Cheryl, Thanks for adding this information to your website. Yes this is very true and there are alot of misconceptions when it comes to the word "choice" Many of us do know how to put a drink or a substance down and know when we have had enough. However when dealing with an addict the choice was really never theirs. Once they were introduced to the substance they no longer had a choice. it just takes ove and consumes them. Most people do not recognize addiction as a disease and there is so much stigma surrounding addiction. Are you aware that this disease is now a medical diagnaosis and just not catergorized seperately. Finally the medical field has taken notice. The sad thing is..there is not enough treatment for the so many people inflicted with this insidious disease. i myself feel that if there is not something done sooner than later about how we treat addiction in this country we will be looking at an astronomical disaster. Actually i feel we already are. Thanks again for your wonderful website Cheryl..Peace and Love to you!
I have a 23 year old daughter who has been dealing with addiction to one of/all of these: alcohol,crack, weed, ectasy, crystal meth, heroin (depending what her drug of choice is at the time), since she was 15 yeears old. She has been to at least 5 Rehabs. It is an ongoing struggle.
I do not, however agree with the classification of Addiction as a "disease". Do all smokers have a disease because they are addicted to smoking? Are all coffee drinkers addicts with a disease? I don't think so. I'm including a link which explains the brain physiology a lot better than I can.
I wanted to provide the "other side".
doesn't matter the label they put on it. addiction is physical mental emotional and spiritual. I don't believe there are sides rather just people trying to understand and heal. I think and this is just my opinion that at 15 your brain because it is still forming reacts differently to drugs/ alcohol and addiction risk is increased. again just my opinion. Prayers for you and your daughter. ( it really sucks going through this doesn't it)
I have a lot of question that some of you may be able to answer. First "choice', How do take responsibility/ seek treatment if you don't acknowledge some "choice" in getting involved in drugs? No one "chooses" to become an addict but they do "choose" to become clean. Also I have seen some new ads for treatment centers that claim to "cure" addiction. I always believed the only cure was to stop drinking/ using drugs all together. So many opinions on what causes someone to become an addict. Methadone is another big concern. I have read both the praises and concerns about it's role in in treatment. I agree we are facing an epidemic and am scared for all these "young" people.
I believe the lack of sympathy for addicts is fueled by their destructive and sometimes violent behavior. This "disease" affects everyone the addict comes in contact with. Also the laws regarding mandated treatment are seen as punitive rather than life saving. In this country it is a "right" to be an addict. I have heard that in Europe there is a treatment that can stop the cravings for drugs. Does anyone know anything about this?
It seems that I have an came to an understanding of this some time ago. I realized that my son does not sit and ponder if he wants to use again, but is totally consumed - It is almost like the rest of us breathing. We breath he shoots u[ again, without thought. it is though he needs it to survive and at the same time it is killing him.
I had forgotten that David Sheff wrote two books, so I just read his first one Beautiful Boy. His experience was so parallel to mine- the over-achieving child, the bewilderment of how to handle the situation, the realization he could not control or cure his son. He is a gifted writer and I highly recommend that book. I remember going to an Alanon meeting and everyone was so sad, I decided not to go back. This was early on in my daughter's addiction. Now I understand, that yes, these meetings are sad! But we need to find people who understand what we are going through. I saw an interview with David Sheff about his book Clean, and I agree that we as a nation do not handle the disease of addiction in a way that has really helped. Most people agree the war on drugs is a failure. I think both his books would be very helpful on the website. Vicki
There really is no "cure" for addiction just like many other diseases. However there is recovery and like all diseases you have to take your daily dose of medication. It may or may not be in medication format. There are medications out there that do help with cravings...but the key to sobriety is daily reflection, therapy, group support, meetings if one is able to grasp the concept of AA or NA, spirituality, counseling etc. It is a large committment for the addict to undertake. Lets face it most addicts are looking for instant gratification a quick fix so to speak. So to turn this thought process around and make it a chore for them is a huge undertaking. The addict does have to choose to get clean. They have got to really want it. We all know that we cannot do it for them. Thats the hard part! As parents we all want to save our children from harm and from pain. Its a natural instinct. this is when things get complicated..The enabler, the co dependent etc...When as parents is enough enough. We all have our own personal journey when it comes to this. I know that I have made my fair share of mistakes with my son. I can not take advice from anyone and I know I hav to guage my decisions based on my relationship and the situation. i will never turn my back on my child. What good will that do. I love him and will be there but at the same time set the appropriate boundaries to help guide him and to also keep some self respect. Ultimately this is his life and his journey and as Cheryl said to me.....I open my hands and heart up to God and ask for his healing light and ask him to protect my son.
