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6 Common Myths About Addiction

Nova Recovery Center Near Austin Texas
6 common myths infographics


The concept of addiction is clouded with many misconceptions and assumptions, making it difficult for friends and family members to truly understand what an addicted loved one is going through. There are countless myths floating around about drug abuse, addiction, and alcoholism, but here are just a few of the most common myths and misconceptions.

Addiction Myth #1: People who are addicted just lack willpower.

It’s a common notion to assume that addicted individuals just lack the willpower to overcome their drug or alcohol abuse. However, addiction actually changes the brain of the user, severely impairing willpower and hampering self-control. Additionally, most medical associations including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine classify addiction as a chronic disease, meaning it is a long-lasting condition that can be controlled but not cured (similar to diabetes or cancer).1 Just as individuals cannot overcome cancer with sheer willpower, it’s highly unlikely that addicted individuals can either.

Addiction changes the way a person’s brain and body functions, inhibiting their ability to resist their substance of choice. When drugs are abused, pleasure chemicals are released in the brain, and over time, this release of chemicals modifies the parts of the brain that control pleasure, motivation, and memory. As a result, people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol with experience extreme cravings and frequently end up prioritizing their drug use over life-sustaining necessities like food, water, and shelter.

Addiction Myth #2: All addicts are the same.

The stereotype that addicted individuals are all low-income or unemployed, minorities, criminals, or of low socioeconomic status is simply not true. Recent reports published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clearly show that addiction can affect anyone.2

Many people are also high-functioning addicts. These individuals are often able to achieve professional success, maintain a social network, and continue to hold up appearances at home, all while hiding their addiction and substance abuse from family, friends, and coworkers. This can’t last forever, but in many cases, loved ones don’t find out about the problem until it has completely spiraled out of control. High-functioning addicts may be able to function for a while, but in the end, the truth always makes itself known.

Addiction Myth #3: Prescription drugs are safe as long as they are taken as prescribed.

Many people believe prescription drugs are safer than illicit drugs just because they are recommended by a doctor. But according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs can be just as dangerous and addictive as illicit drugs.3 Unfortunately, some drugs, such as prescription opioids like LorcetDolophine (methadose), and Duramorph/Roxanol (morphine)Percodan (oxycodone), and Tramadol can result in addiction even if a person takes them as prescribed by their doctor. In fact, prescription opioids are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. Cough and cold medicines, like Codeine, are the most frequently abused over-the-counter medications.Benzodiazepines like Valium (diazepam)Klonopin (clonazepam)Ativan (lorazepam), and Doral are also commonly abused in the U.S.although they are often overshadowed by opioids, are also commonly abused in the U.S.

Your doctor should always consider your health conditions, current, and past drug use, as well as alternative medications before prescribing a potentially addictive drug to treat your symptoms. If you feel uncomfortable taking a medication that your doctor prescribed, there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion or asking your doctor about alternative options.

Addiction Myth #4: Every person that uses drugs is an addict.

Although drug abuse can certainly lead to addiction (and in many cases it does), not every person that uses drugs or alcohol is addicted. In some cases, a person may be physically dependent on a substance, but not addicted. This is because certain parts of the brain are associated with addiction while others are associated with physical dependence.4

For example, a hospital patient may be dependent on morphine after receiving it regularly for pain relief. Once they are taken off of the drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms, but this situation does not involve any of the compulsive, uncontrollable use that is associated with addiction.

Unlike physical dependence, addiction is characterized by uncontrollable cravings, an inability to control usage and continued use despite doing harm to oneself and those around them.5 Drug detox is required to break a person’s physical dependence on a substance and alcohol and drug rehab is needed to modify the negative behavioral and thought patterns associated with addiction.

Addiction Myth #5: Addiction is a sign of moral failure.

The stigma surrounding addiction implies that addicted people lack morals, but this assumption is completely unfounded. While the initial choice to use a drug may not have been a wise decision, people don’t set out to become addicted to drugs and alcohol and they certainly do not choose the consequences that come with it.

No one knows what causes addiction, but there are several known risk factors that may increase a person’s likelihood to become addicted to drugs and alcohol. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that genetics account for 50-75 percent of risk for addiction and there are also numerous other addiction risk factors to consider, such as:6

  • Exposure to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Exposure to trauma
  • Substance abuse in the family or within peer social groups
  • Drug use that begins at an early age
  • Mental illness
  • Certain personality traits and brain characteristics

Addiction Myth #6: Only one type of addiction treatment works.

Just as every individual is different, addiction treatment should vary as well. While an inpatient alcohol and drug rehab program may have been a fantastic choice for your mom, your coworker may benefit more from an outpatient drug rehab program. Much of it will depend on personal circumstances, the person’s current and past drug use, and any previous treatment they have received in the past.

