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Panic Mc-tacks

I pulled into my usual spot- the McDonald’s Drive through-line. I ordered my daily soda and pulled forward. As I searched for my wallet, I realized it wasn’t in its usual place because I had re-organized my car & work bags in anticipation of my daughter borrowing my car for a few weeks.

I desperately looked for some loose change to pay for my dollar soda. I found 35¢. I looked up. There were 2 cars ahead of me towards the pay window. Panic ensued. Should I pull out of line? Would they take 35¢ since I’m a “regular?” Of course, they wouldn’t.

Such a first-world problem, I know.

But it made me realize how we take for granted the simple privileges of having money, a car. All the things we NEED to function daily and get shizz done.

So when we get frustrated with our people with substance use disorder, for not paying a fine or not returning an important call; we have to almost look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

As one treatment center states:

"When drugs and alcohol come first, the rest of your needs can begin to fall away, and you can find yourself neglecting your basic needs for food, shelter, and relationships. For example, some will allow themselves to be homeless to ensure they can continue using drugs or alcohol".-abtrs

When we find ourselves becoming so incensed at the behavior of someone else who doesn’t value the things we do; it can be maddening. However, if we can see the effect these drugs have on their priorities, it’s easier to understand.

I learned this early on when I was preparing for my son’s return from his first rehab. I knew he would probably be staying with me at least a few days while finding a job etc. I hurriedly readied up a room ‘manly style’ & when I presented it to him with explanations that the bed wasn’t very comfy etc, he said, “Mom, do you think I care where I sleep?” I took it then as he was just grateful to be back and “cured” & the bed was a minor thing compared to the wonderful life he had to look forward to. But looking back- he meant “I don’t care where or how I sleep as long as my mental & physical obsession is satisfied each day.” He lasted 9 days before those cravings took over.

His brain was not healed in the least. Turns out that 6 weeks of subpar rehab isn’t enough & although he wanted to fix things; without his usual coping skills, he was left with a confused hijacked brain telling him to retreat & not be responsible.

A couple of months after that, when he was in full-on active addiction, I drug him- literally- into finish his bankruptcy proceedings that we had started while in rehab. Outside the office, he was in such withdrawals that he was sweating and cold and thrashing around in my back seat. I told him it would only take a minute & I practically pulled him out of the back seat.

He only had on one shoe.

Afterward it was laughable, but at the time, I was physically and mentally exhausted. And so was he. Who knew trying to keep from getting sick was so exhausting.

My experience at McDonald’s is just one of many times when I am grateful that I can pull out my wallet and drive my car and snuggle into my soft bed at night. My son doesn’t even have a bank account anymore. It’s heartbreaking that someone can fall so low but even worse, is the shame and desperation which this leads to. I won’t even go into the finagling that a simple task takes when one doesn’t have a mailing address, bank account, or even a car.

When my son still had these conveniences but was spiraling fast; he carried around his faded visa card that had a big crack in it. Of course, it finally broke and he still didn’t get it replaced until the account was finally stopped for continual negative balance. He would joke that all the fast food people knew him by his broken card. This gives a little insight into the chaos that swirled inside his head which surprisingly, the drugs fixed.

We just can’t quite understand it, but we all operate from this Internal state that I spoke a lot about in this blog.

As I study more of Gabor Mate’s work, the connection between the internal state of ADD and addiction becomes clear. Here’s one of his videos about pain and emotions.

My son, like all of us- just wants the loud buzzing in our heads to turn to a soft roar.

Addiction wants to take that buzzing & fill it with every insecurity possible.

It preaches freedom but guarantees slavery.

It whispers love but guarantees hate.

It splashes waves of euphoria onto a moving screen but keeps moving the screen away from you.

Addiction wants to take everything.

It wants panic.

It wants life. Any life. It wants bright, strong, committed, loyal, funny, driven, happy people.

It gloats and giggles when it leaves them in the dust like a used piece of bubble gum.

Addiction survives on hate, & stigma & shame.

It revels in families fighting & falling apart. It rejoices in little kids precious tears.
It pretends to wipe them away with empty promises. But like an evil stepmother in a fairy tale, it vanishes the child to its own attic of shame, self doubt, & abandonment.

Addiction despises wands. Wands of love.
Wands of prayer. Wands that fairy Godmothers hold dear. It hates the alchemist that can turn pain into power, coal into diamonds, & dull metal into Gold.

Be the wand it hates.

Be the love.

Be the fairy Godmother.

Be the carriage.

Be the prince.

Be anything that will hinder its evil path.

Contravene its power.

Hinder its lies.

Be anything that proves to your loved one that you are A CHOSEN one.

One who is chosen to not play a part in this evil scheme.

