Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Thanksgiving

On Thursday we all think about what we are to give thanks for in our life. This year I have decided to limit my thanks to my hero’s.

Here is my short list:

Mom, my bride is my hero. She is the one that suffered through the role as the mother of an addict. But she also stood beside me through all of the frustration and hell I dished on her because of my inability to control my sons using.

Alex is my hero. I never knew anything about addiction, he drug me through hell, but I know his hell was much, much worse than anything I experienced. He climbed out of that place. He did it because he wanted to do it and he did it alone because that is the only way it can be done.

My daughters and their husbands are my hero’s. They were there when I needed. They allowed me into their life when I needed someone that was a part of me but was able stand alone and strong.

Brooke and Tyler are my hero’s. They appeared at just the right time, there is no way they can understand that they saved my life; they are my grandchildren.

My family and friends are my hero’s. A family that did not give up on Alex or us. They offered a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold when it was needed. Friends that were there when we needed them and knew we needed time and knew how to listen.

Kristy and her girls are my hero’s. They could see through the disease to the real person inside.

The people at my work are my hero’s. They knew it was not the normal me. They carried my load when I couldn’t. They never stopped believing.

Every single person that reads my blog and left a comment or had us in their thoughts are my hero’s. You people did more for me than I could ever re-pay or begin to describe. One day I hope to do as much for all of you as you have done for me.

All of the rehab counselors, medical personnel anyone setting in meetings are my hero’s. These are the people that made an unknown impact on Alex and all of us during this nightmare. There is no way to thank them all but I have a feeling they do what they do not for the thanks but for something inside of themselves that we may never understand.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Outlaw Breathing

"You don't have any idea what it is like. There is no way you can even imagine it." said Alex.

I'm reading of relapses, rehabs troubles, a fatal overdose and general anguish and anger by parents coast to coast. E-mails are coming into my mailbox and I have even gotten phone calls. Must be getting close to the holidays.

I can pinpoint the exact time I got it. I moved farther and closer to understanding addiction than any time in my life so far. It was that light bulb moment.

Alex had been using we had our normal argument with me screaming at him. The anger, fear and frustration coming out that only another parent of an addict can understand. After I had hollered at him as long as I could I calmed down and we both sat down at the kitchen table.

Tears in my eyes once again I pleaded, "I just don't understand, just quit using drugs and everything will be OK."

In the next three minutes Alex taught me more about addiction than I had learned from all the counselors and meetings I had attended up to that time.

Alex ask me to play a game with him. "Dad, hold your breath, and I will make an effort not to think about drugs, want to use drugs or what drugs feel like. Dad, you will win the game every single time. You can hold your breath longer than I can go without thinking about and wanting to use. The only time I can go without me wanting to use more than anything in the world is when I sleep and even then I dream about drugs."

In that very moment I got a glimpse of what addiction must be like to an addict in active addiction. The urge and need to use is as strong or stronger than my need for oxygen. That was the very moment that I realized everything I was doing would never have an effect on his addiction. Everything I had done up to that point hurt me and hurt him but had no effect on the monster.

Based on the title of this, "Outlaw Breathing" this essay isn't about legalization of drugs. Truth is, I still don't know exactly how I feel about that, there are too many other concerns right now. This essay is about illustrating how overwhelming addiction can be at times. Even with periods of sobriety.

Even after ten years of effective management of diabetes a diabetic can go on a one day sugarfest and end up in a coma or dead. It's the same with addiction, the past is important, success builds upon success but the absolute most important day in the world it today.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Time For Christmas Season, AGAIN?

The list's are being created and the bombardment of commercials has begun. In my mind not so long ago when you mentioned a day with a descriptor of "Black" in front of it, well, it wasn't taken as a good thing. What a trap we have all fallen into as it relates to the holiday season.

Stress, expectations, disappointments all seem to be heightened this time of year. Decorations, meals, family gatherings all compound feelings that we expect to be good and wonderful but by the time everything rolls around we are too exhausted to appreciate anything about the holiday.

I'm sitting here thinking about simplicity. Several thoughts have come to mind but one memory of Christmas several years ago overshadows them all. There have been years we have spent way too much on presents and we probably aren't the only ones that have made that error. One year Mom and Dad ask for something different and small of cost. That present really brings back good memories for me.

