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From Party Girl to Plugged In: My Journey Through Addiction to Recovery
Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

As a little girl, Mom and Dad promised I could be anything I wanted — police officer, teacher, journalist — and that no matter what, my life would be a good one if I followed my heart. Hard work, dedication, honest effort and the Golden Rule were required but, according to my folks, a small price to pay for happiness.

Their words, spoken in earnest to their oldest child, fell across my ears and under my radar as the years passed. Conceptually, I referenced the ideas from time to time, but my world was much too complex to be reduced to old-world, Horatio Alger charm.

I did work hard. I did get the coveted college degree from the prestigious undergrad program. I did land the first job in my field two weeks before the commencement ceremony. I did return to my hometown in triumphant victory as the first of my mother’s kin to brandish the sheepskin of higher education.

Beth Wilson, 22 years old

I landed back in my suburban city, however, anything but free. I was a 23-year-old, full-blown alcoholic with a lot to show for my school career but little recollection of how I got it.

Mom and Dad never warned me about following the family lineage into alcoholism. Maybe they didn’t know that because addiction coursed through both sides of my family, my reckless party-girl college life might lead me across a line into alcoholism.

After all, they didn’t know about the college “accidents” that sent me to the hospital emergency room with severe ankle sprains (from falling while drunk) or the night that friends thought I was having a heart attack after a bad combination of alcohol and over-the-counter Sudafed (I was trying to stay awake to study).

They certainly didn’t know about the countless occasions of school parties with booze and sex, times I can’t remember, times I’m lucky to have survived with no pregnancies or STDs.

Now a college grad, I was a “responsible” adult with a job and rent due each month. But my drinking was escalating to the point where nearly every morning I swore to any and all gods that I would not drink “like that” again. I would try harder not to drink so much and I would make sure I ate something that would coat my stomach, something besides beer nuts and pretzels, so I wouldn’t be so sick and hungover the next day.

If I could only control my drinking! I convinced myself that if I concentrated more on things like being more aware of my surroundings and paying more attention to the descriptions of the cars I got into and watched where we drove, then I wouldn’t find myself in the unhealthy situations that seemed to happen with increasing regularity.

If I were more responsible, I would stop waking up in strange places with strange people, or so I told myself.

However, I was a young alcoholic woman with a career and a bucket full of insecurities. I was desperately trying to fit in while setting myself apart from the crowd. I thought myself intellectually superior to the people with whom I interacted, yet I seldom felt worthy of anyone’s attention. In my mind, I was a big shot traveling the country on an expense account, yet on the inside I felt like I deserved none of it. I worked hard at not letting people really see who I was because I was deathly afraid that if they did, they would wouldn’t like me, and I really needed for them to like me. I desperately needed their approval. Years later, I would realize that my insecurities were covering a thick layer of fear, most likely a fear of rejection that stemmed way back into my childhood.

So I continued to cover my intense loneliness with a party-girl persona. I felt a vague sense of irritation, sort of like when you’re walking on the beach and a small pebble gets lodged in your shoe. You try to continue walking but ultimately end up with a big blister and a hurting foot.

I kept drinking, but a growing restlessness gnawed at me. Instinctively, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what until a God-moment on a spring day in 1991. I was driving to a conference for work, through a small town where an old friend lived.

She had been like a surrogate mother to me when I was growing up, but after she and her family moved away from my hometown, we dropped contact for many years. Something made me stop my car on that day and call her.

She was delighted to hear from me, and we had lunch. As we caught up, I listened to her describe her son’s battle with an addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Her son had just been released from a treatment center. I knew him well and wasn’t at all surprised to hear that he was messed up with drugs and alcohol. Because I had partied with him, I figured he would eventually end up with a problem. I had seen him in really bad shape.

My friend — my surrogate mom — planted two seeds in me that day. When she spoke about her son’s behavior and the resulting consequences, I realized with a sudden force that every time I got into trouble, alcohol was involved. That was the mustard seed she planted.

The bigger seed, one more like that inside a peach, was what she said about his spiritual awakening, about how he came to understand that he was powerless over his addiction and that by admitting powerlessness, he was able to embrace a new way of life that included the awareness that God was guiding him to become a better person.

