Saturday, August 23, 2008

Score another one for rehab--and the power of prayer

We’ve had one member of our immediate family whose addiction has been in full force for the past several months. The situation had become increasingly serious, and it’s been just a matter of time until someone—maybe one of my grandchildren or a stranger in a passing car—would be injured, or worse, as our loved one drove while under the influence.

It’s been difficult to address from a position of strength, since the key person in his life has appeared to be in denial about the depth of the problem.

From other choices he’s been making, we could tell he sincerely wanted to live life differently, but it’s also obvious he doesn’t have all the necessary tools. So we’ve prayed for the right time and the right decisions. And today, the miracle happened.

He’d reached his own bottom and cried out for help, and God put the church’s new pastors and my daughter-in-law (currently in recovery) in just the right place at just the right time. Doors opened and tonight he’s in a detox facility where he’ll stay through the weekend, before going into the Salvation Army’s six-month rehab program next week.

He started using, and probably drinking, at a young age, and needs help to know how to live sober and clean. I’m grateful that this program is available to him and while it won’t be easy for the next six months, pray that everyone will understand the value as we see the changes God will bring about in his life.

That makes three family members of my immediate family engaged in active recovery at the same time. Wow.

Tonight, life seems good.

What an inspiration!

By now, you’ve probably heard about 21-year-old Henry Cejudo, who won a gold medal at the Olympics this week in freestyle wrestling.

He holds many distinctions—among them, he’s the youngest to ever win gold. But if you haven’t heard the rest of his story, check it out. He’s the son of illegal immigrants, raised most of his life by his mom after his dad bounced around in the jail system, no doubt a result of his substance abuse problems.

Henry spent his high school years in my new hometown, Phoenix. And despite the hardships and all he had going against him, Henry persevered, won two Arizona state titles at the high school level, and went on to capture his dream.

He’s a real inspiration to me, and certainly can be an inspiration to kids whose families have endured pain and suffering from a loved one’s substance abuse problem.

Thanks, Henry, we hope to cheer for you as you achieve even more in the future.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lower drinking age—an academic issue?

There’s just no easy answer to the binge drinking problem on most college campuses today. And now, the presidents of 100 major colleges and universities are urging a “discussion” of lowering the legal drinking age from 21 to 18.

They seem to think the current age limit exacerbates the problem by pushing the drinking “underground” and making it more dangerous. But some are accusing these officials of wanting to shirk their responsibility to enforce the laws.

Then there’s the problem of a young person’s brain not being fully developed until 25. Whether the legal age is 21 or 18, the risk-taking behavior will be part of the equation.

So what do you think? Would lowering the drinking age alleviate the binge drinking on college and university campuses?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My first exposure to huffing

A recent episode of the “Intervention” series on A&E highlighted a young woman who was addicted to huffing. Since we’re accustomed to seeing needles, powder and pipes or massive numbers of bottles on this program, it was strange to see her affinity for everyday aerosol cans.

Although her drug of choice was different than those I’m more familiar with, the resulting chaos in her life looked just the same. As her loved ones watched her life waste away before their eyes, they experienced the same pain as does the family of an alcoholic or meth addict.

They felt there wasn’t much time left, and they had to take action if she were going to stay alive. It’s the way most families feel when a loved one’s addiction to alcohol or illicit drugs has deepened and the addict’s life has become a train wreck.

It was truly a case of “life or death.” Thankfully, we saw this young woman move from a position that was seriously resistant to going into treatment, to a patient who was learning and growing, more committed to the next steps in her recovery.

It gives me hope when I see the transformation that can occur. I trust you’re encouraged by these programs too.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mental illness and addiction are national issues

Anyone who cares about someone with a mental illness or substance abuse problem knows the difficulties it creates. Often, help just isn’t available to them and life becomes a vicious cycle.

As the national election approaches, it’s the ideal time to bring these issues to the attention of the presidential candidates. Join Together has made it easy to voice your concerns through a petition developed by the Whole Health Coalition.

If you haven’t already done so, please add your name to this petition calling on the presidential candidates and their parties to make these reforms a priority. Whole Health Campaign leaders will deliver it to the candidates and party leaders.

Don't miss this opportunity to voice your concerns about the level of care in this country for those who need help with mental health and substance abuse problems.

Starting over, finally!

