Hope Floats- in a Simple Black Bag

I zipped up the last zipper on the thrift store duffel bag. There was still plenty of room left in it, despite filling it with 2 pants, 2 workout pants,6 shirts, 6 white tees, 8 socks, 8 underwear, and a bag of vitamins and hygiene products. The bag wasn’t new, but it represented a new adventure for my son. No, he wasn’t going away to summer camp or college. Well, sort of a college. He would be living in bunks with other men. Hopefully no partying late at night before exams. No, not jail either. Been there done that- 6 blasted times!! This time it’s rehab. That’s right. Bring on the jokes- haha. Years ago, my sons would have been the first to make a pun about rehab, but not anymore. Well -they still might. We are a dark-humored family.

Along with the duffel bag – goes it’s companion, the little carrier pigeon. I named him Float.

This little bag represent Hope. Hope that I carried around for 16 months. When I wrote about it 6 months ago, I didn’t know if I would ever deliver it. But Hope floats. From one location to another, hope abounds.

Most Moms in my area pack bags and buy suits for their missionaries. They know their exact sizes. I don’t. I don’t know what my son looks like these days, or how much he weighs. Yet, I have no shame that my smart, funny, handsome son is not going on that kind of mission. He’s on his own mission. And after 16 months, I was able to deliver Hope Floats to him. 💙

It’s a strange feeling, you know, heading into the cinder block jail to retrieve your own flesh and blood. Sure, you’re supposed to feel embarrassed or whatever society tells you that you should feel. But all I felt was excitement & hope. This wasn’t the Morgue, which I called on his last birthday to make sure he wasn’t there. This wasn’t a hospital where 2 of his friends had been the last few months, one of which didn’t leave alive.

So I was grateful. And a bit nervous. After all, even though the judge authorized him to leave with only me and my husband at 5 am, he could have easily took off the minute we got outside. It’s addict behavior for sure. But my son knew his freedom was at stake. He told me a few days later: “I’m tired of running”.

So here we are, me with a big bag and a little bag and I had my son again. Safe and sound. We spent the next few hours driving north for 4 hours as the sun came up. Hearing, once again, his stories of jail, and his hope for the future. He wants to build tiny homes and other sustainable projects.

He had been given a spectacular plea deal. Unheard of really. For weeks he had agonized over what his final plea would be and when they finally changed it at the last minute, he was happy to sign it. He went from an almost guaranteed minimum 18 months prison time with 3 years probation to rehab completion then probation for 18 months! Absolutely incredible. I would like to say my ( & all the people I asked to pray) prayers worked. All I know is I was incredibly grateful because I knew prison would only increase his criminal mindset that he had developed the last 2 years while obtaining 6 felonies all for drug use.

Over the next few weeks he would call me with his “lists of what to bring”. I gladly provide these items because I don’t want him to have any possible reason to leave rehab, which is so common. I also have lived for over 2 years not knowing if that day would be the last time I talked to him. I still don’t know & I want every interaction to be heart-centered, recovery minded, & validating where he’s at emotionally.

In life, we are not promised one more day with our loved ones. In addiction that risk is raised probably 1000%. If I can still buy my 35 year old son socks when he is unable to, I will buy socks. The maze of addiction and the correctional system that goes along with it, is so convoluted and confusing and in most cases, heartbreaking beyond imagination.

Not many people understand my devotion to my son’s recovery. 

And, so there’s not many people that I can chant victory to, even if it’s a premature victory.

As it is, My son has made HUGE leaps and bounds. He may have been legally pushed, but guess what? He stood up and took what the judge and court said and he is trying his hardest in a system that demands complete compliance from a confused and rushed brain.

My son is slowly starting to unravel the last few years and the effect it’s had on him and many others.  Its going to be painful. He’s in denial in certain areas, but he’s getting his old self back too.

