Intervene

A blog for parents concerned about their teens alcohol and drug use




Archive for October, 2010
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Acceptance Doesn’t Mean Condoning a Loved One’s Addiction
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

It is difficult to recognize what acceptance is in this context. I went through this with my family for the past two decades – going back and forth about what it mean to accept that my child has a problem with drugs.

The initial reaction to drug abuse is often resistance and disgust. Parents and teens can dance a pattern of cause, effect and reaction; again and again, not realizing what they are dealing with until it is too late. In doing this, we lose opportunities for early intervention [download the Intervention e-Book]. We are too eager to believe our kid’s half-hearted contrition’s and resume the illusion of “normalcy.”

That’s the trap.  It is important to notice behavior in a teen and consider drug tests (Note: While home drug tests can be unreliable, having a doctor perform a drug test can be a helpful tool; Although be aware that teens find all sorts of ways to beat these tests and even professional tests can be inaccurate) to determine if a positive result should lead to intervention. If the result is oxy’s, heroin, meth, or anything like that, then, YES!  Accept it and map out some solutions. And in the process, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Unfortunately, our communities offer too little assistance and are quick to toss young addicts in jail for their petty drug-related crimes. Drug addiction in anyone’s family is a big cross to bear and helping an addict is not an easy path. Acceptance helps.

Acceptance and courage are old attributes. In life, we all get a chance to test these qualities; like the farmer watching his crops flood alongside an overflowing river.  His first reaction is denial! After accepting the urgency of the condition, the farmer would build sandbag levees. That is acceptance and transformation of agony into  courage and action. A parent building the levees of preparation for intervention or treatment for a teen bitten by addiction is like stepping into a vision that recovery and redemption are entirely possible. Acceptance in that context does not mean condoning drug addiction.

A parent can be tempted to believe that their child has ruined his life, but that person still needs to be accepted and feel hope. Addiction has a path of its own, and can trump what you do, so be prepared.

Have a plan without feeling a need to force it (download the Treatment e-Book). Look hard into the condition you are faced with. Be intentional, but don’t try and be God. When an opportunity arises, you will be ready to take action.

Even with all the money or support in the world, it simply is not a parent’s sole responsibility to solve this problem for their child; your loved one has to choose recovery and believe they can succeed.  At the end of the day, we are often left feeling powerless, but that doesn’t equal “giving up” or “rejecting an ugly condition”; it is a stark recognition of what one does not control. That is what acceptance feels like.

Posted by Bill Ford  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, Finding Treatment, Recovery & Relapse, Substance Abuse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



My Own Daughter’s Relapse
Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

We’re excited to introduce new blogger Carole Bennett, MA to the community!  Carole is author of the new book “Reclaim Your Life – You and the Alcohol/Addict” (www.reclaimyourlifebook.com) and the founder of Family Recovery Solutions, a counseling center for family and friends of loved ones with a drug or alcohol problem.  She is the mother of 21-year-old “Lucy.”

I want to share something very personal with you; my own daughter’s relapse.  I doubt if I would be the complete clinician if I did not walk in some of your shoes, share the same trials and tribulations, victories and successes.  So, I’m hopeful that you won’t be offended if I share my recent heartache and despair with you.

My daughter (let’s call her Lucy) was and is a beautiful woman of 21.  Though every mother thinks their child is beautiful, Lucy really is.  Almost 6 feet tall, a knockout figure, dark straight hair, olive skin and almond shaped smoldering eyes.  She could have easily been a model.  I can say this, as she is adopted, so I had nothing to do with her amazing looks.  However, this beautiful young lady is covered with tattoos scattered about her body with little or no thought as to what she is permanently inking.  One looks like a car engine and is supposed to be a music box; another is a musician that I don’t think she has ever heard of and whose hair covers most of his face.  Her ear lobes sport gages that are so big, the middle part of a sugar ice cream cone would fit comfortably through it.

Though I’m not thrilled that Lucy has decided to permanently use her body as a grease board, it does not make me love her any less.

Let me take a paragraph or two to give you a little history.  As I said, Lucy was adopted and from an early age started pulling out her hair.  Defiant toward teachers and combative at every turn toward her father and me, Lucy would fly into uncontrollable temper tantrums. By the time the 7th grade rolled around, Lucy could not attend the public school system and was sent to alternative schools in and out of California that specialized in behavioral issues.  I honestly don’t know when the dabbling into drugs took effect, but dabbling quickly turned into addiction.  Lucy became a garbage pail for any drug from acid to mushrooms to heroin.  Cutting and anorexic type behavior became the norm as well.

Lucy managed to graduate from high school and opted to live with her birth grandparents in Oregon.  Our communication at that time was tense and volatile and I had no idea if she was clean and sober or continuing with her addiction.  Lucy made it clear that she had no interest in considering any of my suggestions   for continued education or career choices.

After a few years of doing little but lying on the couch, Lucy moved to Los Angeles and reconnected with some family members professing that she needed a fresh beginning for her life.  Lucy swore that she was clean and sober, and these family members embraced her with open arms.  Sadly, sobriety was the last thing on her mind, and so started the revolving door of rehabs and sober living housing.

