Archive for October, 2010

Baffled

Posted on October 28, 2010. Filed under: Drug Addiction/Legal Issues, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , |

Hayley arrives from California today – the second trip in a month that I’ve paid for.

She has a court hearing tomorrow at 1:30 pm to face probation violation charges stemming from a random arrest over a year ago when she was still a desperate heroin addict.

On October 2nd, I flew Hayley ‘home’ to Washington State to visit my mother on her 93rd birthday.  It’s getting more difficult for my mom to get around and her short-term memory is failing.  It had been over a year and a half since Mom had seen Hayley, and she was afraid she’d never see her again before she died. So, I took advantage of an airlines special and arranged for Hayley to see her grandmother.  I’m glad I did.  It was a good visit.  However, it all became quite complicated and I was a bit of a wreck when it was all over.  I love my daughter and am so grateful she’s in recovery.  However, after four days, both she and I were very ready for her to go back to California.

When I dropped Hayley off at the Seattle airport, I told her that I wouldn’t be ‘helping’ her fly home again until she got some current government-issued photo ID.  She assured me that she would – that she was planning on getting her California State driver’s license and that if she failed the test, she could at least get a photo ID.

Fast forward to today.  She still hasn’t done what she promised me she’d do.  On Tuesday, while flying from NY to the west coast, a woman ahead of me in the airport security line was denied clearance when she presented her expired driver’s license.  I couldn’t help but report this to Hayley who responded with, “I don’t want to have to stand in line for 8 hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a photo ID.  It’s fine – they’ve always accepted my expired ID before – they just put you through extra inspection.”  Huh? Why would she even take the chance?  If some security agent decided NOT to let her through, it could mean a Failure To Appear charge in court tomorrow, which would really mess things up.  I don’t understand this sense of entitlement or lack of accountability.  Somehow, I thought when Hayley got sober, certain things would change.  Guess I was wrong – about her, and also about me – here I am again, flying her home once more without current photo ID.

Hayley did tell me  yesterday afternoon that she had just spent 6 hours at the DMV  to apply for photo ID.  She’s not working, but does go to AA/NA meetings, the beach, and to the gym.  Glad she could fit this in to her busy schedule.  Too bad she didn’t do it 3 weeks ago, because all she came out with was a piece of paper.  It will take two weeks to process and mail her new photo ID.  This makes me crazy.

I was on the east coast for over a week and before I left, I strongly recommended that Hayley contact her probation officer, her court-appointed attorney, and write a letter to the prosecutor, making a ‘case’ for herself prior to her court appearance on Friday.  She only accomplished a portion of this.  I wrote a sample letter for her, which I know I shouldn’t have done.  I realize that I’m both  enabling her AND wanting to quell my own anxiety.  It’s a vicious cycle. But all this uncertainty and Hayley’s seemingly laissez-faire approach to what is now a criminal case,  triggers me in to action. I have vowed that this is the last time.  As soon as she finally appears in court and serves her few days in jail, the $3,000 bail bond for which I signed a promissory note will be exonerated and I can truly be hands-off.      

Hayley just called.  She’s on the plane.  She did speak to her attorney – – just this morning.  How she pulls things off at the last minute, I don’t know.  Maybe that’s why she was such a success as a drug addict.

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In Case You Have Some Time . . .

Posted on October 17, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , |

I’ll be on a personal/family business trip to upstate New York for a week, and mostly likely will not be posting or checking in with my blog friends.  The day after I arrive home, Hayley arrives from California to appear in court on her probation violation charges.  She most likely will need to spend 2 – 3 days in jail – and it scares the sh*t out of me. Although she says she is strong, and sober, and can handle this challenge, I worry for her emotional and physical safety.  Some of you have blogged about your son/daughter spending time in jail – and I’ve admired your strength and courage, as supportive, yet anxious, loving parents.  Thank you for sharing your experiences – I don’t feel so alone.

In the meantime, here are a few books, DVDs, TV interviews to check out.  They all pertain to addiction, and I found each one fascinating and worth my time.

