but we seemed to have no impact on his using. It took me a long time to realize that sometimes others can have a bigger impact on my son than either of us.

Sometimes counselors, therapists, other addicts in recovery, police officers, judges and strangers can have a bigger impact than Mom and Dad.

Don't fool yourself into believing that they do things or enter recovery because of Mom and Dad. They do it for themselves. Be patient, allow and encourage others to enter your child's life. Your loved one that is addicted to drugs must discover for them self there is a different reality possible being clear and sober.

Mom and Dad, I learned one of the best things I could do for my son was to provide opportunities for discovery.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

You Did, You Did, You Did

How do we help our loved one that is addicted? I struggled mightily with that question for years while I lived a life of a son actively addicted. I was never able to to understand; because my answer usually came down to a simple, I must fix him.

After many years I began to take some of the emotion out and go back to my own tried and true problem solving methodology. Back to the basics.

I'm a pretty simple guy without a single hour of formal education beyond high school so I usually use past experience and analogies from my life to learn. What I applied was something that made it easier to understand where I was in relation to fixing my son.

Many years ago when I was a lot younger I worked as a laborer in the local laborers union. Pretty much most of the time if I wasn't on the end of a 90 pound jackhammer busting out concrete I had a come-along in my hands pouring it back. That experience became a metaphor for life with me.

Life is like a sidewalk. As I walk along that sidewalk I look back over my shoulder. There is a concrete sidewalk behind me with hardened and set concrete. There is nothing I can do to change that concrete now. Around my feet the concrete is wet but it is quickly becoming hard. If I don't keep moving forward I will become trapped in that hardening concrete. In front of me the concrete is wet and pliable. I can shape that concrete any way I chose. I can look back over my shoulder and see the hardened concrete and learn from where I walked but I cannot change it. Ahead of me I can shape the concrete into a path I choose. I can add curves, or hills. I can work it to be as smooth or rough as I want. I have the power to shape my sidewalk. Sometimes I can walk along and do nothing, leaving it rough and ragged, sometimes I am on my knees working it with the care and tenderness of soothing a baby. My sidewalk becomes my choice to design and make.

As the father of an addict I hate to think how many times in discussions* (see definition of yelling) with my son I started everything with "YOU DID......." At the time that was important. "You did" was a way of keeping score and also trying to change the shape of that sidewalk over my shoulder.

After years of learning and reflection I have come to realized no effective discussion begins with, "You did......"

We all do it and most of us have had to done to us. Defensiveness is not a good way to begin any dialouge.

It's hard to do when we are all wrapped in emotion but when we realize and accept the sidewalk behind us is unchangeable we can more easily work on the things that make a difference.

In summary, if we don't work on ourselves first we cannot effectively work with anyone else.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Talk To Your Teenager

About 3 weeks ago Friday I spoke to students at a local high school, Blue Valley Southwest. I was ask by a teacher to speak at his new school. For several years I had spoke to his students at another school. This was my first venture at BVS.

I spoke to 4 classes of students. A mix of ages from freshmen to seniors.

The week after I spoke I returned to the school to retrieve my coffee cup that was forgotten and left on the teachers desk. Unknown to me that Monday the teacher ask his students to write down their thoughts about my talk and what they got out of Friday. He ask them to be honest and he also committed to the students he would not read their papers but deliver them to me directly.

This is the first time I had written response to what students thought of my discussion. I am going to quote some of what they said. This is not to toot my own horn about my talk but to emphasize it is CRITICAL we talk to our young people. They will LISTEN but you have to be HONEST.

These were handwritten letters on notebook paper, single spaced and some of then a full page long. I am sitting here sifting through over 50 of these.

- different than any other story or speaker that has talked to us about drug usage. I loved that you didn't say "don't do drugs" but rather you showed us and told us what would happen if we did.

- my eyes watered up a couple times

- I went to my closest friends and basically said, "Look, I don't care what happens promise me you'll never do drugs."

- It was life changing.

- Your words hit me hard....

- Your presentation was amazing and different than than the usual presentation.

- I had a cousin who went through this and it was very much similar.

