this article was originally written and featured on scinthenews.com
Recently I’ve shared with readers a very candid look into my family’s story of addiction. We’ve reviewed, at length, the traps, pitfalls, and traumas of drug addiction. I’d like to take this opportunity to share a remarkably moving story on the other side of the coin, the RECOVERY SIDE.
Please meet John (name has been changed). Sober 32 years from drugs and alcohol; 64 years young today. Answers to my questions are in his own words.
Q: How, when and why did you get involved with drugs and alcohol?
A: I had my first sip of beer at 6yrs old, a neighbor shared his beer with me. At my sister’s wedding, 10yrs old, my aunts got me drunk on champagne. And I LIKED IT. A LOT. 14yrs old, at a friend’s house, we raided his parents’ liquor cabinet. Got drunk and loved it; even though I got sicker than a dog, vomiting outside in the snow. Drinking again the next day. OFF AND RUNNING.
I stayed drunk as often as possible throughout high school. When I was a Junior, a guy introduced me to hash. BETTER. I went from being a semi red-neck, active drinker to a stoner druggie; getting high as often as possible on anything I could. I would steal my brother’s 50mg Benadryl pills to get the same effect as a Quaalude. I overdosed twice on those, intentionally — suicide attempts that failed.
Between 16-18, I was in jail in 4 different states, 2 different mental hospitals 3 times, attempted suicide twice, and took my first hostage – that’s what I called a wife—at 18. I accomplished jail, institutions, and near death before I was old enough to vote.
A: Physical abuse by mom (I was the kid she didn’t want), sexual abuse by my older brother, emasculated dad, no healthy male role model. No safe place. I found escape – no thought, no feeling, no memories – in drugs/alcohol. THEY SERVED A PURPOSE. They made it all go away. Numb.
I ran (that’s what we call drinking/drugging) for another 14 years. 3 more hostages–wives/divorces. Children who eventually distanced themselves from me as well. I moved all over the country. Multiple evictions. Not able to hold a job. Sleeping in cars. Brief stint in the army; thrown out for being a drunk. I don’t remember much of the 80’s – people ask if I ever had a blackout — YUP, REAGAN’S FIRST ADMINISTRATION.
Being a criminal from 14 on… Stole from my frequent employers, stereos from cars, broke into people’s houses while they slept… The world was my oyster. Multiple arrests. My teens, 20’s, early 30’s – I WAS the statistic. The textbook profile.
Q: You’ve been clean/sober 32 years last month. Tell us about your last day of using/drinking…
A: 32 years old; I was sitting in the back room of the pawn shop I worked at, with a charter arms 44 caliber revolver against my head, trying to decide – HEAD OR CHIN. After a few minutes of indecision – die or not – the thought came that this bullet would be a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I hid the gun, walked over to my manager who was in recovery and had been telling me about AA/NA for months, and asked him to take me to a meeting.
My first meeting was the next day. All I remember is that I sat down, I listened, and I did what I was told. I was assigned a sponsor, he gave me a book, and he started teaching me about recovery.
About a month later, my girlfriend and baby were in a major car accident. I got a hysterical call from her… I rushed to the scene… blood everywhere… both rushed to the hospital. Once I knew they were going to be ok, I went home… grabbed a wine bottle from the fridge (my roommates still drank and used lots of drugs) and drank 2 glasses before my roommate grabbed the bottle and glass and said, “GET YOUR *** TO A MEETING!!”. My using and drinking scared THEM!
I haven’t had a drink or drug since that day. AA has been my savior. I’ve regularly attended meetings for years. The Big Book of AA is my bible, so to speak.
Q: How have you stayed sober?
A: GOD. Finding GOD through the 12 steps of AA. Coming to understand that I am NOT God, and ME running my life was a total disaster. I had a power greater than myself for years — Jack Daniels, Ron Rico, Jim Beam… cocaine, crack… pills… they OWNED ME. I was trusting my life to the wrong power. Using the steps of AA, I realized that I am NOT GOD and I have to rely on Him to run my life because I did such a lousy job of it.
Q: What recommendation would you give to the reader that’s using/drinking?
A: “GET YOUR *** TO A MEETING!! GET A SPONSOR. GET A BIG BOOK!” The program works if you work it. Nobody can make you stop – that’s up to you. In active addiction, you don’t realize that you HAVE a higher power, probably many of them – some liquid, some powder, some solids – and they’re killing you. Get to a meeting and find a real higher power, one that actually wants you to LIVE.
