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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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



Instructions on the Use of Alcohol, an Excerpt from James Brown’sThis River
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Editor’s Note: We’re excited to welcome back award-winning author James Brown to the Intervene community.  Earlier this month James released his latest book This River, a memoir providing an honest portrait of an addict and his new struggles with sobriety, relapse  and becoming a better father.  This book provides a great opportunity for discussion with other parents as well as with your child suffering with an addiction.  We are giving away two free copies of This River to two lucky commenters — please see the end of this post for details.

In many ways, This River: A Memoir, is a follow up to my last memoir, The Los Angeles Diaries, which gained a strong following among many young people, at least in part because the material revolves around drug and alcohol abuseThis River picks up where my last left off, describing my once tenuous relationship with sobriety, telling of agonizing relapses, and tracing my attempts to become a better father.  It has been considered by some a heartbreaking and at times uplifting tale of my battles, peeking into my former life as an addict and alcoholic, and detailing my subsequent ascent to sobriety and fight for redemption. 

I wrote This River for many of the same reasons I wrote The Los Angeles Diaries.  I felt compelled to tell the truth about my life, and how drugs and alcohol destroyed so much of it, leaving me lost and alienated from those whom I most loved, my wife and children.  I certainly don’t glamorize or romanticize drugs and alcohol, and I like to believe that some people who have struggled with addiction, especially those with their whole lives still ahead of them, have come to respect my work for telling it like it is. I’ve been asked by dozens of colleges where, to my delight, my book has been used as a class text, and many times I’ve been approached afterward by a student with his or her own story to share, and thanking me for sharing mine.  Not only is that a tremendous, wonderful honor, but it makes spending all those long hours alone in a room writing my memoirs worth every second.

A brief excerpt from This River from a piece titled “Instructions on the Use of Alcohol”:

Part I

You’re young, maybe 9 or 10, and your parents are throwing a party.  All the adults are laughing and talking too loudly, in general having a good time, and you put two and two together.  What makes them happy comes out of those bottles on the kitchen counter.

The brown ones, you learn soon enough, contain whiskey and scotch.  The clear ones hold vodka and gin and that odd-shaped bottle with the long neck, something called Midori, contains a thick, syrupy green liquid.  That’s the one that intrigues you most, and when the adults aren’t looking you pour yourself a glass.  You sneak it into your room.  You lock the door.  At first you sniff at it, and because it doesn’t smell so good you pinch your nostrils shut before you take a swallow.

It burns the back of your throat.  It makes your eyes water.  You shake your head, and for a few minutes, until the alcohol takes effect, you can’t understand how anyone in their right mind could drink this stuff.  But then a tingling sensation begins to spread through your chest, your face is warm and flushed, and you’re suddenly light headed.  You feel good, you feel great.  It’s as if you’ve made a major discovery, a real inroad to the secret of a good life, and it only makes sense that if one drink has this effect on you that a second will make you feel even better.  You finish the glass and sneak another.  You repeat this action several more times.

In the morning, you wake with a miserable headache, you’re nauseous, too, and right then and there you swear never again to so much as look at a bottle of booze.  But what the seasoned drinker knows that the apprentice does not is that those of us predisposed to alcoholism are hardwired to quickly forget our unfortunate drinking experiences.  Next time you get the chance, you’ll do the same thing all over again.  Drunk, you find yourself smarter and funnier and stronger and braver and even better looking. 

For the budding alcoholic, booze seems to do more for you than it does for others, and your only regret, at least to date, is that you didn’t come across this miracle potion sooner.

Part II

You’re older now, maybe 15 or 16, and what currently interests you is marijuana and the intrigue that surrounds it.  You enjoy scoring weed behind the high school bleachers.  You enjoy showing off to your friends how well you can roll a joint, and because the dope world has its own language, all the slang and clever code words, you feel special when you speak it. 

 Then one day you try to connect with that kid behind the bleachers, the guy with all the Bob Marley stickers on his notebook, and it isn’t happening.
 “It’s bone-dry out there,” he says.  “Drought season, man.”

 But he does have something else, if you’re interested, this stuff he calls blow.  “It’s good shit,” he tells you. 

 And as it happens with your first drink, so it is with the coke.  It makes you feel great.  It makes you stronger and smarter and braver and even better looking, and you dismiss those lies you’ve heard about coke being addicting.  Getting hooked is for weaklings, for losers, though you can see how the stuff might drain your bank account, since the rush is so short, and the more you use, the more it takes to get high. 