Gratefully, somewhere along the way, Lucy did embrace a clean and sober life style.  She attended AA meetings regularly, had a sponsor, and got a job and her own apartment.  On her first year birthday of sobriety, we gathered like a flock of geese holding wads of Kleenex as we watched our loved one receive her one year chip.  Finally, after all these years, maybe, just maybe Lucy might be on her way to experiencing the goodness that a sober lifestyle has to offer and we in turn could take a long awaited sigh of relief. That was 14 months ago.

Sadly and unfortunately many alcoholic/addicts become complacent about their recovery.  They foolishly think they can start to pick and chose their recovery path believing that they now have learned when to cut off their alcohol intake, or because their drug of choice was alcohol, one line of coke is no big deal. The recovering alcoholic/addict knows that this thinking is “b.s.”, but they forge ahead anyway.

So was true with my dear Lucy. She strongly stated that she hadn’t relapsed as smoking a joint 3 times a day had nothing to do with substance abuse.  However, that was just the beginning of the downward spiral. Lately when I see her, she is unfocused, easily agitated, defensive and dirty. This last week, a planned family dinner witnessed Lucy making several trips to the bathroom.  Was she throwing up her dinner, and back to the days of bingeing and purging, getting high or both?  Regardless, it was clear that her clean and sober days were over.

I have spent many sleepless nights and shed buckets of tears over my daughter’s disease and the devil that has her as a captive audience. But, there is nothing I can do, as she has not sought help and my involvement (for the umpteenth time) has more often than not proven futile.  I am left with prayer.  Praying that her “higher power” will take care of her and that hopefully one day, like once before, she will pick herself up from the ashes and scratch and claw her way back to a healthy lifestyle.

I share this story with you, so if you have experienced something similar, you will know that you are not alone.  There seems to be strength in numbers, even if you don’t know the person next to you. I am a professional counselor – an expert in my field, yet I don’t have the answers for my child, or can show her that her decisions are poor ones.  Instead my heart breaks with the same pain, sadness and fear that any loving parent has when their child is heading 100 miles an hour for a brick wall.

Thank you for allowing me to open up my heart and soul to a caring population of family members and friends who travel the same path as so many of us do on a daily basis.

Editor’s Note:  If you’re a parent of a child struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, please visit Time To Get Help — a new online resource and community from The Partnership at Drugfree.org.

Posted by Carole Bennett  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Family History, Recovery & Relapse, Substance Abuse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



A new “medication” for treatment of opioid addiction?
Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Like me, you may be seeing the headlines from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement late yesterday that an existing medication for the treatment of alcohol dependence has now been approved for the treatment of opioid dependence.  The approval of the medication is for use among adults over the age of 18 and is phrased by the FDA as, “for the prevention of relapse to opioid dependence.” 

 

This could be a major positive development for families with a young adult dealing with an addiction to prescription pain medications or heroin.  The non-narcotic, non-addictive medication, Vivitrol from the company Alkermes is certain to get the attention of physicians, treatment professionals, patients and their families.  Because addiction is a chronic disease of the human brain, and opioid addiction, in particular, is so often characterized by frequent relapse, this new FDA approval could mean that a person entering treatment for addiction to an opioid would have the benefit of a once-monthly, opioid-blocking medication during treatment and for some period afterward. 

 

My view is that this medication, or any medication of this kind, must be used at the same time with appropriate addiction treatment services, including psychosocial support.  I believe that is consistent with what experts are saying about the emerging field of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).  MAT is an approach to treatment of substance use disorders that combines use of a medication with appropriate treatment services, including counseling and behavioral therapy. 

 

This should come as good news to parents who are at the center of our mission.  Over the past year, The Partnership at Drugfree.org has worked closely with parents and experts in the treatment and recovery field to create Time To Get Help.This new treatment resource and community helps parents and caregivers gain a better understanding of teen alcohol and drug abuse, dependence and addiction; get support from experts and other parents who have been there and understand the challenges and emotions of caring for an addicted child; and find the right treatment for their child and family. 

 

I encourage Intervene readers to take a closer look at Time To Get Help, share it with others and also provide us feedback on how to make this new resource better and more useful in the future.  It absolutely must reflect the needs of families and address all the key areas of concern.  For example, pincluding more information and a deeper understanding of MAT and what the options are?  What are your thoughts on opioid addiction and approaches like MAT? We would love to hear from you.

Posted by Steve Pasierb  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Finding Treatment, Recovery, Recovery & Relapse, Treatment  /  Comments: more



Lifeboats: Taking Care of Yourself During Your Child’s Drug Addiction
Monday, October 11th, 2010

Being the parent of an addict ain’t fun.  In fact, it feels like hell on earth.

But, it’s survivable.  Even in the middle of all the chaos, never forget to climb into your lifeboat and save yourself first.  You are of no help to anyone if you are drowning, too.

A lifeboat can be a special person, place, memory and/or feeling.  It can be tangible or not.  A lifeboat helps you take care of yourself and it’s something you go back to time and time again.

What are your lifeboats?

My lifeboats include:

holding-handsMy granddaughter

 

motorcycleA motorcycle ride

 

ronandwifeDate night every Friday night with my wife

 

 woodworkWorking in my wood shop in the basement

 

  koiMowing the yard and tending to my koi pond

 

 chair3A glass of tea in my adirondack chair under the tree

 boatBoating at the lake

 

 Please share your lifeboats below.

Posted by Ron Grover  /  Filed under Addiction, Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more






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