Although the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that evidence-based long-term addiction treatment lasting at least 90 days is more likely to result in long-term sobriety, there are many aspects of treatment that should be adjusted to better fit the needs of each individual.7 For example, pet therapy may be extremely advantageous for one person, but it may not be as powerful for another individual.

A high-quality rehab center, such as Nova Recovery Center, should incorporate a variety of evidence-based treatments into individualized treatment plans that are designed based on the needs of the client. These alcohol and drug rehab programs should be fluid and constantly updated as the client progresses through the program. This process will look different for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that one process works better than another.

The most important thing is to find a drug and alcohol rehab program that works for you or your loved one. If you’re interested in learning more about our rehab center and the continuum of care we offer, please contact our admissions team today.

Disclaimer: I don’t know anything about this treatment center.

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Droughts & Doubts

I had just rested my head down on the soft freshly laundered pillowcases, after a long day of what seemed like a failure to accomplish anything. My dad, rest his soul, would have said:

Didn’t accomplish SQUAT.

Whatever that means….
I was feeling it.
The dejection.
Lack of progress.

The drought of summer.
Lack.
Thirsty for more.....
Where's the water? Where's the hope?

As I laid there in my own self-inflicted pity party-powerless mode; I kept hearing noises. Things clanging. A whoosh. Hurried Activity.
“This is strange”,  I thought.

Is it really comng from outside?

I couldn’t be sure.

The neighborhood was usually very quiet.
See, when you live in a heightened state of anxiety every day; wrought with dips of depression, and moments of sheer panic; your sympathetic nervous system is always heightened. So it gets confused as to what’s a real threat.

Research suggests that chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction..

Harvard health

Even though it usually takes more than this to get me to care about anything; I drug my exhausted mind with my body lagging behind, to the window. I see the trees violently waving their leaves in fury at an unknown enemy.
A Storm! Well that’s nice. We need it. We had been in a summer drought with 3 digit temperatures for weeks.

As I settled back into my comfy bed, my thoughts turned to my son who was stranded again, in Las Vegas. He doesn’t live in Vegas, or even in Nevada. Yet there he was; in full- on addiction like behavior- even though he insists he’s ‘not using’. This also happened back in February when he called me after 2 days of wandering through the casinos scrounging for food and water after his “friends” got arrested. He had no ID and one shoe, because they were in the truck that was impounded with the arrest.

You may ask:

“Arrested for what?”

Well I didn’t ask.

“Why not?”

Because, as a mom of an addicted loved one, we learn to not ask questions. Partly because we don’t want to know the answers and mostly because we won’t get a straight answer anyway.

How do I not grab the rope this time?
How do I put down the shovel? And any other catchphrases that admonish us to not get caught up in the chaos that addiction loves to hand out in droves.

This time I will lie my unbothered head down without a worry in the world and sleep like a baby.

This time will be different.
I won’t worry about him being stabbed or jumped in the night. I won’t worry about him dehydrating in the 110-degree heat. I won’t worry about him getting so desperate for money that he steals something.
Last time I bought him a hamburger and then breakfast after 8 hours of trying to get him someplace safe; along with 3 Uber rides and a bus ticket home.
This time I tried to order him food but after 45 minutes on hold and then a failed attempt online because he wasn’t sitting in the sportsman’s seats, he couldn’t pick it up. It was a $45 pizza anyway. So hopefully he found some food in the trash.

Oh, this life.

The Mom’s groups say: “Give it to God.”

Ughhh
I mean, yes, whatever’s gonna happen is going to happen, I get it. That doesn’t mean I can just turn my feelings off.

“Do something for yourself- live your life”.
You mean other than work 5-6 days a week, camping, rock collecting, travel, reading, cleaning, grandkids baseball games, swimming, gardening, writing a blog, and writing a book?”

Even while keeping busy and “living my life;” my sons’ problems are always on my mind. In drought or in storm, I feel the sting of his struggles and and the scope of damage his addiction is doing. I’m either thirsting for him to seek recovery, or wrought in gut- wrenching anxiety of him overdosing. (Or writing an article on his unsafe, ridiculous release from jail on a Saturday afternoon)

But this time will be different.

I won’t fall into the trap of enmeshment.

As I check my phone one more time to see if he’s online, I hear the storm start to pick up outside. It’s going to be a long night. Whether the storm is raging outside, or ravaging inside of me; I know tomorrow will be a new day, probably back to drought conditions. I will be calm again, I will be grateful again.

I guess the key is keeping my health at top priority, and keeping my nervous system regulated so as to not fall ill with stress and worry.

Knowing that my emotions will come and go, as the storms and droughts do. Being ok with whatever I’m feeling at the moment, and letting them pass through me without settling in. For I know if I let them stay rent free in my head, I am subject to a permanent storm of misery.

