Life Altering

The past couple months have been life altering for my wife and I. I have a son from a previous relationship that lived with his mother. She, (my child’s mother) was going on 5 years of continuous sobriety – as far as I am able to verify. She was a heavy IV cocaine user and would occasionally shoot up heroin to control the cocaine come-down. I wrote about her in my memoir.
She is now dead.
Another person added to the never ending list of addiction related deaths. Another, so close to home. A family torn apart. A daughter gone forever. A mother gone forever. A son, forever without his mom.
My wife and I have made all the necessary adjustments and changes to be the permanent care takers and parents for my son. The transition has been going really well considering what the poor boy has been through.
I quit my full time job and will be a stay-at-home dad for the near future. I want to build a stable bond with my boy. He has had so much change and disarray in his life that he needs a great deal of consistency and care from a stable and sober role model.
My wife has been completely amazing and flexible through this life direction whiplash. I have so much to learn from her generosity, love, and her unshakable companionship. She never ceases to amaze me.
My son’s chances of becoming dependant on drugs and/or alcohol are very high. Both parents’ were drug/alcohol users which covers the gene side of addiction and he comes from a single mother household, now a deceased mother, and already has an ACE (adverse childhood experience) score that is higher than his age. Individuals with an ACE score of 5 or more are 7 to 10 times more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. That covers the environment and statistical side of things.
He has a huge mountain to climb and many obstacles in his path. We will do everything we can to get him through this with only minor bumps and bruises. It will take a lot of work and a lot more luck. Of course I am not a determinist, so I know everything I mentioned does not determine his life outcome, however, for us NOT to look at these things would be cowardly, and very dilatory parenting.
I will try to post another update on things within the week. I know I haven’t been consistent with my posts but things are beginning to mellow out here at home. More to come soon.
Any thoughts or comments in general would be great. 🙂

 

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Is the buying/selling/using of drugs immoral?

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Have you noticed that drugs are always portrayed as “evil” or “bad”? Since I have been old enough to understand language, society “as a whole” speaks about drugs with a morality factor attached to them. They, or “we” claim that the using, selling, and doing of drugs is somehow immoral. Philosophically speaking, this is just not true.

I should mention first the religious aspect to this right up front. As you may already know, I accept atheism as a valid methodology so my morality, or rather my ethics have to come from a universal standpoint. Ethics that are not universal are merely preferences or opinions. Some religious edicts state that our body is a temple and therefore to do harm to it is immoral. In that case, it is immoral to put sugar in your body. Rationally, that circle can’t be squared. Also, ethics that are brought forth by a power that is exempt from the same ethics put in place by that power is just rank hypocrisy. Thou shalt not murder! Great idea! I think we can all agree on that so lets not then turn around and create a global genocide.

As noted by early philosophers, ethics were invented by evil people to control and oppress good people. What that means is ethics are like a diet book for skinny people. Bad or evil people don’t care about ethics except as a means to lower their competition and for human control of the good.

It may seem like I am cheering on drug consumption and sales but as a former heroin addict, that is not the case. I am looking at drugs from a purely moral perspective; I’m trying to analyze drug use using philosophical first principles.

Initiating force or violence against another person when not in self-defense and  violating the property rights of another person are the fundamental core ideas of first principles.  Violating either of these principles is immoral. (If you are questioning “what makes first principles valid?” I can make that case but to do that here would take this post too far off topic and it would also make it far too long. If you want more info on first principles please comment below.)

So the next question is- Does using, selling, or buying drugs violate either of these principles?

Without the state sanctioned “illegalities”  of drugs, it would be easy to argue the crimes woven into the black market of todays drug world would disappear. When the government creates a prohibition law, what inevitably happens to the value of the now illegal good? It sky rockets. Every time, without failure. Not only does the value of the illegal good go up exponentially, crime rates rise too. One instance of this is the alcohol prohibition in the early 1900s. The rise in crime that followed was a major driver in the state’s decision to reverse the prohibition.

Back when heroin was legal, it cost 10 cents a hit. As soon as it went into the black market, it shot up

Prohibitions are also the main ingredient for mafias and gangs. How could mafias’ or gangs’ function without a black market? When you push things into the black and gray markets of the economy you are causing harm to the natural economic flow of the market. Drug lords now have a lucrative and prosperous foundation to build their violent mini empires. All this because we believe that using violence (using the state to create a law) to solve social problems is a legitimate way to fix complicated social issues. Same holds true for prostitution and illegal gambling. 

Prohibition is a real gun pointed at real people. We need to stop thinking we can solve problems by pointing guns at people.

Prohibition is a real gun pointed at real people. We need to stop thinking we can solve problems by pointing guns at people.

The amount of harm caused by prohibition is far worse than the harm caused by a drug itself.

1- With prohibition, there is no dispute resolution for buyers and dealers so weapons and other violence must be used.

2- With prohibition, there is no way to know the potency of the drug you are buying therefore you raise the risk of overdose and poisoning.

3- With prohibition, you may lose professional licensing or become un-hirable to companies for decades.

4- With prohibition, families are torn apart by incarcerations, financial fines, court and lawyer fees and the negative social stigma.

5- With prohibition, as mentioned above, the cost of product increases hundreds of percent causing more illegal activity. (I eventually had to break other laws to continue using heroin. It was too expensive.)

6- With prohibition, people who are addicted to drugs can’t come forward for help because it is treated as a criminal problem instead of a health care issue.

7- With prohibition, illnesses like Hepatitis and AIDS are spread around the drug circles because access to clean needles and other paraphernalia is made difficult.

