Monday, September 30, 2013

A Little Housekeeping

1.   Tuesday and Wednesday I will again be speaking to students at Basehor Linwood High School. As always anyone that wants to join me in these classes let me know and I will make the arrangements and get you the times.

2.   The Partnership at and Major League Baseball Charities are still looking for coach and player nominations for this years Play Healthy Awards. If you know a coach or player that exemplifies the play healthy and drug free message in their words and actions nominate them for this award. Winners receive a trip to New York City, tickets to the Partnership Gala at Gotham Hall, $500 gift certificate to a sporting goods store, a plaque identifying their award and national recognition.

Here is a link to the nomination process and forms:

This is the real deal. I nominated Susan Mayberry a couple years ago and she was the national coach winner.

3.   If the notice to be with me to talk to students tomorrow and Wednesday is too short I will also be speaking to students at Shawnee Mission West on November 26 and students at Shawnee Mission East on December 6.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Just Don't Get It

I saw a post by someone on Facebook about addiction and just not getting it.

I just don't get it, I've used pain killers before and I never got addicted. I just used them while I needed them and when my recovery was over I wasn't addicted I just stopped taking them.

How many of you have heard that before? I sure have, in fact when I was first involved with this stuff and my son I said it many times. It took a long time to come up with logic that I could understand for myself to grasp addiction versus the beneficial use of many drugs that destroy so many lives.

I come to a personal understanding slowly but it finally sunk in after much heartache and deliberation. Not everyone gets to have that experience and has that much time. How do you explain it to the friend or acquaintance that wonders why, "Why don't they just quit? It's that simple."

Once I was having this discussion with a friend who is a retired professional athlete. He questioned, "I took many painkillers in my professional career. I never got addicted. There were many times on Mondays I could hardly move after a game. I took the pills and I could go to practice and see the trainer. When I stopped playing the game I no longer needed the pain killers like I did when playing and I just didn't take them any more."

I knew that I had a very few words I could use to explain this without losing him. He is a very smart man but no one sits still for a bunch of medical and complicated explanations, not even me. I had to relate addiction to something in my life and his life that made sense to his paradigm.

My friend is a hunter, like me, but his passion for hunting is times ten to mine. That provided the perfect scenario. My explanation went like this:

We both hunt. I mainly hunt pheasant and quail, upland birds. You hunt waterfowl, deer, elk, bears and turkey. Your real passion is turkey's. If you took me turkey hunting before the frost we would never see a bird. I would sit there sniffling, sneezing, wiping my eyes and squirming like a kid in the waiting room of a doctors office. That is because I have hay fever. Hay fever is a recognized medical condition. I am allergic to the pollen. It affects me drastically. But, you can walk in the woods and fields endlessly while the pollen invades your nose, eyes and mouth. Your body has no adverse reaction, it handles the pollen and you go on your way.

Think of the different reactions we both have to the same thing. Now translate that over to those painkillers. You used what you needed and it was over. Now think of a person addicted to the same pills. That persons body handles those drugs differently than yours, maybe you might say they are allergic to those substances. Just as your body handles pollen differently than mine. Something in their body trips a trigger that makes it nearly impossible to stop using them. They become addicted to the same thing you and I can take and stop easily, they can't live without them. Addiction then becomes a disease just as hay fever is for me and as much as I would LOVE to go turkey hunting with you I know that I cannot go to that place without suffering a reaction that is miserable to me.

That simple conversation was the beginning of my friends understanding that drugs addicts aren't just low life criminals and that they are sick people and need help.

I have used this explanation many times and it seems to work for most people. In fact I even advised my own son when he goes to the doctor and fills out the long medical questionnaires when it asks if he is allergic to any medications, I told him to put down any type of opiate based painkiller as his answer.

