Intervene

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




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



Wonder and Worry: Can I Save My Daughters From Drug Addiction?
Thursday, November 15th, 2012

As a parent in recovery, I look at my children’s faces every day and I wonder and worry.

I wonder, with everything I know and everything I’ve learned, will I be able to save them from the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse? I wonder about the “gene” and the fact that I know there are many in both my family and my husbands’ that have it.

I worry about my children’s environment: the drug pushers, the “cool” friends and doctor’s writing careless prescriptions—all out there potentially giving my beautiful, innocent daughters something that could threaten their lives.

I worry about the things I say, the things that happen on the playground at school. I worry about the things that could happen to them emotionally that could somehow predispose them to being receptive to actually trying a prescription drug to get high, and that that one time could be all it takes.

I guess I could wonder and worry about so many other things happening to them, but because I am in recovery myself, this is the one thing that is closest to my mind.

If I tried all of it, why wouldn’t they?

All I can do is hope and pray that if they do try it and they do get hooked, they get help. Maybe it would be the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) just like I did.

AA has changed my life so profoundly and on so many levels. It has put the tools for living and happiness right into the core of my being.Because of it, the black hole exists no longer, and my need to fill it with substances is gone. I have been given the ability to walk through life with faith and hope and trust.

I just hope that I can transmit some of these values and the inner peace I feel to my children and that I do whatever I can to prevent them from using drugs and alcohol. But if they go down the path of addiction, I hope they too will find sobriety and serenity just as I did.

I hope that by teaching them to allow themselves to feel their feelings and to always speak up when something is going on and to try not to hold the emotions in, they will be aided in keeping away from drugs. Maybe teaching them that negative emotions are not bad and should not be discarded or ignored or seen as something to distract ourselves from will be useful. I hope that by saying to them that negative feelings are as important as positive feelings and that in our life’s journey we have to learn to deal with both sides of the coin.

I wonder if any of this will help.

And I wonder, are there other parents in recovery out there that are thinking about the same things? If so, please share.

Posted by Pernilla Burke  /  Filed under Family History, Family members, parenting, Recovery  /  Comments: more



Part I: Forgiveness: My Struggles to Make Amends with Myself and My Addict
Thursday, September 29th, 2011

ForgivenessDealing with the aftermath of my stepfather’s drunken escapades in my childhood became as common as getting out of bed in the morning. My family thought it was “normal” to scream at each other, to throw dishes across the room, and to pretend it didn’t hurt when these type of things happened. My mother seemed as if she had forgiven my stepfather’s behavior every single day only to have it occur again the very same day. My middle brother was a drug addict at this time also. He would bully my grandmother into giving him every last dime of her life savings, would rob our home — the home he lived in — and scream at all of us when we refused to let him in the house. He even stole from my piggy bank when I was 10-years-old.  Addicts have one purpose — to get more drugs, period. In this case too, my mother seemed to want to forget and continue to enable him.   It was an endless cycle.

When you are a small child growing up in a home plagued with addiction you get a very distorted picture of what it means to forgive. We do whatever is necessary to survive the emotional rollercoaster we are on, while resentment builds inside of us. When we are old enough to understand the addiction we just want to forget everything that ever happened. It would be great if I could wave a magic wand and erase all those terrible memories. But I have had to live with them.

They have altered my ability to trust, to believe in others, to feel worthy of love, and to forgive. I was so angry at the people I should have loved the most. I hated my stepfather for his embarrassing and painful displays of drunkenness. I hated my brother for being so weak and conniving. I hated my mother for not being strong enough to protect me from them. As an adult, I was isolated and angry. I ran away from my family because I wanted to be the complete opposite of them. I wanted to attract good.

Let me tell you that you can run to the ends of the earth and it will never be far enough to avoid yourself. The only true way to heal from your loved one’s addiction is to forgive — forgive the person, forgive those affected by the person, but most of all you have to forgive yourself. It took me over thirty-five years to truly begin forgiving. Sure I had said hundreds of times before that I was over all of the negativity, but I hadn’t really learned how.

Have you forgiven yourself and your loved one with a drug addiction?  Share your story of forgiveness below.

Read Part II of my blog post next week to learn to how I forgave myself and those around me.

Related Links:
Acceptance: Regaining Trust and Rebuilding the Family Unit
Dealing with Feelings: 5 Ways I Cope with My Young Adult’s Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Moving Away From Enabling
Time to Get Help

Posted by Michelle A. Woycitzky  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Alcohol, Enabling, Family History, Forgiveness  /  Comments: more



5 Things I Wish I’d Known About Mental Illness and Teens
Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

1. teen mental illnessIt May Not Look Like Mental Illness I was a teenager who wore black, slept a lot and cried often. I ate too much or too little, couldn’t concentrate on my homework and wasn’t interested in a social life. I had no idea that these symptoms, if they last more than a couple of weeks, can signal serious depression.  I  simply thought this was what being a teenager was like. It wasn’t until I was 26 that I had my first “nervous breakdown” and was diagnosed with chronic depression. I was lucky. If I’d turned to drugs or alcohol as a way to solve my problems, I might have been another teenage drug addict or alcoholic, and never have gotten the help I needed. Even so, I didn’t recognize the symptoms in my son until it was too late. He was already doing drugs every day. He wasn’t diagnosed until he was 33.