He will adamantly state that he’s the same yesterday and today and that he knew what he was doing,  he just let it get out of hand and it was too much to fix. He’s facing huge challenges as he has nothing left to his name. That’s degrading and embarrassing to him. It is truly one thing that I believe kept him in active addiction. Shame and discouragement of how to even fix it all.
The path of least resistance while in addiction and being dope sick is to continue the cycle.
I wish I had more resources to help him, but ultimately he still has to do it himself. He has to peel off that sticky bandaid and face the rawness. But I can help.

I will continue to provide anything to aide in his recovery.

I will never stop supporting recovery with Love. 

Life is too short to not have hope, to BE hope and to give h♥o♥p♥e♥

So bring on the lists son. I’m here.

⛵Hope Floats⛵

Shudda, Wudda, Cudda

Today, I “should” be taking my son to rehab.

Today I “would” be thanking the lawyers, judges, and all jail personnel for their combined efforts of treating my son like a person who is unwell instead of like a dime store criminal.

Today, I “could” be exhaling a huge mega sigh of relief, that my son is on his way to true recovery.

We “should” be walking in the door with a hastily packed suitcase (by me) with everything he needs to begin his new re-set on life after 2 1/2 weeks in jail.

This was/IS his second time behind bars this year; and #6 overall. Yup, all those old jokes and sarcastic jail comments & jokes about our kids or others are not so funny anymore. And my son would have been the first to say them.

A circus performer was pulled over by a police officer for speeding. As the officer was writing the ticket, she noticed several machetes in the car. “What are those for?” she asked suspiciously. “I’m a juggler,” the man replied. “I use those in my act.” “Well, show me,” the officer demanded. So he got out the machetes and started juggling them, first three, then more, finally seven at one time, overhand, underhand, behind the back, putting on a dazzling show and amazing the officer. Another car passed by. The driver did a double take, and said, “My God. I’ve got to give up drinking! Look at the test they’re giving now

source: http://www.jokes4us.com/peoplejokes/prisonerjokes.html

It takes more than juggling, for a person with substance use disorder to NOT go to jail these days. They must prove that they are completely responsible and model citizens, according to society’s standards. I may be exaggerating a bit, but this morning, as I drug myself into work with the usual gnawing fear, of wondering if my son made it through the night; I find myself wondering: “why is my son in jail again? And being treated like a criminal-no less!”

It sounds like a no-brainer, I know; Until you’ve been there.

But here we were, facing years- yes, years- in prison; for possession. Possession of a substance that he used, in order to feed the cravings of his disease. I know, I know, that said substance is illegal. I get it, I do.

But I also know that there is no other disease, in which people can’t manage; that gets treated like this.

My son had a hearing yesterday, in which we thought he was signing a plea deal, after which, we thought we would scadoodle right on up to the rehab I had been communicating with for 6 months.

Since the plea wasn’t signed at the hearing, we couldn’t request to be released to rehab. So back he went into “the slammer”.

A few days, I posted on Facebook a rude email the lawyer had written me asking me if I support my son breaking the law.

I was pretty upset about the demeaning and condescending tone of it, so I didn’t even respond. Besides, it’s seriously a stupid question. Of course, there were comments on my Facebook page after I posted it, asking the same thing. “Well, do You? Don’t you think your son deserves to pay the consequences of breaking the law”? My emotional tank was on empty from receiving the email, so I didn’t feel the need to argue with someone who obviously has zero sympathy for prisoners who were addicted.

No, I don’t condone ANY illegal activity. No, my son isn’t a victim of a disease that leaves him unable to know right from wrong. But I do know that the desperation and progressive nature of the disease, leaves them unable to care when the lines are crossed.

I also know that shaming and blaming and the current punishment system don’t seem to work.

After my sons first arrest, he got on the family thread and said, “Im so sorry for embarrassing you. This is awful”. Not one person said one thing to him except me: “we just want you better, son”
He went on to have 4 more arrests until this week, the culmination of all the charges and sentencing to ensue. 😭

If shaming and blaming worked my son would NEVER have allowed himself to be arrested again.

