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ADDICTION TAKES PRISONERS

A mother wrote to me: My son walked out of his fourth rehab, and in November of last year my husband kicked him out of our house, again. I couldn’t help but mourn. I lay on my bed and didn’t move for two days. He’s presently in an outpatient methadone program. His addiction has claimed him for five years. Methadone is not the permanent answer for my son, but he is doing better. His drug addiction has had such a big impact on our lives. I want to see him whole and clean and well again. His bruises on his arms are fading.

My reflection: Addiction affects all of us. Parents argue, siblings are confused and angry, and the addict is in his own world, chasing his next fix. Mothers cry until we have no tears left, and fathers watch helplessly, powerless to protect their families in the face of addiction. The entire family is immersed in sadness and trauma.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction thrives on chaos and pain. Not only does the immediate family suffer, but addiction spirals out to affect extended family, coaches, teachers, friends, priests and ministers. Especially now, during these troubling times, let us not be defeated. As families, we are powerless to stop addiction, but we can remain faithful and compassionate, while maintaining boundaries to keep our family safe. Let us stay close to our support groups. Let us keep faith and hope alive.

 

ONE RECOVERING ADDICT’S THOUGHTS ABOUT RELAPSE

 A mom wrote to me: I remember my son saying two things to me about relapse:
1) Relapse is part of recovery, but not an excuse for me to use again. If I do relapse, it is on me. 2) I am not “cured.’ I am an addict getting better, but the pilot light is always on.

 

After the death of my son, my advice to parents is to just keep loving your child, exactly where he is on this journey. Say I love you often. Accept that you are powerless except in prayer and mother love. You will never regret your kindness and firmness.

My reflection: It took me years to understand that relapse wasn’t my son’s attempt to betray me and our family, and it wasn’t his desire to hurt us, but it was just what it was – a lapse and then a relapse. Relapse wasn’t the time for me to say to him, “Ah, I caught you. You did it again,” but it was the time to say, “Fight. I believe in you. You CAN do it. You are loved.”

Today’s Promise to consider: Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying that while the addict is in recovery, their addiction is in the parking lot doing pushups, biding its time and getting ready to pounce. Today, let us recognize that recovery is a journey, sometimes with many hills and deep valleys. Let us have love and pride for those who are living in the solution, and compassion and hope for those who are struggling.

 

NARCAN: ONE MOTHER SAVED HER SON’S LIFE

A mom wrote to me: Two weeks ago, one of my worst nightmares occurred. My son, who had been ‘clean for 3 years,’ overdosed in my house. Luckily, his friend went to check on him, and found him down. I had Narcan in the house and, thankfully, it saved his life. I never heard him come into the house and never heard him drop to the floor. If his friend hadn’t checked on him, my son would be dead! I still cannot get the image of his face, blue and not breathing, out of my head. I thank God that I had Narcan in my home. Now, all of my family members carry it, even my son.

My reflection: This is a wake-up call to all of us. I asked my son, who is fourteen-years sober from a heroin addiction, if he thought it would be good for our family and all families to have Narcan on hand. His response was clear, “Yes, Narcan is a lifesaving tool and I think it’s important to have at the ready for families with a history of opiate addiction, no matter how long it’s been dormant.”

Today’s Promise to consider: Relapse can happen, especially now with our loved ones facing an avalanche of modern stressors. With so many drugs laced with deadly Fentanyl, the chances of death loom even larger. Today, let us each think about having Narcan available in our homes. We never know what might happen, and we need to be prepared even when we think we won’t need it. Our quick response can save lives.

OVERDOSES: AN ALARMING NATIONAL INCREASE

The Washington Post reports that drug overdoses nationally jumped 18% in March, 29% in April, a staggering 42% in May.

Nationwide, federal and local officials are reporting alarming spikes in drug overdoses – a hidden epidemic within the coronavirus pandemic. Emerging evidence suggests that the continued isolation, economic devastation, and disruptions to the drug trade in recent months are fueling the surge. The American Medical Association recently issued a warning, citing reports from officials in 34 states about the increased spread of such synthetic drugs and rising overdoses….Research has established strong links between stagnating economies and increases in suicides, drug use, and overdoses. In recent years, economists Anne Case and Nobel Prize-winner Angus Deaton have dubbed such increasing fatalities as “deaths of despair.”

 ‘Cries for help’: Drug overdoses are soaring during the coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post, William Wan and Heather Long

My reflection: These numbers are terrifying. While our country is embroiled in many difficult issues, addiction help and resources have become even more limited. Addiction, overdoses, and deaths are on the rise, and we must pay attention.

Today’s Promise to consider: This is a call to awareness. The statistics say it all: in the month of May, there was a 42% national increase in overdoses. Today, let us be extra attentive to the condition of our loved ones, to their despair, and to their wellness. Addiction is called the ‘disease of isolation.’ Let us reach out to our loved ones, check in on them, and remind them that they are loved and supported. Let us join voices and form a chorus of strength.

 

 

 

 

 

ADDICTION: WHERE DO WE FIND PEACE?

A mother wrote to me: My daughter has been in sober houses, psychiatry hospitals, jails, and detoxes. She’s attempted suicide. Like a merry-go-round, she’s been sober, until she wasn’t. I can’t make her do what she refuses to do. If I could climb into her body, I would. But I can’t. It’s her journey.

I always thought that if she was okay, I would have peace. Now, I realize that it’s not her job to bring me peace. That’s a tall order to put on my addicted child…and it’s not what she needs to do. Her peace must come from living in the solution. My peace must come from inside me, from my Higher Power.