8- With prohibition, many women turn to prostitution to supply their addiction.

This list could go on and on…

As we know, drugs are handled by the government as a criminal problem. The budget for the War on Drugs in 2013 was 26 billion dollars. Less than 2% of that was used in a treatment or preventative means. The vast majority of the budget every year is used on incarceration costs, police force, and other violent and aggressive tactics like multi-operation sting-ops that cost massive amounts of tax payer resources.

Confucius said “The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their proper name.”

What an amazing quote. Lets put this into practice. Lets call the “War on Drugs” by its proper name. The war on drugs insinuates that the state is at war AGAINST drugs. Is this the case? Have you ever seen a sack of weed in handcuffs? I know I have been in handcuffs but the heroin I had on me got off without a single charge.

With just a couple of seconds of thought, its easy to see that the clever wording of “the war on drugs” was used because it is hard to argue against. Most people don’t want drugs in their family structure so a war against drugs sounds great to the average person. “You are against the war on drugs? You must want babies to die too, right?”

It’s not a war on drugs. It is a war on families. Particularly minority families. Making drugs illegal will NEVER cause the problem to get better. When you use force and violence to attack a complex social problem you will see a short-term advantage and the long-term will be much worse. This is why the drug problem in the US has continually gotten worse since the WOD was initiated.

So how can we accept that legalizing drugs is the right thing to do? I know when I first heard about these arguments, I had a recoiling emotional response and I thought that legalizing drugs would be a terrible idea. Of course that was not based on any facts or evidence. It was an emotional response that was threatening my incorrect belief. Based on facts and evidence, I have now changed my stance.

Are drugs dangerous? Well, of course they can be but so can a paperclip.

Are drugs bad for your body? Overall, they can be very harmful to us. But so can cheesecake.

If I was selling you a $20 hit of heroin and I hand you the heroin and you hand me the $20, is either one of us using violence to get want we want? Is it not peaceful trade? Isn’t it a praxeological axiom that we both consider ourselves to be better off because of the trade? If it wasn’t, why did we trade? Is it fundamentally no different than if I was selling you a cheesecake or a box of paperclips? Trading, buying, selling drugs peacefully is not an immoral action. It may not be honorable or preferable, but it is not immoral.

People who need drugs are going to acquire them by any means necessary. Even if they are illegal. Even if they know they will go to jail. Even if they know they will lose their home. Even if they know they may die. We can see this very clearly now. The war on drugs; the criminalization of drugs is making this much worse. If drugs were legalized, we could rid society of the stigma associated with addicts who suffer under the life crushing violence of the state. Funds could then be used to help people who suffer from addiction problems. Open up more recovery options and widen the grasp of addiction treatment facilities. The possibilities would be opened up enormously and some real change could begin.

I believe this is moving humanity forward and extending the value of personhood. If you look back through history you can see the major leaps forward in mankind. Those moral shifts have allowed freedom and growth to take place in the human species. We used to eat each others flesh. Then we realized “hey this is kind of gross and wrong…and used up too much salt and pepper.” Then we enslaved other humans. Women had little to no rights. Then we realized “we are all human beings.” We kept universalizing and extending our ethical guidelines. I hope soon we will do this for the little people. Our children. Once we start treating them as full individual human beings we will see a growth in the world like no other. If we could evaluate the last few decades of the war on drugs, we would see the disaster for what it is. Making more laws around the same system will not help fix the disaster the state created. We must legalize all drugs, gambling, and prostitution if we truly want to make the problem better for our society.

I don’t want children or future children to believe that drugs are okay to use and that there are no problems with drugs. But you don’t solve that problem by creating laws against drugs. You do it through the peaceful raising of children and maintaining a nuclear family. There is no more of a non-answer in solving the drug problem than believing that creating more laws is helping the situation.

I understand I am making some pretty wild claims. If you disagree with me, please tell me where I am mistaken. I will correct my mistakes if better and more truthful arguments are brought forward. I believe it is important to accept reason and evidence, especially when talking about the zeitgeist of societies. 

Article- Florida Beach Rehab

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I was asked to write an article for www.floridabeachrehab.com about addiction and how it relates to parent/children relationships. To go to the website click the link above. To read the article, click the link below. Thank you to all my readers. I appreciate all your support, feedback and comments.

http://www.floridabeachrehab.com/can-abusive-parenting-trigger-addiction-genes-in-children/

Book Review – Addicted to Dimes!

Come have a sit-down!

Come have a sit-down!

I recently finished the book Addicted to DimesConfessions of a Liar and A Cheat, by Catherine Townsend-Lyon. Before I start talking about the contents of the book, I want to first mention why I was so interested in reading the book. I myself, have never cashed in my mortgage payment for a trash can full of shiny coins, but I don’t find that at all revolting. That did not actually happen in the book, I am just making a point. Being a recovering heroin addict, I wanted to look back at some of my own past “gambling spree’s” to see where my addiction may manifest in the gambling realm as well. Let’s take a look.

Any gambling activities I have done have always been during vacation time. I haven’t been in a steady “betting environment” long enough to know if my excitement of placing a bet, my thrills and rushes I experience during gambling could lead into something much more sinister and dangerous. Like compulsive gambling. This book has made me look within myself, to be brutally honest with my past actions during my own gambling entertainment. A person with even a small seed of compulsive or addictive behavior should take the time to read this book. That goes for all of you who sleep with your IPhone. I use my phone as a pillow and somehow thought sticking needles full of heroin and cocaine into my arms was justifiable so, I think I fall under the “you better pay attention, this may benefit you jackass” category.