Be the one who stops the clock just before midnight- & help them believe there is still a glass slipper to be found.-©Samantha Waters
And so your loved one never has to look for their lost shoe again......
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Start Where You Are

Photo by author

Five years ago I moved back to my home state, found a new (to me) condo to buy, and started a brand new job. I was overwhelmed but curious to see if I could pull it all off.

Which by that time, I technically HAD pulled it off. I had driven all my belongings in a big box truck TWICE from out of state to my new home, visited dozens of houses for sale & navigated finding a new job despite suffering from excruciating ( new)- & changing- job anxiety. It was a lot of work by myself, financially & emotionally. I had recovered from a 24 yr marriage ending a few years earlier and had now navigated the ending of a three year relationship. I was still figuring out the inner independent woman in me.

As I sat in my new office, wondering where to even start- I pulled out some of the items from my previous office. I had previously went to a state activity certification for the elderly population. This box was full of sensory materials such as sound healing therapy and tactile exercises along with adult coloring books which were becoming all the rage at that time. I opened up to the coloring page “start where you are” that I had colored at that conference.

So that’s exactly what I did. I hung that amateur adult coloring page up on the cabinet in front of me and BEGAN.

New patients, new co-workers, new hospital. I went to compliance meetings where I didn’t have a clue what the culture or focus was. Was it low-key? Rigid? What did they expect from me? Well, there was no way to know all that without the gift of the process of TIME. What I did know was federal guidelines. So I started with those and worked backwards to see how the facility could meet those.

So imagine my surprise today when I opened up my email and saw Shelly Youngs beautiful post titled “Start Where you are!”

In it, she describes perfectly, my own experience with my son with substance use disorder, as she is telling her journey.

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During family weekend, seven months into treatment and recovery, I am seated across from my son. We are sitting “knees to knees,” face to face, eyes to eyes within a circle of four other families. 

The counselor says, “Holding eye contact, take turns sharing one resentment, one regret and one affirmation with each other.” 

Holding my gaze, my son nods my way as if to say, “you go first.”

With a trembling voice that breaks mid sentence with deep remorse, I express my greatest regret, “I regret not starting sooner, waiting, to get help and end your suffering.” 

My greatest regret still is not accessing proper care and treatment sooner. People were telling me not to try at all (there is nothing you can do, you can’t cure it) and to banish him from our family to force change (detach, tough love). Some said it was my fault (enabling) and then others said it wasn’t (you didn’t cause it). Some said you have to “wait until they want it” and others said you have to wait until rock bottom. No one said what exactly that meant or looked like so I’d know when it was and when and how to respond. 

There was so much confusion and ambiguity in how to respond when your loved one presents with the adverse effects of a neurotoxin on the brain that I felt torn. Stuck in the middle of an idealogical battle rather than a health condition. Add to that, I’d been raised in an alcoholic environment where I was conditioned not to respond at all. Intervening in someone’s substance use no matter how severe it seemed wasn’t modeled in my family. (until I intervened on my mother, when I was 40 years old) Add to the confusion, a medical system that defined addiction as a health condition but in practice treated it more like a moral issue or lack of willpower (nurses in the ER with my mother) while also contributing to addiction with overprescribing and fraudulent prescription writing (Local Dr. supplying young adults with a supply of opioids and xanax). An insurance system that refused payment for evidence based treatment protocols and mental healthcare with the code, “not medically necessary.” A religion that treated it as a sin or a lack of God or spiritual connection. A government that for years defined it as a crime and conditioned families to treat it as a crime or a moral issue with the failed, “war on drugs” and the “just say no” prevention campaign. A society that encouraged substance use, normalized it, marketed it, until you got sick, hurt yourself or someone else or violated the social contract of use or used the substances that were not approved by society and then treated it like a crime. Families were primed to either not respond (deny, cope, suffer) or to respond with harsh consequences (kick out, detach, abandon, banish) and to do so silently (stigma). All of which cause harm to the individual and the family system. 

In the confusion and disorientation we all suffered trauma. The manifestation of a slow, conditioned, harmful response to substance use disorder, a treatable health condition. It is that trauma which we are now in recovery from. The suffering that ensued by being told to wait for a potentially fatal health condition to get worse before getting proper care for it, the denial of our reality and gaslighting by the insurance company by refusing to pay for evidence based care. The shaming by some therapists, certain support groups members, family and friends for securing attachment and providing care. The pressure to reject my own maternal instincts and betray my intuition in the name of “tough love.” The exhaustion and terror of trying to keep someone alive without medical or community support. The anguish of isolation compounded by the shame of stigma where there never should have been any in the first place. 

As a mother, that is what I am in recovery from. A cultural system failure and the gross lack of continuity and consistency in the system of care.  