2. Look for Mental Illness in the Family
Was there an aunt in your family who had a “nervous breakdown” when you were growing up? A grandparent who never spoke to anyone?  A relative who ‘burned out’ at work? A cousin who had to leave college because the stress was too much? A brother who was in trouble because of drinking or partying? These may pointer to underlying mental health issues. Many mental illnesses run in families. If there’s mental illness in yours, then your child’s drug activities may be an attempt to self-medicate the family disease.

3. Get Informed
When I was dealing with my own depression and then my son’s there wasn’t the vast amount of information around that there is today. I had to look for books in the self-help section of the library or bookstore. I felt ashamed that I needed the books, and sure other people were judging me. These days, there is almost too much information around — so pick your sources carefully. The best information on drug addiction and mental health comes from reputable sites like The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Parents’ blogs can be helpful too, mainly because they tell you about other parents’ experiences, and may help you realize that you’re not alone in dealing with this.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Gabi Coatsworth  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Co-Occurring Disorders, mental illness, Stigma, Taking Care of Yourself  /  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



Coping With Family Tragedies: Divorce, Addiction & Suicide
Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Teenager Chase Block faced a lot at an early age – his parent’s divorce, his mother’s drug addiction and later, her tragic suicide. Rather than wallow in self-pity, Chase wrote a book about his experiences in hopes of helping other teens. While his book offers practical, mature, no-nonsense advice for young people, it has something for parents, too — a unique window into the mind of today’s teens.  For a chance to win a copy of his book Chasing Happiness, please see the end of this post for details.

I was a 13-year-old kid growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, when I decided I wanted to help other kids whose parents were divorcing.  My own folks split when I was 6, and then had other relationships, marriages and divorces. I felt I could help my friends learn what to expect when they were facing similar family shifts.

I decided to write a book of practical tips and advice on how to survive divorce – from a kid’s perspective. The day before I actually began working with an editor on the book, my mom killed herself.

My beautiful, wonderful mom, who was dearly loved by everyone, lost her decades-long battle with mental illness, an addiction to pills, and alcoholism. She took her own life eight years after she and my dad split up. I was shocked and confused – but I didn’t want to forget the book. As horrible as I felt, I knew other kids would go through this stuff too, and maybe my story could help them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Chase Block  /  Filed under Addiction, Family History, Substance Abuse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



Tough Love: A Valentine’s Day Message for Those Who Love Someone with a Drug or Alcohol Addiction
Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Looking for love in all the wrong places
Love at first sight
Love is blind
Love means never having to say you’re sorry

These are just a few of the themes that come to mind as I contemplate Valentine’s Day.  It occurs to me that I could tell my life story (both before and after recovery) using just the right combination of famous love quotes and song lyrics!

I was looking for love in all the wrong places when I first tried drugs.  I just didn’t know it at the time.  Growing up in an alcoholic home was traumatic.  I was frightened most of the time and very lonely.  Drugs filled the emptiness inside and made my fear go away.

It was love at first sight for me when it came to drugs.  Before long, nothing else mattered.  My family, friends, school and job – all took a back seat to

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Becky Vance  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Dealing with an Addicted Child  /  Comments: more



Ghosts of Christmas Past
Monday, December 21st, 2009

Christmas? Bah Humbug! It wasn’t too long ago when I was desperately trying to shut out the world and its inconsiderate ‘tis the season to be jolly’ intrusion. With my eldest son spinning out of control, active again in his addiction and my youngest just getting warmed up – I could feel the perfect storm brewing.

That day quickly turned to night and with it, my son’s charming agitation escalated to those in his path from not having his hourly fix. The drama that ensued that evening including but not limited to: threatening phone calls to my son from a drug pick-up gone bad, (his bad) and threats of baseball bats and gang members.  Did I mention this was Christmas?

Not to be outdone by the gifts from their father, my former spouse, who gave T-shirts to each of them. The first one read; I believe in drug testing…which one shall we test tonight. The other is a must-have, (especially if you’re an addict and one parent is in denial) of Legendary Bob Marley – with a large Marijuana leaf as the backdrop. 

That night I slept clutching my wallet and car keys. Ok… I didn’t sleep. I could go on and on with my war stories and evoke feelings of sympathy, which I detest, but will gladly accept empathy for my journey as a single mother of two magnificent sons. The point is we all have our horrific war stories – this is our common denominator.

Raising children living with addiction and alcoholism is one thing. Getting

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Leyla Fatima  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: 1






Search





About this blog
Welcome to Intervene. We are a community of experts, parents and caring adults concerned about our teens’ alcohol and drug use and have come together to share our insights, inspiration, guidance and help.









A free service to help you determine if alcohol may be harming your health or putting you at risk.


Previous Posts


Categories


Archives


Tags






Drugfree.orgTime To Act!© 2014 The Partnership at Drugfree.orgThe Partnership at Drugfree.org does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. More.