Thanks to John for sharing. To the reader: if you are the active user and want help, or the family of the user, in despair and crisis, please contact me for resources and support!
this article was originally written and featured on scinthenews.com
The official definition: “overindulgence in or dependence on an addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs.” OK… but WHO becomes a drug addict? An alcoholic? …
In a previous article I shared that my son’s been using drugs since adolescence. He found heroin at 15… And our lives have never been the same.
My son gave me some of my greatest understandings of addiction back when he was 17. He’d been arrested, once again, but in jail for the first time. A juvenile jail. Make no mistake…it FEELS and LOOKS the same as “grown up” jail – brick building, guards at the door with guns, big gray sliding prison doors that clang behind you, visitation room with me on one side of scratched, filthy plexiglass, him on the other. I was doing my mother’s heart of crying and drama, “Why are you doing this? You’re destroying your life…our life…your future… Please why can’t you just stop using drugs!!??” At 17 years old, in a gray jumpsuit, talking through the glass on a jail phone, he said “Mom, you just don’t understand. Heroin is like nothing I’ve ever done. When I’m high, everything is ok. I don’t worry, I don’t have any pain. NONE OF THE BAD GETS IN. I feel…normal. IF I COULD STAY HIGH, I‘D STAY IN HERE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.” Can you imagine…17 years old…willing to stay in prison FOREVER if he could have heroin?? No life. No friends. No girlfriend. No kids. No home. No job. No…NOTHING. And he meant it. Heroin has been his life-partner, so to speak, ever since. 12 years. I call heroin addiction the Living Hell, because he can’t LIVE with it, and he WON’T live without it.
I share this story as a cautionary tale. To the folks reading that think “NOT MY KID” — he/she could never…would never… Drugs are an equal opportunity kidnapper. They are color-blind. Not the least bit prejudice. With one goal… CAPTURE.Nobody wakes up one day at 14…18…25…and says “I’m gonna be a drug addict, have no life, destroy my family, give mom a heart attack, dad a stroke, live in prison, get HIV…” Once captured, the human being and their world suffer greatly.
To answer the question – Who becomes a drug addict? An alcoholic?… ANYONE. Because substance abuse isn’t a mark of character, it’s not about good people or bad people. Our goal, as parents/ families/ community/ professionals – is to PREVENT THE CAPTURE.
Get educated about substance abuse/learn what to watch for: What are signs of pot, coke, pills, meth, heroin, etc.???
Be proactive in your own home/family: Be the PARENT, not the FRIEND… SET rules/boundaries.
When you have concerns, GET HELP: Doing nothing /Denial is our greatest enemy in this fight.
The sooner we become aware and educated, the greater chance of aiding a loved one to get help.
Here are some more RED FLAGS for opiate addiction – things to watch for, be it prescription pain pills or heroin.
-Spoons will be missing, unexplained from the kitchen, or appear blackened/burnt on the underside
-User will have “cotton mouth” – speech is impaired and/or slurred, user constantly licks his lips and lips appear dysfunctional
-Opiate users will often wear sunglasses inappropriately – inside, nighttime, days which obviously do not warrant their wearing
-Appetite decreases drastically; opiate use becomes all consuming; the user progressively loses all interest in eating and drinking; YET, user may often have water on hand– multiple bottles and glasses, often partially full
-Weight will usually decrease immediately and drastically shortly after the onset of opiate use
-Watch for evidence of constipation (opiate side effect) – laxatives, enemas, etc.
this article was originally written and featured on scinthenews.com
Last month I shared with readers a story about my 17-year-old son in prison back in 2006. I cried the entire time writing that. The reliving brought back all the pain, ripped off the band-aid, so to speak, that I firmly place on all memories of my past. Here we are again… computer and Kleenex. Back in 2006, I had some hope, although guarded, that in time my son would find his way out of drugs. Move forward 12 years.
I just got back from a trip to CT, for a funeral and to visit my son in prison. Yet again. He’s doing 9-18 months on old drug charges. He turned 29 two weeks ago. Drug abusing history of 17 years, 14 of those as a junkie (to those who may want to be offended… please don’t… iv heroin users ARE junkies).