I read that addiction is chronic and progressive. Is it "harder" to get off drugs the longer you use them? Is there a point of no return?
Yes addiction is a chronic disease like so many others...diabetes, heart disease, cancer etc...and it is progressive. The longer you use substances the more tolerance you build up therefore needing more to achieve the same affect. I would like to believe there is a point of return if the addict really wants to remain sober. Unfortunately the longer and more you use any substance the more damage there is to your body, mind and spirit. Recovery is possible and that is the "cure". Other chronic diseases have no cure only maintenance medications. If you substitute addiction in place of (for instance diabetes) it is also maintenance that allows the addict to recover. Every addict is individual and has there own idea of what recovery might be for them. Some like AA NA others do not etc...however, there does have to be supports in place in order for the addict to maintain sobriety. Its a hard path to walk alone. I also beleive that education about the disease is imperative. If any of us were diagnosied with a a chronic disease we certainly would educate ourselves..understand it and how to treat it. I believe the same for addiction. Most people whether addicts or not have no understanding and that is a major problem in this country. this I feel creates the stigma and stereotyping surrounding this disease. We as a nation certainly do not turn our backs on others that suffer from other medical conditions so why as a nation do we tend to do this to people who struggle with the disease of addiction? The stealing lying and manipulating are just symptoms of the diesease. I truly believe that most addicts do not start out wanting to live this type of life and are generally great people who are very very lost. I could go on and on....
The stigma comes from the lying, stealing, assaults, deaths caused by addicts and the belief that we are immune to becoming addicted ourselves. I do not believe it is genetic I do believe given the right circumstances any of us could wind up an addict.
Pat..I agree that no one is immune to this disease. Mostl of us have some sort of addiction...smoking, eating, gambling etc.. anything that is compulsive enough to interfere with daily routine or is harmful to ones health can be considered addiction or addict personality. However, when it does come to drugs and alcohol its slightly different. One usually has a predispostion or a genetic link with in their family tree with alcoholism or drug abuse. Somewhere down the line there was someone in their family that also was inflicted. Just like most other diseases.
As far a I know no genetic link has been found. If there were maybe a better treatment could be found. Maybe it should be treated as a mental illness like sexual addictions are. I wonder if the medical community gives researching drug addiction enough attention, seems rehab is a big money maker.
It's 4:30 am and I am yet another mother who happened upon this website while desperately trying to find answers. My 29 year old son is once again out using drugs and drinking alcohol because he knows he cannot do it in our house (boundary). This time though I suspended his cell service and am very much struggling with that decision and cannot sleep. He has been diagnosed as bipolar and I believe his drug/alcohol abuse is his attempt to manage his anxiety and depression. However, some say it's addiction that causes mental illnesses (?). When I read the statement "no genetic link" I felt compelled to make a comment as I truly believe genetics plays a big role. During my son's 5+ years of cocaine & alcohol abuse I have questioned and blamed my husband's genetics as both his father (alcoholic) and brother (alcohol/cocaine abuser) are long time addicts. In my family I had two great uncles who supposedly became alcoholics due to PTSD after war time. BOTH of our children are addicts but our daughter got clean and sober around age 25 and has managed her "illness" through participation in AA meetings for 8 years now. However, our son is having a much more difficult time. Our daughter was very independent growing up while our son was quite the opposite and yet they both became addicts. It was when we paid for our son to try Neurofeedback (after a couple rehabs) that I could actually SEE on a test they performed that his brain was very different from a non-addict. He completed the first phase (3 mos.) and a week after graduation relapsed again. Since then he has been in and out of sobriety. I think the longest he has been clean and sober is 5 months which makes me sad because I know it takes at least a year for the brain to repair itself. When his craving sets in nothing will stop him and he has tried to explain the feeling to us. But, of course, we will "never understand" what he is going through. Time is wearing me down and although I attend Nar-Anon meetings I feel like I am running out of options. I did complete a NAMI course which was helpful in understanding mental illnesses and made me realize my son definitely suffers from a mood disorder. Anyhow, my eyes are getting blurry and I welcome any comments and/or suggestions.
Hope you were able to get some rest. Making decisions like turning off cell phone service is very difficult. Its a loud message you are sending though and another boundary you are setting for your son. its sounds to me like you have been down this road with your daughter..Congratulations to her for maintaining sobriety. That must give you alot of hope for your son. Dual diagnosis is what your son is struggling with..Kind of like what came first the chicken or the egg? I dont have a definitive answer for that question. There are alot of opinions though..Some experts say its the mental health disorder that leads many to a life of addiction and others would argue just the opposite...I think its one of lifes mysteries and there will never be any concrete proof of either or.. But with that said does it really matter? Bottom line is that your son (just like mine) struggle with these diseases. I wish I had all the answers for you but the only thing I can offer is support and please know you are not alone. I too happened to stumble on this website and I have taken some solice from it. One thing Cheryl has mentioned on this page that has helped me..Everynight she opens her hand up to God and asks for His healing light for her child. I do this multiple times during the day. There is not a day that goes by that my son is not in most of my thoughts. I worry, feel guilty, want to enable and want to protect him from harm. Ultimately I know i have no control and can only ask God for strength and guidance. Its an insidious disease and its becoming epidemic in our country actually it really already has. I send love and peace and prayers out to you and yours!
