Monday, February 28, 2011

Speaking At School

I have been ask again to speak to students at our local high school. The talks are going to take place on March 2 and March 9th. If anyone in the KC area wants to participate or attend e-mail me and I will give you all the details.

At the end of March the drama class is putting on the play "Under The Influence". After the play there is going to be a "drug and alcohol awareness fair" set up outside the auditorium. If you are interested in being a part of that, we are looking for counselors, addicts and alcoholics in recovery, rehabs, and medical personnel like doctors and nurses involved in addiction and alcoholism to set up tables or booths and provide info and help. To me this new approach sounds unique and exciting. If you want to attend the play or be a part of the fair e-mail me and I will put you in touch with the teachers planning and coordinating the activities.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Celebrity Addiction

It is so sad to read and hear the things being said about celebrities that suffer from addiction.

People like Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and countless others use their great talent to entertain us and bring joy and laughter into our lives. Larger than life but when the light shines brightly we see that they are human and can suffer the same trials and sickness as our sons and daughters.

We should remember that all of these people are someones child. There is a family hurting just as we hurt. They suffer the same lost feeling we feel and the path back is just as hard for those talented people as it is for our special children.

This isn't a celebrity lifestyle disease. This is the disease of addiction, it respects no one and no position.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Another One

Here is a sister writing about her brother's issue and how it affects her and her parents. A unique perspective from a sibling.

My Damn Brother

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Changing Conversation Topics

Our son is doing well. He is still spending his evenings and weekends in jail but he continues on work release. There is a hearing scheduled next week for a possible sentence modification and he has his hopes up that it can be converted to house arrest but I have been cautioning him not to get too hopeful.

Sometimes it is awkward for me getting to know him as a sober person. I think the last time I really knew him he was maybe 15 years old. Since that time his reality was been altered by drugs and my reality was been altered by my complete lack of understanding of this disease. Thinking about it; he was a 15 year boy and now he is a 22 year old man. Quite a change, at 15 fifteen our discussions were around basketball and skateboards. Yesterday our discussions concerned family budgeting, home ownership and good school districts for kids.

From my point I still sometimes tread nervously light. Sometimes you pinch yourself to make sure you are awake and sometimes you want to pinch him to see if he is real.

There is a long row still to hoe for him. Many other jurisdictions want to see him in court after he is released from this issue. Hopefully the judges will recognize a changed person and go light on him but like I told him. You can't expect 7 years to go away just because you changed. You are still accountable and must take responsibility.

Yesterday we were talking and he told me it was hard to think about the future when he is sitting in jail at night. I ask him if he remembers what I always told him about the future? His response was, "Always set goals." I smiled because not everything has been lost.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Letter From an ER Doctor

Today my inbox has proven to be a valuable source of information that I want to pass along to all of you. Below is a copy and paste of a letter received after a presentation to Emergency Room personal concerning narcotics. This is a doctor frustrated with the current state of affairs. This letter is worth the read.

This letter was sent to me from the the leader of the Parent Ambassadors of The Partnership. She OK'd that I pass this along for you all to read.

Received by Alliance for Global Narcotics Training, Inc.
2/2/2011 – 930p
Approved by SK for release

Dear Ms. K*****,

Thanks for your lecture today. As I briefly explained, doctors and midlevels are in a miserable position in terms of not been able to deny drug seekers their narcotic requests. As with the war on drugs, the war on narcotic abuse and narcotic street sales will not be won by fighting in the streets alone. It starts at the very top with our current health care reform. There needs to be a stop to the medicaid/medicare reimbursement based on customer satisfaction.

This is a crazy rule. I am all for treating others as I would like to be treated. However, while medicare/medicaid reimbursements decrease and focus on pt satisfaction instead of proper medical service provided, hospitals are under worsening pressure to increase patient volume. Even hospital CEO's get bonuses based on patient satisfaction scores. It is ridiculous, when patients arrive at the emergency room nowadays. One of the first things they get is a survey and a phone number to call and complain if things don't go their way. As you know, the majority of the drugs seekers are medicaid patients, who know how to work the system. These are the same patients that hospitals and clinics want to return to their facilities for additional services. The moment one denies their drugs, they get on the phone and call hospital administration. When they call, they do not state that they were there for their weekly high and narcotic refill, but instead complain that their provider was rude, careless, did not listen to their needs, etc. All it takes is 2 or 3 calls like this, before you are standing in front of the board of directors with a "patient satisfaction" problem and your job on the line.

