98.6 and Feeling Good

Final exam grades are starting to post, and Midwestern Mama’s son studied hard – especially for his college chemistry course.

Our son is smart. School was never a challenge for him. He could read something once and remember it. He could listen to the lesson the teacher was giving and remember it. And, his grades and test scores reflected this – until he was a junior in high school.

That’s when everything changed. His attitude, his behavior. Everything. And, it didn’t take long for us to learn that he was using drugs. From there, it all fell apart. He was lucky to graduate, but that’s another story.

We always hoped that he would one day return to school, but realized that he had a long way to go through addiction, treatment, relapse, treatment, and ultimately commitment to recovery.

That day arrived last year when he signed up for spring semester courses at the local community college. Although he was on academic probation from previous attempts at college, he appealed and registered, and throughout the semester, he worked his tail off to earn an A in English and a B in Differential Equations and Linear Algebra. He’d never worked or studied so hard in his life. Not only did he learn the subjects, he learned that he had discipline and tenacity to succeed.

Exhausted, he took the summer off from school. Again, we were hopeful he’d return for fall semester, and he did. This time, he signed up for a full load of courses, and continued to amaze us with his perseverance – everything from earning the money for tuition and books to putting forth significant study time.

It’s paid off. This week is the final week of fall semester and he’s already received an A in chemistry with a 98.6 percent on the final exam. Other projects and exams continue, but without hesitation, he opened up the online grading portal and shared his progress with us throughout the semester. (The sharing part is not only heartwarming, but a true sign of progress and recovery.)

He’s registered again for spring semester 2016 and after a few weeks of holiday break, he’ll be ready to hit the books again.

From a rough end of high school to a life-threatening start to college in 2011, #SoberSon is exhibiting the transformation of recovery and we couldn’t be more proud.

Midwestern Mama

©2015 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

Blogs I’d like to write, but haven’t yet written.

The more I write, the more I want to write – mostly before there is always more I want to share. This is certainly the case when it comes to Our Young Addicts. There is so much to talk about and so many topics that parents, young people in recovery, and addiction/treatment professionals want to read about.

As the back-to-school season moves forward, I have less and less time to write. Fall is always a busy time for my business (unrelated to Our Young Addicts, although I do have a few clients in the addiction space). In addition, I am an adjunct professor at a local university, so I’m in the classroom two nights a week plus grading my students’ papers. And, as every parent knows, the school year brings extra commitments – getting up earlier to get my 15-year-old off to school, encouraging good homework habits, carpooling to sports practice, and more.

My day is the same as yours. Twenty four hours. No more. No less.

Yet, I still want to give Our Young Addicts just as much energy, passion and content as the summer months. Some of that I put in play with our #SoberSchoolYear campaign with Tweets and Facebook posts running daily to offer tips and insights.

As well, I owe you all a good update on #SoberSon and his continued success with recovery as well as an honest account of some of the struggles that run parallel on this path. These real-time observations prove valuable no matter where your kid (of any age) may be on the spectrum of experimentation, use, addiction, treatment, relapse, and recovery.

On my list.

For now though, I’m just going to share a whole bunch of topics that I’d like to write about at some point. Let me know what you think. Tell me which ones are of greatest interest. I remain committed to one post per week about our family’s journey; one guest post per week from a parent, young person in recovery, or addiction professional; and one #TBT column – because there is so much wisdom in the early days of my son’s addiction and its impact on the family.

Here are “just a few” of the future blog posts that I may just write one day:

  • Even with “all the right things,” you kid may use … and may become an addict
    • Coming to terms with we didn’t cause this, can’t change this, can’t control this, can’t cure this … yet were supposed to do these “influential things” that still might not work, reconciling all this.
  • MWM’s “AA” is Appropriately Anonymous
  • The freedom of a fence
  • A short leash … advice to the tennis coach … oops
  • Check it out – act now
  • Check it out – testing
  • Create and orchestrate a community team
  • Be open to possibilities
  • Less rigid, 180 degrees
  • #NotMyKid – the most dangerous mindset
  • Still Curious – So much we still don’t know, might never know
  • The day I cleaned my son’s room
  • Then & Now
  • 24/7/365 – it’s the same allotment, every day, for all of us
  • Role Models – inspire others due to our vulnerable honesty, and this inspires others to keep on keeping on … Experience
  • My goal was to have no goal – when the mind was quieting down, the answers came to me … in part it inspired the writing and the formation of Our Young Addicts, find solutions in a place of peace
  • Beyond Been There And Done That – Here Now and Doing This – Real-time Experience
  • Takeaways for Parents:
    • Trust your Mom Radar
      • Check it out
      • Don’t be naïve
    • Create a team, a community
      • Variety of perspectives and experiences
      • It’s going to be a bit of a haul, need support from those who have been there and done that, and from those here and doing this
    • Share the conversation, which creates hope and hope becomes belief – experience, resources, hope
    • Quiet the mind and be open to the possibilities
    • The positive outcomes of this horrific journey in addition to son’s sobriety and recovery, are the relationships, the personal growth, the clarity of purpose… there is a gift in the journey of addiction
  • Dual diagnosis – are there different rules for support? For action? For expectations?
  • Don’t be rigid – recovery perceptions
  • Just as we had perceptions of addiction, we had perceptions of recovery
  • Trust each other
  • It’s OK for Mama to have some wine, if she doesn’t have a substance use condition
  • Diet Coke – addiction, it’s real

In one of my many English courses, I remember someone attributing this quote to Ernest Hemmingway, “I don’t like to write, I like having written.” This says a lot about the discipline of writing and the compulsion to edit. For this and many other reasons, I have never thought that I should edit content for Our Young Addicts – that it should come from the heart and brain to the page, just as it is.

