Friday, April 29, 2011

Spoke To Kids Today

Just an update of how the day went. You can't believe the responses of the kids. Multiple kids came to the front when the bell rang and thanked me personally for coming today. I had kids talk to me after class about personal issues and they took my card with my blog and contact info.

A special thank you goes out to The Partnership at I requested if they had any material I could use on the projector during class breaks. They sent me a DVD of the brand new, yet to be shown on TV, Public Service Announcements that will be used in 2011. They played like a loop between classes and as kids came into class they were fixed on watching the PSA's. Informally in my opinion they liked the 911 and Self Surgery spots the best. Maybe I have said too much, just watch for they these this year on TV. The PSA's were focused on parents talking to kids about drugs, maybe we need some focused how do kids talk to parents too. So many ideas to try, I hope I don't wear out The Partnership and make them sorry they ask me to be a Parent Ambassador.

The kids were so attentive, no heads on desks, questions from all classes. One class, the teacher said she couldn't believe the way they acted, they are never that intense in class. The teacher told me I really do make an impact on her classes, the kids talk about in class and to others.

When I do these talks it makes me feel like I am healing inside.

The biggest and best bonus was when I got back to the office. Alex came to my office and ask very seriously, "How'd it go today, dad?" I told him it went very well. He exhibited true excitement for me that it went well, smiled and told me I was doing a good thing.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Speaking at Shawnee Mission West Tomorrow

I have been invited in to speak with students tomorrow about the effect drugs and addiction has on a person and a family.

I will be at Shawnee Mission West High School in Overland Park, KS.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Giving Up Our Dreams

It’s worse than going to the dentist with a toothache; giving up on our dreams for our children. Why is it so hard when we stare reality in the face every day that we hold on to those hopes and dreams?

The day our kids are born we start making plans. We start squirreling away money into college accounts. We dream of smiling proudly as our child graciously strides across the stage at graduation. Nice, neat little homes in the suburbs with our grandchildren playing in the yard. Some of us even have the audacity to picture ourselves in the front row during inauguration on a cold January day in Washington.

It’s all possible for anyone.

Then we snap out of our dream and see our child addicted to a drug and wonder if the future is even possible. We mourn the loss of our dream. We experience suffering for our child because in our life and wisdom we know the hardship of life even without being saddled with addiction. We cry, become depressed and grieve this fading picture. Never really giving up the hope that all of the past will go away and we all get a “do over”.

Finally, after months or years we realize that today is all we get and tomorrow can be just as fearful as it can be hopeful.

The next phase of our realization begins to become clear. These dreams were ours. That is why the pain is so great. We feel our dream slipping away. It’s such a shame we have imposed our dream upon our child and we see their addiction as a failure to achieve our dream. Oh, I’m sorry, I mean "reach their potential" is the way we say it as parents.

All I wish for now is that my son has dreams of his own for himself. His dreams and goals are his own, I don’t have to own them and I am not responsible for his success or failures.

My hopes and dreams now are that I can be a better father than a parent and that I will be regarded by some little ones as the best grandpa in the world.

…..The world of what is versus what ought to be.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Another Lost Mom

Another lost mom that is struggling during a holiday. Please visit her and give a hug.

My Worst Nightmare

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Holiday. The Homeless.

This Easter holiday should be the last holiday and family gathering that Alex misses. In about one month, May 24 he will be released. Hopefully his other "indiscretions" (lol) in other counties the he has to answer for when he is released will not result in such harsh punishment. But those things are on his plate to eat not on my plate. we are all looking forward to having him back at family events.

Today I am taking some food and other items down to a homeless event in Kansas City. A friend in my office works very hard and diligently to help the homeless and less fortunate in our community. She is a great person in doing this work. It is good to be around people that give to others in not just money and things but in what is most valuable, time. Good work and good mission Dawn.

In addition, Darlene my great wife gives up lunch periods at her job every couple of weeks. She works downtown and she goes and serves lunch at the food kitchen to the homeless.

Honestly, true confession time, in the past I never gave the homeless much consideration. After all we have been through with Alex and actually seeing him homeless because we put him out of our (his) home I have a new recognition for the issues involved in this problem.

