Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Relapse and Overdose

In the news is a story about Demi Lovato, actress, singer and celebrity. She makes the news because she relapsed and overdosed. The story goes on to detail that her life was saved when she was brought to the hospital and administered Narcan.

There is not a single parent of an addict that cannot relate to this news. We have either experienced the same with our loved one, imagined the same, or lost our loved one because help wasn’t there in time.

As I devour the news about Ms. Lovato it brings back my own horrors as a parent of a son actively using and getting that call from the emergency room. Arriving at the hospital and hearing how close we came to losing our son.

Relapse and overdose are so closely related. 

I remember the mistakes I made in dealing with my son when he relapsed. How much damage I may shoulder is incalculable but I do bear the remorse.

Relapse is a bad thing because of the danger it poses but it should not be considered a betrayal of trust as I took relapse. Time and experience allows me to understand things I could not while caught up in the drama and actions.

Now I understand how addiction is a disease and with that disease it may come out as a relapse. Other diseases do the same thing.

Imagine these scenarios:

I am a diabetic, it is a loved one birthday. I slip up, birthday cake and a Coke. My blood sugar spikes, emergency medical help is required.

I suffer from heart disease, out of shape, but that fried chicken, mashed potatoes smothered in gravy looks so good, two helpings fill me up. The next day I am feeling pains in my chest, 911 is called.

I am old, I am fat, I am out of shape, of course it snowed last night 18”. My body is that of a 70 year old, my mind is that of a 25 year old. Of course I can shovel that snow. Last thing I remember was grabbing my chest and falling into the snow. 

We can all imagine so many scenarios like these and probably more. In those scenarios loved ones gather around and tell me and tell me how much they love me and want to help me from doing that ever again.

When a person that suffers from addiction we stand around and belittle them. We shake our head and mutter something like, “just and addict, what do you expect.”

It’s time we learn from these actions. I did the just an addict….. until I understood. When an addict relapses they need the love, concern and help the same as any other person suffering from a disease. 

Reach out to those that relapse and to their loved ones too. “How can I help?”, is a perfect opening line. Every person suffering from addiction deserve just as much love and help as anyone not dealing with this disease.


Bar said...

Well said, Ron, as always.

Bill Guy said...

Thanks, Ron. Wise words that need wide dissemination and comprehension.

Tom Moore said...

Thank you Ron.

rdkr429 said...

You are exactly correct! And I thank you for sharing your knowledge. One of the saddest parts about the disease addiction is unlike all the other diseases, if you're dealing with addiction as the addict or the loved on of the addict, you are isolated, shunned, looked down upon because many believe the addict or the family of the addict are somehow, some way to blame for the addiction. Yes, it's the persons choice to use whatever their drug of choice is that first time, but nobody chooses to be an addict. Just like nobody chooses to become a diabetic, to have heart disease, or cancer. People who smoke know smoking causes cancer but they choose to smoke anyway, some end up with cancer, some do not. We know poor diet and some genetics predispose us to diabetes, we still choose to eat that cake and drink that soda, but those people that end up with those diseases are not blamed,shamed, shut out like those that become addicts because of the disease addiction. And until that changes, people's mindsets change and they realize it IS a disease to be an addict, not a choice to be one, the addicts and family and loved ones of addicts will continue to not have the help, attention, support they need to beat the disease.

handling emotions said...

thanks for sharing

Cathy Taughinbaugh said...

I appreciate your article, Ron, especially this line - "they need the love, concern and help the same as any other person suffering from a disease." There is so much misunderstanding around addiction. Your article is a much-needed reminder. Thank you!

Mildred Ratched said...

I've wanted to leave a comment on your blog for awhile. I have no insights as a parent on parenting a drug addict because all 3 of my children are pretty straight and squeaky clean. I, on the other hand can tell you what a struggle it is everyday to have clouded judgment and poor impulse control. I do have to admit that as I gotten older, I've mellowed out somewhat. I no longer feel as if I'm teetering on the edge all the time. I've actually managed to take a few steps back away from the edge. It feels odd, but I know I'm much better off for having taken those few steps.

Whenever I read something written by the family of an addict, my heart breaks. I think of all the horrible things I put my mother through when I was younger. She's 90 years old now and is a real trooper. She and I live together. I never thought we'd be spending our golden years with each other, but here we are. I'm still in awe that I've lived this long. For whatever reason I'm still alive, I know now I should have fought harder and asked for help when I was younger. I should have stood up and spoke out instead of burying my feelings under a blanket of self-destruction.

I know I can't go back and live my live over in some different way. All I can do is take one day at a time and forgive myself for making so many mistakes that not only affected my life, but the lives of everyone around me. That's the hardest part! The forgiving and stepping beyond the self destruction. It's hard some days to let that happen because when a person can look at themselves and see an intelligent person who could have done anything and become successful and chose to do drugs instead is a hard thing to rise above. It's a hard thing to understand. it's a hard thing to swallow day after day. I am truly thankful for all the people who have stuck with me and who have loved me unconditionally. Without them, I know where I would be now. I feel thankful for the strength they had when I had none. I'm thankful for people like you who have taken a negative and have turned it into a positive by reaching out to other people. That takes a special kind of person to be able to do what you thank you for all that you do for so many people who are in pain.