How Many Times Can a Son Break His Mom’s Heart?

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This week’s guest blogger is Chris from Sober City USA – the creator of Sober Cards. Now six years in recovery from an addiction that started in his teens, he reflects on one of his most important and valued relationships – the relationship with his mother. Thank you, Chris, for sharing your experience with our readers. MWM.

That question weighed heavy on my mind while I was in treatment.  I guessed I had probably lost count after a hundred and that was before I got into my late twenties.  I am an alcoholic, a drug addict, a child of an alcoholic and drug addict, and a child of an amazingly wonderful woman.  I am also a 39 year old momma’s boy, born a momma’s boy and always will be one.

My mom is the most incredible and amazing woman on the planet.  She would do anything to make you feel special and feel like the most important person in the room. There is not a mean bone in her body and she doesn’t have a mean thing to say about anyone.  She finds the beauty in everyone. So why was it easy for me to break her heart for 15 straight years?  Because I’m an addict, and nothing mattered more to me than my drugs and my alcohol.  I didn’t care who I was hurting, even the most important people (woman) in my life.

I started drinking when I was 17, consistently blacking out by 18 and actively abusing drugs by the age of 23. I guess you could say I was destined to be an alcoholic. My dad is an alcoholic (in recovery), his dad was and his grandfather before that was an alcoholic.  To top it, my mom’s dad was an alcoholic and many of my first cousins are alcoholics (most in recovery now).  Addiction runs thick in our family blood line.

Just so you don’t think I’m a total piece of shit son, I’m going to condense the heartbreak moments to just a few, and save all of us from a drunk log. I do feel it necessary for you to understand the hurt I caused and hopefully after reading this, you can take something positive away from it.

All my mom wanted to do was love me, hold me, tell me everything was going to be OK. She wanted to spend time with me, be my parent, give me advice and tell me life was going to turn out OK.  My mom wanted to know about me, my life, my friends and understand my world and tell me my world was OK.  When I was in active addiction I never let her in.  I always kept her at a distance, because I was hiding a deep dark secret: I was an alcoholic drug addict.

When I would come home from college to visit for long weekends and holidays, my mom would beg me not to stay out late and to be in bed early.  Looking back, it was because she never slept when I was out.  She stayed up all night praying that I would come home in one piece.  She tossed and turned, praying till 8a most mornings!  The nights I did come home, I would wake everyone up in the family, by accident (I was not a pleasant drunk man). Even though at first everyone loved having me home, I quickly wore out my welcome.

My parents hated the idea of me moving to Los Angeles.  They knew I was border lining alcoholism, they just didn’t know how bad it had gotten when I moved to LA.  Yet, they still wanted to spend time with me and visit.  Having them out to visit was hard work.  I was hiding a drug fueled lifestyle that didn’t know any boundaries.  When they would visit, night would come, they would go to bed, and as soon as they were a sleep, my night would start.  Drugs, alcohol, sneaking out to meet friends (like I was in high school) and staying out all night; causing me to either sleep the entire next day or be a total moody asshole running on fumes. My parents spent a ton of money and energy to visit me; I treated them like second class citizens while they were there.  My addiction didn’t care who got treated poorly.

I’ve always lived in a different city than my parents, only a few hours away in distance. There were hundreds of times they came to visit me. I usually lied to them on why they couldn’t stay with me. Truth was, I wanted to party. I could never take just one weekend off of drinking to spend time with them.  I made my parents stay in a hotel and what’s worse, I acted as if I was doing everyone a favor by meeting them out for dinner.

It was a nightmare when my brothers came in town and all 4 of us went out to raise hell.  I was the leader and my brothers always followed me into a drug and alcohol induced weekend every time we got together.  My mom and dad hated it when we went out together!  I was an awful role model and certainly not acting like the ‘good-boy’ son my mom had raised. My addiction only cared about the party, and I bulldozed anyone who stood in my way of that, including my mom.

There was a time my mom came in town to make my favorite dinner because we had been missing each other for months. I stayed out from the night before till about 30 minutes before she showed up.  I was drugged out of my mind and hadn’t slept for 3 days.  As soon as my mom arrived, (she knew something wasn’t right) I showed her to the kitchen, the pots/pans and ingredients and then went right to bed.  She cooked alone for 3 hours hoping her meal would make me feel better.  I never woke up. I slept right through the night and missed her dinner. My addiction did not care about dinner with my mom!