- When you started yelling I could feel the anger, when your started breaking down I could feel a tear in my eye.

- I appreciated your honest and direct manner.

- This felt much more important because it didn't feel fake.

- Other presentations are too corny, "say no to drugs" you gave us real life.

- ...incredibly touching and so moving.

- It made me want to stay drug free even more for the sake of my family.

- It was brave of him to speak about something so personal to him.

- I am glad you didn't sugarcoat anything.....I have family members that have struggled with drugs so it is good to know there is hope.

- ....my uncle died because he was a cocaine addict.... thank you.

- I can't even imagine what my parents reaction would be if they got a call that I was unconscious and not breathing from the hospital.

- ....drugs completely trash families forever.

- His son was a normal kid that got addicted. I found it interesting it could happen to anyone.

- I personally have never done any kind of drug. I have been offered it many times. What you talked about will always be in my mind.

- I learned a lot about these things from my mom who is an addiction therapist who deals with kids my age.

- My mom struggled with pain pills for a couple years, she has been clean for 6 years....life was hard.... I had to stay strong for my little brothers.


The biggest impact on me from all these letters was how they all were so glad my son came out of his addiction and is clear and sober today. I believe they felt a personal connection to my son.

In every class I challenge each of them to go home and talk to their parents about drugs. I have heard from teachers that kids actually do that, parents have mentioned it during parent teacher conferences.

We change the world one person at a time. I challenge you to make that effort with one person each day. There are people we have all heard of that have changed the world, Jonas Sauk (polio) Madame Currie (x-ray) Florence Nightingale (nursing) Alexander Fleming (penicillin). Maybe your name will not be known as these people but all of us can have the same impact on a person that they did with there efforts. Be the light.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

175 Lost Souls Per Day


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has now put a number on how many people died from a drug overdose in 2016. The total number is over 64,000 last year. Do the math, that's over 175 per day, over 7 per hour.

I was just thinking, 175 people per day. That's like a jet airliner crashing every day with no survivors. Can you imagine what we would be doing to the airlines if a jet crashed every single day, 7 days a week for a whole year? Quite frankly I would imagine there would be a shutdown on air travel until the problems were identified and rectified. Every person in the nation would be talking about the danger and risks.

What should we be doing with a problem like that but the people are not on a jet. 175 people per day just as dead as if they were on a jet. What should we be doing about big pharma and the drug war? I written about our national drug war on addicts before.  Granted some of these deaths are from already illegal substances but how many were because a person became addicted to a legally prescribed drug and suffer the consequences of addiction?

Seven people per hour, these people aren't just some low life drug addict as a lot of people unacquainted with the disease of addiction assume. These 7 people are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. They are loved by people and died from a horrible disease.

Next week I will be speaking to high school students. YES, I will be adding this horrible statistic to me talk.

Symbolic gestures show empathy. Now is the time to move past symbolic gestures. It's time for our government AND our communities to stand up to this epidemic. Be involved, no one is expected to save 175 people each day but if you are the difference that saves ONE that makes you a hero.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Outrage

Last night as our family watched our Kansas City Chiefs get beaten by our nemesis Pittsburgh Steelers we sat in shock after the final whistle. As the game faded and the miserable game summary concluded another show began. That's how TV works.

After the game "60 Minutes" began late.

On "60 Minutes" the main segment was about the opioid epidemic and how the Drug Enforcement Administration  (DEA) we counted on to protect us from deadly drugs let us all down as a nation. You can watch the episode here if you missed it and I highly recommend you watch this episode.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ex-dea-agent-opioid-crisis-fueled-by-drug-industry-and-congress/

For me the shock of the "60 Minutes" episode was equaled by the shock and outrage I saw as my son watched this program.

Prescription opioids was my son's drug of choice (DOC). He tried just about everything but Oxycontin was his DOC. He took it by mouth, he smoked it and finally he was melting it and shooting it up in his arm or any vein he could find. When it became harder and harder and too expensive it get Oxy's be switched to black tar heroin. Most people already know that prescription opioids are the same as heroin. Heroin is eventually substituted for opioids by addicts because it is cheaper and more readily available on the street.

