Thank you to those who follow and read my blog. 💯☘💯
I started it last September as an outlet for my struggle with my son’s addiction. I thought it would take me away from the need to “fix” him. The “experts” said to learn all about addiction and how it works on the brain. So I did. I still thought I could pass that knowledge on to others and especially to my family members to encourage more compassion and ideas on how to help.
Sometimes I feel like I’m doing it wrong, or I’m too early in the process OR I’ve just come to realize that this disease is the absolute most cunning, insidious, unforgiving, unmanageable thing of all time. ☢
I have received a lot of support. I appreciate so many new friends. Despite not feeling like I quite fit in to each group, we all have something in common: Pain…..& The daily journey to move past it. Some do it with hobbies and careers, others are hard core activists and some have committed to a deeply devoted spiritual practice to lean on.🛐
I still struggle with finding my peace. Despite meetings, counseling, and so many books read- I still feel lost & heart broken as he continues to make poor choices & spiral further into the correctional system.
Despite what pain I’m still experiencing, there is someone else who is hurting worse. It’s my little granddaughter. I don’t get to see her because the gate keeper doesn’t approve of me; so I am working on a children’s book for kids of addicts. I’ve written the story as if im talking to her and it’s being illustrated in her image. I hope it’s the right thing to do considering all the ripples that addiction has destroyed.
If you would like a copy let me know. Of course all proceeds of it will go to her to help make up for not having her Dad in her life. He loved her so very much, & talks about her often; it just seems impossible to him to comply with all the requirements due to his hijacked brain being a slave to it’s master.
Please join my book club to share resources with each other.
Here’s some other Interesting facts that help us to understand why they don’t want to quit.
I didn’t write this but I actually have my son on audio saying this exact same premise.
It’s one of many audio recordings I have of him, that I put in my upcoming book 1000 Last Goodbyes.
“If you can think of the happiest days of your life, i.e. wedding day, birth of your firstborn, landing your dream job, etc. your dopamine level rises to about 200 units. Methamphetamine’s powerful effects come from its impact on the brain’s reward, or pleasure, center. Meth does not directly release dopamine. It attaches itself to dopamine receptor sites and fools neurons into releasing large quantities of dopamine. This accounts for the intense rush a user experiences from meth.
“In addition, meth prevents dopamine from being recycled. Instead, dopamine is active in the body for much longer, explaining the extra long duration of the meth high. The drug does this by blocking (inhibiting) the dopamine transporter involved in its reabsorption (reuptake) into the original neuron that sent it. Transporters are places on neurons that reabsorb the dopamine after it has completed its job. As a result, more dopamine becomes available to the brain. This extra dopamine, in turn, activates an even greater number of dopamine receptors. This increased release of dopamine is primarily responsible for the intensity and duration of meth-amphetamine’s effects.
“In lab animal experiments conducted by UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Program, sex caused dopamine levels to increase to 200 units and cocaine caused levels to rise to 350 units. With meth-amphetamine, dopamine levels jumped to about 1,250 units. Overall, this study showed that meth causes about 12 times as much feelings of pleasure as sex, food, and other activities, including the use of other illegal stimulant drugs. All illegal drugs of abuse release dopamine, but that methamphetamine “produces the mother of all dopamine releases.” So, when an addict stops using nothing seems right, life seems dull and gray. Meth is a beast but I do know addicts who fought hard and got free of it”.
Until they are ready to get help, we also have to be open to new thoughts of saving their life, such a harm reduction.Believe me, I never thought I would be saying those words until the last 6 months when I was met with the immensely stubborn, deeply hijacked version of my brilliant, driven entrepreneur son.
Harm reduction is an entire blog in itself so I’ll save that for later but the important thing is it BUYS TIME until they can decide to seek recovery. My bottom line that helped me see harm reduction as a necessity is when I witnessed my son in full withdrawals thrashing around in the back seat of my car. He was begging me to take him to get drugs just to stop him from this torture. I said ( yelled) to him “Good hell xxxx, is this not enough to get you to stop? How can you be this sick & not want to ever experience it again?”. He told me, “Mom, this is nothing- try lying in a drug house so sick you can’t move or walk and begging people there to help you- either with drugs or take you to the hospital while they laugh saying -no way dude, we’re not getting arrested”……
I realized in that moment that if he had a needle covered in swamp water or ‘anything’ it would NOT HAVE STOPPED him from plunging it into his arm for relief.
An addict is NOT going to suddenly stop using because they don’t have clean needles. Clean needles WILL however prevent further pain & suffering by avoiding the added disease of hepatitis and Aids.
We have to keep pointing them to recovery! A whole new life is right there waiting for them”.
I have a large collection of recovery quotes (over 200) on my Facebook profile under photos- We Do Recover album . I love to share.
