Monthly Archives: December 2014

Grasping that you can’t control your beloved addict or alcoholic

My 3 SunzThis is an “encore” post from My3Sunz

When in Maui we were kayaking with a guide. We were following the whales, a few had surfaced. A person called out, “what if we get too close?” The guide responded, “The whale is going to do what whales do, with or without us.” There’s a bit of vulnerability I feel when kayaking and I have had similar feelings under the hypnotic power of addiction!
I recalled a time during the early phases of my eldest where we made a decision to detach both emotionally and financially.  We were no longer going to pay for his apartment, car insurance, school tuition for classes he was failing and books he’d purchase and re-sell for money.   We knew he was coming into our house while we were away at work. We knew he was doing business at the pawn shop, and we knew there was a whole lot more we didn’t know.  We told him we believed he had a drug problem having no idea that addiction is a disease.
The fear of how he would possibly make it on his own was overwhelming for me. I just believed he could not do it without me.  I was having trouble letting go.  Turns out, he was going to do what he was going to do, with or without my input!  I just needed to stay on my boat.
Having to tell him he no longer was welcome to come to our house without our invitation, that he must call us first, was the hardest thing to do. It was painful but sometimes the right thing to do is not the easiest or best feeling, when doing it. The angst and vision of what would happen never materialized to the dramatic end I dreamed up. That drama was my own. I’d say “how can he make it out there on his own” but the truth was I did not know how I’d cope without him in my life.

Just Say ‘Oh’ – Avoid the conflict and help to empower your loved one

Coming out of a drug addiction does not come easy. Going through detox rids the addict of the active drugs from their body. In that process, it does not heal the brain; it only begins to start the healing. The cravings are so strong at this initial stage, that it is a miracle when any addict stays clean. My daughter went to a different town to go to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in order to get away from the imminent danger of being with friends who were using and give herself time to start healing. She also went to this long term rehabilitation facility to get intensive counseling she needed to work on issues that were troubling her. There are many reasons why a person uses drugs. Sometimes it starts out recreational and then escalates into an addiction. Others times it is to escape feelings or situations that are painful. And it’s everything in between.

Part of a stay at any rehabilitation center is educating the family members of the loved one. Many of these rehabilitation centers do an excellent job of taking families through the understanding of the disease of addiction. They also help with how to handle difficult situations and take control of your life. As many of us know, when you have a loved one struggling with addiction there is a lot of drama that can seem never ending. At times I would get a call with various demands and it can sometimes be difficult to say no. In some cases you hear of kids who are using drugs call their parents telling them things like, ‘I lost my job! Now I won’t be able to pay my rent! Or I lost my paycheck! One of the techniques that I learned during the family session is to respond by saying ‘Oh.’ There are many ways to say ‘Oh’; ‘oh?’ or ‘oh!’ or ‘oh…’ By saying ‘oh’ you don’t engage to start solving the problem that is really not yours to solve. And many times if you let twenty four hours pass, they solve the problem on their own which gives them a chance to learn and grow. Next time you find yourself in a situation that you don’t want to say yes or you don’t want to have the argument that comes with saying ‘no’, then try just saying ‘oh!’

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Relapse and Rebound, Repurpose“Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.”

Desmond Tutu

Meditate for Your Recovery from Addiction

Guest Blogger Cathy Taughinbaugh is the mother of a former crystal meth addict who has been in recovery for over 6 years. She writes on addiction, recovery and treatment at cathytaughinbaugh.com.  

You will notice that the inner space is clear, quiet and undisturbed. It is peace itself. ~ Gail Brenner

Have you tried meditation?

Meditation is an amazing tool for anyone to connect with their inner selves and a way to find some quiet moments each day to renew and allow their mind to rest. In my post on How Running Promotes Long Term Recovery, William Glasser talks about three powerful ways to help you obtain long term recovery.

Running, as we all know is physical, although it is helpful for our minds, it works our body and helps to keep us fit. Meditation is for the mind. According to Glasser, running is the easiest way to physically find a positive addiction, meditation is the most popular way.