EVALUATE YOUR$ELF HONE$TLY

If I lived in a state where slot machines were tucked in the corners of local gas stations or if I lived where casino’s were being built on every corner, could I become a compulsive gambler? Could you? If your addicted to your phone, could you become addicted to a bigger electronic box that shot out money? How many times have you lost more money than you allowed for your gambling entertainment? Have you ever told others that you “broke even” when you had actually lost money?

MY GAMBLING EXPERIENCE$

I'm a natural!

Wow I’m getting pretty good at this!

While sporting a large transparent sun visor and a bright and busy tropical button-up, I have had many serious conversations with Blazing Seven’s, Wheel of Fortune, and many other flashy slot machines. I’m sure I was rather tipsy to believe I was actually pulling off such an ensemble, but the real question is- Did I think talking to a steel electronic box would make any difference in the outcome of my net losses? Speaking to it like it was an old friend who owed me large sums of money. Asking it to “please please please pay out BIG!” The casino atmosphere with a shot of booze made the nonreciprocal conversations seem less ridiculous but none-the-less I would have better luck wooing a rapist.

$$$JACKPOT$$$

Of course there have been a couple times when I have won a couple mini progressive jackpots. One was for about $140 on a nickle slot and another for $80 on a penny slot. Oh, I forgot to mention- they were about 6 years apart. Those rare and exciting “you are now my slot machine for life” moments is what makes me think it is possible for me to win the 45 billion dollar Powerball. If I can win 80 dollars (after dropping $110 into the machine) then God must want me to win a significant sized chunk of the Powerball Millions! That is obviously a slight exaggeration and I have never played Powerball but during those winning times, it is easy for me to think luck is on my side. I would easily dismiss how many times the memorizing lights and sounds of the pig irons continually tricked me until they devoured the last remaining contents of my coin bucket. Before leaving for home, I would always put every last coin back into the machine’s greedy and hungry little coin holes. Luck may be on my side but it will come in the form of a lightning bolt.

BEATING THE HOUSE

When I was in jail from July 2006 to Aug 2007, I decided “hey, I have a little bit of free time- I’ll learn how to count cards!” I will be a card counting pro! I will morph into Rainman! Needless to say, I still suck at Blackjack and I have made some substantial sized bets considering my 3 digit bank account. I have yet to quit my day job working nights for a professional poker gig.

Any time someone asked me how much money I had lost, I always had the same response; “I’m about even.” About even usually meant I have lost a couple hundred dollars. Of course their response was “Whoa! I’m even too!” In my head I was thinking, You’re full of shit.

I live in Utah where gambling is illegal and if caught, you will likely burn in hell for all eternity or they will issue you a citation. I think the final say is left up to the judge but hopefully you get the citation. Maybe living in a state without slot machines or Keno is a good thing for someone like myself. I am the kind of person who would sell his car for gas money. Looking back at some of my past experiences with slot machines and poker tables, I think it is quite clear that I could easily become a compulsive gambler. Having this knowledge before-hand is a huge help and I owe it to Catherine’s book- Addicted to Dime’s. So let’s get to the meat and potato’s of my post.

Everyone! Can I have your full undivided attention...

Everyone! Can I have your full undivided attention…

THE REVIEW

Addicted to Dimes was not full of an agglomeration of impervious vernacular that couldn’t be axiomatic or that needed to be referenced with a dictionary. The book used very friendly words which unlike my previous sentence, was quite nice and free flowing. At just over 200 pages, It was a fairly quick read. The time-frame of the book covers Catherine’s early childhood up to the recent past, (approx 2012). The beginning of the book caught my attention right away. As she fleshes out each character in her childhood, I couldn’t help but get involved in her brutal and painful upbringing. As she gets older, the family dysfunction and abuse continues to be jaw-dropping and emotionally unjust- especially for Catherine. Because of the books quick and emotional start, I could not put the book down. I felt the book was told with honesty and raw vulnerability. Writing a book that uncovers all your guilty admissions and character defects is nothing short of an extended, but story ridden Step 4. A fearless moral inventory. When most people write out their Step 4 and tell another person about it, they then destroy the damning evidence. Not Catherine- she printed off thousands of copies for all to read. I must give her credit where it is due. I am scared to death for the day my book makes it to the printing press. Telling the world all of my deepest darkest secrets sounds as fun as walking around Wal-Mart butt-naked on a Saturday afternoon.

The book chapters were different from many other books I’ve read and I really liked how it was laid out in more of a sub-chapter format. The sub-chapters were short and I have always been a fan who cheered on shorter chapters.

There are a few times in the book where Catherine felt it was necessary to apologize for calling out (in the book- to the reader) her family for their terrible dysfunction. I didn’t think it was necessary just because I never once was on the side of her parents.The truth is her family structure was dysfunctional because of the parents. They are to blame for the abuse and the generational duplication of the dysfunction. That is not young Catherine’s fault, or her young siblings. I did not feel an apology was needed.

As the book begins to progress into Catherine’s addiction, she does a great job describing how easy it becomes to justify your actions in addiction. I related so closely with that in my own drug addiction and even some of my gambling experiences. That really made me stop and evaluate myself. It was a very powerful piece in the book for me.

Catherine’s story leads in to a key relationship which she is still in today. This relationship shows us that no matter how difficult life gets, the love that  binds relationships is essential for their ability to continue on. I thought the relationship dynamic was fascinating and well dialoged. I was hoping to eventually read more about this character’s background but it never came. It was probably left a bit on the thin side because it wouldn’t have been hugely relevant to her story. Maybe it was more of an interesting curiosity on my part.

