Thursday, February 27, 2014

Question #1 from Guest Blogger

My question would be... If I'm the only positive, constructive and truthful voice in my son's head... when he asks me to back off from talking about drug abuse OR anything negative relating to it for whatever his reason ... do I? I guess I feel like if I do "back off" I will just lose him to the demons of addiction that already seduce his mind with it's voice and he will lose himself even more. How does a loved one of an addict determine when to walk away?

Your question is one probably all of us struggle with every day. How do we communicate more effectively? No matter if it is with your son who struggles with addiction or if it is with a spouse, friend or boss. I am going to stick with communicating with your son in my answer, I have no advice or answers for the others, especially spouse, says Darlene.

You are the light for your son. You cannot stop providing your message of love and the dangers of addiction however sometimes it isn't the message but the delivery. Often times I would say to my son while he was using, "My eyes can hear much better than my ears." It was hard for me to internalize my own statement but it got better when I did.

Sometimes actions speak much louder than words. Actions demonstrate your words. Hugs and positive reinforcement when they do small things right provide the lubricant for those times when it is time to say the things he doesn't like to hear. You have to remember that you can say the same thing 100 times but if he isn't "hearing" what you say no communication takes place.

Become cognizant of when it the right and wrong time to talk about this with your son. Just like when driving on the street, there are red lights and green lights. There are days when you hit every red light no matter where you are going and any direction you take. Other days every light is green and the sun shines on you no matter where you are. The same thing happens in communicating with your son. Most of the time in his actions you can see the yellow light of caution, yellow doesn't mean speed up and blast through. Many times determining what color the light is can be as simple as asking.

I could give you a lot of good pointers but in truth when I was trying to communicate with Alex while he was using, I WAS THE WORST! My communication style was reminiscent of a Marine Drill Sargent on Paris Island. I was a slow learner but I did learn to speak with Alex instead of speak at Alex.

Some of the things I learned the hard way was already known by some really smart people about all of this and put into a short guide. I've been pitching this thing a lot lately, only because it is so good and makes so much damn sense. Go to The Parents 20 Minute Guide. Third button top of the page is about communicating.

How does a loved one of an addict determine when to walk away? You walk away when it is not healthy for YOU. You must take care of yourself. You can't help anyone if you aren't healthy inside. I know you've heard my simple question before. "If your son was ready to stop using today, or ready to talk, are you healthy enough to know what to do or say?" You must take care of yourself too so that your ARE ready when that day comes.

Thank you for your question. I have answered it the best I know know how. There is a lot of wisdom out there with my readers. I hope they chime in too with comments. None of us are alone in this, we all need each other.

For anyone interested the mother that ask this question also writes her own blog about her life with an addicted son. You can read her story here: Hands Full Of Tears

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Speaking and Guest Posts

Spring is just around the corner and you know what that means, I'm filling my schedule with speaking engagements at local high schools. All new students in the second semester. This Friday the 28 I am again speaking to students at Basehor Linwood High School. On March 11, I am scheduled for Shawnee Mission East again. I don't mean to toot my own horn about speaking at these schools but these students are lucky that they have teachers that care so much for them that they teach about drugs and addiction, no matter if I speak or not.

The one thing that could make these talks so much better that I have no control over is if each of these classrooms were full of parents with their children. I don't know but I bet you the parents that have come to hear these talks with their own child in the room aren't near as likely to have their own child suffering from addiction.

It's also time that I open up this blog to all of you readers. So many of you faithful readers leave such wise comments and ask such hard questions. Now it is your turn to play blogger. Please send me a guest post or ask a public question that can be posted on here. Thousands of other people literally around the world want to here from you. Please share your wisdom and questions.

email for posts:

As I have posted before, just a couple guidelines for guest bloggers:

  • Guest Bloggers can remain anonymous or be public, your choice.
  • Links will be available to your blog or e-mail if you choose.
  • No commercial advertisements or posts thinly disguised as advertisements for rehabs.
  • Good taste must be used.
  • Appropriate language and content for our community.
  • You will NOT be graded on grammar, but be sure to use spell check.
  • One paragraph or one page, it doesn't matter on length, even just a simple question works.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Allowing Natural Consequences

Today I took part in a conference call with other Parent Support Network members along with professionals with The Partnership at and counselors from The Center for Motivation and Change.