For more than 200 years addiction has been defined as a health condition that impacts the body and brain. Dr. Benjamin Rush, who happens to be my great, great, great, grandfather not by blood but by marriage, pioneered the therapeutic approach to addiction in the 1800’s. “Dr. Rush recognized that the person using the substance loses control over themselves and identified the properties of the substance, rather than the person’s choice, as the causal agent.” In other words, the toxin on the brain and in the body was the problem, never the person. Two hundred years ago and still families are suffering the impact of the confusion born of a flawed healthcare, criminal justice, education system and a lack of consistent coordinated response and disparate ideologies around substance use. Two hundred years and some people are still debating “choice.” Ridiculous.

My greatest regret is not following my instincts sooner, not trusting my inner knowing sooner to drive my response. In the end, my inner knowing and my instincts were correct and a clear, compassionate, therapuetic response made way for proper care and treatment, recovery and healing. What propelled me was taking a stand for healing and grounding in addiction as a health condition and treating it no different than any other health condition. Love, Science & Attachment Theory all the way. Then immersing myself in learning about recovery and what it takes to be a recovery ready family. 

The good news is there have been great strides in the understanding of addiction. Powerful research and evidence based treatment grounded in science has paved the way for a compassionate therapuetic response to addiction although access still lags for many communities and the barriers to care are many and differ from state to state.. The recovery community continues to grow, blossom and advocate for policy change that has a powerful effect on peoples lives. People are recovering out loud and sharing their stories and pathways to accessing care and supportive communities.

If you’re looking for specific support, education or resources, or just want to someone to witness where you are right now, reach out. 

I’m here, holding space for your healing and recovery. 

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Shelly Young

Gratefulness In the Midst of Worry

As I read this post from a fellow blogger, I couldn’t help but remember hearing that story/ analogy in church years ago.

What I wouldn’t give to go back to those days. At the time, I thought my life was difficult but compared to now, I would go back any day. My parents were alive and my kids were all home and safe.

The thought of addiction affecting my family was completely out of my head.

But tonight, after going down memory lane on my phone with pictures and videos, I felt the familiar sadness creeping up from my belly….

I hate feeling bad for what isn’t anymore. I hate not being able to enjoy almost 33 years of my kids memories just because the last 3 have been bad.

But as I read my fellow blogger’s story of Thanksgiving, I realized I was kicking God in the teeth. ( I wonder if (He) has tee….. Nevermind).

Why didn’t I stop & tell my kids how much hardship they would face? And how strong they are? Why do they look so sweet and innocent then? As if they would be ok, with just life’s normal struggles?

Because they WERE sweet & innocent. They never wanted life to be so difficult. They ARE strong. They have just forgotten. Like in a coma with amnesia. They’ve Forgotten who they are. Forgotten their strength. They’ve become identified with their struggle. Labeling themselves, as society has labeled them.

In my defense, i probably did tell them.

And I’m trying to now -in their worst moments-even as adults. As my fellow blogger put it:

Respond to your children with love in their worst moments, their broken moments, their angry moments, their selfish moments, their lonely moments, their frustrated moments, their inconvenient moments; because it is in their most unlovable human moments that they most need to feel loved.― L. R. Knost

For now, instead of dwelling in the past and feeling sad, I will rejoice and embrace the time I had with my little ones; knowing that I did the best I could with the precious gifts God gave me. I served him. I loved them. I will continue to love them despite their choices.

Instead of getting mad at God for not moving the mountains that I want moved; I will praise him for entrusting me with their care. Despite my moments of guilt and despair, I still believe that I was their choice for a Mother, for whatever reason.

Lauren Daigle says it best

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How Do Addicts Feel? Or Do They?

I’ve written a lot lately about WHY an addict does the things they do. It’s an exhausting pursuit yet I think it helps humanize the craziness. Soon I will stop- but for now, here are a few more thoughts along with a guest blog about those who love the addicted ones.

Copied from a naranon group:

How an addict feels

“They rely on the drug or alcohol. It works. It is their best friend. It keeps them safe from a hundred bedevilments. It numbs inexplicable anxiety, anger, shame, unmanageable moods and emotions, irritability, relationship problems, the boss they hate, the father they can’t call out, the car that breaks down, time that drags, the boyfriend that ditched them, the money they’re not making.

The alcohol, drug, sex or whatever, is the padding in the cell they are locked away in; to which they do not yet have the key.
Don’t assume you can find the key, no matter how much you love them.

No other human being determines if and when they find it.
Their Willingness is the key.
Only they can unlock the cell, or not.

It takes a great deal of suffering, for them to come to accept that they are the problem. And sometimes they never do.

Whether it was their childhood, trauma, or mental illness that shaped their thinking and beliefs which resulted in harmful choices, doesn’t matter. They have to start calling their own brain, beliefs and bullshit out.

They have to root out spiritual ills like resentment and pride, (only an addict lies in the gutter and still looks down on others).

When you come to them with tears, threats, praise and despair, they balk, because the fact that you make them your business is humiliating to them.