I owe any readers who may be left out there—and myself—a big apology. It’s been months since I’ve posted, but I think I’m finally ready to get back to adding my two-cents to issues affecting families and others who love someone suffering from substance abuse and addiction.

In the past year, many important things have come to an end: my marriage, my job, caring for a dear little girl I’ve grown to love like family, living on the East coast. On the other hand, I won’t miss driving in blizzards, scraping ice off the windshield, or shoveling the car out of the snow.

Despite the things that have come to an end, a whole new life is opening up near my family and in an area that I enjoy. But also, closer to family members who struggle with addiction—two in recovery, one still active.

We’re doing as well as can be expected with a son/husband/daddy incarcerated about 250 miles away. Because of the distance, visits usually take an entire weekend. It’s a big commitment but thankfully, he has a committed wife.

She’s working hard at her recovery too, and I know enough to know I need to take care of myself. I will come up with a plan to avoid codependency—for sure! Watch for more soon.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Finding freedom in prison

What happened to February? It’s a real blur to me. The cross-country move during January, in a U-Haul and towing my car, went off without a hitch. We were blessed with fair weather and no mechanical problems all 2,300 miles—phew!

Then things went sideways. Just one day after arriving, my son was to have been taken into custody to begin serving time for his involvement in unlawful activity about a year ago. We thought, then everyone will be able to get on with life.

But as often happens in the justice system, a delay occurred and he had the opportunity to be “free” for another month.

That took us deep into the pit of his addiction. I was ready to dial 911 more than once. I had to choose: would I be the one to determine which day would be his last day of "freedom"?

The drama dragged on. Living under the same roof, I set my boundaries, went to a Nar-anon meeting and read literature that helped me keep my priorities straight. Harder to accept than the damaged walls and broken possessions was seeing my son imprisoned by the drug that had captured his mind and body.

Today, he’s in protective custody—in a cell 23 hours of the day, sometimes with cellmates and sometimes not. For the past ten days he’s been detoxing, reading, thinking. I could hear the difference in his voice over the phone, and then I visited with him yesterday.

Today, he is free. Without the drug, his body may be imprisoned but his mind is now free to move ahead to the future. Envisioning the kind of husband and father he wants desperately to be for his family. The kind of committed, diligent employee and future business owner he sees himself to be.

Overcoming addiction isn’t usually an easy process. It may not be an easy transition.

But I’m grateful, proud and hopeful that he is taking the first steps. Steps he’s never really taken before. As he put it, he is going to change all the things he needs to in order to become a different person and he’s going to ask God to change the rest.

That’s my prayer today too.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rehab and relapse . . .

Again, another new television series focusing on the problems of addiction. This time it features celebrities—some well-known names, others lesser known.

VH1 will begin airing “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Pinsky” this coming Thursday and it may be helpful in educating the public about addiction as a life-long struggle. During the series, actor Daniel Baldwin says he’s been in rehab at least nine times. Just like the addicts in our families.

So many people don’t understand the battle. Parents and other family members do, though.

It can be so disappointing when a loved one relapses. With relapse comes a flood of memories, some of them very painful, when our child's previous drug or alcohol use had created a crisis involving their health, the well-being of family members, or the legal system that intervened. Followed by apprehension about what will happen next.

Maybe as this new series offers insight into the pain and emotional scars of these celebrities who battle their addictions, we’ll find new insight into coping with the ups and downs our own family members face. Let me know what you think.

The show debuts at 10 p.m. Thursday, January 10, on VH1.

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Happy New Year?

Between traveling over the holidays and preparing for a cross-country move (the sixth in my lifetime!), I’ve been too busy to write. But so many thoughts have been rattling around in my head.

The new year brings with it a new phase of life. Some of us are anticipating all the good that may come with it, while others are dreading the changes that will happen.

This year will hold both sorrow and joy for my family. The consequences of addiction and relapse have been dealt out, and a price will be paid for unwise choices made while under the influence. It means change for all of us but big change for me.

After the past year which might best be described as a giant train wreck, I’m trusting that 2008 will bring good change. I’ll be able to see little ones grow, while spending more time with loved ones in recovery.

And I’m committed to maintaining balance in my own life, which will mean finding a good support group to help me make sure I don’t slip into codependency.

I'm expecting a year of adventure. What’s your plan for the new year?

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