I Thought I Was Different, I was Unique

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Guest blogger, Rose Landes, joins us again with another inspiring and insightful blog post. This week, she explores the self perception of feeling different, lonely – especially as a young person struggling with addiction and how that changed to a feeling of belonging through the recovery community. Now a parent, this mom has a unique vantage point on addiction and recovery and the importance of feeling like you belong.

Tree in Water - Rose L - Unique

For so long I felt so alone. I honestly believed no one understood me, even with my family I felt like the black sheep. Initially I attributed this to the fact that I had grown up overseas. It would have been true if my brothers had experienced the same struggles I did. But when I looked at that them, it seemed, they received an instruction manual for life that I did not get.

I always felt different like, I didn’t belong. It wasn’t until I made it to a 12-step meeting that I realized that was feeling was shared by many. I finally felt a sense of belonging.

During my time in active addiction I was consumed by feelings of loneliness, anger, fear, shame, guilt, and helplessness. I always felt like no one understood what I was going through. No one felt the same way I did. And I used this to isolate myself and justify continuing to use. What I was unable to see at that time is, my loved ones knew exactly what I was feeling as they shared similar emotions themselves. Although the circumstances were different the feelings were the same.

Inside I felt consumed by anger at myself and the world in general. I wanted to make intelligent choices and not hurt myself and those I loved, but as my addiction grew, my choices grew poorer and poorer.

I felt like my parents could not possibly know the level of anger, frustration and guilt that I felt. They tried to talk to me, but it always ended up a yelling match. We had nothing in common, and communicating with them was impossible.

Usually when they caught me and I would defend myself by denying it, then scream at them saying they just didn’t understand. My parents felt anger too at a disease that was slowly killing their child and there was nothing they could do about it.

My parents were concerned about me. They told me that they were worried that my current choices were dangerous and would lead to me getting hurt or worse. I responded with anger. I reacted to the fear that deep inside, I knew, I was headed for something terrible.

Looking back I used the anger I felt to hide the fear that consumed me on a regular basis. Anger was so much easier to access and feel. I didn’t know what to do with fear. I see know that my parents were just as fearful as I was. Though the fears themselves were different the emotions were the same.

I continued down my path of self-destruction while those around me watched, helpless to stop me. As helpless as I felt in the face of my addiction, My parents experienced that exact same way. They were powerless to stop me, no matter how many therapists they took me too or drug detox centers they took me too.

All they could do was hope for the best, that one day I would have enough and stop. That I wouldn’t end up dead or in jail. Although I’m sure that they wished for that sometimes. I was so self absorbed that I could not even see that others actually felt the same emotions I did. That my parents shared a lot of similar responses to what this disease was doing to the whole family.

For years I was consumed by shame and guilt from trauma and my addiction. I thought I was alone in that, that no one could relate to me.. Reflecting in recovery from a different perspective I see that my parents and loved one’s felt the same way. They knew what it was to feel guilty I’m sure they asked themselves what they had done wrong.

As a parent, now, I can understand what it must have been like. I know that they felt shame because let’s be honest it’s not something that you will share with others the negative stigma is still so strong. On Facebook I saw a Meme that said it perfectly; There was a picture of an empty dining room table and underneath it said “All the casseroles friends brought when they found out my son was an addict.”

What I couldn’t see in the past is all that shame and guilt I went through in addiction. My parents carried the same stigma and shame initially, no one want’s to talk about it. Thanks to raising of awareness and the rampant spread of the opiate epidemic few families are left untouched.

You want to blame yourself when it’s not really anyone’s fault. I have learned that we all do the best we can with what we have. In the rooms of the 12-step programs I have heard too many stories of children from happy healthy homes who ended up the same place I did. It wasn’t only the trauma that brought me to this place in my life. I had a large genetic component that contributed as well, both of my grandfathers were alcoholics and I have cousins who struggle as well.

As I learned to communicate with my family and loved ones better. With continued sobriety and a clearer head I saw that the reality was I pushed the people I love away.   They tried to reach me in so many different ways I did not want to hear them. The denial was so strong that I shut them out.

I had convinced myself I not like them, I was different. In the end though, I finally came to the conclusion that all of us struggle with painful feelings. We all carry some guilt and shame, as well as anger and frustration. I realized that I was not as unique as I thought.

About Rose Landes

Rose Landes 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 her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

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Amends: The Hardest One, Was To Myself

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This week’s guest blogger, Rose Landes, writes about the importance of making amends. For parents and for their loved ones in recovery, there is a point when each has to make amends to oneself. It’s not easy, but it is an incredible turning point on this journey from addiction to recovery.