Our friends, family and aquaintances don't need long winded scientific explanations about addiction and the disease model. We must find ways that allow them to discover our reality without suffering through the special hell we all know so well.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's A Man Thing

Parents of an addict??? Parents is plural. It assumes two people, a man and woman, two men or two women. Sometimes in reality it means more, step parents become included and then there are grandparents functioning as parents. This disease touches so many very close loved ones that feel so much responsibility.

This post is about a dad. A dad that thought the plan was laid and implementation steps were in place. Milestones marked our progress. The track was straight and we were riding together. Then came drugs.

There came a time when living a life of honor was only a dream, watching a son barely survive and nearly die made me appreciate the simple fact he was alive.

My emotional state was slipping away nearly as fast as I saw my sons life slipping away. Of course as a man I was to handle things and fix not only him but in my spare time fix myself too. That's a man thing. Of course there was no way I could recognize my own limits, I could do anything I set my mind to do, not just for myself but for others too.

It's a man thing, asking for help and looking for help is not in my nature. Finally there comes a time when you are beaten into submission. If I don't take care of myself I can't be that man for anyone, not my son, not my wife, not my other kids, not anyone.

My way was to write this blog. I had gone to meetings and talked to counselors but that didn't work for me at that time. This was my therapy.

I read blogs, read comments, read emails and by a large margin most are written by mothers. Of course there are significant exceptions, Syd, Dean, Mike, and some others but mostly it is mothers.

It's a man thing. We don't talk about our fears and feelings. But I will tell every mother and wife out there that we are just as scared as you.

It can be a man thing to talk or write to others about how you feel and what is working and what isn't. There are other men that can relate to your experiences that are just as manly and just as controlling as you. From experience, it helps.

Dad, you are not alone and it does work when you let others help with the load. All of us are stronger than any one of us.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Yesterday Annette posted on her blog about a family wedding and seeing her two kids drink. She said it bothered her greatly and after the wedding she was very emotional about the episode. Her kids did not get drunk but it was just the fact of a joyful occasion and seeing them drink was upsetting.

It's best if you go to her page and read her experience. She writes it very well. And chronicles what she needed to help herself.

I made a comment about PTSD. I know, I can hear you all now, quite a diagnosis from someone 1000 miles away. However I feel I am very qualified. Probably most all of you have a copy of my diplomas and degrees hanging in your bathroom, they come in 500 sheet rolls.

Parenting an addict or loved one is a traumatic experience. Being raised in an alcoholic household has a long lasting effect. I spoke to a friend and she related how she feels even today after 30 years when things are out of hand and a male raises his voice.

Not to minimize the effects of war on soldiers but all of us can suffer the effects of trauma on us very deeply when such an emotional event goes on for such a long time.

I have my own experiences. When I speak to other parents especially parents new to experiencing the effects of drugs and addiction on their's hard and sometimes impossible to keep my own emotions in check. Feelings of fear and hurt take over even after years of sobriety by my son and thousands of words written by me about taking care of myself and detaching.

Long ago I wrote about putting those memories in a box in the closet. I related to Annette that at times my box is opened. I also said something yesterday in my comment about "I don't know how to throw away the box." I have been doing a lot of thinking about those words since I wrote them to her.

In reflection, I never want to throw away that box. Even with as terrible all those things in that box are they are me. It's not like I want to live in that box again but I want it to always be a part of my life. The pain hurt terribly and I would never choose to do it again but an important lesson learned is that I can if I must. Growth occurred with that life, not just for me but also with Darlene.

PTSD, yes I was traumatized. I still feel the effects. Being aware allows me to heal. The flashbacks and pain doesn't go away, I learn how to deal with it and know what it is doing as it occurs.

I see it sometimes in Alex too. Yesterday in a casual conversation something was mentioned about jail. The look on his face and his immediate response, "I never want to hear that door close behind me ever as long as I live."

Later in the evening I was thinking about his response and look. It dawned on me that he got what I was saying over and over for seven years of his using. "Son, please live a life of honor." HE GETS IT.......a life of honor, raising his family, paying his bills, working, no lies, no stealing, living and loving......a life of honor, he is living it every day.