Monthly Archives: March 2017

Learning to trust a loved one in recovery from addiction

It can be difficult to change behaviors that sometimes become a natural reaction. When my daughter was struggling with addiction I became very wary of anything she said or did. As things began to change with time and my daughter began to heal in her recovery, I often had to catch myself and how I was. In the past when certain situations would arise I would have to be very suspect of motives and underlying truths. But as my daughter was coming out of the fog of addiction, she was changing and growing. I would find myself second guessing or projecting past experiences on the current experiences unfairly.

Sometimes it would start with a feeling of discomfort and I would realize that I was not being fair. At times I would even express this to my daughter and apologize for not trusting her when she gave me no reason at the time to distrust. I always found it heartwarming that she would understand and say things like, ‘I know Mom, it is going to take time for me to prove myself to you and the rest of the family.’ The fact is, this is true, but I can also be open and willing as time moves forward to not have the same reaction as in the past. I realize that changes come with time and I will continue to do my part in moving forward.

What worked yesterday may not work today

Pathway to SerenitySlogans are helpful tools to navigate myself in situations that may trigger old ways of reacting. That it is to say, when I am reacting to the environment, I experience some side effects that are no longer useful for me. These show up as frustration or resentments. For sure I’m tweaked. Easy Does It makes me ask the question, Am I trying to force a solution or do I need to step back and rethink this? With addiction, forcing solutions was a true reactionary method I always relied on to deal with tough issues. Now, issues don’t have to be tuff. And what worked yesterday, may not work today, so I have to recognize my behavior and how I’m feeling because for a while, I’m not even aware I’m doing “it”.
A simple example just the other day was when I was trying to print a document. Each time I hit PRINT I did not get the usual “wake up” sound from my printer. No print resulted…so I hit PRINT again with no desirable results. I then hit my PRINT COMMAND with attitude and that catch phrase for insane behavior popped into my head – “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I realized I actually was getting worked up by this!
Yesterday, when I hit my print command, a print job was initiated. What’s different? NO PRINT JOB. I was indeed trying to force a solution that worked yesterday (and many many days prior!) Easy Does It! I smiled to myself. Back away from the computer. Get a grip on yourself and come back to it at a different angle. Indeed, a break and new attitude was all that was missing and soon I was able to see that my wireless was not connected. These are basic objections in my life today that remind me there are many reasons things don’t go my way, some I have control over, some I don’t. But when I’m forcing a solution, I learn to catch myself before I’m all bent out of shape!

The Winds of Change – Life lessons from a difficult journey

I was once asked by a friend, ‘What has changed with you since going through this experience with your daughters struggle with addiction?’ It is an interesting question because I can reel off quite of few quick thoughts, but as I think deeper about the question – it quiets me to reflect on the monumental overhaul that has taken place with me, my daughter, my family and even acquaintances in some ways. I have been humbled by this journey. I have learned so much about judgment and how incredibly unfair it is. When I hear of a situation that I may have judged in the past, I think different thoughts…I think about what the person may be going through or how hard it is or how I wish I could help in some way. I have also learned about compassion in the face of hurt and betrayal.
A person struggling with addiction does not want to steal, cheat and hurt the very ones that love them so dearly. They have a disease that robs their brain of logical thinking while active in the addiction, with the only cure to abstain and let the brain heal – this takes time, but it is possible. I’ve learned so many things that have changed me. I am grateful for the little things that happen in my daily life. I’m grateful when the day ends and my family is safe and healthy, I don’t fret about insignificant occurrences that I might have in the past – they simply aren’t important. But of all the things I have learned, the ones I treasure the most are to love unconditionally – I may not like some things that happen, but I still love the people in my life regardless. And to be grateful for all things big or small that happen in my life – I know the darkness that can descend and I choose to be grateful now for each moment of light.

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

What makes you truly happy?

Denial is the antithesis of knowledge and acceptance

Mental Illness and AddictionSCENARIO: You have received bad news again, either from your son or daughter directly, their employer, landlord, friend, relative, fill-in-the-blanks. This time the emotional roller-coaster is curving through the anger turn. You think, “This is the 6th, 7th, 12th, 100th or another LAST time!” In yet another opportunity to drill into them the PROBLEMS they are creating for themselves, maybe this time you blast them with righteous indignation about the problems they are causing YOU.