Video:  Finding Normal: A thoroughly engrossing, hard-hitting humane look at addicts in a treatment center.  This compelling documentary about a group of Portland drug addicts and their rehab counselors trying day-by-day to keep themselves clean, sober and together, is raw and real and filled with undeniable moments of pain, joy, transformation, and hope.  This masterful cinema-verité film making is an eye-opening example of the power of simply watching and listening.  Filmed at Central City Concern in Portland, OR , and featuring CCC’s compassionate, effective Recovery Mentor Program.

Books: Even the Dogs by British writer, Jon McGregor’s third novel, continues his experiments with the devices of fiction. The book is narrated by a group of urban ghosts, victims of drug overdoses who look on as someone they know, Robert Radcliffe, is found dead in his shabby apartment. Other friends, family members and acquaintances, most of whom were part of Robert’s life, come in and out of focus as they move around the city looking for their next fixes and, along with the police and investigators, ­respond to Robert’s death.

As a novel about the consequences of addiction — particularly heroin addiction — “Even the Dogs” is harrowing. It details the physical, psychological, social and environmental damage, and portrays the all-consuming nature of the life: “Always working and watching and chasing around for a bag of that. Jesus – the man-hours that go into living like this, takes some dedication.”

Book:  Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything, by Geneen Roth

Although I haven’t read this book, a good friend of mine, who has a daughter with an eating disorder, called me to recommend it.  She said that although the focus of the book was food addiction, the author has a lot of valuable insight regarding addiction, in general.

Here are a few highlights from the book that seemed especially pertinent: With any addiction, there is a loss of connection and source to our self; addiction fills  a nameless yearning; we often fill ‘God space’ with ‘To Do’ lists. One recovering addict said:  “There was no real hole in my soul.  I always had what I needed within me.”  Addiction is an opportunity to open a door to examine the self, to think of  our self in a new way; an invitation to look at our self differently. One addict said (as well as my daughter)a;  “My addiction was a gift – it opened a door for me.”

There is definitely a spiritual dimension to recovery. Roth says she isn’t talking about God in the religious sense. Instead, she’s talking about what she calls the source. “We each have this longing—we’ve had moments of awe and wonder in our lives. A lot of us don’t call that God, but we know that something is possible for every one of us besides our daily lives, the daily grind. The way we get caught with errands and emails and taking care of other people. We feel that this possibility exists,” Roth says. “I’m talking about wonder and mystery and possibility … or the feeling you have in nature. The feeling that everything is possible.”

Oprah says that in reading Women, Food, and God, she has learned that a woman’s relationship with food is directly related to how close she is to the source. “That’s really what this book is about,” she says. “The issue isn’t really the food. It is about your disconnection from that which is real which we call God.”

“Obsession gives you something to do besides have your heart shattered by heart-shattering events,” Roth writes.

TV: CNN – Larry King Live:  Secrets of the Brain Revealed, Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Power of the Brain! Does the brain have a mind of its own?  It might explain why we say – and do – things we know we shouldn’t. 

Experts tell us how to ‘think’ our way out of addiction, overeating and more!

I caught most of this broadcast on October 9, 2010, but I believe it originally aired on September 16, 2010.  This was a fascinating program and panel discussion about the brain and how it works.  A lot of time was spent  discussing addictive behavior and the latest brain research.  Drug addicts use drugs because they work – – – they make them feel better for a while.  But then, addiction sets in, and the actual brain chemistry changes, the drug use interferes with ‘normal’ functioning and relationships, etc.

Panel members were: Dr. Drew Pinsky, Addiction Specialist; Cara Santa Maria, Neuroscience Researcher; Dr. George Martin, whose theories and research in neuroplasticity, talks about how the brain can rewire itself; that we can calm down the prefrontal cortex where OCD behaviors originate; and Dr. Daniel Amen, physician, child and adult psychiatrist, brain imaging specialist, and bestselling author. Dr. Amen  commented that 28 day recovery programs are really a joke – are ineffective in dealing with changing addictive behavior.  The chemistry of an addict’s brain is still toxic at six months.  It takes a longer time for the addict to get really clear and ; the brain is the hardwire of the soul – – and it can be changed.  Anti-seizure medications can help anxiety and depression.  This possibility is so exciting – and hopeful.    Cognitive Behavior Therapy, EMDR, hypnosis, and other treatments for addiction were discussed.

