Intervene

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




Acceptance Doesn’t Mean Condoning a Loved One’s Addiction
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

It is difficult to recognize what acceptance is in this context. I went through this with my family for the past two decades – going back and forth about what it mean to accept that my child has a problem with drugs.

The initial reaction to drug abuse is often resistance and disgust. Parents and teens can dance a pattern of cause, effect and reaction; again and again, not realizing what they are dealing with until it is too late. In doing this, we lose opportunities for early intervention [download the Intervention e-Book]. We are too eager to believe our kid’s half-hearted contrition’s and resume the illusion of “normalcy.”

That’s the trap.  It is important to notice behavior in a teen and consider drug tests (Note: While home drug tests can be unreliable, having a doctor perform a drug test can be a helpful tool; Although be aware that teens find all sorts of ways to beat these tests and even professional tests can be inaccurate) to determine if a positive result should lead to intervention. If the result is oxy’s, heroin, meth, or anything like that, then, YES!  Accept it and map out some solutions. And in the process, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Unfortunately, our communities offer too little assistance and are quick to toss young addicts in jail for their petty drug-related crimes. Drug addiction in anyone’s family is a big cross to bear and helping an addict is not an easy path. Acceptance helps.

Acceptance and courage are old attributes. In life, we all get a chance to test these qualities; like the farmer watching his crops flood alongside an overflowing river.  His first reaction is denial! After accepting the urgency of the condition, the farmer would build sandbag levees. That is acceptance and transformation of agony into  courage and action. A parent building the levees of preparation for intervention or treatment for a teen bitten by addiction is like stepping into a vision that recovery and redemption are entirely possible. Acceptance in that context does not mean condoning drug addiction.

A parent can be tempted to believe that their child has ruined his life, but that person still needs to be accepted and feel hope. Addiction has a path of its own, and can trump what you do, so be prepared.

Have a plan without feeling a need to force it (download the Treatment e-Book). Look hard into the condition you are faced with. Be intentional, but don’t try and be God. When an opportunity arises, you will be ready to take action.

Even with all the money or support in the world, it simply is not a parent’s sole responsibility to solve this problem for their child; your loved one has to choose recovery and believe they can succeed.  At the end of the day, we are often left feeling powerless, but that doesn’t equal “giving up” or “rejecting an ugly condition”; it is a stark recognition of what one does not control. That is what acceptance feels like.

Posted by Bill Ford  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, Finding Treatment, Recovery & Relapse, Substance Abuse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



Finding Treatment — And Getting Her There
Monday, July 27th, 2009

This week I’d like to explain how our family received the message that my stepdaughter Katherine was ready to receive treatment — and the process we went through to find a treatment center that worked for all of us. 

When my husband and I moved to Jacksonville, Fl after his company relocated us, we were sitting outside a sandwich shop watching the rain pour down when my husband’s cell phone rang.  It was Katherine.  She called to tell us she was pregnant and very distraught.  In a state of both panic and shock are minds flooded with worries and speculations about her ability to take on such a huge responsibility while battling an addiction on her own.  We asked, “Katherine, are you now ready to seek help for you and your unborn child?”  Fortunately her answer was “yes,” and in a brief moment our world changed yet again.

My husband and I were now living in a city and state where we knew absolutely no one who we could turn to for help.  But we knew we had to remain nimble and respond to Katherine’s cry for help before she changed her mind.  I automatically went into overdrive:  I booked a flight back to California that day, called my sister-in-law to pick Katherine up and take her to a safe place, while my husband frantically took care of our “everyday life” and responsibilities back home.  I had absolutely no idea how we were going to take control of Katherine’s situation and lead her to recovery.  We didn’t know anybody who had experience with drug and alcohol addictions.  I was scared but

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Posted by Linda Quirk  /  Filed under Dealing with an Addicted Child, Finding Treatment, Treatment  /  Comments: more



Panicked: Our Child Was Living on the Streets
Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

My stepdaughter Katherine was living on the streets with her “meth family” — but we didn’t know where.

We spent countless days and nights waiting for the phone to ring, searching the streets of San Francisco for her whereabouts, seeking help from drug users, police, anyone who would listen to our plight. 

We were in a panic, wondering where she was, where she was sleeping, if she was eating, if she was alive — or if we were about to receive the dreaded call every parent fears. 

Trying to cope with our daily routines was almost unbearable as Katherine’s disappearance consumed us.  Yet we knew we had to stick together in order to rescue her.  We had to stay strong and did so by using these four approaches:

1. FORM A TEAM WITH YOUR SPOUSE/PARTNER:  I cannot tell you how hard it is as a step-mom to convince a biological parent that his child, who he’s known and loved since birth, needs serious, outside help.  But it’s so important that the couple is in absolute, total agreement before redirecting their efforts to saving the child’s life from an addiction.  So, the first thing to do is to form a team that is in total agreement of a) the addiction and b) the approach and methods to getting your child back.

2. STAY POSITIVE:  You have to give up the idea of being “super mom or dad” and trying to “fix” your child’s addiction as if it were a homework issue.  We had to turn over some of the parental instinct and control to a higher power.  This did not mean we gave up, but rather, we stayed optimistic, hoping this positive thinking would keep us sane. We were sure to reassure her friends — and any other possible points of contact — that we were not angry or bitter but simply there for her. 

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Posted by Linda Quirk  /  Filed under Dealing with an Addicted Child  /  Comments: more



The Rollercoaster of Helping an Addicted Child
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

When you suspect your child is in trouble, one of the most difficult challenges is figuring out how to approach him or her.  Beyond dealing with their particular substance abuse, the big question is how to get them engaged and encouraged to accept treatment. 

Our first attempt at approaching my stepdaughter Katherine did not go well.  As a young adult, access to private information through the school was denied, while friends and acquaintances were never honest with us.  Our only recourse was to invade her personal space at home. 

We read through papers she left around, checked the trunk of her car and found ourselves investigating our own child.  This is not a pleasant undertaking but much needed. 

To this day, I firmly believe Katherine wanted to be helped as she left, in plain sight, writings regarding her usage as well as the failing school notice.  It was then that we decided to tell her that we were no longer paying for her college tuition. 

With this devastating information she left our home for her mother’s in Hawaii.  Ultimately, life in Hawaii took her further downward. 

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Posted by Linda Quirk  /  Filed under Recovery & Relapse, Treatment  /  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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