Intervene

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




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



Addiction as a Gift: Our Call to a Deep Spiritual Practice
Monday, March 26th, 2012

“I’m Tom, a grateful recovering addict.”

I have identified myself in this way in meetings and conventions for over 40 years. My intention is to put a new interpretation on the insidious disease of addiction. We all know the nightmares that accompany addiction. I invite you to move beyond the traditional ways addiction is looked upon, revealing the seemingly hopeless disease of addiction as an enlightening dilemma. I hope to introduce you to the revolutionary belief that for some individuals a life fraught with sickening addiction can quite possibly become a misunderstood gift and a blessing in disguise.

Currently there are countless studies and books written on the field of addiction and the vast and growing research on what is now termed “addictionology.” Though it is a fascinating area of contemporary and compassion-based health care, it is also encompassed within the realm of clinical rehabilitation centers, some of which are rife with discouraging statistics and sterile data. I speak from my heart and own experience.  I was once a hopeless addict whose life has been interrupted by a Higher Power.  My life was transformed by surrendering to the principles of The 12-Steps, which has led to a life that is devoted to the practice of meditation and service to others.

Addiction touches everyone. When an individual, his or her family member, or a close friend struggles with the malady, it eventually affects the lives of every member of society. In every country around the world, people have found a way out of their addiction. On a daily basis there are millions of people attending 12-Step meetings in almost every country on this planet. Be assured you are not alone.

The idea that the disease of addiction can only be treated by a spiritual transformation has been the motivating idea from the beginning. In the early 1930s, a hopeless alcoholic sought help from Carl Jung, a well known psychiatrist. The patient had resigned himself to the tormented reality that he suffered from the chronic inability to stop drinking. In those days, such people often ended up in jail or a mental institution and many lost everything that had been dear to them, including family, friends, careers and ultimately life itself. Addiction was viewed as a lapse in morality and had not yet been recognized as a medical disease.

This man came to Dr. Jung and asked for help. The psychiatrist frankly told him that although he was unable to help him, he had—on a few rare occasions—seen someone in the grips of alcoholism go through a profound personality change brought on by an intense spiritual experience. This visit to Dr. Jung set the foundation for other drunks to stay sober by helping each other and in turn practicing the spiritually-driven 12-Steps of recovery. The steps were designed to achieve the ongoing spiritual experiences that brought on the deep personality changes in our lives. One could argue that the steps were “given” to addicts by a higher spiritual realm, and Jung was as much a conduit as a cornerstone for the recovery movement. In his later years, Jung would be asked if he believed in God. Without hesitation Jung answered, “I know there is a God.” Yet the experience of working and living the steps can be as varied as those seeking recovery, and belief in a theistic god or God Itself is not a requirement. Spiritual principles work for the agnostic as well as atheist. The process simply asks us to believe in something, some Higher Power that we will be willing to let guide us on this journey of healing.

I would not dismiss anyone’s pain caused by the disease of addiction.  If you are a family member or a close friend, let the experience be a calling card for your own spiritual practice. The programs of Alanon and Naranon can be your refuge, a sanctuary where you find understanding.  You may suddenly realize you’re not alone in this pain. This can be the beginning of a great adventure within, bringing to your attention that addiction is just one of many countless challenges we are called upon to face in life.

Kahil Gibran put it so eloquently in his book, “The Prophet”:  “Your Children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”

Gibran was speaking the language of Alanon and Naranon long before their inception.  We must learn to detach and to love unconditionally. Once we start practicing spiritual principles we learn we can’t manipulate life to fit the conditions we believe will ensure our happiness. Instead we tend to each moment without judgment or criticism; acceptance of what is becomes our offering.

The 12-Step programs have been proclaimed as one of the most powerful spiritual movements of the twentieth century.  These programs provide support and guidance to offer hope where all hope was lost.  May loving kindness fill your hearts.

Posted by Tom Catton  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Finding Treatment, Forgiveness, Recovery, Self-reflection, Taking Care of Yourself, Treatment  /  Comments: more



Part II: How I Learned to Forgive: Lessons for Family and Friends of an Addict
Thursday, October 6th, 2011

ForgivenessMaybe you have spent countless hours blaming yourself for what you did or did not do to help your loved one. Maybe you feel that you gave up on them. You will drive yourself crazy if you constantly question yourself when any attempt you make really won’t change the situation.

It is very painful to have drug addiction take over the life of someone you love. Being angry is understandable, but be angry at the disease not your loved one. Learn to separate the person from the affliction and trust that forgiveness will benefit you in many ways.

I have compiled a list of things that have served as lessons for me in the art of forgiveness. I hope that they will help you in your journey.

