The Journey Of A Thousand Miles

As a Mom, going through this tumultuous journey of loving someone with substance use disorder; I often find myself in a quandary of confusion.


It’s as if I’m in some suspended cloud of anger and sadness, relieved when a ray of hope trickles through the misty light only to be followed by dark thunderstorms of disappointment again.

The steps seemed pretty straight forward at first. After the initial gut-wrenching shock of discovering the drug use of my son; the comfort (and naivety) that he’s an adult and can handle it, left me with a slightly aloof neutrality that it wasn’t my deal.

I mean how serious could a few extra pills be? He worked hard! He was always having back pain. He needed relief, in order to work.

Wow! Was I ever naive.


When the facts of how serious it was becoming- despite continued denial on his part- I found the strange foreboding “routineness” of being the Mom of a struggling substance user, set in.

And THAT was scary!


I couldn’t ignore the signs of impending doom, swirling around like a storm just waiting to hit.



As the perpetual shoes kept dropping -a job contract lost; another of his businesses failed; then the marriage crumbles; I watched in sometimes shell-shocked horror at the devastation such a thing could cause.


The rehab failures, mixed with moments of clarity and hope, leave me exhausted.

“Walk away and you’ll feel better”.


“Go to a meeting, do self-care, live your life “.

Right.

It doesn’t seem to matter what mode of recovery my personal journey is at; I seem to be suspended in this cloud of perpetual uncertainty. It takes me back to elementary school when we played tug-of-war.

Will I be the cheering group with scuffed hands but happy smiles?
Or dragging myself out of the mud in the middle trying to wash the heartache away?

Will I be professing the “cure” as my son happily recovers?
Or will I be in the mourning Mothers club of pain & heartache?


Which team was I on anyway?
Am I with the tough love crowd? Especially on those days when I’m being pressured for money from my son?

Or am I in the loving well- connection- above- all- group?
In the middle, are the harm reduction lobbyists who are adamant about users’ rights & safety.


I’m running back and forth, I want to be on the winning team!
And by winning, I mean I want my child to survive!

Above all, isn’t that goal?

My heart sinks every time I read ‘that post”. A mom who got “the call”.

I want to scream! No! I don’t want to be in this club! I want to show the gut-wrenching pain to all those people on Narcan posts who despise giving addicts more than one chance or ANY chance. I want to advocate for more help, for understanding. I want to break the stigma. I want to gracefully educate and come out feeling proud that we are making progress. One life might be saved.

I want to be that ONE. The one who finally found "the key" & pulled everyone together. I want results or at least palpable progress. 

Just when I think I’ve gained some sort of empathy for my son’s and all substance users’ struggles, I’m hit with the accusations. Sometimes a stranger on Instagram, sometimes family and friends. That I’m the reason he still uses. That every time I use “defensive language” regarding him then I’m enabling. Every time I arrange rehab instead of jail, I’m enabling. (Which happened twice in 4 years).

It’s inferred that I’m wasting my time because he will never change & that I should spend my energy elsewhere. More than once I was cut off from family for how I handled the addiction.

This hits hard.

Rejected-not due to effort but to the failure of my efforts?

As if addiction wasn’t painful or complicated enough, it gets to perpetuate its lies and havoc not only onto the addict but onto loved ones and how they “should” react or fulfill their roles.

I felt like my role was to give him one support person like everyone needs. I needed to be able to give him hope in the midst of all the darkness.

As my friend Johanna Richards states so eloquently:


I enable my love and truth. I enable my love. I enable a safe place for him to have a better chance of feeling loved and being treated like a human being with worth and dignity.”


This is my goal.

Everyone gets to choose their response and I choose to love without regrets.

Even “tough love” when done with anger and spite stalls any progress. I read it all the time in the Mom’s groups. Unhealed pain manifests as bitterness and sometimes when they share screenshots of texts with their person, I can’t tell who the addict is!

Addiction loves to do that. Get its slimy hands between families, friends, bosses, even organizations. Divide and conquer is how it survives.

The underlying theme in all these interactions is:

If only he would quit using.

But I have come to realize that quitting is actually a tiny step in achieving actual recovery.