That you appoint yourself as their saviour, they see as smug self-righteousness, but they will use it in their favour anyway.

They hear you call them out, while you have work ahead in terms of your own lack of boundaries, people-pleasing, emotional immaturity and a hundred of your own bedevilments.

This doesn’t mean that if you change you will save them, but it does mean that you face any challenge with greater equanimity, when you are healthier.

Focus on that. That is how you spend your time, when your loved one has a substance abuse problem, you focus on your own healing and spiritual growth. And then you learn about boundaries, because limits are necessary when a loved one’s illness threatens our well-being.”

So see……that’s why WE have to find our Peace. For our sanity. And also so we can be an example to what a healthy person does & not be drawn into their madness.

When will they hear us? Not until they're ready., ....

"The lack of coping skills to handle day to day challenges physical emotional psychological spiritual etc are the core reasoning behind the need to use n abuse all of which leads to self destructive behaviors uncontrollable actions that without the desire for change leads to a self destructive lifestyle the individual will make the choice to stop n force themselves to feel n learn to manage feelings n problem solve if not they continue to self destruct n live day by day in the life of an addict only when the addict can begin to make rational decisions will he or she allow themselves to rebuild recondition the mind learning to think things through positive reinforcement"- Marta Deleon

Then there’s those of us who are judged for sticking by them.

I came across this timely advice right after my post on convincing others that my son is still worthy- and thought it fit in great. It’s NOT A CRIME TO LOVE AN ADDICT! Don’t let anyone tell you how could you or why do you? They just don’t understand. And thank God they don’t.

“I have been judged, belittled, put down, etc. Not bc I’m an addict, but bc I love an addict. I wasn’t aware it was a crime to love someone with an addiction? IMO every addict deserves love, sometimes, that’s all they need to help them fight through a day. I may not be an addict, but I suffer with severe mental health issues, and yes, I’ve been made fun of for that. Crazy, psycho, batshit crazy. I’ve been called it all. Being judged bc you suffer with addiction, mental health issues or anything else, is a product of the weak minded world we live in. No on is perfect. Instead of judging these people, pray for them. Reach out to them, even if they don’t respond, always let them know you love them and you’re there. Sorry for my rant, positive vibes just needed to shine on such a shitty week. Hope yall have a great weekend!-

Rachel Shelton – fellow addict lover

I was talking to a fellow blogger about this and she stated that in order to SOLVE a problem, someone must first CARE! This is brilliant because I have been trying so desperately to get my son to CARE! He has so many things to “fix” that – I believe- he’s overwhelmed & beyond caring. She stated this in her awesome post here!:

"The deepest problem that a person suffers from, is the unwillingness to care for what is wrong. One can have all the world’s knowledge, with no care for how to apply it. Whereas, it is possible to solve any problem, when the first step to this sequence, has been conquered.

The first step, the desire to care…

Versus, the second step, the knowledge applied for the problem to be solved…

And, one cannot skip the first step, to move onto the second. This is because, as it’s already been stated, one cannot solve an issue, without the genuine care for it.

An “excuse” or a “reason” for why one cannot accomplish their task, may come in all forms. One can say the words, “I do not know how.” Though, their lacking knowledge, for how to solve their issue, is never the true reason. Their truest reason is that they do not care enough. Such means, they have not conquered the first step, in this “two-step sequence to problem solving”......
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The Root of All Evil

As I sit here again.

Wondering if my heroin addicted, homeless, jobless tormented son is alive tonight.

I see this article about the Sacklers….


I’m trying so hard…..

Trying to not be in victim mentality.

Trying to completely blame my son for his “choices”.

Trying to see why he and his kids and all of us are suffering deeply, financially & emotionally.

Trying to not place blame for my fractured family who barely speaks to each other.

Trying to not worry another day that my son is dead.
He doesn’t even look the same.
100+ lbs lighter- my brawny, strong tanned son looks like a pale old man.

These drugs have ravaged his body & mind so much that he sees criminal activity as the norm now.

He scavenges around, trying to survive in and do his best to make sense of his world that he has fallen into.

Going to dark places, dark people who don’t have his best interests at heart. He tells me no one can be trusted.
It’s all about money.
People in high places are involved in the drug trade.

I’m scavenging too.
I still call, write, anyone I can. Searching for someone with resources, or a deep desire to help save a human life……

These people, in, the article, were like my son once…….they just wanted to start a business- make some money.

That was my sons dream.

His own company.

He achieved it. They achieved it.

He’s almost dead. They are enjoying their mansions and the good life even as they defend their business of death.

I’m trying to not be envious.

I’ll need lots of help with that tonight

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Choose Your Own Story

Every journey is different.. trust me, I know how unbearably hard this evil is.

I pray for all who struggle and those who love you.