My friend’s son admitted he couldn’t control his life, and with that admission, he gained a new way of living.

I’ll be forever grateful that my old partying buddy connected with a higher power, because his connection led me to mine.

My spiritual connection — what I call being “plugged in” — is my lifeline in this day-to-day crazy world.

Grace led me to sobriety; I haven’t had a drink of alcohol since May 20, 1991.

I’m learning at a turtle’s pace that while I am powerless over my addiction, I can control the thoughts, feelings and attitudes that lead to the decisions I make. And so long as I don’t drink alcohol, I have a much better chance of recognizing the difference between what I can control and what I can’t. Remember all the things I mentioned that my parents failed to warn me about? Turns out I had quite a build-up of resentment toward them. Thankfully, long-term sobriety and an ongoing spiritual connection healed that resentment.

I believe that staying plugged-in to a God current that flows freely and readily whenever I express the willingness to connect has made all the difference to me; it allowed me to heal strained relations with my parents before my mom died in 2010.

Until that time, I think the little girl in me still blamed them for not fully preparing me for adult life. Now I know they did the best they could; family talks about alcoholism and addiction were taboo in the 1970s.

Today’s family culture offers so much more hope for teenagers. While parents still urge their kids to shoot for their dreams, they also season their conversations with realism about the future.

One thing hasn’t changed: Parents still want the best for their children, and kids still want their parents’ approval. Add a good amount of honest conversation about drugs and alcohol, and you have a solid basis for a successful, drug-free future.

To read more stories of recovery or to share your own, please visit the The Hope Share.

Posted by Beth Wilson  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Alcohol, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Family History, Family members, Forgiveness, parenting, Recovery, Self-reflection, Taking Care of Yourself, Uncategorized, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more



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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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



A Trip Inside The Mind Of An Addicted Teen
Friday, March 11th, 2011

I saw and experienced more than I was able to handle as a child. My father was an alcoholic which resulted in chaos in our family including physical and verbal abuse in my parents’ marriage. By the time I was a teenager I was lonely, hurt, and angry. All of which I believe played a huge role in why I developed poor decision making skills and no self-worth I couldn’t count on my father to play an active part in my life which left me with a void that I didn’t know how to fill.

I was five-years-old when my parents divorced. My mother was a hard-working single mom who worked an insane amount of hours in order to support the family. This left me with a lot of unsupervised time by myself. I lacked structure and activities. I never received any encouragement to try out for sports or after school activities, and because of this,  I never really thought that I could do it. I think that without a parent’s support and encouragement it’s hard for a teen to magically set up structure for themselves. Had I experienced the gentle nudges of my parents to get out there and spread my wings and try new things, I think I would have been able to learn how to build confidence, friendships, team work and good decision-making skills.

But that was not my reality. Reality was that I fell in with the wrong crowd. I made some bad choices with friends and ultimately became a follower. Since I didn’t have much to keep me busy after school or on the weekends, I found myself looking for stimulation in all the wrong places. As I met more people who partied, the amount of drugs and alcohol that I had access to grew. Before I knew it, all I cared about was how I was going to get high. I blamed my mom because she was the one who was there. The drugs were finally filling the void that my parents left. I figured that one day I would grow up and put all the partying behind me. Before that could happen I found myself in a place where I couldn’t stop using on my own.

My mom was angry and let me know how much I was letting her down but I didn’t know how to stop and I couldn’t picture my life without the drugs. I became mean and sneaky to protect my using at any cost. Ultimately, we lost all trust in each other. I was angry at her because it seemed as if, before my using inconvenienced her life, I was not important to her. She wanted so badly for me to change my behavior and I wanted so badly for our family life to have turned out differently. But neither of us knew how to fix it and I couldn’t get past playing the victim.

The one thing about my mom was that she did not give up. If it wasn’t for that fight in her I don’t know if I would have ever gotten sober on my own. I desperately needed treatment to fight my addiction, but also to help me process all the baggage that I had been carrying around for years. Professionals were able to help us heal together. They were able to help my mom learn how to set boundaries, how to push me when I needed it, communicate with an angry teenager and become my biggest cheerleader.