My reflection: For the fourteen years of my son’s addiction, I ached for peace, the peace I thought I would surely find if he were sober. His addiction demanded center stage in my life, and the consequences of his actions overtook me at every turn. Whether it was detoxes, car crashes, or arrests, he was always on my mind and, when he wasn’t and I experienced moments of joy, I soon returned to my mental machinations about what would happen next.

Today’s Promise to consider: Our peace must come from within. It can’t be contingent on the rise and fall of our child’s addiction because, if it does, our serenity rests on the surface of a rolling sea. Additionally, it’s not our suffering loved ones’ responsibility to bring us peace. It’s their job to fight for their sobriety. Let us pray them home.

 

WHAT DOES TIME SPENT IN ADDICTION FEEL LIKE?

by libbycataldi under family

Liz Moore wrote: In a moment of clarity, Kacey (my addicted sister) told me that time spent in addiction feels looped. Each morning brings with it the possibility of change, each evening the shame of failure. The only task becomes the seeking of the fix. The days themselves become chartable, according to how much time, in sum, the user spends in comfort or in pain. Confounding all of this are periods of sobriety, which occur voluntarily on some occasions – when, for example, Kacey checks herself into local rehab facilities with dubious success rates – and involuntarily on others: when Kacey finds herself in trouble and then in prison. These periods, too, become part of the pattern: waves of sobriety, followed by relapse, followed by larger waves of active use.

Excerpted from Liz Moore’s Long Bright River, pg.186

My reflection: There is much about the passage above that touched me, especially the sentence, Each morning brings with it the possibility of change, each evening the shame of failure. The only task becomes the seeking of the fix. Fifteen years ago, my son told me, “They say that addicts aren’t afraid to die, they’re afraid to live without drugs.” I still remember those words.

Today’s Promise to consider: As much as other people can’t really understand what we parents go through as we continue to love our suffering child, neither can we really understand what our loved ones endure when locked in the grip of their illness. The trauma of addiction is bigger than we are big; its tentacles and indignity more insidious than we can ever imagine. Today, I will hold compassion in my heart for my loved one. I can’t fix the addiction, but I can pray and hope my child comes back to himself and our family.

HONESTY OPENS THE WAY TO HEALING

Dr. MacAfee, my son’s beloved addiction therapist, wrote to me: When people meet on the common ground of truth, healing happens. One of the gifts that you and Jeff share with the field of addiction is the rare and open dialogue between afflicted and affected. This has been sincerely earned.

My reaction to the above: The Big Book of AA says that sobriety can be found only through rigorous honesty. This was a challenge for both Jeff and me. Jeff had to be honest with himself about his addiction, and I had to be honest with myself about the mistakes I made. I also had to find courage not only to talk with Jeff about the many hard things that happened over the span of his fourteen-year illness, but courage to listen and the compassion to understand.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will summon the fearlessness to find the common ground of truth. I will work with those I love to have the tough discussions required to heal. Difficult as it is, I will wade into the rough waters of discord in order to get to the other side where healing and understanding can take place.

 

I TRIED EVERYTHING, AND THEN I SURRENDERED

A mom wrote to me: I tried everything humanly possible to save my son. And then I let go. I have so much love and gratitude for the peace I am now experiencing. I have no illusions for tomorrow. I went to three funerals of young people in ten days.

My reflection: I, too, tried countless ways to stop my son’s addiction. I dragged him to therapists, forced him into treatment centers, paid his bills, and tracked him down whenever he couldn’t be found. After fourteen years of attempting to control my son’s disease, I was forced to surrender.

Today’s Promise to consider: When I finally acknowledged that the power to stop my son’s addiction was outside my control, I was able to let go with love. As sobering as it was to admit my powerlessness, it was crucial for me to realize that no matter how much of myself I poured into his illness, the choice to stop was his alone.

 

I’M IN CONTROL OF JUST ONE PERSON – MYSELF

A dad wrote to me: I am so tired of the lies and the constant drama that our family has had to deal with. We parents care so much for our children that it’s really difficult to watch them self-destruct. I’m getting much better at realizing that I am in control of just one person: myself. I think prayer is the only answer.

My reflection: It’s counterintuitive to admit that we can’t control the behavior of our addicted loved ones, especially when they’re young. It was unfathomable to me that Jeff wouldn’t listen, even when I threatened to make him leave the house, take away his car, or send him to a treatment center in some distant state. My dad’s words rang in my ears, “Tell him to stop, dammit. Tell him to stop.”

Today’s Promise to consider: Once, at an Al-Anon meeting, the speaker held a hula-hoop over her head and then dropped it around her and onto the floor. She pointed to her feet to bring our attention to the space inside the hoop, “I can control only what’s inside this circle.” It was a simple visual that resonated deeply with me. My son had his own hoop. I had mine.

NURTURE YOUR SOUL: ADDICTION AND THIS PANDEMIC

There are similarities between addiction and this pandemic. I find myself struggling with the familiar feelings of uncertainty and fear, so I talked with a friend about it. After the phone call, she wrote and gave me sensible advice, “Maybe it would be good if you took some time for yourself. Try and read a book to soothe your soul, cook, bake, meditate, or listen to music. Do whatever you can do to take care of yourself.  Remember Loving-Kindness goes both ways – to others and to ourselves.”

My reflection: All of us, who are living with or have lived with addiction, know well the feelings of distress, of waiting for the other shoe to drop, or of holding our breath when the phone rings at night. We also know how easy it is to overlook self-care when tensions run high.

Today’s Promise to consider: After living through an addiction, I’m no stranger to uncertainty or fear. Maybe this pandemic touches those same emotions that were once so fragile. Today, I will take steps to counteract suffering by practicing Loving-Kindness to myself. When we are happy, we are better for ourselves and others. Let us water those seeds that most support us.