Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Message To My Son or Any Other Addict

Life is not easy. It’s not easy if you are an addict or even if you are not an addict. It’s all about evolution. The strong survive. It’s not just about physical strength it is more about mental strength. Do you have the will to survive; do you have the strength to make it one more day?

As a person that has never been an addict or alcoholic I can only speak from that perspective. My insight into your world is only through observation. I do not wish to walk in your shoes. But I can tell you what it is like to walk in mine if you are serious about sobriety.

Every day I have unfulfilled wants and they are not centered on anyone else. It may seem selfish but I believe that the center of one’s being can only revolve around self. I want things, I want different feelings, I want changes in others, I want, I want, I want. It really never ends. I believe that desire is no different for an addict or non-addict.

Daily there are people out there to tell you, no, a boss, friends, parents, spouses, girlfriends. That is just part of life, disappointment and hurt is as much a part of living as joy, happiness and love. Hurt is the same for an addict or non-addict. The difference I observe in our reactions to all of our emotions, good or bad is our coping methods. I don’t know what drugs do for an addict to help with coping of disappointment. I don’t know how drugs heighten the joy of happiness. But I do know that my life would be very monochromatic without the peaks and valleys.

I have no doubt from observing you that you hated every day that you were using. I can see how your life was out of control, spiraling into a pit of hurt and despair. You became so lost that the helping hands of others could not even be grasp.

I see your struggles being clean. More pain than joy. It’s a time in your life where the scales may not be balanced. You are working so hard to change but everyone is saying, no. So many frustrations, what is the use?

There is one place that no one will say no. There is one life that will accept you. It is the life you have known for the last several years. It is the easy path to take; it is the impossible path to follow.

The immediate pain will eventually fade. Just as when my father died, there was terrible pain for me. I wanted to pick up the phone and call him, but I knew I couldn’t. I wanted one last time, for old times’ sake, but I couldn’t. I flashed back to all the good times, but they were not to be any more. I believe that feeling may be something similar you must experience to live on. Your old life must die and there will be tremendous pain with that death. Each day you will want, just one more time. Time may heal all wounds but sometimes the scars are there forever.

In time the scales will balance and you will find more joy than pain. But for now you must travel the difficult path. Your reward is you will become stronger and that dangerous fork in the road becomes further and further behind you. It may be hard to see because of the difficulty of the path but know inside you are not walking this path alone, hands of help are outstretched at your every step.


LisaC said...

Very moving and honest. Thank you for voicing this perspective.

LisaC said...

And I forgot to say this, but I copied your post and sent it in an email to my son. I thought that your perspective was eloquent and he would benefit from reading it. Thank you again.

Cat said...

Eloquent and touching.

Mom of Opiate Addict said...

I also printed this to give to my son...thank you so much!

Lou said...

Dad, well written, and I surely feel where you are coming from. I'm just not convinved that
addicts are miserable while using. I know I often project what I would be feeling on them. And I've been wrong over and over.

Barbara said...

I understand where you're coming from with this and I agree with what you're saying. Yet, when I read this from the perspective of a person who struggles with depression, it makes me feel, once again, that I am weak and "less than". It makes me want to beat myself up because I hate the fact that sometimes I am out of control of my reactions/actions no matter how much knowledge and/or wisdom I have.

Fortunately I'm on the right meds, but honestly, even on them, I still have suicidal thoughts several times a year since age 9. Its embarrassing to admit that. Its shameful. "But why? you have no reason to be depressed, choose to have a positive attitude". I do when I can, but sometimes I can't. I would not be here if it weren't for the meds.

Now I recognize that my suicidal thoughts are part of my life and I hang on through them till they pass. Sometimes that requires sleeping a LOT just to escape, or crying for hours. It always includes isolating myself from everyone.

I'm glad I never tried drugs as a relief from this, I am sure I would have become an addict just like my son.

I hope you're not mad at me for writing this...but it just came flowing out because even though you are not directing at me, I felt defensive because, if it were a matter of strength or making good decisions - I would be okay. I can do both. I just can't do either in moments of deep despair that has nothing to do with my mental state, but more a chemical balance.

Brother Frankie said...

Dad, im writing this on my six day of withdrawals from oxcycontin. over 200mg a day and several percocets to balance it out. These drugs were prescribed and i did not ever snort or abuse them.

I went cold turkey because i wanted my life back, chronic pain and all. I think you might remember that I am an addict as well as an alcoholic. been in recovery for many years, minister in the street now to opiate addicts, bikers, and the other street folk. I also help people get sober as part of my 20plus years in recovery.
I am a licensed foster parent as well and take many people in my home. At this very minute my wife is in haiti on her second go round since the earthquake. at first i found it odd that she left me on day two of withdrawals from this terrible drug. after asking her why she could do that to me? she said i was strong in recovery and i have worked with folks in the worst of it. just call on God.