I drift off to sleep, imagining myself as one with the leaves and branches. Fighting the fury, yet remaining intact. Swaying with the wind yet not letting it damage me. It can’t hurt me anymore. Like a cactus standing strong in the heat of the desert, I can withstand the storms and droughts, as I make peace with my heart.

Home Base

Re- Adjustment

Years ago, there was a show on at night called America’s Funniest Home Videos. I was obsessed with winning the $10,000 prize. That seemed like a million dollars to me. I sent in real VHS videos of my cute little kids doing cute little things. We even decorated a Christmas tree once with spaghetti for some contest on there.

Yup, a spaghetti Christmas tree! I can hardly think of it now, without cringing.

They had a segment or an inside joke they called FOTTF.

Funny Only To The Family

I’m assuming all my videos went to that pile. It appears that my blog now, would fit in some sort of FOTTF category.

I started it as an online journal / exploration of my son’s addiction. It served that purpose to work through the intense emotions I was feeling & as an outlet for them.

My target audience could relate. But as a non- marketer, first time blogger, I didn’t know how to market it to my target audience. I just kept getting in trouble with the mom’s groups for posting self – promotion.

I had hoped to help more people understand the struggles of an addict and their families. That doesn’t seem to be working and it’s not even a case of funny only to the family.

My family isn’t interested in my writing. They’re not interested in family recovery. They’re not interested in my son in his current state. I’m sure they care about what happens to him and just don’t know what to do about it, but they’re not interested in figuring it out either.

He was the hero when he could provide something of value, but as a sick person of society, he is not worth anyone’s time or energy. If he’s not doing what is expected, he is cast out and essentially expected to use a very Ill brain to make rational and responsible decisions. He is being fined with more money than he can possibly begin to pay back by people who know that.

The system seeks to punish and shame him and push him further into a criminal mindset.

He is not allowed to see or talk to his kids. It makes it appear as him being the bad guy always, no matter what anyone else has ever done or said. He’s treated like a criminal, and in due process, as any human does, they become what we treat them…

My son is very ill.

He is in more pain than anyone knows. He feels deep shame and can hardly look at pictures of his kids knowing how pathetic of a dad he is. A healthy brain can see the solution- get clean, get a job, get a car, get a house, and fight for visitation and pay for them.

But as Brandon Novak explained:

To an addict, the sidewalk is a skyscraper.....

They don’t even remember coping skills that don’t require numbing, or distraction.

So they continue sinking…..

Drowning in more legal problems, more health problems, and more isolation from and conflict with family.

My son expresses no interest in fixing anything. It’s like a hugh block. Psychologists would say that their mental age is where their trauma began or when their addiction took over, my son should still be an adult in theory, but the loss of so many things- basically everything he worked for 60-80 hrs a week for 15 years- is gone. So I believe that is where he’s stuck at…. Not facing such devastation and knowing it was technically Him who sold his soul for it. In November of 2019, his friend told me that he saw the light go out of my son’s eyes when he realized he could not save his marriage, no matter what. He said the addiction was a symptom from that made 💯 times worse after that moment.

I have let my powerlessness get to me today. It’s going on 13 months since I saw my beautiful boy. He sent me a picture, 2 weeks ago, the day he got out of jail and I cried at the sadness and pain in his eyes. He’s a lost soul.

The people I have begged for help, won’t. People who have the resources could care less. Even local recovery people who talk the talk on social media are disinterested in private requests. I was told by a very prominent recovery person who pretends to help people that I can’t just go out and find my son a sponsor….which I had no intention of. I just was looking for help. Any help.

No. One. Cares. The ones who do respond, say he has to want it. I think that’s a cop-out. I think that’s societies way of absolving responsibility of having to care or do anything for the dejected and very vulnerable segment of our society. Everyone has their own things to do. They love to talk smack about how much someone has gone to the dogs, screwed them over & over again; without any compassion for the most sickest evilest epidemic I’ve ever seen in my life. I used to think Cancer was so debilitating and sad but at least cancer gets compassion, no judgment, and zero shaming for life’s choices. With addiction, the patient is blamed, shamed, and told that everything they are experiencing is their own doing. It doesn’t matter if they were predisposed, traumatized, or just couldn’t stop at one drink like other people, they are the scum of the earth.

If they lie, cheat or steal as a result of their brain-riddled addiction, they are locked up and told they better get better real fast, on their own, or they will just get more shame and punishment. Because more of something ALWAYS WORKS……..

Take care.

🌼💘🌼

Home Base

It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

I love listening to Brandon Novak’s story. Not because I even knew who he was as a skateboarder or ‘jack…..’; & even though he has seemed to become a certain treatment center pusher, his delivery is so raw & real. He’s perfected the “catchphrases” so well that I find myself quoting them.