What I have learned there is no one size fits all solutions, no magic wands, no “if you do it this way, or that way” you will save them. It’s a crap shoot.
I have learned my life, the lives of my loved ones have crashed and burned, and will never ever be the same.

I have learned that despite everything “I thought I knew” about this disease I couldn’t stop it from happening to my son.

I have learned that no matter how your child was raised… single parent, two parents, sports, no sports, money, no money, black, white, asian, hispanic etc…. this disease does not discriminate.

I have learned the phrase “unconditional love” are the two most important words a parent can know.
I have learned “not my kid” are the three most dangerous words a parent can utter.
I have learned to get used to isolation, and judgment… and to not care what others think anyway.

I have learned that a parent fighting for the life of their child does better research than a rocket scientist.

I have learned that even through the tears, frustration and anger, hug your child tight, kiss them and tell them how much you love them… they truly hate who they have become, and desperately need to hear this A LOT!!! They don’t hate us.

I have learned even if you see they are high, sit and talk with them about everything and anything anyway.
I have learned that with the introduction of fentanyl, carfentanl, and other poisons the definition of rock bottom has changed. Rock bottom is now death.

I have learned that tough love is not for everyone. Each person has a different journey. What works for one, doesn’t mean it works for all.
I have learned so called “experts” who advise you to do tough love, never ever prepare you, if that doesn’t work.

I have learned that the word “Hope” is no longer a part of my vocabulary.
I have learned to live in the moment (30 seconds at a time, usually less) that’s all I’m capable of.

I have learned that every loved one who has the job of trying to save their child from themself should go with their HEARTS, because at the end of this journey, that is what you will answer to. There are no do-overs.

I have learned that no one can tell you how or what to do when dealing with your loved one. We know what we can handle, and time will tell us, when we need to step away. This is where your heart comes in.

I learned if you do make that decision, for whatever reason, to ask them to leave… that your heart is breaking in a million pieces, your worry is 24/7. That tears and prayers go hand in hand.

I have learned if you want to help them, feed them, give them a bed…. Just do it…
I have learned it is a disease, they are sick, and they need help… and we are their last line of defense.

I have learned that those that struggle are smart, funny, intelligent, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, uncles, cousins, friends and beautiful human beings with beautiful hearts….

I have learned that their hearts ache knowing the pain they have caused, even as they are yelling obscenities at their loved ones. It is not them, it is the drugs.

I learned that contrary to those who are uneducated about this disease (and it is a disease), they don’t do this for fun. They hate this disease. No one ever said, I want to be an addict.

I have learned people can be extremely judgmental… and we have two choices… ignore them or educate them.
I have learned there is plenty of blame to go around…. Pharma Co, FDA who approved, politicians who had their hands in those pockets, and turned a blind eye, open borders for the drugs to flood this country, and dealers/distributors who capitalize on all of it… and knowing this doesn’t change what is happening.

I have learned that knowing the possibility of losing them is real, but it actually happening are two different worlds!

I have learned that those that struggle are broken, and need so much love… they are worth it!!! Love and compassion go a long way in the life of those that struggle.

I have learned the compassion, love, and support of total strangers have humbled me beyond words. God puts angels in our path for a reason. Thank YOU….- unknown, but so many of my catch phrases are in here.

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Butterfly Beauties – Caterpillar Crankies

Contributing post by Kenzie Brown

“Today if you are using drugs know that those choices are not who you are. The guilt you feel is from within yourself because you know the real you. You know how capable you are in life. If you are using it’s okay. But don’t beat yourself up for those choices. There is always tomorrow to start new, and beautiful things don’t happen overnight. A butterfly isn’t always a butterfly. And some die along their journey, that doesn’t stop the other caterpillars from going for the goal of a butterfly. Sometimes to achieve the beauty and light we are capable of we have to go through the muck and grime and darkness. The darkness doesn’t mean you are done growing. Some of the most beautiful things in nature come from the darkness. Remember that today if you feel like a failure, the the darkness is pressing down around you. You are in your cocoon and eventually you will emerge from the darkness a beautiful butterfly. Enjoy the chaos, embrace it, scream to the darkness you are being held down by, feel that pain. Let it burn your mind and dissolve your flesh, so you can reach your ultimate beauty.”🖤🖤🖤-Kenzie Brown

Sometimes the caterpillar brain isn’t ready to hear about the future.

It feels safe in the here-and-now. EVEN IF – it’s dangling off of a branch. EVEN IF a tornado is coming.

It thinks it’s safe. Nothing can harm it. Nothing is required in outgoing effort.

It can JUST BE itself among the other labile caterpillars.

Sure it crawled into the cocoon on it’s own free will, but it didn’t really think about getting out.

The thought of soaring gracefully free and strong among the flowers is not in it’s field of vision.