There you have it, just as it is!

Thanks for reading and for your continued support and participation as part of the #OYACommunity.

Midwestern Mama

Registered & Ready – It’s Almost Time to go Back to School

True to his word, Midwestern Mama’s #SoberSon will return to community college this fall, and he’s doing it on his own. Another example of recovery in progress!

Back to the lecture hall for fall classes at community college.
Back to the lecture hall for fall classes at community college.

Fall classes at my son’s community college don’t start until the end of August, but he’s already registered and has earned enough money for tuition and books. This is significant. It’s nothing short of an amazing transformation from addiction to recovery.

Just think, a year ago he had started another treatment program and it really felt different – better – this time. That alone was encouraging for us and empowering for him. We had hope, but in the past the new-car smell would wear off and we’d be left with another broken-down clunker.

As he went through the treatment program and began living in recovery, he started talking about going back to college part time. By December, he had completed the necessary steps including an appeal to override previous academic suspension from his addiction days.

His spring classes were tough, but he dug in and committed to attending and studying – receiving an A in English Composition and a B in Differential Equations and Linear Algebra.

While building his confidence, it also stressed and exhausted him to the point that he decided not to take summer classes.

It's takes hard work to get back in the swing of doing home work and studying for college classes.
It’s takes hard work to get back in the swing of doing home work and studying for college classes.

Amid a more relaxed schedule this summer and a lot of video games, we’ve been hopeful that he would return to community college in the fall. However, we know not to push or hover because that stresses him.

True to his word, however – and this is a new behavior that we are coming to appreciate more and more each day – he just registered for fall classes AND informed us that he’s earned enough from his part-time job to pay tuition and buy books. He’s moving from eight credits up to 12 credits, a nice manageable load, and I’m looking forward to the routine of having him in class and doing homework, but not until we enjoy another month of summer!

Midwestern Mama

©2015 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

Making the Grade – From Addiction to Academic Achievement

Whoo-hoo! Midwestern Mama’s son has successfully completed a semester of college – sober and with good grades.

Until this week, my son had taken college classes here and there. A few he took as part of our school district’s PSEO (post secondary education option) program – mostly because he’s gifted in math and had taken all the courses available at high school. A few he took after high school graduation, but these he either didn’t complete or didn’t meet minimum grade requirements to continue.

When he graduated (just barely) from high school in 2010, his addiction was full on and he had no interest in going to college in spite of a wonderful scholarship and opportunity to play on the men’s tennis team. Instead, he enrolled in community college and then proceeded to skip classes and within a month or so dropped out without paying the balance of his tuition.

In 2011, he decided the college opportunity was better than what he was doing at the time, so he gratefully thought he’d get his act together and start up for spring semester. That didn’t go so well. Readers of this blog know that the first weekend on campus landed him in the ER and detox, and soon after in getting kicked off the tennis team and out of campus housing.

A year later, one of the treatment programs he attended encouraged us, and him, to go back to community college. Same old, same old. He was using drugs, didn’t do assignments, didn’t go to class. While he technically completed two classes, his grades reflected his lack of commitment and the college placed him on academic probation.

Fast forward, at age 22, as his childhood friends were graduating and getting “big-boy” jobs, he embraced sobriety and recovery. He decided to go back to college for spring semester 2015.

With hopeful trepidation, he addressed academic probation with a heartfelt letter of appeal and asked for admission. It was granted and he signed up for the maximum number of credits allowed as part of academic probation – 8 credits, two classes.

He took the placement exam and scored well but it indicated that he should go back a course or two in math. Stubborn as always, he decided proceed with the next course anyway – differential equations and linear algebra. Tough classes regardless of having completed the prerequisites … even tougher when that was five years ago.

The first week, he realized he was in over his head. It’s like taking a language but not speaking it for five years and then thinking you can pick up right where you left off. Instead of dropping the class, he put in long hours and took out a highlighter as he used “Calculus for Dummies” to reacquaint himself with the topic. Night after night, he struggled.

Social anxiety precluded him from connecting with the teacher or other students, and he failed the first test miserably. At this point it was too late to drop the class, and being on academic probation from his addiction days meant that he might not get off it if he didn’t get a B or better in the class.

Of course, I went into problem-solving mode. (Old habits, right?) My son said he was well aware of his options, including getting tutor. (Old communications style, right?) Being aware of options and taking action are two different things, so he continued to struggle.

Shortly thereafter, another mom on Twitter turned me on to tutoring source, so I signed up and found local options for my son. My husband and I said, this is our gift to you – here are names, contact info and we’ll pay the fee. To our surprise and delight, he took us up on the offer.

The first tutor he met with was a dud. I encouraged him to try another. He did, and this one turned out to be, “awesome.” They have worked together several times now and my son’s grade and confidence have soared.

He continued to put forth significant effort – hours and hours each day to mastering the material. The final exam is today, and while we don’t know what grade he will receive, we do know that he’s learned something of infinite value and we are confident that he will be off academic probation.

Never in 22 years have I seen my son put forth such effort and discipline. I am proud. More importantly, I know he is proud, too!