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Archive for February, 2011

CHOICES AND DECISION MAKING

A mother wrote an email message to me: My son has a long history of addiction. He got arrested: We hired a lawyer, bailed him out, but he kept using and stealing. He got arrested again: This time, he bailed himself out. Another arrest: We knew he was dying a slow death so we told him that we loved him, but would not bail him out. We would no longer let his addiction destroy him and our family. All the love in the world was not enough to make him stop.

My personal reflection on the passage above offering my thoughts today: This mother writes words that ring true for me: All the love in the world was not enough to make him stop. For Jeff, I couldn’t make him stop because the addiction was not about me, our family or about love.

Dr. MacAfee tells of a group therapy session when he asked a young man, “What’s your drug of choice?” The boy thought carefully and responded, “More.” Dr. MacAfee continues, “His answer was not an attempt at humor. The group understood and answered with a consensus of silence, affirmative head nods. No addict ever intends to end up where he’s really going. Substance drives the addict.”

Today’s Promise: I realize that my child’s addiction is not against me. I will not feel betrayed; I will not feel self blame. I will stay close and pray that my child decides to stop for himself.


PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Jeff, my dad and mom, Jeremy

A recovering addict wrote an email message to me. This is part of it: I started drinking at twelve and doing light drugs at thirteen, heavier drugs after that. My school was the perfect place because many parents and teachers didn’t recognize drug use when it was right in front of them. I didn’t make the decision to get myself together until midway through my junior year and it was another student and her mom who helped me through it.

My personal reflection on the passage above offering my thoughts today: Many kids experiment with alcohol and drugs at an early age. Jeff started smoking pot and drinking during his middle school years. Some research documents that at least fifty percent of children under the age of fourteen have tried marijuana at least once. This doesn’t mean they’ll become addicts, but it does mean that young children are experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

There are at least two important messages that seem clear: 1. Education is critical for teachers, parents and children, and 2. When the child, who is using drugs, decides for himself that he wants to ‘get himself together,’ someone needs to stay close. We adults need to recognize the red flags of drug abuse and offer a helping and compassionate hand.

Today’s Promise: Denial comes in many ways, but I can learn to recognize the signs of drug use. I will educate myself and I will be vigilant. More importantly, I’ll talk with my child in an open and honest way.


THE DIGNITY OF CHOICE

This is part of a journal entry that I wrote in April 2003: The sun is trying to bake the sadness right out of me. Work your magic, Sun. Bake me thoroughly so that I am happy – like blue and yellow instead of gray and the color of mud.

I struggle with knowing how to be a good mother to my son. I struggle with knowing how to let him go and to keep him close at the same time. I know I need to let him go, but how? I try to extricate myself, to free myself, but I remain staunchly enmeshed. I’m his mother.

My personal reflection on the passage above offering my thoughts today: I reread my words and hear my own suffering. How do we as parents let go of our children? I lived with the continual fear that my son might die.

But finally I understood that I had no control over his life or his choices. I could love him, give him compassion and verbal support, but I couldn’t make him do anything. He needed to feel the consequences of his addiction and I needed to get out of the way. Sometimes I think that I impeded his recovery by rescuing him continually. He told me many times, “Never deny an addict his pain.” I heard his words, but I never ‘heard’ his message.

Last year, I asked several recovering addicts, “What brought you to recovery?” All of them said the same thing, “I couldn’t live with the consequences of my addiction. I had to stop. I was sick of being sick, of all the madness. I had to do it for myself.”

Today’s promise to consider: I’ll stay close to my addicted loved one, but I’ll acknowledge that I can’t force him to change. He needs to decide. I need to give him the dignity of his own choice.


NEVER QUIT BELIEVING

A mother wrote an email message to me: My son just left rehab after another relapse to alcohol. Of course, he is doing really well ‘for now.’ He always says he can ‘get it,’ but he just can’t ‘keep it.’ My heart goes out to all families who are dealing with the sadness and worry about what they can do for their child. I don’t believe that the answer to my son’s addiction is to cut him loose and abandon him. I can’t enable his addiction, but neither will I ever give up the hope that my son will live a happy and fulfilled life.

My personal reflection on the passage above offering my thoughts today: In my memory, I can hear Jeff tell me, “I won’t be thirty and like this, Mom. I’ll get it. I promise I will.”  I never realized the self-loathing that the addict feels until Jeff was clean and helped me to understand.

After one of his many relapses, he said to me, “Mom, please don’t quit believing.” It was almost as if he was hanging onto my belief in him to give him the strength to keep trying. In fact, another time he said, “You believe in me more than I believe in myself.” Addicts, especially those who relapse often, have a long history of failure. Someone has to believe.

Today’s Promise: I won’t quit believing. Even though my heart breaks again, I will stay close, pray and hope.


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