Tag Archives: Substance Abuser Family

We Can All Do Better

The general disintegration of interpersonal relationships, the lack of respect for personal boundaries and the personal abusive verbal and physical attacks has caused me to speak out from my experience.
Being a white male of privilege I have never been the object of unwanted sexual advances or sexual acts such as rape. My perspective is not the same but I believe it is relevant.
About 60-65 years ago my stepfather physically abused me regularly. It was never sexual but it was painful. If you knew me as a child I was small and scrawny. He was big and muscular. I recall never offering much if any resistance, my objective was to cover up and hope it ended quickly.
None of this is the same as a sexual assault. But it made me feel ashamed and guilty.
Anyway my point is our culture and society have become numb to attacks on people because of their gender, looks (including race and religion), difference or beliefs.
Those being assaulted are not the issue!
NONE of it is OK!
What is particularly upsetting is it emanates out of the highest offices in government and businesses of all kinds.
It’s not acceptable.
Human beings were not created to fight, because nobody wins a fight.
If we show each other love, admiration and respect we can have a healthier culture and society. Our heart wants us to be happy and live in peace, but unfortunately we are being manipulated to see each other, as objects not people.
It’s proper to treat others with kindness without expectations.
We do the next right thing, just because it’s the right thing. To no longer be motivated by money and profit, but by what’s best for society.
It will require a massive effort by more than a few, more than just the women, or people of color or the minority groups; it will have to be the will of all the people. It will necessitate a new mindset by most men.
When it comes to sexual abuse and assault, I join with women everywhere.
We can all do better.

Addict Advocacy-Opioid Crisis

Overall, it seems as if addict advocacy, lobbying their service providers, and for society as a whole has become a zero-sum game.  The opioid crisis thrives.

There are apparently sides to be taken in a battle of “us” versus “them.” There have been and always will be addicts amongst us.

There will always be drug providers (be it at the street level, at the liquor store, the marijuana dispensary, or those who have medical degrees and write prescriptions for pills). There will always be prejudice. Their will always be a lack of sense of community when fear and mistrust is involved. The addicts and their families want to blame the healthcare industry. Society wants to blame the treatment industry. They want to blame anyone but themselves. We want to blame them as being morally inferior and mentally weak.

They have a comprehensive and robust report from the U.S. Surgeon General, unequivocally identifying addiction as a national disease. We have an independent Grand Jury investigation, Sober Homes Task Force Report, and extensive local investigative reporting from a multitude of press outlets, The Palm Beach Post in particular, identifying an overwhelmingly fraudulent industry that seems to have an insatiable appetite for consuming its own class of people.

Maybe we are all wrong, that the march towards decriminalization and deinstitutionalization of the addict has been a social experiment mistake? Maybe addicts need to be isolated from society for their own good? Perhaps the “integration” mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act really did not take into consideration that the disabled in a wheelchair may really be different in kind than the disabled on heroin?

Maybe we do need to reopen and reexamine the ADA, not to discriminate, but because there now is clearly a different set of facts that requires a different modality of response?

While I subscribe to the inherently American values of individualism and self-responsibility, we must put aside philosophical differences and recognize the clear science that the modern opioid epidemic is a terrorist that hijacks the mind, body and spirit.

Even without the misuse of substances, what is true for all Americans is that greed is the most tolerated yet the most destructive addiction of them all.

We cannot demand that someone do something about “those addicts” but then refuse to offer the necessary funding, resources, infrastructure, housing, and services to care for this population, and we can therefore neither blame the addicts nor the treatment provider. We are the adults in the room. We cannot blame the unsupervised children for playing with matches and burning down the house.

If the disease of addiction is truly a public health crisis, rather than the now debunked theory that it is a moral failing, we seem to be left with only one choice – double our efforts, buckle down, and fix this system once and for all. Not later, not when it is more politically palatable. Now. We no longer have the luxury of time.

Ending America’s Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Putting politics aside, this is a comprehensive plan that needs bipartisan support. If you agree then contact your representatives on all levels and ask for their help. We can help end America’s quiet opioid addiction epidemic.

