THANK YOU CARD

If you had told me the day I snuck in that window that I would own a blog with traffic, would be working with a radio station and three of the coolest guys in the recovery community, I wouldn’t have believed you.

The past year of my life has been one crazy ride. I gave up drugs and picked up a mission. The day I typed addiction into the search bar on Facebook, I was shocked. I was an active regular social Facebook user, and I had no idea that this world, our world, even existed. You would think I would have run into a meme or something, but no, nothing.

 

People don’t realize it, but the addiction/recovery community works hard.  I got to thinking today about how I could measure success with the work I do.  Up until three weeks ago all I did was write in my blogs and spread awareness through posters/memes and news stories on social media. So how do you measure success with something so difficult to measure?

IF I HELP ONE PERSON, IT WILL BE WORTH IT.  We have probably all said, thought or at the very least heard this in our community.  So I have good news for you all.  Here goes:

Entering this community  I was in on Suboxone but wasn’t working a program, and my life sucked.  Just like an addict, I didn’t go through the front door of this community, I snuck around back and climbed in the window.  My road to recovery was Suboxone, period point blank ( suboxone saved my life, and this is just my story I believe whatever works- work it) I didn’t need a sponsor, meetings, a higher power or any of that, just Suboxone.  I was adamant about it.  After relapsing too many times to count in the past 20 years, I figured Suboxone was the best route for me.

I went to war with my family and my doctor over staying on Suboxone and being accepted for it.  So if I knew anything at all entering this community it was that I was an addict and I would be on Suboxone for the rest of my life.  I was 43.

If you had told me the day I snuck in that window that I would own a blog with traffic, would be working with a radio station and three of the coolest guys in the recovery community, I wouldn’t have believed you.

The past year of my life has been one crazy ride.  I gave up drugs and picked up a mission. The day I typed addiction into the search bar on Facebook, I was shocked.  I was an active regular social Facebook user, and I had no idea that this world, our world, even existed.  You would think I would have run into a meme or something, but no, nothing.

Within one year this community has turned my life around.  You gave me the strength to give up the Suboxone.  I learned that I am a whole lot tougher than I thought I was.  I found skills that I didn’t know I had and self-worth that I never had.  I have a resume that doesn’t have one single lie on it, and it still looks impressive.  I sold a business and opened three more.  I got two incredible opportunities to continue doing awareness work, but now I can eat too.

Now my friends are writers, artists, lawyers ( that I didn’t have to hire ) paralegals, and so much more.  You’ve taken the time to teach me and to build me up.  In this past year, you have given me life-enriching skills, relationships, experiences and even things to look forward to.

So I wanted to give you guys this Chrismas gift early.  Once I figured out the amazing gift that you guys gave me this year.  I couldn’t wait to give yours to you.

Thank you, for saving ME.

 

Suffering Addict Shows For Christmas

But just for today….
Leave your judgments, questions, and whispers in your car when you walk in and see the chair that has been reserved for me for all these years that has sat empty is occupied today.

 

Hey… Yeah… It’s Me…
Yes, good to see you too..

Here I am in all my glory.
The black sheep of the family.
The let down.
The disgrace.
The addict.

I’m not really sure why I showed up today.. I can feel all your eyes resting upon me with every move I make. I’m not here for your entertainment, I do know that much.
Seeing everyone I haven’t seen since I was a kid is a bit overwhelming to me right now.
Please don’t push me into a corner and surround me with your questions.
And please, don’t offer your advice unless you have walked the crooked mile that I am on.

In your mind it is so simple, just stop doing drugs. Go right on out there and get yourself a job tomorrow and buy that little house on the corner by the end of the year.

It sounds great.. just so puke perfect. When you are talking to me about what I should do with my life, keep in mind that it is easy to sit back and preach to someone when you have never encountered even the smallest of my problems in relation to your perfect little world.

I know that it makes for a good conversation starter.. but I am not living anywhere permanently, and I am not employed. Truth be told, I am wandering through this world relying on dope to keep me numb, so that I do not have to feel any emotion whatsoever.

I don’t have time to explain to you “how it makes me feel when I do drugs” or “when I am going to get myself together”. I’m broken.

What I do need from you right now is to be shown some respect, even though I know you do not respect me at all in my current state of mind.. please.. be a good sport and pretend.

