Monday, September 28, 2009

The longest year yet

Or will it be the shortest?

My son has passed the one-year mark and we’re overjoyed that we can now say he has “LESS THAN ONE YEAR” to serve of his two-and-a-half year sentence in Arizona’s Department of Corrections.

Hopefully, the days will fly by for him, his wife and daughter, and all who know and love him, and then he’ll be in the loving arms of his family.

Let’s get this out of the way first. Does he deserve to be there? Of course. His actions and choices made in the throes of his addiction determined his consequences. In fact, considering the state’s strict sentencing code that leaves no room for a judge to consider a case on its own merits, his 2.5 years are actually a lenient sentence.

But I can see how my daughter-in-law struggles with missing him as much or more now than in the early days of his incarceration. As his mother, seeing him in a prison environment is painful. But seeing what his 3-year-old daughter is feeling is far more painful.

She was just 18 months old when he went away, so she couldn’t verbalize her feelings at that time. Now she can.

At our last prison visit earlier this month, she asked, “Daddy, can you come home with me today?”

Her mom said she knows all the kids’ fathers at the day care center and wonders why her daddy can’t be there with her.

Thinking back to the early days, when I knew there was a problem but didn’t know what to do about it, I’d still like to strangle our neighborhood drug dealer.

Am I totally nuts or have you ever felt this way? When does that pain ease?

And there’s an even bigger concern. Will my son--could he--ever relapse again? Let me know about your own experiences and pain.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It’s Family Day: have dinner with your kids

Monday, September 28 has been designated Family Day 2009 to remind parents that frequent family dinners can make a big difference in their children’s lives.

For over a decade, research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) has shown that kids who have dinner more often with their families are less likely to drink, smoke and use drugs.

With so many activities crowding out family time these days, it’s time for parents to become more engaged in their kids’ lives. Dinner would seem to be an easy way to do just that.

Research findings are dramatic. In addition to reducing teen cigarette use, drinking and drug use, studies show that kids who regularly participate in family dinner even get better grades in school.

Read more about Family Day and the importance of family dinners in this Join Together announcement.

Several new reasons to avoid binge drinking

A recent study reported by the BBC says that binge drinking weakens a person's virus- and bacteria-fighting proteins called cytokines, suppressing the immune system for as long as 24 hours.

So if you don’t want to catch the H1N1 virus (swine flu) or other types of influenza this fall and winter, avoid excessive drinking. For more details, see this update from Join Together.

More good reasons to steer clear of binge drinking? This European study concluded that it’s the binge drinking, not the amount of beer, that expands waistlines and creates a “beer belly.” And expanded waistlines put people at greater risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Finally, for the last 10 to 15 years in Great Britain, the number of oral cancer cases among middle-aged men and women has been rising dramatically. Health experts there blame binge drinking and rising alcohol consumption in the U.K., not tobacco use, as the real causes.