“What if your child becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol?”

child artwork

Oh no! – The question.

Silence – The answer.

“Not MY kid!”

“I won’t let this happen to MY kid!”

“MY kid is too well behaved for drugs!”

“MY kid won’t hang out with THOSE kids!”

“OUR family is different than THOSE families.”

“MY kid goes to a great school…he gets good grades.”

Though those answers weren’t on my list of responses when asked the dreaded “what if” question, I had my own naive thoughts.

I sat silent for a while.

Ok, a long while.

Ok, I still haven’t shared my thoughts.

That is, until now.

Those thoughts went something like this…..

“Nooooo! He will play with Legos, get excited over finding nickels in the couch, eat yogurt tubes, suck juice boxes dry, sleep with “wolfie” at night and laugh at Sponge Bob for the rest of his life!!!”

That folks, is what I came up with.

Naive mom brain, if you will.

Reality check.

My 8 yr old will grow up and, in today’s society, fast!

Addiction is real. I know all too well.

So, what is my answer. “What if…”  Hello? Are you there? Jenn?

**deep breath**

Reality is harder than projecting on the ‘what if’s’, but through my own addiction, here are my thoughts……here it goes…

If my child is an addict….

I will love him no less.

Worry more.

Pray harder.

Reach out farther.

Talk to others.

Talk to him.

Not miss an opportunity to hold his hand.

Give him hope. Encourage him.

Plant the seed.

Hug him tight.

Answer his calls.

Say “no” a lot….a whole lot.

Tell him my story.

Tell him many stories.

Be strong in front of him.

Fall to pieces behind him.

Kiss his forehead.

Count his freckles.

Daydream of better days.

Cry  for him.

Cry for me.

Cry for my heart.

Cry for his heart.

Hate addiction all over again.

And one thing is for sure, without a doubt, I will have faith. As hard as it is to trust anyone with my child, my faith will have to be strong. As an addict, one thing I know for sure is addiction is too big for any parent…mom or dad; sibling; spouse; best friend; child. You can love them with all you are…all your being…but you can’t love them sober. If so, ALL addicts would be just that: sober.

I was asked the dreaded question: “What if my child is an addict?”

So in response, all I can do today is this.

Love him with all my being.

Hold him.

Count his freckles, watch him sleep, lay out his clothes.

Cut the crust off his sandwich and play the part of Santa, the tooth fairy and Easter bunny.

Today I can giggle with him. Help him cope with a bad day in 2nd grade.

Make memories.

Beautiful, innocent memories.

Today is all I have….the only time I have to teach him what I know about life, which isn’t really anything more than you. I’m just a mom who wonders what other parents wonder: how to protect my child.

Yet in the world of addiction, I wonder a bit more. Will he be?

Then again….maybe he won’t…

Originally posted on the Jake Koenigsdorf Foundation’s Facebook page.

Jake Koenigsdorf Foundation is a non-profit foundation that helps addicts, alcoholics and their families find support and treatment.

About Jenn Stottlemire:

Hi from Columbus, Ohio! I’m Jenn and, along with my son Jackson and my husband David, we are quite the trio!

I am passionate about passing on my experience; to give hope to the ones suffering and rally behind the broken.

Heroin took me on a wild ride straight to hell, but it wasn’t my only demon.

Through recovery, I have found the tools to tackle my hurts; build character and integrity.
Through God, I have found peace, forgiveness, serenity and strength; a foundation of faith unshakable at times.
And through both, I’m able to love the life I live.

 

Lost in Plain Sight

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The need, the compulsion that overcame any self respect, principles, and morals; that could never be me. I have too much to lose, I am only doing this for him, I am not addicted – I don’t even like the feeling. At 16 years old I believed I was the greatest power in the world. Nothing could ever gain control of my entire life. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how wrong I was. If only I were born with a warning for my parents, that I came with this mental disease called addiction. Not that anyone in the world could have saved me from what I had to go through to be where I am today.