It’s a necessary step, but only part of the process.

Treatment is the ultimate goal , We have an idea that if we can just get them there-then the magic will happen.

All is well right?

Recovery is not linear and usually takes several tries. I would soon learn that it takes personal responsibility from everyone past that point also.

The day after his 2nd rehab stay, he moved into an old clapboard & brick sober-living house in the worst area of downtown.

We were standing in line at the grocery store. He was so thrilled at all the new cereal flavors that had come out in the year or two of him being basically homeless or in jail.

He quietly said, with that far away, introspective look he gets in his eyes, “I wish ‘certain people’ would fight for me. They act like I shouldn’t have a job”.

My mother- heart sank.

As I watched this 36-year-old man trying to make sense of this un-make-sensible disease; I was sad.  How could I explain to this newly detoxed brain, with raw emotion scourging back to life into places that he wasn't ready to handle - that no one trusted him? That people hate putting their reputation on the line when statistically,  responsible behavior in recovery, is a non-linear maze of disappointment. 

In his mind, he had done so much for others, for many years and now felt abandoned, in a sense.

I felt for him. To have so much hope and the momentum of getting back to center but then constantly be told you might fail, like a certain recovery model preaches; must be daunting.

Rehab is a huge deal to him. He’s NOT a revolving rehab-ber, so this was a giant accomplishment to his independent, resourceful lifestyle.

So now he had done the thing…

Get off the drugs, ✔go to jail,✔ go to rehab. ✔

“You’re still not good enough” basically, as one text inferred

I sigh. This was his journey.

I can’t hold his pain or drive his recovery.


I can’t dwell in the negative, I just can’t. We’ve come so far.

I have to take care of me.

I need relief. I need feedback.

I go back to the support groups for comfort. When I hear the echoes of those same attitudes from hurt wives and mothers who can’t contain their pain and disdain for what they’ve been through; I quickly exit out of that group.

I need a more moderate group who understands the Mom side with compassion and hope.

Now, All is well until someone mentions:
“All drug dealers should get life without parole or death”.

I freeze. I wonder…..

If my son is only worthy of help when he’s ‘clean’ or not crossing a certain line in the jagged destructive course of addiction; then the other 50% of the time, it’s a toss-up as to his worth?

Is he surviving the best he can, day by day- or asking family for money?
It seems, either way, he’s the villain.

According to some, if I’m not doing ANY thing for him then he has a chance -(to hit rock bottom) – even though – unrecovered, he has zero chance of keeping a regular job or getting money legally.

What happens in that gap?

If he can’t support himself, he certainly can’t support his kids. But that must be my fault too. I must have given him too many hamburgers when he was starving.

Ughh. The uncertainty and mixed messages that Mommas feel!

My goal was ALWAYS to get him back to his kids. In whatever way he could get healed and treated in order for that to happen. I never ever justified or supported him staying in his lifestyle. To do that I had to maintain a connection.

If I even so much as hint that connection works better than shame and punishment, then I’m supporting his lifestyle, like his lawyer told me.

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know how to help my son anymore. But at times I want to scream.

What is a life worth?

Every single life in this convoluted mess of evil entanglement is of value. Each person is caught in their own version of the hell that it causes.

OTHER people in PAIN are not the enemy!

I want to have that blasted on every Billboard right next to:

NARCAN to overdoses is like AED paddles to a heart attack!" 

It’s not a “get out of jail free card!”.

What I do know is that my son never ever wanted it to be like this. The man who used to send his little girl flowers every time he worked out of town is now considered a dead-beat dad and it tears my heart out. Years of substance use and conflict has isolated him further. In the short window when he is detoxed and willing, he can’t seem to conform fast enough to recovery expectations with a complete rebuilding of his life.

He has nothing-unhoused, unemployed and yet expected to manage and fix ALL his relationships AND fulfil the court obligations.

When I hear of some other thing he needs to do in his recovery, I sigh. I have to step back and accept the limits of my role. I also have to review my own expectations of his recovery.

If the determining factor for a relationship of an unhealed, skewed-thinking brain versus a healthy brain is for the unhealed brain to lead the way to healthy interactions with everyone, there’s going to be problems.

