Friday, January 29, 2010

Hitting Bottom???

While on vacation I had time to relax on the beach and deliberate about our family situation. There was no great epiphany however; upon reflection one thing bothered me concerning the language of addiction.

For many years through this journey people have counseled us that nothing will actually change until your addict hits bottom. It was always said with sympathy and understanding in a way that I am sure was well intentioned. However, as a parent trying to deal with an addicted child just the thought of hitting bottom was frightening. What is bottom? How do you recognize bottom when you see it? How long will it take and what damage is my son likely to experience on his way to bottom. The answers from people experienced in addiction were always vague and indeterminate. Bottom is different for every person “they” would say. All the while we kept looking for that elusive bottom and with each terrible experience we assumed, surely we are there. Losing a vehicle, losing your license, losing your home, jail, nearly losing your life and prison; what exactly is bottom?

I have been told by addicts and loved ones of addicts that bottom is different for different people. For some it may be losing your family, losing your home or a religious experience. Others it may be incarceration and I read where for some the thought of losing the respect of ones they love was a bottom. The one thing I found out for sure there is no determining what bottom is for another person. That is what is so frightening for a parent about this whole bottom concept. Is death considered bottom?

With all of these possible definitions of bottom and none of them actually defining the experience I would like to throw in my thoughts on what the experience means to me and maybe a more accurate vocabulary for this process of experiencing, bottom.

I propose a different term for this event or series of events that causes an addict to wake up to the fact that addiction cannot be a part of their life, this moment in time or life is when a person has a “profound experience”. A “profound experience” is something that anyone in any situation can experience. Large or small this event or series of events has the impact to change a life. Following a "profound experience” a person is able to gain “profound knowledge” concerning their life and the impact this experience has on their future. With this knowledge a person or addict is able to put in place the things necessary to change their life.

To me a profound experience more accurately describes what an addict must experience before it is possible for them to begin a change process. For me my vocabulary concerning addiction is changing.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Partnership Posting

For those that are interested The Partnership For A Drug Free America has posted another article I have written.

This one is about setting boundaries for yourself and the differences between boundaries and rules.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Home Sweet Home, but cold!

We got home on Monday to a very cold and windy Kansas. It was a damp cold with a strong wind that cut right through you. The weather forecast for later this week is single digits.

Why is this all relevant? If you were interested you'd just go to and get all you need for anywhere. It matters to us because we just got back from 85 degrees in Puerto Morales, Mexico, just south of Cancun. 7 beautiful days with sun, sand, beach, pool and service fit for a king. But we do not just stay on the resort, we also love going to the local towns and eating and shopping with the local merchants. A trip to Puerto Morales and Playa De Carmen were great adventures and I will tell you the best local food must be eaten at local restaurants. It is so different to eat the local mexican fare from that area compared to the mexican food in KC. This is the first time we took a winter vacation to a resort where the climate was so opposite from what we left.

The main purpose of this trip was our daughters wedding. She got married on the beach and there were 21 of us there to celebrate the occasion. We now have 2 wonderful honorable and loving son-in-laws that treat our daughters as queens. What more could parents want.

We don't have wedding pictures, a friend went with us to take pictures of the wedding and we have not downloaded them from his camera. However we have posted our general vacation pictures on Flickr and if you want to see them they can be found at: If you want to see what we left look at Snow 2010 and then it was straight to Mexico 2010. As you can see, quite a shock to the system. All of that snow was still on the ground when we left.

The vacation was relaxing and our son did well. It is hard for dad at times to practice what I preach about his life is his responsibility but I am aware so it is a process of change.

I am still not caught up on all the blogs but I have scanned a few and I see the normal good news from some and bad news for others. I see my Blog Birthday wish I made before leaving is not working for all.

Trying to catch up so I am not going into a lot of other stuff. It is now vacation catch up time. Plus on Saturday we have a wedding reception planned for 200. It is for all of those not able to go to Mexico with up last week. We have a big family on both sides and we all love get together's and celebrations.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


We will be offline for about a week, vacation time and we are not taking a computer. I hope during that time I get to come back to wonderful news from everyone. I am banking on all of you guys to keep up supporting each other.

Be Strong Be Well

Monday, January 11, 2010

ABC World News

Heads up to watch ABC, World News with Diane Sawyer.

I was contacted by e-mail and phone by a producer with ABC News to discuss addiction in families. After much discussion with our son and the rest of the family Alex and Mom were not too comfortable so it will not happen but they have other families further along in recovery that are stepping up to the plate. The producer said she will let me know when the piece will air. When I know I will post it here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy Birthday To This Blog

It has been nearly one year since Mom and I began this blog. Time flies when you are having fun, yea right. (just a few days early because we will be leaving on vacation soon)

During this last year there has been a lot of water under the bridge. We have had our trials, literally and figuratively, many of you have been so helpful that words cannot express our appreciation. The reality is we feel selfish because we have taken so much from this blog and with all of the wisdom you have shared with us I am not sure we can repay you all in any way.

It's never going to be over. That is a tough realization. The best we can hope for it will be better, it will be different. As I look at my son today in comparison to one year ago I see the same body but I am hoping for the lasting change that allows him to grow. Today he is clean. That is now something I appreciate, the little things like that and life have different meaning today than they did in Jan. of 2009. There was no assurance when we started this blog that we would reach this day. As we look in the mirror we can now talk about this without breaking into tears, we have learned to handle our pain.

During this last year I have seen readers, commenter's and whole blogs come and go. There is a life cycle to this maybe one day our blog may fade but for right now it is providing much needed therapy for the writers so we will continue. Plus, unfortunately there are new children becoming addicted every single day. Somewhere there is another parent feeling the hurt and anguish of this terrible disease. I know I don't have the answers but if our little blog helps a few others then it is a small effort for us.

