Sunday, May 12, 2013


In the past I have solicited questions from readers they want answered. I think it is time to do that again. In a comment a mother asked a couple questions and I am going to answer to begin this process. If you have a question please put in the comments or you can simply e-mail it to me. I will answer all questions in future posts. You can be anonymous or provide your name. I ail not use last names.

From Holly: 

For those of us who read your blog, can you write about what specifically your son did to help himself get sober? What helped him then and does he do anything special now in order to continue being sober?  

Dear Holly,

This is a somewhat long story and I want you to remember that what worked for Alex and us is not a road map for others. Each person finds recovery in their way and what we do must be for us.

In the Spring of 2010 it began getting obviously worse for Alex and our family. We didn't really now what was happening but we sensed a bad turn. At that time Alex was not living with us, he was with his girlfriend but he was also on the street at times.

We sensed things were going bad, didn't know what but we knew it wasn't good. Through the grapevine we learned Alex was speedballing. We knew that speed balling was a bad thing and the more we read the worse we felt. We come to realize that soon our son was likely to die. We also knew that our son was likely to die no matter what we did or didn't do.

Realizing our son was likely to die and from our mind it may be imminent due to this behavior caused us to face reality in a harsh way. We discussed what this meant for us. After many evenings of talk and tears we decided it was time for us to begin making plans for our son's funeral. We drove through the cemetery and picked out a plot in which to bury our son. We decided on a funeral home and discussed pall bearers and I began putting together thoughts about what I wanted to say at his funeral if I was able. In our mind we were burying our son. We just didn't have a body. Strange as it may seem this exercise did give us some peace to know that some unknowns were now known between Mom and I.

As I said Alex was living with his girlfriend. For some reason she threw him out. I have a guess what happened but I don't know. He naturally thought he could come back home. That was not happening. Mom and I had already discussed that we could not live in our house if we found him dead in our home. We decided up front what we needed to say. "I am sorry son but you cannot live here any more." When he arrived we had already packed what he had left here, a few clothes, in a garbage bag. We told him he could n't live here.

In fact, we not only told him he couldn't live here we also told him that we could no longer take another step down this path with him. We told him that we were finally OK with him using if that was the life he choose to live. But if he choose that path we could no longer be there for him. We told him that we had a granddaughter that needed us and we could not be what we felt were good grandparents with this in our life. Told him that if he chooses to follow this current path please do not even acknowledge us on the street if he sees us. We knew that just a simple, "Hi" would rag us back onto that horrible path. We wished him well in his decision and said goodbye.

We heard nothing from him or about him for two weeks. Our thoughts were that he had made his decision and in reality we were grieving the loss of our son, we just had no body.

At the end of two weeks his girlfriend called Darlene and ask if Alex could come to visit us. She said he was clear and sober. He showed up at her home on the third day after we sent him away. Don't know what was said but she allowed him in and he went cold turkey in her basement.

She told us at times she thought he was going to die he was so sick and convulsing so bad. It is true, a person can die from going cold turkey this way.

She told us that he had a profound experience that he had just lost the only people in this world that believed in him. In fact he said once that us continually telling him that we believed in him was what kept him going.

Alex was clear and sober.

I don't know exactly what keeps him clear and sober. His recovery belongs to him. Our recovery belongs to us. He has a job and a baby. He says that is a huge part of his recovery. For him that works, for others that means nothing. You see, it is personal.

I learned a lot in my recovery. I wrote about it as lessons learned parenting a addict in recovery.

I re-read your questions and I could have just answered, went cold turkey and I don't know. But I know you wanted more and you deserve more. Holly, I hope I answered your questions.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Experiences With Schools

Just a little catch up about my recent experience with schools, one a high school and one a university.

Last Friday I spoke to seven classes of students at a local high school. I was scheduled for 5  but another teacher had heard about what I was doing and ask me if I would speak to his classes at the end of the day. The first 5 periods went very well. Vicki was there and she really made a impact. She brought pictures of her son and told the students that I was lucky, I could see and hold my son, he got a chance to find recovery. She only had pictures and letters to remember her son.She read a very touching letter her son wrote her less than 6 months before he died. Vicki was wonderful to share all of this with the class. This was the first time she had spoken publicly about her son's death to a group.

You never know what will happen when speaking to students. All day I saw students dabbing at tears in their eyes. Who knows what is going on in their life to react like this. I let them know publicly no one has to go through loving an addict alone.

I changed my presentation from what is posted on YouTube. I made it even more personal and no slides. Just me telling a story about what poor choices and addiction leads too in life.