We didn’t take the route that most mothers and daughters take in life, but we are proof that addiction doesn’t have to tear a family apart forever.

Posted by Lauren King  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Family History, Finding Treatment, Recovery, Substance Abuse, Taking Care of Yourself, Treatment, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more



What to Do if You Think Your Child Is on Drugs
Friday, December 24th, 2010

Teens sharing pills

Take a deep breath…

You’re not a failure as a parent. You’re not helpless. And you’re not alone.

If you think you’re a failure, consider this: There are many kids with neglectful parents who never use drugs. There are also children with seemingly model parents who do use drugs.

So the first thing to accept is that drugs, while indeed dangerous, are one more problem for your youngsters to handle. And they’ll do it better and faster if you’re aware, involved and don’t stick your head in the sand.

THE AWARE PARENT HAS THE SAFEST CHILDREN

Part of awareness and a major deterrent to experimentation is to talk to your kids about drugs.

But even with a lot of parental involvement, there are no guarantees. So it’s important to know the symptoms of drug use and to take action if you see your kid displaying them.

THE WARNING SIGNS OF DRUG USE

There are no symptoms that are absolutely reliable. But there are clues.

Most of these symptoms tend to be gradual which is why parental awareness is so important.

Don’t jump to conclusions, but do investigate any suspicions you have as fully as possible. Trust your intuition.

Many of the warning signs for drug use are the same as those for depression or for the ups and downs of being a teenager. There’s also the possibility it’s a physical or emotional problem.

But whatever the problem, we’re talking about a child who needs help. Right now.

START WITHIN THE FAMILY – BUT DON’T WAIT TO GET HELP IF THERE IS A PROBLEM

Nothing beats the power of love and family support. That has to start with frank discussion.

Don’t make it an attack. And don’t try to talk with your child if he or she seems under the influence.

Wait for a calm moment and then explain that you’re worried about a certain behavior (be specific) and give your child every opportunity to explain. That means really listening, not doing all the talking.

Use “I” messages — sentences that start with “I” — explaining how your child’s drug use affects you and your family.

At the same time, it’s important to speak frankly about the possibility of drugs. And it’s particularly important to talk about your values and why you’re dead set against drugs.

If your youngster seems evasive or if his or her explanations are not convincing, you should consult your doctor or a professional substance abuse counselor to rule out illness and to ask for advice.

In addition, you may also want to have your child visit a mental health professional to see if there are emotional problems.

FURTHER ACTION IS PROBABLY NECESSARY

Even if your child seems non-responsive or belligerent, if you suspect drugs are involved, immediate action is vital.

First, you’ll need an evaluation from a health professional skilled in diagnosing adolescents with alcohol or drug problems. You may want to get involved with an intervention program to learn techniques that will help convince a drug user to accept help. For the user, there are self-help, outpatient, day care, residency, and 24-hour hospitalization programs.

The right program depends entirely on the circumstances and the degree of drug involvement. Here, you’ll need professional help to make an informed choice.

Another point: If a program is to succeed, the family needs to be part of it. This can mean personal or family counseling. It may also involve participating in a support group where you learn about co-dependency and how not to play into the problems that might prompt further drug use.

If you don’t know about drug programs in your area, call your family doctor, local hospital or county mental health society or school counselor for a referral. You can also call a national helpline and get a referral, read our Treatment eBook for advice  or use the treatment locator.

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T GIVE UP

That child who upsets you so much is the same little boy or girl who, only yesterday, gave you such joy. They’re in way over their heads, and they never needed you quite as much as they need you now.

No matter what they say.

Posted by Community Manager Olivia  /  Filed under Addiction, Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, snooping, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more



I’m Sorry Officer, I Didn’t See The Sign
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

A while back, my wife and I were having a conversation with friends and the conversation turned to that question: What would you have done differently? It’s a question we all ponder endlessly. It stabs us in the heart. It causes untold hours of sleepless nights.  It’s a question we could gladly discuss for hours and still have more to say — if only doing so actually helped someone else.

