I want to share with you an email I received from a mom who responded to my question of how she is able to stay strong when dealing with the constant insanity and heartbreak of an addicted daughter.
“How did I get so strong? I suppose from paying the dues that come from loving an addict. Learning the definition of insanity … Expecting different results from the same actions. Seeking help from wonderful mentors such as yourself. Reading, Googling, talking, walking the floors, crying, forgiving, and most importantly of course praying. Like I’ve never prayed before. For my child, our family and families like yours.
“It seems so clear to me now, somehow. she will have to save herself. She desperately needs to be humbled. That won’t happen if I am not strong. I haven’t abandoned her. I have put her in touch with everything she needs to fight her battle. She has to reach out and embrace it. I’m praying she, and your son both, will reach out accept the help that is available to them.”
My prayer is for all parents to find that which makes them strong.
The Families Anonymous “Today A Better Way” daily reading book for parents is a very good source for gaining understanding, peace and serenity … one page at a time.
The book is written by parents who have experienced the agony of having a child addicted to alcohol or other drugs.
No matter what you may be experiencing with your child — resentment, pain, mistakes you feel you have made, or anger — it will be addressed in this little book.
These are daily readings for parents just like you and me. What they share is very powerful, giving you hope, knowledge help in preparing you for this difficult journey. You will find yourself referring to it often and growing stronger day by day.
Go to www.familiesanonymous.org to order your copy. It may be the best $10 you ever spend. Go to the lower right side of the website and, under the heading “Shopping Cart,” click on “visit the shop.” When the page appears, click on the picture of the red book titled, “Today A Better Way.”
It is like a map to help you navigate the troubled waters you are experiencing.
An estimated 20.5 million people needed but did not receive alcohol or drug treatment in the past year.
Why did they not receive treatment?
* 40.2 percent were not ready to stop using.
* 32.9 percent did not have health coverage and could not afford treatment.
* 11.5 percent said it might have a negative effect on their job.
* 11.3 percent said they were concerned about the negative opinions.
* 9.9 percent indicated they could handle the problem without treatment.
* 9.3 percent did not know where to go for treatment.
* 7.8 percent did not feel they needed treatment at the time.
* 6.8 percent did not want anyone to find out.
* 6.3 percent sad they had no transportation and/or inconvenient
There’s another growing population that were not represented in this study.
It is our children who do not know how to stop. Their minds have been altered by the continuous ingestion of toxic substances.
Do not expect them to make logical decisions.
They are mentally ill and did not choose to be the way they are.
Stop treating our addicted children as criminals.
I recently visited with a father who was desperate to find ways to help his addicted son find recovery.
The son is in his early 30s and in jail. He never has been able to maintain sobriety for longer than a year, and is scheduled to be released soon. He faces a five-year prison sentence if he doesn’t complete a six-month treatment program.
The extended family and friends long ago gave up on his son.
This parent’s greatest fear is he will return to his world of addiction.
One reason he is likely to do so is his disease has convinced him that treatment doesn’t work for him. He has tried treatment programs over and over and continues to relapse, so he feels he is one of those chosen few who will just have to die.
That is the addictive thinking that can be altered if the addicted child can see a reason for hope.
Hope is given to the child through family cohesion which is expressed in an organized and supervised fashion by a licensed alcohol/drug counselor who specializes in codependency.
A professional should be involved in recovery because family and friends influence each other. The counselor needs to evaluate the status of this social system as the son re-enters his world.
Long-term recovery is much more likely when the child knows he has the potential to bond with his family and friends.
My primary point to this dad was he needed to stay involved with his addicted child, but not enable him. I do not want parents just to “wait for the child to hit bottom” because we know now that “bottom” is another term for death.
Also, a willingness to develop personal responsibility for better health is the key to long-term recovery. This is possible by forgiveness, love and hope shared with the child.
“Broken” author William Cope Moyers, who is in recovery himself, recently stated in a radio interview, ” … finally, one day, I decided I didn’t want to die and I needed to take personal responsibilit … There is no cure for addiction, but there is a solution and that solution includes personal responsibility.”