It doesn’t matter how many perfumed flowers you wave under it’s spiracles. You can flash neon billboards throughout the night. It won’t see or smell what you want to to.

What it wants is acceptance.

Acceptance of its current state of affairs.

Something like: “Hey Mr. Wormy worm. I know you feel safe in there because you don’t have to deal with life’s barrage of feelings and emotions. You can do what you want & it seems like you’re not bothering anyone. I get that. When you are ready to come out, I’m here for you.”

Notice the non-shaming. Not trying to tell them how many people are affected by their decisions. ( their worm brain can’t comprehend that right now- it’s in survive mode) not trying to change their thinking.( How has that worked for YOU – when someone tries to change your mind? Aka opinion.)

It’s hard enough to figure out why other people think the way they do & have the opinions that they do. Yet we continually TRY to convince a hijacked brain of the damage they are causing and of the ‘obvious’ solution. I am continually reminded that everyone deserves the dignity of believing what they do -EVEN when it’s hurting others…why? Because you can’t MAKE them change anyway.. You may can physically restrain them with a variety of ‘tools’. In nursing we call it a chemical restraint if we’re using medicine. So why do even us nurses forget that addicts are under a chemical restraint mist all the time?

All we can really offer is HOPE that there is a way out……

They just need a little bit of HOPE.

My heartfelt prayers to those who have lost their butterflies and caterpillars along the way.💔🦋🐛💔

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Rat Park

If I could go back to those days when my kids filled my house with muddy shoes and red punch stains around their lips- I mean pure cranberry juice without sugar, of course- as any good Mom would buy- I would relish in the mess this time. I promise. I would take all those old Tony Robbins tapes and replay them over and over.

His theory is that every decision, every action, is dependant on what ‘state’ a person is in. State of mind, state of body- how we feel at any given moment has proven to be paramount in my search for addiction ’causes’.

As my Papa would always say “I wish I could do it all over again knowing what I know now.” I used to think that was such an old thing to say.

Well, now I’m old.

But if I could do a time travel- even for a day-I would pull my kids close to and whisper to them how many times they are going to feel confused and uncomfortable; and how it’s ok to feel out of sorts, that they can be in those moments and survive without having to change it or distract from it or bury their feelings.

As I described in this blog post when my son was spared a horrible accident as a toddler; this time-travel, I would tell him how strong and valiant he is. I would look in their little shining eyes and say “No matter what- you’ll be ok. The pain won’t last. You can work through it.”

Of course, I may have said these things to them, but I think I may have also done a lot of the opposite. “What do you need to feel better right now?” Eeek!!! Distraction, suppression, external validation. Anything to avoid the current state of fit throwing, or anger or sadness. Parenting advice changes every few decades so I only take partial blame if this happened.

When I set out on this journey in 2018 of wondering why this epidemic is happening and why in God’s name- as my Mama used to say- it had chosen MY family to implant itself on; I had no idea the answers would be so elusive, yet so vast in nature.

Everyone is just trying to feel ok at any given moment. That moment then turns into a lifetime of addiction because of what brain changes occur. I tire of the argument of whether it’s a disease or choice because as I’ve stated in many posts– how does that change how we treat it (or them?)

Pam Jones Lanhart, a recovery advocate, parent coach and Arise interventionalist, states it so well:

“The science and evidence based research shows that addiction is a reward and response. I think “pain” is a broad word but there is now doubt that people start using because the drink or drug does something for them. “When I drink this drink, I feel less anxious.” Or “when I use this pill all of my emotional pain goes away and it feels like a warm, comforting blanket.” The word pain is relative. But pain could mean the pain of feeling left out. The pain of a family divorce. The pain of a label such as adhd and being made fun of. Pain doesn’t necessarily mean big T trauma. But it does mean that the substance is the solution for the negative emotions that they are experiencing.

So of course, we all make a choice to use or not use. Everyone does it. So we live in a culture where substance use is social glamorized and yet when someone gets ill from it, we demonize and shame them.

NO ONE and I mean NO ONE chooses addiction. Not one person who took a drink or a toke off of a bud expected to become addiction. That’s a ridiculous notion and not informed by any data or science. “When I used I was rewarded with a really good feeling. So I used again.” And eventually the neuropathways of the brain are reprogrammed and THEN in spite of all of the negative consequences and the fact that the using is no longer working for them, they can’t stop. That is the definition of addiction. Continued use in spite of negative consequences.

No one expects this. It sneaks up on them and before they know it they are addiction.

That being said, today 7,000 people will choose recovery. 7,000!

And yes, it has EVERYTHING to do with pain. We all have pain. When I drink a glass of wine I feel free. The pain of my life dissipates. Let’s face it. If substances didn’t make us feel better on some level, none of us would use them.