I need to look around and see the faces of my family, enjoying their Christmas time together.. not blank faces and glares from those of you who think you are better than me because of the decisions that I made, and still make.

I’m probably not going to have much of an appetite, considering that my stomach is filled with anxiety and I don’t really eat much these days.

Please don’t insist on loading my plate with all the things you want me to try, I am not going to eat the things I know that I like, much less something that you are forcing me to take.

Let’s all sit down and just be family. Just be here, together.. laughing and cutting up about old memories, and let’s pass around all the new babies.

Don’t pull me to the side with the “Can I talk to you for a minute” scene.. and take me outside to tell me how I need to do this or that. You don’t know what I need. I’m not me.

When it’s time to pass out presents, don’t make excuses of why you would have got me this or that.. but… Listen carefully, I do not want gifts from anyone in this room. That is not why I am here.

The greatest gift that you can give to me right now is a taste of normality.
Look at me and talk to me like I never fell off the wagon.. like I am not a junkie.
Let me remember what it was like to be me. Before my demons drug me into the life I live now.
If only for a moment, let’s pretend that I am me again.
Let’s act like I can look you in your eyes with confidence while we carry on a random conversation about the news, or sports, or the weather.

I need to find me.
I am so lost.

Please don’t bring up my past, or the life that I lived before.
Do not ask me when I am getting my children back from CPS.

Befriending me in order to get me to open up to you about my life and then using my words against me later on will cut me to the core. Let’s avoid that at all costs.

Please do try to include me in things.. Invite me outside to play tag football with the rest of our cousins. I am an addict, not a stranger to our family traditions after Christmas dinner.

And last, but not least.. don’t feel sorry for me.
I am grown.
These are my choices, and my consequences.
And I live with them every single day.

But today.. I want to feel normal again.
If only just for the afternoon.

Even though you don’t understand…
Help me remember what it’s like to be me again.

And if you happen to be present in one of the emotionally frail moments and breakdowns that I am bound to have happen sooner or later, the longer I am here.. Just sit here in the silence with me. Don’t ask what’s wrong. I’m not sure.

Maybe I just miss me a little more today.
And maybe tomorrow I will keep one of those promises that I make to myself every day when I try to get clean and stop using.

But just for today….
Leave your panoply of  judgments, questions, and whispers in your car when you walk in and see the chair that has been reserved for me for all these years that has sat empty is occupied today.

I am here.
That’s all I need for now.
Love,
The Still Suffering Addict

My friend: Danielle R. Gilliam, we will get through this.

RecoveryRadio.FM Review

These guys are all forces in the recovery community but together WOW, you can expect lots of inspiration, differences of opinions and thanks to Bobble every topic will be explained so that everyone will understand completely.

 

December 1st RECOVERYRADIO.FM went live out of Palm Beach, Florida. Three huge names in recovery are hosting the show, RJ ViedJames Sweasy and Bobble. These guys are all forces in the recovery community but together WOW, you can expect lots of inspiration, differences of opinions and thanks to Bobble every topic will be explained so that everyone will understand completely.

The show runs for three hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 pm to 11 pm on

96.1FM for Pompano to West Palm / 97.5FM for West Palm to Jupiter/ 1340AM for all of West Palm County. You can also watch the show live on RECOVERYRADIO.FM OR on Facebook at www.facebook.com/recoveryradio.fm

If you aren’t familiar with these guys, let me tell you a little about them from my perspective.

RJ Vied is a Recovery Advocate who is a talented writer, speaker and all around genuine guy. I guess you could say he is the eye candy of the show…at least that’s what all the ladies are saying but don’t take my word for it, check him out yourself. You can follow RJ Vied on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rjvied. Don’t think that means he is just pretty to look at, this guy has a genuine passion for reaching the addict still suffering and supporting those in recovery. RJ Vied is a triple threat, intelligent, talented and honorable. The eye candy part is just a bonus.

James Sweasy is one of those magnetic guys that when they talk you just know you need to listen. Sweasy is from my hometown Louisville, KY and his no-nonsense approach to recovery has made him one of the most followed Public Persona’s in Recovery, and he is just getting started. Sweasy’s fans are die hard and with Sweasy’s creative video angles and call it like it is approach this guy going to be HUGE…ok he already is huge so how about Enormous. Relatable is Sweasy’s middle name. If you aren’t a Sweasy Fan, you need to hope on over to www.facebook.com/jamessweasy and learn you a thing or two. That’s what us Kentuckiana’s like to say.

