Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

The New Normal
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Monday, May 28, 2007

I want my family to be back to normal. I want my daughter to stay in recovery and have a normal life. I hear the same thoughts echoed by other parents. The problem is that getting back to normal is not the same as getting into recovery and recovery leads us to a “new normal” that is not built on the dreams of our past but exists in the realities of our present.

I am reading 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. The short version is that he is in a horrific auto accident, dies, goes to heaven, returns to earth and takes several years to recover. In chapter 14 he writes:

“Human nature has a tendency to try to reconstruct old ways and pick up where we left off. If we’re wise, we won’t continue to go back to the way things were (we can’t anyway). We must instead forget the old standard and accept a new normal.”

In Piper’s case he was talking about all the physical things he could no longer do. My experiences in living through the addiction/recovery process with a then adolescent and now young woman have brought me to the same place, an understanding of a “new normal” and making healthy plans to deal with it instead of focusing on returning to that old, romanticized normal.

For the last couple of years a lot of my thinking has been around getting the problem fixed, keeping her under control, stopping destructive behaviors. At this point she has been through several rehabs and placements and is living in a half way house. There really is no more coming home from rehab, dance team, sleep-overs, new jobs, boy friends or proms. There is a major focus on her part to control her own demons. I can help from time to time and provide some monetary and emotional support but besides that, there is not a lot I can do. Powerless.

She is taking a different path through life (though probably not intentionally) and because I have chosen to walk beside her it is now our new normal. And somehow describing it that way helps. It brings acceptance. Not a child to be disciplined but an adult that needs help. Not someone to control but someone to support.

Somehow I have it confused that my daughter’s addiction is about me when really it is about her. Talking with people in recovery always has an emotional impact on me. Hearing a friend of hers talk about everything she lost in one breath and plans for a new job in the next is an amazing testimony to the human spirit. And then I get it. It is the same for my daughter.

Watching my daughter deal with all of this at 19 is so different than at 16. Once they are out of the house the game changes - instead of trying to get them back home and keep them safe (in some ways trying to regain that lost “normal”) you start to, yet again, understand the reality of all of this and accept your role in the new normal.

This change in perspective for me didn’t happen overnight, it is an ongoing process. I am changing my actions of doing things for her to words of advice, “I used to do this for you, now you will have to….” . Each day I make the decision to walk besides her all over again. That’s because each day, all my instincts tell me that I need to fix her problems for her but I’ve learned that I can’t do that. That train is gone and there’s another one coming down the track. If I worry too much about the one that left, I’m not going to be ready to board the new one.

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Letter to teen at Abraxas I
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, May 21, 2007

My Dearest Son,

Let me start this letter my saying how much I love you. By our visit last week, you are obviously angry with me. But please believe that no matter what, I will love you more than you can understand. You are my son and a major part of my life and my very being. I will do anything to help you, to get the rehab that you need, counseling that you need, any help that you need to stay off drugs and start your life anew.

You can be anything that you want. You are very talented and intelligent and I refuse to believe that God gave you all these gifts to waste on a life of drug abuse. You deserve a better life than such a life of drug abuse. And you deserve a long life. Not one cut short because of drugs. If you stayed on the path in February / March, you would be dead soon if not already. And there is no easy way out of your problems. There is no quick fix. So, take one step at a time and work through your issues. I know you have had some setbacks lately, but work through them.

I love you dearly and pray daily that you will be able to give up the drugs and continue to grow and develop into the man that you were meant to be.

It seems that you don’t understand the Abraxas program and it appears that you are trying to equate it to other drug rehab facilities that you have been in. However, places like Gateway and Ridgeview do not deal with the behavioral issues that long-term drug use causes. Abraxas does. One of your issues is that you have been deep into drugs for a long time. Sally at Gateway told us that once a teenager starts using drugs, emotional and maturity development stops. Also, extended drug use distorts people’s perception of reality and their sense of right and wrong. It also leads to anti-social behavior.

You started using drugs as a young teenager, and continued to use drugs through some critical years. This has affected your emotional and maturity development, distorted your perceptions, and distorted your sense of right and wrong. You have exhibited anti-social behavior and your defiance has become self-destructive. This process has continued through all of your teenage years and it has had a profound effect upon you. This is what Abraxas is doing for you: stopping the patterns of behavior that you have developed and getting you back on track to proper development. This needs to happen before anything else is effective, including drug rehab at places like Gateway.

I know you disagree with this and do not believe you fall into this category. You have mentioned that Abraxas is for teenagers with behavior issues, and that is not you. That all you have is a drug problem. However, your drug problem has continued long enough that behavior and perception issues have developed. I agree with you that you are not in the same category as most others there and some of those have severe behavior issues. . However, that doesn’t change the fact that you need to readjust your behavior, your perceptions, and get your development back on track. You need to develop your social skills and your coping skills. You need to understand your defiance and learn to control it. You need to stop your self-destructive behavior. You need to learn how to cope when things are not going well. You need to learn how to control your temper. You need to learn how to not feel out of control, be able to calm yourself and deal with your problems. And you need to learn how to do this without drugs. You need to develop whatever skills necessary to cope with life and move on with your life in a productive fashion. And you need to learn how to do this without drugs.

Part of this process is facing the behavior that you have exhibited and the things you have done. You need to deal with them, understand them so that you do not repeat them, and change those behavior patterns forever. You also need to get past the issues and guilt that you have because you have done these things. You need to work through these things and forgive yourself. You must do this in order to get past it and not repeat any of these actions, including drug use. You must come to terms with your past and take the time to forgive yourself. We all have forgiven and forgotten, and we just want you back, drug free and strong. We have all forgiven and we want you back, drug free and happy.

This is what Abraxas can do for you. It is behavior modification. It is undoing the effect the drug use has had on your development. It is stopping your anti-social behavior, teaching you how to deal with your defiance, and teaching you coping skills. It is readjusting your perceptions, and adjusting your sense of right and wrong. It is giving you life-management skills.

For example, you must stop excusing away your behavior because it is related to your drug habit. Your sister told me that you think your drug-using ‘friend’ received a light sentence because his forgery is related to supporting his drug habit. That is wrong. He received a light sentence because it was his first offense. I know that to be true, because I was there in the courtroom when his sentence was given and I talked to the Assistant DA about his sentence. If he appears in court a second time, his sentence will be much different, and if he appears a third time, his sentence will be severe. It will not matter that it was all for supporting a drug habit. The courts do not excuse away crimes because they were committed to support a drug habit. I hope you do not need to learn that lesson the hard way.

We have tried to help you with your drug use and provided a different array of professionals to counsel you. I have protected you from your mistakes relating to your drug use under the pretence that you would take the advice of these professionals. However, I was wrong. I was wrong to protect you from the consequences of your drug use. I know you do not believe that I protected you from anything. However, I stopped the High School from expelling you. I stopped the police from arresting you for Shoplifting and, hence, you avoided a sentence in Shuman. Your Father and I intervened when the police wanted to send you to Presley Ridge for several months over your drunken disorderly at Eat’N Park. I kept thinking that if you had the drug rehab, the counseling from professionals, that you would ‘see the light,’ the ‘error of your ways,’ but I was wrong.

I do think that you tried to leave the drugs behind, but you always returned to your destructive behavior and your drug abuse. The help that you were getting was not enough. There is no easy way out of this and it will take time. I hope that you use your treatment time wisely:

* You need to learn how to take advice from people.