I HATE TO FLY. It’s my kryptonite. I am a strong, capable, competent, woman who can manage crises like most people eat dinner. Put me on an airplane…and I’ve got a white-knuckle hold on the seat in front, chanting prayers to any God that will listen, and swearing on Grandma’s grave I will NEVER do this again! Did the plane…to get to CT…to visit my son in prison…suffering a greatest fear – FLIGHT – for the sole purpose of delivering the most devastating news my son will likely ever hear. My mom died recently, his grandmother, HIS PERSON. The one human being on this planet that he loved, as much as he can understand love. I needed to face him to tell him.
With my heart dragging on the ground, I entered the prison visitation room, once again me on one side of dirty scratched plexi-glass, Matt on the other. I made as much small talk as possible for 20 minutes, then took a breath – “Matt, honey, I have very sad news to share with you…” His tears were instantaneous, before I said the words…he knew. The next 40 minutes were as bad as I expected. I dropped the Hiroshima bomb. No survivors.
Why am I sharing this with you??? Because my son, Louise’s grandson, SHOULD have been at her funeral, memorial service, family dinner … mourning/grieving/remembering/celebrating her life. NOT in a beige jumpsuit, handcuffs and leg irons, 9×9 concrete cell, with no ability to grieve or mourn. For those readers who aren’t aware, CRYING IN PRISON ISN’T COOL.
My heartache these past days has been almost too much to bear. To have to drop this bomb, and then watch the devastation it caused my son… the sober human… NOT the monster addict. I have now come to see yet another something that addiction steals — even the privilege to grieve. To mourn. THE TAKING NEVER ENDS.
In the momentous words of the beloved and departed actor, Carroll O’Connor (Archie Bunker) – “GET BETWEEN YOUR KIDS AND DRUGS, ANY WAY YOU CAN”.
Below is a poem about drugs, by an anonymous author, very widely used by substance abuse professionals. I think this is the time for me to share it with you.
I destroy homes, tear families apart, take your children, and that’s just the start.
I’m more costly than diamonds, more costly than gold; the sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.
And if you need me, remember I’m easily found; I live all around you, in schools and in town.
I live with the rich, I live with the poor; I live down the street, and maybe next door.
My power is awesome; try me — you’ll see; but if you do, you may never break free.
Just try me once and I might let you go, but try me twice, and I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie. You do what you have to just to get high.
The crimes you’ll commit, for my narcotic charms, will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms.
You’ll lie to your mother, you’ll steal from your dad; When you see their tears, you should feel sad.
But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised, I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways.
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids; I turn people from God, and separate from friends.
I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride; I’ll be with you always, right by your side.
You’ll give up everything, your family, your home, your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.
I’ll take and take, till you have nothing more to give; When I’m finished with you, you’ll be lucky to live.
If you try me– be warned– this is no game; If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.
I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind; I’ll own you completely, your soul will be mine.
The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed, the voices you’ll hear from inside your head; the sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see– I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart, that you are mine, and we shall not part.
You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do, but you came to me, not I to you.
You knew this would happen; Many times, you were told– but you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.
You could have said no, and just walked away; If you could live that day over, now what would you say? I’ll be your master; you will be my slave; I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave.
Now that you have met me, what will you do? Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you.
I can bring you more misery than words can tell; Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell……
– Author Unknown
A powerful message, from the perspective of DRUGS
I destroy homes, tear families apart…take your children and that’s just the start.
I’m more costly than diamonds, more costly than gold – the sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.
And if you need me, remember I’m easily found. I live all around you, in schools and in town.
I live with the rich, I live with the poor. I live down the street and maybe next door.
My power is awesome – try me you’ll see. But if you do, you may never break free.
Just try me once and I might let go, but try me twice and I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and lie. You’ll do what you have to just to get high.
The crimes you’ll commit, for my narcotic charms, will seem to be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms.
You’ll lie to your mother, you’ll steal from your dad. When you see their tears, you should be sad.
But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised. I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways.
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids, I turn people from God and separate from friends.
I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride, I’ll be with you always, right by your side.
You’ll give up everything – your family, your home, your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.
I’ll take and I’ll take, till you have nothing more to give. When I’m finished with you, you’ll be lucky to live.
If you try me be warned, this is no game. If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.
I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind. I’ll own you completely, your soul will be mine.