As strange as it may sound, I looked forward to Step 9. In a 12-step program this is the step where you attempt to clean your side of the street and accept responsibility for the harm you’ve caused. Amends provide the bridge to help rebuild relationships. Typically people are not fond of this step.

For an addict, the word “sorry” has been an empty promise that we have made too many times. Even though we truly mean it, in that moment, we are unable to keep our word in the face of addiction.

When I sat down with my 12-step sponsor, I was nervous and unsure of myself, questioning if I had done it right ie-(perfectionist)– shocker right!   My sponsor has reminded me over and over, there is no perfect way to do the steps. As I went over my list I felt relief as I could finally let go and move forward from my past. I was making things right.

When I got through my list my sponsor paused, looking at me she said “Do you think you forgot someone?”

What? I panicked I had wracked my brain writing this list, who could I have missed?

She looked at me waiting, and it dawned on me. Who did I hate the most? Who did I punish on a regular basis?

Me—I was filled with self loathing and disgust after years of self destructive behavior. I really did owe an amends to myself.

What was stopping me? Well, the reality is, I was not ready to forgive myself.

An Amends To Myself

Before I even went to treatment, I realized that how I felt, thought, and treated myself usually mirrored how I interacted with those around me. What I mean is that how I treated myself, was how I treated anyone who was in my life.

I had to forgive myself to complete this step.

My sponsor encouraged me to write this amends. I spent a couple of days coming up with excuses why this was not needed in my case. Imagine that, me, thinking I was unique. I’m not an alcoholic, right? I still wanted to punish myself, as if somehow, this would make up for all the pain I had created in the lives of those I loved.

I worked my way through my amends list starting with my family, children and close friends. As I repaired the wreckage in my past I began to feel this sense of peace that I really can’t explain. Other than to say I had a glimpse of what serenity is. My family has encouraged me to continue doing what I am doing. They just want to see me happy. To be a functioning member of society that can contribute to life and not take everything for granted. They all just wanted to see me reach the potential I had wasted for so long. As for my children they just want to see me happy and present.

Their reactions helped me see my value as a person. If they could accept my apology why couldn’t I accept one to myself? And so I began the process of forgiving myself. I say process because it is an ongoing everyday thing. I have to learn a new way of thinking about myself.

Then It Clicked!

I wrote my list: Painful is putting it lightly. It hurt to see on paper the damage I intentionally did to myself. No wonder I hurt those around me. I had no idea how to love myself. I spent years doing things to make sure that I was unlovable and that I lived up to the lies I told myself. In the end, the list gave me an idea of what I needed to work on. I had to make a commitment to myself to not repeat them.

That is the most important part. We are saying that moving forward you will make an effort to change and not repeat your mistakes.

Obviously I don’t always follow through or make the right choice. That’s ok and this is where the cheesy slogans of my 12-step program help me see that what it’s really about. Progress and not perfection.

Once I did this, I had a new awareness of how I treated myself on a daily basis. My sponsor asked me if the way I treated myself was how I would treat a best friend. I really heard that, and it did make a difference.

Why An Amends To Myself Was The Most Important

Making that amends began to change the way I saw and treated myself. When you are treating yourself with respect, you tend to treat others with respect, as well. With this newfound respect for myself. I was now, able to do all those “self” affirmations they teach you in treatment. What followed was beautiful, I no longer was a “taker” in life. Instead I began to see the reward of being a “giver”. The most important effect it had, was I finally set boundaries with myself and others. No longer did I have to tolerate others treating me badly. Without guilt I could be assertive and protect myself.

Making An Amends To Yourself

Do you owe yourself an amends? I think that is an important question you should ask yourself. From my experience if you are struggling with self destructive behaviour, then maybe you should consider this. For me this was a life changing decision. I have a taste of what it means to be content with life and yourself.

Think about how you treat yourself, or how you have treated yourself in the past. Make a living amends by being kind to yourself, and see the difference it makes in your life.

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Rose Landes 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.

Find Rose Landes on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

Guest Blog: A Foundation for the Future by Bill Rummler

This week’s guest blogger is Bill Rummler from the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation. In this poignant blog post, he share’s his son’s story of pain, addiction and death, and the efforts of the Foundation to prevent future opioid-overdose deaths.

