Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

It am taking a break. We have a house full of people and some are playing domino's and some are playing a board game. I'm not much of a board game player except for games like trivial pursuit or something like that type.

I get to do what ever I want because today is also my birthday. ;-) The way I have it figured out. I was born in the morning on Dec. 31. By doing a tremendous amount of research about the day I was born I discovered the following: I was born in the morning and by the evening of that day there were celebrations and parties across the globe. Darlene says I am sometimes full of myself. But, how do you argue facts like those. Check it out for yourself, I was born in the morning and people celebrated all night. Just simple conclusions, facts are facts.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Good with the Bad

Got a really good call from our son from jail on Christmas afternoon, that's the good.

My mom's dementia is getting worse, it is becoming more and more pronounced. It was very evident with everyone here for Christmas, the bad.

My father-in-law's significant other died on Sunday the 26th. She suffered from Alzheimer's too, the bad.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Wish

To all that read this blog and suffer through my misspellings, poor grammar and endless stories.

A very Merry Christmas to all and may all of your Christmas wishes come true in 2011.

I know my Christmas wishes are showing themselves to be real this year. Even though he is spending a lonely Christmas in jail he went in clean and has written his sister's that never, ever again. What a wonderful gift we received this year but our gift pales in comparison to the gift of sobriety he is giving himself.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday to all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Emotions During The Holiday Season

When our son was actively using and not in jail we dreaded holidays and weekends. Holidays especially seemed to be a trigger for disaster. One event after another was ruined by his using and actions, birthdays, Christmas, no matter what event there seemed to be drama. We used to moan, "Why does he always do this on a holiday?!!!" I'm sure we aren't alone in expressing that exasperation.

I began to realize that it wasn't just the holiday he was screwing up. He was addicted to drugs. With that came a constant need for him to use each day and if a holiday or special event happened to roll around that wasn't going to end his using. All that really happened was the holiday or event complicated the drama due to added people sometimes but always complications entered from our heightened expectations of a holiday we wished to have instead of the reality of the one we faced.

As this Christmas rolls around our son is in jail. Yes, we wish he were home with us but the reality is our life is our making and his life is his making. The joy we feel this Christmas different from the past. This time he went to jail clean and with a desire to be clean. Yep, we really do wish he was with us this Christmas but......

Dealing with my own personal feelings is complicated. The rational side of me understands the consequences of actions and supports that there should be consequences. But, I am angry. My anger is with my son because of the pain he is causing my wife, his sisters and everyone else in our family that wants so badly for him to be with us but will not be allowed be with us as a family. I see their hurt and it makes me angry that he put himself in a position to hurt those people in this way.

Each time I see my mother she asks about our son. She knows he is in jail and why but she still says she worries so about him. The reality is she is over 80 years old and dementia is quickly overtaking her mind despite the medications. He gets out in 5 months and who knows what other counties may do, but one thing I know for sure is my mother is not going to get better and who knows at what place she will be when she can see him. Another spot of anger for me to see her disappointment when she cannot see him. Her visiting him in jail is not an option, she wouldn't be able to handle it in her condition.

Living in the world of "what is" versus the world of "ought to be" SUCKS. But I found much more peace when I began living in the world of "is" rather than the constant turmoil of the world of "ought".


ps.: Please check out this mother's blog that just today sent her 20 year old son to rehab for 6 months far, far away. Addiction From The Parent Perspective

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Spirit of the Holiday's

It's time to once again to get into the spirit of the holiday's, time to put on the game face.

I am so looking forward to going shopping today and dealing with those crazy idiots that should never been given a drivers license. Cars everywhere and every woman driving on the street with a cell phone stuck to her ear and trying to make a left turn in traffic to pick up some little piece of crap for someone that doesn't care anyway. I am usually so pleasant to someone like that, I honk and wave my greetings to her being sure to point one finger towards her so she knows I am acknowledging her generosity during these wonderful holidays.

I take it upon myself make sure all of the temporary store clerks that know nothing about their job receive a warm word about this glorious holiday. I am so patient while waiting when I hear their plea, "CSM register 6" and I am the second person in line behind the person that has an item that the UPC doesn't scan. And then when it is my turn after waiting 20 minutes she greets me with such a smiley "Happy Holidays." I share my joy by asking her. "Do you really know why the angel has a tree stuck up it's a$$?"

How can our house have exactly 27,652 square feet of wrapping paper stored in the closet and not 1/2 inch of scotch tape? Oh yea, I have Duck Tape in the garage!!!!!

Mom, why are you so stressed about decorations, cleaning the house and fixing food? I don't care if 18 people are going to be here on Christmas Day, if it ain't good enough the way we live every day then you need to keep it cleaner for me all the rest of the year. Who needs all this food, Taco Bell has 10 packs for take out!

What exactly do you mean that those new shirts are going to look so good on you? I got a bunch of new shirts in the '90's and there isn't a damn thing wrong with them. I already got 76 shirts hanging in the closet; why do I need new ones, besides not a single one of the new ones have Harley Davidson printed anywhere on them.

The big day finally arrives and the house is so full of joy, laughter and chatter. It is a shame that everyone else has forgotten the true meaning of this day, I CAN HARDLY HEAR THE ANNOUNCERS ON THE FOOTBALL GAME!

Merry F'ing Christmas to all. ;-)
Dad


Thursday, December 16, 2010

How Are Court Workers Hired?

Not much to say but wait. We haven't been visiting our son unless we have to because he only gets 30 minutes of visitation per week so we are letting his girlfriend use the time. He is nervous about when he gets out and what will be waiting for him, what he might lose. My talk to him was he loses nothing if he keeps his determination of being clean and changing his life.

I have been trying to deal with court clerks and judges from the other jurisdictions. I'm telling you if these people worked for me they would be among the unemployed. I have been trying to figure out if they were this dumb when they were hired or became that way in their job.

A letter of incarceration handed to a judge stating his release date is May 24, 2011, judge gives him a continuation to March 1. When I tell him to look at the date on the paper, his response was maybe he get released early. When I say, maybe he won't he just tells me to, "Come up to court again and wait 3 hours like today." If I have to go again on March 1 I am going to ask him if he expects people to take him serious when he rules. If he responds yes then I am going to ask him why he doesn't take other with the same seriousness.

Another jurisdiction sent a letter that because my son was eligible for work release he should immediately send money for his fines. When I called the clerk and told her that he was not allowed work release by the judge she responded, "All I know is a letter we got said he was eligible for work release so he needs to come to court and tell the judge they won't let him work. They won't let him out of jail to go to court in another jurisdiction. Duh! I flat told this woman that if a customer service person responded to a customer with answers like she did and in the way she does in my organization they would be unemployed.

Faxed a letter of incarceration to another jurisdiction. Was told by clerk she would tell judge and get a continuation and call me back. No contact, no call. Am I wrong to expect someone to do what they told me they were going to do?

Maybe someone in the legal field would be so kind as to enlighten me if this is standard operating procedure. Truthfully, I am losing more and more respect for our judicial system and law enforcement the more contact I have with these agencies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Drugs Are My Prison

I got a note from my cousin's husband. He forwarded a song that was written by his brother's girlfriend whose son died after many years of drug addiction.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQ9tB0z7Ucc

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Addiction Is An Illness Not A Crime

Lou, forwarded me a petition and ask me to post this on my blog. It is a mother's initiative in Indiana to force mandatory treatment on addicts. I know mandatory treatment may not be the end all of addiction but it can force an addict to look at themselves. I believe each step towards sobriety builds upon the last. Sometimes it takes many steps. Please review this material and if you find it useful please sign the petition, I have.

Since I no longer blog, I was wondering if you might pass this along in your blog.