The asshole icing on the cake was on May 31st, my mother’s birthday.  It was a beautiful Sunday, all of my family was having an early evening bbq for her and I didn’t show up.  What’s worse; I didn’t even call her that day to wish her a ‘happy birthday’.  I had been sleeping off a 3-day binge and was nowhere to be found.  She called me later that night to tell me I had missed her birthday, she was crying and very upset.  That was the low of the lows. I was so far gone into drug addiction and alcoholism.  I thought the missing birthday ‘glitch’ was just a temporary feeling. I convinced myself it wasn’t that big of a deal. I thought by saying sorry, all would be good.  Unfortunately, that was the one that really affected our relationship. Addiction was ruining my relationship with my mom.

I literally broke my mother’s heart daily when I was abusing drugs. I broke promises, I was so unreliable, there were hundreds of embarrassing moments, there were times my mom had begged me to stop, only to be made a fool over and over again by my actions.  Unfortunately, heartbreak by her oldest son had become the new normal in our relationship and my addiction did not care.

Unbeknownst to me, my mom was going to church every week to light a candle for me. She knew I was in trouble and could sense things were not going to end well.  She was asking for me to get help, asking for God to watch over me and get me to a place where I could start to  heal and live a clean life.

What’s so amazingly true and perfect about this story: God worked his magic the day I entered treatment.  I hit my limit: I had spent four straight days using and abusing and was rushed to the emergency room.  That next morning, my brothers showed up, they told me they had booked me a room at a residential treatment program and I would be there for the next 30 days.  My mom had not heard the news until later that evening when I called her.  She was actually at church that very morning saying a prayer, lighting a candle and begging God to help me.

While I skidded into rehab, my experience there was very positive.  I spent many days uncovering layers of myself, finding out who I was deep inside, and who I was without the drugs and alcohol. Still a momma’s boy and a grown ass man now with a long-list of amends to make to his mom.

Two weeks into my treatment program, I received a letter stamped from home and in my mom’s handwriting.  I opened it and there were 10 hand written pages, full of every heartbreaking moment that I had caused her because of my addiction.  It highlighted all of the shitty things I did (sort of like a fourth step for moms/Al-Anon if you will) Reading those things, in her words; while I was starting to get my clean mind back was so moving, so crushing and upsetting to me.  It broke me to relive all of those moments and to hear my mom’s heartache.  I was crushed. I had some work to do.

My family came to visit me over Easter Weekend.  After dinner, I asked my mom to go for a walk, just her and I.  We walked around this beautiful lake as the sun was setting and I told her something I had learned while in treatment.  My chaplain talked about Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is My Shepherd.’  He told us that when sheep would walk away from the herd over and over again, shepherds would have to break the back legs of the sheep to prevent them from continuing that and potentially getting killed by prey.  This taught sheep a valuable lesson to not act out and to stay safe inside the herd. (That’s why you see so many biblical images of the Shepherd with a sheep around His neck, nursing them back to health and safety)  My chaplain often asked me – do you feel like your back legs have been broken

I told my mom for the past few years, I was so sick that I didn’t realize the damage and heartbreak I was causing her.  I told her my back legs were broke and how sorry I was for everything I had put her through.  As I started to bring up each instance with her, she embraced me and told me she loved me and that we never have to go back to that. I told her I never wanted to either.  We were both crying and it felt so good to be back in my mom’s arms again, as the ‘good-boy’ she had always wanted.

I am 6 years clean and sober and my relationship with my mother has never been better. That insanely sick time in my life, the ups and downs (mostly downs) with her, has taught me the wonderful meaning of unconditional love.  It has taught me about forgiveness, it has taught me how to treat other people. I have learned so much from my mom and the way she treated me during my active addiction.  She is still the most amazing and wonderful woman and without her love and support, I could not have done this.  Sometimes we hurt the the most, the ones we love the most.  And the ones that love us the most always keep coming back hoping for a different day.  I’m so grateful my mom and I have a different day now!!

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About Chris:
Chris is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict with 6 years of sobriety.  He is very active in the recovery community and loves to spend time spreading the great message of recovery.  He created Sober Cards TM, to help people get sober and stay sober.  These came directly from his experience in treatment, where they told him, ‘Idle hands are the devil’s playground’ and recited many more sober slogans.  Thousands of decks have been sold and his hope is that everyone trying to get sober has access to them. Sober City USA was launched in 2015 to show the world that there is this awesome enthusiasm for recovery and an excitement for life on the other side of the drugs and alcohol.