As a midlevel in the ER, I see roughly 35 - 40 patients a day. On average, 4 - 5 are really sick, the rest are there for their fix or supply with complaints ranging from chronic back pain to my Dr. wont refill my Lortabs. Each of these patients walks out of the ER with a prescription for 10 - 15 "Hydro's or Perc's". I work 3 - 4 days a week. I did the math, and I hate myself for it knowing that a good number of these narcotics will end up on the streets and possibly in the hands of a child or a teenager who could be your child or my child.

What can I do? I have a $60,000 student loan bill, mortgage, and a family that needs my financial support. My choices have been made pretty simple. I can stick to my values and principles, do the right thing, and find myself jobless in a few weeks, or go along with the patient satisfaction wave, give the patients what they want, as inappropriate as it may be, and continue to feed my family. It is kind of difficult for a Dr. or midlevel to find a job at another hospital after being fired from a hospital. That stuff follows you around.

The choice is not that difficult. In the middle of my professional life and in no financial shape to start all over, I find myself miserable in my profession as a mid-level provider. I originally got into this field because I had a good heart and wanted to help others. However, now I am ashamed of having to do what I do every day. I pray that that my child does not have to do what I do for a living.


PSA Contest

I recieved this e-mail today and want to pass it along to all of you.

Hi Ron,

My name is Tracy Farmer and I’m from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service's (SAMHSA's) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). I have been reading your blog and I sincerely appreciate the experiences you share with your readers. Also, congratulations on becoming a Parent Ambassador with the Partnership at! As you share your experiences to help others, and work with to help prevent substance abuse, I wanted to share a quick announcement from our agency that I thought you and your readers might be interested in.

SAMHSA is sponsoring a new
PSA contest that will help kick off National Prevention Week 2012. We are asking for 18 to 25 year olds who are taking action in their communities to prevent substance abuse to create a 15 or 30 second PSA that embraces the theme We are the ones. How are you taking action? The PSA should address what the young adults are doing in their daily life or in their community to prevent alcohol and drug abuse and promote emotional well-being.

More information about the contest, including the grand prize and contest rules, is available at If you have any questions about the contest, please don't hesitate to ask. I hope you will help spread the word and support the challenge through your blog, because through this initiative we hope to show that even small actions can make a difference in preventing substance abuse. Also, if you would be interested in receiving future information from SAMHSA, please let me know.

Kind regards,

Tracy Elise Farmer, M.B.A.
1 Choke Cherry Road
Room 4-1067
Rockville, Maryland 20857

Voice: 240-276-2555
Fax: 240-276-2595

What Age, What Strategy - A Personal Note

Thank you all for responding with so much wisdom.

I too feel DARE has not lived up to its hype. I'm sure there are people that it has helped but drug use has escalated. Maybe some of the strategies were worthwhile but we need to look at outcomes and results not on just a feel good effort.

A reality is there are some kids no matter how much education an anti-drug tactics you show them they will become addicted. Type A personality, daredevil, something missing in their life, DNA or who knows what else drives some to try drugs and suffer addiction and with others the same strategies work to keep them away from this danger. This is something I have come to believe. Takes someone smarter than I to figure this one out.

A bunch of police officers, parents, teachers and other adults standing in front of kids telling them the horrors and danger of using drugs is only marginally effective at best. This does not mean I think that strategy should be abandoned. We just need to understand OUR limitations as adults relating to a young adult and child's world. Despite at times feeling helpless because our words seem to fall on deaf ears we can never give up talking. If we aren't standing up with this information it will be the same as delivering our children to the drug dealers on a silver platter.

Several people mentioned what I would call "peer counseling", getting someone close to their age in to counsel kids on their personal experience with using drugs and addiction. Myself, from personal experience I think this should be the next frontier. From personal experience speaking to students I could look at them when I was explaining our family experience and see the look in some kids faces that my words were drifting into space. But the one time that Alex went with me to speak to kids at a high school those very same kids were all eyes on him and intent. When Alex was talking I don't think I have ever felt so useless in a presentation, that was a good feeling for me about this subject. Truth is when he pulled his sleeves up and showed them his scars on his arms from surgery and needles I think I felt the room shiver.

I don't now how to get the peer counseling going on a larger scale but I think this is a strategy that needs to be worked. For myself, I have sent letters to school superintendents and high school principals in 5 neighboring school districts offering for Alex and I to speak with classes or even just troubled students. Not a single response, not even a no thank you. Anyone have any suggestions for us?

