Sunday, August 19, 2012
It's fun to watch as the miracles of recovery heal the damage addiction has created!
Daily task most of us, "normies"take for granted, small signs that the addict is learning to live life on lifes terms!
One day our son called and asked his dad to cash his paycheck for him,. ( the credit union he had joined a few years back did not have a branch in the city our son was living in)
My husband said he wouldn't be able to help until the next day.
About an hour later our son called his dad back and said, "it's OK dad, I went to a bank and opened an account!
A big surprise to both of us! A sign that he is healing,
he had a problem and found a solution
WITHOUT OUR HELP!
BUT also a reminder to us that we need to give him the opportunities he needs to figure things out for himself. An awakening for him but also for us!
Other little signs
Joining a gym
Spending a day off at the beach!
Calling someone in the program when he is finding himself isolating!
Rearranging his work schedule so that he can attend his "home group" meetings
Spending time with family!
Sending notes of love and encouragement to loved ones!
Asking friends and family how THEY are doing!
Things we "normies" take for granted!
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
You have started an uproar in the addiction community my friend. Do you know how many addicts believe they came from "good homes?" Do you know how many addicts were raised by parents who instilled morals and values in their lives? Do you know how many addicts were once atheletes, honor students, valedictorians, and had plans to attend college? Do you know how many young adults from so called "good homes" become addicted to drugs each day? Do you know how many families have been shattered by addiction? Apparently not. Ms. Gifford, I am the parent of two children I love and adore. I dedicated my life to being the best mother I could be. My children were both raised in a two parent family by parents who were very present in their lives. My children were very involved in sports, dance and extracurricular activites and their father and I were always present. We both volunteered in their classrooms from the time they entered preschool. My children were taught values and morals, they attended church services weekly. They had a balance of love and discipline in their lives. If you ask my children they BOTH say, "I had the best parents."
My son became addicted to drugs at a very young age. His father and I did all that we could to stop the progression of his addiction but it has taken 10 years for him to be able to celebrate a year in recovery. My daughter is a beautiful young woman raising 4 amazing children. I am very proud of both of my children and I consider myself a "good parent" even though my son HAS been to jail, and HAS gone to rehab. You came off sounding very pompous. I believe you just don't understand the nature of addiction. It certainly is not about "good parenting".
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
"The more I grow,
the more I realize
that MY MOM is the best
best friend I ever had.
PS, I love my mom
Last night I went to bed with a full heart. Thanking god for the miracle of sobriety in my sons life and for the 12 step program that is helping me become a better mom. It's not the life I planned but it's the one God planned for me. Finding miracles in everyday moments.
The second reason for the title is that living with addiction sometimes feels like you are sludging through the mud. It is wet, and messy, and sometimes your feet get so full of the muck that you just feel like you just can't take another step. As you watch your loved one sink deeper and deeper into their own dark hole you begin to feel defeated. Your legs become so heavy that you want to give up.
In my early days of recovery I learned that I could keep moving forward one step at a time, one day at a time, and sometimes one minute at a time. No matter how heavy the burden was if I just took baby steps I would be alright. In the beginning sometimes that meant just forcing myself to get out of bed. Somedays I was able to take a short walk or call someone on the phone. Somedays my goal was to just get to a meeting. Gradually I found myself learning to LIVE my life again. It was a slow process but I learned that I could get THROUGH this.
A few weeks ago my son took another 9 month chip. Somedays I find myself thinking,
"I'm so glad that's behind us." In AA they call it a "cunning and baffling" disease. It's funny because my disease is "cunning and baffling" too. How quickly I slip back into the old thinking I had back in the early days. The way I thought after he came home from his first rehab. "Great, now we can all get on with our lives." I find myself thinking "well, he completed his rehab, he lived in a clean and sober living environment for several months and now has a roomate who is working a solid AA program. He is attending AA, has a home group and a sponsor. He even has a job in a rehab." The truth is I KNOW ALL THAT DOES NOT GUARANTEE HE WILL BE CLEAN TOMORROW. Other days I find myself gripped with fear. The "what if's" run through my head. "What if he stops going to meetings, what if he doesn't call his sponsor. What if he loses his job." I have to be careful because these thoughts take me to my worst nightmare, "what if he goes back out there and he dies this time." The thoughts can lead me right back to the place I was in my early days of recovery, completely frozen by fear.
