Thursday, March 31, 2011

Parent of an Addict, What's It Like?

What does it take to be the parent of an addict? Looking back and forward it’s not about normal. It’s not hoping and wishing for the storybook life we all dream of or watch in 30 minute bursts on television. Being the parent of an addict is about being more than you dreamed you could be.

A few years ago The US Army used something like that as a recruiting slogan, “Be all you can be”. I should have joined the Army because I feel like I’ve been in a war.

Being the parent of an addict is you learn survival skills. Not just physical survival, yes those are necessary at times but you also learn emotional survival skills.

You learn to love someone that by all accounts is un-loveable. Being close to an addict is toxic, even for a parent. We are not immune to the symptoms of the disease, we just learn how to absorb the poisonous relationship and deal with the behaviors in a way we can protect ourselves and do our best to protect our suffering child.

A parent finds a way to hold on to hope when all seems hopeless. For every time you see the sword of hope held high in victory the next moment you find it plunged through your heart. But you never give up on the hope for not only your child but for yourself.

You find a way to survive in situations that you never dreamed you would encounter. While visiting with your child through a glass wall surrounded by steel bars and cages. Standing beside beds in emergency rooms while a doctor is explaining the situation and the doctor is very somber and there are no smiles to share.

Miraculously you find a way to detach from the actions that your child takes that run counter to every value you hold dear and have taught them since they were babies. You learn to manage your emotions when you know that your child is dealing in areas that you would not venture without a police escort.

The world is upside down. Jail is good, freedom is dangerous. You find yourself asking or praying for the police to take your child into “protective custody.”

A parent lives EVERY moment awake or asleep in a love/hate relationship with the phone. If only the phone would ring and I could hear their voice just to know they are alive this very moment. But, every time the phone rings your heart skips a beat, launches itself into your throat and your stomach flip flops; is this “the call.”

Parents of addicts learn how to smile with friends and family. We need them for our own survival. We learn to allow them inside to places that used to be only for us.

What’s it like to be the parent of an addict? What have you learned about yourself?

Basehor Sentinel

Attached is a link to an article published today in our local paper, The Basehor Sentinel from our small town. It is a weekly and comes out on Thursdays. The play begins tonight.

A Dramatic Influence by Matt Erickson

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Updates on a Busy Weekend and Week

The good news is that my brother is home and looks well. Had a minor stroke after the surgery but he is up walking and I'm sure real soon he's going to be back to being a real pain in the ass but we sure do appreciate having that pain around. Good job Bro!

I didn't mention before that my brother is a fireman. He does a lot of cooking at the station, those guys at the station better get ready, I'm sure the menu may be changing when he gets back to the station.

"Under The Influence" begins its run tomorrow. I purposely have not ask the teachers a bunch of details about the play. I am anxious to see it and experience live. We are all excited about the events scheduled before and after. Mom and daughter both are joining me at the table to talk to people that want info. Our oldest daughter is a nurse and is out of town, in New York and traveling to Indiana on a business trip. She so wanted to be part of this we are going to set up a small table with a computer for people to have a chance to, "Skype With A Nurse".

In the past I had business cards that were just homemade and I printed them on Office Depot tear sheets that I have used for my presentations in the past. For this we broke down and ordered professionally printed cards and I had two banners made for the front of our table. One with our blog title and web address and one with The Partnership logo.

One thing I really hate doing is throwing away money. So I expect anyone reading this to be at attendance for at LEAST one presentation. You have 3 chances, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7pm each night. Honestly, can you think of a better date night?

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Little Brother

On Tuesday my brother had his second heart attack. By all accounts from the doctors he is lucky. This morning he is going in for quadruple bypass. After his first attack 6 years ago he had a quintuple bypass. 51 years old is too young to be doing this.

(yes, he smokes, at least he did till Tuesday, DAMN ADDICTIONS)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Best Rehab

I don't have a list of centers I can recommend. I don't have a list or requirements. All I know is what we (all of us) are doing now is the best rehab we have ever experienced.

A new baby coming, a job, life structure, a good person as a girlfriend, all helps, but life with a purpose is the silver bullet.

My posts in the present are so different than our experiences almost a year ago. Back then Mom and I were so lost. We would see young people not in this world and we would be so jealous of their mom's and dad's. We would even wonder to each other if those parents knew how lucky they were. Sometimes we would be angry at ourselves, our son and all the world that we had to go through this, mom used to say out loud, "This is not the life I signed up for." Every day we allowed our son and his addiction to control our lives. It didn't matter if the water was 1000 feet deep or if it was 6 inches deep we could not seem to touch our toes to the bottom and gain a sure footing, we just spent our time treading and treading and treading water.