He describes how anything that got between him and his ability to get high, had to go. He states that it wasn’t personal, it was just business. His self described:

"non-conformist, defiant by nature, hates authority, I will never conform unless it's my idea……. Because I possess this nature that I know everything…… And everyone else can f. o."

Sounds so very familiar.

When we were driving my son to his first (& only) rehab; the interventionist kept saying that he had to do this surrender thing. I kept thinking, “whatever this surrender thing means; my son will never comply. When he made his first phone call home, I listened with such gratefulness & hope because he was so excited and full of compliments for how wonderful everyone was and how he wanted to open a treatment center like that back home. I was beyond relieved. He had surrendered! I thought.

The rehab turned out to be a bit sketchy and overall he felt like it was a babysitting service with one “kindergarten rehab” class a day. He lasted 9 days after he got home. The worst part is that it seemed to ruin his willingness to go to any rehab even now a year and a half later.

But as I listen to Brandon, I see that willingness is an internal thing. There are other types of rehabs, which I’ve explained and offered to my son; yet the surrender and the willingness just aren’t there.

Am I to judge and shame him for that?

Yesterday I was downtown in my city where the homeless are abundant. I’ve become – in theory – an advocate of these people because of my son being unhoused for over a year now. (Basically since that first rehab). But as I watched them, my old feelings of judgment came crashing to the surface.

They’re dirty.

They’re scary.

They make me uncomfortable.

Why don’t they try harder?

I had to really pull back into what I have learned, mostly from Resurrektion of me and her service of the homeless:

She maintains that it is their right to be unhoused if they choose, and it shouldn’t be illegal to have that choice. I guess the question comes up- where is it legal to be unhoused? On public property is usually where they are at. This makes people so uncomfortable to see that they complain until the city bulldozes them out.

This article explains how:

Some are being forced into making decisions that no one should have to make to survive.
But, survival has to be the priority.
Survival is what gets them through each day.

This post isn’t about homelessness. It’s about giving people who are living differently than WE think they should be living;

The dignity & respect to make their own choices.

It kills me to say that about my son, because those choices obviously increase his chance of death. This fact tears my heart out. I can feel the anxiety welling up inside me even thinking of that possibility. But after 2+ years of intensely studying this phenomenon of addiction, begging, pleading, praying daily for change; plus writing 189 pages of my book; I am almost to the point of my own surrender.

Surrendering to the fate of my beautiful boy. To whatever will & agreement him and God come to, regardless of my desires. 

In other words, I would rather maintain a connection to my boy, than be right. I want him to be the driver of his recovery if he ever chooses that. I want to give him the power to be able to surrender, rather than someone forcing him to surrender. The prison system may just do that, but as we all know, even that is zero guarantees of recovery. People can spend 2 months, 6 months, 4 yrs, & I even heard 8 yrs- the other day, then they get out, use & overdose. This is disheartening and scary, but it is fact.

The power in the surrendering always lies with each person.

Home Base

Adversity

If you wonder sometimes why you are going through a certain situation, and think “why me?” Or “What did I do to deserve this?” Just stop right there and explore the idea that maybe you really are chosen. Maybe it’s exactly what you and HE decided was needed for your growth. If you don’t believe in a pre-mortal existence and just think you’re being punished regardless; I present the observation that maybe you’re not. Maybe it just IS. Maybe it’s for the simple fact that someone is watching how you handle it. I don’t mean to deny your feelings of hopelessness and pain at times. I’m not saying to hide them and suffer in silence. I’m saying to be real, be you, be raw. Those who can’t handle it – won’t. Those who will be moved by your real-ness, your authenticity, and your ability to move…. Through the pain…will be inspiring.

Keep searching, seeking. Keep finding the light, the good things that rise from the darkness. Here’s a few articles that came to me literally as I was thinking about this post.

Allyson Rowe Shaffer via fb.

Mammas-
“Don’t feel sorry for or fear for your kids because the world they are going to grow up in is not what it used to be.

God created them and called them for the exact moment in time that they’re in. Their life wasn’t a coincidence or an accident.

Raise them up to know the power they walk in as children of God.
Train them up in the authority of His Word.
Teach them to walk in faith knowing that God is in control.
Empower them to know they can change the world.
Don’t teach them to be fearful and disheartened by the state of the world but hopeful that they can do something about it.

Every person in all of history has been placed in the time that they were in because of God’s sovereign plan.
He knew Daniel could handle the lions den.
He knew David could handle Goliath.
He knew Esther could handle Haman.
He knew Peter could handle persecution.
He knows that your child can handle whatever challenge they face in their life. He created them specifically for it!

Don’t be scared for your children, but be honored that God chose YOU to parent the generation that is facing the biggest challenges of our lifetime.
Rise up to the challenge.
Raise Daniels, Davids, Esthers and Peters!

