National Drug & Alcohol Interventionists

The Cruelty of Stigmas

I consistently hear the words addiction and stigma in close proximity to each other. I’ve also made several statements regarding this very issue, such as, “because of the stigma associated with addiction sometimes it is easier for people to turn the other cheek” or “the stigma caused by addiction only helps in fueling an addict’s guilt and shame.” After reflecting on this for some time I realized how true these statements are, then I started to clearly see how profoundly these sentiments affected me. But these are just words and I’m not sure people can really understand how the action of stigmatizing someone can be so detrimental. However, if we start trying to understand, sympathize and see how deeply it can hurt; how it can cause one’s self-esteem to plummet it may begin to be less difficult to get into the solution part of this consuming and harmful issue. And finally our journey can begin. I often write about these affects. I hear someone’s story or notice the irrational actions some addicts have when they are confronted. Then I know. They have also had this stigma placed and inflicted on them.

 

While living and surviving day to day as a junkie on the streets I really had myself fooled. I tremble inside sometimes…any time a flash from the past creeps back into my conscience. Honestly, it’s maddening! Yet I know how lucky I am, I made it home while so many never did or never even had the chance. On the streets I was a ticking time bomb…an easy target for so many. For several months I didn’t have any major problems, besides the obvious: my addiction and my unwillingness to face it. But this was my way of coping, or to be perfectly honest, my way of escaping my life. But I had a car and in the “dope-world” my car was like currency. At this time I still looked like myself (underweight sure but I didn’t look completely strung out) so if a cop rolled by I waved while others scattered. I can actually remember laughing at this. When I was growing up I’d always been taught that the police were “the good guys” that they were trust worthy. From time to time a couple of officers passing by would say “Hi” ask my name, then normally the next thing they said was, “Hey, do you know your Mom’s been looking for you?” I’d shrug, make small talk and be on my way. There were also 2 officers that patrolled an area where an old friend was crashing, but these 2 were different. First, I thought they hated me but then one night they stopped and searched me. The found some dope I had in the cellophane inside my cigarettes….it was about $50 worth but all they did was give me a few tickets, tell me who it was safe to hang around and lecture me not to walk anywhere alone. I just told them I was walking because I was almost out of gas (which was true). Once again, at the time I still had my car, most of my clothes, make-up, toiletries…..and my hair (which at that time fell to the middle of my back.) Then came the night I was brutally assaulted. I won’t go into all the horrific details now but they held me for at least 6hrs. They started by cutting and tearing my clothes off down to my bra and panties. They took turns burning me with cigarettes, punching me and using the scissors to butcher my hair and take every single possession I had, including my car. My clothes, toiletries, make-up, etc. weren’t important but my car was a necessity for me to survive. But what made matters worse was no one ever did a thing about it…even after I went to the hospital and reported the assault, giving the DPD the address where it took place. Where they kidnapped me from (at gunpoint). I even gave them their names and the names of some of their associates. Plus people who witnessed me being drug down stairs in tears, pleading for help while a gun was held to my head. I escaped because they had to go to the hospital because one of their own children may have been going into labor. I was lucky…one person who saw them take me came in, wrapped me in a blanket and carried me up to the nearest gas station. Now this guy wasn’t an angel in life but he did tell me his full, REAL name and told me I could use him as a witness…that I should report it. But even with all the info I gave, coupled with all my injuries (swollen jaw, broken ribs, and numerous cuts and cigarette burns) the police still made it sound like I was somehow to blame. That it was nothing more than a “drug deal gone wrong”, that’s actually what they said to me. None of it made any difference to them whatsoever. When I got up to use the restroom and looked in the mirror my knees buckled at how horrible I looked, my hair was not just cut off, it was as I said “butchered”. In several spots they’d cut it to my scalp in other areas it was just cut off, others it was just…mangled. And even though it was only hair I immediately remember thinking, “I wonder if I hadn’t looked THIS bad, if I still had some of my hair would they have taken me seriously?”