I'm sharing this because it takes a little planning and action now to reap the good memories we have now of that present. Back before the digital age we decided there was nothing we really needed. You know how the kids always ask, "What do you want for Christmas?" And we struggle to come up with SOMETHING that we really need. Our list was simple one year. On Thanksgiving evening we gave each of our kids a disposable camera wrapped as a present plus the money to have the pictures developed. (told you it was quite a few years ago.) We ask each of the kids to use the camera and take pictures of their favorite things. Then on Christmas morning for each of them to show all of us their pictures and explain why those things mean so much to them.

That Christmas morning Mom and Dad got a real Christmas present. Simple but meant so much to us.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

??? Arguing With The Science

I just read Annette's blog and she had an interesting article linked at CNN about high IQ and drug use.

Us parents are always looking for the answer of "Why". There may not be many answers as to "why" but there may be indicators and predictors that we haven't yet noticed or examined.

Just like Annette's daughter, our son was smart. We always struggled with the question of, 'He is so brilliant and smart, how did he not understand what drugs would lead to in his life?" Maybe this answer isn't to be known.

I can't just throw every smart kid that seems different or is struggling for attention, must be the center of attention and hyper competitive under the addiction bus but as parents it is not wise to ignore the signs. Alex was very smart, hyper competitive and had a strong need to be center in attention as a child.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


You know how dents and broken things would happen to your child's car when they were using and they never seemed to know what happened or had several lame excuses that you knew were BS. Alex has a new dent in his car.

We all know how it got there. Not paying attention and Dad backed into his car while he was parked in our driveway. I need an excuse, anybody got any good suggestions on how I can blame this on his addiction and those DAMN drugs?  LOL

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Parents and Recovery

Alex stopped using a over one year ago. Today he is drug free and working to put his life back together.
There are countless books and websites about addiction, rehab and recovery. Most of them are filled with valuable pages of information that help both the addict and the parent. I won’t discredit anything on these sites in books but I want to share what I have learned about being the parent of an addict in recovery not from reading but from the experience. No long drawn out processes or pages explanations. This is just some words and actions that seem to help me.
  • Recovery is hard. Sometimes they need a hand, make sure your hand is out for them to grasp when needed. But, don’t hold on too long.
  • Addicts dig deep holes for themselves. Contrary to what you may think filling the hole is faster when only one person has a shovel. If you help to shovel it will take longer to fill the hole.
  • Forgiveness is for me. The sooner I understand the faster I heal.
  • “Believe” or “doubt”. I choose believe. Have you ever had someone tell you that they believe in you?
  • Normal is right. “Fragile, Handle with Care” is not stamped in big red letters on a child in recovery. To stop using means they want a normal life again.
  • I love you. That is a reassurance we ALL need.
  • Nagging, suspicious looks and reminders of past mistakes really irritate me. Addicts in recovery probably don’t need them either.
  • His recovery is his to manage. I know that for the last seven years he hasn’t been able to manage ANYTHING. But, we all have to learn and begin someplace.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Yesterday Alex told his mother a bit of good news. On Nov. 8 he was released from probation. He is no longer on probation in ANY jurisdiction! He still owes a couple places money but he has payment plans with the courts that he follows religiously.

The steps are long to get back but they are worth all the effort.

Alex is an inspiration to many people. I'm not sure he realizes it or understands. I hear it from people all the time. I see people that know Alex or know him from this blog and the parting comment to me is always, "Please, tell Alex hi, and tell him I am happy for him and proud of him."

Dad and Mom are proud of him too.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Talking to Students Again

I'm out doing my thing again with students. Spent the last 2 days in health class at out local high school talking about the effects of addiction on an individual and a family.

My talks center around what you will become if you choose to use drugs. I don't do the "Don't take drugs or Just say no thing". I just lay it out to the students as if they are young adults and capable of making informed decisions if you make the choice to use, this is what you will become. No judgement just the facts and reality of addiction.

A student from one of the media classes was sent to take pictures. Here are of pictures of me doing my thing. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Another Mom Writing

Here is a link to another mom writing about this insanity. Please visit her and make her feel welcome as so many of you did for us.


Friday, November 4, 2011

No Magic Bullet

As I said in my last post. There is NO magic bullet to end this addiction monster. It will take work by thousands and thousands of individuals reaching out and touching another person. The real answer is that personal touch. Here is a story about one of those people. Many, many more deserve the same recognition but, from my experience, the recognition isn't the reason we do this work.

"BLHS softball coach Mayberry wins MLB award for drug-free education efforts"