A better question for us parents is, “What signs should we look for and which ones did we miss?” 

We asked ourselves this very question the last time we met.  As parents of loved ones with a drug or alcohol addiction, how many times did we blow right through the warning signs as if they weren’t even there? And, if there were parenting cops, how many charges would we be guilty of? 

Teenage alcohol use is not a rite of passage.  Even if we drank as teenagers, it cannot justify us failing to exercise our parental responsibility. Seriousness with our kids and grounding them and then laughing about it later is just not wise. …….Guilty, Officer.

Kids are going to try pot. It’s just a little weed no big deal. I’m sure there are addicts out there that didn’t start with weed but I have never met them. We have heard the term gateway drug. Weed is a drug. Not every kid that tries weed will become a heroin addict, can you tell me which ones will and which ones won’t? ……Guilty, Officer.

The cops, teachers, judges, security officers are just being jerks. Don’t worry baby, it wasn’t that bad. We’ll help get you out of it. All we have to do is get a good lawyer and pay extra; the trouble goes away. ……Guilty, Officer.

Why did that intake person at the rehab facility ask if there were any addiction/alcohol problems in the family? Why is that relevant? It’s really none of their business — we are here with our child not to talk about relatives’ problems. ……Guilty, Officer.

My kid wouldn’t do that or go that far — he’s just having fun. You know, boys will be boys. Basically he’s a good kid and he knows his limits and we taught him better than that. Why do you ask? “No sir, I am not in denial.” ……Guilty, Officer.

I really don’t like the way you dress and talk now.  The music you like has changed, too. Your friends, your manners, your disrespect, your grades, your tattoos, your piercings, but I know you will grow out of it. Any one thing may not be indicative of an “addict to be” but behavior changes do mean something. ……Guilty, Officer.

Everybody has role models and mentors. I do, you do, and your child does. What is the modeled behavior your child is seeing? Do you even know? ……Guilty, Officer.

Being a parent to a teen and being a friend to a teen is two very different roles. Do not confuse your role. ……Guilty, Officer.

Every one of those charges could be explored endlessly and debated for hours. I am not calling an attorney to defend my actions to the parenting cops. I’m not really up for the debate, or the hourly charges. I just know my list is not complete, but it is my list. Feel free to add to it as you see fit.

Posted by Ron Grover  /  Filed under Addiction, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more



To Snoop or Not to Snoop: Issues of Trust and Privacy
Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Despite the fact that my son Alex was cutting his sophomore classes and ignoring mounting piles of homework assignments, he readily morphed into a Constitutional scholar right before my very eyes whenever it came to the subject of privacy.  He had no aspirations to be a lawyer, but argued like one, vehemently stating that privacy was a basic human right, protected under the auspices of the 9th Amendment.  In his pursuit of life, liberty and unfettered drug use, he felt that his room, belongings, computer, and cell phone were off limits to parental scrutiny. 

As he was growing up I gave him what I thought was age-appropriate privacy, but once Alex broke the rules of our home by using substances, all bets were off.  I was waging an all out war against substance use and I needed as much information about my enemy (drugs) as possible.  Not only did it give me a handle on what was going on, but it allowed me to share information with his therapist so that we could determine the appropriate level of intervention – more therapy, an outpatient or inpatient program.

While he was actively using, I found drugs and drug paraphernalia in the most creative places – inside an electric pencil sharpener, under the rug in a corner of the closet, and inside books where pages had been cut out, not to mention clothing pockets and his backpack.  Checking Facebook and text messages on his cell phone also proved to be enlightening with messages like “R U puffin 2nite?”  Although I did not use computer-monitoring software like eBlaster to track instant messages and email, some parents do this as well.  

When I found my postal scales in his room, I immediately suspected that in addition to using, Alex was most likely dealing, a realization that terrified me on so many levels – his escalating drug use, the danger of dealing with drug dealers and the legal implications, to name a few. 