God isn’t scratching His head wondering what He’s going to do with this mess of a world.
He has an army He’s raising up to drive back the darkness and make Him known all over the earth.

Don’t let your fear steal the greatness God placed in them. I know it’s hard to imagine them as anything besides our sweet little babies, and we just want to protect them from anything that could ever be hard on them, but they were born for such a time as this.” -Alex Cravens

📷 : Michel Maza


“ I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time, so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck again, from time to time, so that you will be conscious of the roll of chance in life, and understand that your success is not completely deserved, and the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you will be ignored, so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.”

Chief Justice John Roberts sons 9th grade graduation 2017

Tictok@themachocomacho
Ordinary on Purpose
From Ordinary on purpose facebook post

The Key To Teens Is...Let Them Struggle

MAR24

The Key To Teens Is…Let Them Struggle

MOTHERHOOD

Hey moms??

Listen…

It’s OKAY for our kids to struggle sometimes.

Or feel bored or sad or lonely or hurt.

And it’s okay if they are left out at school or don’t make the grade or aren’t the best on the team.

Because I’m guessing one day when our kids grow up, they’ll have moments when they struggle.

Or fall.

Or fail.

There will come a day when they won’t land the job. Or they can’t get the date. Or they’ll be faced with one of life’s true tragedies.

We can be certain one day our kids will have their fair share of pain because life is FULL of pain, isn’t it??

No one is immune.

So, if we prevent every fall NOW…

If we cushion every blow NOW…

If we arrange all the pieces just so NOW…

Won’t our kids be shocked one day by life’s inevitable pain???

And I know, I KNOW it hurts.

As moms we want nothing more than to see our kids succeed and be happy. We long for our babies to achieve their dreams and find their purpose. And it feels like when they fall or fail…WE have failed.

But that simply isn’t true.

Because really???

When we allow our kids to struggle sometimes, we are giving them a gift…

The gift of RESILIENCE.

We cheer for them. We provide all the tools. We give support and offer help. We keep them safe. We pray for them. We hold them when they fall.

Yes.

But we can’t fix up a Perfect Little Life for them.

We HAVE to let them struggle. And allow them to find their own way through.

So rather than perfect top-of-the-class kids…

Or superstar best-on-the-team kids…

Or popular always-fit-in kids…

Or never faltered-or-failed kids…

Let’s strive to raise RESILIENT kids!!

Kids who know exactly what to do when life shoves them to the ground.

Kids who aren’t afraid to try…and fail.

Kids who understand no matter what happens, they’ve got what it takes to stand back up and try again.

And kids who KNOW their mom is cheering for them every step of the way!

Come on moms!!!

LET’S RAISE RESILIENT KIDS!#ordinaryonpurpose#raisingteens#teenageboys#thisisraisingteens#letthemstruggle#letthemgrow#thegiftoffailure#resilientkids#raisingresilientkids#talesofthemoment#thesemomentsmatter#ilovewatchingthemgrow#myordinarylife#lifehappensintheordinary#ordinaryonpurposeblogMikala Albertson-OwnerLeave a comment

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Home Base

Addictology Deconstructed

Yup you read that right.

Kind of a tongue twister, but this Doctor really did a great job at deconstructing addiction for the layman. She lived it as a heroin addict while in medical school and for years after. She wrote her experience in this inciteful Book.

She is such a valued resource in educating people on why their loved ones are acting so rude and ridiculous.

It really does come down to what we’ve heard before-those damn pleasure centers that we ALL love so much.

The hippocampus and amygdala are our motivators to get up every day & seek out pleasure- however small.

That part of the brain becomes so flushed & overwhelmed with opiods ( thanks in part to Purdue-👿) that the addict can’t derive ANY pleasure from ANYTHING else, so they spend every waking minute of every single day seeking out ways to achieve that pleasure.

This usually means trompelling on anybody and anything just for one more day of trying to reach the pleasure centers’ levels of the day before. It soon becomes a grueling game of only using to avoid sickness with almost zero pleasure. A viscious horrible rat wheel cycle of a never ending purple gobstopper in a relentless version of groundhog day.

She gives the best explanation of the brain of a person with substance use disorder.

Nicole Labor book

Here’s her live talk. Hope you enjoy them

1000 Last Goodbyes, Home Base

The Snake’s Venom

Excerpt from 1000 Last Goodbyes -Healing Fom Life With an Addicted Loved One

I carefully made my way up the steep rocky mountainside with my well-worn hiking boots; my Levi curvy shorts above my black garbage bag wrapped legs.  It was a hot June day in the desert, just a few hours from my house. My husband was ahead of me with the pic and hammer. That’s right, a pickaxe and hammer. I’m sure we were a sight to see. That is, if there had been another human within miles of the hot dusty desert. Him, with his ax-looking equipment and me in shorts and hiking boots, and the black rustling plastic sticking to my now sweaty legs.