The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed. The voices you’ll hear from inside your head.
The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see, I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart, that you are mine, and we shall not part.
You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do. But you came to me, not I to you.
You knew this would happen, many times you were told, but you challenged my power and chose to be bold.
You could have said no, and just walked away. If you could live that day over now, what would you say?
I’ll be your master, you’ll be my slave. I’ll even go with you…when you go to your grave.
Now that you have met me, what will you do? Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you.
I can bring you more misery than words can tell. Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell.
this article was originally written and featured on scinthenews.com
Why should you read this article?? Because chances are that you, the reader, have someone in your life that is using drugs or alcohol and you don’t know it…. YET. And if you DO know it…. what to do??
My name is Mary Marcuccio, I live in St. Cloud. I am a substance abuse professional. And I AM YOU. I was the mom who had a 12-year-old son smoking pot who became the 14-year-old snorting pain pills. We dove in head first, trying to stop him…change his path. Despite our exhaustive efforts, he graduated to shooting heroin at 15. This discovery collapsed me onto the kitchen floor, in a full-blown asthma event. Once the tears stopped and I could breathe, I decided to …. ATTACK. “THIS STOPS RIGHT NOW!!” … I screamed at no one in the room. In all my infinite ignorance I actually believed I had that power. 13 years later, my son is still a raging drug addict and alcoholic, despite every effort as parents to interfere/intervene/fix/change. We’ve suffered almost every possible conceivable hurt/pain/trauma/tragedy that CAN be suffered by the family of the addict. Ask me about my son’s recent capture and torture at the hands of unscrupulous bondsmen… and I will fall into a flow of tears. Professional or not, the heartache lives. I’ve learned to manage it.
I have been sleeping much better for the past few weeks because my son is back in prison AND I KNOW HE’S SAFE. Safe is relative, to be sure; but for my family, RIGHT NOW, prison will keep him alive and with God’s good grace and my prayers, maybe THIS TIME he will … WANT to change, BE willing to change, HAVE ENOUGH PAIN to change.
I hope to be sharing more of my family’s story in future articles. For now, let’s discuss how my average day goes? I am the mother of a drug addict/alcoholic while being a professional with a job and many responsibilities … I get up (some days are harder than others), shower, dress, do my hair, put on makeup, pack my bag and spend my day helping other ME’s to find their BOTTOM LINE … their “how to be ok with what I’m NOT ok with.” Who better than me to guide another mother, father, wife, uncle, best friend … how to do US?! THE SECRET: IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE. COPING SKILLS.
Essentially, I address 2 readers: You’re the wife of the alcoholic, the grandfather of the junkie – and you’re so filled with hurt, pain and anger that you just cry because you’re so lost. You haven’t reached out for help because you haven’t got the strength. Or you’re the reader who THINKS you don’t have any drug problems in YOUR family – so why do you need to read this?
Reader #1: THE ME’S: You spend years … decades … Enabling. Crying. Begging. Pleading. Truly believe that you’re all alone … PLEASE STOP. REACH OUT.
*I host a FREE educational forum weekly, for family support, at a local substance abuse treatment center; COME! (please call me for details)
*You can call/email me for support and resources.
*My website has a list of resources for treatment for your addict.
*Please see the extensive resource list at the end of this article, for YOU. PLEASE REACH OUT … YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Reader #2: “THE NOT – ME’s”: That’s what I call people who don’t have or THINK they don’t have “drug issues” … and here’s what you don’t know and need to.
Capt. Carlos Espinosa, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, shared the following: “Everyone reading this should be concerned with the drug crisis even if it’s not in their own family. Every citizen’s quality of life is affected by drugs. For example, drug addiction and mental illness contribute significantly to homelessness. Crime – prostitution, auto burglaries for example – are largely driven by drug addiction. The user doesn’t want to hurt you; their intent is to get money for drugs. And public restrooms– at the park, the beach, etc. – are often a haven of drug activity. This is a huge safety issue for you and your family. It benefits ‘us’ to help ‘them’ because we’re all connected.”
“The reader should be very aware that central Florida is having a huge drug crisis, most significantly heroin. In Orange County this year, the number of drug overdoses increased significantly from last year, and the rate of death from overdoses almost doubled, as compared with last year. Drug dealers are adding fentanyl, a very powerful opiate, to MANY DRUGS, including cocaine and marijuana. Most of our losses can be attributed to fentanyl-laced products.”