If punishment worked, my son would have quit his disease, the minute the judge, lawyers and cops berated him the first time for not controlling his behavior.

If inflicting more trauma & pressure worked on a traumatized brain who KNOWS it has failed in every single area of life- business, fatherhood, husband hood, financially and societal standards such as housing and occupation; then giving more fines or more jail time where they can’t possibly earn the money to pay the fines, would make someone magically become responsible at that exact moment.

But no.
It all takes time. Time in the proper environment of healing. Connection, nutrition, and mental support to heal all those pathways in the brain that have suffered into unhealthy thoughts and habits.

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have any answers. I just do the best I can each day maneuvering through the prickly jungle of addiction and all its tentacles it reaches.

As for today, I am extremely grateful my son is relatively safe. The unit he was moved to today is a bit scary, but not scarier than what he was doing while out.

Despite my ambivalence for the success of long-term incarceration; I Thank my God every day for the possibilities this short-term jail “visit” can provide.

Plenty of Rehabs?

You’re driving down the street and see the sign: Cross Woods Recovery. Another street- Riverside Recovery Center. Beyond the city center is Pinesbrook Rehab. You think- “ahhh that’s nice, so many places for people to get help”. And it IS nice to have different options for different circumstances, & different insurances.

But since my son became incarcerated 32 days ago; I’ve had to take a deeper look into all of these- per judge’s orders.

The funny thing is, I HAD already done my homework, or so I thought. For over a year, I had researched instate & out of state rehabs. I have pages of emails of random rehab centers informing me of their admission policy. I even filled out a passport replacement application for my son to go to the West Indies to Eric Claptons rehab, because I was praying for a miracle to get the $14 k monthly fee. I figured out of the country-away from triggers, in a posh, famous rehab would surely fix him.

But now, when time was paramount, I ran into detours that I didn’t anticipate. Turns out: out of over 28 rehabs that I called or emailed; almost none would fit the criteria we needed this time.

This is a brief summary of my experience, after weeks of phone calls, emails, plus trying to get clarification from the courts on what exactly they would accept.

  • Haven- had prearranged this to be ready when the time came- suddenly they changed Medicaid insurances.
  • Turning Point- my 3rd fav.- had prearranged this as a back up- suddenly they changed Medicaid insurances
  • Steps- they take our insurance but it’s a $2500 room & board.
  • Ardu- same as above
  • Journey- $2000. This is my second favorite.
  • Diamond Tree- recommended by an interventionist I had looked into a while back – turns out the room & board fee is $6k! I would have had to pay his $ 5-6 k fee PLUS this one after the fact
  • Valley Camp – seemed perfect – outdoorsy-but they won’t take Addicted people from jail. If they’re out even for a day, they’ll take them. Judge says he won’t let him out until ACCEPTED by program. The program won’t ACCEPT him until he’s out🤯 Then I find out just by a casual comment that it is a 12 step boot camps which my son doesn’t resonate with anyway.
  • First Step- long term, which is great “normally” but my son is massively behind in child support since he never changed the amount asked which was when he was successful so he needs to work.
  • 7 Th Street- same as above.
  • Odyssey- same as above
  • Epic- co-pay only $4/ day! & he could smoke! But it’s 4-6 months minimum
  • Victory Homes- 1-2 yr Bible study. Would be wonderful; but when my son was in his first, rehab he called me the first night & said they had to encircle arms & sing Kumbayah. I told him that song is good for him, he’d be fine.
  • Phoenix-my 4th fav but we would have to switch insurances, so delayed coverage of when he could start.
  • Mountain Peak Recovery- My new #1 favorite! It’s probably a good thing I’m not rich because I would have handed these guys over 20 k to take my son. This is EXACTLY the environment my rehab-resistant son would thrive in. The outdoors, not forcing 12 steps or any linear recovery. Unfortunately they only take commercial Molina. This program is exactly what my son says recovery should be. They wasn’t interested after finding out we only had state insurance……I mean I get it..its a business. It just sucks…

I could go on and on. The point is, the system is so convoluted that it’s nearly impossible to find the right fit. Many told me I should switch insurances and hold out for the new one to kick in. I still may consider that. For now, I’m trying my best to help my son fulfill his court obligations while he has no resources to do that with, and with his still saturated brain that tells him he doesn’t have a problem- believe it or not!