Last but not least is Bobble. Bobble is a musician that is rocking the recovery world with his relatable rhythms and hip hop recovery music. I don’t know a bunch about Bobbleother than thank goodness for him being on this show. Sure enough, when I am scratching my head about some odd term, idea or recovery approach Bobble is quick to say, HUH? Please explain that so we all can understand it. You can follow Bobble at www.facebook.com/bobblemuzikRAW

I am going to give www. recoveryradio.fm a ten on a scale of 1-10. If you missed the show last night, you could listen to it on their website www.recoveryradio.fm anytime.

Be sure to check out their next show every Tuesday and Thursday. They encourage people to call in but remember this isn’t a podcast so no swearing or you will be disconnected immediately.

RECOVERYRADIO.FM is a great concept with incredible talent, I look for this show to have a long successful run. Congrats guys, we will be listening, that is for sure.

Christmas & Addiction

With some awareness and understanding, Christmas might be great again.

I love Christmas, it’s truly magical to me, in my mind.  Since being an addict for over 20 years, most of my fantastic Christmas’ have been fantasies in my mind.  The truth of Christmas for me always ends up the same.  I was clean last year and have had 4 or 5 clean Christmas’ during my 20 year run with opiates.  The crazy thing is it doesn’t matter, at least not yet, if I am clean or not.  Christmas always ends up making me feel like a subhuman.

These are some ways that Christmas would be easier for me, and this is using or not.  If your loved one is actively using or even new to recovery, they may not have something nice to wear to the get together you want them to attend.  A week or two before the event if you know they don’t have anything to wear, take a bag of hand me downs over and tell them so and so was cleaning out their closet.  Don’t mention they can wear any of it to Christmas, they will figure it out.

As a kid, we craved the approval of our parents. As we mature, very little changes in our need for approval (often beyond just our parents). So if you are the parent, family member or friend of someone struggling with addiction, do your best to let them know that they are cherished and valued. This underlying message opens the doors of communication and brings them that much more likely to confide in you when they are ready for help or just for an ear while they are on their recovery path.  If I ever look into my mother’s eyes and see something other than disappointment, it will be the happiest day of my life.

For the person abusing substances, as well as for family and friends, gifting can be tough. Before exchanging elaborate holiday wish lists, consider trading in material objects for “healing gifts.” This can relieve tremendous pressure that may be placed on addicts who are often just getting back on their feet financially and can’t afford to purchase presents. So you can do like letter writing to each other instead of gift exchanges.  Something where the addict can express their feelings and give a gift without it costing money.

You will be surprised at what a difference even a minor attitude change can make in behavior. Your loved one is likely under a lot of stress just keeping up with the rest of family or friends and staying in high spirits, so remind them of a phrase that’s said a lot in recovery: “It’s progress, not perfection.” It’s a valuable reminder for them to continue moving forward like they say one day at a time and, though it might not always feel like it, a holiday is just another day like any other in the broad scope of one’s sobriety journey.  If the person is still using and they show up to the holiday events that could be a big step in the right direction but make sure that no one yells out OH LOOK WHO GRACED US WITH THEIR PRESENCE, stuff that seems very simple but is huge to an addict.  Just writing this has got me in tears.

Don’t Hover:  Have the strength to let your loved one feel safe, even if it means giving up some control.  If they need to skip out on the customary touch-football game to go to a meeting or meet up with recovery friends, you should give them room to do that and permit their absence at this event. No accusations, no judgments. Period.

With some awareness and understanding, Christmas might be great again.

Mother Reunites With Family After Overcoming Addiction

Christmas will come early for Dixie Callan.

Callan, 25, will get her sons back after the two were put in foster care by Child Protective Services nearly a year ago.

Callan remembers the day she and her boyfriend fought and the police came to the house. Then came drug tests and home visits and finally the day when the social worker told her to pack up clothes for Jayse, 2, and Joseph, 8.

“I remember putting in a teddy bear my grandma gave me into the suitcase,” Callan said.

Callan, who was addicted to methamphetamine, said it took her months to have the confidence to get help.

Her life has not been easy. She had a baby at 16. Her mother committed suicide when she was 17. She was in abusive relationships. Her grandmother paid her bills.

When a former boyfriend pressured her to take drugs, she did.