There’s a dynamic at work in ALL relationships that was there before the drugs, and now those issues need more attention than even before.

But the pressure seems to be placed on them, to fulfil all our hopes and dreams for their lives as it relates to ours.

That’s a lot for one person.

The progressive nature of unhealed addiction mixed with the correctional system almost always leads to more crime.

Relapse: A draw towards people and places who fill that empty hole that substances, or any addictive behavior fill.

For me, the justification for spending more money on a much-needed intervention at this point, is a hard sell. He’s facing charges that could be years in prison. Prison is expensive too, but so are funerals.

I think he feels like he’s stuck in a system that never lets them breathe freely without looking over their shoulder.

I see what that system has done to him. He’s hardened. Day by day, little by little which that saddens my aching Mama heart.

Pain & trauma damage a soul. It causes cognitive dissonance to maintain a core belief such as “I can’t function without drugs”.



Sometimes, I understand why people stay in deep dark places. Although to us, it looks and feels scary, to them, it’s safety. It’s home. It’s acceptance.

No, I’m not justifying drug use. I’m justifying human beings in severe turmoil and trauma. If they didn’t have trauma before the addiction, they certainly do after it.

So, this journey of a thousand miles is truly just one step at a time.

There are days I have to literally force myself to breathe and count each step to get through the day. Some days each step is filled with angst, trepidation, & fear. But other days, I project hope into every deliberate movement and breath.

I envision the day when my hopes and dreams mesh perfectly with my sons.

When all things good and right come together in some kind of radical entanglement with the universe and God’s plan for him. To see little kids happy smiles beaming joy into faces of love is my ultimate wish. To have the love and understanding of family with everyone’s pain in the journey acknowledged, seen & heard with hope, moving forward in love.

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
♟️♟️♟️♟️♟️

My Son is Healed

He Just Doesn’t Know It Yet

Normally on days like this, I have many triggers regarding my son and ripple effect his addiction has caused in changing the dynamics of our family.

But today is different.

Today, I choose faith. Not HOPE, but pure faith. I’m not dissing hope. I’ve relied on it for months, year’s even. There’s nothing wrong with hope. Hope that things will get better, is what keeps people from sinking into an abyss of depression at times.

I’m going to get very vulnerable here. When or ‘because‘ hope hasn’t seemed to give me relief lately; I’ve been begging and bargaining with God to take my life in exchange for my son’s complete recovery AND my family to be healed especially for my son’s relationship with his kids to be healed.

(I know, I’m always trying to squeeze in an extra wish, but I figured I could get a 3 for 1 since they are all inter-related)

I also know this sounds very extreme. Before you suggest I go to a meeting and do self- care, thank you for the suggestion. It is what it is, I come to this place with much love and clarity have done a lot of self work. I’m not very well versed spiritually, or even strong in my faith but I believe in asking for help.

So, today I asked a prophetic dreams group that’s run by a lady I met; what prayers I should be chanting to facilitate my desire to fruition.

If this STILL sounds too weirded out, sorry. Desperate times call for desperate measures. My son is in jail on for his longest time ever- 6 weeks. As stated in my previous whining posts, its been a roller coaster ride. And not the new flashy, sexy roller coaster, but the old wooden, creaky, break-down-at-any moment roller coaster (where they would casually say: “You knew the risk” if you were to get hurt).

So putting my question to a group of potentially spiritually-in-tune people was a desperate measure also. The answers I received, however, changed my perspective. This is a summation of what they said:

STOP trying to make deals with GOD! STOP immediately because deals are only made with the devil.
God ONLY wants Love & faith from you that he already sent his son to die for all our sins.

You can’t pay or bargain with God!

If you ask for healing you have to believe you have it, whether you see it yet or not, that’s the true test, do not confess what “is wrong with them” instead speak that they are healed.

Thank God that they are healed by his stripes, that he bore their sickness, thank him OUT LOUD for each promise, it could take a few months or sooner but stick with it everyday, do not let other people confess so called diagnosis over your loved ones in distress, either.

I start now.