I could not find the actual video of this program online.  However, the transcript on HOW THE BRAIN WORKS AND HOW TO CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOR is available.  Let me know if you’re able to locate the full-length program online.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks, to report on my daughter’s court proceedings and how things went.  Adios!

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On The Road . . . Of Recovery

Posted on October 10, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Parent of an Addict, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

I just spent almost ten hours in the car with my daughter, Hayley.  Our ‘Thelma & Louise’ trip provided a unique opportunity to talk – – – we both were a captive audience – – – and not having to make direct eye contact during honest, sometimes uncomfortable conversation,  took a little of the pressure off.  Our “Road Trip” took us a little further down the highway and around a few tortuous bends in the road.

I had decided to fly Hayley up from southern California to see my 93 year-old mother, her grandmother, before it was ‘too late’.  My mom is failing, both physically and mentally, with increasing short-term memory loss and hasn’t seen Hayley for a year and a half.  Hayley has been clean and sober now for 5 months, and there was an Alaska Airlines special that prompted me to make these plans.  What started out as a ‘simple’, quick trip to spend a couple of days with family, turned in to a complicated, anxiety-ridden mess.

First of all, I wasn’t even sure that Hayley would be allowed past airport security and onto the plane with no current photo ID.  Her Washington State driver’s license had not only expired, it had been suspended and her passport had also expired.  I had strongly suggested to Hayley several months ago that she get a California state photo ID card; but, she didn’t do it – and seemed confident that she could pass security with expired ID.  I was doubtful.

Then, the idea of Hayley arranging a special court appearance here, in our home town, (we were not originally going to be coming here) to clean up her probation violation charges, emerged.  Rather last minute, she contacted the court appointed attorney’s office about this possibility, and hadn’t heard back from them before she left to fly up here.  (I’m sure she didn’t factor in the heavy case loads that public defenders have – and didn’t leave enough time to make these arrangements.)

So – basically, I’ve been a wreck for the past few weeks – not knowing if Hayley could even get on the plane, and if she couldn’t, there could possibly be another ‘failure-to-appear’ in court.  The potential consequences of such an ‘FTA’ would be the judge issuing a warrant for Hayley’s arrest, and  me getting stuck with her $3,000 bail bond for which I had signed a promissory note last May when I was frantically trying to get her out of town and in to treatment.

But lo, and behold, there she was last Saturday, outside the baggage claim at the airport, waiting for me.  (I guess TSA doesn’t care that much about current photo ID – who knew?)

She looked gorgeous – actually ‘put together’.  She had on a new jacket I hadn’t seen before – and scarf, shoes, and pants I had bought her.  Everything was clean and in good repair. This is in such contrast to the past few years, when Hayley’s appearance and personal hygiene spiraled down along with her addictive state of mind and sordid lifestyle.

I’m going to jump ahead – and summarize the next few days.  Basically, we had wonderful conversations in the car together.  Our ten hours of time on the road was some of the best discussion, disclosure, and verbal exchange we’ve ever had.  Hayley was very forthcoming about her recovery and past addictive behavior/life.  In fact, some of it was difficult to hear.  However, my daughter seemed genuinely committed to her sobriety and recovery program – and was an eloquent spokesperson for AA and the 12 step program.  And because I’ve been going to Al-Anon for the past 8 years, I understood the lingo and program philosophy – and could contribute what I’d learned in Al-Anon.  This was comforting to Hayley, she said – – – that I seemed to ‘get it’.

Our visit with Hayley’s older brother, Jake, and his family, was good, and we celebrated MY birthday while we were there.  Jake harbors a lot of anger, resentment, and skepticism towards Hayley, I think – – and has difficulty being around her.  Basically, he just doesn’t trust her – and had mentioned to me that he didn’t want me to leave Hayley alone with his two young children.  I understood that.  There has been a long history of distrust and bizarre behavior, on Hayley’s part.  And Jake isn’t the best communicator.  His naturally shy personality limits his ability to express himself in an intimate way.  However – all in all, everyone got along – Jake and Hayley went to the gym together to work out, Hayley got to see Lucy (almost 6) and Luke (31/2), whom she hadn’t seen for a year and a half – and I kept myself sane by constantly chanting the first line of the Serenity PrayerGod, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