* You need to drop your defiant self-destructive ways.

* You need to take the time to understand the reason why you used drugs in the first place. Then, you need to change that part of yourself. Perhaps your thrill-seeking need drove you to life on the edge and that drove you to drug abuse. You must control that part of your personality. You must learn why you started drugs and why you continue to relapse and change that behavior.

* You must reverse the damage that extended drug use has done to you in terms of your personality development, perception of reality, and your maturity development. You must take the time to regain the things that you have lost and get yourself back on track.

* And you may not believe this either, but your behavior changes when you are relapsing and probably just before you relapse, i.e., you start the destructive behavior patterns, the dissociation with reality, the irresponsible behavior, and the defiance. That is what must stop and Abraxas can help you.

We are with you every step of the way. We will be there for you! We will provide whatever is necessary to get whatever help you need; to send you to the schools that you want to attend, to help you get the education that you need, to continue to provide for you, to help you get you established and back on track.

You too must step up and accept responsibility for yourself. We will continue to provide for you, and those things that you want that are above and beyond, you will work for and provide for yourself. You must appreciate what it means to work for something that you want, as opposed to having it handed over to you. You must step up and assume responsibility for yourself.

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest mistake we made was protecting you from the consequences of your behavior, and we will no longer do that. We will help you with what ever you need to better yourself, to stay off drugs, to build a constructive life for yourself. However, we will allow you to deal with your mistakes of drug use. We will be there with you, but you must deal with them and accept the consequences.

You also need to recognize when you need help before the consequences hit. You need to ask for help if you feel yourself slipping, and not wait until you are in trouble. You need to start thinking things through and stopping yourself when your actions do not have a good ending. You need to think about what you are doing, understand the impact, and stop your behavior if there is a chance for negative consequences. You need to start thinking things through.

We will get you all the help that you need. We will go anywhere and spend anything to get you all the help you need. However, if you insist on drug abuse and if you refuse any help, I will do what I need to do to stop you. I will do whatever I need to do to avoid that day that I am called to the morgue to identify your body. You cannot comprehend how painful it is for your family to know that you can engage in Russian Roulette with your life; that you would choose this destructive drug-addicted life over anything else; that you would choose Heroin over anyone else. So please don’t any more.

Well, I will close now. I have been working on this letter for a few weeks, which is why I haven’t written for awhile. We will be back up on September 18th. Always remember how much we love you and how proud we are of you for the progress that you are making.

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Myths About Drug Use by Tim McDowell
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, May 18, 2007

Tim McDowell is a Student Assistance Coordinator and Licensed Social Worker at North Hills High School. He has written this brutal eye-opener about misconceptions that people have about teenagers and drug abuse. The assumptions that we hold about drug use have EVERYTHING to do with the actions that we take to address this life threatening disease of addiction in our teens.

Ø You can change adolescence with a talk. Wrong- No cure for adolescence, no magic talk will change adolescents from being curious, or invincible risk takers. You had better appeal to something else.

Ø Kids use drugs because they don’t know that they are dangerous and illegal. Wrong - Kids know, but don’t care. They think they’re invincible and will never get caught.

Ø You can scare kids into not using drugs. Wrong – Kids are invincible and “IT NEVER HAPPENS TO THEM”, always someone else. They “know” they will be smarter and not let it happen.

Ø Some counseling is better than nothing. Wrong - You don’t put a band-aid on a broken arm. It may pacify your conscience, but its not helping your kid.

Ø You can shame kids into not using drugs. Wrong - Drug use brings on enough shame. There’s already a perceived inability to overcome this. They need professional help and support.

Ø You can control your teen’s drug use. Wrong – You have zero control over your child’s drug use, but you have complete control over what you will accept or not. Draw a line in the sand. If you’re walking on egg-shells, You’ve already lost control. Let the professionals help you get it back.

Ø You should handle your family’s drug use discreetly. Wrong - Shout it from the rooftops. Take advantage of every possible resource or professional available. Have the entire community keeping an eye on your kid. If you are clear that no shame is deserved, you aren’t embarrassed to speak up.

Ø You can make your kid want to get clean. Wrong - They have to be uncomfortable and hurting enough to want something different. That’s where you come in.

Ø When things get bad, we’ll get him into a treatment program. Wrong – Treatment may not be an option. Insurance companies may say “not bad enough” or can be put on 3-month waiting list.

Questions – You can email Tim McDowell at mcdowellt@nhsd.k12.pa.us or call him at 412.318.1422

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Parent Group 5-12-07 Wexford. Role-play"Why can't I smoke cigarettes?"
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, May 13, 2007

On 5-12-07, PSST was attended by seven parents and one younger guest family member. None of the parents wanted to role-play. Every one's teen seemed to be pretty stabilized this week and people wanted to "stay under the radar." Just when I thought the whole role-play thing was dead, the guest bravely stepped up to the plate. She is the sister of a teen but at PSST she played a Mom. Boy, she hit a home run. Then, others wanted to be involved. It was a fun one after all.

The thing about the cigarette issue is that it is very controversial to even try to stop your teen addict from smoking cigarettes. "Don't even worry about it," many people say. "Would you rather have your teenager smoking Crack or smoking cigarettes?" And one parent shared that his doctor has told him that the next generation of ADD drugs will be nicotine-based so don't worry about it. Teens are simply self-medicating.

Another factor that people point out is that it is very difficult to enforce a no smoking rule. For example, Gregory Bodenhamer, author of BACK IN CONTROL and PARENT IN CONTROL, states repeatedly that if you have a rule- enforce it. If you can't or will not enforce a rule- don't have it.

A third consideration that some people espouse is this: "they have given up everything else- don't take smoking away from them too."

The fourth argument is that recovering people seem to smoke heavily. Therefore, all addicts will be exposed to smoking in or outside of 12-step meetings. Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect them to not smoke when they are exposed to so many smokers on a regular basis. Also, after-meeting activities, such as eating at Eat N Park will also expose the recovering addict to cigarette smokers.

However, there are people that see things differently. For one thing, if your child is not 18 years of age, it is not legal for him to smoke or use other tobacco products. Are parents supposed to buy them for their underage teenagers too? And if so, does that send the teenager a poor message?

A second thing of course is that smoking cigarettes is also dangerous and can kill you. Albeit, much slower than most drugs, but still it is a life-threatening habit.

A third argument for not allowing your teenager to smoke is that his self-image is tied up with the smoking cigarettes, the abusing drugs, and breaking the law. It is important that the teenager begins to see himself differently, i.e., as a law-abiding, nonsmoking, and drug free person. They believe that this not smoking can help the teenager to begin to see himself in a more positive light.

I think that this issue is also stated powerfully by Bodnehamer in PARENT IN CONTROL.

"Q: I don't really want my teenage daughter to smoke, but of all the things parents have to watch out for, smoking seems like a minor vice. Shouldn't I prioritize the rules I want her to obey and concentrate on enforcing the most important ones?

"A: Yes, you should prioritize the enforcement of your rules. But stopping your daughter from smoking should be high on the list of prohibitions, not just because smoking is unhealthy but also because it is a gateway behavior associated with serious drug and alcohol abuse, early sexual activity, truancy, and dropping out of school. Smoking also serves as an identity badge for high-risk kids to identify one another. Even if your daughter isn't misbehaving, many high-risk kids will be drawn to her because she smokes. And the more she associates with poorly supervised children, the greater the risk that she will be socialized into joining their destructive and dangerous behavior."

