Tuesday, September 29, 2009


We went to visit our son in jail on Sunday. I know that I have said we don't visit. That is one of our boundaries. I'll have more to say about later.

Alex looked good. He was in good spirits but was very concerned about where he was to go when he is released. He seemed to have reconciled that if he could not get into a clean living environment he was homeless in the winter. This was causing a great deal consternation with him and I could tell with that on his mind he was not focusing on what I felt was actually more important, how were things going to be different this time. We finally told him that where he would live after he got out was actually a simple problem to solve, there are many options and this is an easy issue, it only takes money. We ask him to focus more on "what" was going to happen when he got out. How is it going to be any different this time. He seemed a bit relieved but I'm not sure he actually understands how much bigger that issue is to deal with rather than where to live. But that goes to an addicts one day at a time and living only in the moment.

When we have set a boundary about not visiting in jail because jail is punishment why would we go visit and violate our own boundary? Actually, we went for mom. Mom had been having bad dreams about Alex and in all of her bad dreams was Alex and all of her dead friends and relatives. She was troubled by this. I'm not sure if she puts much stock in that sort of thing as a premonition or something but she is religious and so she was worried. I just look at it as a dream and so what, but it troubled mom so that troubles me. The visit calmed her worries.

To be clear, I do not see boundaries as a solid impenetrable wall that resembles something like the Berlin Wall with heavy life or death consequences at the mere thought of violating them. I see boundaries that we set for ourselves more like a rope line. There is a clear demarcation of where we should not go, there is security to make sure we know there are consequences for crossing but there are circumstances that necessitate crossing the line and there may be consequences that you or your loved one may have to pay for that crossing.

Boundaries must be set after much calm and reasoned thought. My experience of setting boundaries in the heat of battle with my addict resulted in failure every time. Especially because those boundaries I was probably hollering were being set for him or at him and not for me. If you are setting boundaries for yourself and using a calm deliberate approach success can be more easily achieved and you can control your own actions. That really goes well with the control freak in me.

Setting good boundaries for yourself allows you, the loved one of an addict to bring a measure of sanity into an insane situation.

Friday, September 25, 2009

More Hurting Parents

As we all know the longer we are entangled in this scourge of addiction the wider the web grows. I have found a couple other blogs whose situations with 21 year old sons so closely parallel ours it is uncanny. Both people are fairly new to blogging and I hope everyone has enough room to welcome them into our world of self help. The first is:

Blinded By Love For J


Another one:

Loving and Parenting an Addict


It's funny the first post I read on this blog was entitled "I'm Not In Kansas Any More" As you all know, we are still in Kansas. (and still love it)

What still amazes me is the scope of this problem. Two blogs, one family in CA and the other in OH, all sharing circumstances and a common issue with us that live here in KS. And when I see that counter on my blog with people hitting this page from over 50 countries, sometimes it just leaves me in shock. To me this is a worldwide problem with consequences on people and governments just as serious as wars, terrorism and economic turmoil.

When I speak of having a son that is addicted I find most times the other person begins to relate stories of someone in their family or extended family suffering from the same. I have pondered the ramifications of this many times. It has come to be my belief that drug usage needs a more personal face. Parents, brothers, sisters, friends and everyone connected needs to stand up and demand more accountability from our governments for drug addiction. Politicians find it easy to pound their fist about drug addiction and it is easy to brag about how many addicts and dealers they have put in prison on their watch. Addiction is a disease. We need our leaders look for new answers, our current methodologies of dealing with addicts once they are in the system are only marginally effective. The power of every person touched by drug addiction is to big for our leaders to ignore. This affects us all.

I am asking everyone that reads this blog, when you are done here go to your U.S. Representatives website and e-mail them, ask what they are doing about drug addiction. For those from other countries, do the same with your government, if you are allowed to do this. I do see there are visitors to our blogs from some very repressed countries, do what is safe for you in your place. We all need to be heard more loudly and with a larger voice to get something done.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Can't Fix Stupid

Made someone very happy today. I called them and offered them a job. They were very excited and will begin work on next Monday.

At the same time I was kinda sad. This is the job my son screwed up. He was hired to fill a temporary position however a person here is leaving to join the military and my son would've been good to slide into that position. In fact everyone was happy with his work and he was working hard. But, we all know how that ended. A probation violation for missing his ride back to the residential center and he was shipped off to jail and has been there ever since. WHAT A WASTE! There is some comedian that does a whole routine about "You Can't Fix Stupid". I think this applies. (and everyone knows I tried)

I've never been in jail and hope to never go but, my hope is that my son has a lot of time for reflection and can make some decisions about how he wishes to live his life.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Peaceful soon-to-be Autumn

I know autumn doesn't officially get here until next week.

It has been quiet on the home front. We are just getting ready for our Fall Festival that we hold each year. Been waiting on the grocery stores to put all the ingredients needed on sale and this week the chili beans and crackers hit the sale advertisement. That fills out our list. I'll pick up 60 cans of chili beans tonight. Already have 25 pounds of hamburger cooked up and nearly 200 hot dogs waiting for fire. I hope it is cooler this year than it has been for the last couple years. Last couple years it has been nearly 80 and it is hard to get in the mood for Fall when it is that warm.