I carted everything I had found with us to Alex’s next therapy appointment, placed it on his therapist’s table with a dramatic flourish and said, “What do we do about this?”  As recognition flitted across Alex’s face, he blanched while the therapist commented that it didn’t “look good” and he would talk to Alex in more detail while I cooled my heels in the waiting room.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Pat Aussem  /  Filed under Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Privacy, snooping, Treatment, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more



Do You Think She’s an Addict?
Friday, August 28th, 2009

“I found Lisa* sitting on the couch, asleep I guess or maybe passed out, with a half-eaten apple in her hand.  She looked awful.  I saw her purse on the floor and rummaged through it to see if I could figure out what she was using.  That’s when I found these little baggies labeled ‘Friends of the Night.’  I woke Lisa up and asked her what they were.  She told me they were vitamins and I sort of believed her, but I flushed them down the toilet anyway,” Marcie* explained, her voice marked with raw pain as she concluded her long and tortured story about her daughter Lisa’s drug-related adventures. 

Marcie had called me at the direction of our pastor who was familiar with our own journey in through this nightmare.

“Do you think she’s an addict?” Marcie asked me anxiously.  I knew this question so well as it was one that I wrestled with as we began to peel back the layers of our son’s drug use.  Is it really possible that the child you raised with so much love and self-sacrifice could actually be an addict?

Personally I dislike the term “addict” — for me it conjures up the picture of an anorexic-like figure slumped in a garbage-strewn gutter with a needle plunged into a vein, escaping into the euphoria of heroin.  That certainly was not the picture of our son, who, when using was occasionally glassy-eyed, but to the uninformed, was the picture of health. 

When used in conjunction with dessert or a sports team, the word addiction takes on more passionate overtones, as people gush about their chocolate cravings or the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.  In contrast, addiction paired with substance abuse evokes so many negative images and emotions.  Although a convenient label, the term addict does not begin to describe the level of use, its impact on the user and his or her family, and underlying issues that may have contributed to the problem.  

Early in my son’s recovery I attended an AA meeting with him where one of the speakers joked, “I love to drink but every time I have a beer I have an allergic reaction – I break out in handcuffs.”  I think he was on to something – some can tolerate substance use (like the occasional glass of wine or a beer), while even the smallest amounts can be toxic for others, as with any other kind of allergy.

I told Marcie that I was not in a position to label her daughter— it was up to Lisa to make that determination.  Instead I asked her to focus on Lisa’s behaviors – the loss of interest in her favorite activities, failing her college classes, her erratic sleep patterns, the missing money and checks, her new friends, the many car accidents, unexplained absences from home, not wanting to be with family, etc.  All of Lisa’s behaviors added up to a level of substance use that required treatment.  Given what Marcie had disclosed, I suggested that she explore various levels of intervention with a professional substance abuse counselor or interventionist. Getting help was paramount – not the label.

*not her real name

Posted by Pat Aussem  /  Filed under Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Finding Treatment, Treatment, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more



Co-Occurring Disorders
Monday, June 29th, 2009

We live in a society of excess, where street drugs are readily available, so it is not surprising that many teens experiment with drugs. However, more is known now about teenagers who are not only experimenting, but who are self-medicating because they have other disorders, such as depression or anxiety. Dealing with a child who has co-occurring disorders is of course even more difficult. If you are reading this blog, this already means your eyes are open and you’re taking steps to be fully informed.

For me the most challenging part of parenting has been that in my family, substance abuse has been intensified by co-occurring mental illness and a family history of genetic vulnerability. So much more is known now about the brain and chemical imbalances than when my husband and I and our children first began to experience the ravages of both in the early 1960s. Truly, we hadn’t a clue.

Months before my wedding, the man I was to marry, the star athlete and class president I had fallen in love with five years earlier in high school, climbed out onto the ledge of my mother’s fifth-floor New York City apartment, and in a state of drunken bravado, threatened to jump.

Off and on over our fourteen years together and the parenting of two children, he continued to go through episodic periods of binge drinking accompanied by wild behavior and threats of suicide. In 1977, when my children were eleven and thirteen, he did kill himself.

All through these episodes, we always thought of it as a problem with alcohol. It was not until his death, and when I finally sought professional help, that I realized that of course he had a mental illness, most likely a bipolar disorder.