I squeezed the foam earplugs between my fingers and stuffed them into my ear, leaning my flushed, tired face against the cool airplane window in relief.
As the foam expanded, the sounds of the chattering women behind me slowly faded- thankfully. I wanted silence.
I watched the snow-covered tips of the Oquirrh Mountains get smaller and smaller.
I was headed to Phoenix for a much-needed reprieve/retreat with a group of Moms of children with substance use disorders.
The thought crossed my mind of what I would say if someone asked me where I was headed.
I mean it’s not exactly a proud moment like it would be if I said, “Oh, I’m going to an event for Moms of sterling scholar students.”
If I were going to a childhood cancer retreat, it would likely be met with support and sympathy.
As it is, I usually just say “vacation” if I’m doing anything substance use-related. Of course, times are changing a little. When vulnerability is exposed in the right circumstances, you will immediately find “someone who knows someone” with substance use disorder.
Some social media recovery Influencers -who reach a lot of people, are helping with their memes on understanding addiction; but the service they deliver is misleading at times.
What others think is not my concern right now. I am in survival mode, hoping to advance to Thrive-mode soon.
As I landed at the Pheonix airport, I was met with several flashing billboards advertising a casino or similar:
“Reclaim what is rightfully yours-You do you!”
That’s what I needed! I needed to reclaim my peace, my sanity, my sense of direction!
I wanted relief from my emotions being based on someone else’s actions that I obviously couldn’t control.
I wanted to feel joy again even as my son is still deep in his addiction having lost everything he worked so hard for.
I wanted to stop this suffocating feeling of disappointment and pain that HE must be feeling.
I wanted to not care so much, or at least act like I didn’t care so much.
I wanted my little family back. I wanted my youngest son to UN- Disown me for “helping the tweaker”. I wanted our family to go on trips and have loud funny parties without there being an elephant in the room. I wanted to be able to talk about my oldest son without tip-toeing on eggshells.
To say his name again.
To say it with relief and admiration at what he’s overcome. To just be free of the chains of addiction that not only grab the victim but also everyone who loves and knows them.
Yes, I know that’s a lot to expect from one conference or one weekend.
But it’s a start. It’s moving forward.
It’s meeting women that all have something in common. People who you don’t have to hide your situation from. People who you don’t have to bite your lip or hold back your tears when they talk about how well their kids are doing.
Ah yes. Sun, water, fresh air, bunnies, quails, even cacti were my heaven this weekend.
The logistics of traveling and inconveniences of housing with no hot water didn’t stop me from sucking in every ounce of strength and wisdom from these women.
Women from all areas of America, from different faiths-and at least ONE with no faith- came together and worshipped in their way, to thank God and accept and honor his will with grace. Women who have lost a child to substance use, taught ME about hope. How could that be? How could someone who has experienced every mom’s worst nightmare teach about HOPE?
With grace and God’s help, that’s how. People who have the worst pasts often end up with the greatest futures.
As my weekend ended and I said goodbye to these ladies, the most often phrase was “Let’s keep in touch”. With social media these days, that’s easy to do. But the reality is, we will all go home to our situations. We will cry and yell and dream and hope. We will feel alone and forsaken at times.
It’s up to each person to find their peace, no matter what they are facing.
As I was leaving, one of the younger ladies, who I felt such a pull to- for her faith and talent; pulled me aside with a piece of paper and said, “I’ve been praying for you and I came up with the color green and the flower lily because I think your heart is PURE and I love you.”
I rushed away, through the 5 hours of security, flying, ubering, and made it to my neighborhood. As I trudged up the driveway, tired and worn out, I looked down at my flower beds lying bare in the cold dirt. There amid such brown barrenness, I see the Green tips of my spring Lilys and tulips braving through the frozen ground.
Blessed are the pure in heart. (& we ALL are pure on heart). Thank you, Brianna. And God.
I could hear the words echo like a child’s faraway pleading…
“Why, God?? Why can you part an entire sea of water but you can’t seem to fix my “little” problem.”
I spouted the accusations into the air like a thick plume of smog…
I felt the searing pain and confusion deep in my heart.
Why wasn’t I worthy enough for God’s attention?
Why did others have these spiritual experiences, yet my little family is still fractured seemingly beyond repair with what my eldest son’s addiction had caused?
I had prayed. Oh, how I had prayed. Oh, I’ve always been a believer that there was a power greater than myself who was directing this harrowing game of life. But I had never truly NEEDED there to be one as much as I had the last 2-3 years.
That was about the time I started the wrenching conundrum of wanting more than anything to believe that there is SOMEONE who is listening and can take a look at my problems and put them on the “to be solved list”.
On this particular day, I wasn’t feeling my list was even visible, let alone being checked off.
My son was still deep in addiction, with no signs of wanting help. He had legal warrants for his arrest for many felonies for possession while trying to feed the cravings of his disease. He had abandoned his family; including his kids, lost his million-dollar business & had zero possessions or money to his name.
