ADDICTION WANTS TO CONTROL OUR BEHAVIOR. DON’T LET IT.

My son said to me:  I heard an Al-Anon quote that I really liked: I’m not responsible for my first thought, but I am responsible for my first action. To me, this means that the mind will react as it does. I don’t have control over its racing thoughts, but I do have control over my behavior in response to them.

My reflection: This saying reminded me of my son’s many years in active addiction when I felt compelled to respond immediately. When he’d call and make demands for money or to be bailed out of jail, I felt a grip in my heart to answer on the spot. It took me years to realize that even though my mind went into overdrive, I could give myself the dignity of time before making a decision.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction wants attention and our immediate response. It thrives on fear, chaos and disruption, but we don’t have to comply. When our minds begin to race with confusion, I will take the time to breathe and pray before I act. Today, I won’t allow addiction to dictate my behavior.

 

HOPE IS THE LIGHT THAT LETS LOVE IN

A mom wrote this poem:

Let us see
there is always hope
for healing
that light appears
in the
deepest darkest
night
let hope
love
kindness
lead us
may we
never give up
the fight
for it is a fight
to keep hope alive
but hoping on
is the only way
we who love
our struggling ones
survive.

 

What I wrote in Stay Close: Our ending is in the present, in Jeff’s day-to-day choosing of sobriety. Can there be celebration in the every day, in the commonplace events and rhythms of everyday life? For us, for all the families of addicts, for the addict himself, we think yes. Jeff finds hope in his daily choice of sobriety because each choice, one day at a time, signifies that he earns the right to choose again – and again, and again. There’s freedom in choice. This story is not a promise for tomorrow, but a celebration of today. Our story ends in hope because it ends in beginning.

“Never quit believing, OK, Momma?”

“I won’t quit believing, Jeff.”

Never.

 

 

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.