For the budding addict, the supply is never enough, but your own regret, at least to date, is that you didn’t come across this miracle potion sooner.

To read more from James Brown, read his previous post When It Comes to Addiction, There are No Simple Answers.

WIN a free copy of This River, a new memoir by award-winning author James Brown.  HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment responding to James’ post with a valid e-mail address and two winners will be chosen at random at the end of this giveaway.  This giveaway ends Friday April 22 @ 5PM EST. US only.

Posted by James Brown  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Cocaine, Family History, Marijuana, Substance Abuse  /  Comments: more



Addiction Is a Disease
Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

You may think: I drink alcohol and I know my limits.  Alcoholics just don’t know how to control themselves.  It’s their choice that they don’t want to stop drinking.  Just as easily, you probably infer the same thought process for other drugs out there… heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc. Drug use is a choice.

Yes, drug use is a choice.  It’s free-will to pick up that joint, light it and smoke it.  But what’s going on behind the scenes (i.e. in your brain) isn’t a choice.  Unless you can control your brain structure. In that case, who are you and where are you from?

Since I began working at The Partnership at Drugfree.org, I’ve often asked myself: Why is there such resistance to acknowledge addiction as a disease. The media is so quick to call the person with an addiction irresponsible, reckless, selfish and troubled.  And the majority of online commenters fuel the fire by honing in on the behaviors of the disease, rather than acknowledging the disease itself. It makes me wonder two things: Are people really that cruel? Do people understand what addiction really is?

Maybe, maybe not.   My inclination is sensationalized news sells more magazines and drives traffic.  That’s why news sources play up what’s going on with the Charlie Sheens and Lindsay Lohans of the world, but why do so many of you?  It’s easy to blame someone for the choices they make in life, but when it comes to drug addiction, there is little choice involved.  Although everyone has the potential for addiction, some people are more predisposed to addiction than others.

When a person is addicted they’re suffering continuously; their brain chemistry changes causing distortions of cognitive and emotional functioning; and, even in the face of death, they continue to harm themselves. Family and friends of addicts claim erratic changes in mood, behavior and perception.  Many say their addicted loved one becomes an entirely different person.

Just like schizophrenics can’t control their hallucinations… Parkinson’s patients can’t control their trembling… clinically depressed patients can’t control their moods… once a person is addicted to drugs it’s not that different than other brain diseases.  No matter how someone has developed an illness, once the person has it, they’re in a diseased state and need treatment. 

Moreover, like any other illness, it affects family and friends, too.  There are moms who stay up all night waiting for their child to come home.  There are dads who fear that dreaded phone call telling them that their child has overdosed.  There are siblings who try to remain strong as their family is slowly falling apart. There are friends who feel like their hands are tied, but are clinging to that small ounce of hope that the friend they once knew will accept help. 

Ask the parents, family and friends of the addict if drug addiction is a choice.  Go ahead and ask the addict himself as well.  They will tell you from their experiences that addiction is not a choice.

Knowledge is power. (Sorry for the cliché).  When we bash something that we don’t really understand, and we do it in the numbers, it sways public opinion – intended or not.  With this mindset, the stigma that is attached with the disease of addiction will never go away unless we all change how we view it.

Posted by Community Manager Olivia  /  Filed under Addiction, Cocaine, Heroin  /  Comments: more



Songs About Addiction: Introducing Singer/Songwriter Ryan Sy
Friday, January 28th, 2011

We recently came across singer/songwriter Ryan Sy on YouTube.   Inspired by life experiences, Ryan’s songs – a mix of folk and pop, soul and country — carry themes of love, loss, drug addiction and the enduring nature of the human spirit.  Before moving to Atlanta, GA for college, Ryan – a Philippines-native — went to school in Edinburg, Scotland where he first started performing in cafés and open-mic nights.  The positive feedback he received motivated him to take a career in music seriously.  Ryan is currently in Los Angeles recording music.  