At the climax of the story, it resembles a tornado, a volcano, and a tsunami playing shuffleboard in a trailer park. With the majority of the book dialog being in retrospect, it made the climax of the story a little less intense but maybe that is okay because I forgot to blink on a number of occasions.

Wrapping up the end of the book, I felt like Catherine still has some anger towards some of her past. Not just with her relationships, but her past situations as well. As an addict, I know for myself, anger, judgements, injustices, guilt and resentments are draining on my well-being so I hope she has resolved these issues and comes to terms with everything in her follow-up book. Catherine does a great job assisting readers in addiction help and assistance. Directing the readers to many different options for recovery. Where gambling is not seen by society as the big problem it is- like drug or alcohol addiction, she makes the case that that needs to change. The majority of cities around the world have some form of AA meeting or network of people but not so much for the problem gambler. Let’s help her spread the good love by recognizing the terrible stigma’s that seem so tightly wrapped around the neck of addiction. Let’s continue to speak the truth. Yell it from the rooftops!

I would recommend this book to everyone. Recommending it only to potential problem gambler’s would be a vast under-reaching of readership for this amazing and helpful material. I give it 5 stars. Great job Catherine!

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5 Stars for Catherine Townsend-Lyon’s “Addicted to Dimes”

 

AFTERTHOUGHTS

I believe that society needs to stop normalizing abusive childhoods and stop making excuses for parents and people who are abusive to innocent and dependent children. If you were physically or mentally abused as a child, you can not justify what your mother or father did by saying “my parents did the best they could with the knowledge they had.” I am not speaking to only Catherine. We all need to know this. Saying our parents did the best they could is a cop-out excuse and justification for what ever abuse they did. If saying that means what they did is justified because they didn’t know any better, how the hell can a 3 or 4 year old know any better? Weren’t they acting and saying the only things you knew as an under developed and dependent 4 year old? We have unlimited excuses for the parents and have zero tolerance for the child. That is completely backwards from the way it should be. That is not a universal or even somewhat moral and it should not be used.

We must teach our children universal principles. If we don’t want your children growing up to become compulsive gamblers, a heroin addicts, prostitutes, meth addicts, etc.; we need to quit teaching them principles from the book of hierarchy. “I am the parent therefore you will listen. I am bigger, stronger, more dominant.” That is surrendering to pecking order and power. If we want our children to not hit, steal, yell, argue, abuse, use violence, drugs and misbehave then we must teach them universal principles. We will never teach non-violence to our children by spanking or hitting them. We cannot teach respect by yelling at them. If the principle is moral and just for our children, it must be moral and just for us as the parent. We always want to be exceptions to the rule. Just like congressmen or governments. Making rules and laws but exempting ourselves from these rules. Hmm, I see a pattern here.

There was a picture on Facebook the other day. It was of a man who was hitting a tiny kitten. It had over 1 million comments. In the comments it was clear that society was outraged at this man. Some were saying the man should be killed. Some were calling the man horrible and vulgar obscenities. The unanimous vote was that the man was hated, sick, deranged and needed large amounts of therapy at the least. Is it not sickening that we have more societal outrage and protective instincts towards cats than we do towards our children? Someone please explain to me how this happens. 60% of mother’s admit to spanking/hitting their children. Some as young as 7 months!

GENETICS OR ENVIRONMENTAL?medicine-163707_1280

Many people believe that addiction is a hereditary or genetic disease. “My father was an alcoholic therefore I will become an alcoholic”. There is a big difference between a predisposition that may trigger addiction and heredity. A predisposition to addiction can make a person more susceptible to addictive behaviors, however, there is strong evidence that addiction is being brought on by a child’s surrounding environment. I have blue eyes and a round nose because of genetics. That is something I cannot change. Believing that addiction is a genetic disease I would argue is a death sentence. It instantly removes all doubt and I might as well start shooting up heroin fresh out of the womb because it is my destiny. There is more money to be made with this approach to addictionplant-164500_1280 and there is strong arguments that backs this up. After-all, if society was to accept the environmental approach, they would have to actually do something. All of the unjust, unethical and immoral standards of hypocrisy would be ran through societies powerful ringer and we would have to stop hitting our children and teaching them such blatant hypocrisy. If we don’t want more drug addicted, alcoholic, compulsive gambling, mentally and emotionally unstable people in our society, then let’s just stop raising them. It’s really that simple.

 

Don’t Spank Addiction Into Your Children!

Why are the most important and the most devastating topics either lied about, shied away from, manipulated, or just completely ignored on social media? Not only is it true for social media, these topics are ignored everywhere. Including television, radio, film, our daily interactions and even amongst our closest relationships. The topics I am talking about affect all of us in one way or another but yet we do whatever is needed to keep such influential arguments sequestered.

-If I say I believe in God, the collective society would allow me to continue my speech. However, if I state that I am a strong atheist, the majority would boo me, shun my ungodly disbelief and throw large, juicy tomatoes at my face.

-If I try to convince a mother to stop disciplining her children because spanking children has been linked to drug abuse, the lowering of IQ, and sociopathic behaviors. I would get told to mind my own business while catching another vine ripened mater to the head.

-If I claim that 9/11 was an inside job, I get met with hostility, indifference and categorized as a “conspiracy theorist”.

-If I voice the truth about the immorality of war, I am considered a disgraced adversary of our military and labeled “un-American”.

-If I make a claim that legalizing all drugs will only help society’s problem with addiction, I would be mocked by many for such a crazy and irresponsible ideal.