I have just read and signed the petition: "The Jennifer Act - Involuntary Drug Treatment". A mother who lost her daughter to addiction has almost single-handily taken this cause on. You can read her
story. I personally feel any period of sobriety, forced or otherwise, is a step toward permanent recovery. I had never heard of this law until I stumbled onto her blog. As a parent of an adult addict, I want to help her get the word out.

Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and join me in signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a difference. We are trying to reach 5000 signatures - please sign here:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/the-jennifer-act---involuntary-drug-treatment/

Once you have signed, you can help even more by asking your friends and family to sign as well.

Thank you! Lou



Interesting article worth reading in The Star concerning probabtion and the liklihood of repeat offenders and how low risk offenders hould be dealt with in the system. http://www.kansascity.com/2010/12/06/2502754/to-gauge-offenders-parole-kansas.html

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Unrest of Jail vs. Protective Custody

In the not too long ago we saw jail as protective custody. It was a respite from the madness of having an addict in our life. We took the time to recharge our batteries in preparation for his release and a resumption of the madness that had invaded our life.

Today we suffer the effects of having a loved on in jail that we wish to be around. That is quite a change. To compound the effects of this time our "enlightened" system in Leavenworth County allows visits ONLY Monday thru Thursday, 1pm to 4:30pm, no weekend or holiday visits. Who in their infinite wisdom designs a system like this? Plus like every system I am aware of there are only collect calls and they are $10 for 10 minutes.

I've never really given much thought to the US penal system; its mission and its methods. What is the balance between punishment and rehabilitation? What should it be? Should the mentally ill be as part of the general population? (there was an article in the KC Star today about that) How or should we help the addicted in jail, take the time and put forth the effort during this time clean to introduce them to recovery options and life? Or is it lock'em up throw away the key? Can we really afford that attitude? To many questions by one not familiar with the system and few answers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Luck Runs Out :-(

We live in the corner of a county that allows access to 3 other counties all within just a very few miles. Because of that it was easy for our son during his time of using to spread out his offenses across many counties and many municipalities. Now he is going to court and trying to clean up the messes. Last week I told you all he got a couple of weekends in jail in two of the counties. Today he went to court in another county. It didn't go as well, he got 6 months in jail. They took him into custody immediately.

Looks like his luck ran out but I keep in mind that it could have been worse. He may not have the same opinion.

Thankful

We all have many things to be thankful for in our life even if we do have a loved one addicted to awful substances. Sometimes it is so hard to remember that in the midst of drama and crisis that seems never ending.

So I don't forget I am listing a few from my list as it relates to addiction and this blog.

I am thankful my son is clean today. Today is what I have been given and tomorrow will be another not to be feared or celebrated, only to be lived.

I am thankful for all of our family and friends that support us when we needed it in dark times.

I am thankful for every word of advice all of you wise friends have offered on this blog and in person.

I am thankful for all of the parents that are lost in their child's addiction and have searched and found blogs and resources to help with their pain and education. We were those parents not so long ago.

I am thankful I never lost sight of hope.

I am thankful that there are people so willing to give of themselves to help others in this madness. They are the ones willing to stand up in front of others and admit that have walked this tangled path, there is a way.

I'm sure there are many more things but I have to get to work now, of which is another thing I am thankful for.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reading Material

I just finished reading a blog from a person that made a comment to one of my posts. This parent has a son that has been in recovey for 2 years, his drug of choice was opiates.

I want to highly recommend this writing. His writings and reflections are so insightful. Please visit his sight and read all of his posts to date. He just began writing in October and all of us should feel lucky that he has shared his thoughts and learnings on his sons addiction, recovery and his own recovery.

Addiction Journal


ps.: The Partnership @ Drugfree.org has published another one of my essay's on their Intervene site: Been There, Done That: How Personal Stories Can Help Fight Teen Pressure to Use Drugs

Friday, November 19, 2010

Relief

Yesterday my son passed a couple of milestones in justice. He had two court appearances that could have carried significant time in jail. The first appearance in the morning he had been advised by his attorney chances were likely he would receive 90 days in the county jail. I don't know what was done or said, maybe the the judge did see a different young man standing before him. The sentence wound up being 2 weekends in jail, and my son gets to choose the weekends of his convenience.

The second appearance in a different county also carried a high chance of an extended stay at the county resort. Again only 2 weekends however the judge did mandate they be the next two consecutive weekends.

It's such a relief by all; the outcome was best as could be expected. Alex is still stressing from all of the fines. I tried to comfort him by explaining something that took me many more years to learn than he has been alive.

Money is easy. His initial response was a "HUH, yea!" I went on to explain, every single day we get an opportunity to make more money. Money is easy what comes today goes away tomorrow and more comes to take its' place. Money is nothing more than dirty paper and heavy metal. It provides a measure of comfort but fails by its very nature to provide joy.

Time and relationships are what's important. When you lose time and relationships that is irreplaceable. Every minute that goes by is gone forever, every dollar through your fingers gets replaced by another later. Joy is what you get from time and relationships. It's not the discomfort of jail that is the punishment. The loss of those minutes towards creating joy for yourself and in others is the punishment.

He seemed OK with what I said but I know from personal experience it takes a lot more life experience to accept a belief like this rather than acceptance because someone telling you it is so.

Lately Alex and his girlfriend have been joining us on Friday Date night. It is fun having them with us and we have been connecting with him in a way we have missed for several years. Looks like he will miss a few Friday's but that is OK. We'll catch up later.

ps.: almost forgot he does get to have Thanksgiving with all of us. :-) wonder if I will be able to think of something to be thankful for this year?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fair and Equal???

I just wrote a post about the philosophical meaning of fair and equal as I feel about the concepts to me. I read the thing to myself a couple times and thought to myself, what a load of crap. Just spit out what you wanted to say without justifying.

Fair and equal are not the same thing. Given a choice I'd rather be treated fairly every time over being treated equally. Fair means sometimes my expectations of myself and the expectations of others of me are much greater than for others. Fair means a recognition that my skills and abilities in some areas are below par and due to my nature I may never reach average or adequate in some peoples eyes. I want this recognition of me as an individual. I do not want to be just lumped into a mass and treated equally.

This subject is particularly striking today. Our system here in the US is based upon "all men are created equal." To me a fallacy in concept. None of us are equal. We all have differing strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, fairness is impossible to achieve on a mass scale so we settle for a flawed but easy concept of equality.

As parents we tend to waiver between fair and equal. How many of you with more than one kid has caught yourself saying, "If I do this for ____ then I have to do that for ____." A recognition that maybe you are doing something for one person that they need but in an effort to be "fair" we try to make everything "equal". Guilty as a parent here at times, equal is so much better than hurt feelings or explaining yourself.

This is weighing on my mind today because Alex is once again in court. This time he could be looking at up to 90 days in jail for driving on a suspended license. He got caught driving to work a few weeks ago and I didn't even know he had a suspended license. The harsh reality is that when he was using he got his license suspended and got caught once driving then too. Now he is facing the consequences. I am all for consequences but this is where the concept of fairness and equality get thrown into the mix and I struggle.

I don't envy judges and probation officers. How do you look at a person and recognize sincerity versus a con job? What does our justice system have in place to facilitate rehabilitation and restitution instead of punishment? And how do people in the system make an educated decision about a person when from what I have seen in courtrooms you usually get 10 minutes with a public defender and 3 minutes in front of a judge?

Why am I whining? I was an advocate for locking him up when he was using, we wanted him locked up and believe each time he was incarcerated that was a step forward that helped all of us to get to the point we are today. We are at a point today that my son is a different individual with very different values than he had 6 months ago. 6 months ago my son was suffering from an active disease and its symptoms called addiction. Today he is struggling but his disease is in what I think of as remission. Never cured but controlled.

