Friday, May 29, 2009


I ask some very hard questions in a posting a few days ago and I have read and re-read the responses. I feel it is important for me to respond because I could tell people put a lot of themselves and their lives into very well thought out comments. I may ramble but I want to share publicly my perspective on these questions and the responses I read.

I once had a serious conversation about what addiction was like with my son. His description was to involve me in a demonstration. He told me to hold my breath and he would not think about drugs and using. He said by the time I had to take a breath he would already be wanting to use. With that kind of addiction where is the hope?

I am a control freak, I know that and admit to it. My belief in control is that, ultimately everyone is responsible for their own actions and is accountable for exerting the control to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a level of acceptable societal behavior. Yes, I have read the NA books and texts. In my way of living Number 1 is flawed. Powerlessness is something you allow or choose, it provides an excuse. Being powerless you must give up control of your own life and I’d never do that willingly in any way. Higher Powers, mom has one and I don’t. Another thing about control I guess. So, I take some things from NA and Nar-Anon but I leave a lot of it on the table. But a key belief in my life philosophy is “Whatever works for you.” I try to live an outcome based, goal oriented life, there are many ways to reach the same destination, I try not to be in the business of judging right and wrong as long as you are making progress on your journey.

Reaching bottom or becoming so desperate that change is the only route. I’ve been told by many that addicts don’t change until they reach bottom. I guess bottom can mean different things to different people but that has always seemed to a drastic phrase to me. I do however believe that true change to your core values, beliefs and behaviors of an individual usually only happen after a significant emotional event. To me a significant emotional event does have to be life or death but can be. From what I am hearing that with addicts it is almost always life or death. Unfortunately when many reach the point of life or death, death can appear to be a more attractive option. That is a fear of mine for my son.

Understanding a problem is my way of solving a problem. In good problem solving unless you fully understand the root issue all you ever do is chase your tail dealing with symptoms. For all these years I have felt like I have been chasing my tail. On top of that I have been trying to fix a problem that wasn’t mine, it was his. Fixing my problem means understanding his problem enough that I can live with myself in the event there is no solution to his addiction and the ultimate consequence is paid by him and us. We are a family, his consequences are his consequences but his life good or bad directly impacts our life everyday no matter how much distance we try to put between him and us.

One Day At A Time??? Every day I am told an addict fights this battle. Truthfully, that would exhaust me. When I was taking Alex to report to the jail I told him I did not know how to solve his problem but he needed to work on a solution and not just waste 6 months in confinement in jail and the residence center. My mind does not work like an addicts mind. One day at a time would be a formula for failure for me. Having to think about each day not to use drugs would drive me to it. In my mind when there is something I want to stop and never do it again I tell myself I do not have to expend any more energy in that fashion ever again and it goes to the back of my mind and it is like that box in the basement that never gets opened again and your heirs clean up the mess and throw it out then. But once again, whatever works for an individual more power to them. This is just how I deal with things and I know my way is not everyone else’s way. Maybe in my way of thinking it is not for me to understand how someone gets there, that’s why it is so difficult for me to internalize.

Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, been to many meetings. Gone to different Nar-Anon and Al-Anon meetings and first of all you find very few men at these meetings. Go to AA and NA meetings and there are a lot of men and women. As I said, my experience has been there is a lot of focus on Higher Power. I don’t do the Higher Power or God thing, that kind of turns me off because of the “turn it over to my higher power”. I don’t turn over my problems to anyone else or anything else. I usually don’t even like taking my car in to get it fixed, especially if I can do it myself. However, I do believe in expertise of an expert, so I sit in the waiting room and let the mechanic work their magic. If there is a higher power then somebody let him know I’m in the waiting room. LOL

“Addicts think there so freaking slick…” LOL That’s why the sheriff in LV County told me he had a jail full of them. Everyone knows, at times it was funny to watch our son trying to act straight when everyone knew he was high as a kite. But he thought he was fooling us all. What’s really bad is the funny turns to anger so quickly and after a while it is no longer funny. Then listening to him telling me he could “manage” his using. Maybe just a little pot and alcohol and maybe something else when he “needed” it. Then sitting there and listening to his lectures to me about how this was a disease like diabetes or cancer. Well if it’s a disease then you don’t manage your using, you either stop totally or you don’t.

