“Thanks for understanding, Mom. You know, you didn’t always feel this way. This means a lot.” I’d just shared that I finally understood that for his recovery, group meetings may not be helpful, and that we would respect his choices in regard to his recovery. His personality, his history and his life are unique. His path must be his own.
When we saw our son descending down the path of addiction, we wanted to get in front of it, and ‘requiring’ meetings and other traditional forms of treatment seemed like the best approach. Truthfully, early on, we were so focused on getting him into ANY type of treatment that the importance of finding the RIGHT treatment didn’t come to the top of our thought processes.
One-size-fits-all is seldom a viable solution for anything, but there are few situations where stuffing a round peg into a square hole creates the devastation it does when substance use disorder is involved. Whether legal policies, societal judgments, or parental input, applying mandates based on one perceived solution is dangerous and unproductive.
No one likes to be forced into anything. When addiction is involved, individuals already feel like outcasts. They’re likely self-medicating past or current … Read More
Drug court programs were designed in an attempt to minimize drug use, save money and reduce incarceration rates of those charged with nonviolent drug related crimes. A multidisciplinary team including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community corrections personnel, social workers and treatment professionals work with participants who agree to undergo treatment and comply with other drug court requirements in lieu of incarceration.
Since the first U.S. drug court in Miami-Dade County, Florida in 1989, drug courts have grown dramatically. All 50 U.S. states now have them, and drug courts exist in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Drug courts offer treatment in lieu of incarceration. How could that possibly be anything but positive? There’s no doubt that some individuals have benefited from drug court. For those able to comply perfectly with drug court mandates, the treatment offered can be a turning point toward sobriety and a productive life. Within our current system, many of these individuals would be unable to afford other treatment options, so drug court offers the opportunity for treatment services that would otherwise be unavailable to them.
So, What’s Not to Like?
‘Failing’ Drug Court is a Huge Risk.
Unfortunately, participants who aren’t successful in drug … Read More
“The first thing you need to do is get off those meds.” We’re sitting in a sober house interview conducted by the house manager. He’s talking about Suboxone, a medication prescribed by the psychiatrist treating the proposed resident of this sober house. This medication has helped this individual toward successful recovery after four failed attempts in 12-step programs.
We’d called in advance to be certain this sober house allowed use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and had been assured that they did. “We understand and support evidence-based treatment” the owner of this group of sober homes told us before we’d scheduled the appointment.
The sober house manager – turned medical advisor – was specifically directing a potential resident to ignore advice of his addiction psychiatrist and his therapist who holds a master’s degree in integrated behavioral health counseling. Prior to giving this blanket advice, the house manager asked no questions about the individual’s diagnosis, situation or history, yet knew the ‘answer’ to his issues.
It was clear that life in this sober house could be unpleasant for any resident using prescription medications as part of a recovery plan. An unhappy house manager who perceives that the resident isn’t following … Read More
We may have prepared ourselves for the call, and we may be relieved that something has broken the pattern of addiction. Knowing that our child is no longer on the streets has its benefits. Still, hearing that our son or daughter is behind bars will send shivers up the backs of most of us as parents.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you receive the call from your child to let you know they’ve been arrested.
1. Remember that anything you say will be recorded, and may be used in a court proceeding against him or her. Asking what really happened or making accusations of illegal activity could cause harsh repercussions. At this point, you may feel that some jail time might be warranted. However, punishment may far exceed anything that could be beneficial. You don’t want to say something now, only to learn later that it helped in a conviction that carries a penalty of years in prison, or that could jeopardize chances of treatment in lieu of incarceration.
2. Regardless of how frustrated, angry or hurt you are, keep in mind that, at this moment, your child has just gone through a … Read More
WHY ‘CLEAN’, ‘ADDICT’ & OTHER TERMS SUPPORT BAD POLICY & COMPLICATE FAMILY DECISION-MAKING
There’s no doubt that stigma against those struggling with substance use disorder is alive and well. Anyone with addiction in the family has been subjected to varying degrees of stigma, ranging from well-meaning friends saying “Just throw him/her out” to the callous Facebook posts suggesting that use of Narcan to save a life is a waste. We know how hurtful this is to us as family members. We can only imagine how devastating it is to our sons and daughters who face judgment and negativity at every turn. Seeing the pain in the eyes of those subjected to ignorant, thoughtless remarks will tug at any parent’s heartstrings.