As the mother of a heroin user, I have more experience and knowledge of opiate addiction that I could have ever wanted. I can say with utter confidence that drugs are not prejudiced…they don’t care where you live, how much money you have, what kind of a student you are, your race/color/creed. DRUGS ARE AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY KIDNAPPER.
I want you to be aware of some things to watch for/ RED FLAGS for opiate abuse within your home and family:
While the opiate user is high: Nodding off, lethargic, sleeping A LOT, Pinpoint pupils, non-responsive to light changes and “Itchy-scratchy” skin.
*Please read a comprehensive list of warning signs/Red Flags; recent media items that are educational and informational.
Please follow the Osceola County Community Newspaper for the ongoing series on drug education, awareness, and resources – RECOVERY CORNER.
MARY MARCUCCIO, FAMILY CONSULTANT firstname.lastname@example.org 860-877-8707
NAR-ANON (Parent/Family Support) www.Nar-anon.org
AL-ANON (Parent/Family Support) www.Al-anon.org
FAMILIES ANONYMOUS (Parent/Family Support) www.familiesanonymous.org
Parent/Family Support Groups – in U.S. www.supportgroupproject.org
2 ON-LINE SUPPORT GROUPS:
I am not an addict.
But try and love one, and then see if you can look me square in the eyes and tell me that you didn’t get addicted to trying to fix them.
If you’re lucky, they recover. If you’re really lucky, you recover, too.
Loving a drug addict can and will consume your every thought. Watching their physical deterioration and emotional detachment to everything will make you the most tired insomniac alive.
You will stand in the doorway of their bedroom and plead with them that you “just want them back.” If you watch the person you love disappear right in front of your eyes long enough, you will start to dissolve too.
Those not directly affected won’t be able to understand why you are so focused on your loved one’s well-being, especially since, during the times of your family member’s active addiction, they won’t seem so concerned with their own.
Don’t become angry with these people. They do not understand. They are lucky to not understand. You’ll catch yourself wishing that you didn’t understand, either.
“What if you had to wake up every day and wonder if today was the day your family member was going to die?” will become a popular, not-so-rhetorical question.
Drug addiction has the largest ripple effect that I have ever witnessed firsthand.
It causes parents to outlive their children. It causes jail time and homelessness. It causes sisters to mourn their siblings. It causes nieces to never meet their aunts. It causes an absence before the exit.
You will see your loved one walking and talking, but the truth is, you will lose them far before they actually succumb to their demons; which, if they don’t find recovery, is inevitable.
Drug addiction causes families to come to fear a ringing phone or a knock on the door. It causes vague obituaries. I read the papers and I follow the news; and it is scary. “Died suddenly” has officially become obituary-speak for “another young person found dead from a drug overdose.”
Drug addiction causes bedrooms and social media sites to become memorials. It causes the “yesterdays” to outnumber the “tomorrows.” It causes things to break; like the law, trust and homes.
Drug addiction causes statistics to rise and knees to fall, as praying seems like the only thing left to do sometimes.
People have a way of pigeonholing those who suffer from addiction. They call them “trash,” “junkies” or “criminals,” which is hardly ever the truth. Addiction is an illness. Addicts have families and aspirations.
You will learn that drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if the addict came from a loving home or a broken family.
Drug addiction doesn’t care if you are religious. Drug addiction doesn’t care if you are a straight-A student or a drop-out. Drug addiction doesn’t care what ethnicity you are. Drug addiction will show you that one decision and one lapse in judgment can alter the course of an entire life.
Drug addiction doesn’t care. Period. But you care.
You will learn to hate the drug but love the addict. You will begin to accept that you need to separate who the person once was with who they are now.
It is not the person who uses, but the addict. It is not the person who steals to support their habit, but the addict. It is not the person who spews obscenities at their family, but the addict. It is not the person who lies, but the addict.
And yet, sadly… it is not the addict who dies, but the person.
A Mother’s Heart
” I wish it wasn’t me who was writing this blog. I really wish it wasn’t. I wish I wasn’t handpicked because I have one of the “best handles” on this subject. I wish I wasn’t “qualified” to speak on the heroin epidemic that is a growing problem nationwide. 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 have an addict in the family.