Yes, the resistance factor of trying to deal with a stubborn, abstinent brain that “knows” what he will be successful at. Even with the court breathing down his back ( not to mention he is LOCKED UP!); he still thinks he can buy time. His disease has worked its way into his brain pathways that he still believes it’s lies.

Unfortunately, the way the legal system is set up for treating addiction, they will have no choice but to lock him up until he “caves”.

I know it’s easy to say, “he’s just not ready”/and that seems to be the case- for today. This is all the more reason for me to not bust my @$$ for certain ones that he might just bolt.

That’s what differentiates Addiction from other diseases. With most diseases, people will do anything to get treated. What we have to remember is it’s a brain disease.

With another brain disease, Alzheimers- you can’t reason with them either. They’re going to leave the stove on or get lost in their neighborhood, no matter how many times you tell them it’s for their own good and safety. The argument of no one gets Alzheimers per their own actions doesn’t matter at the point of danger & suffering. Do we tell people to deal with it if they can’t adequately function in life? It makes no sense to me to leave sick & afflicted people to fend for themselves & try to maneuver through risk versus benefits rational thought when That is the exact part of the brain affected.

But, we do have a punishment system that basically says, you do the crime – {the crime in my son’s case is only possession – for feeding the cravings of a disease he couldn’t control}.- you do the time.

With addiction, the window of opportunity to get them help is few & far between.

This is why I have come to embrace harm reduction and maintaining connection.

Please pray for another “window” for my son to receive treatment.


Harm Reduction tips & Myths of Addiction

https://mobile.twitter.com/MyHarmReduction/status/1403775714600554505

Misconceptions about how people change.

Believing that people must suffer to change/”bootstrap mentality”;

thinking change can only look one way and is linear;

thinking there is only one way to help;

expecting a full 180 overnight; etc.

Myths about addiction and substance use disorder.

Addiction is a moral failing;

People with SUDs don’t care about anyone or anything (including themselves);

Drugs create addiction so ‘anyone’ can get addicted;

Any help is ‘enabling’ etc.

My son just wants to start over. He wants to work and start repaying. He wants to take his kids camping. As I read these comments to Wendy’s hiring a guy jusy 10 days out of prison, I felt a ray of HOPE. Please pray for my son to get out of jail & save himself!

This is the kinda energy I love to see from MadeMeSmile

Tranquilizer Chair

In a previous post, I shared a guest piece from a relative of Dr. Benjamin Rush, who still holds the title “Father of American Psychiatry.” He lived from 1745-1813. So I decided to look him up.

Needless to say, I was a bit horrified at the methods of treatment for mentally ill people back then.

They included:

  • tranquilization through the imposition of physical restraints
  • food modification or deprivation
  • cold water treatments
  • prolonged shower baths.
  • Plus a strange blood draining method.

Read Letter B below:

Read that again….

FEAR, ACCOMPANIED with PAIN and a sense of SHAME has sometimes cured this disease.

Just like prison sometimes appears to cure someone of their traits. I’ve spoken about the correction system in regards to addiction many times in my blog. I’m adamant that if negative consequences cured addiction, no addict would ever lose more than one thing, or ever get arrested more than once because they would be so horrified and shocked at their own behavior they would just be magically cured.

Back then, little was known of mental illness so of course, the theories that were presented we’re taken as Bible. There were no “fact checkers.” Being the Monday morning quarterbacks that we are all experts at, its easy to scoff at Dr. Rush’s ideas of circulation & bleeding to cure the brain.