ME: “I don’t understand why you do it!”                THEM: “I don’t know why I do it!”

Who’s right? Both! “I just don’t understand why” was often said from my mouth. Yet my actions for many years did not indicate any desire to try and learn about it. Moreover, I did not hear myself when I said the words: I don’t understand – I was preoccupied with WHY. Yet it armed me with ammunition: I don’t understand, therefore I will fight-fight-fight.

In recovery I have learned that understanding is mental action of study which is sometimes measured through aptitude tests and scoring. Acceptance is a spiritual action of study with notable behavioral changes in attitude: serenity, kindness, gratitude and love. The further along I get in my own recovery, the less important “why” becomes. Knowledge has provided me with information – it was the resistance to this information that kept me in denial. Denial is the antithesis of knowledge and acceptance. And the battle of the non-Al-Anon vs. Alcoholic/Addict continues on or maybe, this time, something changes…

 

Busting the myth that “All young people experiment with drugs”

Jon DailyJon Daly of Recovery Happens Counseling Center disputes the myth that All  adolescents & young adults ”experiment” with  drugs. Here is the reality, according to Jon:  Statistics show that the rate of drug use remains at a very high  level for young people (1).  Part of the  myth of “experimentation” is that drug use is a naturally occurring “rite  of passage” from adolescence in to adulthood. However, not every young person  has tried or will try drugs. In addition, not all will pass through their drug  use without experiencing negative consequences from their use.   Drug use is risky and unhealthy  behavior.  In today’s society even  “experimentation” can lead to car accidents, driving while under the influence,  unplanned sexual activity, date rape, and sometimes death.  Moreover, the word “experimentation” can be  misleading.  When we get calls from  parents seeking counseling for their adolescent or young adult child, we often  hear the words, “I think my son is experimenting with drugs.”  When asked how long the parent has been aware  of the drug use, the reply can be anywhere from weeks to years.  The parent’s response implies that “experimentation”  is a phase, when “experimentation”  is not a phase at all.  In fact, it is a “one-time  event. ” (2) Once intoxication  has been experienced, the experiment is over.  The user has achieved the results of the  experiment, “I like this feeling,” or ” I don’t like this  feeling.”  Subsequent intoxication  indicates misuse, abuse or addiction.

When  helping young people with substance use disorders, at the end of the day what  we are assess and treating is a “pathological relationship to  intoxication.”  The name of the drug  they are using is an illusion .  They  need to know they are not hooked on weed, they are hooked on intoxication and  therefore must see all intoxicating substances as the same. Take away weed from  the pot smoker and they drink and/or take pills.  Take away Oxycontin for the opiate user and  they use benzodiazepines and marijuana.   This is because they were not hooked on the particular drug, they were  hooked on “intoxication.”   The  focus of treatment for young people is to severe their pathological  relationship to intoxication so as to open up their capacity to have regulating  relationships with their counselor, support groups, rebuilt family  relationships and healthy peer groups.   Such social supports promote dopamine(3), and endogenous opiates (4)  which the user has been chasing on the streets, but can be created in health  relationships as they were intended to.   Helping them and the family to understand this and supporting their  growth in this way is the core of treatment after we have helped them to become  drug-free

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

There’s a saying that has been very helpful along my journey through my daughters struggle with addiction – ‘Say what you mean, mean what you say but don’t say it mean’. Many times the first part ‘say what you mean’ is the easiest. I can often express what I mean to say, even in the heat of the moment when I’m upset or stressed. The second part ‘mean what you say’ is where the challenge starts for me. I’ll give an example. Early in the journey when my daughter was active in her addiction she had gotten out of rehabilitation and was going into a sober living house. I said what I meant, ‘You need to have a plan if you relapse and use drugs/alcohol again because coming home is not an option’. I truly meant this and I knew it was what was best for her. ‘Mean what you say’ is where you hold your loved one accountable to the consequences of their actions. Those consequences are among the very things that can help someone struggling with addiction to seek recovery.
I remember at one point early in my daughter’s journey while she was living in a sober living house that she called me late one night. She said, “I got kicked out, I messed up, I need to come home, I have nowhere to go…’. Short of getting a call that your loved one has been hurt or worse, this was the call we parents dread when we have said coming home is not an option. This happened quite a few years ago and I have learned so much since then about how the most loving thing you can do is stick to what you said. Late that night I couldn’t bear the thought of where my daughter would go or what might happen to her and I let her come home. Five days later she drove her car while seriously intoxicated and crashed into a tree. By the grace of God, she survived. I had been gently coached by a parent who had been through this when I told him that I let her come home. He said, “Your very actions to rescue your daughter from the consequence of her action may very well kill her one day”. While this seemed harsh at the time – it was 2 days before the accident. His words haunted me, he was so right. I did not hold her accountable due to my fears. I became very resolved from that moment on to ‘Say what I mean, mean what I say and don’t say it mean’ and it has made all the difference in our respective recoveries.