If you look at these different scenarios, you can see they all have one thing in common. The “correct” answer’s to these question’s are not at all based or driven from facts; they are all based on a collective acceptance. This tells us that we are full of shit if we say that we don’t care what others think about us. That is just simply not true. If we did not care what society thought about our beliefs, then we would tell the truth much more often. We could cure ourselves from this sick ailment called collectivism. Because of our need for acceptance as a collective society, we are continually forced to lie. I have found that facts do not alter people’s core beliefs- acceptance to this main-stream collective does. We live in a world where our reality is not driven by facts, but by a fake delusion of lies and deceit.

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I was raised in the belief that America is the greatest country in the world and that I should be proud of my culture and my flag. I think it is safe to say that the individuals on the opposite side of the world were raised to believe in similar ideas about their country and their flag. I do believe America is a wonderful place to live and has some of the most beautiful and majestic places in all the globe. However I do know that I was born in America by accidental circumstances and because of that, myself and the place I was born is no better than someone who was accidentally born on the opposite end of the Pacific Ocean. My country, my culture, my religion and my society were all accidental circumstances and I did not have a say in any of them. If I would have been born to Iraqi parents, I would most likely be a Muslim who spoke Arabic. I am a human being, and so are they. A line on a map cannot possibly be the guide of virtue or reason that separates good people from the bad. It is an imaginary line and it only exists on a map. Why have we allowed imaginary lines to guide us on who is virtuous and who is not? If I have struck a nerve, please tell me your thoughts. If you do, please be respectful about your argument.

You may be asking what this has to do with my usual posts about drugs and addiction. Well, the studies show that 7 out of 10 American parents are still spanking their children for disciplinary reasons. The majority of parents are not ashamed to admit it. Why? Because it is accepted in our culture. Our society is using the outdated and severely destructive “save the rod, spoil the child” precept. I couldn’t count how many Facebook posts I have read stating “When I was kid, I got my butt whooped when I was out of line! Maybe if more kids would get a swift kick in the ass they would learn respect!” This is just complete and utter nonsense. Even though it may seem that a child needs some form of aggressive discipline to “keep them in line” or because they won’t “behave themselves”, this actually does much more harm than good. The only good it does is make us feel power over another human being. That all too familiar hierarchy we have been so accustomed to. That is, at least by my standards, not a good thing.

Spanking has proven to cause a decrease in IQ, abnormalities in brain function, aggressive behavior later on in life, violence, criminal behavior, mental illness including addiction and severe cases of physical abuse have led to psychopathic personalities. Despite popular belief, children don’t get spanked because they act out, they act out because they are being spanked. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-me-in-we/201202/how-spanking-harms-the-brain

doll-340355We need to address this horrific flaw in our society. We continue to hide behind the evil curtain called “discipline”. Our society protects women who are in abusive relationships. Women have the choice to be in the relationship and we still feel it is only right to protect them. Would we accept our women being hit “just when they deserved it?” Of course not! How ludicrous does that sound? So why do we allow it for our precious children?! Our children are completely helpless in this matter. Why are we spanking our helpless and innocent children?! They are in a one-sided contract with us as parents. Our children did not ask to be put into the relationship. They did not choose their parents. If they are abused they cannot leave. They are economically dependent on us. The environment we build for our children is what will shape them as an adult. We need to stop teaching violence to our children. When we hit or spank our kids we are teaching them violence. Imagine a world that is violence free. Imagine all that can be accomplished by not teaching violence to the next generation of youngsters.

Instead of inflicting a “negative” on your child (spanking, yelling, time-out’s, grounding) take away a “positive” from them instead (reading after supper, cuddling on their favorite bean-bag chair, favorite treat). The importance of negotiation with our children is paramount for their proper growth into adulthood. We don’t need to always act like a house dictator. That only teaches them to tell their friends how big of an ass hole their parents are and they learn to rebel against it. That is why there is such a huge issue with bullies in the public school system. When you get angry with your child for telling you the truth, you have just taught your child that they need to lie to you from now on. This world of hierarchies is crumbling from underneath us. Believing that we need to have power over others will be the power that destroys us all. Lets end the violence. Lets stop spanking our children and allow them to reap the benefits of a violence-free, drug-free, truly peaceful world.

There are many sources that are easily accessible for helping parents raise their children without violence and the effects of violence. I am not claiming to have all the right answers. I do know that if there is one thing everyone as a collective society should agree on, it should be that we need to stop spanking our children.

 

 

Your Children and Addiction (Part 2)

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Continued from http://ajourneyofpureblack.blogspot.com/2014/05/your-children-and-addiction-part-1.html

If you have not read the first part of this post, it may not make as much sense. Please click the link above to read Part 1.

A word from Kris John (my mother)
This is the first in a series of attachments from a parent, to Dustin’s blog to help parents, grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, whoever wants to know and see what might be going on in their child’s life. This is one smart guy we have raised. I don’t know where he has learned all of these devious tricks to get himself heroin every day.

SIGNS TO LOOK FOR
It makes sense to use your senses! (use your best judgment)

A word from my mother: “I don’t know why we didn’t see the sign’s? I don’t know if we were just too busy with life to notice that our youngest son was swirling down into a hurricane that was sucking the life breath from him. He was losing weight, he was gone away from home a lot, he says he is with his friends…but we were very busy with our own lives, just trying to survive…to pay our bills, to keep a roof over our heads, to keep food on the table. Why didn’t we see the signs before it were almost too late?”