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

A Dangerous Recipe for Addiction

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Midwestern Mama aka Rose McKinney is a community faculty member at Metropolitan State University. Several of her students have written guest blog posts for Our Young Addicts as part of working on a class assignment to support the upcoming “From Statistics to Solutions” conference taking place on May 12. #FSTS16

Beware of the non-user; their adverse childhood experiences coupled with the cost of stigma could potentially be a dangerous recipe for addiction. My life reminds me of the pharmaceutical commercials that warn viewers that side effects are more hazardous than the symptoms I am trying to relieve.

Unfortunately, my life didn’t offer a disclaimer, instead it claimed all that I had.

I was 10 years old when my dad lost his battle with cancer, 12 when my sister’s boyfriend made sexual advances toward me, and just 15 when my oldest sister died from what was ruled an accidental discharge of a .357 magnum to her temple. A single traumatic episode is a lot to handle, three in five years is too much.

People deal with trauma differently. My mom, she constantly needed people around her. So much so that she would send dishonest notes to teachers to excuse me and my siblings from school so that she didn’t have to be alone. My brother and sister, twins that are two years older than me, submersed themselves in their music. My brother was an original member of Mazarati, the first band signed to Prince’s Paisley Park label, while his twin sang in another band and became very promiscuous. They also submersed themselves in drugs and alcohol.

How did I deal with it? With the exception of attempting to smoke a joint of weed shortly after my dad’s death, drugs and alcohol never crossed my mind – unless I was judging the many weak-minded people around me who consumed them.

Ironic that I placed stigma on what later became my own getaway.

Being that my mom didn’t like to be alone, our home turned into the kool-aid house soon after my father’s death. My house was like a 24-hour park that musicians rehearsed, slept, and consumed alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) in. Although I shunned drug use, I became dependent on entertainment and excitement. Dysfunction and trauma became first nature to me and any sign of normality felt uncomfortable. But hey, I still wasn’t using . . . yet.

Unless there was a talent show, basketball game, or event coming up, I rarely attended school – remember it’s all about excitement for me. When I was 15, help appeared to show up through the judicial system. After multiple court appearances to address my truancy, a judge sentenced me to a 35-day evaluation program at a sheriff’s ranch in Austin, Minnesota. Psychological assessments and interviews revealed I still had trauma and anger associated with my sister’s ex-boyfriend’s sexual advances towards me from four years prior. I was amazed, intrigued, and scared by the assessment’s ability to reveal I had traded in my buried pain and trauma for anger for so long afterwards. At the end of the 35-day evaluation period, I initially was court-ordered to undergo counseling, but I received a stay of imposition so long as my family would accept the recommendation for family counseling. I thought it was a blessing in disguise.

Treating the entire problem, the shifting family dynamics, and the underlying issues sounded like a great idea when we accepted the offer.

But after three family-counseling sessions, we allowed the stigma associated with counseling to ruin our chance to heal; after word seeped into our community that we were receiving professional help, we never returned.

If I could have learned to bury the hatchet as well as I buried pain, I might have been able to sustain the conditioned appearance that I was okay. But remember, dysfunction was my normal.

Dropping out of school so I was able to travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico with my cousin and his band at the age of 16 was normal; traveling to Los Angles, California while that band prepared for the Black Radio Exclusive (BRE) showcase was normal. And when it was time for that band to head back home to Minneapolis, Minnesota, not telling my mom I was going to stay in Los Angeles with my oldest brother until the beginning of the next school year was normal too.

When the next school year arrived, instead of going back to school, I went on another nine-month music tour – spending my 18th birthday on a bus along some highway in Texas was my normal.

Although I still hadn’t picked up a drink or consumed a drug, I was addicted to a life of excitement that would be impossible to sustain . . . alive.

When the tour was over, I met a beautiful girl whose normal was as dysfunctional as mine. Within a month, Marie and I moved in together and began a very serious and intense relationship. A few years later, I would have my first drink to celebrate Marie’s pregnancy. I also became my aging grandmother’s primary caretaker; so my celebration didn’t last too long before grandma passed. Although my siblings had about a year of sobriety under their belt at the time of grandma’s passing, she still left her home to me. Trusting me with all that my grandparents worked for was a gift of joy that later became a self-inflicted continuum of pain.

I had a good job that I was excelling at before my double-life caught up to me.