In reading his book, one element which supported the author in finding personal responsibility was he knew he had a supportive family.
As parents, we should stay involved – but do not enable — to prevent an addicted child’s death. We can replace our child’s dope dealer by becoming his/her “hope” dealers.
I invited a very special mom to share her addiction journey with her daughter with you.
It is in the sharing of our struggles and grief that we are all untied and supported in our quest for recovery.
Grief is universal, yet very uniquely personal. Put into this language, a unique story of loss – loss of a child to addiction even though they continue to live.
“My daughter left out the front door. I ran after her. She got into the car of a young man. I screamed, “Please, please don’t go.” They drove off, and I fell to the floor and wept, and screamed, and wept, and hurt. My heart grieved – again!
Living with a child addicted to drugs is in my personal, humble opinion … one of the most painful things a parent could ever have to do.
You see, I counsel people in their grief journey. But one thing I have recognized is they have a place to move up from and get better. The loss is final. The story of a life is told with joy while the story of the loss is told with grief. Then the story of how they incorporate the loss into a meaningful chapter for their own lives.
What they experience is “healing from moving on or moving forward from the close of a chapter.” I soon realized that my grief is so completely different. My grief is mixed with fear of the future and trauma from the past path of destruction. You see we have loss in both directions.
Addiction can cause a parent to grieve the past and ruminate on what they could have done, should have done, should have known and didn’t do! We question our parenting skills, our sanity, and we question the entire child’s life.
We question what could have been and we grieve. We question the loss of our dreams we held for this child and we grieve. We question the signs and symptoms, and we grieve. We question our mate and those around us who have given up on our child, and we grieve. We question what caused this, and we grieve.
We question what the future might hold and we become fearful – and we grieve. We question how we will handle another relapse – and we grieve. We question what kind of life they will have – and we grieve. Grief seems to run backwards, forwards, and sideways. It is a very different kind of grief.
My grief recovery work began with telling my story to others who understand. It is in the sharing that we find relief. My recovery work also began with me. I had to accept the hard truth that my daughter has a disease and there was nothing I had done then that caused the disease.
I had to accept the hard truth that this disease of addiction will lie, steal, cheat, manipulate and anger me if I don’t stand up to the disease and refuse it’s tentacles to invade my own mental, emotional and spiritual well-ness.
My daughter’s brain is diseased and she will have to manage it for the rest of her life, if she wants to live well. My grief work also begins in the morning where each day I consciously choose to release her to the loving care of my Heavenly Father and trust in Him with her destiny.
I ask for the strength to accept it for just this day. Tomorrow, I begin again. As time moves on … I recognize that healing can and is taking place.
Our grief is loss of the child we once knew, the child who slowly died in our anticipation for dreams to be fulfilled, our grief over loss of what we thought would be, even our grief over the trauma from seeing the path of destruction – all of which can render us paralyzed in the reality of an unknown and unpredictable future.
We grieve the loss of our self. This grief journey can also be a blessing in that we are offered a silent valley to insight. We do draw closer toward a spiritual self as we soon realize how many things in life simply do not matter.
What begins to matter is the compassion we feel to those suffering from this disease and those loved ones trying to find their way out of the grief. We find our humanity – and that to me is “losing self to find one’s self.”
For me, finding that deeper place of spirituality means drawing near to my Jesus and becoming completely dependent on Him instead of becoming closer to the co-dependency of my addicted child. I am blessed to have found my Savior in the midst of unexpressible pain. I am blessed, and I am hopeful … again.”
– Paula Nevius, LPC, LADC
The following is Part 2 of my responses from parents on what they have learned from their experiences with addiction and their child.
“I learned that I can only control how I react to a person, a situation or a comment.”
“I have learned not to engage in arguments with my child. Disengage!”
“I have learned my daughter’s addiction is not my fault.”
“I have learned that a relapse starts well before an addict actually engages in substance abuse.”
“I have learned It is a disease and that is cunning, baffling and powerful. ”
“I have learned It is so much more powerful than I am.”
“I have learned I am powerless over my daughter and her choices.”
“I have learned that powerlessness does not mean helpless or weakness.”