We think Ryan is a talented artist and writer, and wish him all the best in his music career.  Here are two of Ryan’s  hit YouTube songs “Fly” and “Symbiote”:

“Fly”

Ryan Sy on his song “Fly”: “It’s easy when you’re young and impressionable to become susceptible to drug use.  In high-school and college, I was constantly exposed to marijuana and cocaine, as I’m sure many students these days are.  By the time I was a sophomore in college, I was no longer fazed by the concept of ‘having a drug problem.’  Everyone I knew seemed to be using drugs (especially cocaine).   I guess it’s easy to ignore the obvious when drug use becomes the norm.  But the truth is that many people lose friends and loved ones to drugs.  It shouldn’t take a tragic loss to realize this – nobody needs that sort of reality check.”

“Symbiote”

 

Ryan Sy on his song “Symbiote”: I promise I’m not a geek, but I did sort of get the title for this song from Spiderman.  Basically, the two most famous “Symbiotes” in the comic book were Venom and Carnage.  Although they were human, they came into contact with “alien substances” that gave them superhuman powers.  However, these substances also made them lose themselves; eventually eating away at any humanity they had left.  The thing is that they allowed this to happen because, as a Symbiote, they could overcome the feeling of helplessness they had when they were human.  It’s a bit of a stretch, but drug addiction works the same way.  Drug addicts know that they’re hurting themselves, but for most of them, it really doesn’t matter.  This is a reality that many addicts face – they’d rather lose themselves completely than deal with the problems in their lives.

To learn more about Ryan Sy, visit his website: http://www.ryansymusic.com

Editor’s Note: Music has the power to mend broken hearts.  It also has a way of expressing what we feel when we can’t always say it.  Do you have a favorite song about hope and new beginnings?  Share with us below!

Posted by Community Manager Olivia  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Cocaine, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Recovery & Relapse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



Drug Use, Memory and the Brain’s Reward System
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

The New York Times published a great piece earlier this week titled Lasting Pleasures, Robbed by Drug Abuse by Dr. Richard Friedman, MD.  The article sheds some light into the powerful and long-lasting effects of drugs on memory and the brain’s pleasure centers. It’s definitely worth reading! 

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Of all the things that people do, few are as puzzling to psychiatrists as compulsive drug use.

Sure, all drugs of abuse feel good — at least initially. But for most people, the euphoria doesn’t last. A patient of mine is all too typical.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Community Manager Olivia  /  Filed under Addiction, Cocaine, Recovery & Relapse, Substance Abuse, Treatment  /  Comments: more



A Mother’s Love and Hate for Her Addicted Son
Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

My son, in his late 20s, is a wonderful young man. He is the kind of son every mother dreams of — caring, loving, always doing the right thing, and he would do everything and anything to help you.

Then without any type of warning, when he drinks and does his drug of choice, there are no boundaries in his life and he becomes a person I don’t even know. Even his facial expression changes and he does not even look like my son. 

My son will work his fool head off to help out.  He’ll go that extra mile just to find that one item on your wish list.  He enjoys all sports but his favorite is NASCAR and he could watch it from morning till night.   He adores his nieces and nephews. He can make you laugh when you’re down or sit and hold your hand when things get rough.  He would love to have a family to call his own, but just can’t seem to find that one person who would love him. 

I watched a beautiful baby boy grow from a sweet innocent bundle of joy to a mischievous little boy.  Doing all the things that little boys do.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that one day a horrible disease would strike this child and turn him in to a monster.

As a teenager I saw changes but thought that it was just typical teenage behavior. But as days and weeks went by the typical turned into worry, and worry to fear, and that fear into desperation.

It began with small things, until the addiction enveloped his entire life.  Then it was all about how to get the money for the drugs; where to get the drugs; and then how to do the drug but not let anyone know you have.

My son has an addiction to cocaine and alcohol. He has no job, no insurance and feels so worthless.

He has become a liar, a thief and a full-blown drug addict. His cocaine addiction began back when he was only 17, his alcohol addiction did not start till he was almost 22.  He had 5 years clean at the time and was doing really well.  But that legal drug, alcohol — and thinking that just one wouldn’t hurt — took him right back to his drug of choice.  It all hits the same part of the brain.  Addiction is a brain disease.

Parents, believe me when I tell you that the roller coaster ride is unbelievable, the pain you endure is unimaginable. Yet the world expects you to go on like nothing has happened.  Families are destroyed, and those who have no clue about the devastation of this disease are always quick to put you down or blame you.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Kathleen A. Larsen-Dobbs  /  Filed under Alcohol, Cocaine, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Recovery & Relapse  /  Comments: more






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