And even though I was now much better informed, I still did not fully understand how vulnerable my children were. It was not until they reached their 20s that one of my children became willing to see his problems in terms of co-occurring disorders. The other son never sought help and ended his life at the age of 28.

When mental illness and suicide are part of a family’s history, the whole question of when to hang on and when to let go becomes much more complicated. Drawing the line when someone is in the midst of a psychotic break is more than a tough call.

Though it is important not to rush into labeling a difficult teenager, not to rush into medication as the answer, parents are wise to become informed about symptoms and seek counsel with highly qualified professionals who can keep an eye on what’s going on, especially if there is some family history of depression or manic behavior.

My husband’s father, a man who majored in psychology in college and was the director of a children’s home in a large city for many years — and who himself carefully monitored bouts of acute anxiety — revealed to me after my husband’s death that when he himself was a boy, he would come home from school hoping his mother had not stuck her head in the oven, as she had threatened to do before he and his sister had set out that morning.

I do not want to end on such a bleak note. Though I am reluctant to steal any more secrets from family members, I do want to say that my son has gone through a long period of recovery and is now, day by day, leading a productive, creative life.

Posted by Ginnah Howard  /  Filed under Co-Occurring Disorders, Family History, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more



Katherine, the Early Years
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

My stepdaughter Katherine’s high-school years were like most teenagers.  She was a good student, had great friends, acted in school plays, and sang in the chorus.  She was the center of laughter with a creative mind. 

We shared her excitement when the University of San Diego accepted her and we sent her off beaming with pride for what we thought would be some of the best years of her life.  We wanted to believe she was going to experience everything positive that comes from a college freshman’s first time away from home – dorm life, new friends and feelings of accomplishment. 

But at some point she deviated from the normal college experience and entered a fast-paced world of addiction and chaos. 

It began with hair variations (many colors), weight change and body piercing.  In the beginning these behaviors, by themselves, did not appear to be anything other than experiments with her new-found independence.  Her father and I were not happy with any of these decisions but we rationalized it as typical freshman behavior. Looking back on it now, it’s clear that these were early signs of her drug use.

On another visit we noticed bolder actions.  This time, not only was her hair an issue, but more body piercings were on display.  I will never forget the shock on her father’s face when he first saw her flashy tongue piercing and bright blue hair.  Katherine routinely asked for more food money because she was always running low.  She responded to the discussion of grades with resistance (we later found out that she was on academic probation.)

Visits home during the holidays became confrontational with new “friends” showing up at our door – we later discovered that she used her computer to network and meet dealers and meth users online.  The neon lights were flashing as we began to notice this new Katherine.

Posted by Linda Quirk  /  Filed under Warning Signs  /  Comments: 0



Warning Signs of Drug Abuse
Thursday, May 14th, 2009

When do you know when a loved one is suffering from an addiction? Is it when you notice their growing distance? After too many of their lies have caught up with them? Or perhaps, it is the more subtle moments, when their actions border on the fringe of normalcy and intuition jumps in to warn us that something’s off? For my family the signs were vividly present yet camouflaged with aspects of what appeared to be just teenage behaviors. Looking back I realized, with great anguish, how my stepdaughter Katherine’s disease of addiction manifested right before our very eyes as early as high school. But it wasn’t until college that we finally knew she was using. We thought she was just going through a phase of self-discovery and testing authority with standard acts of rebellion. Little did we know she was experimenting with hard drugs and slipping away further. Before long, drugs had destroyed her sense of family, self-respect and zest for life. Meth had devoured everything she and our family held dear. Our beloved little daughter turned her back on us, shut us out and anchored in a place of loneliness; hopelessness and absolute devastation…and it took everything in our power to get her back.

Katherine’s story is not just ours. Too many families continue to witness the devastating effects of addiction. So as a parent who has witnessed it all and come out the other side with a healthy loved one in full recovery, I would like to share Katherine’s story with you. Over the next several weeks, I will be blogging about her journey from dissent to recovery.

Posted by Linda Quirk  /  Filed under Warning Signs  /  Comments: more






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