Right then, right there I realized I was no longer a person to the police or anyone else…not even the nurses in the ER. They had no care or concern, I was just another junkie who would die on the streets or end up in prison…I would always be looked upon with suspicion. I suddenly felt dirty, raw and gritty, like a stranger in my own mind and body. I was stigmatized.  

The social stigma cast on addicts and their families can cause both the family and the addicted loved one to stay closed off for far too long. It is time someone helps others understand the harm and anguish it causes. For some the harm may be even greater and this harm can easily be released into our communities. Once someone feels that people think of them as nothing more than a junkie or dope fiend our society has just released someone into the world who feels they have nothing and no one to lose.

Treatment for Offenders with Substance Involved Crimes

We have some questions we would like you to ponder and some facts we would like to share: 80 percent or more of all adult and juvenile offenders were arrested or incarcerated for crimes linked to substance use or addiction; 66 percent of adult inmates and 44 percent of juveniles arrested meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol or other drug abuse and addiction. How would you like your loved one to be look at if they were to become part of “the system”? As a common criminal or a person, one that may need treatment. That is not to say that EVERY offender fits in the specific category we are currently discussing. And I do feel that there are consequences to our actions. But the fact is a large majority of offenders would never see the inside of a cold holding cell or jail cell if it weren’t for the moral compromises addiction causes us, addicts to make. I am not making excuses for addicts or substance abusers, but it is a fact…It was for me. However, our system continues to lump non-violent offenders with substance abuse problems into the same category, as well as the same jails and prisons as offenders with noted violent pasts and crimes. However, our system will contend that they do offer treatment. Personally, I have seen firsthand what some jails consider “treatment” and what they offer is so far below the bar of what would be considered even close to quality treatment. If it wasn’t so appalling it would be laughable. It is time for changes within our judicial system. Addicts have died while “in the care” of this system which fails those with the disease of addiction every day!

In 2005, federal, state and local governments spent $74 billion on incarceration, court proceedings, probation and parole for substance-involved adult and juvenile offenders. In contrast, these governments spent less than one percent of that amount –$632 million–on prevention and treatment for those offenders. Only 11 percent of adult inmates with substance use disorders and less than 4 percent of substance involved juvenile offenders receive ANY type of treatment during incarceration; few of those receive evidence-based care. Without treatment, the odds are considerably high that substance-involved offenders will end up back in prison, continuing to increase recidivism, therefore adding to the problem and to taking more money from taxpayers. And we must also recognize the ramifications of releasing untreated addicts or substance users. Some will seek help, however most will become discouraged quickly….whether it be their inability to find gainful employment or when old vices are within their reach and they have not been given the tools to deal with these issues in a healthy manner. Therefore, before they realize it old behaviors are back in action and they could be living in our neighborhoods and committing crimes that never have to happen. The fact is, Treatment Works! There are many different kinds of treatment and different models work better for different people. But nonetheless, compassion, peer-to-peer counselling, and understanding can make anyone a better person and all of this is part of the treatment process.

Now what does this mean for those who are just interested in how their tax dollars are being spent? Evidence shows that for every dollar spent on treatment taxpayers would save $12 dollars in reduced substance-related crime and criminal justice and health care costs. More importantly we would be treating their primary disease and allowing offenders to re-enter society as productive members, not burdens to their communities. Addiction is a disease. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University- Behind Bars 11: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population casacolumbia.org released February 2010. Please help in making treatment available to all those who so desperately need it and stop the vicious cycle of recidivism. The research has been done; the evidence is there. The disease of addiction effects the whole family. With your help we can STOP the vicious cycle of addiction, and start saving lives instead of destroying them!

To support this important issue click Change ! Please share any comments or questions you have!