I had been praying to my God, with some anger and disappointment, that no mountains were being moved on my behalf. I had inquired fervently why I wasn’t good enough to receive all the spiritual blessings that “others” seem to get, with a very quick disclaimer of “not that I’m not appreciative of everything I have sir. “ So I drifted off to sleep with the compromise of “ok then, please just show me, my son, in the future with his kids & a house & a real job again…” By dang it, I had not been awake the next morning for more than 30 seconds when I realized that my God had done it.
I was in some sort of open mall. I was with his ex-wife and his kids. Suddenly I see my son out of the corner of my eye. He’s strolling down the center like nothing! I freeze! It had been a year at least since they had seen each other but more than that, I KNEW she would think that I set her up just for him to see his kids. I panicked, as she hurried to block her kids from seeing him, but it was too late. I was trying to reassure her that I didn’t know he was here….but it didn’t matter, his beautiful Daughter had seen him. She yelled, “Daddy!” He took her in his arms.
This moment. This moment that every child of an addict must feel. To be abandoned-no-more. To be loved and cared for by the most important people in their life. To feel validated. Important. In that moment, the drugs, a disease, work, or whatever else the reason was told for the disappearance from their life, didn’t matter.
Life was complete.
All the dots were connected. They could now color in the black and white picture of the happy family & turn the page……
I somehow disappeared in typical dream fashion…
Only to reappear in chapter 3 or so. Where I visualized them talking and the kids playing together.
These are the words I heard echo from a co-worker during a meeting today. She was talking about a client who didn’t want to go to a place of business in case he had to sit by a heroin addict.
If I was financially independent, I would have stood up and said: (well- yelled, “There are worse things than being a heroin addict, like being intolerant of humans who’s sins show on the outside!”
But I’m not, so I didn’t.
As it is, I sat there in my silence of suffering as usual.
Michael J Wilson in his book Loving Lions describes the impact as this
“I watch the impact that my addiction has, and it’s like watching a horror movie. You know something bad is going to happen and you want to yell at the person onscreen to not go into that basement, not to open that door, but they never hear you. The movie goes on and I am forced to watch, trapped within myself, unable to stop it. I feel helpless, I feel useless, and I feel worthless.”
I keep my struggle with my Lion seperate than other areas of my life. Or, I at least try.
Later on that day I was sending another patient to see a medical provider as scheduled, and she yells out, “I’ll be back, I’m going to see the drug dealer!” Haha, everyone laughs, while my insides fall the 1000 feet that it took me to build them up again after the comment earlier this morning.
Drinking or joking about “needing” a glass of wine, is all fun and games until you see the first phone call from the jail knowing it’s your beloved child who not only had that glass of wine, but couldn’t stop at one.
Loving lions also describes their (the person with a substance use disorder) ( in-)ability to fix that problem too:
“I do not have the ability to fix a problem that has me convinced it does not exist. I am not capable of putting myself into the challenging recovery process that is required to get well. I am not capable of coming up with a plan to fix a problem I cannot see clearly. I am not capable of fixing this without help. I am not capable of pulling myself out of this hole. “
Which brings us to a crossroads and to the normal model of “a disease”. How do you help someone who’s very disease won’t let them believe they need help?
It’s like a pimp. Convinces his girls that they can’t live without him, even though HE is the problem, engaging them in illegal activities, lowering their quality of life, risking their health, their freedom etc.
Drugs are the biggest pimpmobile ever and I wish that caravan hadn’t stopped in my town.
Just to top my day off, this Day in The Life of a Mom of a person with a Substance Use Disorder; I see a “Story” pop up on my son’s Facebook. He is quite new at Facebook, having only had it the last year or two when his addiction seared to new “heights” so to speak; so I was curious that he figured out that feature.
Much to my shock, I saw a conversation that he accidently posted on there, which was “seemingly like a drug deal”. Unbelievable. I frantically tried to message him to delete it. No answer. I knew there were people on his Facebook that were not “real” friends and would look at that as “ah ha see? He’s still at it, what a loser” or whatever people think of addicts. No, I’m not trying to cushion his fall. He’s fell so hard the last 2 years there’s no cushion left. I guess I’m just still a bit embarrassed of it all.
Shame and blame go right along with the agenda of addiction. For not only the addict, but the family.
My son finally answered my frantic messages. He said he doesn’t know how that conversation got on a story or how to get it off. I hurriedly explained with detailed screenshots how to get it off.
Then in true Nar-anon cringe worth fashion, I gave unsolicited advice & told him since he has warrants out, he probably should be more careful. He still insisted it wasn’t a drug deal.
Ok son. Over and out. 10-4 to this day. Another Day in the Life of a Mother of a person with a Substance Use Disorder.