We can see the different sides of this issue. It has do do with the age of the teenager, the values of the parents, and the whether or not the parent has the willingness and the ability to enforce a non-smoking rule. If possible, it is a very good idea to stop your teenager from smoking. The following role-play demonstrates an approach to enforce a no smoking rule. Nothing should be implied that parents who allow older recovering teenagers to smoke tobacco are wrong. Each parent must choose the approach that is right for them in their circumstances for their teenager.
The following role-play is inspired by the several that we did in group. This approach tries to demonstrate how parents can choose to make a rule about not smoking, and then weed though the manipulations of the teen and enforce the nonsmoking rule.

Son: Dad, I heard that when I get out of rehab, you are not going to allow me to smoke.

Dad: That's right Son.

Son: Well, gee Dad, when we're you going to tell me this? I'm supposed to get out of here in a four to six weeks! We're you going to wait until I was home?

Dad: Good point Son. I wasn't sure when the right time was to talk about these rule changes. I think you are right. We should talk about them now. [Moving chair up closer- strong eye contact.] Let's talk about all the rules or just about the no smoking one if you like.

Son: That's bull shyt Dad! You and Mom said when I turned 17, it was up to me. Well, I'm still 17! You can't change that rule! Everyone at NA smokes! What, am i supposed to be the only one in NA that doesn't smoke? My sponsor said we have lost enough. He smokes cigarettes and says that it's the only vice he has left! Some people in NA think smoking cigarettes can even help you stay clean! You said that you would do ANYTHING to help me stay clean! Guess you were just full of shyt huh?

Dad: Son, is it necessary to speak that way at me and swear?

Son: I'm pissed off Dad! You really snuck this one in on me! This was never part of the deal when I went to rehab! I'm supposed to kick drugs in here. No body said anything about cigarettes!

Dad: Nevertheless, it is hard for me to discuss things with you when you when you raise your voice and swear. [Moves up chair closer but lowers voice to a bit more than a whisper.] It makes it hard for me to hear you.

Son: I don't care. [He says he doesn't care but he lowers his voice to say that.]

Dad: Look Son, I'd love to talk with you about this- but it's unacceptable to speak in that tone of voice and swear like that. Stop it please.

Son: OK [rolling eyes.]

Dad: Here's the deal. You ready? Can we talk now?

Son: Yeah- say it go ahead - say it.

Dad: I've changed my mind about a few things. One of them is smoking. It is a new rule- no smoking tobacco and no use of tobacco. It is unhealthy. Stop it.

Son: But I just told you- everyone does and it will help me stay clean.

Dad: Regardless, don't smoke. You have quit while you are in here- so don't smoke when you come home.

Son: Is this all about control Dad? Is that all this is about? You just want to control me, right? There is no other reason really is ther?

Dad: Look, there ARE other reasons. But there is one thing wrong with all the reasons.

Son: Yeah, they are phony.

Dad: Well, the one thing wrong about them is that you won't be impressed by any of them. In fact, you will believe that they are phony.

Son: No kidding cause they suck!

Dad: Well, yes I'm sure from your point of view they do suck.

Son: Dad, nicotine helps me.

Dad: Nevertheless, Son-I'm not changing my rule.

Son: What else are you changing? Do I get food when I come home or did you take that away too?

Dad: Nice try- I'm glad you haven't lost you sense of humor Son.

Son: You know you can't stop me. And it doesn't violate my probation either. I just have to follow my Probation Officer's rules and he didn't say anything about not smoking.

Dad: Oh I don't know about that.

Son: What you mean?

Dad: Your Conditions of Supervision state "A parent must approve of all activities and plans." Well I don't approve of smoking. I spoke to your PO and he said that it will be a Violation of Probation if I don't approve of it.

Son: Oh sure. [rolls eyes.] You think he is going to jack me up to Shuman (detention center) if I use tobacco! That's a joke Dad!

Dad: Well, we won't be doing that Son.

Son: Then, how you gonna stop me? You can't stop me!

Dad: It's a rule. I will enforce it. I'm not sure this is a good time for you-or for us- to discuss consequences.

Son: Like what? Don't go all "we can't talk about this now," tell me!

Dad: For one thing, you have your Permit to Drive now. If you smoke-no driving.

Son: That's stupid.

Dad: Regardless, that's the deal. Oh, and there's more.

Son: More?

Dad: Yes, you see I won't trust you when you first get out of the rehab. We've talked about how trust will take a while to build. In order to trust you I have to see how your going to do - what your attitude is, you know, after you are released.

Son: So? My attitude it great. I just don't like your "new rules-thing." You act like you are a dictator here- like you're a little king. We live in a democracy Dad! We should vote!

Dad: Your attitude is fine right now. You just heard somethings you didn't like. I mean that if you present a negative attitude at home, try to sneak cigarettes, have a chip on your shoulder about all these "rules," then it will be harder for me to learn to trust you.

Son: You never trusted me. You will never trust me. You don't even love me! It's just your ego Dad, that's all that matters to you! It's just a game of control the drug addict to you! (looking angry.]

Dad: Ouch! Sorry you feel THAT way! Regardless Son, you said you wanted this information, that now was a good time to talk about all this. Well, I think you're right. I don't want to keep you in the dark about all this. I want you to know how things will be.

Son: Well you said there's more? What more? What could be worse than that?

Dad: Well, if I don't see responsible behavior from you, I won't want to grant any privileges you might need. So, if you persist on smoking, I can't really stop you- but it will do no good to complain about the consequences. OK?

Son: Fine! Is this meeting over? Cause I can't stand meeting with you. You really kill me with these rule-changes!

Dad: Sure. I'm done. Do you mind if I just say one last thing?

Son: [groans] you love me- quit throwing that stupid stuff at me. I'm not retarded!

Dad: Oh boy! You know me SO well. [laughs.] Nope THAT is one thing we don't have to worry about! You are definitely not retarded! Thanks for your honesty in this one- good luck with it! [Puts arm around Son's shoulder, Son tries to move away, but he is not fast enough at first, then he pulls away.]

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Lori- Part II- Parent Baggage
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, May 10, 2007

We parents have collected some baggage along the way, some serious baggage. And as our teenager proceeds into a recovery lifestyle as an adult, we must face our baggage. Like our teenager who has proceeded into recovery, we too must recover from our baggage, and let it go.

As parents of drug addicted teenagers, we have been through plenty. There have been numerous ups and downs, which were crushing on both ends. We have made decisions regarding our children that parents should never need to make, coupled with unbearable heartache. And no one understands unless they have been there too, so we certainly are not surrounded by support. In fact, we can’t even discuss these issues with just anyone. We had to seek out some support and be with other parents in the same situation, yet still be cautious over what we discussed with whom. Just finding someone that would understand, let alone provide good advice was difficult. So this has been a rough ride for us.

And it has been a rough ride for our teenager too. They have been in and out the treatment facilities, in and out of juvenile detention facilities, on and off probation, in and out of hospitals, etc., etc., etc.