My son was verbally outraged while watching this program. "DO THEY KNOW HOW OR CARE HOW MANY LIVES THEY DESTROYED AND PEOPLE THEY KILLED???!!!

Yes, I know all caps is social media speak for shouting. He was shouting at the TV and us.

During one part of the program they described a small town of early 390 people and the pharmacy for that town took delivery of over 9,000,000 pain pills to this single pharmacy. My son quickly pulled out his phone and got his calculator out and figured that to be over 23,076 pills per person in that town during that 2 year period.

His ANGER was genuine.

Our son then went on to describe how this contributed to our problem today. He explained to us how the drug manufacturers, created a monster that was turned loose on the United States. He went on to explain today the monster is out and uncontrollable. Opioids are now manufactured by drug cartels with no quality control and not caring what goes into the drugs. He then went on to explain how Fentanyl is coming across the border and is more dangerous than heroin.

This all because the people, DEA, we counted on to protect us were protecting big pharma instead.

Honestly, I never expected to EVER hear this stuff come from my son's mouth. I saw at that moment what I always wanted to see. The seething rage of an addict in recovery towards the drug that took seven years of his life and future.

As a nation we should be outraged. It is time we begin putting people and lives over money. For too long big money has shaped and controlled our government and our lives. The outcome of this in the pharmaceutical industry has been millions of lives lost.

Too put it into perspective we all can understand because millions of victims and deaths are hard to grasp. It took me nearly one hour to write this essay. During that time four more people died from a drug overdose. If you took 15 minutes to read and contemplate this essay, one more person died from a drug overdose.

THIS IS A CRISIS! 
THIS IS AN EPIDEMIC!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"I Love You" 3 Special Words

As we grieve as a nation for those caught in the Las Vegas massacre there is something we all can do for each other.

Tragedies happen every day. Small personal tragedies that don't get the coverage of national news but they are just as impactful to people as what happened yesterday in Las Vegas. We get caught up in life and never realize we could be a part of tragedy in a split second.

As loved ones of addicts we know that fear well.

Below is a reprint of a post I did over three years ago, August 19, 2014. It is just as relevant today was it was then.

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.  


Did you Say "I Love You" Today

Friday, July 28, 2017

It Hurts So Bad.....Why Can't It Stop

It's been a while since I've dealt with the daily drama and heartache of a child actively using. Not a day goes by since in the last seven years I haven't thought about the pain and felt grateful I was a parent that came out the other side with a child in long term recovery.

Today I am shopping in the grocery store and casually ask the butcher for some help. He was very helpful with not only the bacon but also some large wild caught shrimp. Makes me hungry writing this, but that's not the point of this story.

We continue a casual conversation and he mentioned he just lost his 23 year old son and was having a hard time. I ask, and prefaced it with I didn't want to pry or be too intrusive but what happened. He explained to me he died from a heart condition. The valves in his heart were gone and he died while doctors were operating on his heart.

I expressed my sympathy. I cannot imagine in any way how hard that must be. I went on to explain I was only being nosy because I know so many, too many people that have lost their child at a young age to addiction. I went on to apologize in that I didn't want him to think I assumed the same was for his child. Then I told him how lucky I am to not have lost my son because he was a heroin addict but has been clear and sober since July 2010.

His eyes welled up and his voice broke. My son was using drugs with needles and stuff. He never mentioned the drug of choice but he said, the needles and drugs are what destroyed his heart.

He went on to tell me it is so hard and they are in counseling. I gave him one of my cards I give out when I speak with this blog address.

He also said they have no one to talk too. He said "Whenever I mention it to a friend or someone they don't understand......they don't understand at all. "

Here we are are two 60 year men standing at the end of the meat freezer in the aisle of a grocery store with tears on our cheeks and in our eyes.

He stared at my card....."Your name is Ron?" Yes it is. "Can I call you if I need too?" You can can call me any time.

NO ONE IS ALONE IN THIS!