This disease will never be behind us. We will all be walking THROUGH this the rest of our lives. This is a long battle of one day at a time piecing together a life of sobriety. I will continually have to work on letting go of expectations, accepting the things I can not change, and giving my son the dignity to live his own life. Today I know that my son has a path to walk and our family also has a path to walk. Each day we all attempt to find our way through addiction.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
BUT For families whose lives have been affected by substance abuse all that is different. We no longer look forward to those special days with joyous anticipation we frankly just wish they would hurry and pass. We count the days until we can just get through THAT day and move on with our lives.
When families are affected by Substance Abuse there is an EMPTY CHAIR in the room. YOU feel it most on these days that were previously days of celebration but most families don't talk about it. It's a little like the proverbial "Elephant in the Room". Weather we have lost a loved one to death or to addiction, the lack of their presence is felt by all who love them. Our hearts are broken and our friends and family want to help but they are at a loss to know what to do. They fear if they bring up the obvious fact that someone is missing they will upset us. So no one says a thing. We go about the day pretending we are fine, trying to enjoy the party and inside just praying it will all be over soon.
It took me many years of recovery before I learned to let go of expectations of what the upcoming holiday would bring and to find joy in each day regardless of what my addicted son was doing. I missed him terribly but after years of being hurt from broken promises or unfullfilled expectations I let go of what I wished it could be like and accepted what was.
It wasn't easy. I missed my son, I wanted him with us. I wanted our family to be complete. I wanted my children happy again. However, all the wishing didn't change a thing. Don't get me wrong, I never stopped praying and I always held on to the HOPE that things would be that way again someday for our family. I learned that if I stayed in that place of desperately waiting for his return I missed out on the life that I had. Yes, HIS chair was empty at the time but the room was filled with people who loved me and who needed me to be emotionally present for them. As I learned to accept this I was able to find happiness again.
This Mother's Day I didn't have expectations of what my children would do to honor me. The day before Mother's Day I joined a group of my women friends in recovery to celebrate our lives as mothers. We joined together in celebration of what we have been through. We all started this journey from the moment they placed our babies in our arms filled with a deep, intense love for this little soul that we instantly felt responsible for. We paced the floors at night with sick infants just praying that we could find a way to offer them some peace from whatever was causing them distress. We felt the tear at our hearts when we sent them off to kindergarten. We felt the pain of watching them struggling to find their way as a adolescent in a world filled with challenges. NONE of us thought our journey down the road of MOTHERHOOD would take us to where we are today. When I sat in that room with 30 other mothers whose lives have been affected by addiction I was moved. I felt the love, strength of the women in that room. I saw women who had made a conscious decision to HOLD ON while they watched their precious child falling into the deep hole of addiction. No matter what, they never gave up. I felt an incredible love for these women. This certainly is not the life I had expected for our family but it is the life we have. I am so grateful for the women who have been by my side when I felt I didn't have the strength to face another day.
This Mother's Day was different. My son is sober so we were able to spend the day the way I had dreamed it would one day be. It was a wonderful gift and I was filled with gratitude that our family is healing but I really had no expectations for how the day would unfold. Recovery has taught me that I am responsible for my own happiness. Letting go of expectations freed me from my own personal prison of saddness. It has taught me to find joy in the little miracles that happen each day in my life.
Today is Father's Day. We didn't make big plans. Our daughter lives 8 hours away and our son although he is sober has a busy life. However as I type this my adult son is sleeping in the next room. That's enough for me. He set aside his busy life to spend the day with his dad. I know my husband feels the same way I do. There is no greater gift then tosee our son sober. I missed him when his addiction took him away from us. Last night my son, my husband and I took a train ride to go out to dinner. My son was showing us some funny things on his phone on the train ride home and we laughed and laughed. It was one of the hundreds of moments we have had in the last 8 months when I have wanted to freeze frame and save the moment. It has been a long time since we all laughed together. Addiction took us to some pretty dark places. I don't know if we'll go there again, to that dark abyss that threatens to rob our family of the joy we experienced last night. I do know that if I spend time worrying that all these little miracles will go away I will miss them. So for today, I am filled with gratitude that my son is sleeping soundly in the other room and when he wakes he will join his father and I to celebrate Father's Day.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
|BEHIND THE ORANGE CURTAIN DOCUMENTARY|
NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL
I have had a personal interest in this subject for a long time now since my own son's addiction to Opiates began with prescription pills that were prescribed by a doctor over 10 years ago. I have read many books about families who have been affected by addiction, I have attended 12 step support groups for families of Alcoholics or Addicts. I know first hand the pain that families go through when a loved one struggles with addiction. Attending this premiere was emotional for me. I have come to know and love some of the families who are featured in the documentary who have lost a child to a lethal overdose.