Partying all night and then showing up for work an hour late doesn’t work in a functional business. After multiple warnings for tardiness, I was fired. But being jobless didn’t drive me to drink because owning a home gave me some freedom. I have since learned the danger of having too much free time. Since dysfunction was my normal, pinpointing where my downward spiral began is hard. I can’t even remember when I had my second drink, but I know that somewhere around the 10th drink, it took me and not the other way around. I know that when I snapped out of my first binge, I had lost my long-time girlfriend and mother of my daughter and that my drinking had intensified.

Everything after almost seems like one long blurry nightmare. I write almost because I remember being drunk and getting in a fight one night in a club. I remember being retaliated against a couple weeks later when out of nowhere a man popped up and started shooting at me – hitting me in the chin and each arm. I remember the high I got from the pain pills to treat those wounds. I remember becoming addicted to cocaine afterwards. I remember taking a mortgage out on the home I promised my grandmother to raise my family in. I remember my mentor, a surrogate, passing away from cancer just as my dad did. I remember a letter my daughter wrote reflecting on the day we experienced a home invasion. The letter I only became aware of because she won an award for it at school. I remember waking up in the back of a police car after my third DUI, and again after my arrest for fleeing a police officer a week before trial was scheduled for that charge.

So instead of trial, I remember pleading guilty, serving my short sentence in the workhouse. I remember surrendering at my first AA meeting, and the liberation of admitting I was alcoholic.

I remember treatment, and the liberation that followed admitting I was an addict.

I remember my counselor encouraging me to go back to school, my doing so, my nomination to be vice president of the alcohol and drug counseling student association once I did. And I remember the mistake of thinking I was cured because I had been sober. I remember my first relapse, the necessary and dire need to tell people I slipped in order to save myself.

But I slipped again. This time on some ice and broke my leg. I also broke my routine of interacting with my sober-support system. Six months later, with a year of sobriety under my belt, I was arrested for possession of cocaine. My sponsor asked me how I was doing with sobriety. In the midst of my trouble, I was happy to report I was clean. He then asked “how are you doing with your recovery?” There’s a huge difference in recovery and sobriety, one is a lifestyle that prevents winding up in the back of police cars. I have since re-immersed myself in recovery, school and I graduate this May with an individualized degree aimed at alleviating the adverse experiences that children face.

A question I used to ask is “what is so tough about life that causes a person to want to alter their reality by way of potentially fatal substances?” The question I should have been asking is where can I get help for the emotional pain and trauma I’ve endured?

 

 

Bio:

David Starks is a student who completed the required coursework to obtain a bachelor’s of science degree in alcohol and drug counseling (ADC) from Metropolitan State University. However, he is unable to get licensed in that field due to the Department of Human Services (DHS) strict criminal history guidelines. As David’s blog reads, he has refocused his degree to one that will work on the underlying issues of drug addiction versus the treatment of substance use after addiction sets in and will graduate in May of 2016.

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

From the classroom – coming soon!

Several of my students at Metropolitan State University have written blog posts for Our Young Addicts, which I plan to post over the next few days. I think you’ll appreciate their perspectives – I know I do.

It’s an honor to teach these aspiring professionals, who are willing to share their stories.

Midwestern Mama

Never too young for Chronic Alcoholism

A frequent participant in #AddictionChat., this week’s guest blogger is Jeanne Francis, MFA, LADC, CPP, of Creatives in Recovery,.

Chronic alcoholic at age 16 to recovered at age 51, an “old timers” journey

The first time I went to residential treatment, I was 16 years old. I said goodbye to my crying mother through the wired glass window on the 5th floor of the locked unit at St. Mary’s Hospital in Minneapolis. I was sickly, insecure, and no longer cared about anything. I was fearful and angry because all my friends partied like I did. Why me? These people had to be wrong about me.

There was not a lot of knowledge to help and support young people in recovery as there is now. I remember my first AA meeting after treatment a man said to me: “I’ve spilled more alcohol on my tie than you ever drank in your life”. He didn’t know me. That by 16, my tolerance was so high, I could drink almost an entire quart of whiskey during a night out.

I convinced people like him, and my parents agreed, that I was “going through a phase”. No one could have prevented me from advancing to the stage I had but me.

I did not stay sober back then. I went to two more treatments in the years ahead. I did not stay sober.

