Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Talking to Students

Talking to students is easy. There is nothing to it when all you do is recount stories and the horrors of parenting and loving and addict.

The hard part is maintaining your composure when those stories are ripping at your heart. When you tell about the experience many years ago when my son showed me so well that addiction is not a simple choice but is really a disease that must be treated and fought like any other disease. Trying to tell the story of my son crying and asking me to please help him. How do you tell 30 young people about how that feels when I can barely get the words out of my mouth.

Telling stories of how we shared tears, my son, his mother and I. Struggling to do what no one had answers for. Opening my life, our lives to make a impact on these young adults so maybe there won't be another set of parents living our life.

Then comes tears I see on students cheeks. Watching a student run from the room, grabbing the whole box of tissues from the teachers desk. Students relating stories to me during break of siblings and parents drug use. A student asking me a simple question during break, "Why do people treat addicts so bad? They aren't bad people they are sick. I know everything you said is true, my mother is a heroin addict. I am so sorry you had to go through this with your son." She is trying to comfort me. Setting my business cards on an empty table, they have my blog address, phone number and email address on them. Students taking them from the table as they leave the room.

A couple of people that I admire in this field stress to me that self-care is most important in this field. It is important to take care of yourself so that you can go on doing good things. I told them once that my best self care was writing and sharing with all of you wonderful people that read these ramblings.

Talking is easy. The hard part is listening.


Anonymous said...

It's really hard when your spouse feels that addiction is a choice and you understand it to be a disease. My husband tries to understand and be supportive about our son but every now and then he speaks his mind and it hurts. I know he is hurt and confused. I know he is trying. But it especially hurts when the one who you share your life with and the father of your child just 'doesn't get it'.

Dad and Mom said...


Here is the post about when Alex taught me my most valuable lesson about addiction.

Liz said...

Thank you Ron... It all seems so hopeless for the addict when I read this and your other post. But your son has been clean for a while now. Can you tell me how he overcame the constant thoughts of using to becoming clean? Does he still have constant thoughts? Do they go away somewhat? I'm trying to understand what my daughter must be going thru.
Thank you

Dad and Mom said...

Dear Liz,

Recovery is a long process. I have found it is not about an addict hitting bottom but an addict having a profound experience that changes them inside.

Truthfully Alex and I do not discuss his addiction or his recovery. I have learned his recovery belongs to him and my recovery belongs to me. If he wants to talk I figure he will bring it up.

I don't know if he has constant thoughts of using or if it isn't on his mind at all. I think I believe it is different for every person just like we are all different in many ways but I am sure there are some commonalities.

I don't want to seem cold but the best thing I would advise for you with your daughter is to let her manage it for herself. Make sure she knows you are there for her but don't hover or nag. I don't think there is a solid roadmap for you or her. My advice is she is an addict and you are a mother, your role is to be a good mother and work on yourself. I found out I helped Alex most when I was healthy and I was a good dad.

Hope this helps. I know there doesn't seem to be straightforward answers to your questions but all I got is my experience and the truth.

Liz said...

Thank you Ron! I agree 100%. My daughters' and my relationship has been sooooo good since I did just that. I stepped away, stopped hovering and asking questions, stopped prying, stopped trying to control. It has made all the difference in the world! We have slowly become close again.

I am happy to say that she is currently clean and has been so for about 8 months. I just wonder though, if that voice in her head will ever go away.

Drug Rehab said...

Dealing with an addiction can be the most difficult thing to go through; both for the addict and the family/friends surrounding them. It's best to offer help when it's needed, and like you said, step away when you begin hovering and pushing for information. Thanks for sharing your experiences. It is inspiring to those that are dealing with the same issues.

Syd said...

I'm glad that you do this and listen to the kids. I hope that some of the kids will get help. Alateen has helped a lot of kids deal with addiction problems in family and friends. You do a great service with what you share.

Suzy said...

Hi Ron, I have been following your blog for the past few years and thank you so much for your words of wisdom and all the help you offer to others and make us parents of addicts not to feel alone. My son who was an addict for 7 years has been in prison for the past 15 months and has been clean for that time. I visit him every 3 months and each time see him evolve into the man he longed to be. He says he feels so proud that he is clean and when he is offered drugs in jail, he says 'NO' and walks away. He says its the best feeling! He has put on 3 stone in weight and feels confident about his future. That is good news to me which I just wanted to share with you. Where there is life, there is hope.

Dad and Mom said...


Wonderful comment! I am so HAPPY for you both.

John Burns said...

I think both talking and listening are hard. You're laying yourself open to possible criticism, hurt and a lot of honesty. And listening to something that resonates with your own experiences is just as hard. I think you're doing a great thing by speaking in schools and letting youngsters know that they are not alone.