A Parents Guide: Warning Signs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse

What to Look for:

Changes At Home

Demanding more privacy; locking doors; avoiding eye contact; sneaking around; being secretive about friends, possessions, and activities; having new interest in clothing, music, and other items that highlight drug use; having financial problems or an unexplained need for money; stealing money, valuables, or prescriptions.

Changes at Work or School

Drop in attendance and performance at work or school; skipping class; sudden change in friends; getting into fights or other trouble; dropping out of sports or other extracurricular activities; getting reprimanded at work; getting fired from job.

Changes in Behavior

Unexplained change in personality or attitude; mood swings; irritability; angry outbursts; aggression; unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness; lack of motivation; appearing “spaced out”; showing fear, anxiety, or paranoia for no apparent reason; acting uncharacteristically withdrawn or depressed.

Changes in Appearance

Bloodshot eyes; dilated pupils; sudden weight loss or gain; deterioration of physical appearance and personal grooming habits; dark circles around eyes; stains on fingers or teeth; tooth decay; open sores on skin; slurred speech; clumsiness; changes in appetite or sleep patterns; tremors; impaired coordination.

Physical Evidence

Incense, perfume or air freshener to cover the smell of smoke; mouthwash or breath mints to hide mouth odors; eye drops to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils; pills; drug paraphernalia; smell of alcohol, lighters; ashtrays; baggies; syringes; spoons; straws

What To Do:

If you suspect your son or daughter is abusing drugs or alcohol, there is help. Pick a time to talk to them when everyone is calm and sober. Express your feelings and fears honestly in a non-threatening way, observe their explanations of the behaviors, establish firm boundaries and abide by them, seek help from a professional. Call us today if you have questions about our program at New Hope. We can help navigate the process of finding treatment options for your adult child.

Call us today at 580-928-3200 or check us out online: http://www.newhoperecoverycenter.com

 

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A Herd of Buffalo

The following post is brought to us by guest contributor, Sarah Ivy. Follow her blog, Searching for Sarah, here.

Those of us in recovery know a thing or two about facing our fears. However, we sometimes allow our fears to control us even as we work to recover.

The thing about fear is that it paralyzes. We stay in bad situations. We settle for crummy jobs. We allow others to walk all over us. We worry more about what others think about us than what is truly good for us. We look up and see our lives slipping away from us.

Before we know it, fear dominates our lives. It dictates our decisions, relationships, work, spending habits, etc. Fear isolates us from the people we love and the life we want to live. Fear even distorts the way we think about ourselves. We eat, sleep, and dream fear.

How does one begin to conquer their fears? I don’t have the answer. I wish there was a formula. I can, however, share how I began to fight my fears. Backstory: I hit a really dark place in life and got stuck. (This did not happen over night, it took awhile to get as lost as I felt I was). I became very depressed.  I felt there were only two solutions: Die or get well. I am grateful every day that I chose to get well, though it has not been a cake-walk.

I started to face my fears by working the first step: I recognized and admitted that my life had become unmanageable. I knew that I was powerless over the fears that had controlled me.  Then–and this was not easy–I asked for help: I asked my friends, my co-workers, my family, and a counselor for help. I had to swallow my pride and learn to draw on the strength of others to get me through the mess.

Next, I accepted that my fears were much bigger than me.  I began to understand that GOD is the only force out there that can take my fear and turn it into joy. This was by no means an overnight process. It was not fun. It was painful and at times nearly unbearable. I have to fight regression every day.  It is so much easier to go back to an earlier state of coping than to actually face and conquer my fears. GOD has been patient with me so far. After I decided GOD could help me face and overcome my fears I asked Him to be with me and strengthen me for this journey.

After asking GOD for His help, I asked myself, “What is my fear?”  What I found was a lot of pain, hurt, distorted thinking, and unpleasant things that my brain hid away rather than faced. So I pulled all of that out and examined it using both my head and my heart. What I saw was that my brain knew what was up but my heart didn’t. I had to FEEL the pain and fear. I had to feel those things with my heart. I did this by setting aside time each day to work through this plethora of junk that had accumulated and grieve for the first time in my life. I grieved over my painful childhood and the chaos I made out of my life.  I kept a journal. I used positive affirmations.  I prayed. I read out of the Big Book and from the Bible. I opened myself up to the love and hope that GOD is. I asked GOD to take my fears as I isolated them and began to understand that they were largely irrational.

I reached out to others when I needed support and help. I made an effort to make some new friends. I realized my head can be too dark and ugly a place to walk alone in, so I work to maintain friendships with some amazing people. I had a teacher tell me once that everyone needs a “herd of buffalos,” a group of friends that love me and will protect me when I am weak simply because I am me. I don’t have to explore my head alone anymore and knowing I am not alone comforts me. This whole experience has been cathartic for me. Some days are still tough, but I can honestly tell you that I feel free for the first time in… well…ever.