The ironic thing is, the times that we felt most comfortable were when our kid was locked-up. As my husband and I called it: “When he was in captivity.” What a thing to say about your own child! Let’s face it, it is the only time I knew he was safe, the only time I could really sleep at night without worrying:

“Where is he now?”
“How much heroin is he going to take tonight?”
“What is going to happen tomorrow?”
“Is tonight the night I get the call from the morgue?”
“Maybe I should start calling the morgues.”

The thoughts that have past through us in this extreme stress that we have been enduring for years are just awful! So very awful! And the exhaustion that comes with it all, it is overwhelming. God, I am so tired, so very tired!

We parents have collected some baggage along the way, some serious baggage. And as our teenager proceeds into a recovery lifestyle as an adult, we must face our baggage. Like our teenager who has proceeded into recovery, we too must recover from our baggage, and let it go.

As we proceeded through the years of dealing with our drug addicted teenager, our defenses were up, and we built a history of one disaster after the next. Will we ever stop expecting that next disaster? Will there ever come a time when we can just relax? I don’t know. However, I am learning this. As my son proceeds through all of the treatment that he has received, and begins his new life in drug recovery; as my family begins to rebuild itself with my son, I have trouble letting go of my baggage. When things are going well, I am still expecting the next disaster. Surely, it will come sooner or later. It always has in the past. Why will it be different now?

Well it may be different now. As our teenagers have been learning to deal with their addiction and starting their life in recovery, the disasters have come less often and they are less severe when they do. And they themselves are learning to deal with the disasters. In drug recovery, they have a support system and they are learning how to live there, because they must live there forever! I tell my son now, that it is no longer sufficient that he is clean. He must be clean and be in the recovery lifestyle, because if he isn’t, his relapse is just a matter of time.

So are things so different now? And how do we as parents deal with this uncertainty?

As our child emerges from the drug rehabilitation process, they will be adults responsible for themselves. In order for them to stay in drug recovery, they must assume complete responsibility for themselves. So, we as parents now take a back seat and allow them to function independently within the recovery lifestyle. Not that we won’t be a part of their lives. Not that we won’t see them falter, if they do. Not that we will not take the opportunity to push them in the right direction if they get off track. However, our drug-addicted teenager is now an adult in drug recovery. The uncertainty of what may happen next may never go away. However, it surely diminishes the longer that they are in recovery and the more responsibility they assume.

So how do we free ourselves of this baggage? How can we now deal with this new adult without showing the anxious desperation of the past? How do we stop looking at the moments that we share with our now adult child as a prelude to the next disaster and stop viewing every situation by seeing our glass as half empty? You know ---- he may be doing just fine now, but sooner or later I am going to get the rug of life jerked out from under me one more time. I am going to find myself collapsing from within as I, once again, must make these very difficult choices and confront his drug addiction. Sure as shootin’! --- There will be one more time when my world sinks in on me!

But why can’t we see our glass as half full? He is doing well; has been doing well for a while. Sure he has had some slips, but he recovered by working his support system. His attitude is better than ever. He has plans for a productive future and prepares for that future. We are having good times as a family. He laughs with us, and willingly involves himself in family responsibilities. I have no reason to believe that he is going to search for drugs today; that the birthday money that I give to him now is going to be spent on drugs. I really have no reason today, to believe that. But God knows, it is hard to eradicate this high anxiety state that we all have been in for years. But only God knows what will be tomorrow. We don’t.

I heard a quote the other day, by Joe Farrell. He is a jazz musician and has been since the ‘70’s. He said, “I don’t really care if my glass is half full or half empty. I am just happy to have a glass.” And even though he probably meant this as a joke, I find it very profound. We cannot change the past and we must stop dwelling on it. We cannot let the anxiety and nightmares of our past destroy our future with our child. Our child is in recovery now and doing well. Maybe not perfect, but well and he shows more promise every day. We must shed this excess baggage that we have collected over the years of dealing with our drug-addicted teenager so we can now enjoy our adult child. We must stop looking at our glass as half empty.

However, we shouldn’t be unrealistically optimistic either, because he may slip. So I am not so sure we can look at our glass as half full either. As my husband has said, “Don’t get too low on the lows, but don’t get too high on the highs either.” Don’t expect your child to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. And there is no cure for this disease of drug addition. It is something they must live with forever. And with all diseases, they maybe some set backs. However, if they stay in drug recovery, they can work through their times of weakness and maybe it wont involve a relapse. And we must have some faith that they will do that.

So, let’s stop worrying about our glass being half empty and lets us not be consumed with speculation that our glass could be half full. We must be ready to be happy in order to enjoy the good moments that we now are having with our new adult child. We must be happy just to have a glass.

What can we do now to help our now adult child to stay clean, to stay in the recovery lifestyle? It is hard to accept the fact that there is little left for us to do. Our teenager is an adult now. We must allow him to assume responsibility for his own recovery, even though he may make mistakes. We have done basically all that we can do. However, I think there are still a couple of things that we can still do.

One thing I do is reward my son for living the recovery life style. If there is a spiritual retreat that he wishes to attend, I will pay for that. If he needs a ride to or from college on selected days, we will provide that. If he wants a gym membership, I will give him that. If he wants to do anything that is consistent with recovery, I will try to provide that. However, I keep the rewards to a reasonable level and not to the point that it makes life too easy for him. He must make an effort himself to maintain a positive life style, because that is what makes it worthwhile for him. He must have some ‘skin in the game’. My son has confessed to me that he is afraid of relapsing if life is made too easy for him. He must be responsible for providing for himself in order to stay clean.

I am a major Bon Jovi fan and you can listen to their new soon-to-be-released single on their website. It is called, “(You want to) Make a Memory?” And I think we need to make a few with our recovering drug addicted child. So another thing we can do is to allow these memories to happen. And with our baggage, this needs to be a conscious decision, to let go of those anxieties and enjoy their company. We must give ourselves permission to be happy. The moment is good and there is no need for anxiety at this moment. It is really okay. We are now having some good times together with our son, and I try to stop the desperation of the past from sneaking to the surface and spoiling these moments. I sure hope that these moments are fun for him also, that his family is important to him. I absolutely hope that he is no longer willing to throw his family away for his drug addiction.

I don’t know if my son will ever relapse again. And I do not know what will stop him from doing so. However, I think the happy times that we are now having gives him a reason to hold onto his family. That the times we spend together at the house, on vacation, going to the movies, celebrating birthdays and holidays, etc., will create happy memories for him. And I will not take that from him. I will work through my excess baggage and enjoy the moment. For maybe the memory that we are creating at that moment, maybe the memory that pops in his head if he weakens, and makes him stop, turn around, and come home.

It maybe naïve to think that a simple memory can go toe-to-toe with the force of addiction. But I do not know what else to do. But I do know this. My son enjoys his family now, and we are enjoying him. After the years of dealing with his drug addiction, after years of heartache for everyone, he is once again a member in good standing with the family. And we are having fun. He laughs with his sister, he actually asks advice of his father, he helps his grandmother, and he calls me often, just to talk. He plans family things, such as cookout on the deck, and he does the cooking. He helps with the landscaping of our house, even though he no longer lives with us. He wants to be with his family. And it has been such a long time ... such a very long time … since we all have simply enjoyed each other. Like the prodigal son that has been gone for so long, he has finally come home. And I will not allow my baggage to bubble to the surface and take that away from my family. I will not allow my baggage to take that away from my son; and I will not allow it to take these good moments away from me. Haven’t we all lost enough?