Thanks to our followers and friends for their continued support! Great changes happen one person, one family at a time…

Sincerest Regards,
Kelli & Nick Athas

Worthy

When it’s all too much
All you had seems lost
And ya can’t get your brain to cut off the thoughts

Racing through your mind
Feeling every little loss
It won’t go away
Will it ever go away

You’ve drank too much, taken too many hits
It’s all been enough
You could just throw a fit… (more…)

The Bottom Line

Many times during our interventions the addict is already so beat down, guilt-ridden and ashamed that they are relieved when they are offered help with the full support of family & friends. The love and care they feel during the intervention process can, if only for a moment fill that void that they have been stuffing with substances and/or alcohol for so long. However, that is not always the case. And a very important part of being an interventionist is planning for unexpected behaviors and scenarios during the actual intervention and doing all we can to keep the intervention on track, no matter what the reaction of the addict is. As I said many addicts walk into the intervention and immediately feel relief, ready to throw their hands up in surrender. But in some more complicated situations I’ve found my own self running down the street in 3inch heels while making a case to our client to come back inside and hear the family out (needless to say I now wear sensible shoes when the intervention takes place). In instances like this the “Bottom Line” can be the most crucial part of the entire process. Bottom lines can make or break an intervention. The addict has to realize the impact and horror their family is facing, and they have to understand that their family can no longer stand idling by, jumping every time the phone rings for fear of the devastating news that may come. And most importantly no one is there to punish them. By this time we have sat down with the family and talked about addiction education, enabling behaviors, and what they should expect when recovery begins. Prior to the intervention day we have a family education day in order to go over several scenarios with the family. We prepare & educate each family so they will have some idea of what to expect. In addition we are sure to make ourselves available to each family we work with before, during, and after the intervention and treatment. It is important that each member of the family is on the same page in order for any chaos to stop. We also make sure the addict knows that we are and always will be in their circle of support. The curriculum we’ve created includes a discussion about enabling behaviors. After identifying the enabling behaviors in each family & individual family members/friends we have a better idea about what each person’s bottom line could be. Our curriculum also includes guidelines & examples for not only the bottom lines but for the letters from each member, imploring the addict to accept the help being offered. Furthermore, we put great emphasis on the fact that EVERY person participating in the intervention must stick to their bottom line…NO MATTER WHAT! We stress that each individual’s bottom line has to be something they are willing to do (or NOT do), if it’s not something they can maintain for the long haul they cannot use it. Otherwise, it can deem the entire intervention process an exercise in futility. In the interventions where the addict continues to refuse help after the bottom lines have been established we first, have to make certain that the family knows that we are still supporting them and it is imperative they stay committed to their bottom lines. Next we make it clear to the addict that the family/friends will no longer participate in enabling behaviors & the bottom lines laid out will go into effect immediately.

In the rare cases that the addict does not go directly into treatment we have found that as long as the family is holding firm on the bottom lines the addict enters treatment within a week to 10 days. In our cases we stay in touch with the family & their addicted loved one until a resolution presents itself. Many times the addict calls to accept help due to the fact that the intervention has caused a chain reaction…the life they thought they were hiding or denying has had a bright light cast over it and in most cases they finally begin to realize that their actions & addictions are effecting more than just themselves. Some start to understand that the intervention was something their family put together out of love and concern…and at that point using becomes a lot less enjoyable. Their addiction has been brought to the forefront of their mind, and any denial is now much more difficult to maintain. In these ways every intervention is a success. The process brings families together, helps sort out the chaos, gets everyone on the same page, and leads everyone resolutions and recovery!

“Over the years working with and talking to so many people who deal with addiction, either as an addict or the loved one of an addict I’ve learned many things…One of the most important things I’ve realized is that no addict is expected to deal with the struggles of addiction alone (no one should). But just as important, no family should have to navigate the chaotic path addiction leads to alone either. That’s why we are here…not only to offer our help and guidance but to lead our families back toward hope and peace.”
Kelli Athas

For any questions please call : 877-744-3578

Why Are We Still Incarcerating Addicts?