My hope is that today in court someone recognizes that the young man standing in front of them this morning is not the same person that has been in that room so many times before.

case continued - waiting on background reports. (whatever that means, I'm not very literate in all this court stuff)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Tangible Outcome

These are a couple of messages the sponsoring teacher left for me following our talk. One she posted as a comment in the last post and the other was an e-mail. I hope they are as inspiring for you as they are for me.

a comment:
I am the teacher who was present when Alex and Ron spoke with the students. Today I spent 45 minutes talking with a student who was moved by the experience. This person had been involved with drug, and her brother is a drug addict. She said seeing Alex, and listening to him, gave her more confidence that she did the right thing getting away from the drugs and her brother. She says she is the only one in her family clean, and that she knew how much strength it must have taken to come speak with the class. She said, "Alex was amazing! I know he'll make it! I hope that he will come back and talk with other students because he made a difference in me."

an email:
Uh, tell Alex, he did have an impact.  Since the 3rd block 
presentation, I've had 3 kids speak 
out about someone in his/her family being an addict.  And, the pain of not being able to see 
him/her because of the addiction. Opened up some 
conversations! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

UNBELIEVABLE!!!

Unbelievable is the only way to describe what happened speaking to the students at our high school.

This morning I went out to speak to Alex and tell him I wouldn't be having lunch with him today. He inquired why we wouldn't be having lunch together and I told him I was speaking at the high school to students about addiction. In the past my speaking and writing sometimes irritated him, especially if I was speaking to people at his former high school. So naturally I was reluctant to tell what I was doing but I was straight up with him.

His response to my speaking today was an inquiry if it would be possible for him to go with me. He wanted to talk to the kids himself about what he had been through. I was nearly speechless. Do you have any idea how huge this was.

We went for lunch and headed to the school. The sponsoring teacher was actually a teacher Alex had in school. I did my talk and Alex contributed some comments and after the main talk was finished the teacher ask Alex a couple questions and then the students opened the floodgates with questions. Alex handled everyone of them. The students were riveted to him. I just sat down at an empty desk.

I'm am telling every person that reads this blog; I cannot remember when I was so proud of my son. I was so proud I stood up in front of all of those kids and told them with my voice cracking how proud I was of him to step up to this place with me.

What a day, what a thrill.

ps.: I had invited the Superintendent of Schools for our district and he attended the talk and listened right along with the kids.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Invited Back

Last year I was given the opportunity to speak to students at our local high school about the effects of addiction on a person and family. I have been invited back to speak to another group of students at our high school again on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

This is a chance for every one of you to stand with me and send your message to freshmen students with a few sophomores and juniors sprinkled in the mix. Tell me the one thing they absolutely need to hear from us. My plan is to use the same basic presentation format but if someone has a point that needs to be said please let me know. It's not to late to add something that may be the key to a message.

For those that didn't read about last years presentation and its effect here is a link to the communication from the sponsoring teacher of that presentation.

The Response

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Follow-up To Previous Post

Two requests/questions have been ask by readers concerning my post about how much work it is parenting an addict. One, detaching with love, how? Two, what is, working on things that didn't accomplish or mean a thing? Both of these questions are complex. The difficulty in these issues involve relationships with your child and yourself.

Detaching does not mean not loving or believing in your child. Detaching does not mean walking away and giving your child to the drugs and washing your hands of the whole situation.

Detaching with love is difficult. Mom and I struggle with this daily and it it is ongoing. But it is something that is good for us and good for our son. If, as a parent you want to do what is best for your child no matter how old they are and how much they are struggling you will work on this every day.

To detach with love requires a little bit of selfish behavior that rewards both entities. Detaching with love requires good boundaries. Without taking the time to set good boundaries and understanding exactly how your boundaries match your core values you will find yourself forever in rescue mode.

Operating in rescue mode means you will react to every emotion, crisis and incident of drama in both your life and your addicts. Rescue mode will consume you and every ounce of your energy and it is self perpetuating. The more rescuing you do the more you will find to rescue. Think of those people that have made it their life's mission and job to rescue: firefighters, police officers, military specialists, lifeguards; not a single one of them attempts to rescue anyone without first understanding their boundaries. Without clear boundaries rescuers become the rescued. This applies to parents of addicts too.

Detaching with love means you understand and buy-in to your own personal values and how they relate to the behavior you exhibit to your addict. I know very well this is complicated. This requires you to study about boundaries, create the quiet time to really analyze what you believe about addiction and your child and depending on the person and family it may require you to seek outside counsel of friends, counselors or outside groups. But even with all the help this is a deeply personal task.

Working on things that did not accomplish a damn thing. With most of us this does not just apply to our addict, it applies to our lives. A wise man once counseled me that if I spent my life making only new mistakes then my life was truly a life of learning. When I think of the things I did and worked on with my addict much of that time could be considered wasted or even worse repeating the same mistakes I had already made. Many of the specific examples I could cite are actually repeated mistakes and most of them relate to being in rescue mode that at the time I didn't even recognize as a method of parenting or living with an addicted child.

Wasted efforts and wasted time is the effort and time in which you learn nothing and in which you do not change yourself. That's the simplest answer that only becomes complex when you think about application. The problem is the application again can vary based upon the family, addict and circumstances.

Monday, November 1, 2010

20/20, Teens Hooked On Heroin

In case you missed the ABC News show 20/20 did on teens and heroin here is a link to the entire show.

Teens Hooked On Heroin

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Much Work Is It?

How much work is it parenting an addict?

This is going to a be a selfish post. Not one of self pity but one of realization. For over one seventh of my life I have been parent to an addict in active addiction. Of course for the first two years we existed in oblivion of his disease. I'm finding that is not uncommon, unfortunately.

Addiction doesn't recognize vacations, time off, or holiday's. This is a 24/7 disease. The drama invades every waking and sleeping moment of a parents life. Phone calls at all hours and the overwhelming fear of each ring that the message is that ultimate horror.

Relationships crumble dealing with the drama of an addict. Let'em go, stop enabling, cut'em loose, kick'em out of your life, just ignore them, are all phrases that cut you like a knife through hot butter. Every one of them spoken by people that love you and are well intentioned but don't seem to realize that this is your child. Words come easily from those that have never worn these shoes.

Addiction is work. Not just for the addict that struggles every single hour to find a way of getting that next hit but also for all of those that love an addict. Work for those parents that now find themselves raising grandchildren. Added stress for those parents struggling with jobs. Our struggling with parental shame and self doubt caused by the inability of our society and nation as a whole to recognize the effects of this disease. Struggling with our own conflicting beliefs about drugs and drug addicts.

Detach with love. If only it were that easy.

But detach with love is what we must do, not just for our own sanity and life but for the health of our addict. Detaching with love is just another "thing" we must learn to do as if we don't have enough already.

It seems a lot easier to sit back now and come up with what we should do while our son is in recovery and doing well but isn't that the way it always is for most things. Reflection and deliberation is how I learn. Without a time of peace it is hard to take a moment for yourself but it is something that you must do for your own health.

There is no doubt in my mind that this has aged Mom and I considerably. No one goes through this with a child without an nearly unbearable heartache. Sleepless nights, financial stress, the compromising of our own personal values does damage I am not sure is measurable.

Just because right now our son is in recovery does not mean our work is finished. There is a path of destruction behind us in our own wake with our own life and issues. Most of it I am not going even worry about cleaning up. Selfishly, I want a break, but at some point some of the work needs to be done.

How much work is it? It's a hell of a lot of work, but it's worth it if you are working on the right things. My biggest regret is I spent so much effort working on things that didn't mean or accomplish a damn thing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Continuing Education

Nothing stays the same.

Have you heard of K2? It's the stuff that is sold in "head shops" and quickie marts as "incense". Many states are in the process of of banning this substance, Kansas has already banned it. But already there is a new version out called K3. Methodology of the product is it is actually being smoked like weed although the packaging does explicitly caution against using the product in this way.