Lexi Reed Holtum, vice president of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, with high school sweetheart and fiance Steve Rummer, September 2010
Lexi Reed Holtum, vice president of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, with high school sweetheart and fiance Steve Rummer, September 2010

Our son Steve Rummler was one of the more than 16,000 people who died from prescription drug overdoses in 2011. He died on July 1 of that year at the age of 43 and we miss him more than you can ever know.

Steve was a very intelligent and highly talented person. He was a deans list college student. He was a competitive athlete, an all-conference soccer player and division-one college prospect. He was a gifted piano, guitar and drum player who wrote many beautiful songs. He was an astute businessman and a top financial advisor in the Twin Cities.

All who knew Steve respected and loved him. He was very caring, loved being with people and was engaged to be married to Lexi, his high school sweetheart. He was in many ways the all around success story that every parent hopes their child will become. He was living the American dream and we were very proud of him.

In 1996, at the age of 28, Steve suffered a severe injury to his spine, which began his tragic story. He sought medical advice from the top doctors in Minnesota and they were never able to find what caused the shock like symptoms that surged up and down his spine every single day. The pain was especially severe at night and he suffered from lack of sleep for the rest of his life. Steve continued to work hard and play music and sports. He even ran a marathon in under four hours. He was able to be quite active during the day, but the nights were intolerable.

The pain and lack of a medical diagnosis caused Steve to become depressed. So, he was prescribed anti-depressants, which were supposed to help his depression and his pain.

He soon began to like the idea of getting help from a pill. This was a major fork in the road of his life. He had chosen pills, rather than other healthier alternatives.

The pain continued and he was then prescribed anti-anxiety medications known as benzodiazepines.

Finally, in 2005, when Steve was 37 years old, he was prescribed opioids by our family doctor. This doctor was well intentioned, but unaware of the potential side effects of these highly addictive pills.

The FDA was calling them safe and effective for treatment of long-term pain. And the pill manufacturers were making huge profits as a result.

This was the beginning of Steve’s end of life struggle. He soon began to show many of the signs of addiction, which included taking more pills than were prescribed to him in order to maintain his high and seemingly “treat” his pain. He had become totally convinced that these heroin-like pills were the only way to solve his pain problem. After he died we found a note in his handwriting: “at first it was a lifeline, now it is a noose around my neck”.

Addiction is a disease of the brain, the most valuable asset we have for dealing with life’s challenges. But, when something adversely affects our brain, it can severely limit our ability to make good choices. Taking a narcotic did not eliminate the cause of Steve’s pain; it simply made him less aware of it. His brain became numb to the pain just as it became numb to most things that matter in life.

We sadly saw this begin to unfold with Steve. Not long after he began taking opioids, we began to notice serious side effects. He lost his enthusiasm for most things in life. He often seemed out of it and would sometimes slur his words. He became less sharp in business and began losing clients. He became more irritable and blamed others for his problems. He stopped paying his taxes on time and was less punctual. He spent most his waking hours sedentary on the couch, stayed up late, slept in late and rarely exercised. He was often sick and would go for days without returning our phone calls. Always honest, he began to lie.  And the pain was still there and likely even worse. So he wanted more opioids. Steve was very sick with an addiction to the very pills that were supposed to help him.

We could see this tragic scenario unfolding, but were powerless to help. Steve had to help himself.

But the drugs numbed his brain and made him unable to do so. We begged and pleaded with him to try any alternative for help with his pain. It was heart wrenching for us.

We thought we had been good parents and now all was unraveling before our very eyes.

It is difficult for anyone to take a single opioid pill without it having some effect on that person’s mind. These drugs are basically a form of heroin that can produce a high that is very difficult to resist. Steve used prescription opioids for over five years, in ever increasing amounts.  In reality, he likely became addicted to them within the first few months.

While opioids are very risky and can lead to death when used to treat chronic pain, they do have a benefit for acute and end of life pain.

In 1995 my sister Peggy was dying from pancreatic cancer and in great pain. Her morphine pump worked wonders for her. She was in a constant state of euphoria from the drugs, but her pain was tolerable until the end. Sadly, Steve became addicted to those very drugs that were so helpful to his Aunt Peggy. For him, with chronic pain, it was a death sentence.

The tragedy of Steve’s untimely death and our resulting grief, have motivated us to work very hard to prevent others from suffering as he did.

