Saturday, July 28, 2007

Keeping it simple

Earlier this week, the daily entry in the little book One Day at a Time in Al-Anon offered me a good reminder.

As the mother of an actively using meth addict with a 1-year-old baby, my life can be full of uncertainty and turmoil—although they’re 2,000 miles away. In times of trouble, when my mind is racing, it can be hard to slow down, think through what’s happening and change my focus. But it helps to focus on one idea or concept that can bring quiet and serenity.

Often, I try to concentrate on gratitude. Listing those things for which I’m thankful, either mentally or on paper, focuses my thoughts and gives me a more positive outlook almost instantaneously.

When I’m trying to make a decision--especially one I’ve prayed about--the Al-Anon concept “Keep it simple” is an excellent reminder. It helps clear my mind so I can receive God’s guidance in the situations at hand.

A scripture that has been especially comforting to me throughout the past 14 years is Psalm 62:5-6—Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress—I will not be shaken.

I’m always interested in how others cope with their times of trouble. What have you found to be helpful?

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

'Meth is OUR problem'

Over the past month, a Clovis, New Mexico, paper published an exellent series about the methamphetamine crisis.

Now in a follow-up opinion piece, the author of that series has shared her emotions about the experience of writing those articles and her compassion for the families of meth addicts that she met. Especially the mothers.

It touched my heart. But then, it's a subject I know well.

Helena Rodriguez has done a wonderful job of shedding light on this darkly disturbing problem. But she found not many people are willing to talk about it.

Has that been your experience? And I wonder, is that true of other drug problems? Heroin, cocaine, oxycontin. Are people more willing to talk about these drug problems and if so, why is that?

I believe that meth is the biggest problem drug our country faces today, and its effects are going to be felt in generations to come. Let's talk more and DO more to eradicate this insidious drug!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Explaining addiction in layman's terms

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has released a helpful new booklet titled "Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction."

In its 30 pages, it describes how science has revolutionized what we now know about drug addiction "as a brain disease that affects behavior."

Somehow I find hope when I see addiction explained, rationally, and see references to prevention and treatment. After all, until the addict is in the grave, there IS hope, isn't there?

Check out the PDF of the booklet or order one here.

I'm going to get a copy for my 84-year-old mother, who doesn't understand why it isn't just a matter of will power. Gotta admit, some days I wonder that myself.

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Prevention ads are working in Montana

Keeping young teens from trying drugs is such a daunting task.

Our federal government has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into prevention campaigns in recent years, but it doesn't seem to be making a difference. I've had conversations with my addicted son over the years about how to keep kids from experimenting with drugs, and he didn't have a pat answer.

Now, businessman and Montana rancher Tom Siebel has come along and gotten involved in the fight. When he learned how serious the methamphetamine problem had become in that state, he decided to do something about it.

The Montana Meth Project was born. Compelling TV public service announcements have "significantly reduced first-time use" and helped reduce meth use overall in that state. And I'm really glad to hear the state of Arizona has also begun to air these startling TV spots.

They're the most graphic, in-your-face prevention spots I've ever seen. Learn more about the project and take a look yourself. Do you think they're effective?

I hope other states buy into them and through their airing, we can begin to chip away at the horrifying statistics related to meth use. And spare families from the pain and agony of an addicted child.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Have you seen 'A Mother's Desperation'?

I have not seen HBO's Addiction program. But I came upon their "Supplementary Series" and the short programs titled "A Mother's Desperation."

I could relate to the concern of this mother, having spent the first years of my son's addiction in the same general vicinity. Now that about 2000 miles separate us, the concern and angst--the desperation to do something constructive that can help get my child into detox and treatment--is no less than hers.

Take a few minutes and see how this mother handled it. If you've been through this, what do you think? Is she too involved? Should she have just let circumstances develop as they were?

Knowing that for some addicts, "hitting bottom" is death--is there a better way for families to help their addicted loved ones get into treatment?

I would appreciate hearing from you. The lives of my son, his wife and my one-year-old granddaughter are at stake.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A bright spot on the meth front

So, USA Today has reported that progress is being made against the manufacturing of methamphetamine in the U.S.

The good news: a 58% drop in meth labs and abandoned sites seized last year by police and U.S. agents, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Apparently the state and federal laws that restrict the sale of cold medicines and other chemicals used in the manufacture of meth, as well as increased law enforcement, are making the big difference.

The bad news: use, prices and supplies remain the same. Sources in Mexico are flooding our country with this highly addictive drug--about 80 to 90% is imported.

Some 512,000 people in the U.S. use meth regularly. In 2005, a survey of law enforcement officials identified methamphetamine as their biggest illegal drug problem--surpassing cocaine, heroin and marijuana. It's driving up crime across the country.

When are people going to take a stand against this hideous drug? Have you felt the effects of the meth epidemic? Let me know what you've seen and how you've been affected.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Meth use linked to heart problems--this is news?

If an active methamphetamine addict cared what the drug was doing to his body, a recent study at the Scripps Research Institute might get his attention.

As if anyone whose life is touched by this insidious substance doesn't know, it can cause the heart to race. Heart attacks. Instant death. And usually at an early age.

But now, these researchers have identified medical complications resulting from prolonged use that had never been recognized before. These include numerous cardiovascular problems such as arrhythmias, intracranial bleeding and congestive heart failure.

The study also noted that methamphetamine reacts with proteins in the body, creating compounds that have been associated with Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.

It's not a pretty picture. Too bad the addict usually doesn't get it until the damage is done. As a society, we haven't begun to see the effects of this crisis, but the next 20 years will be telling.

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Tough love for addicts: more love, less tough?

I found an interesting podcast today. It’s a discussion with Laurence Westreich, MD, author of the new book Helping the Addict You Love: The New Effective Program for Getting the Addict into Treatment.

Dr. Westreich has all the right credentials. In addition to being a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of patients dually diagnosed with addiction and mental disorders, he is associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine and serves as the consultant on drugs of abuse to Major League Baseball.

In his book (and the podcast), he suggests that families “use a combination of creative engagement and constructive coercion to push addicted members into treatment. Threats and ultimatums are less helpful,” he says, “than are multiple and lovingly delivered confrontations that continually push the addicted family member towards obtaining treatment.”

Traditionally, family members have been encouraged to use "tough love" in dealing with an addicted family member. But Dr. Westreich fears that too many families emphasize the "tough" over the "love".

Interesting. Through the years, I’ve thought most parents have found the tough part to be more difficult.

Take a few minutes to listen to the podcast, then tell me what you think. Are families too tough on the addict? Not tough enough? I’d like to know what you’ve observed.

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