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.

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.”

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

Father speaks out after losing his son to heroin

BOISE, Idaho – A Boise family was hoping their 19-year-old son was about to turn his life around. Charles Peyton Chambers was a heroin addict but wanted help. But before he crossed that bridge to recovery, he passed away from a heroin overdose in October. Days before he was supposed to leave for a Salt Lake City rehab center, police found Peyton had died from a heroin overdose. His death left a gaping hole in his family and friends.

Growing up Peyton loved the outdoors.  His dad, Charles Senior, fondly remembers spending time together white-water rafting. Barely a year out of high school, the Boise Brave, shot up and overdosed on heroin. Peyton was dead at 19.

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“You’re not invincible. That drug is so much stronger than you, and it doesn’t matter what color you are, what age you are. It will take you down,” said Charles Chamber, Peyton’s dad.

Peyton’s dad says his son’s appetite for drugs was intense. It started with him snorting highly addictive prescription opioids. When that rush faded, he started shooting up heroin daily. According to Chambers, his son was on a slippery slope, and he says Peyton was dead less than 100-days after he first experimented with opioids.

“There was no downward spiral it was like a giant slide, straight down,” explained Chambers.

Doctors at Saint Alphonsus say the time it takes for a person to become addicted varies. But it can happen in just weeks, and then the only thing that matters is their next fix.

“Their euphoria and their feeling of high and relaxation is wearing off and that’s what they are looking for by using so close to again,” said Dr. Kari Peterson an E.R. physician at Saint Alphonsus

Ada County prosecutors charged 29-year-old Tommy Basco in connection to Peyton’s death. Saying when Peyton overdosed, Basco tried to revive him by giving him an ice bath and meth. He’s now facing charges for failing to report his death.  Doctors say what could have saved Peyton’s life is the drug Naloxone. E.M.T’s and many police officers carry it with them; it’s even available without a prescription. But Charles didn’t know about the life-saving drug and neither do many others.

“It’s also helpful when we see patients in the emergency department we know have opiate addiction issues we can be prescribing naloxone to them just to have.  Just getting the word is the biggest,” said Dr. Peterson.

But Peyton, never made it to the hospital, and Charles is wishing Peyton could hear these words.

“I love you so much I was always proud of you, even when you thought I wasn’t. I was proud of you,” said Chambers.

Basco is expected to be in front of a judge on December 1st.  His bond has been set at $100,000.

Source:

Video Teen Takes Of Dad’s Heart Attack Goes Viral

Teen streams video of  Dad while he is having a heart attack on Facebook Live. The young man makes no apologies.  He says he wants the public to see what it’s like living in a home with a parent who doesn’t listen to doctors, continues to eat poorly, and refuses to exercise.  So when his father had yet another “episode” as he puts it,  Markus Adams decided to pick up his phone to record instead of dialing 911.

“You can hear his friends in the background making comments like ” eat another twinkie or bet you wish you exercised now.”  One of the teens in the house did call 911 after several minutes passed.”  

The first responder on the scene was a police officer who also decided to snap a few shots of the man who by this point had lost consciousness.   Once the EMT’s arrived on the scene, the patient was rushed to the hospital where he made a full recovery.

 

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The hospital released a statement saying: these overweight patients typically have Type 2 Diabetes as well as Heart Disease.  They have noticed that as soon these patients are stabilized they get up and leave the hospital.  An ER Doctor said the most concerning thing to him is that these overweight Diabetics with Heart Disease are stopping at the snack machines before they even make it out of the hospital.

Even after almost dying because of the choices they continue to make regarding nutrition, exercise, medication maintenance these food junkies make those same decisions.  These Junk Food Junkies practically run across the threshold of the hospital, so they can continue smoking after being told time and again that if they continue, they will die.

How do you feel about this story?  Is it right for anyone to record a medical emergency? What do you think about Police Officers taking photos of people that are in danger of dying instead of administering care and comfort at the very least until backup arrives?

We don’t see photos or stories like the one told above online or on our evening news because it’s wrong to exploit people who find themselves in a life or death situation due to a disease.   Unless of course, the person being photographed or videotaped suffers from Substance Use Disorder and is merely dying of an overdose.

When people make excuses for mistreatment of individuals with Substance Use Disorder one of their favorite arguments is the “it’s a choice.”  What about the person with Type 2 Diabetes that refuses to stop smoking, drinking, eating cake pops and who’s idea of exercise is walking to the fridge?

The hurtful words used in this article were only used to give an example of the harsh tones and words used when speaking about not only those who suffer from Substance Use Disorder but also when speaking to those who love someone with Substance Use Disorder.  It just goes to show that words hurt.

No matter what your opinion on Substance Use Disorder, it’s wrong to take photos and videos of people who are in need of medical care.  There is no doubt about that; wrong is wrong.

Note: The beginning of this story is fiction.  I also wish I didn’t need to use the awful terms I used to describe people who struggle with their weight but I felt it was necessary to drive home how individuals who have Substance Use Disorder are minimized and shamed in everyday conversation.  Please know I don’t use these terms and don’t think it is right to be mean to anyone.  

 

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