Actually Sara, since you're mentioning my words, I'd like to describe my daily practice more difinitively, because it has been powerful for me.
I extend my hands, palms up, in front of me - as if I were holding something precious and giving it away. Then I speak my gratitude for knowing my addicted one is safely held in the hands of Love.
This practice is powerful because I'm over and over again relinquishing all responsibility, guilt, etc. for my addicted daughter. I already KNOW that "I didn't cause her addiction, can't control it, and can't cure it" but this gives me the daily reminder and strength that I, personally, need.
thanks agian for your wonderful words of wisdom..and for also explaining the details of how you offer your child over to God..it is so powerful and healing and certainly has helped me to get through many days.. your loving insight and guidance is uplifting and I am grateful for this!
Thank you Cheryl. I have begun using this practice not only for dealing with my daughter's addiction but for dealing with all the stresses in my life. I have found some peace in doing this and I am grateful. You are a blessing.
I have no answers only endless questions. I give my full support to all parents dealing with this regardless on their "take" of what addiction is. I love Cheryl's daily practice. Myself I light a candle and reflect on all the things I love about my daughter who is an addict. I don't want to ever lose sight on the person she was before drugs entered her life. This site is exactly what I needed at this point in my life and I am grateful to Cheryl for creating it.
I big THANK YOU for all of your support and heartfelt comments. I really appreciate this forum with the ability to have a voice and be heard. WOW ... just typing this gives me a feeling of calm that I haven't felt in quite a while. My daughter wanted me to watch a movie called "The Secret" which I am glad I did. It speaks about putting out positive life energy and I wanted to share that with all of you. Never in a million years did I think I would be on this journey with my adult children. When my kids were little and I heard about other parents' addicted kids ... I thought they must not be doing their job well enough. I was wrong to judge! I have come to realize that most of us are loving parents with wonderful children who just happen to have an illness called addiction. We didn't cause it, we can't control it and we can't cure it (the 3 C's I learned in Nar-Anon). I've heard over and over again that they have to learn to manage their illness just like a diabetic does. I just wish my son would realize this and take his medications for depression and anxiety on a regular basis. I have heard over again too that addicted people who suffer from mood disorders also struggle with taking their meds as once they start feeling better they think they don't need them anymore OR they just don't want to be different. It's sad to think there is still such a BIG stigma out there. I hope more light comes upon this prevalent problem that a lot of parents are or will be facing. I really appreciate the advertisement on TV that Glenn Close participates in about mental illness as it helps with awareness. HUGS to all you parents out there! It's a journey I surely didn't anticipate when my kids were little but I'm in it for the long haul because I love my adult children and I will never give up hope.
My son is heading or is at rock bottom. He lost his girl and their son...Is in financial trouble...losing his housing and today I just received word he lost his job. I have enabled him time and time agian..twenty dollars here twenty dollars there and just recently took out a small loan for $1000.00 dollars to pay court costs and to recover his suspended license. I cant continue on like this. I am educated in this field and still keep making the same mistakes. I tend to wax and wain..Some days I am stronger than others and am able to say no but other days I give in. I know that I have to be consistent because I am not doing him or myself any good.
I think today may just be that day. The manipulation is so disturbing. Naturally he is pulling the victim card and playing the blame game. he even mentioned that he hopes he dies and that maybe his next bag of drugs he buys will kill him. Well I am NOT GOING TO BE THE PERSON WHO SUPPLIES HIM WITH THE MONEY TO DO THAT!!
I could only offer support and words of encouragement. I old him I loved him and would always be here for him if he wanted treatment or is making good life decisions. I can only pray and put my child into Gods hands and ask Him for strength to see me through. I am depressed and weak physically at this point. The disease surely sucks the life force right out of us along with the addict. I know I need to concentrate on better self care and making healthy choices for myself. Its a daily struggle for me. i know I have no control over what happens and I try to prepare myslelf for what the outcome could be! Thanks for letting me vent today!
isolated, that is what happens when you have an addict take over your life. I am glad you found this site as I did. Support is so hard to find. Keeping you and your son in my prayers.
Beth, mother of a drug-addict.