But today, Callan is drug-free and confident.

She was one of 175 women accepted into Step2 this year.  Started in 1986, the Reno nonprofit provides treatment for chemically dependent women and their families. It includes addiction recovery, counseling and housing.

Step2 said recent state data show that approximately one in five women in Northern Nevada has a substance-abuse problem.

The program has a 60 percent rehabilitation success rate; similar programs across the country average a 17 percent success rate.

“Step2’s success is directly related to the length of the program and the wonderful community support,” said CEO Diaz Dixon. “We could not provide what we have without the generosity of this community.”

After living in Step2’s group home, Callan moved into one of 23 one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages run by the program.

Donations pay for the low-rent apartment’s furniture, which Callan can keep when she eventually moves out on her own.

“I’m so different than I was when I got here,” said Callan. “I love myself now.”

It was something that took counseling and the support from Step2.

Over the past two months, she has had overnight visits with her sons.  She is working full time and wants to go back to school to become a special education teacher.

But for now, the greatest present this holiday season is spending it with her children.

“It means so much to have my kids with me,” she said. In the next few weeks, her sons, who were separated in two foster homes, will permanently move back in with Callan.

She said she is looking forward to starting traditions and being a mom.

“Just cooking breakfast and watching a movie are things I’m looking forward to,” she said. “I know I can take care of myself and my kids, now.”

Surviving The Holidays When Addiction Is In The Family

The Holidays are tough for everyone. When you add addiction to the everyday stress it can be overwhelming. The number one tip that I have is about expectations.  I don’t know about you but when the Holidays come I have this picture in my mind of how everything will turn out.  Before I realize it I have a picture in my mind that would be tough for a major motion picture to produce.

I just know the gift I bought my husband is going to make his year!  The gravy recipe I found is sure to get my mother in law to say ” Omg this is the best gravy!”  The Holiday cheer will definitely make my two aunts that hate each other at least hold their tongues.

When the big day arrives it never fails that someone else gives my husband that gift I was so excited about and my gravy was a big hit but my mother in law decides to start her first diet and gravy is not ok- but chocolate pie her sister brings will be ok.   The two aunts don’t make it into the house because my aunt Sara attacked her sister in the driveway and they both wound up in jail.

Now I am a mess because the reality of my Holiday doesn’t fit my expectations.  Sounds obvious but it’s a big issue this time of year.

When addiction in our lives, whether it’s us or our loved ones we just need to thank God we are here and able to enjoy the day.  We need to laugh at the crazy we call family and realize that these people are what’s important not some fantasy.

 

This year let’s just have realistic expectations that things are going to be messy.  That is the way life is.  If we get too caught up in the fantasy of the Holidays we put ourselves at risk of undue stress and our loved ones as well.  If you are the addict you don’t need that.  If your loved one is, then they definitely don’t need to feel pressure to be picture-perfect when they might be struggling to make it through the day.

So let’s operate from love this year.  If you have someone in your family that is using think about inviting them to Holiday events anyway.  Be prepared for them to say no or be late but that is ok.  The main thing is that they know they are loved.  Sometimes that is the best gift you can give.

Anyone’s Son

 

On a cool late October day, Deb Noethe and her husband Tom load dozens of backpacks in the back of a pickup. They’re filled with toiletries, snacks, hats and mittens. Deb hopes they may also contain a lesson or two.

She calls them blessing bags. They’re meant for people struggling with homelessness and addiction in Grand Rapids.

“I hope and pray that they go to the people that really need them,” Deb Noethe said.

The inspiration for the bags, however, comes from pain.

“Every parent’s worst nightmare, and it happened,” she said.

Deb’s third son, Garret Bethke, struggled with addiction for 10 years.

“It started using oxycontin,” she said. “A friend had given him one, and he liked the way it felt. That was how he explained it to me.”

He eventually got hooked on heroin. But he’s not what you would picture when you hear the phrases “heroin addict” or “drug user.” Garret loved music, art, baseball and fishing.

He told his parents about his struggle with heroin about five years ago, in 2011. He was 23 at the time.

“I couldn’t believe my son was a heroin addict,” Deb said. “Any mother that has gone through this or parent says exactly the same thing. I had no clue. I had no clue. That’s what’s scary about it.”

They immediately got him in to treatment, but in this round, he wasn’t going for himself.

