Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wrong Friends, Dangerous Consequences

At breakfast this morning a friend reminded me of a story I had told him about 3-4 years ago concerning an encounter I had with convicted drug dealers that was serving time at the Lansing State Correctional Facility. I want to tell this story and take a minute to regress and go back in time to show everyone how prophetic this encounter was.

A friend at my work was having a boat dock built at a metal fabrication shop in Leavenworth, KS. At this shop they employed a number of men that were on a program of work release from the Lansing State Prison. I don't know the details about this program but they would be brought over on a bus each morning and they would work all day for this metal fabrication shop and then in the afternoon they would be loaded back on the bus and taken back to the prison.

During the construction of this dock I had the occasion to go up the shop and oversee some of the construction and the loading of the dock for transport. During this time I worked with a couple of men named Brad and Tim, they were welders and fabricators. I knew these guys were prisoners but they really seemed like just straight normal guys I'd be happy to work with every day. Smart, hardworking and conscientious were the words I use to describe them. I've worked in manufacturing for 35 years. 25 of those have been in supervision and management, so I usually am a pretty good judge of work and work ethic.

At first I was apprehensive working with these guys but that disappeared after about 2 hours. After a couple days I felt comfortable enough during a break to ask them why they were here doing this as prisoners. Both of them had similar stories. On the outside they were both business owners, one in construction and rehab of homes and another owned a trucking business. Both started using drugs then found that the money in dealing drugs was just so overwhelming that dealing overtook their legit businesses and became their life. Both wound up getting caught and they had some very interesting "lessons learned" they communicated to me but those will wait for another time. I want to focus on one particular thing they counseled me about.

I told them that my son was an addict. This was back when I just knew I/we (dad and mom)could fix this thing for him. This was just after he had just gotten into his first serious brush with the law. At that time all the promises were being made to quit by him, we were parenting fools, reading everything, sheltering, keeping him busy, taking him to AA and NA, going to Al-Anon and Nar-Anon. I told Brad and Tim this. They both kind of chuckled and told me good luck, with a smirk. They then explained how futile our actions would be.

Brad told me that if my son was one of the users he dealt to that we wouldn't stand a chance of helping him to stop using drugs. He explained that if my son had even one contact no matter if our son initiated the contact or Brad initiated it, he would have my son back using within a week no matter what we did. He explained a few of his methods, but the important thing of this story is that NO ONE has as much influence over an addict as his dealer or user friends. Both of these guys agreed, Dad didn't stand a chance against what they offered.

Of course at that time I heard him but I didn't listen to him, after all, I was Dad and I knew better. What a joke.

My belief is that when they decide to stop and if an addict does not give up completely every person in his life that was apart of his using (users or not) they have no hope of stopping their using and addiction.

Those two prisoners were very prophetic.


kristi said...

My brother is a recovering addict/alcoholic. He moved to another state. He visits occasionally but he stays with me at all times because he says the temptation is so great.

Wait. What? said...

Sadly, from all I have read on thes topic you are right.

I raised my children to be able to make decisions on their own, was thrilled when they started showing signs that they could make the good choices as young teens and now - as older teens when they sometimes make poor choices I am disappointed - and heartbroken that I cannot fix that - call a do over and correct the mistake for them.

These days I see that this is their life - their choices - and that is how things are supposed to be. Sometimes that sucks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this, very helpful as always.

Unknown said...

perhaps. however, i do know one. only one, but still.

he decided to quit finally. he asked his mom to let him come back home.

she told him no. the counselor called and begged. she told him no as well.

the kid was let out of jail, to the streets.

the only place he had to go was back to the crack house where he was arrested.

he is still clean, it's been 7 years.

when, and ONLY when they decide to get clean, they can do it anywhere, under any circumstances.

until then, its a waste of time.

sKILLz said...

Sad but true.

No matter what you or anyone else says or does it is TOTALLY up to the person to stop using drugs.

Dealers will do anything to try to get people using again.
They will throw free samples at them.
They will call them and tell them there product is different and really good and will get them very high.
They will pass by there home or job or whatever because just seeing the dealer makes you think about going and copping.
I mean there really is no end to what they will do.
They do this because they need that business they need that money.
The less customers they have the less money there making.
Stay Up!

Dad and Mom said...

You are right skillz. Those are just some of the things they will do. The guys I worked with said as a last resort they'd even go as far as threatening to turn a user in to cops if they didn't come back and see them about "money" or something. Or threaten to send over someone to "talk" to them about his "debt"

clean and crazy said...

you know I have not seen any of my using frienamies since I have been clean and I am grateful and sad, because that means they are still in their personal hells. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

In order for me to stay clean, I cannot be around anyone who uses, period. When I kicked meth in 1999, I completely severed ALL ties to my old life.

Kim said...

I found your blog today and started reading from the beginning. I just wanted to thank you for all the honesty you have laid out here and let you know how much it has helped me already.

I am the wife of an addict who is currently serving prison time for crimes committed while under the influence.

I've just started blogging about our story and our struggle. Thanks for doing the same.