Monday morning, Hayley still hadn’t heard from her attorney.  I didn’t know whether to drive us to our hometown for a court hearing (2 1/2 hrs away) or to my mom’s (a different 2 1/2 hours away).  Finally, as we were loading the car, the call came.  The attorney said that if Hayley were to make a court appearance the next day in our home town, she would most likely be taken in to custody.  We couldn’t risk that possibility, since we hadn’t yet been to see my mom – the main reason Hayley had flown up in the first place.  The Prosecutor was only offering two ‘deals’:  Hayley serve 2 days in jail, then continue her probation until April 2011;  or, serve 20 days in jail and the probation would be terminated.  We consulted an attorney friend, and decided that Hayley would fly up to our hometown at the end of the month for her already scheduled court hearing.  At that point, she would be taken in to custody, and she would serve two days in jail.  Hayley assured me that she could do this – – – that she would be fine, especially now that she was sober.  But, aggghhh – – – it’s scary to contemplate.  She will have almost 6 months of sobriety under her belt – yet still, will she be at risk for relapse – or to be beaten up in jail?

We then hit the road again and decided to drive the two hours to our hometown to pick up a few of Hayley’s things at my house.  I picked up my mail, newspapers, Hayley sorted through some of her things at the house, and then I dropped her off for a pedicure/manicure while I ran a few errands.  This activity may seem trivial and/unnecessary – but one of the most obvious outward signs of Hayley’s recovery and burgeoning serenity, are her hands and nails.  For years, Hayley has nervously picked at her cuticles until they bled and were horrifically swollen – and, she also bit her nails down to the quick.  Now, her nails are long and strong, her cuticles healed and healthy.  It’s truly amazing.  I wanted to treat Hayley to this nail spa indulgence – – – she had earned it, in my opinion –  her healthy nails were  a bit of a metaphor for where she was in her recovery – – – and life.

I picked up Hayley an hour later – and she said she was meeting her ex-boyfriend, Dave, in the parking lot – to say hello – and goodbye.  HUH?  You see, Dave is married.  Why did Hayley call him?  This was disturbing to me and resonated of old manipulative behavior.  I gave her ten minutes with Dave, then told her I was hitting the road – we needed to drive another two hours to my mom’s.  When Hayley got in the car, I was relieved – and pissed.  And then, we had another two hours in the car together.  I tried not to lecture or quiz her too much.  But I did let her know that I thought her call to Dave was inappropriate and selfish.  She commented that their meeting was more difficult for Dave than it was for herself.  So, why would she stir up that pot?

Our visit with my mom was emotional, yet productive.  At a two  hour dinner that night with my mom, Hayley patiently explained details of her addictive personality, recovery program, and dreams for her future.  She was articulate, eloquent, and passionate.  I kept pinching myself.  I truly believed that Hayley believed what she was saying – – – and I was in awe.  Yes, the power of addiction is incredible – but so can be the thrill, force, and intensity of recovery.  I watched, as my 93 year old mother’s chin quivered and her eyes filled with tears.  It became apparent that my daughter’s addiction and powerlessness over drugs paralleled her own mother’s disease of alcoholism.  However, back in the 1930s, there was no help, or support – only shame, and guilt, and helplessness.  My mother’s entire life was shaped by being the child of an alcoholic.  And even though she and my father rarely drank, themselves, I’ve also been immeasurably affected by this family disease – – – in so many ways.

Hayley and I spent another three hours in the car, back to SeaTac Airport.  “I’m anxious to get back to ‘my girls'”, she said.  We had had a lovely visit, but we were both ready for her to leave.  She still has plenty of work to do – and miles to travel on her road to recovery – as do I.  I noticed some eating disorder behavior – and a variety of compulsive behaviors that worried me.  I realized that many of Hayley’s personality ‘quirks’ are hers – are who she is – are not necessarily the result of substance abuse.  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

I just made flight arrangements for Hayley to fly back up here at the end of the month. She’ll spend two days in jail – and then fly back to her sober living community in southern California.  As Willie Nelson would croon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . On the Road Again . . .

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