I’ve spent the last four years writing posts, creating a blog, doing a podcast, speaking at meetings, telling the story of my four sons, two who fell prey to substance abuse. I feel I’ve told the story, as a multitude of others, so many times that it no longer seems to change things in my mind. The number of overdoses and deaths has continued to rise with each of the four years. One son died and the other has been in active recovery for nearing four years. I am grateful that so many people, to include my recovering son, helped me gain some understanding of drug and alcohol addiction. I will continue to try and understand and offer help to those suffering from addiction as well as those who care so much.
I am a member of the elder generation (seventy-seven to be exact) and as most, aware that my time is limited to help, but it has moved to the top of my bucket list. I did a podcast titled “Journey to a Good Place”. That’s where I am. Believe me, I was far distant from any such place for so many years. Addiction to my own anger towards my first addicted son ate away anything that was decent in me. I found myself insensible and thought that it was all about choice. The second son’s addiction only increased this misery and anger.
I was fortunate that my higher power had me look into my second sons’ eyes as we turned him away to a distant detox facility and I found strength and a willingness and vowed not to see another son succumb to this disease. His eyes opened mine. I saw how lost he was and so young to deal with the challenge in front of him. I saw his brother’s battle for years only to end life itself.
I was so filled with anger that I never tried to search for answers. Reaching out was not on my agenda. His mom had no such weakness and sought help with a local NAR-ANON group. My initial instinct was to go with her to support her. This particular group cross-talked and the stories the first evening convinced me that I was not letting his mom go through this without me by her side. Here we learned each week more and more about addiction and what our role was in healing ourselves and in turn helped our son realize we loved him dearly and that the hard work for recovery was up to him to process for active recovery.
From this point I started my own recovery. I listened intently to people, sponsors, addicts, news articles, followed social media daily that dealt with success and failures. It became an obsession and I started my journal, where many of my posts originated from. I could sense the changes in my mind. I was experiencing the same feelings my son was going through. There was a physical, mental and emotional healing happening and I gained strength each day that I made the journey with this son.
I realized if I really opened my eyes and mind, that my son who died was fighting a battle that so many before and since lost. I accepted that substance abuse was a disease and as such required so much effort for healing and most importantly that love and support contribute to the healing rather than a give up attitude or a father who suffers from total misunderstanding. It becomes a matter of understanding drug and alcohol abuse is a disease much the same as any physical or mental illness and as such deserves love and support. You see the individual suffering no different than the youngest to oldest going through devastating diseases that exist throughout the world . Oppression only hampers any healing or success towards recovery.
For myself, I feel there is still some unexplained need for me to become more active in providing a service to those people and projects working directly with those suffering from substance abuse. There are many private, townships and state organizations who work daily in providing aid to those in need. I hope to satisfy this bucket item by contacting these organizations to see if there if there is some way I can help. There are positions like recovery coaches that can provide help if doing nothing more than making coffee for meetings. The point is they are taking an active role in helping and not talking about it. I needed to put my story for social media to examine and take away benefit if there was something there that helped. The next level for my own satisfaction now is to actively help in some manner. I do not see the heartbreaking stories going by the wayside nor the number of overdoses and deaths decreasing. One death from drugs or alcohol is unacceptable to anyone who has lost someone they love and cared for. This epidemic demands so much more help than exists today. Those of us directly affected by this disease, need to reach out to those fortunate enough to somehow escaped this social disaster, that their voices are needed as well. Together we need to seek every avenue possible to make certain we start seeing overdoses and deaths start decreasing and not increasing. This disease does not sit secretly from the public to see. It reveals itself each and every day to all those who look closely and realize the next victim may be someone you love dearly.