“I learned the more I try to control another person place or thing the less peace I have in my life.”
“I have learned that consequences do not matter to addicts.”
“I learned that my daughter is a sick kid trying to get better and not a bad kid trying to get good.”
“I learned to ask for help.”
“I have learned that 12-step programs work.”
“I learned to trust the process. ”
“I learned to let my son suffer his own consequences.”
“I learned that there is hope.”
What parent’s have learned through their own personal recovery:
“I learned that there is a God and it is not me.”
“I learned that I did the very best I could with what I had … and that was enough.”
“I learned that I love my daughter with all my heart but I have my own life to live.”
“I learned to save myself and let my family watch.”
“To live in the present moment.”
“I learned to be grateful for everything.”
“I learned that there are miracles.”
“I learned that I am worthy of love and have a tremendous capacity to love other people.”
“I learned that prayer is powerful.”
“I learned to experience all there is in this life.”
“I have learned about accepting the things I cannot change and learned to have courage to change the things I can. ”
“I have learned to forgive myself.”
“I learned that fear is selfish.”
“I learned to trust.”
“I learned to laugh again.”
“I learned how to have my head, my heart and my body in the same place at the same time.”
I learned to love this life I am living one day at a time.”
I wondered what wisdom might be be gained by asking the question, “What have you learned on your journey with your addicted child?”
I sent that question out to a number of parents who I knew had many years of experience on the journey to recovery.
I was very blessed with a plethora of responses from Mom’s and Dad’s, just like you and me.
“I have learned I am not alone.”
“I can have peace in the midst of my son’s bad decisions and chaotic life.”
“I learned I must be prepared to say “let me think about that.”
“I learned I did not cause the disease of addiction. I made some parenting mistakes but it did not cause the disease.”
“I learned I can move closer to dependency on Christ as I move further from my codependency of the disease.”
“I must be prepared to say, ‘No.’ ”
“I must accept that her thinking will not be in line with mine but that my love for her crosses those differences.”
“I must accept the reality that my daughter will have to manage ‘her’ disease for the rest of her life.”
“I learned that micro-managing my child’s life wasn’t the solution to keeping him away from drugs and alcohol, nor was making sure he associated with the ‘right’ people.”
” I learned that when substance abuse is in the picture, I can literally love my child to death by enabling him.”
“I learned there is a reason that when the oxygen masks come down on the plane, I’m supposed to put on my own before assisting another. I cannot help my child if my own basic needs are unmet.”
“I learned that I cannot always fix things, but regardless of my child’s path, I can love him unconditionally.”
“I learned that it is OK to give myself permission to grieve some of my hopes and dreams I had for my child, and then to move on with Life on its own terms.”
“I learned God knows what my child needs far better than I. Let go!”
“I learned I am grateful for what I have learned and how I have grown by going through these trials!”
“I have learned that my child’s choices are his own, and that I am not responsible for those choices.”
Recent news stories:
* A man is charged with second-degree rape, admits having sex with a woman he met while he was working.
* Another man is picked up for driving under the influence.
* A third man is charged with drunken driving after an auto accident.
* A woman is charged with filing a false police report and child endangerment.
You’ve heard these kinds of stories before, you say? Most likely, you have. But there is something a little different with each of these.
The man facing the rape charge was an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper who stopped the alleged victim, then drove her home, where the sexual incident occurred. He since has resigned, but still has the legal issues to battle.
The man picked up for driving under the influence is the well known, former president of a noted, religion-based university which his father founded
The third man, who was arrested after the traffic accident and faces a felony drunken driving charge, is a sitting city council member. Whether the incident will cost him his job is unknown at this time.
The woman is an attorney, who claims she was under the influence of crystal methamphetamine and caring for a small child when she reported a home invasion to officers. She is facing action from the Oklahoma Bar Association.
There were other stories, involving individuals not so high profile.
Such as …
* A young couple were found passed out in a car, with the engine running, while sitting in a urine-soaked back seat was a toddler.
* Officers and workers at a health care charity allegedly paid themselves big bonuses while they were in the business of helping others in need.