Smell-
The closer your relationship is with your child, the better. If you aren’t giving your children hugs and kisses; embracing them often, how do you know if they smell of alcohol or marijuana? Hug them often. Pay attention to their smell. Smell their clothing and their bedrooms for strange odors. I’m not recommending you run around the house like a hound dog trying to find a strange scent. Well, I guess you can if no one is home but you don’t need to walk on all fours. If you do want to be on all fours, maybe have your children read this post instead.

mC07g0qMy father was always awkward with hugging me and my siblings. I wish he would have hugged me more. He passed away before I asked him why it was so weird for him to hug his children. I know without a doubt he loved each one of us, but something deep down bothered my father when embracing others. Hugs were rare and quickly given when done. My last opportunity I had to embrace my father was last October. As my father laid on his death-bed, the evening before he passed away, I still felt the awkward vibe between us when I leaned over the bed to embrace him.

Listen-
If you are paying close enough attention, you will pick up different vibes from your children. Listen for any changes in their long-term happiness or over-all mood. You know your kid better than anyone so you know when you hear something that doesn’t sound right. Only you will know if your child is just having a bad day or if something more sinister is going on. Staying involved and listening closely to what they talk about is very important. If you are hearing them talk about a different set friends that are unfamiliar to the family, be concerned. When I wanted to go do drugs with one of my addict friends, I would lie about who I was going with. If you catch your child lying about who they have been with, obviously be concerned. It doesn’t necessarily mean drugs, but they are lying for some reason. If your bond with your child/children is weak or disconnected, there is no way for you to know what is going on in your children’s life. Also, a disconnection or an unhealthy bond may be the cause of your child’s need for outside comfort and contentment.

Many times I would go into the bathroom (when I lived with my parents) and do drugs. I was in the bathroom way too often. My father noticed this and questioned me about it. I lied and said I wasn’t doing drugs. If they are using the bathroom or isolating in their bedroom more than usual, be concerned. Strange noises coming from their room Ex. lighter flicker, excessive sniffing, odd banging or tapping sounds; any noises that are out of the ordinary. If your gut tells you something is up, it probably is!

Touch-
It is difficult to draw the line between being a caring, loving, nosy parent and flat-out invading your child’s privacy. It is my belief that children should indeed have their own privacy. I also believe that line shouldn’t be crossed. A child’s personal diary or journal should not be carelessly flipped through but I do believe in carefully checking all 27 pockets of their pants before throwing them into the washer.

mq2BfeoMany times I would put drugs and drug paraphernalia in the pockets of my clothing; especially the tiny little 5th pocket sewn into the larger front pocket of my jeans. My parents found many left-over treasures in my dirty laundry. If you find something of this nature in your children’s clothing, hopefully it doesn’t mean they are farther along in their addiction. In the beginning stage of my addiction, I was accurate. I was precise. I was careful. I never left any evidence. As time wore on, my addiction began trumping my accuracy measures and I started becoming sloppy and careless. My order became disorder. That is when my parents started finding my misplaced trinkets.

Sight-
They say seeing is believing. In the case where my parents found my paraphernalia, my first response was “oh that isn’t mine. I was holding for a friend so he wouldn’t get into trouble.” Give me a break right? Regardless if they say it is not theirs, they are in possession of a huge problem; it is now in your home so you are now an accomplice to this problem. No good will come of this if you brush it under the rug. You now know that your child is having issues as well as direct contact with drugs. If this is the case, it can’t be blown off as a “don’t let it happen again.” At this point, it would probably be best to consult a local counselor or a similar professional. Hopefully you haven’t found any paraphernalia yet. If this is the case, keep your eyes open to the possibility.  

A word from my mother: “Little pieces of burnt tin foil all over the place, a whole roll of aluminum foil in his car, boxes of baking soda in his room? Now why did he have baking soda in his room? Probably brushing his teeth with it, yes that’s what it was. But, aluminum foil, what was the purpose?

Like I said previously, if you don’t think your child is at risk of addiction, you are being quite irresponsible and ignorant as a parent. Being open to any possibility can only enhance a more positive outcome as well as prepare you for any problems your children may have. The statement “hope for the best, expect the worst” is the best guideline you can follow where addiction is so ubiquitous.

Watch your children’s eating habits. Watch for drastic sudden changes in what they eat, how much or how less they eat or if they often skip entire meals. All drugs effect normal eating habits but each drug may have a different affect. In general, coke, meth, speed (uppers) will suppress appetite. Opiate based drugs and alcohol can raise or lower food intake and marijuana will usually raise food intake. Everyone is different and depending how long they have used a certain drug will change any of these amounts. Again, this is a very broad and general description. Changes in eating habits do not always mean drugs. It could be depression, eating disorders etc. This is why being aware of your children’s normal eating habits is so important.

Intuition (6th sense)-
mgDxSo8You can’t use your sense of taste very effectively unless you find a baggie of white powder and your kid says it is only baking soda. What you can use is your 6th sense! It is a real thing. It isn’t some magical ability only given to a young boy who can see dead people. We all have it. Your 6th sense is your ability to know when something is not as it seems. The feeling you have when 2 plus 2 doesn’t equal to 4. It’s that deep pit in your stomach that pulls you when you feel your being misguided. It’s the intuition of your soul. That hunch you have about something not being quite right. Someone tells you a lie and you feel it. That is your natural ability to be guided in a helpful and loving direction. Me personally, I think that is a little bit of real magic. My father got so good using his that eventually; all he had to do was take a quick glance at me and BOOM! I was busted. He knew I was high again and had relapsed. And I knew right away when he knew. He didn’t even have to say it out loud. I could see the pain and disappointment on his face. You have intuition so use it!