I know what it’s like to worry yourself sick. To cry yourself to sleep. To stare at baby pictures. To check on them while they sleep to make sure they are still breathing.
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 when you know they are lying straight to your face.
- 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 that 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 that 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. To snoop through drawers and email accounts. 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 stop caring about your own personal and professional life. My relationship took a backseat, Christ not even the backseat – I kicked him out of the car. I would show up to work not showered and with huge bags under my eyes. I would cry at my desk. Everything the outside world expected of me seemed frivolous if I couldn’t keep one of my most important people in my life out of harm’s way.
- I know what it’s like to be really pissed off. Like, REALLY pissed the hell 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, that it is a choice. 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 becoming 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 feel the weight of each day on your shoulders trying to balance the two.
- 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,” “the mother 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 an addict 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, went viral, being shared nearly 200,000 times on Facebook alone. 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 judgment. They often feel voiceless, so I wanted to give them a voice.
I write on addiction because I want to let families of addicts of any substance know they are not alone. I write on addiction because for far too long many have felt isolated, hopeless and stigmatized by this illness.
Whether you realize it or not, each interaction with any article on this epidemic will help raise awareness about drug addiction and its direct effect on not only the addict, but the family. Together, we can chip away at the antiquated stereotypes attached to addiction.”
AUTHOR: ALICIA COOK
reposted from www.thealiciacook.com
Youth Services hosts “Community Conversation” about Drug Addiction
Mary Marcuccio, of My Bottom Line, LLC, demonstrates her passion to parents while speaking at the ‘Community Conversation’ on addiction. Photo by Daniel Atkinson.
By Danny Atkinson Reminder News. Colchester Edition.
On the evening of Wednesday, March 25, parents and students in grades 6-12 gathered at Bacon Academy to attend separate presentations about drug addiction as part of the Community Conversations series. The event, which was sponsored by the Colchester Youth Services’ Youth FIRST Coalition and Colchester Public Schools, attracted a crowd of roughly 150.
Parents attended a presentation by Mary Marcuccio, the founder and CEO of My Bottom Line, LLC, an organization that helps parents deal with young adults who are addicted to opiates. Marcuccio shared her family’s story and provided a comprehensive education about opiates.
Marcuccio began her presentation by discussing her family’s experience of having a son addicted to opiates for many years. Her son began using marijuana in middle school and began using heroin at the age of 15. Marcuccio said that it took her and her husband time to realize the extent of her son’s drug use.
“We set out to do the best we could and felt that our son would be protected from the danger of drugs as a result,” she said. “As parents, we mistakenly assume that there is a bubble around our communities.”
Marcuccio focused on the dangers of opiate addiction and what parents can do to help protect their children from it. She spoke about the ways in which adolescents become involved in using opiates, saying that it is easy for them to gain access to prescription pills, especially at what she called “pill parties.” Eventually, users can graduate to heroin, which is highly affordable.
Marcuccio said that parents must enforce boundaries for their children and avoid enabling them. Boundaries she suggested setting included guaranteeing activities they participate in are safe and structured, and not allowing them to have household access to prescription pills.
“You need to make sure your family environment is strong,” she said. “You have to give your children a reason to say no.”
Marcuccio discussed the warning signs parents should look for with opiates use, all of which she saw with her son. These include pinpoint and fixed pupils, sluggishness, and violent mood swings. She said that adolescent brains are very susceptible to opiates and that heroin gives them “the most contented feeling they’ll have in this world.” As a result, withdrawal can be extremely painful.
“Drugs and addiction puts a permanent wrinkle in the fabric of relationships,” Marcuccio said.
Throughout the presentation, Marcuccio constantly emphasized the importance of parents being educated and taking action. “You cannot love your child away from drugs. You need to make the community an unwelcome place for them,” she said.
“Until hearing her tonight, I had no idea that some of the effects of opiates happen to that degree,” said parent Laura Nass. “This presentation absolutely inspired me to get involved with fighting opiates.”
While parents listened to Marcuccio, students attended a presentation by Greg P. He spoke about his experience with alcohol and drug addiction at a young age and his battle to become and stay sober. Students said that they enjoyed the presentation and found his story relatable.
“They were able to hear the story of someone coming from a similar background and got a perspective about what life can be like if you start using drugs and alcohol at a young age,” Greg said. “They seemed very interested and receptive.”