The new one that is hitting the scene is "Bath Salts" . A common brand name is Ivory Wave. The active ingredient is MDPV and it provides a high similar to Ecstasy. This can be snorted and some even just use it as a bath salt and experience a high. Unfortunately people are dying using this "legal" product in the way it is not intended on the package. The UK has already banned this substance.

It amazes me how the people who manufacture and sell these types of materials always seem to take the high road by prominently posting on the package to use this material only in the way prescribed.

It is sad there is a few people with such a lack of humanity that they would profit on destroying humanity.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Whatever Works For You

What a great week we have had with everything going on here at our place. At the end I will post a link to the Fall Festival pictures.

Our son is still doing wonderfully. He is working. Plus he is going to court for his stuff he committed in the past. I can't help but think that has to be hard. If you're clean and trying to fly straight and have to go and take care of past issues, must be discouraging but he doesn't complain and he always takes money with him to satisfy the judge and PO that he is taking care of his obligations.

I went and spoke to a group of parents last week. A parent expressed her happiness about her son had been clean 62 days. We all felt great for him and expressed our joy to her. But for myself that was exactly the topic I had recently been deliberating on concerning recovery, the "day count."

I am a very goal oriented person so I very well understand the nature of keeping track of progress and goals, Gant Charts are not considered foreign language for me. But as I focused on my son's "day count" which I really don't know, I begin to feel conflicted. What exactly is a day count. I have spent countless hours of trying to accept the way this disease works, the minute by minute struggle for an addict at times. But in recovery it becomes day count. I was ask in the meeting about my son. My response was that he was clean today. My attitude today is that his sobriety is his business and the most important day in the world to me is today.

Now I may be upsetting to some about that kind of attitude. I read about and hear from others about their day count and their anniversaries. Despite what I said, I honestly feel joy for them and their day count. The most important thing for anyone is, whatever works for you, works for you and I'm happy about that.

I'm not a NA or Anon 12 step person. I went to meetings but they did not work for me. I've done the counselor thing, but likewise I'm not a person that does the counseling thing. I'm not a church or prayer person. But I'm going to tell you I advocate for all of these things. The most important thing in all of this for a parent or an addict is "what works for you." And, if it ain't working find something that does.

Hope that doesn't sound conflicting to others but the old saying, "There is more than one way to skin a cat." Each of us must skin our cat our way. My trouble for quite a few years was that I was trying to skin my cat and his too. That doesn't work. Plus I was trying to skin my cat just the way everyone else was doing it and my cat isn't exactly like your cat, our cats may be similar but no two cats are exactly alike. Each of us must skin our cats the way best for us, but the most important lesson I learned was to I could only skin my cat.

As I have mentioned before and wrote about for the Intervene site I find lifeboats invaluable. One of Mom and Dad's lifeboats is entertaining. One of our big events of the year is Fall Festival. Fall Festival was last weekend and if you want to see the pics you can find them here:

Fall Festival 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Month for Boobies (o)(o)

How do you like that title? Spoken like a real man, right?

All of you ladies out there are sporting pink and making sure everyone knows what to do about getting that annual mammogram and doing self exams. 3 cheers for each of you.

Mom is very diligent about her awareness. HER SISTER IS A BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR!!! But sadly her mother and her aunts have all died from either breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

So, a message from all of us guys. Ladies, please do what you have to do to be aware and take care of yourself. Without those boobies we'd have to look you in the eyes when we talk to you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Partnership Posting

The Partnership at Drugfree.org has published another one of my essays. Julie and Olivia at The Partnership sure have a way of making me look a lot better than real life. They added the pictures.


Lifeboats: Taking Care of Yourself During Your Child’s Drug Addiction

Speaking Tonight

I am speaking with a parent group tonight. If there any of you in the KC area that want to attend it is an open meeting and the talk is structured in an open format.

Church of the Resurrection
13720 Roe Ave.
Leawood, KS 66224

6:30 - 8:30 Room 217

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Addiction Recovery Process for Loved Ones

I have been struggling with a whole new problem within myself as it relates to my son and his recovery efforts. What is the role of a loved one when an addict is working on their recovery?

Just like all of this when dealing with an addicted child, when you finally think you are getting a grasp on the new learning you have experienced; there in front of you is a whole new world that must be experienced and digested.

Enabling addiction is what we all seem to do in the beginning. Then as this disease progresses in our child we begin to learn that what we are doing is helping the disease to progress, so we struggle with changing our paradigm concerning addiction and the progression of this disease.

Now we are facing a new change, what is the role of parents to support recovery?

I’m a simple guy without a formal education so in my deliberations about everything concerning addiction I have to break down very complex issues dealing with this disease into simple examples as they related to the learning I have based on my personal experiences. (some of you have been exposed to my examples before.)

My son, just as I am sure many other recovering addicts have done has dug himself a very deep hole in which he stands at the bottom. When you are actively using I am sure the bottom of that hole may actually provide a measure of security and insulation. But after a profound experience an addict stares at the walls and the light that seems so far up. All of us are standing at the top staring down. What do we do to help?

Somebody at the bottom of a hole, I got lots of options to provide and assist a rescue. We can fly a helicopter over and lower a basket on a winch they can climb in and be lifted out. We can drop a long ladder slowly into the hole and they can climb out. We can throw a rope over the edge and they can pull themselves up and out. We can pitch a shovel into the hole and they can dig themselves out. And, I could just stand at the side of the hole and holler down, “Looks like you are in a world of shit, good luck.” And wash my hands of the whole mess.

I have helicopters, ladders, ropes and shovels and sometimes I can yell real well too. I’m sure each of these tools have a place in recovery but the struggle for me as a parent is; when you have all of these tools at your disposal, what tool do you use and when?

The dichotomy in all of this is most of the time the answer is we probably should do the minimum. But I am conditioned just as most people in our nation and society are conditioned to help those that are in trouble and need help. This involves helping people afflicted with diseases and even people in conditions in which they may even have had a hand in creating. For example; people were told to evacuate New Orleans before hurricane Katrina. Many people did not evacuate for a variety of reasons that made sense to them at the time. As a nation we flew in helicopters, provided food and housing and money, in the final analysis even our national efforts at help were woefully inadequate. During floods we provide help to people we do not know, but with a little effort it is easy to determine where flood plains are located and we all know not to live in a flood plain or drive into rushing water, right?

Speaking the truth from inside of me, what do I do? I am lucky, I have the resources to help him but what is the right thing to do in helping my son?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Worldwide Problems with Drugs

Another mum from New Zealand writes about her son's addiction and their experiences with methadone treatment.

This truly is a worldwide scourge on society.

No2Methadone.A Sons Addiction

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rejoicing, One Moment and Event At A Time

I'm not a superstitious guy but deep inside I think most people get that fear of jinxing something good if you acknowledge it, I guess I can be counted as one of those people too. But sometimes we must live on the edge.

It is so nice to have my son in a place where we can sit down, enjoy a meal together and talk.

It is so nice not to look at my son and be afraid.

It is so nice to see my son smile without pinpoint pupils.

It is so nice to feel a level of trust in him to make decisions that creates honor for himself.

Enjoy today and rejoice. I have seen the possible. I believe in the future and I believe in my son.


Its seems so long ago but just like yesterday Monday, July 12, 2010 and Tuesday, July 13, 2010. Where there is life there is hope.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Observable Behaviors

I was going to leave a comment on my last post in a response to readers comments but then I began thinking this is too important for a comment so I am going to write about how "Dear Enabling Mom and Dad" made me feel.