I know that my pills were prescribed, but im still an addict. i remember when i first took the opiates. It was heaven after 17 years of sober. oh man i forgot how good it felt to not feel. uh oh... where did that come from. thus started the pill counting, having people hold me accountable. no cheating.

so, i made it. im alive. thing is, us addicts NEVER WERE ASKED IF WE WANTED TO BE AN ADDICT. There are so many studies out there about the brain being different in addicts than straight folk. I had to re-train my brain to make good choices. i had to find what i was medicating. i had to learn to hold no resentments. I had to find my Lord. Without Him i would have swallowed the end of a gun many years ago.

I am blessed, i made it out alive. Dad, Mom, ive know you guys for some time here in blog land. As well as lou and the rest. I am so sorry the pain you folks are in. i pray that your addict makes a good amends and they find sobriety as well as the Lord to guide them home. Keep your boundaries and pray. Stay healthy. I remember my moment of clarity. I have had two. i slipped a few times. but, im ok....im sober, productive, and even in crippling opiate withdrawal, can sing a song of joy, because the suns coming up in the morning my friend..

Awaiting the Shout
Brother Frankie
A Biker for Christ

Syd said...

I don't know how an addict thinks or what the drive is. I can't relate because I'm not one. I do know that unless I focus on my own choices and recovery, I will have many difficulties in this life. Wanting others to change is not keeping the focus on me. It is still a measure of control and wanting to change outcomes. I realize that is not my job anymore.

Dad and Mom said...

Brother Frankie,

I am so glad you are OK, hadn't heard from you for a while. I missed your counsel. Hang with it. You know the joy of recovery, my son is just taking baby steps. He is working hard and doing what he has to do to stay straight, just as you but he has so much less experience, clean and with life.

We would do anything he needs to help him but through this last year we are learning to help when ask. It is much more effective and appreciated that way. Now it is his responsibility to grasp our hand instead of us grabbing him when starts to fall.

I don't mean to sound like we have the answers but this old dog is finally learning some new tricks.

Heather's Mom said...

Dad, a very touching and emotional letter. I love what you just wrote in your comment, "Now it is his responsibility to grasp our hand instead of us grabbing him when starts to fall." That says SO much.

Brother Frankie, you've been missed out here. Glad you are getting through this rough period, and glad you can see the joy :)

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Dad, that was a very touching and honest letter.
God bless you and your family

Kim A. said...

I finally accepted that I had alot of work on me that had nothing to do with my son. I wasn't weak of mind or spirit though. I was affected by being raised around alcohol plus my own ego brought additional human defects in my life that I needed to work on. In my opinion, using the words "strong" or "weak" when talking about addiction and the family is feeding the myth that addiction, alcoholism and the family-isms are a matter of self-control and choice, which is not my experience. Just my .02!


Brother Frankie said...

all of the loved ones here....

it is nice to be missed. isolation is what these opiates do. i slowly started to get up later and later. sleeping till noon. i used to get up with the sun.

i slowly started to ask others to preach for me. (something that brought great joy)

i stopped eating right.

stopped riding every day (dad knows how this is)

i avoided my sponsors, even though i was not abusing.

lost all sex drive (sorry, but fact)

stopped writing and interacting.

wow, i am so glad i had the courage to do what was best for me. i had to buck a dr and a wife who truly had my best interests at heart. but they were not me. The dr was not an addict. I found one that was and paid cash. He wanted to put me on suboxone but that is just another opiate.. I chose sweating it out. Im on day 7 and im dizzy, have runs, shakes, but im good.

at least now when i counsel opiate users they cant tell me you do not know what withdrawals are...:)

Be Blessed dear people,
awaiting the shout
Brother Frankie

Dad and Mom said...

Brother Frankie,

I have stopped riding every day too. :-(

But I think 8" of snow and ice had something to do with it. Its been 3 months since I have saddled up, but it is suppose to be 60 degrees this Saturday. :-))))))

If I ever get my ride to FL I'm looking you up and the lunch and coffee is on me.

Brother Frankie said...

dad, its cold here. whats with that?

i will look foward to sharing the road with ya.
hey. ya never know..

be blessed my friend.

Jake said...

Quoting from your article:
As a person that has never been an addict or alcoholic I can only speak from that perspective.