Jennifer Martino, who leads the Youth FIRST Coalition, thought the event was important for the community. “I felt like this was a great opportunity to start a conversation. Both speakers did a great job,” she said. “Greg’s story hit home for the kids, and it was very empowering for the parents to hear someone discuss the warning signs of opiate addiction. It’s a message unlike any other.”
My Dear Addicted Child,
I feel like I’m saying goodbye to you, and in a way, I suppose I am. I will always love you. I want the very best for you and I’m prepared to do the most unnatural thing, a mother can ever do. My minds screams, I’m abandoning you. Oh, I know you’re all grown up, but to me, you’ll always be my baby. That’s part of the problem. My nature is to protect you. I see you broken and despairing, and I am broken and despairing too. If you had cancer, or heart disease, I would fight tooth and nail to get you the care you need. In a strange way, this is me fighting. It’s the hardest fight I’ve ever fought. It would be far easier to stand at your hospital bed, knowing that what I was doing was helping you.
But there is no hospital bed. There is no cancer, or heart disease. What there is – is an insidious little secret – one that has grown into a horrible, ugly beast. It is devouring you alive, and me, along with it. I’ve watched this monster grow. I pleaded with it. I’ve coddled it. I’ve even nurtured it. I’ve done everything I can think of to make this THING go away, but it is relentless. I am left to face the truth. You my precious child, are an addict. An addict! Oh my God! I can barely say it. I feel sick. I HATE that word. And yet, it is true. Why does the truth have to be so hard? Even harder, is what I still have to do.
All my life I have watched over you and now I have to set you free. Not because I want too. Because I NEED to. It’s the only thing I can do, that might save your life. But the process may also end it. I’m told by other addicts and professionals, and other Mom’s who have gone before me, there is a far greater chance you will have success and get clean, if I do this. Almost always, this works. Believe me, almost, is nowhere near comforting enough. If I wasn’t sure, I was helping you to die, I would never choose this. But here I am, between a rock and hard place. With no good choices, only hard, and worse ones.
Before I let you go, know this. I am here for you, ALWAYS. I am here for YOU. Not for your disease, but the you, I know hides deep down inside of the addict, somewhere. Whether you get clean by intervention, or you growing weary of the consequences, now that you’ll be dealing with them, or be it by divine intervention, this insanity will stop. If you ever thought it might be hard quitting drugs, my dear, you should try walking away from your child! I know we’ve both grown sick with this monster.
You’re not the only one who needs help. I do too. I promise you I will do everything that is asked of me, even if I think I’m going to hate every minute of it. I’ll do it, because I know if I do, you might. I promise not to ask you to do anything, that I won’t do. I would ask you to take care, but you will only smile and nod, and carry on as before. The words would only make me feel better. They’re of no use to you. So instead, I shall give you to God. I don’t know who else to trust with you. I’ll wrap you in your favourite baby blanket. The one you dragged behind you until it was nothing but rags. I will pray for you and for me. I will pray that we both have the strength to do the next right thing, even, when it feels so wrong.
Go with God, my dear sweet child.
May we both find peace.
By Lorelie Rozzano
Matthew Milam’s short life story
‘AS A PARENT, YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO’
Edmund D. Fountain, for USA TODAY
(this is an excerpt taken from a USA TODAY article)
When Matthew Milam smiled, dimples on his broad face ran deep, and his cheekbones grew round and high — the infectious look of someone who could light up a room.
“As a little kid, I used to always tell him he had heart,” says his mother, Debbie.
Medication was the key after he grew up. Without it, Matthew toggled emotionally between a sweet, compassionate 24-year-old who loved to cook and was terribly shy around strangers — to someone consumed with paranoia who dug his own grave in the backyard and stood outside in a lightning storm, begging God to strike him down.
“It’d be like a light bulb going off,” says his father, Pat, vice president of sales for an oil field service company in New Orleans.
Those with severe mental illness such as Matthew, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at 24, illustrate the gaping challenges researchers face in finding solutions to suicide. Half of those with schizophrenia, an illness marked by delusions and hearing voices, attempt suicide. One in 10 succeed.
Matthew’s parents said his emotional state began to grow worse after he found his younger brother Michael dead at 18 of a heroin overdose in the family home in Harahan, La., in 2007.
Within a few years, Matthew was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and later with schizophrenia as more severe symptoms emerged.