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Archive for August, 2011
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My Son’s Drug Addiction: What I Learned About Myself
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Father and SonWhen I learned my son was addicted to drugs, my focus was on him and his addiction. Like many parents, I felt that his addiction was every bit my problem as it was his. I tirelessly tried to fix his addiction.  After a few years of repeated behaviors and strong reactions, no one got better.

I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.

It wasn’t until I realized that I had so much to learn about myself and how I was reacting to this disease did I begin to feel better. I realized that my son’s sobriety was not within my ability to control. The extent of my authority over this disease ended at the tip of my nose.

“What have I learned?” I think this is the most important question a parent of a teen with an addiction can ask him- or herself. This self-reflective question emphasizes you, the parent, and not the child with the drug problem.

In the midst of crisis and drama, it is difficult to figure out what to do to support a loved one with an addiction. A parent cannot deal successfully with the chaos this disease brings if he or she is feeling fear and anger within.

True education occurs when we can sit quietly and reflect upon the events and look critically at our own role as a loving and supportive parent.

Without quiet contemplation and analysis of my own actions, a parent can fall into the same traps and reactions. After a long period of doing the same thing over and over again, you many begin questioning, ‘who is the crazy one in this picture?’

Working through the layers of actions and experiences to figure out what one has learned may or may not be a solitary exercise. Counselors, therapists, fellow loved ones of addicts can be brought in to help with this deliberation.

However, in the end, the decisions lie with you and how you choose to internalize the learning. Following that, you begin to realize the truism of the saying, “Nothing changes, if nothing changes.”

“What have I learned?” is a recurring theme throughout parenting a loved one with an addiction.

What have I learned through the years? A better question would be what have I learned, unlearned and re-learned? This disease is not one that lends itself to a standardized treatment regimen that guarantees recovery. In fact, recovery is actually a misnomer in that there is a new normal.

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Posted by Ron Grover  /  Filed under Addiction, Hope, parenting, Recovery, Self-reflection, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



Get Out of My Way: A Song About Crack Cocaine Addiction and Broken Dreams
Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Get out of my way. That’s exactly what I wanted everyone to do when I was active in my addiction. If a person didn’t have money or something I could sell for crack cocaine, then I wanted nothing to do with them. All that my family could do was watch the whirlwind of devastation from the sidelines. They tried to encourage me to seek help, but I didn’t want to hear a word they said.

As the years past, my addiction became all-consuming and that love affair turned into the only thing I cared about.  I can recall countless times looking intently at the person staring back at me each time I walked by a mirror. During the height of my addiction, I couldn’t stand my reflection as it reminded of me how I lost myself to drugs.  But as I began my recovery, slowly overtime I started to appreciate my presence. I shifted my thought process so that I would no longer be running away from the person that I wanted to become.

By the time I chose to become sober, I had accumulated many broken dreams, torn relationships and a loss of trust between me and the people I cared about most.  My choice of sobriety didn’t happen after an intervention or an epiphany on a random day.  It occurred over time after a series of desperate moments.  Those feelings of hopelessness convinced me that I needed to get and remain sober if I wanted to reclaim my life.

I’m grateful to be alive and well today and I owe a lot of it to hard work and self-reflection.  It couldn’t have happened if I didn’t work toward a life in recovery.  I had to drop the anger, stop blaming others and clean up every aspect of my life.  I quit name calling to deflect the anger that I was feeling internally for not being able to stop using drugs.  I had to stop and eventually I became strong enough to do just that.

I captured these struggles in the song “Get Out of My Way,” which I co-wrote with my twin brother, Rock Star.  This song expresses those moments of fighting off the beast and the raw intensity of drug addiction that held me captive for nearly 15 years.

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Posted by Super Star  /  Filed under Addiction, Cocaine, Patience, Recovery, Shame, Treatment  /  Comments: more



Teens Only Listen to One Person…Themselves: How a Child’s Own Reasons for Change Lead to the Most Success
Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Beautiful Teen Girl In Hospital Gown Crying

This guest post is by Dr. Michael Pantalon, author of “Instant Influence: How to Get Anyone to Do Anything–Fast” (Little, Brown and Company).

Imagine you are in the Emergency Department (ED) with your 16-year-old daughter who was brought in for her second episode of alcohol poisoning in six months.  The doctor is about to discharge her because, medically, she’s fine, but you know she’s going to go right back to heavy drinking, if you don’t do something.  You and your husband feel you’ve tried everything to help your daughter, but you also believe that there has to be some way to take advantage of this dire emergency to motivate her to get into treatment and to stop drinking.

I’ve seen hundreds of families in this very situation and their dilemma is always the same: they all want to influence their child to get on a better path, but they don’t know that there is a quick, easy and scientifically-proven way of getting the job done.  The approach I’m referring to is called “Instant Influence.”  It’s based on Motivational Interviewing, which in its briefest form, has been shown to reduce substance use among adolescents and young adults seen in the ED, as well as, my 20 years of experience motivating some of the most resistant to change substance abusing children and adults in a wide variety of settings.