I start calling my son into healing. I’m through letting him slide back into an excuse to blame the devil or some other entity. Evil can be fought. And if he can’t see it or say it, I will be his voice. He still has to be the one to do the work and to first DECIDE to do the work. So through the jail message system I sent my first born incarcerated son this message of not only HOPE but of FAITH.

Happy Fathers Day Son. You WILL be an influence on your kids' lives again. They WILL love you again. There will be no confusion or shame because you will teach them about things that take dads & moms away.

These 3 years do NOT take away all you have done before then. Don't believe the shame mongerers. You have just been trying to survive yourself & in that regard you did amazing! You were an excellent provider & u were a loving fun dad. You can be again. 3 yrs is nothing out of a 60-70 year life.

You are loved.

I love you son, and soon, when you see the understanding in your little kids' eyes & feel their forgiveness, it will ALL be worth it.
Enjoy your day the best you can.

HḀṖṖẏ ḟḀṮḧḕṙṠ ḊḀẏ

To those fathers everywhere who are the wonderful hallmark version, to those who are stuck in their own struggle of survival and pain- and all those in between.

You are seen, heard and loved.

Your potential is not measured by your surroundings in the moment, but by the quiet moments of your heart. Where you ache deeply for your family and kids. Where your shame has pushed you into places and spaces that smothered you into numbness.

Whatever it is that pushed you into isolation, whether it was a society who said you wasn’t worthy of being amongst them; or your own spiral into self- defeat; you can come back.

Anytime, come back.

You’re needed. You’re wanted.

It might not seem like it.
We might be scared and worried at first, but it’s only because we care. We have been conditioned to fear the worst. So have you. That’s why it horrifies you to think of being that person you were before. After all – those were the days you needed to escape from. The stress and pressure of expectations and disappointment were off the charts some days.

What if you fail again?
Oh but my son, what if you don’t?
What if the last half or more of your life is filled with unbelievable joy? What if your kids and grandkids are gathered around you to hear your war stories? Not real war, but your days of the drug war. You won’t glamorize it, like alcohol is. You will tell the cold hard truth. You will tell those precious souls that evil starts small. With a thought. A nudge. A risk. A desire for something more. You will tell them not to be afraid or embarrassed to admit their concerns. If they are in over their head, it’s the right thing to do to seek help.

Come back.
So much love awaits you.
-© Samantha Waters

Sometimes society isolates people who are in pain into good old fashioned shame. We’re interconnected for a reason, we need one another and a perspective outside of our own in order to see the limitations of our own.-James Robertson

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.

Take What You Need

My job gives me the opportunity to intimately see into a person’s life…..in fact I see pretty much the whole spectrum from birth to death.

I’ve had the opportunity to watch 100’s of births and maybe half as many deaths.

After an emotional week at work which resulted in several awakenings, tonight my heart is full. Full of a sense of the struggles people face…
Sometimes silently… Sometimes in the public eye.

The sudden appearance of disease in your life; wrenching heartache & turmoil that you never dreamed of; or the pain of looking into the eyes of a lost soul, seeing the remnants of broken dreams shattered.

My personal awakenings included memories of my parent’s deaths mingled with twinges of regret; also the suicide of my brother 15 years before; who was my hero..my protector…my wizard.🤺

I’ve witnessed fame and the fall; anger and outright apathy. I’ve seen firsthand that disease, addiction and death have NO favorites. No one is immune. It doesn’t matter how famous, how rich, how respected you are, you can’t prevent  tragedy and strife from invading your sacred space.

Although our challenges are different, the one thing that we all have in common is human bodies & souls 💫 that need connection. Gabor Mate explains it well Here in this easy cartoon drawing.

What it comes down to is …..that ALL of us  eventually struggle with the same issues.

To think our time will never come or that our kids will never have to experience that deep pain is being very naive.

We all experience feelings of loss, regret, sadness, and guilt.

When those times arrive, almost everyone craves understanding & compassion without expectation;

A hand placed over theirs;

A gentle touch that says: “I’m not scared of your disease”.

Eyes that hold no judgement…. Just simple silence that says “I’m here”. A parting hug that says, “everything will work out”.