This is a process I am still very much immersed in.

I encourage you to ask yourself what your fears are. Ask for help. Pray. And know that you are a valuable treasure. You are worthy.  I know this because GOD DOES NOT MAKE JUNK. Peace be with you.

Bad behavior isn’t limited to Pharma

Addiction & Recovery News

-Miracle_Cure!-_Health_Fraud_Scams_(8528312890)Yesterday, it was suggested that I post about the abuses in the residential treatment and sober housing industries, suggesting that readers might get the impression that drug-free treatment is good while medication-assisted treatment is bad.

The reader had a point–there’s no shortage of exploitative and shady behavior among these providers. In fact, at Dawn Farm, we go out of our way to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the industry.

I probably haven’t posted a whole lot about it because the problem is not quite as visible in Michigan. Some areas, parts of Florida and California in particular, have become hubs of exploitative and shoddy addiction services.

Earlier this year, the Palm Beach Post did an investigative series on the problem in their area. It’s REALLY bad. And, while the problem might be worse in  some areas, it is everywhere.

The problem is that people are usually seeking treatment in the…

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Why so irrational about AA?

Interesting dialogue on the effectiveness of 12 step programs. My opinion: regardless of the research statistics, AA/NA/CA works…if you work it.

Addiction & Recovery News

AA isn't the only way to recover, but no reasonable person can say it's ineffective. AA isn’t the only way to recover, but no reasonable person can say it’s ineffective.

Gabrielle Glaser has gotten another AA bashing article published and it’s getting a lot of attention. Of course she doesn’t really offer a tangible alternative.

I’m not going to write another piece rebutting it, but I’ll point you to a few relevant posts.

First, in New York magazine, Jesse Singal dismantles Glaser’s arguments.

As with any story about a complicated social-science issue, there are aspects of Glaser’s argument with which one could easily quibble. For one thing, she repeatedly conflates and switches between discussing AA, a program that, whatever one thinks about it, is clearly defined and has been studied, in one form or another, for decades, and the broader world of for-profit addiction-recovery programs, which is indeed an underregulated Wild West of snake-oil salesman offering treatments that haven’t been sufficiently tested in clinical settings…

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You’re Not too Pretty for Prison

That’s what my sponsor told me the first time I came to her crying about what I had done to my life, to those who cared most about me…and more specifically, about the trouble I’d gotten in while trying to get and stay in a state of constant oblivion.

I can laugh at it now, but when she spoke those words to me, it really hit me:  

 I was a junkie and a drunk. I’m not special. I could very well end up in prison and it won’t matter how many college degrees I have or how smart I think I am.

 In my addiction, I would tell myself ridiculous lies like “I’m not really a drug addict because I just do prescription drugs, not “hard-core” street drugs. Never mind the fact that I was very “hard-core” about the way I did prescription drugs. Another favorite justification of mine was, “Well, drinking is legal and everyone around me drinks so how different am I, really?” Despite all of that bullshit, the day two girls from an Oxford House picked me up at detox and dropped me off at a treatment facility out of what I thought was charity (yes me…a charity case), that day the smoke screen came crashing down on me. There was noone left in my life that I hadn’t done so much damage to that they would even give me a ride. I had lost my home, my job, my man, and caught new charges. I had even managed to isolate myself entirely from my family. Noone even knew where I was. This was it…the turning point everyone talks about. But those two girls? They didn’t feel sorry for me. It wasn’t charity at all. It was empathy. That hot, dry July afternoon I was keeping them sober. I couldn’t even keep my own head up, but I was the reason God gave them not to drink or use that day. That I understand this now is a miracle in and of itself. I’m grateful for that.

But for all of my bravado and grandiosity, which I later came to realize were my defense mechanisms, the untruths I told myself so I wouldn’t see what I had really become, when I got to treatment that day I was beaten – period. No mincing words this time. I’d had my chances for the easier, softer way. And I had failed…miserably. I failed at my previous attempts to get sober for the same reason I would fail today…if it were still just me out there flailing around on my own. Because I can’t do this. I’M. NOT. CAPABLE. Not then and not now. For those of you who are “friends”, you’ll know that this is the jumping off point…Step One if you will.

