Dr. MacAfee wrote me an email message in response to a request for reading. This is part of it: If you’ve not read Gabor Maté, please do. Maté is a poet and clinician with a depth of understanding beyond anything I’ve recently read. His voice is deeply heard and, if a person has an idea of the depth of the problem of addiction, his book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts is stunning and informative. He returns to the theme of trauma as a basis for addiction, but also redefines what trauma really is.
My personal reflection on the passage above: When Jeff was in active addiction, I felt confused, stuck and shamed. I kept the secret and the silence and isolated myself and my family. It wasn’t until I reached out to others including professionals, Al-Anon, the Big Book and other reading that I found a sense of community and understanding. I realized that I was not as alone as I thought I was.
Addiction is confounding and isolating, but there is help. By reaching out to others and reading professional literature, I learned and continue to learn. I admitted that my life was in total chaos, but I also admitted that I didn’t have to stay there.
Today’s Promise: I am not alone with my loved one’s addiction. I’ll read professional literature, go to meetings and learn about addiction and the effects of addiction on a family. I’ll do what I need to do for myself and my family.537
I am a huge fan of Dr. Mate’
He has a keen insight into addiction due to his experience in working with the chronically addicted in his clinic located in the drug ghetto of Vancouver’s downtown Eastside.
I have a much greater understanding of the disease model of addiction and a much greater empathy and understanding of the “victims” of this cruel disease.
Here are some of the pictures of the chronically addicted that Dr. Mate’ included in his book. These are a few of the individuals whose story he tells. The photographer is Rod Preston, http://rodpreston.ca/Rod_Preston/dtes.html
Dr. Mate’ Web site is http://www.drgabormate.com and he will answer your questions provided they are not medical questions.
The book is 445 pages so you will need two high lighters by the time you finish is book.
I ask for your prayers for my son as I will pray for yours.
Dear Pat, Thanks for your support and your references. We’ll bombard heaven with prayers for your son and your family. With respect, L
Dear Pat and Libby
I will add this material to my list and start reading soon.I also found peace and healing when I reached out and found a wonderful support system in Al Anon. I fear I would be a lost soul without my group which has become my extended family. They understand like no other. This is a cruel disease that steals so much from us yet there is also so much I have gained as a result. I have grown in ways I would never have grown if not for my son’s addiction.Of course, I would choose that he never had to go through any of this had I had the choice. Libby, I share your book with all the mothers in my group. They have all found it gives them strength. Thank you. Today is a new beginning for my family again as my son leaves his fourth stay at an inpatient rehab. He will be going to a sober home to attempt to put this disease into remission once again. Please keep him in your prayers as I pray for everyone battling this disease.
Dear Jane, I agree about Al-Anon. I, too, was lost and my group helped me find stability, hope and greater understanding. Addiction is a cruel and confounding disease. Jeff wrote in the book, “Addiction has changed my life, made me a different person, and in many respects my life is richer because I was forced to confront myself, or die. My past is my past and I can’t turn this path around or change the footsteps that follow me.” Addiction takes from us, but we learn and grow as a result.
God bless your son. Dr. MacAfee always says that relapse in one step closer to sobriety. Your son is in my prayers. So are you. With love,
I ordered Dr. Mate’s book. I can’t wait to read it. I will continue to try and understand this horrible disease. My son died of an overdose of heroin. He was only 41 years old. He fought addiction all his life. I thank God, every day, that he no longer has to feel the terror of active addiction.
I will pray for all of you…
With love and respect,
My dear Barbara,
Please know that you are tucked in my heart. There are no sufficient words to express my deep sorrow for your pain. We’ll keep each other in prayer, always.
I am so very sorry for your loss. There is a certain peace I suppose in knowing that your son is out of his pain however I cannot begin to imagine your loss. Last summer my son overdosed and was lucky to have been found still breathing but critical. He was on a ventilator for 10 days. I would sit in the chapel of the hospital and pray for God to save my son but only if his life would have purpose beyond active addiction.He has since been to treatment twice more. Barbara I will keep you in my prayers.
Dear Jane, thank you for your kind words of support. The loss of my son is and was the worst thing a mother could ever go through. I didn’t get one minute of sleep for 8 solid days,followed by a nervous breakdown. I can only find solace in knowing that he doesn’t have to fight the addiction anymore. With help from God, and people like you, Libby, and family, I will savour the rest of my life. It’s just too short, not to. You and your son will be in my daily prayers.
With love and respect,
Thank you so much for your sincere and heartfelt support. It means so much to me.
And you mean the world to me. My heart is with you.
Love to you, always,
Another book to read is Beautiful Boy. There were many things I came away with, two are in the front of my mind now. Even though it is the third (or 4th or 8th) time my son is in rehab- and even though it is not the best place in the world- it is 28 days of keeping my boy off the streets/not overdosing/not hurting me or others. And every time he goes in- he seems to get it a little more- get that he is better than his addiction, get it that there are underlying issues that helped him get addicted, and get it that he needs to be more proactive when he gets out.
The 2nd thing was something you stressed Libby in your book. Don’t answer the phone- text if you must, but don’t get sucked into the cycle of answering the phone when your child calls. You just perpetuate the vicious cycle of codependency.
Thanks for the website, the weekly inspiration, and the support.
Thanks for your comments. Dr. MacAfee says that relapse is not failure. Rehab is the best place for our children when they are suffering. I agree with you.
The phone can be a treacherous connection, but I always answered, even at the end and especially at the end of Jeff’s addiction when he was almost dead. The primary advice from the alcoholic who told me to “Stay Close” was for me to let Jeff know I loved me, always, that home was there for him when he got sober, but that I was not to give him money to enable his addiction. As Jeff once said, “Addicts need money and my mother made it a whole lot easier.”
We each have to find our own way with our children as we fight our way through addiction. You’ll make the best decision for you and your family about answering the phone or not and many other things yet to be decided. There are no real answers with addiction. It’s a confounding disease. I send you my love and prayers.
Libby you are so right about us all having to find our own way. This illness is so complex and there is no one solution that is cookie cutter for all. And hind sight is always 20/20 vision. We make the best decisions we can, and our addicted loved ones make poor decisions usually. Thank you for the reminder to stay close and show love and compassion. My son had a slip 6 days out of rehab which got him evicted from sober living house. He is home right now but we told him he could not stay here as he does need the structure and support of a sober home. The stress never ends.It is so hard. My prayers for all of you .
You are correct that addiction is so very difficult because there are no clear-cut answers. The illness is complex and what works for one person might or might not work with another. In addition, as a mother, I needed to be ready to Stay Close – love your son, don’t abandon him, but don’t enable his addiction. Not giving him money was clear to me and I finally did this.
Relapse was one of the most difficult times for me. I always felt betrayed and angry. Dr MacAfee says that relapse is not failure and, if handled well, is one step closer to sobriety. The problem for us was the Jeff wasn’t ready to give up the drug for many years. When HE was ready, he did it for himself and his life.
My love to you,
There are no clear answers with addiction. I found my greatest support in the halls of Al-Anon. I heard stories from other parents and their experiences helped me to try again. I made good and bad decision, both, but they were mine. In addition, I prayed.
Let’s keep our sons in our joint prayers.
With love and respect,