When I first read that letter written by a mom trying to make sense of her addicted son's behaviors I was uncomfortable. In fact I just kind of scanned it, but something pulled me back, and again and again I read it and finally after about the fifth time the light came on for me. This make believe letter written by this mom is five years of my life dealing with my son. She nailed it all. She put into words what I was experiencing, the disconnect between what I wanted to believe and what was really happening.

I am going to try and explain how I got to this and maybe what has guided me to this point.

In my career I was once a internal and an external consultant on work system design. Designing how people work together and the systems that enable people to work.

Pause for a joke: Do you know what a pigeon and a consultant have in common? They both fly in, eat your food, shit all over you and then fly away.

Back to my point when I would begin a project I would usually get the management team together and ask, "Why are you doing this?" Invariably someone would get around to saying, "It's their attitude!" Speaking of plant workers. Then I would meet with the union reps and plant workers, the funny thing is the answers were the same, "It's the way they treat us and their attitude."

My response was always. Attitudes are problems you have with yourself. I can't deal with attitudes. If you expect me to change attitudes I QUIT. I only deal in observable behaviors. Give me observable behaviors and we can work on the conditions that create those behaviors but attitudes and beliefs belong to YOU not someone else.

The mom that wrote the make believe letter from her son to herself was dealing in observable behaviors and using her experiences to make sense of illogical behaviors in an illogical world. To not be an enabling parent you must deal with observable behaviors not "attitudes" and "why's". I spent many years trying to figure out the "why" of my son's addiction because I knew if I understood the why I could fix the problem. All the time I was enabling and working on the wrong thing, hell I wasn't even playing in the same park so how could I fix it.

When I read that letter I began to connect five years of my son's addiction and my enabling to exactly what she wrote.

My son would tell us how bad he wanted to stop using but within an hour his druggie buddies would show up at our door and he would leave with them.

We got our son checked into a rehab 40 miles from our home. On his fifth morning there we got a call from his counselor telling us he was getting kicked out for using. He had friends bring him oxycontin to him in the rehab. He was kicked out, but before the sun set that evening we had him in another rehab facility 350 miles away from our home. Our son met people in rehab and NA meetings that he eventually wound up doing drugs with and buying drugs from them.

We didn't kick him out because it was cold outside, even though we had threatened too.

He didn't work, couldn't get a job because he failed drug tests. So he did just stay at home and slept all day and used all night. We were afraid to go to bed with him up.

Mom told me several times she was afraid of our son and his friends. She was afraid he or his friends may hurt us if we got between his drugs and him.

Our son was the boss of our life. We did things we would have never done because of his addiction and drugs.

There is a hole in the wall in the stairwell going down to the basement. Our son did not punch that hole in the wall, I did. I was so angry because I had just discovered he had stolen several of my woodworking tools to sell and pawn to buy drugs. I have NOT patched that hole even though I could do it in 30 minutes. This hole is a physical reminder to ME that I must be in control of ME. However, there are spoon soot stains on the carpet and walls of his old bedroom that we tried our damnest to get rid of every time we found them.

Despite all of these observable behaviors we continued to work on the wrong thing, him. Despite all of my training and consulting I enabled and tried to fix his attitude and worried about the why.

The mom that wrote that letter from her son's perspective found a way to look at the observable behaviors and then she is able to deal with the real problem. For me her method was genius. Harsh but genius.

Finally, to the addicts and alcoholics that commented about she was so wrong in what she said the addict thinks. I respect your comments, I believe you still love your parents all through your using and do not think of them as suckers. There is nothing more important than hearing from those that are able to articulate what it is like suffering from the disease. But just as we struggle with you and the effects of your dependency on drugs or alcohol you need to look at the effect your disease has on us parents. It's called unconditional love and with that sometimes we suffer incalculable pain. This is a mom releasing some of the pain.

Especially to the addicts and alcoholics that suffer with this disease and exhibit the behaviors that cause us parents to get to the point of writing something like this make believe letter. We do love you. We will always love you, you don't have to worry about that. That love is what ensures the survival of our species and of us personally. The thing you must worry the most about is when your parents stop believing in you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dear Enabling Mom and Dad

I found this jewel of a post on another site I visit, written by LitlGrADuck. She graciously allowed me to repost it here for everyone to read

This is what one mother believes her son would write if he could only be honest and truthful with himself and others about his using and his relationship with his parents.

The orginal post can be found at: http://www.eons.com/groups/topic/2276457-Dear-Enabling-Mom-and-Dad


Dear Enabling Mom and Dad

Dare I write the following ?

I will risk it.


Dear Mom and Dad,

I really didn't want to try very hard in detox, rehab. Heck, I already knew that I wasn't serious about it. That's why I was still using while I was there. And I knew I could count on you to bail me out. See? I got you coming and going. I got you to call more of those jerk off places you wanted me to go to.

So, ok, I admit I get so f**king high that sometimes I freak out. It scares me, and I feel like I want to get off this ride, and I tell you I want to get clean. What I really want is to come down off the bad tripping, that's all. Get back on a good high.

I guess if I have to go to some stupid treatment center, since I don't have to pay for it, I can deal with that.

I can make some good connections for later if I want to. I can see the people in there that are playing the same game I am. Just killing time, watching tv, taking some really trippin drugs, got some cool nurses to look at, and I can really work that Dr. What a idiot that one is. They believe anything you tell them.

Geez, I know I can get you to do anything for me, if I play you right. Oh, and summer is winding down. The cooler temps will get you to do more for me. Jeez, you are such a chump. But you are my chump. Glad I have you wrapped around my little finger. So, I gotta sit here and work on the next step in my plan. I gotta make it sound real good, so you will believe me. Yep, gotta sit here and think, while you do all my work for me. God, life is sooooooooooooo good.

Anyway, you are just a means to an end. Yeah, I tell you I love you, but right now, I love the high I get a whole lot more.

So, this rehab thing is no big deal. I can always do it again, play the game, anytime I feel like it. I know how to get in and I know how to get out.

Guess what Mom, Dad? I ain't ready to quit yet. It's too easy to stay this way. Don't need to work at some chump job, don't have to wake up at 6 am. I can eat what I want, when I want, I don't have to answer to nobody but me. And you will never understand how good I feel about myself when I am flying high. There's nothing like it. I just can't understand why you would want me to stop feeling on top of the world.

And you know how you worry all the time about my health? My health is super. No matter what messes up, I can get another bombshell high on and nothing hurts. Nothing bothers me.

Ok, so maybe I don't have a home, or a car. Those are just part of what society demands and I don't take demands from nobody. Maybe I just have a piece of cardboard to sleep on, but you know what? Me and my cardboard have been together on some major trips. You can keep your soft bed, warm house, all those damn rules.

See, my cardboard and I have a really strong relationship. No rules with it, keeps me off the ground. I don't see what the problem is with you. Nag, nag, nag, no high being around you. That is a total bummer and it sucks big time. Not interested in your straight and narrow crap. Sometimes your nagging at me makes me so angry I want to punch your face out. Ok, so instead I punch holes in the walls. No sweat, you don't like the holes, you fix them. You just better be thankful I didn't go for your face this time. Just so you know, if you push me too far, when I am on an all-time-high, and you try crashing me down? it can be your face. Just so you know who is the boss around here.

But I know you'd call the cops, and I don't need that number, so I will just work around you until you leave the house. See, I've been watching where you put things. Remember when I was a kid, and I put something down, and couldn't find it and later, you told me where it was? Yeah, you watched my every move then, and turn around is fair play. I watch what you do, what you have, where you put it, and when I need my beautiful highs, I claim your sh*t. Finder's keepers, and all that. Losers weepers. Well, just cry me a river. I don't feel anymore, that's why I don't care!