Governor Peter Shumlin began his remarks at the New Hampshire Roundtable on Addiction and the Heroin Epidemic by describing a phone call from Hillary Clinton a few months ago. According to Shumlin,“I figure it’s gonna be another politician talkin’ about how great they are.” But Clinton surprised him: “When I go to New Hampshire, when I go to Iowa, something strange has happened…” Clinton was told story after story about the “quiet epidemic” that had not even been on the table when she last ventured out as a candidate. She heard from families who were unable to help their loved ones and law enforcement officials who knew they couldn’t arrest their way out of the problem, so Clinton “resolved to do something about it.” She called the right person: Gov. Shumlin has been working to reframe the public debate around addiction for years. For the past two years he has dedicated his State of the State Message entirely to the topic of the heroin crisis in Vermont. Under his guidance, the state has implemented programs to address the complexity of addiction that have been imitated by states across the nation. Shumlin was struck by Clinton’s humility and patience, “She did what a lot of politicians aren’t very good at–she listened. For a second I thought she’d hung up.”

Clinton placed Shumlin’s advice amongst the advice of many others, and four weeks later “out came a policy” that the Governor believes, “if implemented, will give us the help from the federal government that we need to finally take this battle on and treat it as a disease and not a crime.” The plan would allocate 10 billion dollars to tackling America’s deadly epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, and would address the following five points: Criminal Justice Reform, Treatment and Recovery, First Responders, Prescribers, Prevention.

In a statement about the indiscriminate reach of the epidemic, Clinton wrote: “Substance use disorders are a problem that touches Americans everywhere, from our biggest cities to our smallest towns, and from our richest enclaves to our poorest neighborhoods.”

I. Criminal Justice Reform

Governor Shumlin has visited treatment centers, jails, and detoxes all over Vermont to speak with those who have been impacted by the epidemic: “there are stories that make you want to sit down and cry,” he said. When he asked what kind of response was needed, “they told me that we were doing almost everything wrong.” Like most criminal justice systems across the nation, Vermont’s was slow and ineffective, especially when it came to dealing with drug-related crimes. Vermont has worked to try and turn the moment of arrest from a tragedy into an opportunity: “when your busted, when you’ve bottomed out, when the blue lights are flashing–that’s the most likely chance that we have to move someone from denial into treatment.”

Third party assessors are stationed in every county in the state and when someone is arrested, these experts determine whether the person needs treatment by asking: “is this someone that will hurt you or is this person more likely to hurt themselves?” Today, people who would have been arrested are told that if they participate in the “Hub/Spoke” treatment initiative with the wrap around services: “we’ll stick with you. You’ll never see a judge, you’ll never see a criminal record, you’ll never see a court.” And it’s working on all fronts, “they’ve got hope, they’ve got a job, they’ve got life and they’re getting back with their families.” Vermont has saved 50 million dollars since implementing the prison diversion program.

Clinton intends to “end the era of mass incarceration” by prioritizing treatment over incarceration for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses. In order for this to happen, greater collaboration and coordination must be fostered between public health and criminal justice institutions “to ensure continuity of care for those who suffer from substance use disorders.”

II. Treatment & Recovery

Gov. Shumlin introduced the second point of Clinton’s plan by talking about when his father, who is now deceased, was first diagnosed with lung cancer: “Why is it that when my dad is diagnosed with a cancer that’s created from behavior that we all know isn’t very smart—smoking—that we say ‘we will do everything we can to keep you on this earth as long as we can and you will not stand in line,’ but if you’re addicted to opiates, we say ‘get in line, we might serve you sometime—usually sometime later.”

Clinton’s plan involves building out more treatment centers, matching participating states 20/80 in federal funds, abolishing lengthy wait-lists and ultimately treating addiction like any other disease, “stop the discrimination—line up.”

Clinton’s plan makes sure that “everyone who needs support has access to continuing treatment.” This emphasis on continuity is key due to the fact that many treatment methods are too short-lived to be effective.

III. First Responders

Clinton’s plan ensures that states have adequate funding to get and dispense life-saving tools such as naloxone to anyone who wants it and that first responders are trained in proper practices.

IV. Prescribers

Clinton’s plan ensures that licensed prescribers meet training requirements and consult a prescription drug-monitoring program before writing a prescription for controlled medications. “Let’s make sure that we enhance the database so that we stop pill shopping across borders,” said Shumlin, “and doctor abuse, where folks can go in and line up this stuff, FDA approved Oxycodone and the rest, put it in their pockets, and keep getting more of it, with no questions asked.”

V. Prevention

“Let’s change the attitude about the disease. Let’s get rid of the stigma.” Clinton’s plan defines Substance Use Disorders as chronic diseases and insists that they be treated as such. Clinton emphasizes the importance of empowering communities to design their own “evidence-based programs tailored to their communities.” Such programs would focus on engaging adolescents through education and early intervention programs.

