“Addicted”: Programs # 5 & # 6

Posted on April 23, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Intervention, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Addicted:  Programs # 5 & 6; Wednesday @ 10:00 pm on TLC

I’m going to try to keep this brief.  Instead of a blow-by-blow summary of these programs, I’m just going to list some common themes and pertinent pearls.

In all six of the programs I’ve watched, the physical transformation of the addict/alcoholic after being clean and sober for just 30 days, was remarkable, and gives me hope. The recovering addicts’ change in attitude, willingness to embrace their sobriety and work a program, were also impressive. How long this “honeymoon” period lasts in reality, I don’t know. However, addict Mark, in Night Navigation talks about the 3 – 6 month “fuckits” – when the thrill and euphoria of sobriety wear off and the real work begins.  Recovering addicts are particularly vulnerable during this time. Follow-up programs at the 6 to 12 month recovery stage would be interesting and insightful –  and, perhaps, give us a more realistic picture of an addict’s difficult struggle and how to better support their recovery.

Interventionist, Kristina Wandzilak’s involvement with the addict through out the treatment process is a crucial component, I think, to the intervention and treatment program’s success. She coaches the addict, takes him/her on motivational “field trips” , and is a fairly neutral (non-family member)  mediator when problems arise.  Perhaps this is what’s necessary to sustain long term recovery?

Almost all of the addicts’ parents and family members seemed intimidated by “their” addict – somewhat ‘afraid’ of them. They were also experienced enablers. (aren’t we all?) Jeremy’s mother articulated my own feelings:  “I feel like such a failure”. She added, “ . . . every time I say yes to him it’s helping him die slowly . . . “  Jeremy’s mother’s intense need to be liked by her son, interfered with her ability to effectively parent.

“Jeremy”, in program # 5, smoked oxycontin, which I had never seen before. And the fact that Kristina had worked with Jeremy two years ago, was interesting. I would have liked to learn more about that first intervention process and how/why it failed.

In program # 6, Annie and Michael were “speedballing” heroin and cocaine. Watching Michael desperately try to find a usable vein on Annie, was difficult to watch.  Annie was bruised from head to toe with injection-site infections and cellulitis.  Ultimately, Annie has to use veins in her neck in order to get a fix.  Mike’s arms were also totally ravaged, infected, swollen.  In fact, he could barely bend one of his arms, or use it in a very functional way. The absolute desperation of the addict  – in trying to score some junk, pay for it, find a vein in which to inject it – – – all of it was exhausting and full of unbearable suspense.  Annie’s intense craving and battered body reinforced the mental images I have of my own daughter. The unbelievably difficult lifestyle of a heroin addict was dramatically portrayed. Annie said  she hated the lifestyle, but was afraid to leave it. It recalled something I said to Hayley when I met with her on her birthday, April 6th.  I told her that if she could be a heroin addict and all that that lifestyle entailed, she could do or be anything.  Ironic, isn’t it?

The agitation, physical pain, and power of heroin withdrawal in Program # 6, were raw and unpleasant to watch, but gave me a better idea of how difficult “kicking it” can be.

One of the things that bothered me, however,  was Mike’s statement about speedballing: “ . . . it’s ruined my life.”  This statement seemed to shift the blame and accountability from himself and the choices he made to the drug itself. He sounded like a victim:  “We don’t have any money to keep us well. We’re screwed.”  “WAAAHHH”, I wanted to scream.

Kristina’s words to the family were : it’s possible to be happy, joyful, free, regardless of what the addict is doing.

And to the addicts she re-iterates: “You have to do the work in order to change”. And, “Take a step at a time.  You’re not going to get it all at once.”

And to all of us, she says: “With addiction, it doesn’t really matter how much someone loves you.”

I still wonder how, during a 28 day treatment program, are addicts even capable of reflecting, or doing the necessary personal work to change and sustain sobriety? Aren’t the first 30 days or so essentially just getting the toxins out so the addict can think more clearly?

I truly can’t imagine Hayley getting herself out of the powerful addiction cycle without help, ie: an intervention.  I feel as if I’m merely waiting around until some catastrophic event occurs. And this is my haunting dilemma.  How much time do we have? I’m not sure I can rest until we’ve tried an intervention to give my daughter a chance to get clean and clear her head. And then, if that doesn’t work, I can feel better about stepping back and letting Hayley find her own way – to recovery – – – – or, whatever.

I did check out Kristina Wandzilak’s blog, The Kristina Chronicles, and think it’s worth visiting.  Her post on Wednesday, April 21st,  Take A Seat, was pretty good.

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5 Responses to ““Addicted”: Programs # 5 & # 6”

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I do believe that it takes a minimum of 6 months in a clean and sober environment to give the addict a chance; and then I think it will take another 12-18 months without any relapse or usage for an addict to truly be able to move forward with his life. But I also believe each period they are clean, 30 days to 6 months before they relapse helps them see the light and they seem to move back into rehab quicker each time. I don’t know…I’m no expert, but it seems the experts really don’t know either! I guess it truly is one day at a time.

I think a month in rehab is just not enough. They are just getting their bearings. We need to stop building fences on the border and fighting a futile battle on the war on drugs and start a real effort war on addiction. Treatment works, but it has to be longer and more affordable. The addicts have to be ready, but sometimes I think they have to be off of drugs to be able to think clearly enough to be ready and that takes time in treatment.

This seems to be the consensus. Does anyone know of any long term, affordable, residential treatment centers/programs? I’ll list them in a post if you send them my way. I have a few names of places that I’ve heard about – but most of them are not from a primary source – someone with personal experience. Still – it would be helpful to have a list of places to start with and research a bit. It would be nice to be prepared with some resources, if and when my daughter decides to get help. Peggy

Peggy,
That’s what we all do, waiting around until some catastrophe occurs. We are powerless over the addict. We can force them into rehab, but then all we have accomplished 99 % of the time, is to make us feel better that we have “done” something. The daughter of a friend of mine in Germany was addicted to heroin and finally found near death in a subway station in Frankfurt. The doctors were able to save her life and she was placed into rehab. The rehab was in a different city, lasted one year and she was not allowed any contact with family or friends or given the choice to leave in case she was not “ready” for rehab. She is still clean, some five years later. These short rehab periods we have here in the States, (expecially outpatient) are a joke, if you ask me, speaking from experience. Hell, people are doing drugs while in rehab, speak at meetings, while lying to themselves and anyone who would listen. Trust, me I know. Been there, done that.

It sounds like the germans are doing it right.


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