Despite being deathly afraid of snakes, I had forgotten to wear pants, so I figured the plastic was akeen to wearing gloves as a nurse-to take the sting out of a rattlesnake bite. Needle sticks can be less dangerous if they go through the plastic into your skin, rather than a prick without a barrier. 

We were there to find some quartz crystals or more specifically: smokey quartz. It was found in long sparkly veins that ran through the slick, hard granite rock. The quartz wasn’t quite as hard, so it could be pryed out, with some effort.

We were avid rockhounders. Searching the deserts and mountains for precious gems like topaz or amethyst or just plain old pretty rocks such as chert or agate. The garbage bags tied around my legs were because of the threat of rattlesnakes who loved to hide in the eaves of the rocks to find shade from the blistering sun. They also didn’t like their shady spot invaded, and would strike out if surprised, so I started my usual whistling-as-I-walked, keeping my sunglasses off and watching 180 degrees in all directions.    

Normally when out rockhounding, I start to feel the fresh air encapsulate my being and I embrace the freedom of having nowhere to go and nothing to do. The focus of looking for rocks while noticing the landscape and the beautiful clouds wafting across the blue sky, is mesmerizing to me. It’s similar to riding on a motorcycle. The breeze, the scenery whizzing by- like the background of a movie; the focal point of the scene playing out in front while the world and all its problems are oblivious in the background.

Today, however, besides being afraid of the snakes, I was in gut-churning turmoil. My son had been in jail for 47 days. His longest stint so far. It had been a rollercoaster ride of solitary confinement, rehab searching, and lawyers antics.

So, little did I know, that the minute the 30 days expired, they would let him out. Without even a hearing of what rehab we had found or anything. 

That day was today, a Saturday. I had been communicating with my son via the jail messaging system for a couple of weeks and had some wonderful conversations. He had been reading a lot and seemed to have his head clearing up. That morning he had read my message but didn’t respond, and when I sent another one-the flashing message came up that said, “This inmate is released. This conversation has ended”. 

My body froze in fear. NOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOO! This can’t be happening!!

He cannot just GET OUT!!! I wanted to scream! But I was determined to not ruin my husband and I’s day of rockhounding. I swallowed the lump in my throat and squelched the tears forming behind my flushed face, and switched to Facebook messenger. I proceeded to tell my son to PLEASE, PLEASE GO SOMEWHERE SAFE!!I knew the risk of an overdose right out of jail. I knew he didn’t have anywhere to go except right back into the same environment that he got sick in.

I had anticipated this day, as a ride to rehab with a stop on the way to an addiction doctor I had been communicating with, for a Vivitrol or Sublicade shot. I had envisioned finally seeing my son after 13 months with his fresh, jail weight-lifted, non-scrawny, non-homeless body and new outlook on life.

I messaged his friend in a rampage of messages to please don’t let him overdose, and please give him a ride to the clinic, first thing Monday morning for an injection. (Yes I had talked to them and verified his insurance which was ‘paused’ while in jail- a fact that I wasn’t aware of- which caused a lot of problems finding a rehab to be released to).

Despite these pleas, I knew he wouldn’t make it until Monday without using. The process of detoxing and waiting the 7-10 days for the injection would be impossible now.  Releasing a hard-core addict on a Saturday afternoon with no stable housing, job, car, bank account or support system or meds for the cravings that yes should be gone, but the mental obsession for sure wasn’t; seems like a HUGE crack in the system. Then expecting them to show up Monday morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to solve all their legal problems with a great attitude.

Something had to change. If my sick, out-of-control, hijacked irresponsible son wasn’t going to, then I was going to change the system. I immediately looked up the area state senator. I penned out a descriptive letter of what I thought could improve the system such as a mandatory 72 discharge “leverage house,” where they can acclimate from jail and be guided toward recovery and housing solutions. I later received a long response of everything that the state was doing to combat the drug war such as a recent traffic bust which confiscated so many lbs of meth. So basically what the last 50 years of the war on drugs, have failed to solve. Ok, got it.

Those drugs will be replaced in no time, driving the price up and increasing the risk that they’ll be cut with more deadly crap to make them even more profitable for the big wigs who never get caught.

I was defeated once again.

Who would listen?

Who would help?

I had exhausted all my money, ideas and energy. I felt alone.

Among millions of heartbreaking families suffering the same feelings, I felt alone.

Where would this end? Would my boy be one who is in the meetings telling his amazing recovery story? Or would I be placing balloons on his grave?