Being in treatment in the late 70’s/early 80″s was not very common for young people back then nor was family therapy. Family therapy was a life-saver for all 7 of us. The unhealthy patterns of dysfunction were revealed and started to untangle. My parents had the good sense to continue family therapy after treatment, exposing themselves to the vulnerability of being culpable for the way things had turned out. They were willing to keep trying.

When I was age 26, I woke up one afternoon but I shouldn’t have. It was only because my head was turned to the side as I lie on my back that I lived through one of my countless blackouts.  This time, I didn’t see it as an inconvenience. I lay on the cold bathroom floor in my Chicago apartment knowing that if I don’t stop drinking, I will die. Soon.

I reached out for help in 1991 and my journey from there to here has been a wild ride filled with joy and pain, ebbs and flows of opportunities and losses, but one thing has remained clear to me:

I did not not get sober alone.

With long-term treatment and an amazing staff, I am sober today by the grace of God, my sponsor Karen, and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In particular, my generous and patient parents who never gave up on me.

That, with a creative outlet, and a village of professional therapists and fellow sober friends, I am now 25 years sober.

Commitment to sobriety is not a struggle for me anymore, it is a given.

I know myself well enough now that with my pendulum-swinging moods, bouts of chronic depression, and over-producing creative ideas that if I were to try to control that or calm it with drugs or alcohol- I’d be helpless to not go for the gold, no-holds-barred, because that’s who I am as an alcoholic at my core.

I am humbled by the love and support from so many people in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for helping me to achieve sobriety.

Never Too Young For Chronic Alcoholism

Want to fit in

peer pressure: pot

have fun drinking

before school

during school

after school

everyday

1st treatment, age 16

too young to be alcoholic!

College out of state

parties, bars, music, fun

new friends/ new drugs

2nd treatment, age 20

New College out of state

parties, bars, music fun

death of friend

depression spiral

trauma

3rd treatment, age 24

Drop out, Move away

liver breaking down

green skin, yellow eyes

almost died

Therapist waiting

Hospital, last treatment, age 26

Detox 6 days sober

inpatient 38 days sober

women only

out patient 18 weeks

Sobriety 6 months, longest

AA sponsor

Psychotherapist

No more boyfriends

Sobriety 6 months, longest

AA Friends

Back to school

Full time job: recovery

Mental health diagnosis

12 steps, Fellowship

Depression, PTSD treatment

1 year sober

Graduate College

Father died, 2 years sober

Full time job and recovery

Brother died, 5 years sober

AA Friends surround me

Married, 8 years sober

Baby, 10 years sober

Divorce, 15 years sober

Became Counselor, 18 years sober

Recovery working, 25 years sober

I made it to 25 years sober, and I should not be alive right now. It is only because my head was turned to the side as I lie on my back, that I did not die that night.

Jeanne Francis, MFA, LADC
Twin Cities Metro Area, Minnesota
jeanne@creativesinrecovery.com

Empowering others to cultivate their inner artist is Jeanne’s greatest passion! After years of struggling with alcohol, I became sober at the age of 27. In recovery, I discovered the world of art and music; which felt like “home.” I immersed myself into creativity and recovery, and felt the peace of “fitting in.”

As a professional artist and addiction counselor, the creative arts inspired and sustained me, and they can inspire and sustain you, too! 

Proud to Guest Post on Discovering Beautiful

It’s Good To Be Alive! By Midwestern Mama, creator of Our Young Addicts – A guest post on Discovering Beautiful, A Sober Blog.

My dad was an early riser. Each morning at the breakfast table, he would stretch and declare, “It’s good to be alive! Good to be alive!” As a kid, I dismissed the sheer beauty of this morning ritual and squirmed at how … Continue reading Guest Post: Midwestern Mama, creator of Our Young Addicts

via Guest Post: Midwestern Mama, creator of Our Young Addicts — Discovering Beautiful

Parenting in Recovery

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Thank you to our guest blogger, Rose Lockinger, for another timely and insightful post. Addicted as a young person, she is now a parent in recovery offering an invaluable insider’s perspective. (Don’t you love her name?!)

I’m not sure if I was born an addict or not, but I can certainly look back on my childhood and see that I struggled with impulse control, self-discipline and acting out. I had a knack for spitting out whatever I thought not really thinking through if it was appropriate to say.  As I moved into adolescence, I discovered substances like food and drugs and alcohol.  Eventually I found help in treatment. and found out that life in recovery was possible.