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Do you appreciate the transformation in your life?

Forewarned is forearmed: little-known causes of relapse

5820 Chestnut Ave Orangevale-small-003-21-003-666x444-72dpiThis is a guest post from John Perry, a co-founder of Clean & Sober Recovery Services located near Sacramento, California.

It’s an indescribable relief when a loved one enters treatment where they can gain the skills and tools of recovery. And while we know that treatment offers the choice of life free from drugs or alcohol, it’s important to understand that addiction is a chronic, lifetime disease that doesn’t simply go away. For example, here are some little-known vulnerabilities that persist after treatment:

Sometimes people think, “Pills were my problem, but I can still have a glass of wine.” It doesn’t work that way: Substance use disorder is a brain disease, and people who have become dependent upon alcohol or other drugs cannot take any mood-or mind-altering substances.

A relapse can be triggered by substances that aren’t even on the radar screen. The hidden wine in the fish sauce can set the wheels of relapse in motion, even though the person in recovery didn’t want it or even notice it.

It’s essential to be vigilant during and after medical treatment. For example, the anti-inflammatory medication Tramadol is not universally known as a danger to those in recovery. Tramadol is in a class of medications called opiate agonists, and only a few states classify it as a narcotic. Still, it is often dispensed in ERs and it can trigger a relapse.

You and your dentist might not notice that the mouthwash used routinely in the dentist’s office contains alcohol. Double-check the ingredients in mouthwash and all over-the-counter meds, and make sure your medical and dental charts are marked to indicate that you can’t have alcohol or other addictive medications.

We’ve designed our treatment program to help our residents understand and avoid relapse so they can join 23 million Americans in long-term recovery. Here’s to their health – and yours.

John Perry, Co-Founder, Clean & Sober Recovery Services, Inc.

Stop talking and start mending things with your addicted child

Photo of teen girl talking to woman.One way I have learned to improve my relationships with my adult children whose issues with substance abuse bothered me is to remember to keep my big mouth shut…tight!  My friend says “I have the right to remain silent; I just don’t have the ability to!” Finally, I’m given a reason for my behavior – I’m powerless over the desire to comment!  A symptom of co-dependency, it perpetuates my unhappiness with the outcomes.  Even though I’m aware of the negative consequences, I forget the tools that help me behave differently. Slowly, I remember those tools before my tongue takes over and my ability to communicate with maturity improves.

I use to override or completely miss the signs that the other person doesn’t want to engage or is put off by something I have said. I tend to do this uncensored with the ones closest to me. For example, I want to offer advice that wasn’t requested from me or offer a better solution to something they share. Their reaction is silence, withdrawn or irritated outburst. Outbursts are unpleasant, but silence seems worse! The sound of silence triggers my need to break it with a question. Questions can be aggressive. Usually, I ask prying questions under the guise of being loving or interested. A question can put people on the defensive and coupled with substance abuse, there is also an open invitation for lying. Questions can also be perceived as prying and nosey. That is not the kind of mother I want to be and if I had continued without change, I would have pushed others further away from me – the exact opposite of what I desire!

Understanding my role in the family disease has helped me appreciate the significance of the slogan W.A.I.T.    This is an acronym I picked up in Al-Anon which stands for “why am I talking?” A good reminder to keep my urge to say something in check.  Another problem with questions is I’m usually not prepared for the answer! I’ve grabbed onto the saying, “Don’t ask if you don’t want to know!” Learning to listen and accept the situation, without comment, gets easier the more I practice. I have come to realize that silence is not unpleasant but rather a time I can compose myself to breathe, invite my Higher Power in, and be mindful of my own character defects.

To learn more about communicating successfully with your loved ones, explore Parent Pathway’s Meeting in a Box: Communication