And most of all – A heart that says

L❤️VE

💜❣️💛❣️💚❣️💙

©Samantha Waters RN

Alcohol is NOT Exempt

I know I usually write about addiction in the form of opiods, but I actually have some intense interest in the fallacy (?- is that the right word?) of alcohol dependance.

Since it’s so widely shown, glamorized and basically accepted, on the movie and media scene; and since it’s even politically correct (does that even mean the same thing anymore?) to laugh at an alcohol meme; it sometimes gets overlooked as the horrible, slow killing addiction, it is, or can be.

So I was happy to see Matthew Ward’s An Open Letter to Myself About Sobriety post on Medium.

“We live in an opioid epidemic. The articles about it come out every week. People are addicted and dying and it’s horrible. According to the CDC, there were about 47,000 deaths related to opioid use in 2017.

So, it might surprise you that according to the same CDC data, there were about 88,000 deaths related to alcohol use”.

Originally published in The Ascent

If someone you know insists that they have it under control, there’s a great questionnaire on The government’s website SAMSHA
This is the very same website that the social media influencers will give you when they say they “have access to rehabs all over the country” including the ones they ‘broker’ for, if you have good insurance.

But all that aside, if you need help please  CLICK or CALL. I’ve called it and they’re very informative. There’s also tons of articles on this site for moms of teens and everyone. This site is our tax dollars at work, so use it.

Meanwhile, if you have managed to quit, or moderate your usage, or even thinking about it; I’m sure the thought has crossed your mind of what would you do instead of drinkng?

It’s sounds like an easy enough question, but those who spend hours and hours with their ḂḕṠṮ ḞṙḭḕṆḊ will understand this fear.

No worries,  Benya Clark (from Medium again) has the answer. He listed cooking, drawing, and running as his top three.

Now to those who are used to massive amounts of dopamine that substances provide; these are going to sound boring. And they probably will be at first. Until the natural Dopamine sources get built back up, you’re going to have force yourself, with some good accountability partners maybe, to start small and build up the habit—
Ya know-

ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴅɪᴅ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴀʟᴄᴏʜᴏʟ ᴏʀ ᴅʀᴜɢꜱ

Boredom, ingrained habits in the brain, and the lifestyle of connection  that all and drugs bring; along with this lack of Dopamine; is the reason for allot of relapses. People feel alone, lost, and bored, without their old coping mechanisms.

The good news is, new friends, new coping skills, new job opportunities can and WILL happen when you don’t have the consequences that addiction brings. You will mostly have your FREEDOM back. You won’t be enslaved to the time and MONEY.

THIS Article quotes the average American spends $22,600 over 40 years drinking 1 – yes 1- cocktail a week. ($11). There’s a Spending calculator you can use HERE. I guess it’s variable what constitutes “too much” spending on alcohol. I certainly would not use that to predict if someone is addicted.

It’s surprising how much addiction actually cost – just for the point of sale. Not even touching on the money from jobs lost, fines, insurance, and the many  other fees that go along with alcohol & drug use.

Drugs are a completly different story when it comes to money.I would say you can quadruple those numbers, easy, if a movie star or wealthy person.

It’s all very sad.

Not sad for the business end, but sad for families and children.  

It’s not a fact that escapes people with a substance use disorder (SUD- not addict). It’s one thing that contributes to their shame and blame of their condition. So much so, that I think it keeps alot of them IN that very cycle, because they think they can never pull out successfully or make up all that money or fix all that they’ve broken.

Our healthy brains KNOW it can be done, but remember,  their brains are technically damaged or at least temporarily hijacked in the areas of emotion, self control & that darn jacked up reward center.

My favorite person with a SUD-turned Doctor, says it best in this video. If that link doesn’t work- here’s next best one. Nicole Labor. Also buy her book and stuff… She humanizes addiction because she’s been there. Even while in Med school!

Regardless of where you or someone you love is at in their consumption journey, there is no reason to not at least have the conversation about how they’re doing and where they feel they want to be in 5 years.

Study after study, and -headline after obituary-  show that all addictions are progressive, leading to jail, death or recovery. So early intervention is paramount. It is a treatment condition. Despite the statistics shown, you can be part of the 21 million Americans who are in some form of recovery rather than the 88k who die every year due to alcohol related deaths.