We have a long way to go in educating the public about the realities of substance use disorder, including medical advances proving that it IS treatable, just like other health issues. Thankfully, we’re past the days of hearing terms like ‘junkie’ on any regular basis, and most people are aware of how destructive language of that type can be. It’s obvious that no person is junk, and most acknowledge that inference as offensive. As the addiction and overdose epidemic impacts … Read More
This week, we celebrated our country’s birthday — the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago. It’s a good time to appreciate our freedoms and our way of life. There’s much to be thankful for.
This year, though, as I watched the fireworks and celebrated the freedoms of living in the U.S., my heart went out to all of those who are NOT free. As the flags waived, families enjoyed hot dogs on the grill and parades celebrated the red, white and blue, my thoughts went to those who are locked in our county jails and in our prisons for possessing a drug.
We all see the statistics – the United States now has more people behind bars than any other country in the world (25% of the prisoners with 5% of the population). One in every 31 adults – or one in every 18 men – in the U.S. is either incarcerated or on probation or parole. There are more black men in our criminal justice system than were slaves before the start of the Civil War. Most people have become aware that we have an issue, but it’s easy to look at statistics without really internalizing… Read More
We’ve WAITED for this day – maybe for decades. The horrors of drug use have stopped, and our son or daughter is finally in recovery. During the darkest days of active addiction, we dreamed of the day when it would stop, when we’d get our child back – when the cloud would dissipate and we could communicate, laugh and enjoy family life again.
Active drug use is gone, but why haven’t the mood swings, anxiety, irritability or other aspects of the emotional roller-coaster exited with the drug use?
It’s because our child’s brain is healing, and, whether it seems fair or not, that takes a while. Our support and patience at this point can be extremely important. Understanding the chemistry of what’s happening, typical symptoms, and timelines can make it easier for families to accept the transition between active use and return to a fully functioning brain.
Awareness of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) May Minimize Risk of Relapse
There are actually two stages of withdrawal. The type of withdrawal that everyone is aware of is acute withdrawal. These are the withdrawal symptoms that terrify drug users, and can range from being uncomfortable to life-threatening depending on the drug and … Read More
Let’s look at the two typical approaches:
1. Conventional wisdom: Don’t enable. This philosophy – still broadly accepted – says:”Let them hit bottom. If you support your child (emotionally, financially . . .), you’re making it worse and you’re part of the problem. They won’t decide to make changes until they ‘feel the consequences’ of their choices.” Intense guilt typically accompanies this choice. It doesn’t feel natural to walk away when our children are in pain, and in some cases, this approach ends in death or long-term incarceration. Parents following this advice may also be criticized for abandoning their children.
2. Addiction is a health issue. Substance use disorder is not a choice. This approach is supported by science and coincides with parents’ instinct to support a child when he or she needs help. BUT – this approach leaves parents wondering, at one point or another, ‘Could … Read More
A Facebook post states:
“Feeling proud tonight. Tomorrow is my 2 years. Two years ago on this night I made a total ass out of myself in front of some old friends and my fiancé. The next day I actually started my ten days of abstinence from drugs to get my Vivitrol shot. I had scheduled two previous appointments before this one, but I couldn’t stay clean.
It really doesn’t seem like two years have gone by. Life is great now. Has been for a while. Pretty solid. I’m married to my beautiful, wonderful, and patient wife. She’s been with me through some of the worst days of my addiction. She decided I was worth staying with, never gave up. We have a beautiful 3-month old baby girl. She is beyond my words of explanation. She is the best thing I’ve ever had a chance to be part of. My career is going strong. Bills are paid. Savings in the bank, which never mattered to me before. My credit has been rebuilt. We’re actually able to live a normal life. [Photo of baby followed.]
Reading this type of post gives us hope, and warms the heart. I’m thankful that … Read More
Parenting a teen or adult child struggling with substance use issues can leave us stressed, stretched, depressed and overwhelmed. We may bounce from crisis to crisis, and when not IN crisis, remain frozen, on full alert to be ready for the next emergency, or simply too exhausted to live our own lives.
It’s easy to understand the fatigue of dealing with addiction, but are there other reasons parents find themselves feeling like they have no life? Balancing our own needs with the needs of our addicted child and other family members is imperative for everyone’s well-being.
Considering categories of human needs may seem more hypothetical than our fatigued minds want to consider – yet doing just that may provide relief. Understanding human needs and how addiction in the family impacts those needs can give us clues on what WE need, and how to satisfy those needs despite crisis in the family.
