This afternoon I spoke to a group of adults at the Johnson County Detention Center. This was the first time I spoke at the detention center. This is the very same "Johnson County Resort" I have mentioned in the past that Alex spent many a night.
The group I spoke to was a group in what they call the Therapeutic Community. These are people confined in the residential center of the Corrections Department.
In the group there were men and women, young and older. The counselor said they have people in group between 18 and 55 years old. The common denominator was they all suffered from either addiction or alcoholism.
I was ask to speak to this group to share my experience being the loved one of an addict, a father.
I shared my son's experience as I experienced it. I shared the sleepless nights. I shared the tears Darlene and I shed. I shared the intense fear, anger and helplessness I/we felt. I didn't hold back, I said everything I know each of your would have said.
Most importantly from my perspective I shared Alex's success. Hopefully I left every person in the room a sense of, "I too can do that."
I felt they were shocked to hear my son experienced everything they were going through. They learned you can be locked up today and tomorrow you get to chart your own path.
So many of them listened intently. The regular counselor told me he watched as men and women wiped tears from their eyes and that is something you don't see here. Over and over men and women out loud in front of the group voiced their thanks for me telling my story. "Many former addicts come here and speak to us but this is the first time a parent has taken the time to come here. Thank you so much your story and letting us understand what our loved ones experience while we are going through this," said by a resident. A statement like that gives this old man the chills.
I left them with a couple of Ronism's.
First of all, I explained that I refer to my son as "clear and sober." Often I hear it called clean and sober. If a person is now clean and sober then logic is, before while you were using that means you must be dirty and un-sober. No one in this room is dirty, you may have been under the influence of a mind altering substance but that doesn't make you dirty, it just makes you unclear headed. Today you are CLEAR AND SOBER.
Secondly, I BELIEVE IN YOU. Each of you has what it takes to do what it takes. You find what works for you, NA, AA, counseling or whatever works. If one thing doesn't work for YOU, then YOU find what works for YOU. When you were a child someone would grab your hand and drag you to what was good for you. It doesn't work that way now. You are grown up, it works differently today. There are hands outstretched to you. It's up to you now to grab that hand and ask for help. When you ask for it, when you want it, help is there. Grasp an outstretched helping hand.