So using is a choice.
Addiction is NOT a choice
Recovery is a choice."- Pam Jones Lanhart

As I have explored the CHOICES and CAUSES of my son’s addiction, I keep coming back to the connection theory of Johanna Hari. Even if we never know someone’s true reason for starting (and maybe they don’t and won’t ever know either) we can still get a picture of the importance of a person”s ‘state’.

“Get a rat and put it in a cage and give it two water bottles. One is just water, and one is water laced with either heroin or cocaine. If you do that, the rat will almost always prefer the drugged water and almost always kill itself very quickly, right, within a couple of weeks. So there you go. It’s our theory of addiction.

Bruce comes along in the ’70s and said, “Well, hang on a minute. We’re putting the rat in an empty cage. It’s got nothing to do. Let’s try this a little bit differently.” So Bruce built Rat Park, and Rat Park is like heaven for rats. Everything your rat about town could want, it’s got in Rat Park. It’s got lovely food. It’s got sex. It’s got loads of other rats to be friends with. It’s got loads of colored balls. Everything your rat could want. And they’ve got both the water bottles. They’ve got the drugged water and the normal water. But here’s the fascinating thing. In Rat Park, they don’t like the drugged water. They hardly use any of it. None of them ever overdose. None of them ever use in a way that looks like compulsion or addiction. There’s a really interesting human example I’ll tell you about in a minute, but what Bruce says shows that both the right-wing and left-wing theories of addiction are wrong. So the right-wing theory is it’s a moral failing, you’re a hedonist, you party too hard. The left-wing theory is it takes you over, your brain is hijacked. Bruce says it’s not your morality, it’s not your brain; it’s your cage. Addiction is largely an adaptation to your environment.

We’ve created a society where significant numbers of our fellow citizens cannot bear to be present in their lives without being drugged, right? We’ve created a hyperconsumerist, hyperindividualist, isolated world that is, for a lot of people, much more like that first cage than it is like the bonded, connected cages that we need.

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. And our whole society, the engine of our society, is geared towards making us connect with things not people. If you are not a good consumer capitalist citizen, if you’re spending your time bonding with the people around you and not buying stuff—in fact, we are trained from a very young age to focus our hopes and our dreams and our ambitions on things we can buy and consume. And drug addiction is really a subset of that."
~ Johann Hari

This came up on my memories today. I’m unsure who to give credit to. It says what I feel in my heart, even though I know it is sometimes difficult to do.

The key to supporting people living with addiction in reaching their full potential is the exact opposite of “letting them hit rock bottom.” It is instead to move the bottom of that pyramid of human needs up so that the 
needs which are known to bring people closer to reaching their full potential are being met.
( Such as feeling loved, worth saving, forgiveness)

It means to foster social connectedness rather than to force isolation.... Wich leads to shame depression and death😭
It means to practice acceptance rather than intolerance.
It means to fan self-worth rather than to fuel shame.
It means to love rather than to disdain.
Mostly it means to never having last regrets for others...I can't imagine being on the brink of death knowing that you are a complete disappointment to everyone.
Home Base

Trust And Patience

This week has been brutal in the spiritual warfare battle.

The score at the top of the 6th (66) appears to be led by Mr Satan himself. The bases are loaded and I’m up to bat.

I’ve already struck out once this inning and it has taken the wind outta my sails, the bounce outta my ball.

Addiction has a way of flowing its evil lava into every nook and cranny available and using any tool possible to fracture families and communities.

The battle between good and evil has a long history.

I can understand if you are a non- believer. I respect that any reference to good and evil may -in your opionion- be simply a product of free will. People either choose to do good things or they don’t. Seems pretty clear cut. Until you start digging into why a human would continue to make poor choices despite bad consequences.

With children it’s easy to train them not to do things which may harm them. By repetition in the brain that if they touch something hot, they will get burned.

So why are our jails full of people who have suffered great losses from their choices? And yet keep re-offending.

Different reasons of course. I stick with my mantra of one size NEVER fits ALL. Some people are slower to learn. Some feel the benefits of addiction such as the CONNECTION with other addicts and that lifestyle outweigh having to deal with the judgement and pain of their old life.

We know now that humans crave connection – good or bad.

Massachusetts has seemed to figure out how to combat the revolving door of minor drug offenses with their outreach program:

It’s based on the idea that, for many drug users, a call to the police — for a nonfatal overdose or a drug-related crime such as theft — is the first time they get on the radar of any authority. So after the immediate crisis is over, officers follow up and offer help. That could be a warm bed for the night, a referral to a recovery coach or needle-exchange program, a ride to detox. At the very least, they’ll give out the overdose-rescue drug Narcan and talk about how to stay alive.

So there’s usually a lot more at play in what people choose, than to just say free will. It’s already been established that Purdue & big pharma was a huge incentive for a lot of physicians choices and ultimately our addicts choices. The draw of connection when other relationships are falling apart due to strict tough love with hurting family member. Most addicts in recovery agree that some form of darkness & evil came into play also.