We’ve begun setting boundaries lately that we can manage and live with. Ultimately if this is really his problem and we must deal with our problem we have to set boundaries that allow us to respect ourselves too. The truth is I know at the time I am enabling, but the difference now than in the past is I make a decision to take the actions I do. Sometimes it is because of selfish reasons to make me feel better. Sometimes it is at the request of others that I love. No matter I live with the actions and the help it does or the harm it does. For example, my son doesn’t particularly like this blog. He thinks it makes him look like a jerk and failure, but this blog is for my mental health and well being.

If I have offended you with my thoughts then I am truly sorry. If you’ve been reading my blog you can probably tell I hold nothing back. This is my place of honesty and reflection, it has helped me. I hope it helps you too.


Gin said...

We all have to do whatever works for us and whatever will get us through the day. The thing that I liked about Al-anon was meeting others that were like me and that we going through similiar things. You are right though, 90% of the participants are female. I hope you and Mom have a wonderful & peaceful weekend. Take care.

ChaiLatte said...

Great post, you really put a lot out there and it all makes sense to me. There is no right or wrong. We do the best we can.

As parents, it's extremely difficult- as the lines get crossed between enabling and just doing what a parent would noramlly do! Gee, even our "normie" kids still need us after they turn 18, so to "cut off" the addict- well, it just doesn't feel normal or right. We've stopped enabling 100% and I wish I could say it felt good. But, doing what's right doesn't always feel good (I keep telling myself that!)For me, stopping the enabling has helped in the sense that my mind isn't cluttered with all the addict stuff, but it also hasn't brought my son to sobriety- not yet anyway- but I will keep hoping. For us (hubby and I), we had to do EVERYTHING we felt in our hearts before truly letting go, as we are the ones that would have to live with consequences if his bottom was/is death. Pains me to even write those words, but it is now a reality for us.

I digress... I basically want to thank you for blogging- I'm glad it helps you, because it helps me too, so keep doing what you're doing!

clean and crazy said...

It is truly a blessing for this little addict to read your blog. I really hope and pray for you and your family. I understand your closemindedness to the higher power thing, I had that for so long. Those first 3 steps were so difficult for me because of what my idea of a God was. i was raised in a non- practicing Catholic family. So I was very confused. I never got to go to catacism but i was baptized. I grew up watching the hypocrisy of the church and with all I did wrong i knew i was headed straight to hell. I knew God hated me, and I hated him right back.
I am not a church goer. I do not read the bible and I choose to call my Higher Power just that my HP. i still have issues with defining it. In the 11 step it says the moment we put a definition on our higher power, that is when we put limits on him. The only suggestions our literature has for finding a higher power to believe in is that it is loving and caring. For me my home group was my higher power. I went to meetings and shared my problems, then I listened for answers.
Maybe your sons problem is he too has an intolerance towards spiritual principles. It is not religious, a spiritual principle is something as simple as being honest. Open minded and willing, those are three important spiritual principles, surrender, acceptance and humility are also invaluable. this is an everyday struggle, today I replace the word "drug" with "food" or "anger" when working step one, because i am powerless over whatever i am using outside of myself to make me feel good on the inside.
If I was your kid I would tell you that from the bottom of my heart I am so sorry for all the pain you are going through right now. My mom and dad are passed on and when i read how much you are trying to help your baby it tears my heart up, knowing this is what I did to my mom and dad.
I don't know how i got from hating the thought of a higher power to actually having faith, but I did. Maybe some of what you feel is what your son feels, because it makes him feel closer to you. If that makes sense. I used to hate certain foods that mom hated because I wanted to be like her. now that she is gone I am free to eat them. I am in no way saying you are the reason he doesn't get it, I am just trying to give a suggestion to help you connect the dots. I am just trying to put myself in his shoes. I am in no way trying to offend you in anyway, i have the deepest admiration and respect for you and your family. Thank you for blogging, thank you for being honest, thank you for caring so much, I hope you truly take a moment this weekend to enjoy some of this wonderful sunshine.

sydney_savage said...

I find that my need for control never does me any favors. I concentrate on trying to manage my own issues now rather than trying to manage everyone elses. That was part of my contribution to the problem I found.

Annette said...

