About ADDICTION JOURNAL
is a compilation of thoughts, skills, and emotion to hopefully help other parents struggling with an addicted child. It is a work in progress, much like recovery, and very much tied to my own recovery.
This blog is an outlet where I can share my experiences in an effort to help others and further my own recovery. This repository of ideas is truly a “take what you want and leave the rest” point of view for others to ponder. I do not want ADDICTION JOURNAL to be “Beautiful Boy” revisited, but rather a collection of thoughts and experiences encountered from the day my son was arrested for Heroin possession, to his current sobriety. I understand his fragile recovery, like all others, could end today with one poor decision. I offer this blog as a handbook of ideas, tactics, and viewpoints that helped me begin my own recovery during my son’s early addiction.
The road to my son’s recovery from heroin addiction has been long and often bumpy. I wish I had jotted my thoughts down as I learned the skills that have kept me sane during my son’s illness. Many of my experiences with both his recovery and my family’s were lost or perhaps repressed as the trauma slowly unfolded.
Through this brutal experience, I now understand this street called “Recovery Road” has no ending. The much used, AA saying “Recovery is a journey with no destination.” rings true. Addicts, and their family members, must begin to put one foot in front of the other on an endless journey called recovery. There will be days when both addict and family member will stumble. These temporary slips for most families are the norm, as they attempt to “right the ship”. It is the dusting oneself off from those inevitable stumbles, that helps regain a sense of balance often brutally stripped away by drug or alcohol addiction. From each mishap, parents should take one element, and put that piece of knowledge in their “recovery arsenal” or “tool chest”. This “tool chest”, a collection of coping skills, will become invaluable as you seek to build a semblance of sanity back into your family life. In continued parental recovery you will constantly refer back to the skills you learned earlier and revisit past experiences to continue that recovery.
I used to give my son money so that he could go to the “movies”. As with most young addicts, my son could have had a career as a movie reviewer at some points of his active addiction. Eventually I smartened up and learned that every ten-dollar bill I gave him ended up in his arm. This was a brutal fact, but a truth that I needed to face as a parent in early recovery. I took that reality of his manipulation and put it in my recovery arsenal. Never again would I subsidize his abuse!
The experience a family will have with addiction is a learning opportunity; do not pass on the education that is vital to regaining a more normal life. Families that are new to this trauma can heed the advice and pitfalls other families that have experienced addiction, or they can blaze their own trail. I opted not to “reinvent the wheel”, my son was dying before my eyes and time was a factor. I quickly surrounded myself with others that had experienced dealing with an addicted family member and studied diligently.
As the parent of a recovering heroin addict, attending multiple support groups and studying “what to do and not do”, began to level my emotions. There exist a plethora of methods to deal with the chaos that addiction brings to a family. This ADDICTION JOURNAL is only one parent’s perspective and hopefully will be used as one of many options. I would urge any parent with an addicted child to reach out to as many resources as possible. (Online support message boards, social networking groups, books, local support groups, etc) You will begin to see conceptual cross threads between the resources. The commonalities that “bubbled up“ are the concepts that I utilized to bring back some sanity to my home.
I have learned that for my own health I must continue to mantra the expressions that have sustained my existence through both good times and the times when my son was using his drug of choice with reckless abandonment. Both the “Serenity Prayer” and the expression “Today is a good day” help me as I strive to stay emotionally and mentally balanced. At 21 years of age my recovering child, along with his family, endured much during the first four years of his active addiction. I offer our experiences as a tool for others to learn from our victories and our many mistakes.
As with cancer treatment, addiction treatment options are numerous. From Naltrexone, Vivatrol, 12 step programs, geographic change, and more, the treatment options for a family or substance abuser can be daunting. There are no magic bullets, no one-size cure that fits all! The treatment that positively impacts your neighbor’s child may be totally ineffective for your child. Chasing treatment for your family can be time consuming, expensive, and both emotionally and mentally exhausting. I would caution against letting the chase take over your life and becoming what is labeled “hyper-vigilant” in the industry of drug addiction.
Sadly, we cannot cure our kids with love. I can only offer suggestions and ideas that have worked for my family. I offer the ADDICTION JOURNAL as a repository where other parents can find both answers and skills to deal with the trauma that addiction brings to a family. Addiction consumes our youth at a voracious level today, and I hope to effectively share my experiences surrounding addiction to help other families. Hopefully these suggestions will offer some peace to the reader, if only for one day.
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