The evening started out with a candlelight vigil for the families who had lost a loved one. As I approached the theatre I saw the small gathering of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters listening to music as silent tears fell from their cheeks. I felt somewhat of an intruder as I approached the small group of men and women who held lit candles in remembrance of their lost sons or daughters. I found myself drawn into the group, the soft music and reverence of the moment lulled me in. I quickly spotted a friend, who has fought like a warrior this past year to get the word out to young people about how dangerous these drugs are. She has put her grief aside to go to schools and tell teens her story and to relive the loss of her son every time she speaks. This night, she is a grieving mom, this night, she is here to honor her son. I went to her side and put my arms around her. I was filled with emotion. How is it that my boy is still here? How is it that my boy walked in the darkness of his Addiction for the last 10 years and survived? I am constantly reminded that the line between life and death is so incredibly thin when drugs are involved. One bad hit, one too many pills, one deadly combination of drugs and alcohol and our lives are forever altered.
Then it was time for the documentary to begin. I sat next to a handsome young man and asked what brought him out to see this movie. He mentioned that he knew my friend who gives the talks at schools, he said that he was a friend of her sons. He then went on to explain that he is addicted to Heroin and that my friend is helping him get into a rehab. The next hour and a half I watched as the forlorn faces of mothers and fathers told the story of the personal hell their family experienced the night of their child's overdose. The moment the call came that changed the course of their lives forever. My mind kept flashing between my son and the young man sitting next to me. I was reminded of my own fear everytime my son didn't come home at night and how I would jump out of my skin everytime the phone would ring. Each time I saw another parent on the screen I thought that could be me, that could be this boys mom or dad.
It was a difficult night. Many of the faces of the parents on the screen were faces that I had seen earlier in the evening at the candlelight vigil or standing in line. They don't look much different from you or me on the outside but inside there is a hole that will never be filled. Every morning they wake up to the reality that their child is gone. They will never be able to hear the sound of their childs voice again. No more "I love you's". The bedroom at the end of the hall is filled with childhood memories and an emptiness that will never be filled. The lost love of their loved one can never be replaced.
When the movie ended and the screen turned black I I turned to the boy sitting next to me and said, "please, don't give up, please keep fighting to free yourself from this deadly disease", but I know from my experience with my son, that the pleading words of a parent or loved one are barely heard through the roar of addiction that will call this young man back into the darkness if he doesn't get help soon.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
People need to know the dangers of overdosing. When someone overdoses on an opiate it shuts down their respiratory system but this happens gradually. There is usually time to get help. One of the problems is that people do the wrong things. They leave their friend alone to "sleep it off", or they try to throw cold water on them, or yell at them. I have read about teens who have left a friend on the side of the road to die alone rather than risk getting into trouble themselves. Even adults have neglected to get medical services involved because of the fear that they themselves or their child will be prosecuted. It is crucial that the person gets immediate medical attention. In half of the cases of drug overdoses no one called 911 and a life could have been saved. Teenagers as well as parents need to be taught how to recognize an overdose and what they should do if they are in the presence of someone who overdoses.
Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/29/new-york-state-passes-good-samaritan-law-to-fight-overdose/#ixzz1sQqT7uft
My friend Jodi Barber, who woke up to find her son Jarrod barely breathing at 3 am on the living room couch had these wallet sized cards made. It was too late for Jarrod. It is sad that we have come to this but we have to do everything we can to warn teenagers about the dangers of overdosing.