However, even in the darkest hour never once would I have traded my son for another. Each day we get the honor of him in our life. Sometimes that is easy to forget when the storm clouds never seem to part but part they have. Today the storm clouds are a memory and we are shaken but not so shaken that we fail to recognize the sunlight. I know others out there are basking in the sunlight with us. But I also know that many are bucking against the storm.

Where there is life there is hope.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Under The Influence

A couple weeks ago I posted a notice about the local high school putting on a play entitled "Under The Influence". After the school play in the foyer of the auditorium there is going to be an event for everyone that provides just about any type of resource that someone might need if addiction has touched their lives in some way.

At first I was excited about this; being ask to be a part of this event by the sponsoring teachers but I was secretly hoping I wasn't going to be the only one standing by a table in a lonely school hallway.

Wonderful news to report. The response has been great. I got an e-mail from Ms. Knowles telling me here's what is lined up so far:

Standup Parenting, a fellow parent of an addict in KC area.

First Call (National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence) - Providing flyer's, posters, and a representative/booth for each performance.

Valley Hope Association, Alcohol and Drug Treatment Services.

Al-Anon and Ala-Teen - Representatives/booth at each performance.

Regional Prevention Center of Johnson, Leavenworth & Miami Counties -Sending flyer's, posters, and support material.

The Partnership At - A Parent Ambassador and informational handouts.

An Addict In Our Son's Bedroom - Dad, Mom and at least one sister will be there.

To me this seems to be making itself into a wonderful event. I don't know of anyone else doing something like this, has anyone heard of this before? I so hope this isn't the first time for something like this in a school. If anyone knows of something like this please let me know I'd love to hear about it.

In addition our local weekly newspaper has interviewed Ms. Knowles for an article to be published before the events. I hope that helps attendance.

Mom and I decided this is a very worthwhile endeavor. We even ordered our own table banners and professional business cards from a local printer for this event.

Wish us luck. The countdown is on. The school is out for spring break this week and the first performance is on Thursday evening the week they return. Anyone that wants to attend: March 31, April 1 & 2 at 7pm at Basehor Linwood High School. See you there!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Partnership Posting

The Partnership At has published another one of my essays. It is basically a repost of my blog post, Where There Is Life There Is Hope from a couple weeks ago.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


We have some good talks while riding. Today he told me that "life stress" is so much easier than "drug stress."

Life stress is paying bills, going back to jail each night, being concerned about where he and his girlfriend are going to live when he is released, wanting to be a good dad. He says life stress is so much easier than drug stress and life stress is actually rewarding.

I quote, "Dad, I don't even stress about drugs or using. That is just so past in me."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Books For Sale

A person that has dealt with addiction in the family is cleaning out their library and no longer has a need for the addiction books they collected. I was ask to post them. The titles are below. $30 for all of the books, free shipping. If you are interested E-mail me and I will provide contact info.

One Way Ticket by Rita Lowenthal
Addict in the Family by Beverly Conyers (excellent!)
Heroin by Humberto Fernandez
What's Left of Us by Richard Farrell
The Lost Years by Kristina Wandzilak & Constance Curry

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Having a conversation with my son is now such a joy. You hear genuine thoughts and reasons for wanting things that required processing not just knee jerk responses.

Yesterday for instance, he told me of his desire to simply sit outside and grill chicken on the bar-be-que and simply sit and enjoy what is around him. He said he can now understand why we got so happy just grilling and having friends over to talk. He said all times he was high and being the fool wasted his time and didn't allow him to enjoy the real pleasures he saw all of us enjoying life. He gets released May 24 and he said he wants to just be able to sit.

He has harsh words for those inmates with him. He says all they want to do is talk about what they are going to do and use when they get out. How much they miss it and the party. He told me exactly and I quote, "Dad, when they are talking about that stuff it just makes me sick, I get sick to my stomach just listening to them." He said he just leaves them and goes off alone.

The more I hear of the real person makes it so much more clear of how much manipulation was going on in the past.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Affected People

I spent time the last couple weeks speaking to students about our family experience and how drugs and addiction affects a person and all of those loved ones surrounding the addicted.

Hopefully this is a message that many can take to heart as they enter the time of becoming an adult and facing choices that have the potential of catastrophic results. As I interact with these young people they remind me a very special message. As much as we parents suffer with an addicted child there younger siblings and friends that hurt and suffer with this pain without an understanding as much as we do as parents.

Many students after the presentations came up to me and spoke of brothers, sisters, cousins, relatives and friends afflicted with this disease. The told me of the pain and frustration they feel about an addicted loved one. Sometimes it is easy to be consumed by our own grief about the situation of our own child but this reminds me that these young people are trying to process life with this disease without the life learning we have has as adults.