“He told me … the only reason I went to treatment was because I did it for you. Because he knew I was so scared. He did it for me,” Deb said.

The treatment never seemed to stick. The longest time he was clean was 60 days during his last stint. He would relapse over and over.

“If the person doesn’t want to go to treatment, what good is it going to do when he gets to treatment?” Tom Noethe asked.

But years later, in 2014, Garret was ready to go. He was living at home, working at his mom’s gardening business and waiting for a bed to open up.

“I thought, Oh, this is going to be the time,” Deb said. “I think he actually thought, I think this is going to work. I’m going to try really hard.”

He knew it would be difficult. He’d been there before. During one clean period, he wrote a letter breaking up with heroin. One line read, “Please don’t try to get ahold of me. I won’t answer to you anymore. We are done forever.”

This time, in October 2014, seemed different. Garret was 28.

Through the years of her son’s addiction, Deb slept with her cell phone under her pillow just in case.

“You’re always in the back of your mind, this can happen,” she said. “But you say, it’s not going to be my child.”

Yet six days after Garret was released from the halfway house in St. Cloud, Deb got that dreaded call in the middle of the night.

“Fifteen minutes later, the police were knocking at my door,” she said. “That’s exactly how I played it in my head. That’s exactly what happened. ‘I’m sorry to tell you your son has died.’ I said, ‘Overdose?’ And they said, ‘yes.'”

Deb said she went numb. But she woke up to a bitter truth that night.

“Drugs don’t care, heroin doesn’t care. They’ll take everything from you, and they’ll take your soul,” she said. “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.”

This October marked the second anniversary of Garret’s death. Friends and family gathered at his grave to remember him. As the song “Dancing in the Sky” played, emotions were raw.

Still, Deb spoke through her tears, recounting the lessons her son has taught her about who addicts really are.

“Most addicts that I know and I’ve had the privilege of calling my friends are the kindest, most loving people you’d ever meet in your life,” she said.

They’re people like Garret’s friends Melissa and Michael Lane. He met the two through using.

“He was the man. Really, he was a cool person,” Michael said. “But I don’t know. They say the good die young, I guess. I don’t really know.”

Deb said Garret would remind her addiction is an illness and should be treated that way.

“He’d say, ‘Mom, they’re addicts just like me. They’re not bad people, they just have a really bad disease,'” Deb recalled. “Hate the addiction, love the addict.”

Deb took that advice. She loves these people she used to kick out. She has welcome with open arms the very people who shared in the drug culture that led to her son’s death.

“It’s just weird how everything happens,” Michael said.

“We adopted her, she adopted us,” Melissa added.

Both Michael and Melissa are now three years sober. Other of Garret’s friends are turning the corner too. A woman at the cemetery on the anniversary of his death announced she’d been sober several months. Deb’s reaction was priceless. She went straight for a hug.

“I’m so proud of you,” Deb whispered to her. “Garret’s helping, he’s pushing you.”

Those moments aren’t easy. She couldn’t save her own son. But Deb has no intention of giving up on the family she’s adopted.

“I don’t know what the answer is,” she admitted. “But if you can save one family from this horror, that’s what we’re going to do.”

That explains the backpacks, or blessing bags. The packs were donated by local organizations, and the foundation Deb set up in Garret’s honor, the Garret Bethke Foundation, buys the toothbrushes, lip balm, snacks and water inside.

The group that gathered at the cemetery caravanned to Veteran’s Park. Michael, Melissa and the others who had used with Garret showed Deb which spots would be best to leave her blessing bags.

“It’s pretty crucial to do stuff like this. This is really pretty amazing,” Michael said. “I’d have been happy as hell.”

“I would have been surprised that somebody actually cared, you know? I would have been thankful,” Melissa, who was homeless at one point, said.

This isn’t the conclusion of Deb’s lesson plan, though. She hopes to share her story with children in schools this winter. She also wants to train people on how to administer Narcan, a drug that can reverse an overdose.

“A lot of things need to change, and it’s not going to happen overnight,” Deb said. “But if we can just do this, just do these little kind things, it will help people, I believe.”

She believes addicts like Garret deserve better.

“There’s hope, and there’s help,” she said.

She has resources for families, friends, addicts and whoever may need the help on the Garret Bethke Foundation.com

Baihly Warfield
November 23, 2016 08:28 PM