Funny thing with Alex. When we pass the people standing on street corners holding signs he tells us emphatically not to give them any money. He says they don't need money they need help. Give your money to the organizations that help them. If you give money to them on the street it will go to a drug dealer or for alcohol. Spoken by someone that has panhandled to get money to feed his addiction. I guess he would know more about it than I.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Partnership Posting

The Partnership At has published another of my essays. This is a reposting of my recent post here.

Parents of an Addict: What's it Really Like?

Friday, April 15, 2011

An Evolving Blog

The more things change the more they stay the same.

I was going to write about how my blogging and issues are changing but first thing this morning I find another mother that is just now wandering into our world. I put a link to her blog on my last post.

I write a lot less on my blog now. When I look back over the last couple years I was probably averaging 3-4 entries a week. Back then crisis never ended and disasters piled up on our door step like cars on a snowy Kansas interstate in January.

Our blog is evolving because we are evolving. We have learned, we have changed and our son has also changed. Our issues are different than they were a few months ago. I don't write as much about the day to day drama of being the parent of an addict. I am now trying to spend more time in critique of my beliefs, actions and reactions from the past years. I am writing more from the philosophical side of our life. What really did help us. And, what maybe failed our son but possibly we'd do the same thing again because things in time react differently to stimuli based upon a changing environment and time.

Also I am spending more time commenting on others blogs that are newer to this heartache or others that are in most difficult times. The Partnership has afforded me a wonderful avenue to write and give a wider audience to what I write, but it also has opened me up to a lot of other parents that write to me personally. I try to respond to every parent that writes and asks for help. With every letter I can picture a mother, father, brother or sister sitting in front of a screen and keyboard trying to find the right words to express how much they hurt. I see in my mind the strained expression and wrinkled brow when they finally get to the point of writing a complete stranger for advice on one of the most personal issues in life, the love of an addicted child.

Nearly every time I refer everyone to this blog and welcome them into our community by suggesting they click on links to all of your blogs and comments. I really do feel when we help one we all are helped.

So, if you don't find as many entries on this blog as in the past it doesn't mean I no longer care or I am no longer reading everyone's writings. Sometimes it just means I get to spend more time in celebration and less in grieving.

A New Mom

Please go over and visit this new mom. She wrote her first blog piece yesterday. Something to do with finding deformed spoons and a first visit to a Families Anonymous meeting. Can anyone relate?

Mom's Painful Awakening

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy Birthday To My Son

Yesterday, Lisa over at Loving an Addict posted that this week was her son, Bryan's 23rd birthday.

Quite a coincidence but it is Alex's 23rd birthday today. So many things in Lisa's post I could just copy and paste over to here but I am not going to repeat the obvious of hope and joy.

The last few birthdays have been such turmoil, high, rehab, or in jail. That's hard on us all but we are making the best today. Despite him being in jail he is on work release and he is here at work and he is clean. Quite a step from the last few years.

I will tell a short story today about Alex's birthday in 2007 when he was 19.

Just before his 19th birthday we got involved in one of his tragedies where we intervened and put him in a rehab about 50 miles from our home. After 4 days of detox he was allowed a small measure of freedom. What he did with that freedom was call his "buddies" and they brought him oxy to use while in rehab.

Needless to say that didn't end well and I got a call from his counselor that he was being kicked out and I needed to come and get him. My response, "I don't know what I'm going to do, take him home, take him to a homeless shelter, stop the car 15 miles down highway 7 and throw him out in the middle of nowhere or just kill him and put him out of our misery. I've got about ninety minutes to think about it before I get there." The counselor said, "Don't make any rash decisions we will talk when you get here." During that drive the counselor helped me greatly.

When I arrived Alex was sitting in the counselor's office. He looked like a kid in trouble sitting in the principals office at school. Working behind the scenes the counselor had made arrangements for Alex to be transferred to another of their facilities in "BFE", Kansas, 350 miles away. Only if Alex agreed to go. That in itself was a struggle to get him to agree. But agree he did and it was my job to deliver him to this center by 10 pm that evening. It was about noon when I got this call. Off we went to VH in western KS.

When I said earlier that the counselor helped me greatly, he also made arrangements that if I was interested I could be a parent resident at the rehab and take part in ALL of the things a patient goes through, counseling in small groups and everything as if I was an addict. I did this for four days. The most educational four days I have spent as a parent of an addict.