The stigma of addiction will continue to be hard to shake until its actually treated as a disease instead of a moral defect. However, I’m not sure if our judicial system will EVER be the one to force the issue. Frankly, because they are just making too much money off the backs of addicts and their families. Furthermore it could be fiscally crushing to many industries. In addition, pharmaceutical companies, prisons, & community supervision divisions depend on addicts to make a living and until we take a stand they will continue to make huge profits off a life-threatening disease. My fear is that it will be politicized, then forgotten..once again. Bills being blocked for selfish political purposes…much like the recent bills blocked by our senators, such as the “Veterans Jobs Bill” and “Farm Bill” which affect our hardest working Americans! Of course, while all this is happening our children are dying, overdosing, committing suicide, & of course, being incarcerated….As the new documentary The House I live In, points out, many men are doing life sentences for literally a few grams of meth. One man did admit he was wrong & was willing to be held accountable, but sadly he said what he really needed was help…treatment! But that option is not readily available to the hundreds of thousands of addicts in prison. And it is certainly not happening in a prison in Oklahoma!  This is, and as been the case for well over half the prison population for some time now.

What society doesn’t realize is that with or without proper treatment addicts are eventually going to be their neighbors. Without treatment is likely they will go back to “old ways”. BUT if they are properly treated they can be the best neighbors and greatest contributors to our communities!  An article on The Fix reports that, “policy makers choose to wait for a crisis for to occur….we continue to pay, and pay, and pay. For example, on average we spend over $25,000 per year to incarcerate each substance-involved offender but fail to provide treatment for their disease, insuring that they will be far likelier to be a repeat offender and be re-incarcerated…..we pay with our lives as millions of Americans each year succumb to this deadly disease. The fact is, very few people in this country have NOT been affected by addiction in one or more of its many manifestations.”  I am truly thankful to The Fix  for reporting on this issue that touches more lives in America than ANYONE would like to admit!What our society as a whole needs is prevention, intervention, & continuing care programs. And it can’t be said enough that, addiction can happen to ANYONE! Intercept Interventions has implemented a continuing care program as well as more prevention programs for communities and schools. Treatment is most times the first step in a long battle & most clients are not properly prepared for what’s to come the day they step out of treatment…and what they do that first back into the world sets the tone for their journey in recovery and it is very important that they have someone there to walk beside them in their recovery. BUT do we really think these people WANT to cure addiction? And this goes for all incurable diseases. If we think about it the last disease that we cured was Polio…with all our technological and scientific advances one would think we would be MUCH further along. Now it just takes an inexpensive vaccine to protect ourselves against Polio. However, this didn’t help the pharmaceutical companies’ bottom line and they don’t continue making lots of money…in the long-term when a deadly disease is eradicated. Preying on the vulnerable, weak, & desperate is what they do best!!!

Lastly, addiction is a disease and like anyone with a disease they are given a treatment plan to follow…if a diabetic doesn’t follow doctors orders they can end up in the hospital or worse, the same is true for addicts. If we spent more time and money on prevention & educating people, especially those “at risk” we could save money in the long run (but honestly we never know who’s “at risk” so its best to educate all). With programs like these up and running our incarceration costs, community supervision, and recidivism rates would improve significantly. In addition, if we spent more time immersing addicts into their local recovery community and continuing care after treatment relapse rates would surely go down.
Sincerely,
Kelli Athas
Interventionist

I’ve added the following links from the sites I’ve quoted in this article, to offer more facts, and statistics  in hopes that people will take a look at the reality of this situation… It is important to the addiction treatment & recovery communities…If nothing else I hope this sheds some light on a topic has been left in the shadows for far too long!

Family Issues and the Rights You Have

YOU AND YOUR FAMILY HAVE SOME FUNDEMENTAL GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS THAT ARE OFTEN
FORGOTTEN, ESPECIALLY WHILE RAISING TEENS AND/OR DEALING WITH THE TRIALS THAT
GOD PUTS BEFORE EACH OF US. BUT TODAY WE WANT TO REMIND YOU & YOUR CHILDREN
OF THESE RIGHTS IN THE HOPES THAT YOU CAN WORK TOGETHER TO LIVE PEACEFULLY AND RESPECTFULLY.