As in the words of Bon Jovi,

“Hello Again, it’s you and me.
Kinda always like it used to be.

How’s your life, it’s been awhile?
God it is good to see you smile.

Do you want to make a memory? “

Of one thing I am sure, these memories that we are creating now, they will give us strength to deal with whatever more his drug addiction may throw at us. And I hope that these memories will do the same for him.

So when my son is visiting and he suggests that we play a round of cards, I drop what I am doing and say, “Sure.” As we are ‘beating the pants’ off his father and sister, I pause to take in the smile that is across his face. And as I pray that we are creating a memory that means something to him, I can feel myself begin to be lifted from the ruins of his drug addiction. So I take a deep breath, let it all go, and allow myself to be happy.

For at that moment ------ I have a glass.

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Eighteen at PSST - The Role-Play: the Moron Manifesto
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Eighteen parents (all time high number) attended our PSST group on 5-5-07. The excellent turn-out created a reunion for several long-time members who do not attend as often as they once did. Much good information about enabling was discussed. Especially, several parents had read and wanted to refer to the post by Lori. It was so nice that she was present and could add more to what she had written.
Some discussion focused on enabling. What is it? What does it look like, etc. On it would seem that everyone can agree with the basic tenet that you should not enable your teenage drug addict. However, the devil is in the details. One parent asserted, and several agreed with her that enabling is giving any help at all to their drug addict if he is not working seriously on his recovery from addiction.

The Role-Play: the Moron Manifesto

We broke at 10:45 as we usually do. We came back in at 11:00 and role-played until 11:30 AM. This role-play is inspired by the ones that we did in group.

Scenario: At the last family visit at the rehab where Son is inpatient, he called his parents Bleeping Morons and exited from the visit. He was only about ten actual minutes into the visit. This role-play takes place at a followup meeting or visit. Now the parents would like to structure for this happening in the future.

Mom: Listen, we want to tell you something that we have been thinking about.

Dad: Yeah, just listen to us for a ten minutes, OK?

Son: No- I'm tired of listening to you two. I don't want to listen to anything you have to say. I'm tired, you're both full of Chit. I'm gonna talk right now and let's see how you guys like listening.

Mom: OK, OK, you talk. Fine. Let me know when you are done talking and then we'll take our turn. Go ahead. Talk.

Son: I need to know how long I'm going to be in here. You guys can't be trusted. If I would have known how long I was going to be in here I would never have agreed to come here in the first place- you know that don't you? [Blah Blah Blah goes on for three or four minutes.]

[In spite of the fact that some of what is said might provoke an argument with the parents, they refuse to take the bait. They just pay attention and nod their heads.]

Mom: [Looking at Dad instead of at Son] You know, I'm not sure that this is a good to tell him what we have decided.

Dad: [Looking at Mom] You might be right honey.

Mom: Well we can cover this with him next time then. At some point he needs to know what we have decided. I don't want to keep him in the dark [still looking at dad.]

Son: [He has quit ranting once they were no longer looking at him. ] What? what are you talking about?

Dad: We're just waiting for you to stop so that we can tell you what we have decided.

Son: What do you mean "decided?"

Mom: We have talked to your Probation Officer and we have made some decisions. Is it our turn?

Son: Yes, already!

Dad: Well Son, we need you to not interrupt us until we are done.

Son: All right, I said! Go ahead!

Mom: We think that these visits are rough on you, really they are rough on everybody. If you get upset during a visit, its OK with us if you walk out and go back to your room.

Son: That's it?

Mom: That's the first part, Yes.

Son: I already know that! I don't need you two to decide that. I can walk out anyway!

Dad: We know you can. We decided that when you do it- it is OK with us. It might be better than sitting here having an argument. You can do it now if feel that you need to.

Mom: In fact, we might do it if we get upset too.

Son: OK, OK OK. [Rolling eyes and making faces] I don't want to walk out now! I'm fine.

Mom: But you understand that it's OK with us if you do need to walk out?

Son: I talked to my therapist about this. She told me that walking out is better than staying and arguing.

Dad: Yeah, and if you need to walk out that's fine. But calling us Bleeping Morons, that is unacceptable.

Son: You just made me mad! You always make me mad! [showing facial signs of being angry with gritted teeth.]

Dad: Well, we've been thinking about the Bleeping Moron part a lot.

Son: If the shoe fits...[Said in a mumble].

Mom: [Parents refuse to take the if the shoe fits bait- they ignore mumbling] We have come up with what we call a Bleeping Moron Manifesto. We did this because we think you are right about one thing. We need to be a little bit smarter.

Dad: Yes, we want to read it to you. It is only 12 things.

Son: [Rolling eyes again.] Is this necessary?

Dad: Reads the following list:

1. We are Bleeping Morons if we ever allow you keep drugs in our house- we will do what we need to do to stop that even if we have to search the house daily or even bring the police and the drug-sniffing dogs into our house.

2. We are Bleeping Morons if we ever keep anything important from your Probation Officer. Secrets keep us sick. We will not keep secrets for you

3. We are Bleeping Morons if we ever try to rescue you from the consequences of your own decisions. You will have a hard time learning from your mistakes if we do that. If you break it- you buy it! And just for an example: if you want a private attorney for the next time you are in Court- start saving now. They are expensive and we don't pay for your attorneys anymore.

4. We are Bleeping Morons if we worry that you might not trust us anymore. You don't need Parents that you can trust- you need parents who will supervise you and hold you accountable. Trust only that we will do everything in our power to help you choose recovery over jails, institutions and death.

5. We are Bleeping Morons if we ever insist that you come home to live after it becomes clear that you can not stay clean and recover at home. We are not saying that it has become clear that you cannot recover at home, but when it does become clear- we will insist that you are placed somewhere where you can get what you need to stay clean. You can not stay in our home and choose to do drugs under any circumstances.

6. We are Bleeping Morons if we allow you to make us mad and we start yelling at you. We know that we can be more effective if we work at holding you accountable and keep our yelling to a minimum. Sometimes we might yell because we are frustrated, but when we catch ourselves doing it we will stop. FDR's goal was to "walk softly and carry a big stick." Our goal is to walk softly and carry different size sticks. Some of our sticks are bigger.

7. We are Bleeping Morons if we ever think that just talking to you is going to make a big difference. We know that you can't always hear us when we speak. We know that we must take an action in order to send you a message and we will not hesitate to sanction or to offer rewards, depending on your behavior.

8. We are Bleeping Morons if we allow you to twist things around so this all becomes our problem. We did not cause you to become a drug addict. We can not cure you from your drug addiction. We can not make you choose recovery. All we can do is do our job as parents by holding you accountable. If you don't like the consequences for your decisions, that is your problem- not ours. You figure it out.

9. We are Bleeping Morons if allow ourselves to argue and debate you. We are powerless to convince you of much of anything anyway. Instead of arguing with you- we will take the appropriate actions and we will not expect you to agree or to approve of the actions that we take. When you hear us use the words, "Nevertheless" and "Regardless" that is your cue that the discussion is closed.