Wow, why am I thinking all this crap? I never used to be like this. I had a great family, a car, a best friend, loved sports and art, kept myself in great shape, and all that sh*t, and now look at me? I have nothing. Ok, ok, this is not a good way to think. This is going to get me really bombed out if I don't stop it. I know, where's that last hit? Ah, there it is. Yeah, that's more like it. What was I thinking about before?

Oh, yeah.

Thanks Mom and Dad. I knew I could count on you. Suckers!


P.S.If I do ever decide to come off the dope, it will be MY DECISION, not YOURS. You can't make me feel guilty enough to stop. You don't have that power.When I am ready, if I ever am, I don't want your help. I will want to do it without you holding my hand like a baby. I ain't your baby anymore. I wish you would wake up and learn that. Geez, maybe I would get off it if you didn't keep me such a cripple.

Yeah, that sounds like a good future plan to tuck back for later. I will make my own way, do all the work myself, and show myself that I am someone good, someone strong, that I can overcome anything. Well, let me think on that some more.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Inspiring E-mails

In addition to posting comments publicly many people e-mail us directly because I have our e-mail address posted on the blog. I am grateful for the help and advice no matter if it is publicly posted or privately e-mailed.

I received an e-mail the other day that is an inspiration to us and I thought it might be good for everyone else too. The author has granted me permission to post it, I hope it helps you too.


You and Mom are probably aware I lived with the depravity that is heroin (or crack or meth or vodka or MadDog) addiction for almost 12 years. We all have our war stories, so I won't go into the stomach turning details of homelessness, overdoses, prison visits, late night drama, ER crisis's, suicide threats, and stolen family heirlooms.

The reason I'm commenting is that at about 7 years into the heroin addiction of our son, his father and I broke down together. We held each other and cried together for a long time.
We were out of rehab money, out of excuses, and out of hope. When we were cried out that day, his father and I made a pact with each other.

From now on, we would decide together what was right for our family. It was a very real possibility our son would die. We asked ourselves-- if we were standing over our son's coffin right now, what would matter to us.

Would it be the opinion of an internet stranger? How about the expert advice of addiction professionals (who BTW can boast a 8-12% success rate--WTF!)? The judgment of other family members? Well meaning, and not so well meaning strangers?

We realized we would have to live with the decision of taking that phone call or not. Making that 5 hour drive to the prison once a month or not. Telling our son we loved him even when we knew he was high or not. Putting flowers on his grave or not. IT WAS OUR EYES we would have to meet in the mirror. Sometimes that meant taking a hard stand, other times it meant driving downtown to hand him a McDonalds meal on the street. Or giving that McDonalds meal to someone else's kid if we could not find him.

We decided to be
confident and united in our actions, and with no regrets however it played out.

Dad, I have seen you humbled since you started this blog. You started out, as we all did, angry and helpless. You didn't understand you had come up against something you could not reason out. But your writing shows me you are starting to get it-- You are becoming more compassionate and forgiving. You are beginning to accept your son for who he is, not who you envisioned he would be. You are more grateful for the many blessing in your life. These things are the upside of being brought to one's knees.

What I'm trying to say is don't let internet strangers bully you. Don't listen to addiction "professionals" who would pass judgment on a case they hear second hand, without knowing the client. (That borders on unethical..they should have their licenses pulled!) Keep reading, keep an open mind, stay teachable.

And don't let anyone tell you no one beats heroin. This mom knows better. My son had the spiritual awakening; he's changed on the inside. But it wasn't anything I did or didn't do.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—"
(Ephesians 2:8)

May God's grace rain down on Alex.

Love, Lou

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Addiction and Death

I don't want to bring people down with this post but it is horrific in its reality. It is something a parent of an addict lives with every day. I hope this reminds everyone to celebrate each day with your child, addiction or not.

Another blogger I read wrote about the sheriffs daughter that was found dead in a storage locker. Her body had been placed there by a guy that had been doing drugs with her and she overdosed and died. He panicked and hid the body. This reminded me of how close to death every addict is each day of their using.

One night about midnight the phone rang. It was the emergency room of a hospital. The woman on the other end of the phone ask us if we had a son in his late teens, dark brown hair, about 5'9?

Our response was yes but he is away at college 125 miles from here.

She said this young male had no identification on him but they found a book of checks with our name and number on them. She said if we thought this could be our son we should come to the hospital immediately, he is unconscious and not breathing.

Needless to say we made a hasty trip to the hospital 20 miles away.

It was our son, he and a couple of his "buddies" came back to KC area to score some stuff. At this time he was doing Fentenyl. In the car he did a patch under his tongue and was eating beef jerky at the same time. This caused his throat muscles to stop swallowing. He was choking. The story is they just happened to be driving by the hospital. By this time our son was unconscious and not breathing in the back seat of the car. His buddies pulled up to the door of the emergency room and the security guard saw them roll someone out onto the side walk and jump back into the car and speed away. When he went outside to check, our son was unconscious and still not breathing. The ER people cleared his airway and got him to breathing again. They did not know what he had done so they gave him a shot of Narcan. By the time we got there he was conscious and breathing again.

Another time our son complained of his arms hurting. Our daughter is a nurse and by the time he was complaining terribly and she came and looked at them she said take him to the ER immediately. He had not gone to the doctor because he had no insurance and the doctor would immediately know he was shooting up.

I took him to the ER and they immediately admitted him into the hospital. That night they performed surgery on both of his arms to remove the infected tissue and muscle. He had contracted a staph infection in both arms from not shooting up properly, not cleaning his skin with alcohol wipes before injecting. He spent 15 days in the hospital. After a couple days I went down to the ER doc that treated him to personally thank him. He responded by telling me that when he saw him in the ER he personally felt our son had less than a 50/50 chance to live due to the possibly of that infection already traveling up his arms to his heart. He said he was glad to hear the news that he was alive.

When he was released from the hospital our daughter taught him how to properly shoot up and why swabbing the area with alcohol was so important.

I'm sure many of you with kids actively using are wondering, WHY IS HE WRITING THIS!!!???

Every day of life is a day to hope for a change. We all know you cannot build your life on hope for their recovery but hope and love sustains you and you don't know how much it can help your child in ways we do not understand.

I am sure each of your have similar stories you can write and if it helps please do write. Writing the story may help all of us to see how lucky we all are instead of how bad it is.

It is scary to think how close to death our children are when they are using. We get our days one day at a time, sometimes minute by minute. Try not to spend them in sorrow and anger about their addiction. Our addicts don't care how you are living your life, so you must live your life for you, otherwise the drugs will claim two people.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Good Post To Read

I just read a post by a fellow blogger writing about himself and the addiction of his son. This is a post EVERY father should read no matter how deep you are into this nightmare of addiction. Thank you VJ

(mom's it may be good for you too)

Parent 2 Parent -- My Truth Be Told

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fall Festival

It is that time of year again when we host our annual Fall Festival. If you are a reader and live in the KC area or close enough that you would like to attend send me your e-mail and I will forward the information plus the scavenger hunt list and kid games agenda. We love making new friends.

Here is a link to some pictures from the last 3 years. This is our 8th annual festival.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/15120866@N05/collections/72157621181385198/

Speaking Engagement

I will be speaking again to a parent group on Oct. 11 at The Church of the Resurrection, 13720 Roe Ave. Leawood, KS 66224. If you are in an area close and want to come send me an e-mail and I will forward you additional information.

In addition I have been ask again to speak to a student group at a high school but we have not yet finalized the dates.

If you know others, parents or students that would like to hear our story I would be happy to speak with you about talking to a group.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cautious Update

It's back home and to work and now its time to begin looking forward to the next vacation. LOL It's getting close to Fall Festival time so we are beginning to work on that event.

Maybe it was a fools confidence or just a odd belief inside but this was the first vacation in several years that we were not concerned with coming home to a empty or destroyed house or worried about getting a call that our son had overdosed and died. We had gotten use to, I'm in jail calls, they didn't affect us any more.