Do you remember the Transcendental Meditation or TM movement from the 60’s? Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started the movement and brought it to the masses. Jump start to 2011, and meditation is more mainstream, a respected practice and accessible to everyone.

In his book, Positive Addiction, Glasser interviews and shares how people feel after they meditate, and how it has changed their life. They begin to see things more clearly, their connections with others became easier and they developed closer relationships. Their confidence in themselves begins to grow.

With meditation, we have a regular time each day to notice our breath as we accept what goes on in our head in a non-critical way. Many people meditate in the morning right after they get up. Some prefer to meditate after a physical activity, or later in the day.

The meditator gains more access to his brain, which is not usually achieved if you are not a meditator, and don’t take the time to be non self-critical.

Physical relaxation occurs, because as Glasser points out any mental strength we have is reflected in physical relaxation. One person describes her meditation practice as a “typical relaxed, non-self-critical flow of ideas which come and go effortlessly…”

Other descriptions of meditation are that it is a tremendously unique and very personal experience. It’s almost sacred, but not religious at all. More energy, more determination, and enjoyment of every moment are other words to describe the experience.

Large and clear thinking was mentioned. The experience felt large. The meditator felt he was without his body, knowing that he was inside it, but just not feeling it. It was a glimpse of total limitlessness.

Others mentioned that they get the same relaxed feeling as when they are in a beautiful natural setting, which Glass calls the pleasant, relaxing, non-self-critical pre-PA state.

When the meditators missed their practice, they felt a mild discomfort, a feeling of missing something valuable, a little tension or guilt. Sometimes it’s the same sort of feeling as not brushing your teeth, or bathing, a habit that you are used to.

Some of the meditators that Glasser questioned were heavy to moderate drug users. They explained that the drug experience wears off, the more they used, they less effect the drug had. The difference with meditation is that the experiences were cumulative and carried over into their daily life, even after they had forgotten about their practice.

The group, in general reported that they had a greatly diminished use of alcohol; many have stopped drinking, smoking and using drugs of any kind.

Meditation helps you to gain strength, and has health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and pulse rate, strengthening the immune system, as well as lifting your mood.

I’m fairly new to meditation, having started praticing after taking yoga for several years. What I love about meditation is the calm, relaxed feeling I have. Letting everything just be for a period of time, and as Glasser points out enjoying some non-self-critical moments.

The idea is to let your thoughts just float by and not attach yourself to any of them. There is no judgement, about anything, just sit and notice your breath. Of course, on occasion, I get antsy. I think everyone does from time to time.

The key is to keep at it and persist. You will then develop your practice and it will become part of your life. I believe meditation is helpful to all of us. It allows us to access those inner thoughts that we may not give ourselves time to get to during a busy day.

Here are some quotes sharing the benefit of meditation.

When you learn to immerse yourself in the present moment – whatever it is like – you will experience a deep joy and peacefulness.” ~ Mary Jaksch

The practice comes with a myriad of well-publicized health benefits including increased concentration, decreased anxiety, and a general feeling of happiness. ~ Todd Goldfarb

Meditation is a simple but life-transforming skill that can help you to relax, enhance understanding about yourself and develop your inherent potential. ~ The Conscious Life

One of the coolest things about meditation is you learn so much about yourself, and start experiencing yourself and the world in such a different way. ~ Kathryn Goetze

When we discover that this haven of calm is always available within us, we realize that a moment of stopping and dropping in brings sanity and perspective.” ~ Gail Brenner

Try meditation. You may find that the strength you feel will bring you the peace and serenity you are seeking.

Be Well,

Cathy

Cathy Taughinbaugh is the mother of a former crystal meth addict who has been in recovery for over 6 years. She writes on addiction, recovery and treatment at cathytaughinbaugh.com.