The only one who knew the answer to that, wasn’t talking. My God, my sole Savior that I had begged and pleaded with for 2+ years for this “problem” to be resolved, was as silent as that hot, deserted desert. I could still hear my rustling plastic bags in the wind; waiting for the snakes venom to strike -out of nowhere. As of this moment, that venom didn’t even scare me. The sharp fangs holding deadly poison was nothing compared to this piercing heaviness in my heart. The plastic couldn’t protect me from this.

I wanted to lie down and drown in the dust of my sorrowful misery.

Would this actually be my final last goodbye?

Home Base

Losing Yourself to Find Someone Who’s No Longer There

Includes guest blog by Melissa Gillman

Have you ever sat by a river and watched the leaves and sticks flow by? This is one of my favorite things to do. I contemplate, every single time, where all the water comes from, where it’s going, and what its purpose is, right now, in front of me. I watch the leaves and wonder if they’re happy just being tossed around wherever life takes them. Once in a while a beautiful duck may appear, and I think, “Maybe it’s all about the duck”.

I sometimes try to remember who I was before the river. Before I was the leaf being tossed around.

Have you ever thought who you were before you were trying to save someone else?

Who were you before this current tragedy or quest took over?

What did you enjoy? What brought you joy? What was your foundation?

When our foundation is based on something out of our control, there is bound to be an earthquake to shake it up. When our very existence seems to depend on a situation getting better or worse, we know we’re off center.

What center?

The Center of being true to ourselves. As hard as it is to admit, especially in the rawness of broken hearts or deep pain that shoots through our core; we are all separate individuals.

This is not to invalidate feelings. Our feelings are our own. Grief is real. Sadness is real. Disappointment is real. But we don’t have to let them own us.

Just like the river flows without any help from us, others’ lives will unfold and flow without a whole lot of input from us. So what actions and input will help us find our true essence? Will we only be happy if x, y, or z happens? We all know that it doesn’t stop there. We might be happy for a minute but soon another concern will arise and we will be hyper-focused on making that happen.

What if instead of us being the leaves being tossed around, what if the leaves were our emotions? We see them coming, we don’t panic, we just lovingly accept and observe them? They might be angry leaves, mad at getting wet. Mad at the river. Mad at the people watching who won’t pull them out. Mad at the logs that won’t stop their decline to some unknown destination of fear.

What kind of quality of life by the hour, by the day, does that make? We wonder why we’re miserable and anxious. Maybe it’s all about the foundation and not the river that’s tossing us…….

Fellow addicted loved one supporter wrote this:

“With my jagged edges and sharp blades around my heart, I could come here and speak it into the world. I was rarely judged, and so many people would give opinions, words of encouragement, knowledge, acceptance, and love. I was caught up in my own sickness. The sickness so many of us, non-addicted loved ones get ill with. Which is thinking we can absorb the addiction out of the people we love or care about. That we can love it out of them, teach them their worth, their potential, and value. And the cold hard reality is, we can’t. Even while we try, I think we are so blind by what we THINK they want. What we THINK someone can become. And perhaps we are wrong. Maybe not. But what I do know now at this point. Nothing I ever did or didn’t do has anything to do with them getting sober and into recovery. I wasn’t to blame for drug use and relapse. And I couldn’t take credit for sober time either. That was them. Completely. The good and the bad choices. This also meant I had to realize, staying in my own illness of fixing, solving, enabling.. was also on me fully. Good days and bad. Just as their addiction was on them. My point is, something beautiful happened when I stopped pouring every ounce of myself into someone else. There was now something to pour into me. In the last few months I have ALLOWED, yes allowed being the correct word.. allowed myself to pour into me. ( After my five kids ) allowed me to laugh. Allowed me to go out and meet new people, good people. Allowed me to still be all the things about me I love while keeping boundaries of who and when people can receive the good parts of me. On my terms. I recognize myself again. I actually feel.. happy most days. Letting go of someone or something that is toxic or unhealthy does not mean the love was never there or wasn’t real. But it sometimes means you now know how to treat yourself right FIRST, and by doing so.. if other things fall off, or out, you know they weren’t meant for you. I will always wish sobriety, health, accountability, and a life of honesty and integrity for the previous addict in my life. I will always hope somewhere in this lifetime my kids will know the happy, funny, charismatic version of their father that long ago I once knew. Whether or not that is the real him, only he knows. But if they can know that person, I would be so happy for them. As for me, I found a new love. She’s about 5’10” and she is actually someone I reconnected with from long ago.. she is MYSELF. Loving her can only bring the correct kind of love in my life from here forward. To those who lost themselves trying to save someone. I see you. Rest. Pray. And remember who YOU ARE. Not be consumed remembering who THEY WERE. Let THEM do that. ❤️

MELISSA GILLMAN

Absorb the addiction out of them.