If the writers of this blog get to make a birthday wish and blow out a virtual candle you all must guess the wish, there will be no one left to write or read these thoughts because blogs on addiction would suddenly become irrelevant.

Walking on Eggs

This situation of Alex living at home while in recovery and not using takes the balance and finesse of a ballet dancer, my style is more like a bull in a china shop with 10 red capes being waved at each corner. I am sure it is tough on both of us.

Last night we had a discussion about our expectations. It was a good discussion and I felt it more age appropriate than a standard parent/child talk. Moving forward in baby steps I guess. We are always guarded in everything we say and do. It is uncomfortable at times but it is something Mom and I feel we have to do. I'm sure he feels the same way. Complete openness hurts, it is early.

I tried to be a better listener. I tried to ask questions instead of make make blanket statements. But on reflection I know I did make a lot of statements. The real world is stark at times and just because he is in recovery he cannot be sheltered too much or he will not grow.

Our son said when he is with a big group in the family, we are a large close family, he feels a tremendous amount of stress. He said he is on guard with everything he does. He said he is constantly watching what he is saying. And he said he is wondering what people are thinking about him. Dad and Mom responded with a simple suggestion but probably the hardest thing to do. Be the old Alex, be the pre-drug Alex. This is a person everyone loved. This Alex was witty, entertaining and an excellent conversationalist. I see it is hard for him to realize that his family is probably the one of the most forgiving families out there, but we all have our defenses up too.

I visualize this situation as an old medieval army. There is one outcast warrior standing alone on the field of battle. The whole army is standing in a line begging this one lonesome warrior to re-join the troupe. However the offers to re-join are coming from an army with their shields still raised and weapons at hand. Just eyes peeking over the shields but their smiles about his return are still hidden behind the shields. What is hard for Dad and Mom is seeing the shields still raised but when we look in the mirror we realize we still have our shields in our hands too.

I have come to realize this healing process is not just a process of love, it is also a process of time.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jayhawk Basketball

This will be a bit different than our regular posts but we all need a distraction and something else in our life than dealing with addiction 24/7. One of my distractions during the winter is Kansas University basketball.

The Jayhawks are currently ranked #1 in the nation. They are a talented group of players and I see in their coach, Bill Self a great leader of young men. When Roy Williams ran out on our program like a thief in the night (no bitterness here, LOL) a few years ago I honestly felt that there was not another top level coach with the integrity and leadership Williams had exhibited available in the NCAA coaching ranks. I looked at programs like Duke and Syracuse and many others that seemed to win but also maintained a standard of excellence in academics and behavior befitting of the Kansas tradition. Those coaches were all taken and had become institutionalized in their own respective universities. Along came Coach Self. A leader of young men that role modeled for not just those kids on his team but for anyone of any age. Competitiveness, integrity, honor and tradition, these are traits that transcend the basketball court, they are life lessons. My hats off to a fine coach and even though I have not met him personally, a fine man.

Last night we attended the KU vs Cornell game. It was real nail biter but The Hawks pulled together at the end of the game to bring another victory to Allen Fieldhouse. For those of you that are not basketball fans you just have to take my word for it that there is nothing like attending a basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse. The history, the traditions and the legacy makes everyone in that building as important as every person on that court and on the sideline.

Plus there are no fans like Hawk fans. When we left for the game 20 miles away it was snowing like a blizzard, expected 6" of blowing drifting snow. The temperature was in the teens and dropping. Travel advisories and winter storm warnings had been issued for the entire area. Allen Fieldhouse was packed full, every seat filled with rabid Jayhawk affectionatos. Count us among the crazies. There is a t-shirt around here that you can buy, on the front it says "Hawkaholic" with a picture of a Jayhawk. On the back it proudly proclaims, "Recovery is NOT an option".

Kinda like what we deal with with our addicts. no matter the weather or obstacles if they want their fix they will get their fix.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another Partnership Posting

For those that are interested The Partnership For A Drug Free America has posted another article I have written.

This one is about overcoming your own personal shame as a parent so that you are better prepared to deal with the issue of addiction.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's Cold

A new year and it has arrived frigid. The temperature is in the single digits and will hardly rise any all day. The forecast is a solid week of this nonsense. What happened to all that global warming? If this is it we need to burn more coal! If the temperature stays like this all those poor polar bears at the north pole with melting ice can move into the vacant house down the street.

We all look so forward to the new year, it is the same here. New year, new beginning and a fresh start. However as we know it is just another day. An endless continuum of day to day to day. I guess that really is the best we can ever hope for no matter if you are sober, clean, in recovery or trying to maintain an active addiction. Sometimes it is good to reflect on that. Life is a struggle no matter the circumstances even with millions of years of evolution, all life and our species is still struggling to survive day after day. Puts everything in perspective when we look at the big picture, or does it highlight our real insignificance.

Our new year began with a closing of the old year. Fine food and close relatives. Our son sitting at the dinner table, taking part in conversation, showing the signs of the manners taught at a young age and filling all of us with a new hope for his well being. That was the first scene like that in many years. After all of the events in the past it is easy to appreciate the small things. 

I feel a lot of sympathy for my son in one way. He is known as a social animal. That was a description coined by one of his elementary school teachers and he has lived up to that moniker ever since. I know the social animal in him is lonely. I think that is his most difficult struggle but he is not one to complain. I have talked with him about his using and recovery and he says he is OK and that part is not that hard as long as he stays out of bad situations and away from bad people. I can tell he is longing for companionship from anyone his age that is not from his old group that still uses, this is good. I know new friendships will come but I hope we all have the patience.