Addiction is a Family Affair. We All Need Recovery

On August 6, 2015 my husband and I watched our son Kurt, a recovering heroin addict, receive his 18 month chip. He chose to go to the alumni meeting at the place where he had started his recovery, the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Hospital – CeDAR. We sat in the same room where we first reunited with Kurt three weeks into his recovery. At that time we were all exhausted and still feeling raw and overburdened with the weight of the past we were wearing – a leaden cloak we thought was our armor, but was mostly woven out of sadness and fear. Eighteen months later there we were, in that very same space, watching our son address alumni as well as present clients of CeDAR – some just starting their program, others receiving their 30 day chips and a few close to completing their 90 day program. It was his moment. We went to witness and support him in his moment. We are proud for him, rather than proud of him. He earned that chip for himself by slogging through his program one step, one day at a time. He had to pull every thread of that leaden cloak out and study it. He unwove it through hard work and perseverance during some of the most difficult months of his life. He forged his path and he stayed on it. For those in early recovery, 18 hours seems impossible and 18 days a distant goal. For eighteen miraculous months Kurt has been working hard every day.

Continue reading “Addiction is a Family Affair. We All Need Recovery”

Drug Addiction: Maybe My Kid

When my oldest was about a week old I remember looking down into his beautiful eyes and being struck by an overwhelming sense of fear. Icy terror washed over me as I realized the full weight of my responsibility for this tiny human. How was I going to do this right? What was I going to do wrong? I knew I’d do something wrong, would it scar him for life? I was the one who would have to teach him to navigate a world I was not sure I fully understood myself.

We are parents. We have all had this moment, and the fear stays with us……forever. These tiny beings may grow taller than us, they may move across the country and have tiny beings of their own someday – but they will always remain our innocent, irreplaceable miracles, and we will always be their parents.

Those early years we get to be their protector and gatekeeper to the world. For a short time, we are super heroes. I still remember my children’s chubby little arms squeezing my neck so hard it felt like they wanted to crawl inside me. There is no other feeling like that on earth. Simply nothing compares to being your child’s everything. Each of my children told me at some point they were never leaving home. I smiled, loving every second of it, knowing it wouldn’t last. Kids grow up. Continue reading “Drug Addiction: Maybe My Kid”

I raised an addict – what could I have done differently?

It has been a very interesting month. Since my first post I have connected with old high school friends who have active or recovering addicts in their families. I have been contacted by people who are living the nightmare of Addiction as parents, spouses, children and friends of addicts as well as addicts themselves. Many have shared powerful stories of recovery.  I have written or spoken the words ‘I am sorry for your loss’ too many times to count, though we really do need to keep counting…  Every person we lose leaves a gaping hole in the world. That hole will swallow us all if the tide is not turned.

I did not intend to start a blog, and I am a bit unsure of where to take it from here. I am, after all,  just the Mom of a recovering addict who posted a bit of a hissy fit to her Facebook after learning of another senseless death. I don’t think I can keep tossing out hissy fits, it would get old pretty quickly. I have decided that I will post when something is swirling around in my head enough to make me sit down and write about it, since that’s what happened the first time. It may be a few things in a short amount of time, followed by a lull. We’ll just have to see where this blog leads me.

This is a new journey and I’m glad for the company of all who would like to walk this path with me. We have certainly walked it alone for far too long.

Today’s thought: What could I have done differently? Continue reading “I raised an addict – what could I have done differently?”

What if …

The response to Stop the Silence has been staggering. The speed at which it was shared speaks to the size of the Epidemic of Addiction slithering through our neighborhoods and stealing our loved ones.

Many have asked how they can help, others have asked how to get help. Much needs to change for the tide of Addiction to turn. Gloucester MA is at the front of the charge. They have created an Angel Program to help addicts instead of jailing them.

We must admit this Epidemic is hiding in our communities. We need to recognize that families from all walks of life are re-enacting the same play behind different doors in cities, suburbs and small towns alike. We plead, sob, and scream to our addicts and to each other from a battle-worn script as we live our shared nightmare. Addiction is stealing the future of so many and decimating the lives of everyone who loves them. We need to step out from behind the doors and come together to help one another.

What if… everyone who chooses to Speak the Truth posted their own stories on their personal Facebook pages? What if… recovering addicts started a Facebook page or group for their individual town, school campus or community? The page could be a way for those who want to Stop the Silence to connect and Start the Conversation. Instead of family members and addicts suffering in silence, they could connect with someone in their own town or neighborhood. Local resources could be posted. What if… more people began to understand how insidious this epidemic has become? What if… Addiction finally emerged from the shadows of its stigma and the nation put its might toward solving the #1 health crisis in America today?

The words I posted on this blog and shared on my personal Facebook page have been viewed over a quarter of a million times since June 4. My post was circulated one share at time. What if… we can each help turn the tide of Addiction one share at a time?

Your Words have Power.

Stop the Silence.

Speak your Story.

Save a Life.

One Share at a Time.

One Day at a Time.

I am posting a new page with links to local resources. This is a sampling of established community programs created to help addicts begin the daunting process of finding their way out of the Abyss. Post your stories, create a facebook page, share resources in your community and reach out to groups in your area. Add your voice to the Conversation! Together we can Stop the Silence!
Thank you,
Patricia Byrne



Out of the Silence and into the Light.

I posted my thoughts about the Heroin Epidemic into this blog site last week. I had written the article for myself. When I sent it to my son he encouraged me to post it.

We Came out of the Silence together.

Our intent was to share with friends, family and a hometown mourning the loss of a young man we knew when he was a boy. The town was jolted by three overdoses last week alone, two resulting in death. The third was able to be saved with the use of Narcan.

Continue reading “Out of the Silence and into the Light.”

Heroin. Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.

 

Marc Alberts: Our little brother

5/11/1989 ❤ 6/2/2015

A boy from my old neighborhood died this week. He was no longer a ‘boy’, he was 26, but to me he was still one of the kids. They ran around in the summer as a pack. You could tell where they were by looking for their pile of bikes. Scenes from those days of innocence keep flashing through my head – when they went from one house to another, rode their bikes to the playground or to the store- images of boyhood youth. Now he’s gone. Heroin stole him. My heart is breaking for his mother and siblings. They have already been through so much, having lost their husband and father to cancer four years ago. I’m sure Addiction has also stolen years of this family’s life. I know how Addiction takes over a home, because Addiction has been an unwelcome member of our family for the last ten years.

Addiction is stealthy. It hides in basements and bathrooms and bedrooms. It steals children and decimates families under a cloak of silence. The addicts themselves are embarrassed and guilty and are afraid to ask for help. Parents feel inadequate, trying to figure out where they went wrong, what could they have done better. I was a stay at home Mom for God’s sake, and my firstborn is a heroin addict. What does that say about me? Guilt, silence, embarrassment – these are Addiction’s wingmen, giving it the wind needed to kill our kids, gaining strength in whispers at book clubs and coffee shops, ‘he’s an addict you know’.

Continue reading “Heroin. Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.”