Parenting In Recovery

Most parents worry about their children, and fears around drug and alcohol use are often near the top of the list. We all know that drug and alcohol use can cause a number of very serious issues for teens. For the recovering addict who is also a parent, this is something we are acutely aware of.

Knowing that addiction is often passed down from generation to generation thanks to a combination of genetics and environment doesn’t do much to help the fear.

I think that most recovering addicts understand how important it is to address substance abuse and addiction as early as possible. Many kids begin experimenting as early as elementary school. Not only that, but many of the signs of potential trouble can begin even earlier. What does this mean? Well, kids who abuse drugs are often kids who struggle with low self-esteem, who feel as though they don’t “fit in” and who have experienced trauma or turmoil in their lives. While any kid can develop a drug or alcohol problem, these kids are particularly vulnerable, especially if they have an addicted family member.  Early intervention and treatment is key this usually starts with a drug or alcohol detox program.

Talking To My Kids About Substances And Addiction

Many parents in recovery find that their worst fears are realized when their children go down the same path that they did. My own children are still young and this is not an imminent concern at the moment but I have taken steps to mitigate the potential for problems.

I’ve done my best to educate my children, to model good behavior for them, and to talk to them about substances and addiction when it is age appropriate.   My children are still young so I am careful to make it age appropriate. I talk to them regularly about strategies they can use when they are struggling with powerful emotions and situations. For me, the most important thing is to be sure to have honest, open dialog with my kids. They need to trust me, and I need to be willing to listen. Here are some of the ways that I address this issue in my home.

If you are a parent who struggles with bringing up drugs and alcohol, don’t feel bad! It can be an uncomfortable topic, and kids sometimes get irritated or “weird” when you bring stuff like this up. Even as a recovering addict I sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about it. Practice makes perfect though — this isn’t a talk you are only going to have once! It needs to be brought up and then brought up again. Your kids are likely at their most vulnerable from 10 to 21 years of age, so it warrants more than one or two conversations.

Real Education

Education is also important. “Just say no” isn’t good enough. Kids need to have a working knowledge of drugs, what they do to the body and brain, and how substance abuse can affect them. However, scare tactics are NOT the same as education. Kids know when you are just trying to shock them into steering clear of something. Respect their intelligence. Talk to them when age appropriate about drugs and alcohol, what they are and what they can do. Don’t blow things out of proportion for shock value. Don’t make blanket statements on things like “drugs are bad” and leave it at that. Why are drugs bad? It’s important to be specific.

I’m Honest With Them, And We Talk About The Hard Stuff

They know I am a recovering addict. I am honest and open with them. I also do my best to keep open lines of communication with them, so they can talk to me about anything without fear of judgment. I let them know that I went through some hard things. And no, I don’t tell them every little detail…it’s not necessary, but I also don’t sugar coat the truth. I omit information that I feel either isn’t necessary or would be harmful to them.

Fun is important for kids and grown-ups alike

I live a clean and sober lifestyle, and I have fun! This is part of setting an example. When I was growing up, l quickly learned to associate drinking with having fun. It’s how grown ups would unwind from a day at work, how birthdays and holidays were celebrated, it’s what you did when you went to sporting events and went camping. In other words, alcohol and getting drunk were how you had fun. When I got into recovery, I had no idea how I would ever have a good time without it. I truly believe that showing kids how adults have fun sober is an important way to lead by example.

What If They Become Addicted?

Finally, it’s important to realize that despite your best efforts, your children may still struggle with substance abuse and addiction. With that in mind, it’s helpful to have a plan of action so that you can be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Many parents don’t have a good understanding of addiction. Addiction isn’t a stage, a behavior problem, a moral or character problem or something that will just go away. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so educate yourself.  If anything as parents who have addiction in their past we can be grateful that we have a an awareness of a solution and have lived that example to our children.  They can see firsthand that recovery is possible and life changing by the example we set. Early intervention is key and treatment centers that specialize in youth are available. In the end as parents you cannot control the path your child may or may not take, what you can do is support and love them to the best of your ability through whatever pain they face.

About This Week’s Guest Blogger

Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find Rose Lockinger on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

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Dear Mom, It’s not your fault.

In spite of doing “all the right things,” and practicing prevention-oriented parenting, our children can get hooked on drugs. This mom-blogger’s did. Mine did, too. We are both extremely lucky that our sons are in recovery. This isn’t always the case. Why our kids? We can’t answer that, but we can share our experiences, provide resources and offer hope for better days ahead. Hugs to all – it’s a path none of us ever expects to travel.