 

  • You have the right to peace and harmony in your own home.
  • You have the right to your own identity, knowing you are worthy, valued, and loved.
  • You have the right to dignity, to be treated as an individual and respected. You should not
    be afraid of constantly being used or asked to compromise your morals and
    standards.
  • You have the right to a secure and loving relationship based a healthy mutual respect and
    dependence. You should not have to walk on eggshells for anyone in your own
    family unit.
  • You have the right to a stable, secure environment that does not hinder personal and
    spiritual growth.
  • You have the right to a life free of emotional terrorism, physical abuse, and constant
    arguing and berating.
  • You have the right to a life free of guilt and shame; and freedom from manipulation through
    guilt and shame.
  • You have the right NOT to be emotionally drained and spiritually depleted due to the strain
    of a co-dependent relationship with an addict/alcoholic loved one.
  • You have the right to immediately remove yourself from situations which you feel are
    harmful, unsafe, and/or unhealthy for you. Even if this means you only need a
    few minutes or a few days for yourself  to heal….depending on the situation, you
    should always feel good about making positive changes to your circumstances
    even when the changes do not come easy.
  • You have the right to create an open dialogue within your family and feel safe to express
    your concerns and issues in a caring and compassionate manner free from
    judgment on both sides.
  • You have a right to express your feelings in a way that is non-judgmental and constructive,
    without fear of a “backlash”.
  • You have the right to decline to participate in conversations where you are being putdown
    and/or humiliated.
  • You have the right to feel ALL your feelings and know they are valid.
  • You have the right NOT to live in the chaos and vicious cycle of addiction; jumping from one
    crisis to the next.
  • You have the right to live your life outside of your home (at work or at school) without carrying
    the baggage of dysfunctional relationships everywhere you go.
  • You have the right to develop a healthy image of yourself…emotionally, spiritually,
    physically, mentally, and psychologically.
  • You have the right to experiment with the new information that has been provided to you and
    form your own new ideas and attitudes.
  • You have the right to follow any of the rights listed above without waiting for approval
    from anyone; without waiting for a spouse/significant other, addict/alcoholic,
    and/or co-dependent loved-one to follow suit, get happy, seek help, or admit
    that a problem exists.

 

[1] Adapted from Adult Children of Alcoholics Anonymous with modifications from the insight and perspective of Intercept Interventions Co-Founder, Kelli Athas

Unexpected Gifts

This is a guest post from Hope in Recovery’s Gary Tidwell

Have you ever been given an unexpected gift? A gift that you get for no
specific reason at all. For many, that either personally battle with the
challenges of addiction or have a loved who does, that is exactly what they get
almost every day. Unfortunately these would not be the gifts of our choosing.
Addiction is the gift that keeps on giving, and what type of gifts does it
“bless” the effected with?

Despair
Hopelessness
Powerless
Physical illness
Psychological dependence
Co-dependent Relationships
Guilt/Shame
Legal Issues
Financial Issues
Poor Self-Esteem

Unfortunately, there is no “Day after Christmas” in the real world. There is a strict “no refund, no exchange” policy in reference to these “gifts. Once they have been received, the best that we can do is take them as they come, and attempt to cope with them as best we can. Kind of like the ugly sweater that Aunt June gave you. You think it is absolutely hideous, but with a smile you put it on and wear it for the day. Then when she goes home you put it in the pile for your next trip to Goodwill.

Unfortunately as we all know those that battle addiction, do not typically respond to these gifts in a “healthy” or “positive” manner. Many times they are taken as a good “excuse” to continue the negative and destructive behaviors.

This is so typical, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) says this about Substance Abuse (Addiction):

When an individual persists in use of alohol and other drugs despite problems related to the use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed.

This is one pattern of behavior that is needed for a person to be “diagnosed” with a substance abuse disorder.