Part of the call focused on "allowing natural consequences." It was a very good discussion and there was a lot of back and forth about allowing natural consequences. What's the difference between allowing natural consequences, tough love and just being mean or angry about your loved ones addiction?

This isn't all about letting them sit in jail while you are miserable and feeling guilty. It's not as easy as taking away a car or not paying for a phone. Allowing natural consequences is putting yourself in a place where the actions you take have an intended effect of moving a person towards a realization that life addicted is more than getting high. Allowing natural consequences involves you being able to take actions that may cause your addicted love one uncomfortable circumstances but inside you know you are doing the right thing for the circumstances.

During our call we spoke about one end of the spectrum, your loved one is in jail and they want you to bail them out or they want money on their books. But we also spoke of dinner is at ____ and when it's over and they come late they don't find a plate set aside or leftovers. We all know about the discussions, arguments and fights concerning cars and phones.

But, how do you feel good about something like this? They are hungry, they are in that horrible jail, they need to have to have a car to get to work; all circumstances in which we as parents are particularly vulnerable. The only way to get past this is not that we take these actions because we should or someone told us too, we do this because we own it. We own this because it is our own personal value system.

It's not fair to ask someone to do something they are not capable of doing. I am talking about parents not your addicted loved one. Each of us can only do what we are capable of doing at any point in time. If something seems too harsh then it is an issue you must work yourself, don't shove it off onto your loved one.

Allowing natural consequences is a strategic action. Allowing natural consequences is not and should not be a REACTION.

Setting good boundaries based upon your own personal values and communicating them to your addicted loved one is step one. After all, you get that call from jail asking for bail money. You have bailed them out each time before. It's not fair to change the rules and expectations in the middle without giving your loved one the respect they deserve by explaining your values and plans. This is strategic and not a reaction borne of anger and frustration about getting that call from jail, again.

I want to make sure I am clear. Allowing natural consequences isn't tough love. For me tough love is seems almost like a "get out of jail card" for parents. It allows us to take an action and not care. Allowing natural consequences is taking deliberate actions with an intense interest in the outcomes along with open communication between your loved one and yourself.

A great resource for this is The Parents 20 Minute Guide. Don't take this on just because your read it on this blog or in the guide. Do this because it fits and you own it.

The Parents 20 Minute Guide

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Addicts ARE People

Here is a link to a daughters blog about her father's addiction.

I am not going to say much about it other than she says it all.

Kelsey's Blog

It's good for all of those friends and family that have trouble understanding addiction

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don't Forget All The Others

It is the hot topic right now to write about the tragedy of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Not to minimize his experience but we must not forget how many other families had the same experience on Sunday.

As the rest of us prepared for the Super Bowl making snacks and gathering with friends other families were getting the news that their son, daughter, mother, father, brother or sister no longer felt the pain of addiction. They paid the ultimate price.

This continues to happen every day. It is not hard to remember the emptiness we felt a year ago when a friend called us to tell us about her son. Sadness, The Monster Claims Another

It may seem overly dramatic but there isn't a day I don't think about how lucky our family is that Alex is clear and sober today. Darlene ask me one day if there isn't a day I don't think about this. I replied no, "Not really." She told me maybe I need to talk to someone. I thought to myself, that's what all of you guys are for.

Seven years of my life while Alex was using affected me deeply. I cannot imagine the pain of those parents whose children that lost the fight before finding recovery. The nightmare must be horrific.

It's hard for me to give advice to parents whose children still struggle because I am not sure there is a good answer to the single overriding question, "What can I do to get them to stop?" I fought with that question for seven years. Today I have learned that the answer to that question is to take care of yourself and to not give up.

There are new treatments available today that were not available ten years ago. Chemical treatments and new evidence based therapy's show great promise. These aren't designed to be in place of the long tested therapy's like NA. It just means we have more at our disposal. Use whatever works for you and for your loved one.

My sympathies go out to the family of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. But my sympathies also go out to each of those families whose loved one wasn't the lead story on the national news. It happens every day. Statistics tell us that every 19 minutes someone loses their fight to the monster.

What if every single month there was a new 9/11 attack? Just as many of our countrymen lose their lives to addiction each month as those in New York. This is a national tragedy just as 9/11. We must not minimize any of these loses, not 9/11 and not the tragedy of addiction.