10. We are Bleeping Morons if we continue to see our job as parents to have anything to do with being nice to you. We will offer you praise when you deserve it. We will tell you that we love you even though you may act as if you don't believe that. We will offer you the comfort we think appropriate, but we will not provide you with expensive clothes, sneakers, a car to drive, an alternate dinner when you would rather not eat what we have prepared, a monopoly on the car radio stations, the front car seat, exclusive rights to the TV remote, exclusive rights to the phone, a maid service for your dirty bedroom, a pick-up-your-clothes off the floor service, the right to blast your music though out the house so that we all have to listen to it, or the right of privacy in regards to your space, your phone calls, or your computer activities. We know now that being nice to you in those ways for some reason makes it more difficult for you to grow and mature.

11. We are Bleeping Morons if we ever keep secrets for you from your therapist or from your Probation Officer. We know we said that in number Two but we think we need to say it twice. You may tell us that we are turning in our own flesh and blood to the cops, but nevertheless, you should know that we will not keep your secrets!

12. We are Bleeping Morons if we ever sit here and allow you to call us names or to treat us disrespectfully. From now on we will leave the visit when that happens. And when you return home, we are Morons if we allow you treat us disrespectfully. Remember, if you ever get loud or take a temper tantrum when you are asking us to let you do something- the answer will automatically be "NO."

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What Does Help Look Like by Josie Morgano Community Relations/Assesor for Pyramid Health Care
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Monday, May 07, 2007

The Alliance Against Highly Addictive Drugs held their last general meeting for the year on May 3 and introduced their theme for next year, "What Does Help Look Like?". Pyramid Healthcare sponsored the breakfast (thanks!) and when Josie Morgano ( Community Relations/Assessor M.A., M.S.Ed. 412-352-2772) took the podium I was expecting another overview of treatment figures and drug trends while I finished my eggs. But instead that magical moment happend when Josie got up, spoke from the heart, and challenged everyone in the room when she said..

When I thought about the question ‘What does help look like?’ my automatic response was ‘Well of course help looks like a professional….a counselor, a teacher, a probation officer, a doctor, a crisis worker…you get the point. But that answer seemed wholly insufficient and was viscerally unsettling to me. So I mused longer and here’s where I landed…..

When as professionals we’ve utilized every tool in our proverbial ‘bag of tricks’---therapeutic alliance, motivational interviewing, brief interventions, the stages of change- all with the hope of helping someone make some psychic movement towards positive change and seemingly we’ve gotten no where- what do we do? What does help look like then? Well I think help then looks like a heart, a human connection…. Any relationship expert will tell you that you can either be right or you can be in a relationship. When it comes to intervening in the life of an addict, we know we are right- they need help. But so often we get frustrated and we give up. We allow their resistance and denial to win by disconnecting from them when they put up a fight, when they pull away. We fail to build & maintain a relationship all because we know we are right. So today I want to encourage you to choose the relationship over being right. I don’t mean to minimize the consequences of addiction- I know that it can be deadly and swift interventions are often necessary. However, I believe that when as professionals we’ve done all we know to do with no apparent success, if we just stay connected one human being to another, if we stay engaged in that relationship as best we can- that very relationship can one day provide us with enough leverage to get that person the help that they need.

My final thought on this is in the form of a question. “If not you then who?” If we as perfectly trained professionals can’t, won’t, or don’t do this then who will? In my 14 years in social services I’ve come to believe in the power of one- one person can accomplish a lot with the right attitude, the right heart In so doing one person can impact a future for the better…

I would now like to read an article that depicts this point…

'You the One'
I'd passed the homeless addict with a good wish but nothing more. During a sleepless night, I realized something was wrong.

It was a bitterly cold December midnight in Washington, D.C. I was driving past North Capitol Street and Florida Avenue on my way home. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a figure slumped over on a bench at the bus stop. He was obviously homeless, with a sweater pulled over his head, clothes raggedy--totally out of it.

I said to myself, “What a shame”! and I kept on driving. Soon I was in my warm apartment and in my warm bed ready for sleep. However, something was wrong. No matter how I tried, I could not fall asleep. I tossed and tossed-- one o'clock, two o'clock, two fifteen, two thirty. I got out of bed, put my clothes on, and drove back to North Capitol and Florida.
There he was, still there, in that freezing weather. The closer I got to him, the more overpowering was the stench of his filthy clothes and unclean body.
“Do you want a bed?” I said
“Yeah, you the one?” he responded
I got him in the car and drove back to the apartment. I pulled the rollaway bed out of the closet and gave him some extra blankets because he was still shivering. He was 21 years old and his name was Jamal.
I went in my bedroom and immediately fell asleep. The next morning I called up two of my young friends who were recovering addicts and they spent the entire day with Jamal. His story was only too familiar: drinking and drugging for years and years. We bombarded him with question after question about his family, his upbringing, his education, his work history, his involvement with the law.
Jamal wanted help and we agreed to send him to a drug treatment center in Kentucky.
The following morning as I was driving Jamal to the Baltimore Airport, I could not get rid of a nagging thought in my mind. Something had been left unanswered.
"Jamal, is there something else about yourself that I should know?”
"Well, I guess so, Father. Remember when I said, ‘you the one’?

“Yeah, what was that all about?”
“ Well, just before you came up, I had already made up my mind I was going to commit suicide. God told me to wait because he was sending somebody to me. Well, you the one He sent. You the one."
My adrenaline began flowing rapidly. My heart began pounding wildly. Suppose I had remained lying in that bed? Would Jamal be alive this morning?
Six months later I flew down to that drug treatment center to see how Jamal was progressing. They told me to have a seat and they would have him brought in shortly.
Soon a young man approached me and said, “Hi, it’s good to see you.”
“Hello, I asked for Jamal."
“I’m Jamal."
I was stunned. I did not recognize the full-fledged 100-percent human being standing in front of me. His skin was clear, his hair neatly braided, his eyes sparkling, his smile captivating. Could this truly be that same miserable creature in rags that was on that bench that cold night? Jamal was alive-alive-alive!
My young brothers and sisters, Jamal was talking not just about me. “You the one!” “You the one!”
(By Father George Clements-Reprinted from "A Message for Young Catholics" from the Hope Journal, Summer 2001, with permission of the author.)

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Eight things I wish I had learned sooner about having a child with a drug problem.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, May 02, 2007

This is written by Lori, a long-time member of PSST.

I had a little boy once,
My bundle of joy.
Happy, spirited, affectionate.
He is my life.

1. Do not try to fight the disease of Addiction alone.

How do we deal with all those feelings surrounding being parents of a drug addicted teenager? It sure isn’t easy. Could anything in life be worse? Just the heartbreak alone is overwhelming enough, as you watch your child melt away into something you cannot even recognize. Add onto that the added responsibility of doing what is right by your child, by stepping up into your parental authority, as you never had to before. How do we do that? Well know this, regardless of where you live or how educated you are, how competent you think you are, no matter how good of a parent you are or believe that you are, believe this ---- You are in way over your head! You cannot do this alone. You cannot do this in isolation to the family.

If you try to do it alone, your family may be ripped apart and your child will be lost to drug addiction and he can die. And make do doubt about it, lives are on the line!! And the things that you must do to save your child’s life will go against all the instincts you have as parent; it goes against all prior knowledge you may have or think that you have.