Home for the holidays – the challenge and joys

Everyone knows that holidays are a challenge. Even if your loved one is in recovery and not actively using it can be challenging when there are co-dependent tendencies. There is something about a child, even as an adult coming home. It’s like all of the adult in them turns to child and the adult in me turns to parent. Once our children grow up, there is a time to transition from parent-child to mother-daughter. It’s a wonderful transition because you no longer need to correct and scold, you get to coach and support – they get to take responsibility and learn from their mistakes.
I know when my kids come home for the holidays it is like when they were young and I was a younger parent. I can sometimes begin to do all the things I normally did when they were much younger and they can do the same. We slip back into old habits and behaviors. Even things they may do on their own while away may be things they don’t bother with while at home. I remember this when I was young also. I’d be totally self-sufficient while away at college, then come home for a holiday and want to revert to slacking off like when I was much younger. As a parent it is just something that we do for our loved ones when they come to visit. But I also know that slipping back into some of these behaviors is not empowering my kids to grow and be responsible. The positive thing is that I recognize what is happening and can talk to my kids about it. We recognize when there is a dynamic going on and it is really great to be able to discuss it. The holidays are much more joyful when we are open and honest with our relationships and cherish that.

A golden child, lost to addiction

TiffanyMy Christmas posting every year is dedicated to Tiffany Noel Chapman, a Christmas baby born in December, 1976.  She became addicted to the pain pills that were prescribed when she broke her neck in a high school car accident.  She died when she was 27, her liver destroyed by the pain pills that her body and brain demanded.

Many people believe that teens “choose” to become drug addicts or alcoholics when they party with drugs or alcohol, but addiction often develops under less voluntary circumstances.   Tiffany’s genetic predisposition for addiction was triggered by the pain meds that she needed to take for intractable pain.  Her story, while not uncommon, is an eye-opener to those (including me) who had no clue that even doctor-prescribed and doctor-monitored medications can become addictive.

Tiffany’s parents took her home from various ERs after repeated overdoses.  Not once did they receive discharge instructions that shed any light on the brain disease they were fighting.  Not once did they receive counsel about rehab or information about resources.  They didn’t understand the phantom they were fighting in the dark, without tools or weapons.    And they aren’t alone in their not-knowingness:  teen addiction and alcoholism aren’t commonly discussed in today’s parenting books.  In fact, most physicians have little or no training about addiction or alcoholism, especially as a teen issue, and little information to share with struggling parents.
Tiffany’s mother Linda opens her heart when she shares their story in the Collision Course-Teen Addiction Epidemic, reminding all of us to be aware and vigilant because  anyone—even the most golden child—can be vulnerable to this deadly disease.

Changing the Relationship when Addiction is present in your family

Photo of woman and daughter laughing together.There is a time in the journey of healing from the trauma and drama of a loved one struggling with addiction that you know that the relationships need to change. The old patterns and behaviors that are not healthy need to change to knew patterns that serve everyone in the family better. What’s interesting is that even if there is not the presence of addiction in your family sometimes relationships can be better in terms of helping your children grow up to be responsible adults. But when there is drug addiction or any addiction I would imagine, it exemplifies all the little or big flaws in your interactions. Many times as a Mom you want to do things for your kids. It starts out when they are young and you do most things because they are infants and they, obviously, need you to thrive. Then as they grow they begin doing things for themselves. There’s a delicate balance of knowing when to let them become self-sufficient and when to continuing to help them.

What I know now is that it is not healthy to continue to do things for your child when they can do these things for themselves. By continually stepping in and ‘helping’ you can inadvertently teach them that they are not capable. For me, it was difficult to change this dance, but slowly over time our relationship changed. At times I had to do the opposite of what I wanted to do or what might have been instinctual as a parent. But I began to see the result which was a growing self-esteem for my daughter and less burden on me. It is sometimes in the subtle things we do that we start to see the changes; small but steady shifts will lead to a new way of being in a positive way.

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

365993_6166 egg shell“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.”
- Oprah Winfrey

Dealing with Teen Substance Abuse

One of the most painful experiences that parents can encounter is when their teenaged child falls in with “the bad crowd” and becomes actively involved with drugs or alcohol. For the majority of parents, any element that can cause harm or injury to their beloved child will worry and pain them. Substance abuse is an incredibly difficult facet of a teenager’s life for a parent to endure.