Everyone keep thinking; what we are doing with drug education today is not good enough. Sure wish I could turn all of this pain the last 7 years into wisdom that keeps another child and parent from experiencing what we all have experienced.

ps.: I'm not leaving out an age, 9-10 years old is not too young to begin talking seriously to kids about drugs or any other facts and dangers of life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Drug Treatment for Teens

Time magazine has done a good article on finding drug treatment for teens with plenty of links to resources.

If you know someone that is looking for rehab for their teen this is a good read. They make many good points including parental support and rehabs for teens are not always the ones that are good for adults.

How To Find The Best Drug Treatment For Teens: A Guide For Parents

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Age, What Strategy

Been thinking recently about what can we do to eliminate the need for these blogs about addiction. If only it were true.

I thought of an exercise in which I hope everyone that reads this blog participates. It's really simple and I'm not asking for a college level thesis just an age and a couple lines of strategy. Please choose only one age and one strategy we need lots of opinions here. With the experience base and knowledge of you all I know there is gold out there yet to be discovered. Here is your challenge:

At what age would you talk to your child about drugs and addiction?

What strategy or words would you employ?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

??? Detaching With Love ???

I have received many comments and personal e-mails asking me to explain exactly what or how do you detach with love. The other day I was again ask for an example of exactly how do you detach with love and I answered with a typically philosophical answer. That evening it bothered me because here I was answering the question again and I am not being clear to what people are asking. It finally stuck me to use the KISS it methodology. (KISS, keep it simple, stupid)

So I wrote about when detaching, enabling, boundaries, values, rescuing and a whole bunch of other things began to click with my wife and I. Below is how one step by step transformation occurred for us and our son.

My son shoplifted to support his addiction. Needless to say he got caught several times. The first few times when he was a minor we'd get a call to come pick him up and he'd get a ticket and we'd pay a big fine and take him to court services for his probation and take him to a psychologist. This went on for a couple years.

When he turned 18 he was no longer a minor and with his record they'd take him to jail. He'd make that phone call from jail, "Please come and bail me out. I'm never going to do this again." Off we'd go. After a while this was getting expensive and no one was learning their lesson. I mean, Darlene and I were not learning our lesson. ;-) and by the way neither was our son. We were doing the same thing over and over, and our son was doing the same thing over and over, nothing was changing. He'd make the same promises, we'd take the same action and we couldn't understand why HE kept using!

This is where the idea of detaching and setting boundaries started with us. We are no longer going to pay bail. As a mom and dad it is very hard to think of your child sitting in jail. In Jackson County, MO jail he witnessed a person get stabbed. The food is universally bad at all jails, without money on your books you can't even get a toothbrush to brush your teeth, he had food stolen and had to fight at times for his food, spent 2 days in solitary for defending himself against another inmate that attacked him. Some jails they put the crazies in with the criminals like rapists and murderers, in with the drug addicts, makes no sense to me.

It's hard to think of yourself as being a loving parent when you know that for just a few hundred dollars we could get him out of those situations, but if you don't pay the bail are you really a loving parent? Finally the day comes when you don't pay the bail money. Once we let him sit in the Johnson County Resort for 11 days because we wouldn't post a $50 bond. Sounds mean doesn't it?

This is about detaching with love and not enabling.Your boundaries must match your values. It works for us this way. Overriding all is the value that we love our son. When you sit down to think about and discuss boundaries this goes at the top of the page. Every single boundary is tested against that value.

Another value we hold close and taught our kids, Stealing is wrong. Stealing carries consequences and it should. Bailing him out removes or minimizes the consequences. Contrary to our values we were bailing him out. But we hated what he was exposed to in jail. However, we had established a pattern, he got caught, he called, we jumped with cash in hand. It's not fair to change the rules without telling all the parties.

So Darlene and I sat down a determined where we would go and where we would no longer go. This began to establish our boundaries. You will never cover all of the situations, you just cover what you can and know that once you learn how to judge behaviors and rescuing against what it is you believe inside the exercise becomes easier and more natural.

Then you must sit down with your child, an addict that may or may not be high at the time and explain where you will no longer go with him. In fact you can even start each sentence with, "Because we love you........... we can no longer bail you out of jail. All your life we taught you that stealing was wrong and you know that in your heart so we cannot support your actions by bailing you out of jail when you do something you have been taught all your life is wrong. I hope you understand this and can accept our decision."

Each boundary that we had discussed the conversation went like that. Our son hated it when we turned off the TV and ask him to sit down at the table to talk. This satisfied our need to tell him our expectations and it told him what to expect from us. Yes, he still called begged, pleaded and cried from jail but what we had been doing in the past didn't work and was bad for us and him. We had to change the rules, but that didn't mean we loved him less. It meant we loved him more because it hurt us terribly to let him sit in jail.