A couple of story's about what happened that day. A student after I was all done and the room was empty, just me picking up my papers, she came in stood and front of me and she said, "Today is day 14." No explanation is needed. Maybe it isn't politically correct in schools but I hugged her. Ask her how she was doing and she said she is going to Ala-Teen meetings. At the end of one class presentation a student hung around and come up to me, his lip was quivering, He stuck out his hand to shake my hand. I shook his hand, he held on long and then bolted from the room not saying a word. A student came to me after all of this had happened and during the presentation I ask everyone to go home and talk to their parents about drugs. A girl comes back to me and says she had called her mom on the phone to tell her about my talk. Her mom told her to find me and thank me for what I had done and that she had heard of me and seen my blog. So she was coming in to tell me what her mom said. I usually turn off my phone during these days and when I turned it back on I had a message, a student had left me a message. He wanted to make a donation to my son and I. I then spoke to him on the phone and ask him to make that donation to The Partnership or another organization that helps addicts struggling today to find recovery.

THANK YOU VICKI, for what you did that day. You are brave, you are strong and you made a difference that morning in the lives of students. You did well by Travis, I know he would have been proud.

New story. Last Fall a student at Bournemouth University located in the United Kingdom ask if she could interview me for her university project. We exchanged e-mails and she interviewed me on Skype. Stacey Amer is a journalism student at BU. Her paper on the effects of addiction on a family was re-written and published on the university's website under lifestyle and health. You can find her article here: The Young Still Use; A Parents Perspective

It's hard to know for sure if I have a long term effect on those I speak too about this subject. But I choose to believe that it is helping them so I am going to keep at it until I run out of places that will have me.

Off the school subject here is a video of the First Call Gratitude Luncheon. I attended this luncheon a few weeks ago.  William Moyers Jr. was the keynote speaker. At the 1:20 mark you can see a picture of Vicki and I together. I'm the ugly guy in the middle and she is the beautiful lady in red.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Harley Committed Suicide

It has been so busy around our house it is hard to see daylight let alone update this blog. The busy has been of our own creation and work is nuts both for Darlene and I but now it is time to step back for a pause.

As many of you regular readers may recall last Fall I had an incident on my motorcycle. The autopsy is far enough along that I can now fill in the details.

There is still discussion from the mechanics about what happened. They don't know if it was the chain tensioner in the primary or the compensator came apart. Either way the chain came off and destroyed the guts of the primary, even busted the primary case. Trashed the camshaft in the engine and damaged the main shaft of the transmission. New engine, primary and transmission at least. When they got to $7000 and was still counting that was too much. My summary is that this motorcycle committed suicide. Everyone I spoke with at the dealership kept saying this was a catastrophic failure and no one could believe I kept it on two wheels, lucky I guess. They said it was because I was a hell of a rider, but I know better. Pictures were taken by all the shop people because they had never seen one destroy itself to this level.

I first want to say that Bob and Randy in the Service Department and Josh and Brett in Sales at Worth Harley Davidson really stepped up to the plate. It doesn't matter what name is on the building, with people like this on the inside, you cannot do better. They stepped up and did the right thing. These guys went above and beyond what they had to do. I don't usually plug people on this blog but if you need a Harley, go see these guys and tell them I sent you. If your from out of town it's worth the trip.

The same cannot be said for the Harley Davidson Motor Company. They really dropped the ball. This bike was only 4 months out of extended warranty. In summary, their response was too bad, so sad, it sucks to be you.

Today, the guys at Worth delivered me a new bike a 2013 Ultra Limited. Mom and I are once again riders.

Motorcycle riding is important to us. This was like a good meeting for us. We were able to escape the crisis and turmoil of Alex's addiction. When we were on the bike we were a real couple again with nothing on our mind but the road. Everyone going through the addiction of a child needs a place to escape, this was ours, a lifeboat.

2013 Ultra Classic Limited
Harley Davidson

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

From the Column: You Ain't Going to Believe this Sh....

Urban Outfitters has introduced a new line of products, see pic.

Drinking glasses, shot glasses can koozies and stuff to resemble prescription drug bottles and syringes. Where is the soul of this company, and of course their principle demographic and customer base is our children.

You can write the CEO of this company to share your thoughts if you are as moved as I was when I saw these:

Richard A. Hayne; CEO & Chairman

You can say whatever you wish but here is a copy of my e-mail:

Dear Mr. Hayne,
Don't want to begin this e-mail rudely but I can think of no other way of stating how I feel.
Are you F...KING crazy. I see these new product listings with the can coolers, shot glasses and etc shaped and labeled like pill bottles.
What kind of genius came up with this idea? Do you realize that prescription drug abuse is killing more of our young people, YOUR CUSTOMERS, than cocaine and heroin combined?
Are you so devoid of a corporate soul that you can see no wrong with these products? These are products that should be pulled immediately and destroyed.
Sometimes we all make mistakes, this one is yours. DO THE RIGHT THING!
Ron Grover
parent of an addict (currently in recovery)
"An Addict In Our Son's Bedroom"
ps.: want to see what prescription drug addiction does to a family? search back in the archive prior to July 2010.