The Steve Rummler Hope Foundation (SRHF) was born out of Steve’s death. Its mission is “to heighten awareness of the dilemma of chronic pain and the disease of addiction and to improve the associated care process”. Through its Overdose Prevention and Prescriber Education programs, and through its Advocacy efforts, SRHF saves lives, educates healthcare professionals, and engages the public as well as public-policy-makers in addressing the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths. (Opioids include narcotic painkillers and heroin). This public health crisis has been labeled an “epidemic” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There is much that needs to be done to help pain patients avoid the risks of addiction and bring this epidemic under control. Our emphasis has been to focus first on the areas in which we can have the greatest immediate impact: stopping overdose deaths and educating physicians about the responsible prescribing of opioids.

At its inception in 2011, SRHF founders explored the nonprofit environment for organizations focused on providing hope for those with chronic pain and addiction. They found that there was a need for this focus and were encouraged to fill the gap. To date, this uniqueness has led to many opportunities for success and many demands from the community for us to do more.

We encourage you to get to know more about the SRHF. Please visit our website at:

http://www.steverummlerhopefoundation.org/

Here you can learn about Steve’s Law, a Minnesota good-Samaritan and Naloxone law, named for our son Steve. The implementation of this law (similar laws are in effect in many other states) has already saved, and will continue to save, many lives. Our website has a wealth of other information, too.

Please consider making a donation to help us continue our life saving work. Anything you can give will be very much appreciated.

Finally, we encourage you to tell others about us and join us in our effort to change and save lives.

Thank you for your interest.

Thank you, Bill, for sharing your story with the #OYACommunity. We are grateful for your efforts and accomplishment on behalf of families and friends who are concerned about substance use and addiction.

©2015 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

Guest Blog: Judy Rummler on Being FED UP! with the Opioid Addiction Epidemic

This week we are reblogging a guest blog from the Phoenix House. It profiles Judy Rummler, founder of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation and leader of the recent FedUp! Rally that took place in Washington, D.C., this past weekend. Thank you, Judy, for being an action-oriented advocate for overdose prevention.

http://www.phoenixhouse.org/news-and-views/our-perspectives/judy-rummler-on-being-fed-up-with-the-opioid-addiction-epidemic/

This blog ran on the Phoenix House website on Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Judy Rummler (2)Our guest blogger this week is Judy Rummler, president of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, which provides programming and hope for those with chronic pain and addiction. She has been chair of the FED UP! Coalition since its inception in 2012 and is working with the committee that is planning this year’s FED UP! Rally on Saturday, October 3 in Washington, D.C. The coalition and annual rally bring together individuals and organizations to prompt federal action to end the epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths related to opioids, encompassing both heroin and prescription painkillers. Here, in a Q&A conversation, she discusses FED UP!, the rally’s goals, and what individuals can do to help fight the U.S. opioid epidemic.

Phoenix House:  How did you become involved in FED UP!?

Judy Rummler:  My son Steve died of an accidental opioid overdose after becoming addicted to the painkillers that were prescribed to him for his chronic pain. After his death, my husband and I created the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation to provide hope for those with chronic pain and addiction. We had no idea at first that his death was part of a national epidemic of overdose deaths, but we quickly learned that federal action would be required to bring this epidemic to an end. I started attending hearings at the FDA [Food and Drug Administration], where I met Dr. Andrew Kolodny. And I met others there who were passionate about creating change, many of whom had also lost loved ones. We decided that change would come faster if we created one voice as a coalition.

PH:  When you first started, what did you hope FED UP! would accomplish? Has it lived up to your expectations?

JR:  One of our first goals was to get the FDA to reschedule hydrocodone combination products from Class III to Class II, which was important because a doctor’s visit is now required for refills of prescriptions for these drugs. This has happened. We also wanted to increase public awareness of the epidemic. We now see it in the news regularly. So, we are happy with these and other successes, but there is much more to do!

PH:  What do you hope will come out of this year’s rally?

JR:  We hope to get President Obama to speak out about the epidemic. It wasn’t until President Reagan spoke out about the AIDS epidemic, after 20,000 deaths, that the nation began to seriously look for solutions. We have a petition on change.org asking the President to provide the needed leadership and speak out about the opioid epidemic.

Fed-Up-Flyer-2015PH:  What part of this year’s rally are you looking forward to the most?

JR:  This year’s rally will be held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech. I am looking forward to this special location and to our partnership with UNITE to Face Addiction—in addition to our usual array of amazing speakers.

PH:  When most people hear “prescription drug abuse,” they think of a teenager rummaging through the medicine cabinet looking for a quick high. How does that jibe with what you know about the opioid epidemic?  

JR:  The root of the epidemic is the overprescribing of opioid painkillers, not the “abuse.” The medications in medicine cabinets were prescribed to someone. Many people mistakenly believe that because these medications are prescribed by a doctor that they are safe.

