12 Step Planet - Gary S.
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Stories about Addiction and Recovery

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 manner.   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.

You can start today. :) Please visit www.garyswoboda.com