Drunken Sluts R Us

New article published today. Some wreckage of my past.

Drunken Sluts R Us – by Marc J Dunn


The 75-year-old woman at the speaker’s table was introduced to the group as having 30+ years of addiction recovery and as a “tells it like it is” kind of storyteller. Her opening was, “I knew I was a drunken slut, but I had no idea I was an alcoholic. That was so much worse.”

The group listening burst into laughter shooting each other knowing glances as only others in recovery could. It wasn’t shameful what our friend had said, it was something we could all relate to or identify with. We have a bond of commonality in recovery, although we have different specific circumstances, we share recklessness and selfishness, and stealing the serenity of others we claim to love.

A quick search of my memory brought forward dozens if not hundreds of episodes that could be classified as “slut like” behavior.

Let me draw a line here, because I don’t want to imply that I am judging anyone’s sexual choices. My preferences and opinions about sex are not important, other than the firm belief that it is a natural biological happening and is to be enjoyed not judged. What I prefer is not anyone’s business, just as others’ preferences are not my business. My use of the term “slut” refers to a person who is harmful or reckless to self or others physically and/or mentally.

The term “drunken slut” is used disparagingly to describe women who are sexually active. Rarely is it used to describe men. Society has a tendency to judge women negatively if they are sexually active. Men are not held to the same standard. Men are encouraged to have as much sex as possible. It is a badge of honor. Women are scorned or ostracized if their behavior is judged to be “too loose”. One of the points of addiction recovery is, for both women and men, to seek to fill a hole in our soul with something other than sex or whatever our addiction is. The addict who becomes aware of this shortcoming and seeks to find a better way of life will fill it with a spirit of love and giving.

We use sex as a crutch to mask our feelings. Drugs, alcohol and sex, as well as other addictions, are only symptoms of the mental health issue all addicts must confront. It is our thinking, fear, anger and guilt; we must come to terms with. These emotions are normal for human beings. Once we embrace them, rather than ignore or mask them, our entire life improves. We are no longer ashamed of our sexual activities.

Many times my sexual affairs were purely driven by my need for approval or power. It was not uncommon for me to view sex as a conquest or triumph in which winning meant having sex. The encounter and sexual interplay was without feeling for the other person; I lacked tenderness and giving I was totally absorbed with what I was getting. It was strictly about my sexual pleasure – LUST!

Under most circumstances the more under the influence I was the less it mattered who I was having sex with or what the other person’s needs were. Selfishness reigned supreme. On one occasion, my roommate and I deliberately set out to see who could drink the most shots of Tequila at our neighborhood bar. Somewhere around shot 4 or 6, a young woman joined us as an observer and occasional participant. I started flirting with her, within a short period of time abandoned the drinking contest to take her back to the apartment and have sex. About an hour later, she is lying on top of me and my roommate quietly opens the door not knowing what he might encounter. He stumbled into his bed and I continued having intercourse. I never got her name. She left before morning. Later the conversation with my roommate was about “who won?” I maintained I did because I got laid, and wasn’t that the real contest whenever you go drinking in bars.

Another time I invited my girlfriend to accompany me to see the Ali Foreman Championship Boxing Match, and to bring her roommate. Both women were gorgeous. I suggested they dress in the sexiest attire they had, cling all over me, and flirt with guys in the crowd and just to make sure they were not inhibited. I offered them both Quaaludes which they liked because it was a drug that loosened their sexual inhibitions. It also relaxed my jealous instincts making it easy for me to enjoy them working the crowd, knowing they were both going home with me. My objective was power over everyone; it was more manipulation to make me look good using sex as a status symbol. The night’s event went perfectly; the other guys wanted to be me, I was grandiose and delusional; the attention was stolen from the main event and put onto me. It was my self-centered selfishness without regard for others that culminated in anger by my friends, and sexual conduct that was more lust than love.

Needless to say, such activities are self-centered. They are disrespectful to your partner, selfish in motive, purely self-seeking lust. “We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given and therefore good neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed,” (Alcoholics Anonymous). Sex is harmful if it is used to mask feelings not express them. My lustful activities displayed a total lack of awareness of others’ feelings; it was proof positive that I cared primarily for my needs lacking empathy for others.