PH:  What do you wish you could say to people who currently have a loved one struggling with opioid addiction?

JR:  This is a very difficult question. My husband and I did everything we could think of to save our son from the disease of addiction. I now know more than most people about the disease, and I would do some things differently, but I’m still not sure how we could have saved him. I would tell people to learn as much as they can about the disease as soon as possible and to be sure that medication-assisted treatment is available at any addiction treatment program they might choose.

PH:  If someone can’t attend the rally but would like to do something to fight the opioid addiction epidemic, do you have any suggestions for things they can do?

JR:  I would suggest that they join an advocacy group in their local community that is working to fight the epidemic. I would also encourage them to tell their story as often as they can. Public awareness of the issue is increasing, but we need more people to speak out.

– See more at: http://www.phoenixhouse.org/news-and-views/our-perspectives/judy-rummler-on-being-fed-up-with-the-opioid-addiction-epidemic/#sthash.3qGogI6T.dpuf

Guest Blog: The Deception of Acceptance

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This week’s guest blogger is parent Alexandris Townsend who writes about faith-based acceptance – the key to her son’s recovery from substance use.

Social inclusiveness is a very important and prevalent issue in the lives of our teens and young adults. Learning how to handle and deal with social rejection effectively presents numerous challenges for young people in high school and college settings.  One must learn how to navigate through the arena of diverse peer groups, but yet still feel isolated in addition to battling personal self-esteem issues. Social acceptance was profoundly important to my youngest son during his high school years and even post high school.

Dale’s dealing with this personal issue “social acceptance” over time became extremely detrimental for him. Let me illustrate using these poetic stanzas:

The Deception of Acceptance

To be accepted can become one’s life-long dream

To be accepted can cost the lost of your identity and detour God’s divine purpose. The burden to be accepted what a heavy yoke. This process to be accepted  is painful, humiliating, and degrading because in seeking acceptance you lose you God’s wondrous creation. Agents of Satan began to speak poisonous venom and prophesy evil utterances, hindering your God-given potential and talent. You allow them to do this because to be accepted is more valuable than rejection, the burden to be accepted what heavy yoke. To be accepted carries a devouring price tag in which your destiny, character and self-esteem are distorted and disfigured, leaving you with a hand-written receipt engraved with these words “guilt and condemnation.” To be accepted leads to pathways of self-medicating habits engulfed in a destructive lifestyle. Drowning your hurt, pain, disappointments and sorrows with the Adder’s remedies alcohol and cocaine. To be accepted allows pathways to become gateways to the enemy’s domain. His snares and schemes are hypnotic for they are disguised in the sensual Succubus-Satan’s demon. You are left helpless as a lamb for slaughter until a mighty intercessor cries out on your behalf. To be accepted can cost you your soul and dignity, yes, you become well acquainted with bondage and oppression. What will you render for your soul? Is it really worth “the deception of acceptance?” Only you can know!

Underage drinking became the “vice and self-medicating habit” that became Dale’s coping mechanism in dealing with social acceptance. What started out in part as being recreational/social over time escalated into full blown addiction. The downward spiral of just drinking on the weekends led to drinking everyday leaving him powerless to stop drinking on his own volition. It was heartbreaking as a parent to witness this powerful and destructive affliction that consumed Dale’s life for more than a decade. The power of God’s deliverance came February 21, 2012, when Dale experienced the divine deliverance of God, and entered into a Residential Alcohol Treatment Program for Men in Charlotte NC. He has been on the path of sobriety now for 39 months. Serving as Alcoholic Anonymous Sponsor and is employed as a Peer Coach to those diagnose with mental health and substance abuse challenges.  As a parent I want to encourage other young people in knowing that you are so special to God and He has given your life meaning and purpose. To God you are so VALUABLE, and in Him you are deeply LOVED. Even though you may experience rejection by others God will never reject you because His love is NOT conditional but unconditional.

God commissioned me to write a book about Dale’s journey with alcoholism and it was published last April 2014 “Experiencing The Greatness of God in the Spiritual Realm.” Copies of his inspiring story are available @ Amazon.com. The spiritual purpose for me penning this book is to help other families who are still dealing with the devastating effects of alcoholism. Divine intervention lifted my son from the deep despair of addiction. God desires to intervene in your personal struggles with alcoholism; the question is “will you let Him?” I am PRAYING the answer is “YES!” Your life MATTERS to God.

Alexandris Townsend

Guest Blog: The Blame Game by Nadine Herring


Parents, families and professionals - let's end "The Blame Game."
Parents, families and professionals – let’s end “The Blame Game.”

