Monthly Archives: January 2015

Ask the Expert: What do I do with an out-of-control minor?

Recognizing addiction in loved one Dr. JantzYour question:  My son is 16 years old, and he is on probation and he is doing drugs.  His probation officer knows this but doesn’t help us put him in a drug treatment program.  she know that he has been stealing from me a lot and not going to school.  I told her that I worry that he might die from a drug overdoes.  I also asked her to let the judge order him into drug treatment, but she is refusing.  They know he is not going to school, and they tell me it has to be his choice.  I now see why there are so many kids on drugs; their parents have no rights, and we are prisoners in our own homes.  Please help.

Photo of Ricki TownsendAnswer from Expert Ricki Townsend:  My heart hurts for you, as you are in a very difficult situation with an out-of-control minor.  Because each jurisdiction has different rules and regulations for managing minors, I suggest you find a parents Al-Anon meeting and go there to learn from other parents how they have handled their minor children and used the courts and probation effectively.  Each county and state is different, so seek out the wisdom of other parents who can support you with their experience, wisdom and compassion.  I wish you the best.

Ricki

Teen Addiction: What to expect from treatment and what you can do to help

Guest Blog by Eric Adreon Author of A Dance With Shadows:  The Journey Beyond Sexual Abuse, Addiction and Chemical Imbalance

This Q&A is intended to provide parents and others with insight into the unique needs of adolescent and young adults suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction, especially those that are dual diagnosed with a mental health disorder(s). Hopefully these questions will stimulate a public conversation about the unique needs of this population and how, as a nation we can combat the illness of addiction. We encourage a civil discourse for the sake of future generations to bring this disease out of hiding and give it the attention and research that other chronic health care conditions have received. Only as a community of addicts, those who love them, healthcare professionals, law enforcement and others can such work occur.

Questions and Answers with Eric Adreon

Q: Measuring the quality of addiction treatment, and behavioral health care for that matter, are comparatively more difficult that assessing the quality of care for medical conditions. This is especially true if we are looking at outcomes of care. In particular the disease of addiction often leads patients to be transient so understanding the outcomes of their care is logistically very challenging. How could the medical and behavioral health community better understand the outcomes of the care provided?

EA: Outcomes are very tricky as your question just implied. I believe in the improvement of one’s life as opposed to the standard abstinence approach. Although abstinence is the ultimate goal, how do we measure abstinence? How accurate is our system of following up? When there is improvement in one’s life circumstances it is easier to say the outcome is good. It is also easier for the addict to see why there has been improvement. Often it is a comparison of life circumstances that brings about lasting recovery. We are dealing with a disease that has relapse as part of its nature. Does relapse represent failure? In our present system of measure it does. Does all the work to build one’s life also get held into the equation? As you can see it is very difficult to have a black and white perspective on outcomes when abstinence is the measuring stick. I have not stayed abstinent from drugs and alcohol for the last 11+ years. I have relapsed, yet I have not returned to prison, reoffended, or continued in use without seeking out recovery again. I have not been homeless and for the most part, I have been able to work and go to school. In eleven years I have 10 years clean and sober. How do we measure that?  The bottom line is that whatever outcomes are measured for quality improvement purposes need to take into consideration these unique elements of the disease and should not be used to define an individual patient’s state of health.

In 2001 The American Managed Behavioral Healthcare Association (AMBHA) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) released a policy statement regarding the principles for evaluating outcomes of the treatment of substance-related disorders. The statement outlined some key quality indicators; I do not believe that those measures have been developed. None the less the health care and treatment communities are slowly collaborating and exploring the quality in addiction treatment. For example, NIATx, based at the University of Wisconsin–Madison developed a process improvement model specifically for the substance abuse treatment field.

Lastly the lack of research and resulting evidence based guidelines are needed to develop meaningful clinical measures.

Q: Another challenge to the healthcare community and parents are the stringent privacy laws related to behavioral health and substance abuse treatment. Could you please talk about how these laws should be navigated by parents and providers so that they do not become barriers to the care and open family dialogue needed to support recovery for youth?

EA: The laws were set in place so that individuals would be more likely to do the work necessary within a treatment setting. Without these laws many people would not seek treatment because of the fear of disclosure to outside sources. As far as parents are concerned maybe the best approach would be to support the patients by allowing the individual to grow in treatment and then decide when they wish to disclose more information. Information may make the family feel better but ultimately information is not what helps the loved one. Educating one’s self about addiction, seeking out your own recovery as a family member of an addict and creating healthy boundaries will have the greatest effect. Most likely there will be a time when family members are invited into the process.