In my opinion, this is the typical view that has been taken of these “Gifts of Addiction”, the negative and destructive. I want to challenge our paradigm and look at them from a little more positive perspective.  Then I want us to look at the greater gifts
and rewards that are found on the other side, in a life of recovery.

Friedrich Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) a 19th-century
German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist, once said,  “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

A couple of similar quotes reinforce this idea.

Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition, such as lifting weights, we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity – Stephen R. Covey

I have had to fight like hell and fighting like hell has made me what I am – John Arbuthnot Fisher

So what am I trying to say? I would NEVER choose to rewind the clock of time relive any of the struggles of the past including their pain, loss, anger, etc. However, as strange as it sounds I would not go back and undo them if I
could either. Despite, all of the negatives that resulted, these struggles come with their own “unexpected gifts”.  They develop character. Each one of us is the person that we are because of our experiences good and bad not despite them. These same trials foster strength and courage. Having gone through and overcome these trials, we become stronger and stronger with each obstacle that we conquer.  With each step that we take onward and upward, we are stronger and wiser when it comes time to face the
next one. It is not easy and will take a lot of work and devotion, but in the end we realize that it was all worth it.

That brings me to the ultimate of “unexpected gifts”, the gifts that we discover in a life of recovery. In my experience and communications with those that have known both sides of this coin, there is one gift that is far and above the most treasured, “PEACE”.  We learn that life does NOT have to be full of chaos! As we grow and get wiser and stronger, we realize that we are capable of much more than we have ever given ourselves credit for in the past.  We realize that we DO have something to share with the world that is around us and it is something positive, healthy, and beautiful! Life AFTER active addiction is just that LIFE! We finally start living and being able to enjoy the experiences of each day rather than simply “surviving”.  Life after addiction is a life of daily “unexpected gifts”. That is if we will open our eyes and hearts to be watching for them.

So whether it is your past, your present, or future, I challenge you to
open your eyes and your heart and be grateful for each of the unexpected gifts
that come into your life.

Thanks for letting me share one with you in these words!

One breath, one step, one day at a time,

 

Gary Tidwell

Hope in Recovery

http://hopenrecovery.wordpress.com/

Stages of Addiction

Despite popular beliefs, people do not have to “hit bottom” before they can benefit from help. Substance abuse can be addressed and treated at any stage. Going into treatment at any stage can be beneficial. However, the level of treatment necessary for the regular user will differ greatly from the needs of the dependent user. And for those in the end stages of addiction it could literally save their life.  The stages leading to addiction include experimentation, regular use, risky use, dependence, and addiction.  

Stage One:  Experimentation

The first stage, experimentation, is the voluntary use of alcohol or other drugs. Many times it involves teens going to a party and drinking or popping pills in order to fit in. Sometimes, the person experimenting is trying to forget about or escape from an issue. An older person may start drinking to cope with depression after losing a job. Experimentation may even include a teenager taking their mom’s prescription painkillers to cope with an injury from a sports activity. At the time the substance seems to solve the problem. The person takes more, and moves from experimentation to regular use, the next stage.

Stage Two:  Regular Use

Many people stay in the stage of regular use for months or years. Some may not develop a problem but many may not be able to stop by themselves. This is ordinarily the period of time where the consequences of using drugs and/or alcohol regularly begin to show up. Some will completely stop at this point. Others will stop for a period of time in order to get back into the good graces of loved ones or possibly the law; for example if someone gets a DWI and is put on probation they may quit drinking completely or agree with their family never to drink and drive again but as soon as they complete their probation they feel they are “off the hook” and can finally return to their old behaviors. Many times they have a false sense of entitlement and will justify their using by saying things like, “I quit drinking/using while I was on probation, I obviously don’t have a problem.” This is usually when people begin using substances in a manner that is risky and/or hazardous to themselves or others. 