I am not a superstitious person but I almost hate to talk about how he is doing in fear of jinxing his progress. He has a job, don't know how long it will last it is dependent upon the company's production and orders. He spoke to his mom and I when we got home about budgeting, he brought up the subject. He has formulated a budget for his check, ON PAPER.

He ask us about going back to school. He has become aware both of his sisters are in school, his girlfriend is in school to become a nurse and 3 out of 4 first cousins are working on their BA or MA. He said to us,"Everyone is moving forward and leaving me behind, I don't want to be left behind. What would it take for me to go back to school." Our response was, "Son, if you want it bad enough you will figure that out and make it happen."

We have been taking him and his girlfriend out to dinner with us on Friday Date Night. It is really great to actually have conversations with him and her. We have noticed there is a sharpness in his wit returning and his voice does not have the druggie sound, you all know that that sound. He seems to enjoy being around family now. Mom and dad know it may take a little while before some in the family accepts him and we reminded him that it takes the two "P's", patience and persistence.

Even with all of this good news there is one thing I have learned in this process. Accept today and its happiness, tomorrow is a long way off.

Monday, September 13, 2010

WOW!!! Vacation Over. Catch Up Time.

For over a week we have been on vacation and I barely scanned blogs one evening. It's going to take quite a while to catch up with you all.

Thank You All

A couple months after I began writing this blog someone told me I should put a "hit counter" on the blog. For those that have been to the very bottom of the page you can see the hit count. While we were on vacation the counter registered over 100,000 hits. AMAZING! That's over 100,000 times that someone came to this blog to help us or seek help. There are no words big enough to express our gratitude for the help and advice that has been provided to Dad and Mom. Thank You is all I can say, we are eternally grateful.

Our vacation was a motorcycle trip back east. It involved riding the Blue Ridge Parkway from southern NC to northern VA. A visit to Washington DC, someplace neither of us had explored. And last but not least a trip to Gettysburg, PA. Plus many sites and deversions along the way.

I'm going to post a couple pictures on here but if you want to see them all they can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15120866@N05/sets/72157624822564411/

Lunch with my sweetheart on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue ridge Parkway is over 400 miles of twisting, turning, up and down scenic riding. We stopped and had a cheese and fruit lunch along the side of the road overlooking miles of the Smokey Mountains. This is common, impromptu picnics are an obvious pleasure along The Parkway. This is a must ride for any biker, one thing to check off my Bucket List. Our ride is the big red one in the background.

The White House and Lincoln Memorial

The obligatory photos in front. I think there is a DC law that mandates everyone takes these pictures. ;-) We visited so much in DC and when you think about what all of these places and what the memorials mean it really grabs a hold of your gut.

Gettysburg, PA (this was much more impressive than I imagined)

It is hard to describe the emotion of this place. Think of the men and boys that fought at this site. It is hard to even imagine the fear, the bravery and the courage it took to be in these battles. All of us should give thanks to these men and women and bow our head to them, from President Lincoln all the way down to the infantryman.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Answering A Comment

If you want to share, I was curious, what changes do you see when he is clean and with you and the family? I mean, is he like you expected him to be before the addiction or do you still see the addictive thinking present?

This is the question I was ask in the comment section of a previous post. I've been going back to this question often wanting to answer VJ but after a lot of thought I begin to realize it was much to important of a question to answer in a comment. I am still not sure I do this justice and a lot of my thoughts are still random but I want to get some things down while I have this time.

I see a respect in my son that I would not have expected. Maybe it is more of a humbleness that I would not expect of a 22 year old male. My son was a very self confident person before he began using. He felt he had the world by the tail and I am not sure he wasn't right. I can still see confidence in him that he can do what he sets his mind to do but I also have a feeling that he is now scared of what he has been through. This is a scary observation for me because I am trying not to inject what I wish into what I observe.

Our family has always been a very close family. That is not just from us 5, it is a generational thing in our family, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, I don't want to sound too "Mafia" but blood really meant something. There is nothing you wouldn't do for family. My son has hurt many people in his family and some have not forgiven him. This troubles him greatly. He has reached out to some but they are not yet willing to embrace or even shake hands. He is still to young in his recovery to understand amends. Some of us understand and help without formal apologies and others don't yet, time is a healer of this wound. He is apprehensive around family, maybe that is good right now.

To understand my expectations you need some details of how I got where I am with my son. My son is smart. I don't mean normal "my kid" smart I mean testing in the 95th percentile and above in multiple subjects of skills testing in school. A kid that we were ask about accelerated schooling tests and when we ask him about it he said he would fail them purposely, he didn't want to be a geek. A kid that skipped freshman math, instead he took senior level pre-calc and trig. As a father, he was to be everything I could not be, nothing like my life, no unloading trucks and jack hammering concrete for him.

My expectations, that is so hard. When we started this and for many years I lived in blissful ignorance. Some think I still live there but we all change. I thought this was just something he would go through and come out the other side and resume life. Back on track and off we go. It doesn't work that way. Today my expectations for my son are very simple, happiness. I still believe he can be anything he sets his mind to be. But now I am happy when he is tired from a hard days work, I am happy when he cashes a paycheck that he worked for, I am happy when he smiles at his niece or his family, I am happy when he hugs his mom and he isn't high.

Addictive thinking I believe is in his every thought. He is just a baby in recovery. I want, and impatience is with him all the time he is with us. I can see him struggle with himself with those things. I can see him struggle when we go out to eat to just sit still and converse quietly. It's so much easier when we "walk and talk." I think him working this issue is another one of those things that only gets better with more time.

Damn you VJ you ask such hard questions. Hope I answered it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Examine Your Axioms

I am probably going to open up a whole can full of worms with this post but worms are good for fishing so if the comments get too hot, I’m going fishing. ;-)

Over and over it is repeated about addicts; you cannot make a person get clean. Addicts get clean when they want it for themselves. I believe there is enough truth in that statement that it has become the accepted knowledge. However, I do not believe that is the driving force for many addicts to give up their life of drugs. Sure there are some addicts living a life of homelessness with absolutely no one to call on that eventually clean-up based upon a desire that is wholly internally driven. From my experience that is not the norm.

My proposition as it relates to young addicts based upon personal observations: Younger addicts need role models, mentors, loved ones or sponsors as a key component of recovery. They get clean because of, or for someone else, they maintain their sobriety for themselves and the fear of losing a love or respect of those people that replace the void a drug has filled.

The rationalization for my theory follows much cognitive dissonance in my own analysis of the behaviors and observations of young addicts that remain addicted and those that have lived an extended time drug free that are now older adults. This is not a study that examined mountains of empirical evidence, these are my conclusions based upon anecdotal evidence gathered in discussion and observations. In reading this, remember the source, I am not a scholar or professional in this subject, I am just a father of an addict trying to make sense of insanity.

Why would an addict decide to or even want to get clean and give up using? I have never taken drugs in an illegal way to get high or whatever. I can only guess what it is like based upon others descriptions. What I am told about getting high, it is good, it is real good, I’ve been told imagine this, it is like 100 orgasms throughout your whole body. The feeling is over and over it is there whenever you want. Now, truth is why would anyone not want that once it has been experienced? Why would someone give that up experience voluntarily? As an addict why am I expected to give up an experience that in my life is as essential to my brain as food, water, oxygen and procreation?

My conclusion is without someone or something to fill that void it is highly unlikely, that any addict would give up their drug. In fact, I can rationalize that there is no reason any addict would give up their drug of choice without that “something” either real or spiritual, to fill the void.

Based upon my above mentioned conclusion my son’s only hope in living a life free of mind altering drugs is to have someone or something to fill the void of abstinence from drugs. A profound experience is required as a first step. And that is only a first step not the whole solution.