Even with his begging and pleading we were still able to sleep at night and have a moment of down time. He was in jail and we knew jail was safer than being on the street shooting more heroin. We then began to see jail as "protective custody."

We detached from Alex's crimes and actions, we did not detach from him. We still loved him, took some of the $10 for 10 minute collect calls from jail. On those calls we always ended with that we loved him and please help yourself. We were doing all we could and all we knew to do. Detach from the actions, crimes, drug use, lying and every other terrible thing a drug addict does to himself and others. Love and support the person inside not the addiction controlling the life.

Does this help explain what detaching with love and how it works for us? Then you begin applying the same formula to all other areas in your relationship with your addicted loved one.

ps.: Another mom just starting to blog with a daughter addicted to meth. Please visit.

Parental Hades

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Partnership Post

The Partnership At has published another one of my essays. It is about rescuing.

Rescuing Your Child Addict

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Patience and Serenity

Alex is on work release from jail. Makes for a long day for me, pick him up at jail at 5:30am which is 25 miles away and then another 25 miles back to work and return him by 6pm, 100 miles a day round trip. Then I get to go home, but this seems to be working for him and frankly this "rehab" costs me less than any other that I have paid. Plus it appears this one is going to work. I've been told by others this time, "It seems like he really gets it this time."

Patience and serenity is not something Alex acquired in his DNA, at least not from my contribution. From what I can observe this will be hard for him, he's just not wired that way. Same with his dad. I've worked hard on this for a while now and still have a long way to go.

Alex doesn't do the NA thing because quite frankly because there isn't NA in Leavenworth County Jail and he is under strict rules about to work and back only no stops on his work release. He's done the NA before but right now his life doesn't really belong to him. I don't understand why they don't have NA and AA meetings in the jail.

I want to talk with Alex about these things I see as important like patience and serenity but this time I am trying to stay out of his recovery process. He has a ton of issues to deal with besides learning patience and I can see how patience would be a piece of the puzzle that doesn't seem important at this time.

Standing back a letting him figure out stuff is a good learning process for him and I. There are fixes I could take care of right now but I have learned a little patience and and I am letting it go. There really is a serenity when you don't take on others problems. I figure if he needs help he will ask and I need to respect him enough to allow him to decide what he needs instead of jumping in where I am not wanted.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Answers and Questions

No this isn't Jeopardy, although I do like that game show.

This is for all of us "fix it" parents.

Yesterday someone wrote a short little posting about her son that was 10 lines on her blog. I proceeded to write 29 lines of comment that was as clear as mud. I am so glad she questioned me for more explanation and I proceeded to write another 30 lines explaining my first comment. That was so valuable for me, it reminded me that fixing something is not always a solution. Also, brevity has never been my strongest trait.

Problem solving is one of our highest values as fix it people. We were trained to solve problems in school we carried skill that into our life and then in our career we find ourselves enrolled in multiple seminars and classes to enhance our problem solving. Eager to demonstrate our skill and mastery we jump at the chance to solve problems, not just our own but others problems too. This is noble, we do these things with the best of intentions. Never ever stopping to consider the consequences of our actions.

Eventually we get to the point that when we don't have enough problems to solve we look for problems. Our life evolves into one of endless crisis and rescue. At some point even "fix it" people tire of the treadmill. How do you get off the merry-go-round?

As this relates to my son and his addiction even dumb old me began to realize my son was asking for answers and solutions because he had no learning, experience or desire to solve the problems facing him. All of his life I had been his answer person. I solved all the problems no matter if it was him when he was addicted or before he was an addict. I had been robbing him of his learning and life experience in an effort to make, "our kids have it better than us."

It's hard for us "fix it" people to look beyond answers and solutions. Answers and solutions are so easy for us. What's much harder for us, but more rewarding for everyone when we think about and ask the right questions. We have to learn to move past the "what" questions that will solve the problem or crisis to the more important "why" question. Why do we have this issue facing us, why is the help being ask, why do others not have the skill or knowledge to solve this problem. The "why" question is the question that enables learning and allows everyone to grow.

Took me a long time to figure out there are consequences for me by solving problems and assuming the role of Mr. Fix It. For many years I have quoted a line I heard someplace and have no idea to whom to give credit but I now understand its meaning and I don't just quote it in jest; "No good deed goes unpunished."