FOR STRUGGLING ADDICTS and THEIR LOVED ONES:
This is always a bittersweet time of the year for me. Today
I celebrate 14 years of sobriety, which is a tremendous blessing. Yet tomorrow
is our son Casey’s birthday (pictured above), and we would be celebrating each
other’s milestones if drugs hadn’t taken his life in October of 2005. Bitter
and sweet come hand in hand today and tomorrow.
I loved Casey so much. He became my “little buddy” shortly
after I started dating his mother in 1981 when he was just 7 years old. He
remained my “little buddy” until the day he died at the age of 30 from a heroin
overdose in our home.
So I celebrate this day in Casey’s honor, and also in honor
of our oldest son Michael, Casey’s big brother, who passed away in 1995,
stabbed to death in a park in Los
Angeles… Alcohol was involved… Both boys were kind,
intelligent and loving people, whose memories both warm and sadden our hearts.
We miss them greatly, but their spirits live on in us, and I know they want
their stories to be of service to others.
So, in spite of these horrific tragedies, if there’s a
message I can give to anyone struggling with addiction today (and to their
loved ones) – that message is one of hope. Where there is life, there is hope.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CONTROLLED BY A SUBSTANCE ANYMORE. You can live a life
free of the bondage of drugs and alcohol and you can live it with joy and with
peace of mind. Please don’t let the hardships of early (or not-so-early)
sobriety dissuade you.
Most addicts and alcoholics have altered their brain
chemistry to the point where our natural endorphin process doesn’t function properly
anymore. The brain has been force-flooded with endorphins through drug and
alcohol abuse and when we get clean and sober it may take a long time for those
endorphins to occur naturally again – the brain having been “tricked” into
thinking it doesn’t need to supply them anymore. This is a simplistic
explanation of a very real and complex alteration that occurs in the brain from
drug and alcohol abuse. But the good news is that if you stay clean and sober
long enough, these brain functions can and will return to normal. And you will
be SO glad you stuck it out.
It takes vigilance and perseverance to live a life of
sobriety after battling addiction, along with honesty, open-mindedness and
willingness (the HOW of recovery). If you or someone you know is struggling
with addiction, please don’t give up hope. We live in an area where recovery
meetings are bountiful, clean and sober housing opportunities are on the rise,
and counseling is readily available.
Also, FOR ANY INTERESTED PARENTS OF ADDICTED CHILDREN, I
facilitate a meeting called PACT (Parents of Addicted Children Together) on the
2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month. Any parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle,
brother, sister, loved one – is welcome to attend. The meetings are held at First Baptist
Church in Gresham at 224 W. Powell, across from the
Trufflehunter Restaurant. The meetings start at 7:00 p.m. and run to 8:30. We
hold these meetings FOR the loved one of the addict, in order that they may
have a place to lessen their own pain by sharing and by listening to others who
are experiencing the same thing. And although we don’t necessarily have
black-and-white answers (who does?), our aim is to help keep the loved one as
healthy as possible so they may not only be more available for their struggling
person, but so that they may also live their OWN lives in a more peaceful
To Casey and Michael: We love you and miss you every day.
To struggling addicts everywhere: Please believe that you
can change your life for the better, because, with help, you can. You can’t do
it alone, but you CAN do it… I spent many years struggling with addiction to a
variety of substances, fighting major depression and anxiety along the way. It
is only with lots of loving help that today I celebrate 14 years clean, sober
and MOSTLY serene. This can be your story as well, except you don’t have to
wait years to get clean.