If you can't talk to a person, find another person. There are too many people suffering with no support. As I tell all of those young people, hands of help are extended all around you. Take the first step, reach out and grasp one of those hands. It will be good for both of you. This goes for all of us no matter our age.

I leave the grocery store after shaking this mans hand and sincerely telling him he is not alone.

Pull into a favorite vegetable stand for some home grown tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe and berries. I here a woman's voice, "Ron Grover, Ron Grover". Around the tables and counter comes a person Darlene and I had coffee with 7 years ago because they reached out to me after reading this blog and discovering we only lived 10 miles apart. Our sons shared this same issue.

After two encounters not one hour apart I come to realize I have ignored writing for too long.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Night Time Rituals

Everyone seems to have before bed rituals. For most they are personal. Seems for most people they do not change no matter where you are; on vacation, at home, traveling on business, whatever or wherever you happen to be at the time.

For the parent of an addict there is always a thought or a prayer to end the madness in that bedtime ritual. Many times tears are a part of laying your head on the pillow.

Something I incorporated into my night time ritual was to deliberate on a simple question. "What did I learn?" It's a simple short question but is so powerful for the parent of an addict.

Self care is critical for any person with a loved one suffering from addiction. Self care may include a massage or a vacation but the most important self care I found for me was knowledge and information.

When we ask our self, "What did I learn?" it opens the door to new learning and unlearning. There are 3 types of learning; old learning, new learning and unlearning. Unlearning is the hardest, when we learn what we thought to be true but find it isn't, we unlearn and find a new path to learning.

As we begin a process of self learning we build a knowledge base that works for future days.

At times as I begin to process the learning, the day and experiences I would play out scenarios in my mind on how to handle future encounters for myself and my loved one. By applying my learning each day I was better prepared to handle any crisis or drama the next day.

Learning and preparation provided me a small measure of peace each day.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Sister Has Passed

Yesterday, March 7, 2017 my sister passed away. She was diagnosed with uterine cancer in July, 2016.

My sister was named after my father, his formal name was Ivan Glen Grover. Gigi was a shortened version of Glenda Gale Grover.

My sister was a homebody. Except for a very short period out of high school she lived in the same house where she was born and raised. Mom and Gigi made a home together after my dad passed in 1982.

I am not sure at times what the roles were in that home. Sometimes I think it was Mom caring for Gigi and at times Gigi was caring for Mom. Especially later in life Gigi fell into the role of primary caregiver when Mom began showing signs of dementia. I really believe it was a symbiotic relationship throughout both their lives.

As each of us live our lives we create a legacy. A legacy doesn't just incorporate a few achievements. A legacy can include lessons learned and taught. My sister left several personal memories for each person that knew her but I want to speak to an unintended legacy.

Gigi was not one to visit doctors. Maybe there were personal reasons but there was also one overriding financial reason, most of her life she did not have or afford health insurance. This is not a political statement, this is about lessons from her life.

Access to and going to the doctor and having yourself checked is a matter of life and death.

The 5-year survival rate for women with uterine cancer is 82%. The 10-year survival rate is 79%. If the cancer is diagnosed and it is still only in the area it started, called local, the 5-year survival rate is about 95%. If the cancer has spread regionally, the 5-year survival rate is about 68%. www.cancer.net/cancer-types/uterine-cancer/statistics

Gigi was not diagnosed early. She was diagnosed in July 2016 and gone in March 2017. Maybe she could have been one of those 95%, maybe not. No one could possibly know for sure. But, for sure we know early diagnosis helps.

A lot of medical exams may be embarrassing and are not pleasant but watching my sister die from this disease was not pleasant either.

Ladies, get those annual exams. Men, don't forget you need to be prodded and poked too.

Rest in peace Gigi


You will be missed by many

Friday, February 3, 2017

Teachers

Again, I get an email from a teacher asking if I have time to speak with his classes about my story.

Every school I visit the teachers tell me of the fear they have for their students. Stories that kids have related to them and the help students have reached out and ask for help to help them through terrible situations. The teachers want a way to help guide their students.

Stories come back to me from the teachers after I speak about the impression I had on their kids. They, like me cling to that hope we help them to make a good decision.