I have a confession to make: I watch Dr. Phil, pretty much on a daily basis. I know, I know…but I like to watch a good train wreck to wind down my day and this show never fails to disappoint.

While there have been some truly cringe worthy episodes that make you wonder why they would even put them on the air, there have also been some good episodes so things tend to balance out.

The Dr. Phil show likes to specialize in shows that deal with family dysfunction: whether that be from divorce, parent-child issues, or its favorite topic – addiction. Now let me start by saying that I think Dr. Phil’s heart is in the right place when he takes on these topics, but I don’t always agree with his methods especially when it comes to dealing with the family members of addicts.

A typical addiction episode of the Dr. Phil show usually involves the family member or friend of the addict reaching out to Dr. Phil for help in dealing with the addict. They usually have tried every option (so they say) and are reaching out to him as their last hope for their loved one. The family member(s) will usually come out first, tell their story and then the addict will be brought on stage to tell their story. Once both parties are on stage, it doesn’t tend to go well and lots of arguing and yelling ensue. Now Dr. Phil can step in and shut this down immediately and facilitate a calm, rationale conversation but that wouldn’t make for good television, so he tends to let them go at it for a while before he cuts to commercial.

Once back from commercial, Dr. Phil will talk with the addict to dig into the story a little deeper and try to find out how and why they got started using. More yelling and name calling is done, and Dr. Phil usually turns to the family member(s) and starts to go in on them, and the blame game begins.

As the sibling and spouse of former addicts, I take great offense to this and usually get so angry watching him insult, patronize, and downright shame the family, that I have to change the channel!

The Blame Game

I’m going to speak from my experience and tell you that my brother and sister’s addiction had NOTHING to do with how they were raised.

My three sisters and I, along with my brother were raised in a very loving, close, two-parent home and there was no dysfunction in our family.

Now my brother was the oldest, so I can’t speak to how his addiction started, but I did notice that he seemed really different to me once he got out of the army. My brother joined right after high school and was stationed overseas for a while in Asia, and I honestly think that’s where his drinking problem began. Though I was very young when he came back, I definitely noticed a change.

As for my sister, we are only 14 months apart and were extremely close, so I was there from the beginning of her addiction. I know exactly how her addiction started, and again it had nothing to do with her family life! My sister started hanging with some very shady friends who got her started with marijuana and it very quickly progressed to harder street drugs. She left home at a young age, but my parents did everything they could to help her, and I would even follow her around to try to make sure she was safe, but her friends and her addiction were more powerful than our love for her. For YEARS she would go in and out of rehabs, in and out of our lives and there was nothing we could do.

So when I see Dr. Phil jumping all over some of these families who have genuinely done everything they know to do and come to him for help and he blames them for their loved one’s addiction, it makes me upset and sad because my family has been there.

We’ve watched our family members sink deep into the abyss of addiction and tried everything we could to help them. We watched as our family was torn apart and relationships were destroyed. My parents watched their only son and I watched my brother who I idolized, slowly drink himself to death, and when he finally got sober, watched him die way too young from cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 49. I watched the pain, devastation and stress of my parents as they wondered where their youngest daughter was and if she was okay. We lived for years dreading a late night phone call because we just knew it would be the police calling to tell us that she was dead. Unless you have lived with and loved an addict, you will NEVER understand how this feels.

Fortunately for my sister and our family, her story has a happy ending and she has been clean for over 10 years now and we are so very proud of her and the strength it took for her to make it through her addiction alive; her story is truly amazing.

I know that my family is not to blame for the addictions of my brother and sister and while I commend Dr. Phil for his efforts in trying to help addicts, he is doing them no favors when he tries to play the blame game with their families.

Nadine Herring is the owner of Virtually Nadine, a virtual assistant company that provides online administrative support to addiction specialists and social service organizations. I specialize in working with this undervalued and overworked field to help them deal with the time consuming process of running an organization.

Connect with me on LinkedInGoogle+TwitterPinterest, or my website

Many thanks, Nadine, for sharing this perspective with us. Let’s work together – parents, families and professionals to end the blame game. MWM

What’s on your mind? Guest bloggers tell all.

This summer, Our Young Addicts kicked off guest blog posts on Wednesdays, and it’s become one of our most popular offerings. I’m so glad, because this is the true spirit of community. We alternate between parents, people in recovery who used as young adults, and professionals who work in addiction, treatment and recovery.