I love that. The only one we can absorb something out of- is ourself. What do you need to fo to absorb the worry, the fear, the disappointment out of yourself and reconnect with that person who just loves? Loving the one who loves so deeply….

You.

Home Base

Why Don’t You Just?…..

One thing I’ve learned this year (from my 4th therapist 🤷🏼‍♀️) is that you CAN’T should-on people. Which means they shudda done this and shudda done that -in order for ME to feel better……etc.

Even though we don’t like others telling us what we should do, we are sometimes quick to tell others how to live their life.

At the time, it seems like it’s the best thing for us (to feel better) but is the way we are trying to manipulate the situation really the best version of ourselves?

As badly as you want/need this for someone else – think of how misunderstood you feel in challenging situations.

Remind yourself that you will incur the misunderstanding and perhaps even wrath of those around you for having the temerity to march to your own drumbeat. Don’t take it personally even for one moment. It is merely a strategy to get you to conform, and when you fail to react, the wrath will quickly disappear. At the same time, allow those in your immediate sphere to have the joy of blissfully marching to their own beat.- Dr Wayne Dyer

Oh man- I love this explanation so much! 💖 When we encounter people who test us & push all our trigger buttons or when they say God-awful things to us; we may wish we had never met them or we have this knee-jerk reaction to want revenge. Or, we decide we need to “fix” them & make them see what a jerk they are and get them to see things our way.

It’s frustrating & maddening & heartbreaking to want something so bad yet freeing to have a goal that we don’t have to live this way. We don’t have to suffer in agony at others’ choices! We can love what ANYONE brings to our table-
KNOWING full well
that it’s all for the becoming of US! For our growth-possibly for us to see how we may be treating someone else.

Or maybe it’s just for us to love people for where they are at & love the parts of THEM that are feeling such pain.💝

It’s possible to get there…I’ve heard others who have.

Life is so precious. I wish we could see that BEFORE we engage in destructive behavior or before we argue and fight over material objects or statues or whose opinion matters more or who’s “doing it right-er“.

At the end of the day who’s opinion does matter more? Only ours, in a lot of instances; because WE have to live with ourselves.

It’s not about proving our point to someone who will only see things from THEIR experience-it’s about protecting ourselves and our families the best way we know-how.
But doing it with honor and compassion if possible.

Just as you don’t like to be controlled, you can’t control others either.
So buckle down and figure out what’s important to you. Then figure out the best plan moving forward.

This is the time.
It’s checkpoint
♟️♟️♟️♟️♟️

Home Base

It’s Just a Light

It’s just a light in my bedroom.

A battery operated LED light to help my aging eyes see the light gray words printed on tan pages, as so many of the older books have.

It’s a light to help me wind down at night. To take my mind off the endless, circular motion of my worried brain as it goes round and round the catastrophic thinking that has become my daily companion.

The batteries recently died in my “light”. I replaced them, then realized that the velcro holding it to my bed was peeled off & I wasn’t sure if I had anymore. It was useless if I had to prop it up or hold it. “Oh well”, I thought, as I snuggled into my bed.

I'm too tired to care.

This had become my motto recently.

We had been camping all weekend and I was exhausted. My husband was busy packing to leave out of town for work.

As I drifted off to sleep I awoke to see him sticking my brand newly velcroed LED light in its place on my bed.

I couldn’t believe it. Or maybe I could. This man spent all weekend hauling around campers and coolers and ATVs to make sure I could relax all weekend. He even climbed up a huge steep mountain- in a rainstorm- to find me some Geodes, hauling the 50+lbs down the slippery mountain.

These acts of service may not appeal to everyone, but after the few years of struggle with my son that we’ve had- it’s the little things……AND it’s the things that we normally wouldn’t appreciate, that matter. Especially in times of stress.

You see: my husband isn’t my substance use disorder son’s father. He only knows him as “the addict”. He doesn’t know This Guy. The fun-loving guy who always has a funny story to tell. The guy who never stops talking, but yet not in an annoying way. He always has some idea, some thought or joke to tell. Always smiling. My long lost funny boy.

My husband doesn’t understand my feelings of loss.

The losing someone while their still alive-loss. The missing of family vacations- before addiction stuck its ravaged head into our business of happy little family-loss.

He doesn’t understand my literal consume-ment of my son’s addiction. With his life.

But he cares about me.

And he cares about my self care. Thus -he cares about my light.

In the world of substance use disorder, it’s easy to feel alone and that no one can possibly understand. It’s so important to find bits of support wherever we can. They may not understand what we’re going through, but they can still care.

I was watching one of my favorite shows, “I Shouldn’t Be Alive.” It was about a man who crashed his plane into the African bush. When rescued he felt a hand on his shoulder and heard these words:

"You're in safe hands now." 

You may not have a partner, but we can all find our “safe hands” or our “light”- if we start looking for the small miracles.