When you know better, you do better. I hope there is currently enough education being done around MAT treatment for inmates that better humanizes their need to have treatment like any other disorder. Many people can quit cold turkey and maintain sobriety, but I believe it’s because THEY chose it- not because they were forced.

Samhsa’s website lists the goals of MAT therapy:

The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a self-directed life. This treatment approach has been shown to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant

Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat alcohol use disorder. 

Buprenorphinemethadone, and naltrexone are used to treat opioid use disorders to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

These MAT medications are safe to use for months, years, or even a lifetime. As with any medication, consult your doctor before discontinuing use!!!!!!!!!

https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment

Web MD lists 6 current “traditional” treatments for addiction that have proven successful:

6 Treatments For Addiction That Are Proven Successful
By Corinna Underwood
Reviewed by Dr. Carol Anderson, LMSW, ACSW on December 12, 2020
With several options available, you can find an addiction treatment option that best fits your individual needs.
Addiction treatment is not one-size-fits-all. Treatments may vary based on your needs. You can choose the treatment that works best for you based on the substance you're abusing, the level of care you need, your personal mental health needs, or what health care options you can afford. Here are some of the most common addiction treatments that have set patients on a successful path to recovery.

Detoxification
Medically-assisted detox allows you to rid your body of addictive substances in a safe environment. This is beneficial because sometimes substance withdrawal can cause unpleasant or even life-threatening physical symptoms. Because detox does not treat the underlying behavioral causes of the addiction, it is typically used in combination with other therapies.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
According to American Addiction Centers, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a valuable treatment tool because it can be used for many different types of addiction including, but not limited to, food addiction, alcohol addiction, and prescription drug addiction. Not only can CBT help you recognize your unhealthy behavioral patterns, but it can also help you learn to identify triggers and develop coping skills. CBT can be combined with other therapeutic techniques as well.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) could help you recognize your negative thoughts and give you ways to combat feelings of self-defeat. The goal of REBT is to help you realize that the power of rational thinking lies within yourself and is not related to external situations or stressors.

Contingency ManagementContingency Management (CM) can be used to treat a wide variety of addictions including alcohol, narcotics, and tobacco. Contingency management therapy reinforces your positive behavior (ie maintaining sobriety) by giving you tangible rewards. This type of treatment has been used successfully to combat relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

12-Step Facilitation
Twelve-step facilitation therapy ("12-step programs") can be used to treat alcohol and substance abuse. It is a form of group therapy that includes recognition that addiction has several negative consequences that can be social, emotional, spiritual and physical. This type of therapy begins with acceptance, then moves on to surrender to a higher power, then eventually transitions to involvement in consistent group meetings. Programs like the popular Alcoholics Anonymous use group meetings for discussion and mutual support.

Treatment with Medication
Medication can play an important role in recovery when combined with behavioral therapies. Certain medications can be used to reduce cravings, improve mood, and decrease addictive behaviors. For example, the FDA recently approved lofexidine to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in patients receiving treatment for opioid addiction. Medications like acamprosate can help reduce drinking behavior.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, you don’t need to fight the battle alone. Talk to a medical professional. There are successful treatments available that can help you overcome your addiction.

There are many other alternative treatments such as Ibogaine, vivitrol- not sure if that’s alternative- its pushed as pretty mainstream now- & also sublicade injections & subutox.. I won’t go into all of those here; because it’s been a rough day & my brain is loopy but its important to remember that NOT ONE SIZE FITS ALL despite what any social media influencer tells you.

Let’s work together to find help for these struggling souls, including my son who’s still out there. Other struggling humans aren’t the enemy & other recovery providers shouldn’t be either.

Instead of a tranquilizer chair let’s find a LOVE chair!

Btw..Don’t look up “love chair” for a blog, at 4:30 am- before coffee…