You must learn to deal with this disease called Addiction, and it is a disease, just like cancer, a brain tumor, juvenile diabetes, etc. Would you treat your child for cancer in secret, in isolation, and alone….and expect it to be effective?? Would you refuse medical treatment for your child, and expect him to live through it? Would you? Well, your drug-addicted teenager does have a disease. This disease is Addiction. It physically distorts brain activity and morphs the thought process. It is a disease without a cure, and it can be a fatal.

2. There is effective treatment available and to help the treatment work you have to stop enabling your child.

There is treatment, and that treatment can be successful. We parents are the cornerstones of that treatment. Without us, all other treatment is marginalized. Therefore, we must be there through thick and thin with our children, but we must be there at the right distance doing the right things. One thing is for certain: enabling them is not the right thing. Anything you do that provides anything to them can be enabling. I do mean anything, including food and shelter. Sometimes you need to step back as you watch them fail and the only thing you can do is pray that they will be safe. That is the right thing, but sometimes not. Other times you need to be “In their face”, and that is the right thing, but sometimes not. One thing I have learnt is that we cannot do this alone. We need outside help to guide us, lead us, and train us on how to deal with given situations that will one day lead our children to a healthy clean life, where one day we can once again recognize our child.

3. There is help out there and The Juvenile Court of Allegheny County is the best-kept secret we have in Western PA.

So, where do we for help? The first place we go for help is the authorities, or the police, or Act 53 counselors, or attorneys, or whatever avenue you want to take, but you must get your child into “The System”. The Juvenile Court of Allegheny County is the best-kept secret we have in Western PA. They are a team of trained professionals that are dedicated to treating the youth in our area. They work long hours, are there for our kids day and night, and are very competent in what they do. In addition, they have access to some of the best facilities in the country.

Before I placed by son into the system, I did everything I could to avoid placing him into the juvenile court system. I now know that was a major mistake. The final thing that convinced me was the independent research that I did on drug rehabilitation programs. The state of PA does have some of the best in the country. However, with all of these facilities, you must be court-ordered. Otherwise, the treatment program would not admit our child. I did not understand that at the time, but I do now. It is not easy watching your child proceed through these programs, but you must get your child into a long-term placement facility so that the behavior modification and drug rehabilitation treatment can work for your child. It will be your instinct to comfort your child. It will be your instinct to convince yourself that he has had enough. It will be your instinct to save him from any more personal pain needed in order for him to get better. However, you cannot do that. You must not do that!

4. You must turn your authority over to the experts who are directing your child’s care and recovery.

As a parent, you will need support for yourself to allow your child to maximize the benefit of these treatment facilities. You will need support from the counselors. You will need guidance from wherever you can get it. In addition, you must turn your authority over to the experts who are directing your child’s care and recovery. Those individuals have been there, done that many times over, and they know better than you do what needs to be done.

In addition, what is best for your child will not be what your parental instinct indicates. Your parental instinct will drive you to save him, yet you must force him to help himself, to force him to assume responsibility for his recovery and to step back and allow him to proceed through a cleansing process so that he can leave behind the addiction and behavior patterns. That is not easy for your child; in fact, it will be the hardest thing he will ever do. However, he cannot do it if you interfere with the process or, in the typically parental line of thinking, if you try to help. Your child will only lean on you and provide excuses for why he does not need to proceed through anything so difficult.

Your child will try to convince you that everyone involved in these programs are incompetent and are not helping. They will continue to manipulate you in order to support his addiction, to support the physical distortion of his thought processes caused by the disease. Your child cannot successfully proceed through these treatment programs if you try to help, and you must rely on the experts who are now effectively their guardians. This will be very difficult for you to watch. But you must!!

5. Remember, you will always be an important part of your child’s life and a very important part of his treatment. You are on the treatment team now!

But always remember that you are still his parent and he is still your child, and while you are all working through this process you must keep the communication lines open, no matter how hateful the conversation may became or how difficult the process has become. Remember, you are still in control of your conversations with your child. You are still the parent. If a conversation begins to become unconstructive, you can end it with a calm comment about how much you love them and that you can talk again when they are having a better day. Then walk away and wait for that better day. Have faith that a better day will come. It will. It may take days, weeks, or sometimes months, but a better day will come.

6. You must regain your own life.

As your child proceeds through the rehabilitation process, your lives as parents must proceed forward. Through the years of dealing with your drug-addicted teenager, you have lost yourselves in their drug addiction. You must regain that portion of your life. That is very important. Go on vacation with your spouse, a friend, your other children, etc. Do lunch with friends more often. Take a course on the Internet. Volunteer for a committee at church. Proceed with your life and gain moments of comfort, satisfaction, and peace away from the issues of your troubled teenager. I am not suggesting that you forget about your child who is in a drug treatment facility, but you do need a diversion. You cannot continue to constantly dwell on it. You must find a diversion. If you have time on your hands, find something constructive to fill it. If you have a need just to have fun, go out with a friend. In fact, find fun things to do. In other words, Get a life!! And it is important that all of this must continue even after your child is released from the treatment facility, because you cannot allow yourself to become consumed once again into your child’s drug addiction.

For my husband and me, one thing we started to do is take weekend trips. Sometimes, we went with friends. That too can help. Your friends do not even need to know the situation with your child. We established a pattern of weekend trips. As time passed our friends would remind us that it is time for another.

If you have a need to nurture, get a pet. I got a dog and she certainly was good company. However, she wasn’t a big enough diversion, so I got another dog. Then I convinced myself that she was lonely for her brother, so I went back and got him. And you certainly cannot have an odd number because one of them may be left out of the play time, so I got yet another. Now we have four dogs and they provide a substantial diversion. Who knows, before this is all over, I may need more. Although, I think my husband will provide a large enough diversion if I mention getting another.

My main point is this: you must do what ever you need to do, to provide a large enough diversion from all those issues associated with your child’s drug addiction so that you can clear your mind of all those feelings that cloud your judgment. You must continue to deliberately prepare yourself to make good decisions by consciously clearing your mind of distracting noise that your emotions are generating. Maintain your diversions.

It is also key for your child in the recovery facility to know that your lives as parents continue, that the family is moving forward. For years, you have dealt with his drug addiction; he has been the center of everyone’s attention. He has controlled the family. He knows that. Part of the recovery process for your child is discovering that his drug addiction will no longer control the family, nor will the family tolerate his drug addiction. The family can go on without the drug addiction tearing it apart. And you, as the parent, must not permit your family to be exposed to your child’s unacceptable behavior and to his active drug addiction.

So how do we that?? It is not so easy, but then again it is very basic. The basic part is taking a stand against unacceptable behavior. That is easy to do. Parents do that all the time. The hard part is the extremes to which we must proceed in order to eliminate this unacceptable behavior. It will go against basic parental instinct. Not anyone else who is not familiar with drug addiction will understand it.

Another fact that causes this to be very difficult is the knowledge that this is sometimes a fatal disease. Nevertheless, you cannot control that. Moreover, if you try to control it, you feed the addiction process. You enable the addiction. Therefore, you must let it go. Let it go! You must gain control of yourself and the situation so that you can take a stand against this unacceptable behavior of bringing drug use into your home, of stopping unpredictable and unreliable behavior that is destroying the remainder of your family and is consuming your life.

