Thursday, November 12, 2015

Fight the Stigma, Talk to Your Kids

I have focused my efforts in battling the monster by educating its victims before the monster can attack.

It would be easy for me to shrug my shoulders and count my blessings that our son is clear and sober then go on with my life; addiction as a faint image in my rear view mirror. I guess that's not how I roll.

In the last couple weeks I have had some speaking engagements at high schools and a correctional facility. Actually, it's pretty simple, I stand in front of a group and spill my guts. Afterwards, there are some questions or comments and then I go back to a life or normalcy. Hoping I make an impression but never really knowing.

I received messages from teachers where I spoke.

Hi Ron,  Want to let you know I visited with my students this week about your presentation with them, and also your talk at the JOCO Detention Residential Center.  The kids think you are amazing to be able to tell your story.  Some comments were, "I was crying,"  "I was crying inside because my mom always tells me she see me as a 5 year-old playing with my dolls," "He is amazing because he didn't sugar coat it,"  "He told the truth,"  "It's scary to think it can happen to anyone,"  "He definitely needs to keep talking with students,"  "He made a difference with me,"  Next time we meet I will ask them if they talked with their parents or mentioned your talk with anyone else.

Hey coach. *******  here. I just want to take a little of my time to genuinely thank you. I really truly appreciate you bringing in someone to talk about drug addiction. I will be 6 month clean christmas, and i think its a really important, passionate topic. I really liked what you said, and when you told the class how " its a choice to START drugs, but once you're into your ""addiction"", it is no longer a choice. In Narcotics anonymous we have a very well know saying that goes a little something like this "one is too many, and a thousand is never enough".  I completely believe that is true. Im rambling at this point, but i really appreciate you being a teacher, and being passionate about your job. I want to leak my life story summed up a little bit. age 12, i had my first joint. I didn't like it, and was peer pressured to do it, so i didn't do it again for two weeks. My older brother, 18 at the time, found out, and pulled out some pot and i smoked once again. Summer of 2012 was when i sparked my obsession with drugs. I smoked marijuana recreationally until 2013, and i started to use it for major depression, and anxiety. i like to think marijuana is a gateway drug. It was for me anyway. By 2013, i had started smoking on a daily basis, and drinking occasionally. By early 2014, i figured out what opiates were, and i thought i had loved them. "loved" them to the point where i would take them just to get through the day. The small drugs had now turned into alcohol, and opiates by this point, and things went downhill from there. The opiates i had been using had a non existent effect on be, and i discovered air duster. And this is where things changed. I had started huffing, and by this time it was october 2015. I was carried on with my addiction and drug curiosity,and ended up going overboard. I was in the shower on november 2rd 2014, and i will NEVER forget this day. O was huffing in the shower and heard banging and whatnot outside the door, and found out my brother and dad were fighting physically. I had jumped out of the shower naked, and onto my dads back, grabbed a WHOLE script of Xanax, got dressed, and left. I had taken the WHOLE bottle that night, and woke up two days later. I had overdosed. bad. AND blacked out. I went to the hospital that night, and ended up in the hospital for 14 days until i went to rehab in late november. I had went to rehab and got out thinking i was "Cured" Well little did i know there is NO cure for addiction. I had ended up moving in with my mom and started smoking pot again. I had enough and moved to my dads. I am now attending NA regularly (every night for 4 months and a few days"). I don't really know why i shared this all, but i was just really thankful that were informing this generation on drug use and the LONG
LASTING effects of it. Sorry if i wasted your time!
Thanks *******.

It's up to us. We are the ones that have battled the monster on its terms. No matter if we faced the monster attacking us directly or we joined the fight as a loved one battled. It remains our battle.

Join in removing the stigma of addiction. Stand up to the monster and stand tall among others. Tell your story. Talk to your kids and tell them the dangers and ways of the monster. 


Friday, November 6, 2015

The "Johnson County Resort" Talking to Adults

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.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Remove the Stigma, Nominate Someone

Nominate a White House Champion of Change for Advancing Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery

The White House is seeking your help to identify people who have made an extraordinary difference by advancing prevention, treatment and recovery.
Last week, the President traveled to West Virginia to host a community conversation with health care professionals, law enforcement officers, community leaders, individuals, and families affected by the epidemic of prescription drug abuse and heroin use. Prescription drug abuse and heroin use have taken a heartbreaking toll on too many Americans and their families, while straining law enforcement and treatment programs.
As part of last week’s event, the President announced federal, state, local and private sector efforts aimed at addressing the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic. These included commitments by more than 40 provider groups – representing doctors, dentists, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and educators -- that more than 540,000 health care providers will complete opioid prescriber training in the next two years. In addition, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, Google, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and other companies will donate millions of dollars in media space for PSAs about the risks of prescription drug misuse produced by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.You can see the full fact sheet here.
In addition to those who have made formal commitments, there are thousands of friends, family members, colleagues, and advocates working to prevent substance abuse, improve access to treatment and support recovery. This spring, the White House will honor these incredible individuals as Champions of Change to recognize their outstanding work on this incredibly important issue impacting communities across the country.
Please help us identify outstanding individuals who are working to address this epidemic in your community.