Following the presentation I tell everyone that there is a stack of business cards on a stool in the back of the room, they have my name, phone number, e-mail and blog address, feel free to take as many as you want. I make no judgements, so many students quietly walk back to that stool and pick up a card, I hope it helps and they find whatever it is they need.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Under The Influence

Under The Influence

A Drama About Co-Dependency
Ron Parker

Presented by Basehor Linwood High School
March 31, April 1, and April 2
at 7:00 pm

Topics Covered:
Alcohol abuse, neglect and abuse due to drug and alcohol addiction, sniffing glue, speed, steroid abuse, the results of drug use during pregnancy, and drunk driving... but above all else, the play is about how the effects of drug and alcohol addiction reaches beyond the user and affects other people as well.

Pre and Post Performance Resources Needed:
If interested in participating in pre-or post-performance discussion, please contact Basehor Linwood High School at 913-724-2266 or e-mail Rebecca Knowles at .

Tom over at Recovery Help Desk has ask me to post info on a survey he is conducting for recovery moms with a child addicted to opiates and pain killers. You can go straight to the survey here: Recovery Mom's Survey 2011 .

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Where There Is Life There Is Hope

The last couple of weeks I have read several parents in struggles and some in rejoice. Heather's Mom, with a smile I could picture as broad as her face and Tori with a pain so bad you want to somehow just crawl deep inside yourself and curl into a tiny ball to keep the pain and anger out. Other parents I read all seem to be somewhere in between. We are all on our own journey, someplace along this path. I wrote this to Tori and I could have written this to many so I am just going to re-post my comment to Tori here.

Where there is life there is hope.

That simple statement has sustained me in many a dark time. During a very dark time for me a friend said that to me. I don't know if he knew how profound that was to me at the time, I didn't even know I just heard the words and applied them to my sons situation.

On the face of that statement it seems so simple. As long as my son is alive there is hope he will see the light and give up his life of drugs. That is what I heard when my friend told me, where there is life there is hope.

Then I began to think what really does this mean to me, what is the real meaning to that statement? After a lot of deliberation I was able to feel the true meaning of those simple words.

Life is not just about our addicted sons. Where there is life there is hope applies to our life too. We can hope for our child to see the light but we can also hope for our own acceptance, peace and happiness.

This statement applies to all of us and all of those we love. When I looked around I saw life surrounding me. A wife, daughters, mother, brother, sister, caring relatives and friends in every direction I turned. Then it began to dawn on me, where there is life there is hope!

Where there is life there is hope. Yes there is! Where there is life there is hope.

What does it mean to you?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fear of Acceptance

As a parent of a drug addict it seems at least for myself I live in a fear of acceptance.

Early it was the fear of accepting that my son was an addict. Fearful to accept it was a disease, because if it wasn't a disease all he had to do was quit. Fear of the stigma and the road ahead accepting a new role as a parent.

As I learned more I became fearful of the future and accepting what is really is. No matter how much I want to control it and manage this thing called addiction.

Accepting that my son could be gone at any time, accepting that no matter how hard I tried I had no control.

Now we are into another phase, he is not using, he is clean he is working on himself. Another fearful period of accepting his recovery is his recovery again, is he capable of this, again not mine to control. Fearful of accepting that my son has returned, different, not better not worse. Just accepting him as he is and what he has become and will grow to be.

Every time I become fearful I need to be thankful instead. That's going to take some work and an awareness of myself. I can only get better if I do this.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm Just A Talking Head

I spoke at the high school yesterday. The best I can say about these talks, this helps to heal me.

What a group of great kids. Interested and involved. Questions and comments and one in particular that nearly knocked me to my knees. The only response I could say, "I am so sorry."

I have a presentation and a script I use as a guideline and follow but each class is free flowing with the comments and questions. Yesterday I began the talk by going off script.

Yesterday morning I was reading blogs and I came to Naomi's blog: Girl On Off Gear . I read her post she had written on the evening before on March 1: stomach ulcers & knowing heroin will make it hurt less . I knew this had power.

Like I said I went "off script". I stood up without any personal introduction of myself. I told everyone I write a blog and I read blogs of parents and addicts. I introduced Naomi and her blog and I proceeded to read the first paragraph word for word to the class. By the time I was done reading that single paragraph every eye was focused on me reading, the teacher remarked she had a graphic and physical picture in her mind of this poor girl going through what she was describing as a heroin addict.

Thank you Naomi in Cambridge UK for putting into a few words what so many need to hear and share. You touched me and a bunch of high school students in Basehor, Kansas, USA.