With that it begs the question, what is the role of a parent, significant other, friend or child?

My son’s addiction is by far the most complex issue I have faced in my life. In dealing with this issue as a parent you grasp at whatever straw, lifeline or sliver of hope you can find. I don’t believe this is wrong; this just is the way it is. Without doing these things you will not grow and learn. As adults and parents we grow and learn through experience. With your own child drowning in the crisis of addiction it is unlikely we will learn from experiences we had not personally tried. There is a tough learning curve we all must experience and some round the curve quickly and some not so quick but there is no cutting the corner. There are proven processes in this path but there is no step by step formula to insure success either for the addict or the person who is a loved one of the addict.

It is my belief that love is one of the most basic and strongest of human emotions. This is the emotion that ensures the survival of our species. Anyone can procreate but without a love bond between a mother, parents or caregiver of a child there is no survival for that infant. As such, without that continuing love for the addicted young adult I believe survival is a marginal proposition, at best.

Love does not mean enable. Love does not mean remove all the pain and misery in your addict’s life. Love does not mean you give up your life at the expense of loving an addicted child. Love means being there, it means not abandoning your addict emotionally. It may be that your child cannot live in your home but that doesn’t mean you do not try to empathize with their pain and fear. It just means you set good boundaries for yourself but be sure you show your child where the gate is on the boundary so they know how to enter your life safely. Do not put locks on the gate.

As parents we develop problem solving skills that continue to evolve to a higher level as we age and accumulate life experiences. A young person that becomes addicted does not have that knowledge in which to draw. I believe someone or something must be the light at the end of the tunnel. Otherwise the darkness will swallow a young person and lost is an outcome, not a current state of being.

A young adult does not have the life experience to find their way out of the morass of addiction. Abandoning your child physically and emotionally is a path some choose but that leaves your addicted child to wander aimlessly in the darkness, some find the exit but many do not. But sometimes that path for a parent or loved one is necessary for self preservation; each family situation is unique and must be handled in context. That is why I believe there is no cookie cutter program that fits every family and every situation, no step by step recipe for success just a group of processes that have proven to be successful for individuals and families in the past.

Now for a harsh reality I have come to accept and am just now beginning to understand. Every addict I have talked to or read about that was addicted as a young adult, not one of them got clean because of Dad and Mom. That’s a hard pill to swallow for this parent.

But when I speak to addicts that have come out the other side about getting clean they spoke of someone or something as the driving force that drove their efforts in recovery.

Sometimes for dumb old me to grasp a concept I have to create analogies to my situation. Hench some of the other ones you have read on my blog, like the “sidewalk of life”. So, as my son drives along his road to recovery I must accept that no matter how much I love him and want him to succeed I am not the driver, I am not the car, I am not the highway or road. At most, I may simply be a gas station along the road. Sometimes he may stop for fuel and sometimes the fuel gauge may read full and he passes me by. That is not a reflection of his love for us as parents or our role in his recovery, it just means there are days he needs fuel and some days his tank is full. My role is to have fuel when he needs it and for the sign outside to always read “OPEN”.

I never know what kind of fuel he may need, emotional, physical or spiritual. So if his tank needs to be topped off with an “I love you, I believe in you” or simply a dinner on Friday night that is the new role of this dad of an addict.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Taking It As It Comes

Progress?? I don't know but it means something to us. We had another weekend with our son (clean). He actually called on Thursday to make plans for Friday. That may not seem like much to anyone else but to us that was a significant step. To us it meant he was actually thinking beyond the minute or that day, he called one day in advance to make a date. Another nice dinner.

He and his girlfriend were going camping on Saturday and Sunday with her godfather. Our daughter called us on Saturday and wanted to go to the lake. So we went but we went to the lake where they were camping. That way he could wakeboard. Before addiction my son was an accomplished boarder. Wake to wake, inverts and a host of other tricks. He had not been on a board for quite some time. He was very frustrated that his skills had deteriorated so much but in reality what did he expect. But overall another good time was had by all.

The big issue now is finding a job. We don't pound on it. We do let him know when we see places that may be hiring but it is his issue to solve. It is hard for him to accept when I tell him the economy as far as the job market is as bad as I have ever seen it, plus with his baggage. He just has to keep plugging along, remember the two "P"s, patience and persistence. I think from my observations those are the two hardest things for and addict, even in recovery.


Pre-addiction


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How Addiction Has Changed Me

I’ve been trying to do some self reflection lately about these last few years. That’s not fun because I much rather point out all the things wrong with you than look at myself.

When a loved one suffers from addiction I don’t see how it cannot help but change people close to them along with all the changes we see in the addicted as well. I admit some of the changes in me are what I see as good and some of them I am not particularly proud of admitting. Of course I spent less time on those.

I’m going to just start listing and commenting on the changes I have thought about and anyone that wants to point out things I am missing or just plain wrong about feel free.

- I have more patience with people suffering from addiction, alcoholism and mental illness. Shamefully, in the past I just looked at those people as being “weak of character.” I still struggle with addiction and alcoholism about “why do it the first time” question but I understand how it becomes the center of their being and why it is classified as a disease.

- I have less patience with people that claim to believe in absolutes. I often fell into that type of thinking. There are shades of gray and the truth is most of life is lived in varying shades of gray.

- I have always had a quick temper but it wasn’t a violent temper. I try hard to do that less, not successful most of the time but I am better. It was just a yell and scream then 10 minutes later I was like nothing ever happened and everyone else was still in shock. I try now to reserve those outbursts only to really egregious things in life like paraphernalia and drugs in my house or people talking and texting while driving.

- I have learned judging people as a group does me a disservice and I will jump at the chance learn from anyone that will take the time to teach me. I have seen some of the biggest, baddest looking bikers wearing leather, tattooed, scraggly beards and hair, arms the size of small barrels with a gut to match have the biggest hearts I have ever seen in a man. And I have seen church going, god fearing, holier than thou people that are the most selfish, judgmental and un-accepting people I have ever met. All bikers are not good and all churchy people are not bad, everyone deserves to be judged as a single person and I try to do that respectfully.

- I accept people that accept me. By nature I am more a “pleaser” personality. If someone didn’t like what I was, I spent time thinking about what is wrong with me or them. I now am a person that feels if you can’t accept me and my family with its addiction then I don’t have time for you either. I come with my baggage and if you can’t accept my baggage then life is too short.

- I do not like how I look at young people now. I look at teenage kids and see potential addicts. This is contradictory to what I said above. Most kids are great and do not become addicts and drugs are not the center of their life but my mind tells me constantly, “if it can happen to my son it can happen to anyone.” It just seems like every teenager is an addiction time bomb; that is wrong.

- I am a trusting person. I always thought of it this way, I am too lazy to not trust people because not trusting took so much energy. With my son I am distrustful to a level that is detrimental to him and me.

- I have always been fairly liberal in my thinking but when it came to law and order I was a straight down the line, lock’em up type guy. Lock’em up is not a generic solution to all of our crime and drug problems. Some people need to be locked up. Locking up addicts, alcoholics and the mentally ill solves no problems, not the person locked up or societies. I hate taxes as much as the next guy but I’d rather pay to try and fix a problem than to just shove it under a rug. “Out of sight out of mind” costs us more as a society, morally and financially than it would to build centers to help rather than to warehouse.

- I have a controlling personality. That serves me well in some areas of my life but I have learned there are times it is necessary to let go. It’s OK for others to do their thing their way, outcomes are more important than process. I allow others to learn their way and sometimes that involves them making mistakes I know that are going to happen but sometimes it is best to keep my mouth shut. In the past my mouth was not shut most of the time.

That is a start for me. How has addiction changed you?