* Several physicians, who took oaths to doctor those with health issues, were disciplined by the state medical board for their actions, ranging from drug use to drug supplying to poor practices.
In each case, a person or people with a responsibility who acted poorly. In some instances, dangerously.
Whatever their reasoning, they violated rules and standards. Each has a problem they must face.
These are some of the challenges addressed in our “know it” topics, assembled through our multimedia resources.
From knowit.newsok.com/addiction-oklahoma to knowit.newsok.com/mental-health to knowit.newsok.com/religion-faith-oklahoma, knowit.newsok.com/chairty-oklahoma and more, there’s information for you.
Check them out.
The cartoons in the “funny pages” of the paper are not just there to make us laugh. A cartoon is often the medium an artist uses to make us think. He uses it to make statement or moral point he wants to confer to his observers.
There was a Garfield cartoon earlier this week in The Oklahoman that I cut out and taped to my monitor to remind me that I’m OK.
Jon points his finger at Garfield and says, “You’re not perfect, you know.”
Garfield pauses to process this statement and thinks, “I must agree” but then he adds, “It is my one fault.”
First I had a chuckle, then I realized that I am just a person, not perfect, and I can own up to my faults, but I don’t have to carry the guilt of faults that are not really mine to own.
That’s pretty powerful if you think about it.
All parents look back at the way they raised their children and see mistakes they made, better ways they could have handled problems and crises than they did in the moment. Parents of addicted children are especially good at that. They heap blame and shame unmercifully on themselves. This is neither healthy nor helpful.
I have never met a parent mired in this world of addiction who did not enable his child. It is just a fact that, even after having read every book on addiction, attended Families Anonymous and/or Al-Anon meetings, had personal counseling by a licensed therapist, you will, on occasion, still enable your child. You do the very best you can, reaching out with love and encouragement, and there is no blame or shame in that.
Nothing you did drove him to make the choices he made.
Forgiveness of our loved one is a first step toward our own healing, our personal recovery. But the next step is to put the mistakes you thought you made with your child in the past. We did what every parent would do, has done and will continue to do, as they grope with the insane world of addiction.
I encourage you to focus your forgiveness on your addicted child.
No forgiveness is necessary for you!
I hear often from many individuals on how a friend or relative made a conscious decision one day to quit abusing alcohol or other drugs. The individual who suddenly quits may have had a short stay in the local jail, or perhaps he/she fails in love and that love, the person will tell you, was greater than his/her desire to continue abusing a drug of choice.
These examples are simply anomalies and may not be associated with the disease of addiction. The disease I write about in my blog is one of a chronic condition that is medically accepted as a brain disease, a primary disease. At this stage, an individual does not have the mental or physical ability to stop without help.
I recently had a conversation with an alcoholic who just celebrated 24 years of sobriety. I asked him how he found sobriety and he simply said that he decided one day to just check himself into an in-patient treatment program. He went on to say that most of the alcoholics he has met while in treatment had a similar experience.
I was taken aback by his explanation, so I decided to investigate further. My research indicates that it’s rare when an individual, of his own accord, makes a decision to enter an in-patient program. Sure enough, I learned that he was divorced and the divorce was a direct result of his drinking.
In addition, he was sent to jail for several months and of course, he lost his job due to inability to perform his duties. Finally, he admitted he was homeless and his car had been impounded.
Now, all this occurred over an extended period, but you can see that it was the accumulation of repeated consequences that brought him to his moment of clarity.
It’s obvious that if everything is going well in your life, as you continue to abuse alcohol or other drugs, there would not be any reason to make a conscious decision to go into treatment. This is why most alcohol/drug counselors will advise family and friends to allow the natural consequences abusing alcohol/drugs to create that moment of awareness for their loved ones.
If you have a loved one who suffers from the disease of addiction, reach out to them through love and do a formal intervention. Please get them the help they need.
I have never heard of an intervention that failed. Even if the individual refuses the help, he/she will know how much they are loved. Rest assured that eventually they will return and seek the help you have offered.
To understand the disease of addiction, I recommend visiting Dr. Kevin McCauley’s Web site and ordering his excellent DVD on addiction.