Q: In your book you discuss how your parents, especially your mom and step father have effectively supported you during various stages of your journey with these conditions. Would you please explain your experience of their support – what they did and why it was supportive to your recovery?  What behaviors of parents/family members interfere with recovery?

EA:  My parents have always educated themselves about addiction. They understood that enabling me through money and other ways simply cushioned and the inevitable bottom. Pain and wreckage are the very things that allow the addict to get to a place where they are willing to explore recovery. Their approach was measured and any support I received came when I was actively pursuing recovery. When I was in active use their support did not come in resources that I could have used to continue using substances. Instead it came through love and supportive language.

I believe that over imposing ones will on the addict is very destructive because it tends to push the addict in the other direction. Many addicts are rebellious in nature, especially when it comes to authority figures such as parents. It is a difficult balancing act between loving a child and allowing them

Progress, Not Perfect – Keeping Perspective on Recovery from Co-dependency

It seems as time goes on I am making progress with my recovery as a co-dependent. But, yet, I get frustrated that I can’t ‘get it’ right all the time. It’s an interesting paradox to immerse yourself into learning about co-dependency, what it is, how it is negative to yourself and others, how to change these behaviors. Then you have all the ‘book smarts’ about it, just like any other topic or subject you decide to become proficient about. So, why can’t I turn this information from intellectual understanding to daily behavior? It occurred to me that if I thought about a sports analogy then maybe I could make a parallel that would help me be a little easier on myself.

For instance, if I bought a book on water skiing and read and study it and even bought videos on instruction and technique, should I expect to go out on the water and be proficient at water skiing the first, second, third and so on tries at it? Of course we would never expect this. So, why do I think I can read about a behavior and think that I can take this intellectual understanding and instantly turn it into practice in my day to day life? What I’ve found is that with every opportunity to practice what I’m learning, I become a little more proficient. I’ve even found when those opportunities do not come for a bit, that I also become a bit rusty. It is progress, not perfection that I strive for. As long as I see that I am making progress then I realize I am heading in the right direction on this journey.

How Sweet Home – Feeling the Joy of a Loved one in Recovery from Addiction

One of the joys of my daughter’s recovery is that she can be with us at home. This is a big deal because when she was active in her addiction not only could she not stay at our house overnight but she was not welcome to come over at all. It was part of the vigilance that we needed to keep in order to hold her accountable and set boundaries of what was acceptable life style in our home. Now that she is in recovery we can have holidays and time together as a family, a whole family. This was something that I took for granted before we entered into this challenging situation.

At a recent gathering, we were in the kitchen where families always seem to congregate. We were celebrating some birthdays and having a large gathering. It is always fun with the kids running around and dogs barking and general ruckus going on. These are the moments that I’ve learned to just sit with and know that life is moving forward. I’ve learned that while I know things can always change, for this moment they are good and I can enjoy it. It was a sweet moment when during the midst of the family congregating some comment was made about how great it was to have my daughter home and she said, ‘I sure am glad all that is behind me…’ with a smile and a dip of her chip in the salsa. My husband gave her a hug and said with a big smile, ‘So are we…!’ I’m not sure she knows the magnitude of how sweet that moment was, but for me, it was a feeling that just for today, I will let the joy of this feeling wash over me.

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Recognizing addiction in loved one Dr. Jantz“Tears are words the mouth can’t say nor can the heart bear.”
- Joshua Wisenbaker

Signs, Symptoms and Treatment of Addiction in Adolescents

Guest Blog by Eric Adreon Author of A Dance With Shadows:  The Journey Beyond Sexual Abuse, Addiction and Chemical Imbalance

This Q&A is intended to provide parents and others with insight into the unique needs of adolescent and young adults suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction, especially those that are dual diagnosed with a mental health disorder(s). Hopefully these questions will stimulate a public conversation about the unique needs of this population and how, as a nation we can combat the illness of addiction. We encourage a civil discourse for the sake of future generations to bring this disease out of hiding and give it the attention and research that other chronic health care conditions have received. Only as a community of addicts, those who love them, healthcare professionals, law enforcement and others can such work occur.

Questions and Answers with Eric Adreon

Q: Your addiction began when you were young. Were there any signs or symptoms of your disease missed or overlooked by your parents and/or the medical system?

EA: It was very difficult to diagnose me because of co-occurring conditions. Mental health and addiction issues are often close cousins. I believe I suffered from manic depression far before chemicals were an issue. When I finally mixed alcohol with the depression it was easy to point a finger at the singular issue (Addiction) bypassing the mental health aspect. There were numerous symptoms: early sexual acting out, fluctuation of emotion from high to low, anger management issues and isolation. In terms of substance use I followed the norm in terms of adolescent experimentation and gateway drugs such as cigarettes and marijuana. Changes in social groups, changes in appearance, and lack of interest in things I used to hold important in my life were all basic indicators.