If you have any respect for the topic you speak about you MUST stop writing from any sort of position of authority. You have NONE. Zero, zip, zilch.

This is like someone who has never driven given good driving advice. Like someone has never handled a firearm trying to teach gun safety.

Your sobriety is NOTHING like sobriety to an addict. Unless you want to go get yourself addicted to something, you will never understand what it is truly like, in the same way that I, having not lost my Father, cannot possibly understand what it is like.

Do you understand?

The fact that you label your Son as an Addict before anything else is so disgusting to me I cannot possibly describe it.

The fact that you're apparently lecturing people about the Dangers of Addiction is possibly even more disturbing. The only people who should be speaking on the subject are those who have recovered from personal addiction, or who are trained and accredited in the specialized field of addiction therapy.

Why? Why can't you speak on it? Because you simply do not know. If I were to lecture on what it's like to be a woman, it would be equally hollow and false, no matter how accurate my lectures, because I'm not a woman.

You CAN speak on what it's like to care about and love someone whose addiction has so completely taken hold of their persona that you feel as if you're losing them from your life - presuming that was the case with your Son. If he was only smoking weed, I swear to god...

When you speak to people presuming a position of authority when you have none, they sense it. They react in subtle but significant ways, and will inevitably cause the opposite effect that you intended in many listeners. This is why students listening to DARE officers who've never had so much as a drink suddenly think Drugs Are The Coolest Thing Ever. Give 'em a crack head to talk to and then ask their opinion.

So please. Just stop. Talk about what you know. Quit lying or presuming you might possibly know what it's like.

Debby of Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story said...

My son is feeling so discouraged right now. I'm going to print this and hand it to him tonight.
He needs to hear this from someone other than his #1 Fan-- his mom. Thanks.

madame bellicose said...

You asked for it.

Anonymous said...


Wait a moment please...... ''Mom and Dad'' said right at the beginning of their post, that **they realise they cannot know what it's like to be an addict!** You quoted that very section from their post.

I am not understanding why you think they are claiming to know what it's like to be an addict?

It seems to me that they clearly stated they -don't-. So, where's the disrespect? Please could you explain it to me, because:

I think comments, perspectives etc. should be welcome from -everybody-. Because drug addiction affects -everybody-. So long as we -all- recognise that we only know how being ourselves feels. That we can't speak for others, can't claim to 'get it' from their p.o.v.

I've been involved in a fair few discussion groups inc. self help groups over the years. And every single time the ''you're not qualified to have an opinion, so yours is not welcome here'' attitude reared it's head, I noticed:

-that, often, a horrible power struggle erupted, with many competing to be the ''most affected/victimised'' by the problem being discussed. Because, it was decreed (without consensus), that only those most affected were qualified to speak. People vied to be seen as the most victimised, because in this sort of group, they hold the power, and even more importantly, the moral high ground, the authority.

It did seem to become almost a dictatorship, a kangaroo court. Healing? What healing? You must first prove you're qualified to have an opinion, and that you are not somehow the oppressor.

-the flow of ideas, esp. new potentially invigorating ones, dried up.

-the group stagnated. The same old opinions from the one and only permitted angle* were chewed over ad infinitum.

*=Usually the only angle permitted was the one from the person deemed to be the worst affected by the subject being discussed.

e.g only rape victims were allowed to have an opinion on rape. Partners of rape victims not welcome. Even people who were not stereotypical rape victims were not welcome unless fully towing the party line!
(and no, I did not express a ''blame it on the victim'' mentality. Far from it. Still I got shot down and saw others get the same stick).

-people left, tired of the fear of others judging them to be unqualified, and therefore them being offensive/oppressive. Sigh.

Cow poo imho.

So long as we -all- remember that we can never truly know how it feels to be what we are not (or have not -directly- experienced), then I see no harm.

What's more, can we not all gain much benefit from encouraging viewpoints from all angles? An environment where -everyones'- opinion is welcome is also where the most innovative ideas are said to be fostered.

And Mom and Dad, you appear to be doing that, so please do not be put off by a misunderstanding (whomever it comes from. Hey, quite possibly it's me who has got it all topsy turvy here. Wouldn't be the first time....ahem!!)

(by an anon addict who can't be bothered to come up with a suitably interesting/meaningful user name)

Anonymous said...

P.S Sorry for the repetition of ideas in my posts. I never seem to notice them until -after- I have previewed and posted. Doh!
Am on a lot of morphine for severe chronic pain and addiction. Add in 8wks of broken sleep and not enough food and voila, you have a right old waffling, repetative poster! Hope readers can still find something thoughtful or entertaining amidst the heap of words that I posted :/!