A large number of people believe that, to stop abusing drugs and/or alcohol, you simply cease to imbibe any further. They erroneously see drug dependency and substance addiction as a collective problem for those who are in some way ethically weak. Unfortunately, it has become widespread opinion throughout society that drug abusers can simply alter, modify or stop their drug use behavior at will. This is obviously not the case. Many argue that the concept of substance addiction is heritable, and that both genetics and family background play an immense role in how a person formulates their own attitude towards drug use.

Because addiction in teenagers is generally characterized by recurring relapses and other temporary setbacks, those who are substance dependent do not expect to overcome their addiction immediately. Sadly, this typically dissuades them from trying at all, and they continue on their downward spiral. In order of prominence, the three steps that teens usually encounter are:

1. Experimentation: A teenager may give cigarettes, alcohol or drugs a try, and some may not partake any further after the first time.
2. Substance abuse: Experimenting with substances may lead to more regular use. Symptoms include a prominent increase in arguments, aggression or violence, and a considerable drop in school grades and interest in recreational activities.
3. Substance dependence: Also known as addiction, this all-consuming aspect can make your teen both physically and psychologically reliant on a particular substance to an extremely intense degree. At this juncture, teens have a higher proclivity for engaging in high-risk behaviors such as unprotected sex, and can suffer from paranoia, hostile mood swings and severe bouts of depression. This final step is the chronically progressive and possibly fatal component of the disease, and will succeed in siphoning off a substantial part of your teen’s life.

A complicated process is needed to reverse drug dependence. If you suspect that your teen has become involved with alcohol or substance abuse, you must confront them and ask. Voicing your concerns will save them from a great deal of pain and suffering. Find out what substances your teen has experimented with, and try to gauge the extent of their usage. Listen carefully to what they liked about the experience in the first place, and ask about their thoughts on quitting this drug-related behavior.

Discuss every concern you have together, provide drug education and talk about the awful consequences and long-term effects. Finally, ask for the professional help that only a doctor or mental health professional can provide. A drug treatment center can offer a warm and comforting setting where you can discuss your problems with others who also suffer the same symptoms. You will not regret this important decision and, while it may not seem like it now, recovery is closer than you think.

A Place of Hope’s Center for Counseling and Health Resources can help those seeking addiction treatment for illicit substance abuse addiction, prescription drug addiction, or problems relating to gambling, steroids, sedatives or alcoholism. Under the expert tutelage of Dr. Gregory Jantz, our dedicated team of addiction medical professionals, psychologists, nutritionists and fitness trainers will help you to address the physical and mental issues behind your symptoms. For more information, please visit us online at A Place Of Hope For Addiction or call toll free on 888-379-3372. Everyone deserves a healthy, well-balanced and addiction-free life.

Fair Weather Friends

One of the dilemma’s with drug and alcohol rehab is lack of readiness of the addict to want sobriety. Usually as parents we want it for them more than they do for themselves. Each time my daughter went into rehab she was given a fork in the road – go to rehab or go out to the street – her choices were limited since she had narrowed her world to other people also making poor choices. This in retrospect was a gift. The ‘friends’ she had made were like ‘fair weather’ friends only their version was ‘share the wealth’ – as long as my daughter had money or drugs, she had lots of friends, when either of these ran out, the ‘friends’ were nowhere to be seen. This worked in our favor when we came to the cross roads. As anyone reading this and who has a child or loved one struggling with addiction – the crossroad comes – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but it always comes.
One of the learning’s along the way is that I was still ‘managing’ my daughter’s life and her recovery. While this can appear to be very loving and very supportive, it is just prolonging the true impetus for the addict to make a change. It’s easy for people when others make decisions for them – when it doesn’t work out then all the blame can go back to the person who made the decision. It also keeps the person from learning responsibility. All through this part of the journey I was teaching my daughter that she was not capable – that I had to be involved for her to survive. It is the essence of co-dependency. I had learned this along the journey. I gained the awareness that I needed to make changes with myself if I truly wanted what was best for my daughter.