During my time while I was there I was known as "Dad" to nearly every person at the facility, even to a couple of people older than me. Alex and I were not in the same groups except large group but obviously I got talked about as much as I talked about Alex because I had people calling me dad I had never met. Alex wasn't happy to be at a rehab over 350 miles from home in BFE, KS. He was pretty much an ass until I left.

However, as I said this was the time for his birthday and in our family we always try to do something to recognize birthdays. What was I going to do 350 miles from home in a drug rehab to recognize his birthday? I ask the staff if it would be OK if I went and bought a giant birthday cake and several gallons of ice cream to share with everyone could we have cake and ice cream after lunch? They thought it would be wonderful so I got the cake and ice cream.

True to form that day Alex was playing the role of an ass in all areas. When the staff announced at lunch there would be cake and ice cream for Alex in the common room everyone was happy except, guess who. Several women patients and I began cutting cake, scooping ice cream and serving. Alex was really showing himself.

One patient at the facility was an enormous young man of about 25 years old. When I say enormous I mean probably 6'8" and maybe 350 pounds and not an ounce of that fat. When he stood beside you intimidation does begin to describe the way you felt. But, he was not a grizzly bear, he was a teddy bear.

While I was scooping ice cream this big guy came up to me and ask me, "Dad, would you mind if I have a talk with your son?"

After Alex ate his ice cream, he like 95% of all the patients needed a smoke. Alex started for the door to go to the smoke hut and about a 2 dozen guys, a mob, led by that big young man followed him. I could see out the windows. Alex lit up and was immediately surrounded by that mob led by the big guy. I have no idea what was said but they were around him for about 5-10 minutes and what I could see glancing out of the large windows in the common room I think each one of those guys took a turn at him.

Like I said I have no idea what was said but when the group returned inside Alex made a public apology to me and the whole group.

Maybe sometimes we all should have a big guy and about a couple dozen others to set us straight at times.

That afternoon I had to leave and return home. Alex spent a month there but was using again within a week after his release.

Contest Deadline Extension

On Feb. 18 I posted an announcement about a PSA contest by SAMHSA. I just received an update on the deadline so here is the new info.

I wanted to share a quick update regarding our “We are the ones” PSA contest with you. The contest deadline has been extended from April 15 to April 22, 2011 at 11:59 pm EDT. So if anyone was interested in participating, but didn’t think they had enough time to submit their video, they now have one additional week! We are also asking people to email SAMHSA at if they are planning to submit an entry.

Again, thank you for your interest in the contest and if you have any questions, please let me know.


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

Friday, April 1, 2011

Review: Under the Influence

I’m not a theatre critic and should know better than to even pretend to try; however, inexperience has never stopped me before and everyone knows that if I want to say something I’m going to say it.

Last night’s performance of “Under The Influence” was four stars.

When Ms. Knowles introduced the performance she said that this was a production that the students wanted to do. Did they ever! The students delivered their soliloquies with such passion that you wanted to rush the stage and hug each one because of the pain they showed through their performance.

This was a dark play often with only one actor in a lonely light. Much like it is as a loved one of an addict. I was surprised at the way this play delivered its message. The heart of this message was not about someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. “Under the Influence” is about what addiction and alcohol abuse does to the loved ones of addicts and alcoholics. I found myself not seeing those actors on stage; I watched and saw myself on that stage. Some of those scenes were way, way too close to reality. Too many times I found my gut twisted listening to what could have been myself on that stage.

When the final bow was taken I didn’t know whether to clap or sit in a respectful silence to what I just witnessed.

I wondered if I was the only one feeling so emotional following this performance due to our personal involvement with addiction in our family. I think not. Ms. Knowles related to me that some of the actors mentioned they saw people in the audience wiping tears. One of the other resource people at a table in the foyer told me, “They should take this on the road, every student in the school should be required to see this, they need to go to every school in this city and perform this play.”

Four stars, ten stars, one hundred stars, I don’t care what number you want to put on this, this is MUST SEE. Too bad I didn’t win that huge lottery this week, if I had I’d fly every one of my readers to Basehor, KS to see this performance.