If you fail to catch your child’s drug problem in the early stages, you may find yourself asking much more difficult questions. Because I was able to convince, manipulate and connive my way around the truth; mixed with my parent’s belief that their son would never do something so terrible, my addiction wasn’t really dealt with in the early stages. My mom had this to say:

He is not paying his bills, and he is getting payday loans and they are calling the house looking for him. He has opened several checking accounts, and writing lots of checks, with no money in the accounts…the banks are calling our house looking for him, but he is never home. The mailbox is full of bills for him, but he does not respond to them. He has lost another job, because he has failed to go in again, called in sick, again.”

If your son or daughter begins a career as a heavy drug user/drinker, realize that they will steal from you. Here is what my mother said at one point during my addiction:

Am I going crazy? Things are missing…where is my X-Box? Looking for the Camcorder, I must have misplaced it. Several DVD’s are missing. Maybe I put them someplace else too.”

As you can imagine, she (my mother) desperately wanted to believe it wasn’t me who stole their belongings. That somehow she had just misplaced the items. I wish I could say it wasn’t me. I didn’t just do it once either. I continually stole their belongings so I could supply my ever-growing heroin addiction. As soon as my parent’s got their things out of the pawn shop, I would steal them again.

We should have jumped on the signs, but we didn’t know they were the first signs of a full-blown Heroin addiction.” A statement from my mother.

As you can see, there are many things that you can do to help your children before it becomes too late. As I have been writing this blog, I have noticed that this topic could probably continue forever. I think it is important to at least cover all of the major points. Because it is so long of a post and it contains so much information, I will do a part 3 in the coming weeks. I hope this has been helpful so far. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Your Children and Addiction (Part 1)

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Pixabay Photo

If every parent could open their heart and their mind to the reality of the current addiction trend, countless children could be saved. I use the word “trend” lightly. A trend will usually wear out overtime and the next new thing will take its place. The “addiction trend” we are observing now is swallowing our country whole and shows no signs of slowing down. It has proven to be a ruthless, indestructible weed, squeezing the life out of the healthy growth around it. With its ever-growing list of victims, addiction will not stop when it reaches your child. It will wrap its roots tightly around your son or daughter and it will not stop squeezing until your child exhales their final breath. Where addiction is concerned, the odds do not look good for your son or daughter. Very few family structures in America get through the grip of addiction unscathed.

 

I am not writing this from an academic perspective. I do not hold any degrees in medicine, addiction, counseling or psychology. However I do have what would be the equivalent time frame of a PhD as a drug addict. In the 12 years of fighting my disease, I have lost many battles but also won many of them.

 

My goal is to help families who have found themselves caught in addiction and to educate about the real truth behind its many misconceptions. I do not claim to have all the answers. Through my experiences, I have learned what did and did not work for me. It has also worked for thousands of others. Through my destructive past, I have learned the “tricks of the trade” used by many addicts alike. Attached to addiction, you have all the advocates of self destruction, deceit, manipulation, lies and other repugnant idiosyncrasies. If your children begin to dabble in drugs/alcohol, these attributes will slowly begin to surface. They will look you directly in your eyes and assure you that your instincts are nothing more than an erroneous judgement on your part. It is unthinkable to believe your child, your own flesh and blood would be capable of such horrendous solutions to their problems. If you believe it is possible, you are moving a step in the right direction.

 

MY CHILD WOULD NEVER USE DRUGS OR ALCOHOL

 

My parents’ initial mistake was the belief that their youngest son would have no need for drinking or drugs; let alone become a full-blown heroin addict! After all, I had both parents’, a moderately religious upbringing. I wasn’t abused, raped, molested or beaten. Why should they think I would turn to drugs or alcohol right? I may have been a bit tougher to raise than my two older siblings but other than being shy and awkward around others, I grew up comparatively normal. I definitely wasn’t shouting HEROIN from any rooftops. In other words, there were no tangible warning signs early on.

Obviously I knew something was wrong with me before my family did. Not knowing exactly what it was, I hid it from everyone. I felt like something was missing. I did have moments of contentment but they were few and far between.

My Rubix Cube brain always seemed to be two or three colored squares off of kilter. The longer I went without addressing it, the worse it seemed to get. As time went on I became a master at hiding my emotional complications and acting like nothing was eating me up inside. It was also extremely difficult to explain what was wrong with me when I didn’t really know what was wrong. It is my experience that your child could be suffering greatly and they have no intention in letting you know about it.

 

WHY WOULD YOUR CHILD USE ONE SUBSTANCE OVER ANOTHER?

 

Many Americans’ have been led to believe that alcohol isn’t as bad as drugs for many different reasons. I’m sure it can still be debated but the bottom line is the same. We need to stop the squabbling and work towards fixing the problem at the source. We are on the ground smashing the ants while the elephants are trampling us to death!

Whether your child gets trapped by alcohol, prescription medication, street drugs, gambling, pornography, sex, or any other potentially dangerous lifestyle- the lifestyle don’t matter as much as the problem itself.

We now know that no substance in and of itself is inherently addictive. Studies have yielded these results over and over. So why do some people get addicted and others do not?

If the brain is incapable of producing adequate amounts of dopamine (feelings you get when rewarded) or endorphins (masks physical pain), that person will constantly yearn for that feeling of wholeness and contentment that is missing. This feeling is such an emptiness that I couldn’t fully describe in words. It’s like having a colossal craving for grease-dripping bacon cheeseburger and all you can fit in your mouth is a peanut. It’s like trying to enjoy a delicious Oreo shake through a coffee straw. If these dream-like scenarios happened with every single activity you did, you would start to see life like an addict. Having this feeling constantly nagging at you, every waking minute is hell on earth. All an addict wants is to feel like a normal human being. This is why we turn to drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol fills in these vacant receptor pods in our brain and for that short time, we feel human again; content and at peace.