One thing that can help parents seeing these early warning signs/behaviors is to seek out resources related to parenting skills. Warning behaviors create stress and chaos for the whole family, whether or not the substance abuse issue is known by parents. Health care professionals need to routinely direct parents of such patients to resources to improve parenting skills as well as to learn about substance abuse.

Q: Your addiction began when you were an adolescent so you have experienced a variety of treatment approaches and modalities, both as a youth and as an adult.  What are your thoughts about how treatment for alcoholism and addiction needs to be different for this population?

EA: Abuse does not stop abuse. For too long addicts have been treated as though they have some say over their condition. I come from the CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) camp. I believe in a compassionate approach to treating addiction. I believe that most people who enter the treatment setting have already spent enough time being beaten down by addiction and the consequences that accompany it. Building a human being up does more to ensure good outcomes than does an iron fist approach, where the addicts are treated like they are morally bankrupt and somehow responsible for the disease. We live in a society where we aggressively attack the symptoms instead of treating the underlying issues. Our prison and homeless populations are a reflection of poor policy around treating addicts and mentally ill people.

It is often difficult as a parent to weigh out appropriate responses to an adolescent who is struggling with chemical use. The traditional “tough love” or “hands off approach” does not always fit, especially when parents are obligated to still take responsibility for their children. One of the best ways to address a child’s use is to remain firm in boundaries and consequences.  Ultimately, loving support of a child while holding firm boundaries around the unacceptability of use pays the greatest dividends. As an adolescent drug abuser I was often held accountable for my actions. Although at the time I felt as though these boundaries were lack of love, as I have grown older in recovery I realize my parents did the most loving thing they could. Boundaries protect both the family and the user from their behaviors. Accountability teaches the adolescent user that there are consequences to behavior. Consequences bring on a healthy stress, which may bring about the desired change.

Having an open mind as the parent of an addict or alcoholic

My 3 Sunz

 This is an “encore” post from My 3 S unz

I have often said my turning point in recovery from the family disease was to keep an open mind be willing to try the Al-Anon program. I somehow needed to re-wire my beliefs, truths and experience. This would be a completely different way of handling life’s situations – and I held doubt. Yet, I had been broken open by addiction and freely admitted that my life had become unmanageable. I remember thinking about and using affirmations such as this:

-I am willing to be willing to consider the Al-Anon program as a solution for healing from the effects of alcoholism/addiction.
-I am willing to consider the Al-Anon program as a solution for healing from the effects of alcoholism/addiction.
-I consider the Al-Anon program the solution for my living life happy, joyous and free.
-I thank life for giving me the fellowship of the Al-Anon family group where there is love and understanding.
-I see the hurt I have suffered as an opportunity to learn compassion.

And so goes the process – used at every step.  I’ve come a long ways from being angry, resentful and contemptuous.  I sleep at night, I’m not paralyzed by fear.  I have faith, better tolerance and acceptance.  I’m not perfect, but I keep working on me and I’m excited about the growth in my relationship with my loved ones.

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem – How letting go helps our loved ones move forward

We all know that we sometimes expect things to be one way and then they turn out to be another. But how often do we get to take a short glimpse of what life would actually be like and then somehow evade a seemingly disastrous path? When my daughter was at the end of her stay in a longer term rehabilitation center we were beginning to discuss what the next step would be. Should she go to a sober living house? What type of sober living? Should she find others in recovery and live with them? Before we made the final conclusion she decided to leave with some ‘friends’ that said they were in recovery and they invited her to stay with them. I sometimes refer to this week where my daughter left rehabilitation and struck out on her own as the ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ week – she got to see what it would be like for a week to have nowhere to go. I have to say, in retrospect, that she had all the right intentions and was quite brave in taking action with her life. She was able to find out that you can’t always trust what you are told. Her ‘friends’ that said they were in recovery ended up not being in recovery. This put her in a very precarious situation. Although she was determined, she was still early in recovery.
She called me a few times to ask for help to get her out of this situation. I told her that I would support her in a sober living house, but not any other arrangement. What was interesting is that I had such an urge all week long to help her and rescue her as I had done so many times in the past. I thought of so many ways to make it all better and ease the pain of her decisions and experience. But I was finally at a point in my co-dependent recovery that I knew the most loving thing I could do was to do nothing and simply let go. I needed to let her go through this experience. After a week of staying with various people she knew, she had a realization that this is not the life she wanted. She took action to find a sober living house and made all the arrangements to move in. It was a turning point for her as well as for me. I for once did not intervene and it was the experience that she needed to move forward. What a gift that week became for both of us.