I’m not even sure why I drank the first time, I wasn’t really sure what alcohol was at that age. I was 12 years old and found a bottle of gin at my grandparents. My friend and I thought it would be cool, after all – adults drink! Well, a half a bottle of gin and two shots of orange juice later; my friend didn’t like the taste. So without any warning I felt the need to not waste any of it and drank both glasses. I only remember the very beginning of that night. I woke up in the middle of the living room floor with my father sitting next to me crying. I had alcohol poisoning. My parents were afraid to get me in trouble for drinking, so my Dad sat up all night taking care of me and saved my life. I had no control over how much I consumed, I couldn’t stop. I waited years before I picked up my next drink sometime in early high school. Everyone was drinking, I didn’t think I was any different from all of my friends. I was an honor roll student, started working in a daycare and I was in control. Continue reading “Lost in Plain Sight”

Disease or not, he always said if it was any other health issue he would be treated with respect.

 

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Below is a post by a sister for her brother who passed April 29th, 2016 from a heroin overdose at the age of 31. Just three years apart, they were not only brother and sister, but best friends.  After battling addiction for years and becoming sober, her brother passed into eternal life after a recent relapse. She’s shared her last words to the public in hopes to not only honor her brother, but to speak truth to how addiction does not discriminate.  Tara hopes to continue sharing her story to shed light on the problems behind addiction and to remind others that we need to spend less time judging and stereotyping, and more time working together to understanding this epidemic that is taking away so many of our loved ones.  

I’ve held off on writing my last words or making a speech in front of everyone about my brother, because I still cannot believe this is real. But it has finally hit me just how real this all is. That I will never laugh with him or see him again. But I’ve felt the need to share these words. How do you go on to write about the greatest person you have ever known, and get it right? As he would say.. Here comes the Novel!

I think it’s fair to say Jeff was one of the most unique human beings we have ever had the chance to know. His sense of humor, loyalty, huge heart, protectiveness, patience and craziness is what attracted so many people to his life. He was probably the only one calm enough to deal with half of his family/friends. As he would say,

“This is my family?”

“These are my friends?”

He was always the voice of reason, diffusing any situation with love and laughter. For those that know the real Jeff, you know he was one of the most selfless people. He would drop anything to be there for someone he cared about, no matter if the circumstances were in his favor or not. He always told me I did too much for those who didn’t appreciate me,  but to never lose that about myself because that is what made me special -to always know my worth. He was someone who always had the right intentions and knew what he wanted in life and who he wanted to be …. naturally smart and socially inept….always the biggest heart, a dreamer with a deep crazy soul and an undeniable love for music. I have always admired the person he was. Continue reading “Disease or not, he always said if it was any other health issue he would be treated with respect.”

Saturday Night Live tried to joke about heroin, but there is nothing funny about this epidemic.

Copyright 2016 Scripps Media, Inc.

It certainly wasn’t what anyone whose life has been shattered by addiction anticipated seeing when they turned on SNL expecting to have a few laughs. Addiction isn’t even a little funny. People are dying and lives are being destroyed every single day – and there is no humor to be found in any part of this epidemic.

They say ‘you know you’ve made it’ when SNL writes about it, so I guess in one way we should be glad that we have been loud enough about the epidemic to get their attention. This parody was one of their most tasteless to date, but what has made people react so viscerally to it goes to the heart of the matter. Our kids are dying. Heroin use, as SNL pointed out, is on the rise. And yes, mothers, school bus drivers and soccer coaches are not immune to addiction. Continue reading “Saturday Night Live tried to joke about heroin, but there is nothing funny about this epidemic.”

We UNITED to Face Addiction. No More Silence.

crowd uniteOn October 3rd and 4th I stood beside my son in Washington DC.  I stood with him at the Fed Up! rally on Saturday as Chief Campanello and John Rosenthal spoke to us about the Gloucester Initiative and PAARI (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative). We raised our voices and marched with thousands to the White House- then later stood in silence while hundreds of names of those lost to addiction were read.

We were together as Cheryl Crowe sang For What it’s Worth in the shadow of the Washington Monument during the UNITE to Face Addiction rally. I got goosebumps as she belted out “Everybody look what’s going down…”.

We stood as the Surgeon General announced that the first ever report commissioned on substance use, addiction, and health will be published in 2016.

” I’m here to say that we won’t hide from this issue because it’s hard for some to talk about. Because we know there was a time in this country when it was hard to talk about smoking, about AIDS, and about mental health. But we were fortunate enough to have leaders who stood up and said: It’s time for us to have a conversation in this country that’s based on facts; A conversation that’s based on medicine and science.” ~ Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

(full transcript of speech available here)

Continue reading “We UNITED to Face Addiction. No More Silence.”

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.”