Sex is beautiful when it is consensual and approached with giving pleasure as well as receiving. It then becomes a wonderful experience with results that are enjoyed. Sex isn’t always about being in love, but it can be about giving as well as receiving. “Drunken sluts” know nothing of giving; we are only about receiving, usually to cover our emotions. If a “slut” is covering emotions, why does the label rarely apply to men? I was as much a “drunken slut” as any woman I knew. But I almost never hear men discuss this in recovery. It’s almost always women. Why?

The discovery of giving in a sexual relationship opened me to exceptional love experiences. The change occurred when I began living in recovery, becoming a productive, caring individual. Practicing spiritual principles in my affairs, learning to be gentle, giving, loving instead of stealing peace of mind.

Being an alcoholic turned out to be a blessing, because now my deepest best love is a friendship that has caught on fire. Most importantly, I want it to be quiet understanding, sharing and forgiving. For me, it is loyalty through good times and bad. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.

The stories we share in recovery are meant to help others identify with us, and find a path to a new way of living. Taking inventory of our sexual harms is a keystone of this path for women and men. It is not discussed as much as it should be considering the impact it has had on our behavior. In the realm of fear, anger and guilt, sex was a driving force; we sought approval fearing others would not like us, we were angry because of perceived rejection and we felt remorse of not being good enough. Now we jokingly refer to ourselves as “drunken sluts” to ease the pain. There isn’t shame in our past sexual behavior, we just need not forget the path that led us to those encounters. Regret leads to relapse, honestly sharing about our new found sexual journey keeps us in recovery.

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An Open Letter To Families Where Addiction Is Present

by Alicia Cook

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Alicia-cook/an-open-letter-to-families-where-addiction-is-present_b_8691970.html?utm_source=digg

Last night someone said to me, “For someone who writes about addiction, you are being judgmental!” Now, without going into specifics, I can tell you I was a lot of things last night: Mad. Hurt. Sad. Confused. Frustrated. At a loss — but judgmental? No. No way.

I wish it wasn’t me who was writing this blog. I really wish it wasn’t. I wish I wasn’t “qualified” to speak on the heroin epidemic from the perspective of the loved ones. I wish I wasn’t gaining notoriety for having one of the “best handles” on this subject. I wish I wasn’t a member of a community no one really wants to be a part of. No one ever says to themselves while reading articles like mine, “I wish I could relate to this.”

But I am. I am the non-addict who knows all too well what it’s like to love a person who suffers from addiction.

I know what it’s like to worry yourself sick. To cry yourself to sleep.

I know to watch out for pinhole pupils and subtle changes in behavior. To listen to them talk and make excuses and pile on lie after lie. I know what it’s like to pretend to believe them because you are just too mentally exhausted for an argument.

I know what it’s like to be confused all of the damn time; to see their potential, to know what they are throwing away. I know what it’s like to want their recovery more than they do. To be the one doing research on rehabs and other outlets for recovery.

I know what it’s like to miss someone who is still standing right in front of you.

I know what it’s like to wonder if each unexpected phone call is “the” phone call. I know what it’s like to be hurt so bad and be made so sick a part of you wishes you would just get “the” phone call if nothing is going to change. You want that finality. You need the cycle to end. I know what it’s like to hate yourself for even allowing yourself to find relief in that horrible thought.

I know what it’s like to get the worst news of your life, and still walk into the grocery store and run your errands and smile at the cashier.

I know what it’s like to become a part-time detective. You know you are going to find something, and you look until you do just so you feel less crazy. So you can say to yourself, “I am not paranoid. This is happening again.”

I know what it’s like to have your mind clouded; to turn into a functioning zombie. I know what it’s like to be physically present at board meetings and dinner dates, but mentally gone.

I know what it’s like to be really mad. Like, REALLY pissed off. Between the sadness there is a lot of anger. I know what it’s like to feel guilty for being so mad, even knowing all you know about addiction. You are allowed to be angry. This is not the life you signed up for.

I know what it’s like to scour a bookshelf and not find what you are looking for because this illness is still so hard to talk about, let alone write about.

I know what it’s like to hear someone argue that addiction is not an illness, but a choice or social disorder. I know all too well that feeling of heat rising in your face as they go on and on about something they know nothing about.

I know what it’s like to stop being angry with these people. They do not understand. They are lucky to not understand. I know what it is like to catch yourself wishing that you didn’t understand either.