Philosophies of human needs vary some, but all follow the same themes, and all espouse some variation on the need for safety and certainty, balanced with the need for variety and … Read More
Research conducted by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids found that as many as one in five teens have taken a prescription drug without having a prescription for it. The vast majority of teens abusing prescription drugs get them from medicine cabinets of family, friends and acquaintances. The issue doesn’t stop with teens. Regardless of age, those in active addiction seek drugs – anywhere they can find them. Medicine cabinets of family members, friends or acquaintances are easy sources.
It’s important to get rid of unused and unneeded pills in your medicine cabinet or elsewhere in your household, and to keep medications that are needed locked up. This ‘spring cleaning’ project could save a life. Every 19 minutes, someone dies of a prescription drug overdose.
Opioids, including prescription pain relievers, cause more overdose deaths than any other type of drug. Many of those now addicted to heroin began with oxycodone (brand name OxyContin®), codeine, hydrocodone (brand name Vicodin®) and other prescription medications – either using their own prescriptions or those prescribed to someone else. These medications are man-made, so are referred to as opioids (rather than opiates – which come directly from opium). … Read More
Parenting a son or daughter struggling with addiction creates daily decisions on how to react to the many issues created and on how to control our own emotions.
It’s easy to be in perpetual reactive mode, and we all know that there’s plenty to fear. There’s also a lot of love. It wouldn’t hurt so badly if there wasn’t. But – at any given time, can our decisions be based on both of these emotions? Elisabeth Kubler-Ross doesn’t think so:
“There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
If police arrest your child on a drug charge, could authorities seize your home, force you out on the street, and turn off the power and screw the doors shut? Could this happen even if neither you nor your son or daughter is ever convicted of a crime – or if you had no knowledge of drug activity in your home? Could simply being in your car and having cash on you or in the car risk seizure of your car and the cash? The answer is yes.
Civil Forfeiture seized huge amounts of property.
Most state statutes, as well as federal law, permit civil asset forfeiture, and these harsh results occur on a regular basis. The Department of Justice took in nearly 29 BILLION dollars over a period of 14 years, growing annual revenues by 1,000 percent from 2001 to 2014! State and local law enforcement agencies have also seized billions of dollars of assets.
Parents with Sons & Daughters Struggling with Substance Use Disorder are at Higher Risk.
Parenting a son or daughter with addiction issues is difficult enough, but YOUR assets may be at risk of being seized. When a family member has a … Read More
Thanks to all of you who took the time to complete our online survey. Results are interesting, and are a tremendous help to us in prioritizing expanded information in our courses, blogs and other resources we provide to you.
(For those of you who have not yet taken our quick 5 question survey, we’d still appreciate your input. The survey is still open, and may be accessed HERE.
So – Here are results so far:
Over 40% have been dealing with addiction in the family for over 5 years, with just under 30% 2-5 years, and just over 30% less than 2 years. While it’s discouraging to see the length of time many have lived with substance use disorder impacting their lives and the lives of their loved ones, it’s also true that those whose experiences have been shorter may be less likely to take a survey of this type.
48% of those responding have more than one child with addiction issues, with 52% with one child dealing with addiction. … Read More
Addiction seldom exists in a vacuum. It’s often combined with attention deficit, depression, anxiety, physical pain and/or other physical or emotional issues. This can create a vicious cycle in diagnosis and treatment. What came first – the underlying issue or the addiction? Was the drug use an attempt to self-medicate the initial condition, or did the addiction and the lifestyle that accompanies drug use create or exacerbate the other physical or emotional condition?
Priority of Treatment
Parents often wonder about priority of treatment. Should focus be on getting pain or other ‘dual-diagnosis’ issues resolved first? – Or does treatment for substance use disorder have to take priority?
By the time self-medication transforms into addiction, drug use masks symptoms of other issues, complicating diagnosis and treatment. The challenge is that, until the drug use stops, it’s difficult to get a true diagnosis or to make progress on treatment for other issues. For that reason, historically, treatment of other issues was often delayed until the addiction was dealt with first.
Here’s the issue: Ending an addiction is difficult enough. Lifestyle is changed completely. Withdrawal can be excruciatingly painful – or can be fatal. By the time treatment is sought, there’s usually … Read More
Loving someone with a substance use disorder can tear us apart emotionally, physically and financially. The following video discusses how understanding statistics and current science, medicine and treatment techniques impacted my reactions to addiction in our family. It may help you if you’re going through similar things.