In my life my need to control everything, and yes I would rather do everything myself than hire someone because then I know it was being done "right." How arrogant is that? lol Anyway, my need for control was very very fear based. I think that usually where there is a deep need to control, fear is the root. Not always, but a lot of the time. When I find myself falling back into wanting to control everything if I barely scratch the surface, I can see that I am afraid of something. Some of the biggest lessons for me was learning that I *don't* have to have all of the answers and that its ok to be afraid sometimes. Its ok.

Athena said...

I see you in that picture holding that sweet baby - I picture you having held your son so protectively... You're a good Dad.

I'm kind of controlling, have been enabling... I am way forgiving and a "peace-maker"... But there are dividing lines between "family" and addiction. Imagine having to protect that baby in the picture from your son? Or Mom? How do you choose?

Just thoughts - I enjoy your blog and I really believe we all end up doing things the only way we can

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I admire you Dad. I have had many of the same questions as you have. My son refuses to go to meetings because of exactly what you said here...he's told me if he admits he's powerless it like saying there is no hope. I don't know. All I know is that we are treating it with suboxone and its like a miracle drug because for the first time in 6 months he's lost the craving for heroin). I know its very controversial but to me this was a better choice for us than sitting around waiting for him to "hit bottom" because I feared for him that would be death. said...

I can identify with many of your points. one day at a time left me feeling insecure and having to make that choice EVERY SINGLE DAY, left me exhausted. In order to quiet that addictive voice
6 years ago i decided to quit for 20 years, and
decide then if i want to resume. as for the god thing, i agree with you; what does god care if i use or not? there is poster with the caption
"PRAYER"...the idea that god's plans are so unimportant, he will change them if i ask him to. the whole disease concept is a huge crutch
and convenient excuse for addicts to blame.
AA & NA completely absolve the addict from personal responsibility & accountability.

Anonymous said...

I relate to much of what you have shared. I'm a Type-A personality-- controlling, if you will. Years of relection and therapy have led me to conclude that my mother was the same way, hence I am carrying on her traits. HOWEVER, for me, I have found a lot of peace in my Higher Power-- that wold be God. I do not judge those people who are non-believers. I cannot blame them, since I was an atheist for most of my adult life. My life chnaged when I began to read the bible from beginning to end, and I found God's word to be truthful. HOWEVER, I am not a believer but I am not a bible banger. I don't preach nor judge anyone because I'm not perfect-- I am just forgiven. With that said, I don't look down at people who are non-believers. All I can say is that
God changed my life dramatically-- and I've had a really tough one. I find strength that I never had before in my faith. With that said, I struggled to sit through AA and NA meetings, too.
As for how addicts think... they don't. My son is smart, but he's an addict. He admits that common sense (like you have expressed) doesn't mean a thing, when all their brain wants is to use. My so calls it a case of the "F---it's".

I try to share my wisdom with my son, but it's going to be a long and painful process. The addiction is greater than we non-using humans can understand. For me, God is bigger than the addiction-- and he is my Higher Power.

Keep blogging, as I do. It helps, tremendously.


Anonymous said...

I've made a few typos...I should have proof-read. I AM a believer (but I typed that I a not).

As for prayer-- that's a tough one for people to understand. God's bible says that God knows our prayers before we even ask them. Prayer is my way of talking to and being with God. I pray for things like wisdom. I also use prayer to admit my faults and ask for forgiveness. I've had many prayers answered-- nothing short of miracles. I believe in it. I pray for non-believers all the time. They don't know it. God asks us to pray. You just have to read scripture to know that. It's a hard book to get into, but once you do, it's the best self-help book I've ever read. I never tire of it.

sorry...didn't mean to preach. Just to clarify and then I saw the comment above mine about prayer being nonsense.


avoid and distract said...

I agree with most of that. The whole powerlessness and "Higher Power" aspect of NA is exactly what is making me weary of getting involved with it.

Taking things one day at a time is exhausting. But it is the only way for most of us to deal with our cravings. It's not really a.. decided way of dealing with addiction. You pretty much have no choice but to focus on "the now", because big goals seem too far out of reach. When you're in the midst of the depression heroin brings, you question if you will be around by the end of the week, so long term goals = pointless.

Hope things are going alright for you. Or at least not too bad!