Monday, April 16, 2012
If you know someone whose family has been affected by this epidemic please don't judge them. We all love our children. We all want the best for them. This battle is deadly. This battle robs families of all their hopes and dreams. It is painful. We need love and support from our friends. Help us fight to save lives.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Drug trends are in constant motion. Easy access to cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs is well documented. In addition, the internet provides another avenue to many different kinds of drugs or chemical concoctions that provide a high, a low, hallucinogenic or other experience. Some of these internet acquired concoctions can be more dangerous than heroin or methamphetamine. Even legitimate, commercially manufactured prescription drugs are available from international markets that do not have the same restrictions or laws as the U.S. The availability of drugs and the ability of Law Enforcement Authorities to stop this threat is daunting. Our 2011 Drug ID Guide on the left shows some of the internet connections as well as some of the latest drugs available.
The best time to offer support to young people is before the day arrives. Talk to them about their understanding of the day, experience of the day in the past, and anticipated pressures with it coming soon. There are so many myths about this day that it creates a great discussion. Offer ways to help them negotiate their way through it.
In addition, having drug testing supplies around the house helps the young person have a refusal skill when peer pressure occurs. It will occur. When they say, "my parents have a drug test and they will use it," then the peer pressure stops. The negative friends back away.
It's time to start talking to our teens about what's really going on in their lives.
Here is a link to Recovery Happens Newsletter about Marijuana http://gallery.mailchimp.com/7cd449941a71b253658f8defb/files/marijuana_2.0_pdf.1.pdf
CLEAN OUT YOUR MEDICINE CABINETS, GO TO GRANDMA'S HOUSE AND CLEAN OUT HER MEDICINE CABINET. TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND RELATIVES TO SPREAD THE WORD!!
PRESCRIPTION PILL (click on TAKE BACK DAY for link to the DEA website) IS APRIL 28th!! GET RID OF YOUR EXPIRED PILLS!!! GO TO YOUR SHERIFFS STATION AND TOSS THEM!!!
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Not MY KID, not at my HIGH SCHOOL, and certainly not IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD!!!!
We have to wake up people, this is going on in YOUR HIGH SCHOOL, YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, AND THESE ARE YOUR KIDS!!!!!
Today teens attend parties where bowls full of random prescription pills are available for the taking. Party attendees bring whatever prescription pills they have and toss them into a bowl and randomly reach in and take a handful. The introduction of Oxycontin and Opana (both prescription pain medications that are highly addictive) has caused a widespread epidemic that is robbing families of their loved ones.
Anyone who has lived with addiction knows that it devastates the entire family. Once a young person becomes addicted to drugs they no longer have a choice. The craving for the drug rules their every waking moment. The need for the drug takes them to places they never could have imagined.
There is a very poignant moment in the documentary, Overtaken, when Cole says, "I like to say Addiction robbed me of my my morals and my ethics, I stole thousands and thousands of dollars from my parents, I wrecked cars, I wrecked relationships, I traumatized my family, which today, I am not comfortable with but back then I didn't care."
These young people didn't set out to be drug addicts or to have their lives ruined by the craving for a drug. There is another line in the documentary that speaks to this,
"When you can stop, you don't want to,
and, when you want to stop you can't."
As I mentioned before, teenagers have brains that are still developing, They are very impulsive as a result of this immature brain development. They don't have the ability to make rationale decisions. One choice to take a pill can alter a person's life forever.
The lives of the Rubin family will be forever altered as a result of Aaron's overdose from Oxycontin in 2005. Aaron was in a coma for 3 weeks. Sherrie stated, "we were planning his funeral". Aaron is now quadriplegic, he communicates by using his hands and fingers. Today instead of attending college as a student, Aaron and his mother give presentations at colleges about the dangers of prescription drugs.
|Aaron Rubin and some of my classmates at Saddleback College|
|Sherrie and Aaron Rubin|
Some teens don't survive the overdose. Jarrod Barber was one of those teenagers whose life was cut short. On January 8, 2010 Jodi Barber and her husband, Bill woke up to find Jarrod barely breathing on the sofa. A few days later they were attending his funeral. Today rather than attending her sons college graduation, or helping to plan his wedding she is advocating to shut down pill mills and educating students in junior high and high school about the dangers of prescription pills. She and Christine Brandt produced the documentary OVERTAKEN. Jodi and Christine work tirelessly to educate our community about the dangers of these drugs.
|Jodi Barber and Christine Brandt|
|The Barber family|