Over the course of the next few months, I would come to realize that my way of living was not conducive to any kind of life at all. My way of thinking made me ill-equipped to handle life on its own terms. You could’ve taken a pic of me at any given point in my using days: me passed out on the floor, me stealing bottles from the liquor store, me stealing pills out of my friends’ purses, houses…actually, let’s just say me stealing anything would be an appropriate snapshot. And you could’ve captioned the photo: “Life. You’re Doing it Wrong” and started a meme on facebook which people probably would have commented with a snide “God what happened to her?!” In short, I was a dysfunctional human being, flawed to the very core with no real understanding that freedom, or happiness, was not something I can do, but rather something that happens to me. And it did. It happened to me and all it took was a little, tiny, miniscule amount of willingness.

W-I-L-L-I-N-G-N-E-S-S

For all of you reading this who are of “above-average” intelligence (and I know this is what you’re thinking because I was once too smart for my own good too), I’ll beat you to the punch. Right now you’re thinking: if this is really a disease, and you can’t control it, and your will power is of no good whatsoever, how can you talk about willingness as a starting point for your recovery? I would tell you willingness and will-power are two totally separate things. I would probably follow up by saying, you know, you can’t be too dumb for this program. But you can be too smart, so careful not to let your intelligence get in the way of your capacity to learn anything. (Disclaimer: I would love to take credit for all these snarky pieces of insight, but alas this one is yet another gem from my sponsor, whom I’m sure stole it from her sponsor and so on. Basically, anything I say has been said to me. Hard as it is to admit, I’m not that clever.)

So willingness is a decision I make every day. I get up in the morning, get my coffee and after I stop hating the world for being awake before I want to be, then I pray. I ask my Higher Power to make me willing. Willing to do what? To get up, make my bed, decide I’m not going to drink or use today, to do whatever it takes. You see, it all stems from the moment I decide I’m willing to go to any length to stay sober. And it goes beyond just that, willingness is an attitude…the one thing I actually have control over. So I ask that I be willing to turn the rest of it over, to do God’s will throughout my day. There’s some magical kind of release I feel when I’m able to govern my attitude that way. Everything else can come as it may. I ask for the willingness to do the next right thing, even when I don’t want to because I know that I can live myself into right thinking but I can’t think myself into right living.

So, these are some things I’ve learned through working an actual program and listening to the experience, strength, and hope of those who’ve gone before me…who have what I want. Another perjured line is that I will never graduate from this program. I’m never going to get a gold star and a pat on the head and then be done. Noone’s going to say “Wow, Lacey, your recovery is so much better than so and so’s recovery.” For the first time in my life, validation has to come from within. My worth and that of my recovery is not contingent on what you think of me anymore. I practice humility and ask God to put me in a position to keep learning…to stay teachable which is something that hasn’t come easy since, well you know, I used to know everything. And occasionally, I receive little signs from God that I’m on the right track. Those days are awesome. I’ve learned that in my weakness, in my imperfection, is where my Higher Power enters my life…through the very cracks I did my utmost to hide. All I’ve done since that first day is been willing to let Him change Me. God knows I tried to change myself. I tried to control myself…convinced myself if only I was strong enough, I could become the kind of person I knew I really wanted to be. But it never happened. I just kept falling deeper and deeper until I didn’t even recognize the face I saw in the mirror. That is, when I could even stand to look in it. What’s happened in my life, happened TO me. I was saved by grace. Me, the intellectual, the girl who tried so hard to look like she had it all together, the perfectionist, in the end all the smarts in the world could never have saved me. I chose to accept that finally, and with that acceptance came the gift of release. Freedom from the bondage of misery and suffering out of which I could never seem to find my way. Today, I am in conscious contact with God. Today, I don’t need to drink or use to make myself comfortable in my own skin. Today, right now, I’ve been granted a reprieve. And the only thing I did, was be willing.

They say pain is the mainspring of all growth. Nowhere has this been truer than in my life. I used to go to meetings before I “got it”, and when people would talk about how they didn’t regret their past nor wish to shut the door on it, I couldn’t understand that. I wanted to forget all the shitty things I’d done in my life. They were half the reason I would get wasted in the first place. Now, I realize that the pain of my past is what brought me to the point of change…of willingness, of growth. It’s just one of those realizations you have when the program is working in your life. Another opportunity to be grateful.

These days, I have opportunities to do service work. Sometimes I even get to go pick someone up and bring them to treatment. I don’t do it because I feel sorry for them. I do it because I know there’s a solution…a way to live and a way out of whatever hopeless despair they may be feeling. I keep what I have by giving it away and I’m willing to it give away because it was so freely given to me. I do it so that what God made possible in my life, can happen in the lives of others. I try always to be mindful that I’m only one drink, shot, pill, line or hit away from being right back where I started. The only thing that stands between me and rock bottom…is willingness.

 *Lacey Callahan is a “novice” writer and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. Lacey is the Director of Marketing for New Hope Recovery Center. As of March 11, 2016, Lacey has eight months clean from drugs and alcohol.