Each post offers something substantial – I know these are making a difference in your lives and mine. Together, we are sharing experiences, offering resources and instilling hope.

Browse the recent posts and archives:

  • A Minnesota dad shared what he has learned through his son’s addiction. An Alabama mom wrote about recognizing her daughter’s meth use and then how she learned to shift from enabling to supporting her through treatment and early recovery.
  • Two young men have shared their stories as well. One became addicted to opiates during high school; he is now in recovery and rebuilding his life through work and college. The other wrote a letter to moms and dads telling us things he wished we knew – like we didn’t cause his addiction and that there was nothing we could have told him to make him stop … until he was ready. That one, in particular, resonated with me.
  • The first two of three parts from Drew Horowitz, our addiction and recovery specialist, has focused on his personal journey with addiction as a young adult and how this has shaped his national practice. He also wrote about how to create a successful, youth-centered intervention. I’m looking forward to his third post, which will run on August 12.

In the coming weeks, we have scheduled some truly fantastic posts. One is from a fellow #OYACommunity friend who writes about the impact of addiction on families. She’s become a passionate advocate and is working to create effective community outreach in her hometown in Connecticut.

I’m also excited to run a guest blog post from an author that helped me through some of my son’s early addiction years. My son attended the same treatment center as the author, so I reached out back in 2011 and he provided great encouragement during a particularly trying time. This author now works as an addiction counselor as part of a mental health program in Georgia.

Those are just a few of the guest blog posts that you’ll find in the coming weeks on Our Young Addicts. If you would like to share what’s on your mind, please see our Writers Guidelines – send me a message to schedule a post.

Meanwhile, I’ll be taking a short break next week for some R&R. See you here when I get back, and thanks for your ongoing support of the the #OYACommunity via this blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Midwestern Mama

Guest Blog: A Mom Stops Enabling and Starts Supporting Her Daughter in Recovery from Meth Addiction

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One of the most rewarding aspects of the #OYACommunity is connecting with other parents who are on the addiction and recovery path with their children. Together, we share experiences with the hopes that it helps other families facing a similar situation.

Today’s guest blogger is the Jennifer Jinks Yates, the mom of a young woman who is overcoming Methamphetamine addiction. She writes about recognizing the signs, to getting her daughter into treatment and now supporting her in early recovery. We wish Jennifer and her daughter Abby the best as their journey continues. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JYTS68

I realized very quickly I had no idea who my child was. About a year ago I knew something was going on; the violent outbursts, the weight loss, hallucinations.

Of course, she looked at me right in the eyes and lied; “I swear I’m not on drugs.” I believed her.

I even took her to a gastroenterologist because of her vomiting and diarrhea episodes. I later learned she was actually just what they call “dope sick.”

One night last fall she called me in the middle of the night hysterically crying. “He beat me up bad, mom. Come get me.” I met her at a gas station, dried blood on her face and windshield busted out.

I asked again, “…are you on drugs?” “Yes, mom. Yes!” she yelled. I’d love to say I was in shock but I already knew in my heart.

She told me she had been using drugs, mainly methamphetamine, for over years. Smoking it, snorting it, and within the last year, injecting it. I look back and that is when my instincts kicked in. Prior to that, I truly had no idea.

Back to the night I met her at the gas station, how broken and tiny she looked in her car. I brought her home and called her father.

We had her in treatment within 72 hours. I felt peace for the first time in a while.

I drove her to the treatment center three hours from home. Leaving her there was the hardest thing I’ve done since burying my mother at the age of twenty-five. I cried the whole way home. I cried almost every day for a while, uncontrollably at times.

Thinking back and wondering, “How did I not know? Did I ever really know her at all?”

Two weeks in she convinced me she learned her lesson and was ready to come home. I reluctantly went and got her.

I was the queen of enabling at that time.

Three days in and she was at it again. Her abusive boyfriend brought drugs to my home while I was working two jobs. I previously told her if she relapsed she could not live in my house. Two weeks before Christmas she moved out. I prayed and prayed for her. A few weeks later she asked me to come get her again. I told her I would only if she would agree to return to treatment, and she did. That was early January, 2015.

Immediately she was a different person. She stayed in rehab until the staff said she was ready for sober living. She will graduate from sober living in a few weeks. While I am nervous about her returning home, I have to give her a chance. She has done all she has been asked to do.

I have had several people who knew her the first rehab visit say she is a totally different young lady. Our battle is far from over. She feels like sober living is a bubble protecting her from the scary real world.

What I got out of all this was strength I never knew I had. The enabling stopped after I took her to rehab the second time.