Stage Three:  Risky Use

How the transition from regular use to risky use differs for every individual and what constitutes “risky behavior” by another person can be difficult to gauge. But if someone’s behavior has changed noticeably and/or suddenly you should definitely speak up and seek help. This is also a point where consequences begin to build up and if someone continues to drink or use despite the negative effects it is having on their life they will pass quickly from risky use to dependence. And it is very possible for risky use to overlap with dependence. Some risky behaviors include: Promiscuous sex, stealing from family members, binge drinking, constant blackouts, and unexplained violence, toward one’s self or another.

Stage Four:  Dependence

Characteristics of dependence include: Constant use of alcohol or other drugs that lead to the inability to take care of major responsibilities related to work, family, school and other roles. Repeatedly using drugs in situations that are physically hazardous, such as sharing needles or driving while under the influence, repeated legal problems, or any combination of these. Their risky behavior may also escalate to things such as prostitution and stealing from society because they can no longer take from their family.

Many dependent people could be categorized as functioning, and are able to work, maintain family relationships, and friendships. They will attempt to limit their use of alcohol or other drugs to certain times, such as evenings or weekends. However, many times they can only keep up this façade for so long and they will begin to disappear for periods of time without any explanation. At this point they have already become addicted. A lot of times family members and loved ones are walking on eggshells for the dependant individual in order to “keep the peace.” Unfortunately, this is only allowing their disease to progress and if they are not confronted they will continue to manipulate, rationalize, and justify in order for them to keep up their way of life.

Stage Five:  Addiction

The last stage of persistent abuse of substances is addiction. At this point they have been addicted for some time but this is the point where change is inevitable because continued use will only lead to a few places. Addiction is a disease involving serious psychological and physical changes from constant heavy use of alcohol, drugs, or both.

Symptoms include uncontrollable alcohol use and/or other drug craving, seeking, and use, that continues even in the face of repeated negative consequences. 

Addiction is a progressive, chronic, and fatal disease. If left untreated, it can only lead to jails, institutions, death, and dereliction, in no specific order.

Addiction is a treatable disease. Recovery rates for people who go through treatment are very similar to those who get treatment for other chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. There are a number of treatment methods and community resources, including outpatient or residential inpatient treatment programs. And just as important as treatment is what the addict does after treatment, such as finding a support group & a network of positive friends who will hold the addict accountable for their actions. There is no cookie cutter way to treat addiction because each individual’s needs are different and need to be assessed before they are placed in treatment. It can also be beneficial for the family to seek support as well, addiction causes a great deal of chaos and pain in the family and finding a support group such as Al Anon or online support will give family members an outlet to voice concerns, talk about issues or just have people who understand their situation. Most treatment facilities also provide family education classes. The following link also has a list of resources for family and addict support:

http://www.interceptinterventions.com/resources/weblinks/

A Letter to Our Addictions | Therapeutic Journaling

Many treatment facilities have clients write a “Dear John” letter to their DOC (drug of choice). A counselor will use this tactic of theraputic journaling in order for the addict to direct their anger at the real culprit, the drugs. Like relationships, many addicts have a love-hate relationship with their drugs. Moments of clarity will come about & the mind races on with the shame & control their addiction holds over them, They realize it is a miserable existence but the pull is so strong that they retreat to using to cover up those feelings & thoughts. Most addicts stay high 24/7 in order to keep the thoughts of remorse & guilt at bay. When they aren’t using they occupy their minds by thinking of ways & means to get more. These are the times that can be the most dangerous for an addict. Depending on what phase of addiction they are in they will do almost anything to get the drugs that literally controls their minds. That’s why an exercise such as this can be a freeing experience for an addict. And sometimes they realize some resentments & guilt they were harboring should’ve been aimed at the addiction itself.

I’m including an excerpt from an addict’s “Dear John” letter.  I’m fortunate  to share this with you…….because the letter is mine.