I dream of the time when a young person is faced with that choice to try something, words flash in their mind of a speaker they heard in class. I dream of a student confiding in a teacher or adult that they were presented with a choice and they did the right thing. Not because they might get caught, but because it was the right thing to do.

Even if you aren't teacher or a public speaker. Please take the time to tell a young person you are there for them. It's easy to believe in someone, it's more important to have someone believe in you. Think about what means to a young person or to yourself.

When any of us look around hopefully we see outstretched hands. Grasp a hand. We all need them sometime.

Teachers, a special message for you. 

Thank You for what you do and the hands you have outstretched to all those hungry students. I believe in you and what you do!!! 

(teachers, please share what you are doing in your class or with students. experiences you have had. the more we share the smarter and better we all become.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Another Blogger

Another mom with a son in recovery has decided to blog about her experience parenting and addict.

Please take a moment to visit and offer your thoughts.

Holding Your Breath Waiting To Breathe


Monday, December 19, 2016

Masters Degree #2



Yesterday I got to sit on an uncomfortable bench in a noisy gymnasium to watch our oldest daughter graduate from Baker University with her second Masters Degree. On Sunday she achieved a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

Erica is the first in our family to achieve a degree from college. She got her Bachelors in Science and Nursing (BSN) from Baker and got her first Masters in Science and Nursing Administration (MSN) from Kansas University.

Needless to say, Dad and Mom are very proud.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Top Recovery Blogs of 2016

I received an email from Paul that runs several Recovery Blogs in the United Kingdom. Again this year "An Addict In Our Son's Bedroom" has been selected as one of the top 80 recovery blogs worldwide.

I am proud and happy to receive a reward like this. To think that people read my words and find answers and comfort is a reward beyond measure.

Attached is a link to the entire list. The blogs are listed in alphabetical order so to find me listed look for #46. Top Recovery Blogs 2016

In this list are some fine blogs written by people I have met personally or online that I read for comfort and consider these people dear friends.




    Friday, November 18, 2016

    Summarizing A Week

    It's Friday evening and time to decompress. A week of speaking to students can be emotional draining. For old broken knees like mine standing for multiple hours speaking can be physically taxing too.

    As I sit here his evening what comes back are the little things. Thank you and handshakes from students that take a second to express their appreciation as they rush to the next class.

    Reviewing and thinking about what I said, not during the presentation, been doing that for eight years now. My uncertainty is when I speak one on one with a student or teacher. Did I say the right thing to students when they ask questions during the presentation? I do my best. Maybe me being there just to hear the question or statement can be enough.

    Small moments mean so much. I want to share some of those moments

    - When a teacher dabs tears throughout the whole presentation and comes to me and says, "I was crying inside and outside the whole time you spoke....my sisters child...."

    - A student asks, "Can you help me? What should I do to help my sister"

    - A student listens to the presentation with a very stressed look on her face. Eyes not even blinking the whole time.

    - A student begins to cry in class. I ask the teacher if she can help and they leave the room together.

    - A student tells me that is exactly what it is like when you have an addict in the family.

    - A student comes to me after class shakes my hand vigorously, saying thank you, thank you over and over.

    - Two different classes ask to hear the story again. Even though they had heard it 2 years ago.

    - A teacher finds out I am speaking and he asks the scheduling teacher, can I open the classroom so my students can hear too?

    - A student during my entire speech making comments and asking questions but I can see him doing something pencil on paper. After class he gives me a very good pencil sketch of me speaking.

    - Students come into the classroom during the off period. They are talking to the teacher and all of a sudden one student, "I know you. You spoke to us 2 years ago." They begin repeating my story back to me.

    - A ten minute conversation with a student going to rehab.

    - The smiles on students faces when I tell them about my son's life today clear and sober. I can feel the love from them and sincere happiness he is where he is today.

    - Students in a class planning to enter the medical profession. Spending 3 hours intently listening and talking to me about addiction and recovery

    So many experiences that provide the reward for doing something like this that may sound simple and routine after eight years. There is nothing about this that is simple and routine. With every presentation I give each person a piece of me. I do it willingly. I feel honored every time they accept that piece.