It is unimaginably difficult and breaks your heart, but in the end it will save their lives.

Enabling kills, it is that simple. By doing drugs these addicts are killing themselves anyway. Enabling helps that process.

Addicts do not have a soul. They are empty shells doing whatever it takes to get the next high. Once they are so deep into addiction, they are no longer in control. Enabling the addict will get you nowhere. They aren’t themselves.

Letting the addict to hit rock bottom quickly makes them see they have no other option but to seek treatment.

I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know my daughter. She has my eyes and sense of humor. She is very well liked where she is. She is excelling in her job, earning employee of the month for the last three months. I have been so blessed by this experience. She could have easily overdosed and died. I also would like to mention the show “Intervention” helped me become a better parent. I learned a lot from other parents going through the same thing as well. I am very appreciative and honored to be asked to write and share my experiences.

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your wisdom with us. We are glad to have you as part of the #OYACommunity.

©2015 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

Guest Blog: The Courage to Change … Ourselves – A Dad’s Perspective on Our Young Addicts

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GUEST BLOGGER

A community of parents and professionals concerned about the rising number of young people becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Experience. Resources. Hope.

#OYACommunity

A number of years back, Midwestern Mama called a business colleague to reschedule a meeting – her son was headed to treatment and things were a bit hectic. Without hesitation, the colleague identified himself as the dad of a young addict. Since then, they’ve connected on many things related to addiction and recovery. Read this dad’s guest blog post on myriad things he has learned though his son’s addiction journey.

The pain came spontaneously and naturally. Once confronted with the fact my teenage child was an addict, I moved fluently, and often without warning, among a myriad of emotions…anger, fear, confusion, sadness, hopelessness and grieving.

Healing, on the other hand, did not come naturally for me. It took time, hard work and caring people. (Nope, I couldn’t “Google” my way through this problem.)

At the advice of a trusted friend, I decided to seek out an Al-Anon meeting. The second group I visited was specifically for parents of children who were caught in the grip of this terrible disease.* This room of strangers quickly became very close to me and played a critical role in my recovery to happiness and wholeness.

One of the first things I learned in my journey was that I did not have the power to change others, but could instead, focus on what I could change…me. I’d like to share a few of the ways I have changed with the hope they may give hope to readers of this blog who, today, find themselves in a pit of despair.

You’ll notice the sentences below state, “I have become more ______” because I am a work in progress. I have not mastered any of these things, but have practiced them enough to reap real benefits and live a much happier life.

1) I have become more patient. Recovery for my child was going to happen in his time, not mine. Instead of praying for his sobriety, I began praying for patience, and that made all the difference.

2) I have become more compassionate to others. To steal a lyric from R.E.M., everybody hurts. Pain is not limited to the parents of addicted children or the addicts themselves. I began to interact with my family, clients, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and the woman at the checkout counter with the assumption they are doing the best they can, and that made all the difference.

3) I have become more truthful. Let’s face it, life has tons of grey areas and I for one, have used this countless times for my own benefit. But instead of covering my butt when I made a mistake or when my actions were a little south of honest, I began admitting my shortcomings and asking for forgiveness, and that made all the difference.

4) I strive to be more humble. I’ve had an amazing career and have enjoyed a fair amount of success. Acknowledging that these gifts are from God, and turning my energies away from my selfish desires to focus more on the needs of others has made all the difference.

5) I have become more grateful. There was a time when it seemed “everyone” else had what I wanted… a better job, a bigger house… and most importantly, healthy and happy children. Then I stopped comparing, and that made all the difference.

The lessons I have learned have helped me through many issues in the past few years, from dealing with my addicted child**, to losing my business*** to receiving a diagnosis of cancer.**** Someone once told me that God never wastes pain. I hope this blog serves as evidence to this truth and you discover how hard work, patience and trusted friends can make all the difference.

* I was the only male at the first support group I visited. That group was comprised of about 15 women who spent the entire hour ripping apart their husbands and boyfriends. I was tempted to sneak back and swap out the “Welcome to Al-Anon” sign posted outside room 102 in the church basement to read, “Welcome to the What’s Wrong With Men meeting”.

** Today my son is happily married and runs his own business. And as far as I know, sober.

*** The day I closed the doors to my business was tremendously sad. But since then, all of my employees have landed great jobs and I have successfully re-invented my professional self.

**** I am so fortunate that, because of modern medicine (not symptoms) my cancer was discovered. And because of my amazing doctors I have been cancer-free for over a year and feeling great!

©2015 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved