ParentPathway is honored to share this information from parent Chris Fiore. The lack of insurance coverage for the disease of addiction can be deadly, and it impacts anyone who has tried to get medical help for a chemically-dependent loved one.
My 24-year-old son, Anthony, died May 31, 2014, following a six year battle with opioid and heroin addiction that included three unsuccessful short term treatment programs, each lasting less than 30 days, which was all that insurance would pay for.
For most people, this is simply not enough time to recover from the assault addictive drugs make on the body and to restore the life skills that keep a person from relapsing.
Research tells us that effective inpatient treatment leads to long term sobriety and fewer relapses. Ninety (90) day residential drug rehab is suggested as the minimum length of time for effective treatment. Anecdotal evidence gathered from post discharge patient interviews suggests that long-term treatment at a drug rehab facility can decrease the risk of drug addiction relapse by up to 73%. That can mean the difference between addiction and recovery—or even life and death.
The Anthony’s Act petition at MoveOn.org will tell your U.S. Senators and representatives:
The Affordable Care Act must be amended to provide for a minimum of Ninety (90) days inpatient drug or alcohol treatment up to a maximum of One Hundred Eighty (180) days per year at a facility certified to provide such care by the Secretary of Health of the state in which it is located.
Please sign the petition now, share it on your wall, and help create visibility for the need to provide humane and effective treatment to those who are chemically dependent, which is a chronic brain disease that rarely responds to a short stint in rehab.
‘No news is good news’ – an age old saying that we often hear. In terms of a loved one with addiction it is a mixed feeling you get when you don’t hear from them as often as you think you should. These are rampant expectations that swirl through my head. Hmmm…I haven’t heard from my daughter in a couple days, what does that mean? Of course my mind plays lots of games with the answer to that question. Even though my daughter has been in recovery quite a while now, I realize my recovery from the trauma of having a loved in such a treacherous situation for an extended period of time holds residual effects for me. In the heat of the addiction, when I didn’t hear from my daughter for days, it ALWAYS meant something bad. I would fret and pace and do all kinds of crazy things to try to figure out what was going on.
Now as we have reached a place of normalcy in our lives, we have a healthy flow of communication. So, when time goes by that is not in our regular cadence it startles me how quickly I let myself begin the wondering and second guessing. Should I casually call her work and see if she’s there and okay? What if something happened to her? How would I know? And although these thoughts come to me, I am very aware of how they don’t belong and I remember the ‘no news is good news’ saying. If something was wrong she would call me! What is so humorous is that when she does call or I call her and finally get ahold of her it is always met with ‘I’ve been working long hours and it’s exhausting!’ or ‘I got together with friends and we had a great time!’. It is a constant reminder to me to enjoy the moments of my life and not let the unnecessary worry, that robs me of my real time joy, control me.
Many times it seems that I look at the situation at hand and want more progress or have high expectations. Today I was discussing this journey that I have been on with some friends. I was relaying the trials and tribulations that occurred over the past 4 years. Later I began to think about how bad it had become when my daughter was in the depths of her addiction. I thought about how many times I almost lost her from various harmful situations she had been in. I thought about how she became someone I didn’t recognize and I was so desperate to have my daughter back. It made me realize that even though there is still growth and responsibilities to take on, so much progress has taken place. I had to pause and take stock of all the blessings that have occurred through this journey.
There are many blessings but the one that is the most prevalent for me is the fact that traveling this journey with my daughter has led me to experience tremendous growth myself. When I was desperate to help my daughter I was led to discover that the best thing I could personally do for her was to get help myself. I realized that the most loving thing I could do was to become knowledgeable about addiction and what I could do to stop enabling her. Learning that I did not and could not control everything taught me how to let go and be free of the stress that consumed me. This has been one of the blessings and today I took the time to reflect on this and be grateful for these discoveries.
One of the characteristic of addictive behavior is a lack in patience to wait for want you want. This is also characteristic of many people, but it is particularly prevalent when someone has the disease of addiction. It makes sense that when someone is struggling with drug addiction and they are coming down from the drugs that they have an ‘instant’ urgency to fill the void with the next fix. What can happen is that this also transcends to all aspects of the addicts interaction. Even as recovery from the addiction comes into play, the desire to instantly satisfy a craving or desire is a challenge.
As a person who struggles with co-dependency, I know that I play a part in this behavior. Early in my daughters addiction I didn’t understand that many times the urgency of something was not realistic or warranted. I would be convinced that the upgraded cell phone was absolutely essential to getting a job or the gas money was not enough because, because, because,…the list goes on. And while now it seems so obvious to me, at the beginning of the journey I wanted to believe my loved one. As recovery grows and sets in, I see these behaviors dissipate. Partly due to the upgraded conversation we have when a need is expressed. I know to not take on the issues or problems that are not mine and to let her know that she’s capable to fix them and I’m willing to give advice. It might sound like sound parenting to a young adult transitioning into a responsible member of society, and it is, but it can be a challenge to break old patterns and create new healthy boundaries moving forward.
I say “April 20.” Kids say “420.” And Jon Daily, Founder of Recovery Happens, says that say April 20 is a problem. “April 20 means a time to get high,” Daily said. “For chemically dependent kids, 420 happens every day. Parents and teachers have been in the dark. Kids aren’t going to go to school that day. They’re going to go get high.”
Seeking housing for my son on Craig’s List was a parent’s worst nightmare when “420-friendly” showed up on many of the listings. He was in early recovery. How was he supposed to pursue a life of sobriety when his roommates were smoking pot? That brings up a larger issue: how can we tell our kids that pot is bad when in fact it is legal in a growing number of states?
Marijuana is different today than when most parents gave it a whirl in the 70s or 80s. Drugfree.org reports that “Marijuana increases the risk of chronic cough, bronchitis, increases risk of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals. May increase risk of anxiety, depression and a series of attitude and personality changes, known as “amotivational syndrome.” This syndrome is characterized by a diminished ability to carry out long-term plans, a sense of apathy, decreased attention to appearance and behavior, and decreased ability to concentrate for long periods of time. These changes can also include poor performance in school. Marijuana, just like any other drug, can lead to addiction. It affects the brain’s reward system in the same way as all other drugs of addiction – and the likelihood of addiction increases considerably for those who start young.”
Knowledge is power – seize it. If you child says, “It’s just pot,” well, you know different. Be vigilant about April 20 and every day.
This is an “encore” post from Eliza
As our beloved addicts decline, so do we, hell bent on parallel paths of destruction. My son was physically depleted/I was physically exhausted. He had legal problems/I had legal problems (his—which I made mine.). He was addicted/I was addicted to his addiction. It was overwhelming to survey the landscape of destruction that my home and life had become in the wake of Hurricane Addiction.
Just as we work on the twelve steps one at a time, just as we tackle each day—and sometimes each minute—one at a time, we pick up the pieces and move ahead one inch at a time. Baby steps are the order of the day.
Where to begin the repair work? I was very sick myself—heartsick, and physically depleted by the sleepless nights and the days of incessant worry. My baby steps took many shapes and forms, but across the board, felt like huge leaps. Sometimes I could hardly bring myself to turning off my phone in case he called, or in case someone else called about him. It took a lot of practice to think of myself instead of obsessing about my child; in fact, when people asked me about me, I often told them about him. I was consumed with locating him—where was he? What was he doing?
I had to learn to tell my brain “STOP” to turn it off. I worked with a great therapist to understand the role my childhood played in my response to my child’s dangerous choices. It took me a year to learn how to say No with conviction. No with a period; No meaning “End of sentence, end of discussion.” No meaning “No more.”
I had a lot of good role models, other mothers who showed me how to be strong and stay the course. As they say, practice makes perfect, and I am still practicing. What words of wisdom do you other parents have to share about taking those baby steps? What baby steps have helped you get recover from your child’s chemical dependency?
Forewarned is forearmed. Get ready for your beloved addict or alcoholic to tell you why they can’t stay in rehab:
- “The rehab just wants your money.”
- “I’ve got my drinking/drug use under control now.”
- “Everyone here is worse off than me.”
- “We don’t do anything worthwhile here.”
- “I’m all better now” or “I can get better on my own.”
- “I know better now and have figured things out.”
- “The counselors are mean and have stupid rules.”
- “The food is bad here.”
- “I don’t like going to the meetings.”
- “I need to get back to work and stop wasting my time here.”
So how can you respond? Here are some options:
- Just say “Oh” or “Hmmm” or “Let me think about that.”
- “That sounds like something you could discuss with your counselor”
- “We support your recovery here, and if you choose to leave rehab, you’ll have to find somewhere else to live.”
- “This is the right place for you to get healthy.”
- “I love you, and I know you can do this.”