 

I have noticed in my active addiction that most addicts either crave uppers or they crave downers. Of course as a heroin addict, I would do uppers when I couldn’t get heroin but overall, you either craved one or the other. If an addict’s brain doesn’t produce enough dopamine, they will more often than not, crave uppers (cocaine, meth, Ritalin). If an addict’s brain doesn’t produce enough endorphins, they will sway towards downers (pain pills, heroin).

 

Studies have shown that alcohol can fall into both these categories. It is my belief that many turn to alcohol instead of drugs because it is readily available and there is less societal stigma associated with booze. It is acceptable to say “I drank a fifth of whiskey” but not acceptable to say “I shot up 6 balloons of heroin”. Certainly there is other reasons; preference, legalities, etc.

 

A large problem can occur if your child turns to alcohol because it is easy to say “they are just in a phase” or “I partied when I was their age.” Alcohol can easily be justified. Illegal street drugs, not so much. You know better than to say your child is “just going through a heroin phase.”

 

 

HAVING “THE TALK”

 

-Too many parents believe that having a basic discussion about drugs will produce a drug free family.

 

-Too many parents believe telling their children to say no to drugs will keep their children away from  drugs.

 

-Too many parents think lying to their children about drugs is helpful.

 

-Too many parents don’t study addiction before having a discussion with their children about addiction.

 

I am scared to death to think that someday I will have to give “the talk” to my children. I cannot give experienced advice from a parent’s side on this, but I sure can tell you want would have been helpful to hear from my parents’. I will have my mother give some parental thoughts and ideas on this subject in part 2.

 

A basic discussion about drugs is clearly not enough to prevent anything. All that did for me was made me curious and I had more questions than answers.

Using the phrase “just say no” or “say no to drugs” can be very dangerous if used by itself- especially if your child is a teenager. If you use that phrase, you might as well tell them to go experiment with drugs. We all know that adolescents make it their duty to do the opposite of what is asked.

If your child asks a question regarding drugs or addiction, do not lie to them. When they find out you lied, and they will, your child will lose trust in you. They will find out because their friend or their friend’s friend will know more drugs than you do. That takes us to my next point.

 

There is nothing more crucial for your child than your knowledge and love. Learning everything you possibly can about the realm of addiction. Like they say “What you don’t know may hurt your children”. Don’t let your ignorance control your children’s fate. I was never told anything about withdrawals. I thought if I became addicted to something, it only meant I would really like to continue doing it. No one told me I would be vomiting and having diarrhea at the same time. Stomach cramps and leg spasms more intense than anything I had ever felt in my life; fever, chills and sweats, heavy uncontrollable drooling, insomnia. I was told none of that. At the proper age, our children need to know all the important factors of addiction.

 

Check your findings. Cross reference with other websites. The more research you do the better equipped you will be in handling addiction.

 

THE ADDICTION PARADIGM

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Even with as much as we know about addiction today, it is still very difficult for a non-addict to fully understand the thought process of an addict. It is possible to show sympathy or compassion for someone who just lost their mother or father, but until it happens to you, it is very difficult to know exactly what that person is experiencing. Addiction is the same in that way. Many people wonder why a sober addict will choose to relapse, even when the addict knows the consequences for doing so. This type of response is typical. If you are asking that question its only because you still don’t understand what addiction is. The more you understand about addiction, the greater chance your children will live a successful character building lifestyle.

 

Ignorance in addiction has been used to create the judgmental stigma towards addicts that we see today. This separation of mankind- this wedge between humanity has stopped a great deal of forward progress in the fight against addiction. Thankfully, over the last few years I have noticed a partial paradigm shift in the way society views addicts/alcoholics. This is the single most important epiphany we could have as a collective society. No longer can we view addicts/alcoholics as “the weak link” in society.

 

The revolving door of the American justice system is designed to generate massive amounts of wealth in the pockets of government. It is not designed to help individuals plagued with crippling mental disorders. Until the current system receives an overhaul, it is left to the people of the United States to change the paradigm of addiction. When it comes to fixing the crux of the problem my friends’, this IS the solid base in which we build on. This paradigm shift needs to happen.

 

Addiction will never be under control in America until we all accept addiction for what it is. Addiction is not drugs, it is not laws, it is not alcohol, and it is not pornography or sex. Addiction is not a homeless man begging for change. Addiction is not that selfish thief who needs his next fix. Addiction is not will power. It is not the prostitute on the street corner or the guy sitting in a cold, damp jail cell. Addiction is a mental illness. Addiction is a brain that does not function properly. Addiction is in no way the fault of the addicted. We did not choose to have this brain damage. It is a form of brain damage so why don’t we call it what it is? The paradigm shift needs to continue. We need to be more aware of what we are fighting.

 

We can easily look ahead and see that our ship is headed for a huge iceberg. We can change the course we are on. We must change the course we are on. It is a matter of life and death and the number of deaths continues to rise.

For so long we have fought against the wrong opponent. Many addicts are victims of rape, brutal beatings and sexual assaults as well as products of poor or misguided parenting. Why would we ever want to side with the perpetrator of such crimes? In one way or another, the addiction manifested because of the landscaping and surroundings of that individual. I am still searching my childhood to understand why and how my addiction got planted.

 

END OF PART 1—

Next blog- Part 2 (Signs to Look for)