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Finding serenity in nature“Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live.  What a precious gift!”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Steroid Dependency – A Place of Hope Guest Blog

If you are a proud parent of a teen who has proved overly-successful in a particular sporting activity, it may have crossed your mind that your teen may have come into contact with anabolic steroids during his or her sporting career. It is certainly a highly contentious and taboo area in sports, but you would be surprised to learn how many young adults have regularly dabbled in steroid abuse, regardless of the efforts of numerous anti-drug campaigns in schools all across the nation to dissuade them. Many psychological issues are at the heart of steroid use, including an athlete feeling dissatisfied with his or her own personal performance, an unhealthy sense of perfectionism, an inability to cope with peer pressure, or an unwholesome sense of competitiveness.

Initially assumed to be a harmless way of boosting performance in the athletic industry, many have fallen victim to the ravaging symptoms of steroids. Even as far back as 1989, YaleUniversityresearchers were stating that “people who take anabolic steroids to promote muscle growth may become addicted to the drugs”[1] and, for nearly a quarter century, this difficult, agonizing disease has unfortunately controlled the lives of many athletes. The effects of steroid addiction are painful, far-reaching, and can be physically, mentally and emotionally crippling. Those tormented by such abuse can find their steroid usage spiral completely out of control, leading to life-threatening symptoms, such as liver damage, liver cancer, heart attack, hallucinations and severe depression.

Sadly, those who suffer from such harrowing physical warning signs are generally reluctant to seek the treatment they need, as they tend to deny that they have a problem with steroid dependency. Many steroid abusers start through the intake of prescribed corticosteroid drugs that treat arthritis, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease, before they fall headlong into a tragic, all-consuming addiction that can wreck their sporting career and ruin their life, as well as affecting the lives of their parents and loved ones.

A key challenge in any struggle to stop steroid use is the overwhelming physical withdrawal symptoms. It is easier said than done to give up such a dependency, especially because there are many withdrawal symptoms that a user will encounter, such as:

  • Muscle aches, vomiting and nausea
  • Fever and low blood pressure
  • Insomnia and fainting
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Loss of appetite and habitual weight loss
  • Decreased sex drive

When your teen is addicted to steroids and exhibits some of the above symptoms, it is of vital importance that you confront them with your suspicions. After all, the hardest step a steroid user has to take is to find the courage to ask for help. However, after this is done, individuals can take part in a long-lasting recovery program, where they can begin to address the psychological issues that led to their dependency in the first place. The earliest step in a steroid addiction treatment program is to assist in discontinuing the use of drugs. Patients will be closely monitored, in case suicidal thoughts develop, and antidepressant medications may be administered to manage any depression-related symptoms.

If symptoms are relentlessly prolonged, inpatient detoxification or hospitalization may be the only option. Upon steroid use cessation, many substance abusers will require effective levels of round-the-clock support via behavioral therapy in a steroid recovery center setting. Led by medical professionals, this typically involves individual, group and family counseling sessions that can identify any underlying psychological problems. With family therapy, the patient will be able to express concerns they have with people who love them and want them to get better. A serious dependency on steroids is a multi-faceted problem that can affect not only the user themselves, but also the loved ones who surround them in day-to-day life.

While many parents, siblings, friends and other close relations will find this entire process incredibly difficult to endure, the sufferer must be aware that help IS out there, and that things will improve over time. By working through these psychological problems in a secure, understanding environment, the recovering patient stands a better chance of kicking his or her addiction without fear of relapse.

Struggling to kick a serious addiction is very difficult and requires the expert care services of a professional steroid rehabilitation facility. But with the necessary resources to work through their issues, as well as a supportive foundation from caring family members and compassionate friends, a suitable treatment program can offer the hope needed to help a patient regain control of his or her life.

Steroid dependency is a major problem throughout society today, and can create serious problems in the future. A Place of Hope’s Center for Counseling and Health Resources can help those who seek illicit substance abuse addiction treatment, steroid addiction treatment, or therapy relating to issues involving alcohol and gambling. Under the tutelage of Dr. Gregory Jantz, our team of addiction medical professionals, psychologists, nutritionists and fitness trainers can help you to address the physical and psychological issues behind your symptoms. If you want to embrace a healthy and balanced lifestyle, please visit us online at A Place Of Hope For Addiction or call us at 888-379-3372.