  1. Keep in mind that forgiveness is a journey.  As we grow older we learn more about ourselves and our ability to heal. Growing up in an addiction-tainted household does not always provide one with the necessary skills to forgive in a healthy way. These skills will need to be learned by educating yourself through counseling, positive peer relationships, and/or self-help books. A great start would be reading, “The Art of Forgiving” by Lewis Smedes. He wrote other books on forgiveness but for me, this one taught me the true meaning of it and how it would set my spirit free.
  2. Let go of resentments, they will eat you alive. This was a huge roadblock for me. No matter how hard I thought I was trying to let go of my anger toward my family the more it would rise from the shadows and influence everything going on around me. The deeper the hurt, the harder to let go. Anger is so detrimental to our emotional well-being. It leaves our past unresolved and prevents us from moving forward. We must work through the pain and anger because there is nothing powerful enough to erase it forever. You will be amazed by the way you feel when you have finally released the negativity. Be patient.
  3. Send them on their way with a smile. I have had friends who seriously screwed up at great moments because they repeatedly drank too much or used drugs. At first it may seem funny or cool, but it gets old real fast. Watching your friend ruin his life is quite painful and you will usually catch some of the blow back from their behavior which only adds to an already tragic situation. When you reach that moment of needing to put yourself first, don’t feel bad about it! You owe it to yourself to be surrounded by positive influences. There is a saying I live by that goes like this: “An addict will take you down way faster than you can pull them up!” It’s sad but true. Cut the ties that bind you and wish your buddy all the best. There is no harm in loving yourself more than their disease. Oh yeah, remember that just because you forgive the person, it does not mean you have to bring the relationship back into your life. Some things are better left alone. Please do not mistake this step as uncaring. Loyalty is important, but you first have to be loyal to yourself.
  4. Don’t play the waiting game. If you’re waiting for your loved one to feel bad about hurting you, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. “Waiting for someone to repent before we forgive is to surrender our future to the person who wronged us,” writes Smedes. The disease of addiction erases a person’s conscience. Most of the time they will never realize what they did wrong and will go on leaving your broken heart in the dust. You would be amazed at what addiction justifies in a person’s mind. This person you no longer recognize will quite literally do whatever it takes to protect their disease. Realize that how and when they heal is entirely up to them. There is no threat, promise, material item, or amount of time you allot them that will save them. Ultimately, they have to save themselves when they are ready.
  5. Forgiveness breeds happiness. Aside from the physical benefits of learning to forgive, the positive emotions that forgiveness brings are some of the greatest feelings I have experienced. Once I felt that I had succeeded in letting go of my past, many people wondered what I had done to myself because I had a new glow about me. I noticed that I smiled as I passed strangers and they smiled back. I no longer felt like an outcast and it was so nice to be positive about life. These positives were new and frightening for me in the beginning, but I had faith in the process. Nothing else I had tried before seemed to work and repeating the same tired steps and expecting new results is the definition of insanity. I definitely had enough insanity in life; it was time to let it go once and for all.

I think the person we tend to be hardest on is ourselves.  Sp remember to forgive yourself because you have the ability to and you are worthy of it.

Read Part I of my journey to forgiveness.

Related Links:
Part I: Forgiveness: My Struggles to Make Amends with Myself and My Addict
Addiction is a Chronic Medical Disease
Dealing with Feelings: 5 Ways I Cope with My Young Adult’s Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Online Community and Support Group for Parents of an Addict

Posted by Michelle A. Woycitzky  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Family members, Forgiveness, getting help  /  Comments: more



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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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



Giving Up Our Dreams
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Teens sharing pills

Why is it so hard to give up on our dreams for our children?  We stare reality in the face every day and yet we still hold on to those hopes and dreams.

The day our kids are born we start making plans. We start squirreling away money into college accounts. We dream of smiling proudly as our child graciously strides across the stage at graduation. Nice, neat little homes in the suburbs with our grandchildren playing in the yard. Some of us even have the audacity to picture ourselves in the front row during a presidential inauguration on a cold January day in Washington.

It’s all possible for anyone.

Then we snap out of our dream and see our child addicted to a drug and wonder if the future is even possible. We mourn the loss of our dream. We experience suffering for our child because in our life and wisdom we know the hardship of life even without being saddled with addiction. We cry, become depressed and grieve this fading picture. Never really giving up the hope that all of the past will go away and we all get a “do over”.

Finally, after months or years we realize that today is all we get and tomorrow can be just as fearful as it can be hopeful.

The next phase of our realization begins to become clear. These dreams were ours. That is why the pain is so great. We feel our dream slipping away. It’s such a shame we have imposed our dream upon our child and we see their addiction as a failure to achieve our dream. Oh, I’m sorry, I mean “reach their potential” is the way we say it as parents.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Ron Grover  /  Filed under Dealing with an Addicted Child, Substance Abuse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  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



Hope
Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

hope

The Partnership is excited to welcome new blogger Dr. Libby Cataldi!  She is an educator and mother of two sons.  Dr. Cataldi is the author of Stay Close: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction.

A mother wrote to me: I’m giving up on prayer, I’m afraid.  Recovery was going well, I thought. He was attending meetings, had a new job he likes, nice girlfriend…I was beginning to trust and hope again. In the last week, money was taken from my purse, he relapsed, and violated his probation. Now it’s back to court and maybe prison this time. I can’t do this again.


My Reflection:  Hope is fragile and fear is powerful. I wonder why fear seems to be stronger than hope? I don’t know, but I do know that there are times when I felt like giving up on prayer. Sometimes it’s easier to lose hope and faith than to try to keep feeling them and being crushed. When the addiction rises up again and again, and smacks us, knocking us to the ground, we hurt and don’t know what to do. It is then that we are in danger of giving up hope. But if we lose faith and hope, all is lost. We need to stay close to our children, but our children need to fight their own battles.

Today’s Promise: I am only human and sometimes I feel as though I can’t go on. But I will. I will go on in hope.

“We can’t be armor for our children. We can only be supporting troops.” Irwin Shaw

Posted by Libby Cataldi  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Recovery & Relapse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more






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