People tend to only listen to one person — themselves.  And, as a result, they’re only influenced by one person …again — themselves.  So, as frustrating as this may be for a parent who would like to sternly say, “You have to stop!” and to have that be enough, the real trick to motivating someone is to get them to convince themselves to make a change for their own good reasons.

But how do you do this?  How might the mom in the example above motivate her daughter to finally accept treatment for her drinking problem?

The two most important things to do are:

1)    STOP trying to motivate your child by telling her about your feelings, thoughts or reasons for change, such as, “You’re worrying me to death!” “I think you HAVE to go to rehab right from the hospital” or “The best reason for you to stop drinking is for your health.”

2)    START asking your child questions that are specially-designed to evoke her own good reasons for change.

To help you remember what things you should vs. should NOT say, I’ve devised two simple lists for parents to follow:

DON’T…

Express your anger. Of course, as a parent, you are feeling angry, but expressing it doesn’t motivate your daughter.  Your anger is very likely legitimate, but if we stick to the idea that kids change when they hear themselves argue in favor of the change, yelling will NOT evoke such reasons – it may even make it harder for her to come up with good reasons to change.

Blame. It’s not a time to figure out who’s responsible for allowing the situation to get so bad, but instead, to garner some motivation to move forward with a better plan.

Confront her with admonitions to stop. Of course she knows you want her to stop drinking!  She doesn’t need to hear that, nor will it be motivating.  I know it feels almost irresponsible NOT to say that she HAS to stop drinking, but because of “reverse psychology,” it could be demotivating.

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Posted by Michael Pantalon, PhD  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, getting help, Motivational Interviewing, tough love, Treatment  /  Comments: more



Hope, Patience and My Son’s Recovery
Friday, August 19th, 2011

Father and teenage sonMy journal entry: After three years of sobriety, my son’s growth is evident. He laughs more easily, he watches more calmly and he protects himself better. He knows where he hurts and he pays attention to what is coming. He’s more reflective, thoughtful, less impulsive and more honest. He has good friends. Part of my son died with the addiction, but the son I know is still here. Suffice it to say that he is becoming a strong and caring man. He is finding his way back to himself.

My reflection today is based on the entry above: One year earlier, my son told me, “When I awake in the morning, I know if it’s going to be a good day. Some mornings, I reach for a word and it’s like reaching into the fog. Other mornings, when I reach for a word, I pluck it easily out of the air.” He continued, “I’m frustrated that some days aren’t clear, but I guess it will take time. I need to be patient.”

His words reminded me that we need him to stay close and love him through his recovery.

Today’s Promise: I will remain patient and not jump ahead of his process of recovery. The joy is in sobriety, one day at a time. Learning to live in abstinence will take time for him. I am grateful for today. I’ll pray for tomorrow.

What is your promise to yourself today?

Related Links
9 Steps to Take When Your Recovering Teens Comes Home Again
Hope
Stay Close

Posted by Libby Cataldi  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Hope, Patience, Recovery, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: 1



Taking Action Against My Son’s Drug Problem
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Father and teenage sonHow could a recovering alcoholic and addict possibly fail to recognize the symptoms of drug abuse in his own teenager?   Stupidity?  Blindness?  I’d have to say both, combined with a powerful, potentially deadly dose of trust.

In 8th grade, my son was part of the Gifted Students Program.  One year later, he nearly failed his freshman year.  But there were what my wife, Paula, and I mistakenly considered, mitigating circumstances.

The summer prior to attending high school, he suffered a bout of mononucleosis, and the doctor warned us that the illness could reoccur.  He seemed to have fully rebounded in time to attend classes, and even to compete on the high-school wrestling team. But in a matter of months he started coming home exhausted, going directly to his bedroom, and “sleeping,” or more accurately “passing out.”  He looked pale, with dark circles under his eyes, and he lost his appetite and grew skinny.

All signs and symptoms of drug abuse.  But did we see it?  No.  He also quit wrestling.  A teen withdrawing from sports and activities they used to love is also another big red flag.  And we completely missed it.

Instead we brought him back to the doctor, thinking the mononucleosis had returned.  His tests came back negative, including another for the closely related Epstein-Barr virus.

Now let me cut to the chase.

In the first week of his sophomore year, he was caught ditching class, four days out of eight in World History, and it’s then that my wife and I finally put it together.  We confronted him as soon as he came home that day.

“Are you using drugs?”

“No.”

“Look me in the eye,” I said, “and tell me you’re not getting high.”

Fortunately he’s not much of a liar, and he could only glance up at me, then he lowered his eyes.  But the lie came anyway.

“No,” he said.  “I don’t use drugs.  I’ve just been sick.”

Our biggest mistake was in trusting him.  But we trusted him because we love him and because he had never lied to us before.  Little lies?  Sure.  What kid hasn’t?  A big lie, like drug use?  No.  Not to our knowledge.  We were in denial and wanted to believe him. That wanting to trust, that need, that desire can be lethal.

Given my own dark past, I put the word out on him among the recovering addicts I know.

A simple question:

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Posted by James Brown  /  Filed under Addiction, Confronting Teens, Ecstasy, Family History, Family members, getting help, Treatment, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more






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