Midwestern Mama

Heroin. Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

Breathe. The anxiety is better when you take in deep breaths and hold them. Count in 1-2-3-4, hold 1-2-3-4, out 1-2-3-4.

You didn’t do this. It’s on the corner, in his school, at that party where you first met the parents. It’s an evil little devil, that drug. Doesn’t matter its name. That sneaky chemical masqueraded as temporary escape, tricking your boy into trying something he had no idea would imprison him.

Hold you head up, Mom. You didn’t do this. I saw you bake those cupcakes, cheer him on at his games, go to his parent teacher conferences. I saw you meet parents before he stayed over, heard you talk to him on his cell phone when he was out, saw you checking his messages and even making him clean his room; yes, he should clean his room.

You did it right, Mom,and I…

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Three Simple Rules

What boundaries do you set with your young addict? Midwestern Mama reflects on her family’s “Three Simple Rules,” which proved to be anything but easy yet absolutely necessary for peace and well-being during the addiction journey.

After our young addict turned 18, and we had been through significant chaos and a few scares, we needed some boundaries. Our days and nights had turned upside down. He was coming and going as he pleased, and we knew he was up to no good.

When he would come home, I could smell the trouble. Yes, he reeked of marijuana – and the cologne he sprayed to try and mask it. I could see the trouble. His eyes were bloodshot. If I opened his backpack or checked his coat pockets, well, it was easy to know what had been going on and it was a lot more than pot.

Enough was enough.

Our college-age daughter was working full time and going to school full time – she needed to stay focused. Our elementary-age son needed a full night of sleep – and to witness fewer stressful arguments between his brother and mom and dad.

My husband and I had jobs to go to each morning. Our colleagues counted on us to be fresh.

Yep, our son’s lifestyle was dictating ours and it was not healthy for any of us.

We had had enough, but our son hadn’t. He didn’t believe he had a problem – in fact, he felt WE were the problem. (Yeah, I know, you’ve heard that, too!) He didn’t want help. He didn’t want to live at home yet he didn’t have anywhere else to live.

It was time for some clarity on the privilege of living at home and to have some healthy expectations.

We had three simple rules:

1) No drugs or paraphernalia in the house;

2) Keep family hours Sunday night through Friday morning – no coming and going, as pleased, at all hours of the night;

3) Let us know by 8 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends if he wouldn’t be coming home that evening.

More often than not, this meant he chose not to live at home during his addiction – that broke our heart to know that using trumped being at home, that sofa surfing and homeless were his decision, but these were boundaries that protected our family – including his siblings and allowed us to go on about our lives and responsibilities.

To that end, our son was ALWAYS welcome and encouraged to be part of family activities. We wanted him to know his home was there ready when he was, that the family was there for him, that our lives would continue forward and that when he was ready that his would, too.

In time, our son addressed his drug addiction, and in time, he embraced recovery. Today, he is living at home, nearly two years sober. Today our three simple rules are no longer necessary. Instead, common courtesy is the rule and it never needs enforcing because it’s simple they way we live.

No matter where you are on the addiction journey with your young adult, I encourage you to set some simple rules that support peace and well-being in your home. When recovery comes around, I predict that common courtesy will return and there will no longer be need for rules.

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

Sobriety Gifts

Now in recovery, today’s guest blogger writes from the perspective of a person who used substances as a young person and today is the parent of three beautiful children. There is something here for everyone no matter where you are on the addiction journey. She writes about her experiences and perspectives in a blog called Discovering Beautiful  Thank you, Brittany for sharing your thoughts with us!

As a young girl I knew something wasn’t right in our home.

I may not have been able to put a name to the drugs that I saw being passed around and used, and I couldn’t have put names to the unfamiliar faces that I saw, but I would have been able to articulate how I felt about all of it.

I had a long list of unanswered questions and was a child with a slew of unmet needs.
I yearned for consistency and begged a God I didn’t even believe in to rescue me and drop me anywhere else in the universe.

So when that didn’t happen, I made my own way through and swore off that lifestyle before I finished kindergarten. I couldn’t read fluently, but I knew what I didn’t want to be when I grew up.

Sixteen years later, I became exactly what I had grown to despise.

All of the self-taught coping skills in the world couldn’t have saved me from myself.
I manifested all of the qualities that I hated and I became exactly what I didn’t want to be.