So how do we do that? Well, at the risk of sounding like a psychotherapist, we must work through the feelings that stop us from doing right by our children. We must come to terms with our issues so that we can clear our minds of all the distractions that interfere with us making wise decisions for our children. We must eliminate the noise that generates confusion, and accept what the experts are telling us. We must face the fact that our child’s recovery is their responsibility. Their life and their survival are in the hands of the treatment professionals. It is essential that we come to terms with our fears of having a drug-addicted teenager. We must work through these feelings so that we can place them aside and make sound judgments on what is best for our child. Because isn’t that what this is all about, doing what is best for our child?

7. Hold onto some of the anger because sometimes you will still need it.

One trick that I have learnt in getting control of noise in my mind, of setting aside my fears, of getting control of my emotions, so that I can evaluate a given situation and hopefully make a good choice is what I call, Hanging onto the Anger. However, I do not mean that we strike out in anger, but use it in a constructive manner in order to provide strength to do what you must do. As with all situations and all relationships with people, there are “good-feeling” times and there are “bad-feeling” times. In the general course of raising children, our emotions as parents swing from one end of the spectrum to the next. Nothing can bring us greater joy than our kids can. There is truly nothing better in life. In fact, I think life would be very shallow without the joy that our children have given us.

However, at the other end of the spectrum, no one can get you angrier than your children can. Your spouse may run close second, but your kids are the winners in the anger category. Now add to that all this:

1. The drug addicted behaviors.

2. The extreme defiance.

3. The lies that are told to the point that you can’t believe anything that they say.

4. The extreme arguments that sometimes cross over into violence.

5. Your home being pulled into that drug-use cult of the streets.

6. The stealing.

7. The inability to trust anything associated with your own child in your own home.

8. The never knowing if they are coming home that night.

9. The time spent on the phone trying to find them.

10. The instant nausea every time the phone rings.

11. The constant terror day by day never knowing what will happen next.

12. Waking up at 3AM because you can’t breathe.

13. That burning sensation in your chest that just won’t stop.

14. And Yes- those moments of extreme anger. Why - Won’t - He - Stop! -- Why does he continue to rip us apart? --- I don’t even recognize him anymore. ---- What is happening to him? ----- What is so very, very wrong here!?

Well, we now know the answers to all those questions. Our teenager is not the typical teenager who is just spreading their wings, just starting to experience life as he leaves childhood. He is not the adventurous teenager who may be taking more risks than you would like him to take. He is not going through some “drug experimenting” phase and all will be okay when it is over. He is not one of many others that we know who did just that – And they were just fine!! Not ours! Ours are not fine! Not our teenager! Not our child! --- Ours are sick. They are Drug Addicts. They need help. They need treatment. They need long-term treatment.

You are a major, integral, essential part of your child’s treatment. You are a critical part to your child’s survival of this disease called Addiction. As you proceed through those decisions that you will make for the sake of your child’s treatment, you will find some, maybe all, decisions very difficult. So, remember the anger. Hang onto the anger, because you will need that to overcome the desperation of the situation. You will need something to balance the heartache of dealing with your drug-addicted teenager. So, hang onto that anger and remember it when you need strength.

8. Come to terms with the loss of your child’s teen years.

There is one last thing that we must some to terms with so that we can do what is right by our child. We must come to terms with the loss of our child’s teen years. Of course, during the recovery process, your child will receive much counseling so that he can come to terms with all those things in his life that he has thrown away because of his drug use. As parents, we have lost many of those moments too. Our times with our teenager has been consumed with his drug addiction and many of the typically teenager experiences that we wanted for him, and for us, will never be. We may never get to watch him participate in school activities, the band, or a sport. Summer activities have been consumed by his drug addiction, and there are few to none happy memories of vacations. It has been years since our families have been functioning as a real family. In addition, few family events centered on our teenager have been pleasant. We have not had happy family times, since before he became addicted. We will never know the good friends that he never had, because he will not have any friends from high school that he can keep.

We may never be taking that picture of him with his prom date. We may never be attending any school event that recognizes his Senior Year. We may not have a set of senior school pictures to distribute to family. We may not be attending any high school graduation. We may not be visiting different college campuses as he chooses which school to attend. We probably will not be organizing a graduation party. We won’t be hearing the stories from his school trips, nor we will not be making friends with the parents of his friends. He has lost his teen years and all those good things that are included and we have lost our teenager. That will never come back. As our child grows through the recovery process and emerges successfully as a recovered drug addict, he will be starting his adult life. He must do this in order to assume responsibility for himself and his own survival. The drug recovery process will not bring back our teenager and all the memories we should have had. We need to mourn that, and then let that go. We need to allow our child to become an adult and pass over all those teenager things that they never got to do; all those things that we never got to share with him; all those things that will never be. We need to let him go. We need to allow him to grow-up.

So now, it is your turn. Get your child into long-term treatment and into the juvenile system, anyway you can. Get him arrested if you must. Build your support network, which could be parents in similar situations. There are such support groups. Work with the local police, your child’s parole officer; search the Internet, etc., to get information about support groups in your area. However, you still need experts who can give advice. People such as drug abuse counselors, your child’s parole officer, your child’s counselors, doctors, etc. Become familiar with Halfway houses and consider the option of your child moving there upon release from the recovery treatment facility.

You also need to add things in your life that create a diversion beyond these all-encompassing issues of your drug-addicted child. You must come to terms with your feelings and fears so that you can set them aside and make sound decisions that are critical to saving your child’s life. Everyone has their own way in dealing with such things. Talk to friends, get counseling for yourself, join parent support groups, etc.

Another thing that might help is to start a journal and write things down. I did. Through the years, I wrote while I watched my son change from my sweet little boy into a teenager consumed with drug addiction. As I struggled with my fears and confusion, I witnessed this terrifying conversion. Now as I watch him evolve into an adult within drug recovery, and accept that piece of his childhood that we will never have, the following verse evolved. I call it, ‘I Had a Little Boy Once.’

I had a little boy once,
My bundle of joy.
Happy, spirited, affectionate.
He is my life.

He is smart. He is talented.
Strong, agile, gifted.
And his hugs melt me away.

I had a little boy once,
And into a teenager he grew.
He began to pull away,
And he became my worry.

And as his distance became belligerence,
I watched his strength melt away.
And my worry grows into fear.

I had a teenage son once,
Whose belligerence escalated into defiance.
Whose defiance pushed violence,
His values in disarray.

His innocence shot from him.
His youth being ripped from his soul,
And I feel desperation filled with terror.

I had a teenage son once,
Who threw away his friends, his dreams.
Turned his back on his family,
And gambled with his life.

He choose drugs over everything.
He choose drugs over me.
And I -- just -- ache.

And I wonder Why, why, why.
What didn’t I do.
What didn’t I say.
What do I do now.

And my son is still with us.
He struggles with his addiction.
His dreams remain just out of reach.
And I am overwhelmed with sadness.

He tries to maintain control.
But his life maybe taken by his excess.
And I live with crushing uncertainty.

My son is doing better now.
He is committed to being clean.
New dreams are evaporating the old,
And he plans for a future.

He openly honors Jesus.
Shows love for his family.
And I feel hope.

I have a son,
Who I will always hold dear.
His smile lifts up my world,
And I feel peace for that moment.

But I now know this disease called addiction.
And I sleep with its demon that never sleeps.
And I want so much to believe that his Use is over.

But I will always be afraid.

Because I had a little boy once,
And drugs stole him away.

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