Son is still in jail and will be until Nov. 29. If you don't know what it is like living with an addict you would probably think we are mean and cruel but the peace and rest of having him away for a while is rejuvenating. We do not visit while he is in jail. Someone ask me about that the other day and I explained it like time out. When you send your little one to time out it is not effective if as soon as they are sitting in the corner you run over and begin reading a book to them. Never been there but I see jail as adult time out, probably a bit harsher

I have been thinking about how can we put this experience with our son to use as a positive in a more personal and effective way. With this blog we have come into the open. That has been a helpful experience for Mom and Dad. We stopped hiding quite a while ago, and got over the embarrassment and shame. My thoughts now are centered on creating a presentation for parents of teenagers. The experience of being a parent of an addict. I'm now trying to find the best way of communicating lessons learned, and making it easier for those parents that are "lost" in this world of addiction or parents that are aware that this can happen to anyone and want information and knowledge. We'd have given our right arm to know then what we know now, but I also recognize this is very personal for every person and learning happens at the pace an individual allows it to happen. I took a big step today, I contacted a friend within our local school district and offered my services to speak to parents or teachers. This would be my first step and I really hope they see the benefit of having a person speaking in first person about the experience and learning.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Good Question

Last night at dinner, friends posed a very good question. If Alex was a bright rebellious 13 year old again what would you look for and try to change.

Many many things came to mind immediately when you think about what would I do different. We've ask ourselves that question 100's of times but my time machine still has a few bugs so I am reluctant to begin human testing. But quickly I came up with 3 things we didn't think were so critical but in hindsight we believe had a huge impact on his life today.

1. Know your child's friends. I don't mean the names or stories. Know them, their habits, their parents and what they are interested in. If your child talks about his friends but they do not hang out at your house. They won't bring them over to meet you or let you get to know them. RED FLAGS!!! Your child knows you won't approve if you are not allowed to meet and hang with his friends too.

2. Skate parks mix all ages. you will find 10 years to 19 year old at these places. When younger kids mix with older kids the younger kids will soak up every bad habit and word the older ones do and say. We may think that 17 year old and maturity is an oxymoron but 17 year old does have a different maturity level than a 14 year old and 14 year old idolize and worship being a part of an older group. Teenagers belong with their own age, sometimes even 1 year difference can make a difference, especially if you have a mature 16 and an immature 15 year old. Why am I picking on skate parks? Skate parks are unsupervised and most of the time I see very few parents sitting there just watching their 14 year old son for hours on end skating.

3. Your child's group, click, gang, buds or whatever you want to call it. Whoever you child is hanging with is a mirror image of your child. If your child is hanging with some bad characters and you make excuses that "my kid is a good influence on them." (we did this) I got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale and it is a bargain price just for you and you only.

These three things were just from the top of my head. The common thing that is overriding in these three things is you must be involved in your kids life. We were involved but sometimes bad things still happen. What haunts us is "what if, what if, and what if." My thoughts are, when you think you are involved, just try a little harder and insist on a little more involvement and intervention. We all know how much a teenager wants their parents in there life, most of them are actually begging for it, right? "No" and "leave me alone" and "treat me like an adult" are not permission slips for us to abdicate our responsibility.

I wanted to post some things about this, and maybe list something that you can do before they start down the wrong path. You go to the drug prevention sites and you get a lot of info about how to tell if your kid using. Bad grades, mood changes, being secretive, these are things after the horse left the barn. If you have read this far and have other thoughts we'd love to have a list of ideas from people that have had the experience.

This isn't a list of do this, then everthing will be fine. These are just some thoughts of parents that have been there.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


An update, our son is in jail for a probation violation. On good behavior his release would be Nov. 29. If he has troubles he will stay longer. This time so far has given me a chance to deliberate upon my own problems and actions concerning his addiction.

It is difficult for me to recognize that my son is an adult and responsible for his own actions. I think that comes with the territory of being a parent. As many of you know that follow this blog he is 21 years old. It is easy to recognize that age as an adult in others but with him and for me I struggle at times. This I must do for him to get better.

Most of you know I am a control freak, I have written about that many times and it helps when I am able to write and do a third party analysis on my own behavior and thoughts. As a part of my efforts to control I impose upon my son. I try to impose my lifestyle, my interests, my values and my "words of wisdom". I think that is OK and may work when they are young but when they get older and begin developing their own life it think it doesn't work as well.

When he is released it will be difficult. The urge to help him and push him into doing what is right is strong but those tactics have been an abysmal failure to date. It is time for us to allow him to succeed or fail on his own. I believe this time if he fails it will be catastrophic but I'm not sure mom or dad have to power to prevent his fall. Nor do we have the power to make him succeed.

I must not impose upon him what I believe. He will figure on his own what works and doesn't. I'm not sure I have anything left to tell him or teach him that I haven't already tried.

It is time for life and others to provide the lessons.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

KC Readers

If you are a regular reader of this blog and live in the KC area e-mail me a note, I have something for you.