Dear Junk,

We’ve been together a long, long time. It started out casual & fun. Nothing serious. I thought I’d move on after high school or college….that maybe we’d even stay casual friends. BUT you led me on…showing me the fun, spontaneous side….showing the euphoria you could bring….Like many relationships everything changed, you even let my boyfriend throw me out in the rain (he was with you too & you wouldn’t let go) I was denying all you were doing: the weight loss, missing school, my disappearances, & lying. I was compromising all my standards. The euphoria you gave, it never would last & you never said what I’d do for it to last….I lost my child & my friends. My mom was the only 1 who fought, but you said she’d never understand so I couldn’t get caught…I was different before you came. I laughed & loved & cared about others. But I had to isolate so know one would see us & I now I had to have you just to feel right. I was sick of your control but too tired to fight. You had me roaming the streets, hardly having a thing to eat…..sometimes scared to sleep. You reminded daily of the shame I carried, so many times I thought it would be best if I was buried. I lost respect for myself & couldn’t look in the mirror. The devastation you’ve created can NEVER be forgiven…

I cringe to think of you now…waiting on your next victim. What ruse will you use to reel in this one?

BUT you didn’t kill me, as hard as you tried. God intervened, I faced my family & I survived. I’ve been given the strength & willingness I needed to tell you all I’ve been thinking…First get out of my life, STAY OUT OF MY MIND! You’re not welcome anymore…I’m learning about your kind! God saw it fit for me survive this addiction and NOW I KNOW I HAVE PURPOSE & MEANING!

Goodbye Forever,

Kelli

Those were the main parts, I edited very little. This was written about 7 years ago & I still get a freeing feeling just from typing it out again & I actually wasn’t intending on it rhyming like that…but I remember it poured out. There’s no format for something like this. It may be theraputic for many of you to write letters to a loved ones addiction or anything you’re struggling with. If anyone feels like sharing their own letter or  sending us a letter for feedback please submit a reply. Let me know if you want it published on our blog or want it kept private.

If you have any other comments, questions, or concerns submit them here or call us…night or day! And always remember to take care of you!

Sincerely,

Kelli Athas

The Core of Addiction

Dishonesty, closemindedness, & unwillingness are 3 characteristics that keep addicts stuck in their addictions…self-obsession is at the core. For families to get through to the addict we have to confront the behavior. Because addicts are so defensive while using many times they will turn & run. It’s too much for them to hear the havoc they’ve caused their family. BUT we can confront them in a caring manner, letting them know that they are loved, while still holding to our promise not to let them be the dictator of all situations. So many think they have to turn their back or cut the addict off completely. BUT I wouldn’t hold it against anyone if they said, “Hey, I love you…I always will. I hate the addiction that has taken hold of you and it tears me apart to watch you self destruct.” I don’t blame anyone for saying “I’m sorry you can’t come into my home, but I’d be happy to go to the park, take a walk & talk.” The main thing is is that no one puts themselves into harms way. But some families have just been through too much. It depends on what each idividual can handle emotionally. And there is a point when you’re watching someone go through the vicious cycle of addiction that a family has to figure out how to set boundaries with the addict and attempt to step in. I know some families maybe against this BUT I watched a very young girl with a promising future die last week because no one stepped in and put a firm foot down. And I just keep thinking about so many addicts I know who’s only intervention was death. Of course, I get very upset with some one when they relapse, but I also know it happens. The other thing I always remember is that my own mother continually stayed on me to stop using. She intervened more than once. She sought help from a long time clean friend & our family counselor. At that point, I realized I wasn’t just hurting myself. My selfishness & disrepect for myself had spilled over into every other relationship I had…..it was enough! 

My husband & I have been partners doing interventions for several years. We try to help families understand the mind of their loved one. We let them know that what the addict does or has done isn’t a personal attack on them…its survival for their addiction. Interventions aren’t about placing blame. It’s about showing the addict, yes there have been many, many mistakes & hurtful things BUT everyone is learning. And everyone has come together out of love for you! When you give them the option to either continue destructive behavior and be on their own (no money, no help) or go into treatment, have your family’s support & begin learning about recovery, most addicts will accept help. Consequences outweigh the pleasure & they really are tired. Besides that, what have they got to lose!

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