I know the difference between enabling and empowering. I know there is a fine line between the two and the difference can mean life or death. I know what it’s like to the feel the weight of each day on your shoulders trying to balance the two.

I know what it’s like to have “good days” and “bad days” but never “normal days.” I have been through enough to know that things don’t just change for the worse overnight; they can change in a millisecond. In a blink of an eye. As quick as it takes two people to make a $4 exchange.

I know what it’s like to feel stigmatized. To be the “cousin of a drug addict,” a “friend of a drug addict,” a “sibling of a drug addict,” “a parent of a drug addict,” “a neighbor of a drug addict.” I know what it feels like to be handled with kid-gloves because no one outside of your toxic bubble knows what to say to help.

I don’t know what the future holds for anyone who loves a substance abuser today. One thing I know for sure is I am not alone. I write often on addiction from the family’s perspective. My last article, Lessons I Learned from Loving a Drug Addict, was picked up by numerous news outlets. My new essay series, The Other Side of Addiction, aims to help non-addicts and addicts alike share their story in a place free of, you guessed it…judgement. They often feel voiceless, so I wanted to give them a voice.

I write on addiction for a lot of reasons. I want to let you know you are not alone. I write on addiction because for far too long many have felt isolated, hopeless and stigmatized by this illness.

Today I am writing on addiction to let loved ones know you are allowed to feel angry without feeling guilty. You are allowed to feel sad, mad, or frustrated without feeling guilty. You are allowed to take a step back if you need a breather without feeling guilty.

With so many variables being out of your power, the one thing you are in control of is your well-being. Feeling any of this at any point does not mean you are suddenly a judgmental person who does not understand addiction. All of this does not mean you do not love this person unconditionally.

Living With Recovering Substance Abuser

Healing
Healing process of trauma and addiction

Edited from Post on:

4 Tips For Living With A Recovering Addict

Substance abuse, addiction, affects more than the abuser, addict. After your
loved one has gotten sober and returned home from treatment, continuous sobriety and recovery become important parts of his or her life. Learn some helpful tips to help you support your loved one and yourself.

Recognize that while addiction is not your fault, you too have been directly affected by addiction.

The first thing you’ll usually hear a recovering person’s family member or friend say is “I’m not the one with the problem” or “They’re the one who needs help.” If you’re living with a recovering substance abuser, you’re living with substance abuse, addiction, affects more than the abuser, addict. After your loved one has gotten sober and returned home from treatment, continuous sobriety and recovery become important parts of his or her life. Learn some helpful tips to help you support your loved one and yourself. Certain feelings are unavoidable, like anger and resentment. You may feel the need to punish, control, or try to “fix” an addict. It seems counter intuitive, but the best thing you can do for a recovering substance abuser is let them work their program. Provide support, but don’t interfere.

You are not in control, and you don’t need to be.

Many family members try to control a substance abuser, it’s impossible not to. If you haven’t encountered substance abuse before, you’ll soon learn that forcing the loved one to follow rules won’t get you very far. If you’re lucky enough to be living with a recovering substance abuser, and not an active one, you’re already ahead of the curve. That means that even if the going is slow, you’re taking steps forward. One day at a time doesn’t seem like very much, but days become weeks, weeks become months, you know the rest.

Other people know what you’re going through, there is help for you too, so go get it.

No matter what kind of program your loved one is working, there’s one for you too. If you’re here, you’re looking for answers and the simplest answer is to admit when you need help. Therapy helps, support groups help, talking to someone familiar with your situation helps. Family support groups, such as Al-anon, exist for the same reasons substance abuse support groups do, they work. The most important thing about these programs is the “time” in the rooms. People with years of experience in the program are there to help guide newcomers. It’s hard to walk through that door for the first time, but everyone in that room has done it. The most amazing thing is when you hear someone get up and share your story. When you see the happiness and love in the room, realize that you too can find this no matter how difficult your situation is. Always remember that you are there for you, not for your loved one. Find a group, and stick around.

Give your loved one space to work.

It can be difficult to step back, but living with someone in recovery can be stressful enough, without having to monitor their every move. That’s what their program is for and through your own support group and recovery program, you can learn the concept of “detaching with love”. It can be difficult to step back, but the key to success is cooperation. You can’t get dialysis to fix someone’s kidneys, you can’t get chemo to cure someone’s cancer, and you can’t go to rehab to cure someone’s substance abuse. Give your loved one the space they need to find their way.