I was a twenty-two year old, high school drop-out, and single mom-
and I was addicted to drugs.

It wasn’t enough that every day I had to look into the mirror at an image that I had trouble recognizing, I would also throw myself into shame oblivion daily.

Every thought that I had about myself was toxic.

I regularly reminded myself about exactly how far down I had gone, and how closely my lifestyle resembled that of my own parents. I had believed that I could never hate anyone quite as much as my parents, right up to the point that I began to hate myself.

I was in disbelief and I believed that my life was no longer in my hands.

I believed that I had done too much damage to ever make my way back to anything socially acceptable or normal.

Whatever that was; anyway, I knew I couldn’t ever be that.

In my heart I felt like I had already damaged my son, who was 4, far beyond repair.
He would grow to hate me just as much as I loathed my own parents.
I would never be remembered by him for anything other than my poor, selfish, destructive choices. I felt that there was no coming back and it was simply best to give up.

But I didn’t.
And it wasn’t.

I took a chance on myself when someone offered to help me.

After years of substance abuse and addiction, severe clinical depression, isolation, self-harm, and abusive relationships, and a load of legal trouble, I chose to gamble on my own capabilities.

I knew that I didn’t have much to offer, certainly nothing positive, no strength left, and I hardly knew what truth was at that time.

But I tried anyway.

I tried because my son still somehow looked expectantly at me like I was perfect.
I tried because deep down, I knew I was finished. I was tired of fighting.

It turns out; I was the perfect mom for my son. I am the perfect mom for him.
It took me a significant amount of time to quit with the self-torture. I tortured myself with reminders of how horrible a mother I was for a long time in early sobriety.
I battled with immense guilt and fear that I had damaged him. I had hurt him and I refused to forgive myself.

As I sit here typing this I want you to know that he forgave me, and I was able to forgive myself.

He has survived to the ripe old age of 14 years old and he loves me.
He has somehow become this well-adjusted, creative, funny, smart, goal-oriented, God-loving young person full of energy and positivity.

I have given myself permission to accept forgiveness. Its okay to move on and I believe that.

I have set my focus on building new memories with him with a goal of overwriting all of the times I screwed up, all that I forgot to do, and all that I simply cannot remember with new and fresh things to look back on.

In regard to my parents, well, I forgive them too.
After all, a different perspective is just another wonderful gift of sobriety.

My parents are humans who made mistakes.
I am not that little girl anymore, filled with hatred, bitterness, rage, resentment, or regret.

I may not have a relationship with either one of them but what I do have is a vast amount of valuable wisdom that came from all of this mess.

For me, God has shown me how powerful love truly is.
I have learned to love myself.

Through that healing, I learned to express love to other people and I have even allowed myself to be loved.

Healing has taken place and I have been working every day for almost ten years of sobriety now to shed that old sense of self, and to embrace this new, whole, healthy person that I have found  through my choice to live a sober life.

I just want you to know that it does get better. You CAN do it.

About Brittany Shelton: Brittany Shelton - GUEST BLOGGER
She is a wife, and mother to three young boys.
Although she is certified to be a drug and alcohol counselor, she is a stay at home mom who spends her spare time crafting things she finds on Pinterest, blogging things on her blog,  Discovering Beautiful, and writing things as she works on her first book for publication.

Get in touch with her here:

www.DiscoveringBeautiful.com
www.facebook.com/DiscoveringBeautiful
Twitter: @A_Sober_Blog

From Statistics to Solutions

The statistics are alarming.  According to a survey conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), 90 percent of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started, smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18.

It’s time to stop talking about the statistics and start enacting solutions. That is why Our Young Addicts has partnered with Know the Truth, the prevention team for Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge, to host a conference that addresses the underlying issues of youth substance use.

Our inaugural event takes place on Thursday, May 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Minneapolis. It will feature panel discussions on early warning signs, intervention, collaboration and moving forward. Each panel will have a mix of professionals participate: medical, mental health, addiction, social workers, pharmacists, law enforcement, elected officials, educators and more. We anticipate an extraordinary dialogue focused on how we can work together – on prevention and treatment. It’s all about the solutions!

In the coming days and weeks, I’ll share more details about the panelists and our must-see keynote speaker.

All of YOU in the #OYACommunity have inspired this conference and I’m grateful that it’s coming together. Last year about this time, I set a goal of having a spring conference … and it’s happening!

Anything is possible, including recovery … and conferences.

Midwestern Mama