We can make small changes in the system and fight for stigma change. We can recognize the draw of evil to pull struggling people astray. WE- the strong ones have to have the strength to combat that and BE their light!

Here is some amazing advice from first an addict in recovery then a mom/wife in recovery from her addicted loved one.

"When you're in recovery, you become close to making a difference in your life or in someone else's your gonna come under extreme attack, you're gonna be tested, you're gonna be tried. The enemy is going to come at you like a ton of bricks. He knows that you're a world changer, he knows you have purpose. He knows that your weakness is your addiction, because he put it there. He wants to destroy you before you can destroy him.
  You kick him square in the f****** teeth! You fight him with every ounce of energy that you have within you.  Pray, he hates that. He can't put you through more than you can handle. Addiction is not greater than you. It feels like it is within your flesh, but its only for a while, and it can be defeated- Foster Chambers
This is how I manage anger and anxiety. First, I understand that I can only control 10% of the life around me. It means 90% is controlled by others, so there will be a lot of offences and goodness to me from others. They are situations I cannot control, so I must be humble in all situations.
So I condition my mind to face the world. I do not make my mind that anybody who does anything wrong did it intentionally. Even if it was intentional, it has been done already, and my anger cannot unmake what she/he had done. Now should I get angry, my heart will pump blood in a rush that can affect my health; then I would have lost two times: first the act had been done and secondly my anger or anxiety can cause me sickness.
Then I understood the Biblical admonition which says, if it comes from you, live with all in peace.
The Bible knows there will be offences so the biggest lesson Jesus left for us was how He comported Himself from the court of Pontus Pilate unto the Cross.
The Almighty Jesus who raised the dead to life, healed the sick etc, was silent when He was being abused, slapped, spat on and whipped. It was this SILENCE that gave Him victory, due to His HUMILITY.
For us due to pride, we fight back and it ends up in violence and fights which give Satan the opportunity to damage us more on our various relationships.
When it becomes a case with the police, some friends who encourage us to retaliate may not take you to the police station, let alone pay the monies involved with you.
Believe God who says, it is up to Him to take vengeance on your behalf.

God is faithful and truthful. Stand by His words and be free, for which purpose Christ came to the World.-Bernice Afi Ndo

Home Base

Triggers- a Wet Match is Useless

They say addicts in recovery have triggers.

Well, us Moms in not-quite- recovery have triggers too.

Like waking up. Wondering if your child did.

Eating breakfast. Wondering if your prodigal son did.

Seeing the work trucks on the road. Why isn’t he there? Wait is that him? No, every worker looks like him. Dirty, hot, but doing something with PURPOSE….

Seeing houses. Everywhere. Men in garages. Doing normal things…

What I wouldn’t give to see my son mowing a lawn again. I think back. Have I ever seen him mowing a lawn? Why didn’t I go tell him how wonderful it was to see him mowing a lawn? He would have looked at me with that half-smile and said “Okaaaaaayy Mom, you’re crazeeeee”.

If I had to say one thing I miss the most about my ‘old’ son is his humor. So yes, humor is a trigger. Certain sarcasm. An ironic situation. A joke he would like.

Seeing A Dad in a restaurant with his kids. TRIGGER! I want to walk up and tell him to relish every moment. To enjoy their little faces, their laughter. Because in a year he might not be with them. He will look shocked.

“Why wouldn’t I be with them?”

“You might become addicted and lose everything”.

He would laugh and say “That’s ridiculous!, I can control my alcohol.

“Will you just take this test to make sure?” As I show him The questionnaire. ” I just would hate for you to lose three years of those precious kids lives, plus your marriage and house and your entire business that you spent 10 years building”.

“Lady, you are CRAZY!”

Why Yes, yes I am.

What is behind these triggers- is pain. Whats behind the pain? Fear. Fear of the loss of what we once knew and loved. Because we now know that LOSS causes PAIN and we FEAR that pain may not leave. It doesn’t seem to be leaving because we keep seeing more and more triggers. The cycle continues.

What Gabor is saying is to deal with those triggers. Not by avoiding them. Not by giving them the power. (ammunition). The trigger is worthless without the ammunition. WE have the power to load the ammunition. If we DEAL with the pain by changing our views and getting stronger in hope, then we can knock the ammunition to the ground where its useless.

A match is useless wet.

Figure out how to wet your match.

As for me, I’m going to start using the act of visualization. Actually SEEING my son mowing the lawn. SEEING him working a good job instead of hustling and scavenging. Yup, I’m going to live in fairyland which is the basis of THE SECRET, ABRAHAM HICKS & hundreds of other motivational themes starting clear back with Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.

I found this deep in a drawer- going to reread it. Won’t you join me?