    The week after Thanksgiving I will be back at it again. I have two presentations at the Johnson County Resort. I will be speaking to juveniles again at the Johnson County Detention Center.....Wish me luck.

    Thursday, November 17, 2016

    Busy Week, It Ain't Over

    It's Thursday and I just finished 3 presentations today to students at Basehor Linwood High School. On Wednesday I did one presentation there. On Tuesday I was at Shawnee Mission East High School all day with hourly presentations. On Monday I was at the Climax Springs School District in Climax Springs, MO and did two presentations, one to grades 10-12 and one to grades 7-9. I usually tone down my presentation for the younger students.

    I'll be back at it again tomorrow. On Friday it will be a new experience and different presentation. The students I am speaking with tomorrow have already heard my stock presentation. A new teacher that is an RN is teaching a new class to students interested careers in the health field. They are studying addiction and because her students have heard my first talk we put our heads together and came up with a different game plan.

    The study plan for tomorrow is a group discussion. I provided a number of terms related to addiction and recovery and the teacher created student teams to research the terms and we are having a group discussion about what they have learned. My role is to provide advocate or devils advocate in these discussions. Students are to talk, listen and think deeply about addiction and recovery from a medical perspective.

    Here is the list of terms I provided and they have been researching:

    a)  12 step programs, AA, NA, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon

    b)  Harm reduction programs

    c)  Tough love

    d)  Chemical recovery agents

    e)  Medically supervised detox vs. detox

    f)  Suboxone, Vivitrol, Methadone, Antiabuse

    g)  Narcan, is it good or enabling?

    h) CRAFT, Community Reinforcement and Family Training

    i)  Rehab models, ie. 12 step, boot camp, wilderness, etc

    j)  Legal and illegal drug models. is the war on drugs working or do we make them all legal and treat addiction

    This what I provided the teacher and tomorrow we will see how much I learn. I'm suppose to be the resident expert and that makes me REAL nervous. Feel free to provide me any thoughts, I'm going to need them. I'll be with some pretty smart students.



    Monday, October 24, 2016

    Speaking Engagements

    I have a week of speaking engagements coming up. The week of Nov. 14 I am speaking all five days at 3 different schools.

    On Monday I am speaking at the Climax Springs High School in Missouri. This is the school district where our lake house is located.

    After I am done in Climax Springs I am driving back to KC to speak at Basehor Linwood and Shawnee Mission East in Kansas.

    When I started speaking at schools I never dreamed that eight years later I would still be speaking and drug addiction would be as bad or worse than it was when I started. The one thing I have found beneficial is when parents attend the talks. I get reports from teachers that parents and kids continue the discussion when they get home. That gives me hope.

    Today on Facebook one of the posts I made four years ago about one of my school talks flashed up to share as a memory. I'd like to share what I wrote on Facebook four years ago.

    Second middle school done today. Afterwards parents and students, so many questions and experiences shared. Probably the biggest impact was the smallest gesture. I'm standing alone and a little girl walks slowly to me. She asked me, "Can I get your phone number" in barely a whisper. I give her a card and ask if she needs anything else and if she was OK. She just looks down shakes her head in a sad way, tucks the card in her pocket and quickly walks away.

    Friday, September 16, 2016

    Recovery Blogs

    Got an email notifying me that "An Addict In Our Son's Bedroom" has been recognized by www.portofcall.com as one of the best 20 recovery blogs.

    It's quite an honor for us to be read so far and wide. Port Of Call is based in the United Kingdom. I guess not bad for a non-professional, simple parent of an addict located in the middle of the United States.

    This goes to prove that with addiction and recovery there are no borders, oceans or boundaries that cannot be crossed.

    This is a direct quote copied and pasted from their site. "This is one of the best drug addiction blogs for family and friends of an addict or person in recovery. Seeing a loved one go through addiction can be the hardest time of anyone’s life and this very honest account provides comfort for anyone that knows somebody going through addiction treatment. For me that's quite a compliment



    Thank You Port of Call for this recognition.