Journey's blog

Get out of Denial and Get Healthy

It has to be a lost feeling for a substance abusers who wants to give up their habit and you reach what they call the "dry" point. You may act like you are happy and fine when you are actually miserable. You're waiting for the day you face temptation.

After being off alcohol or drugs for awhile, you may start to see that your problem was not from either. Now it's time to face the reasons you started using in the first place. You need new tools to succeed. You need to start a clean and have a new relationship with yourself.

How do you go back to not lying when the action made it easy to use as excuses on what you were doing and why. Here is where you start with one day at a time! Giving any action up that overwhelmed your thinking and actions is not easy. Any habit is hard to break.

Start with today, don't worry about tomorrow. Take something out of your life that was unhealthy and bring in the new you.

You have to believe and have faith in God. The hardest part is knowing you are the one who has to make and want the change for a better life. You were the problem, now you have to find the solution. You have all the questions on how to do it but also have the answers. Deep down you know what they are. Don't struggle with this alone. Reach out for professional and family help. 

Veteran's Day: A Time to Remember the Best!

  Excerpt from A Spiritual Renewal: A Journey to Medjugorje

When I was young, I took my father’s past history with fighting during WWII as just an event. After all, I was around three years old. I watched him through my growing years dressed in his army uniform go to the National Guard meetings when we lived in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

He had been one of the commanding officers for the 26th Yankee Division and fought in the famous Battle of the Bulge, Lorraine and Metz. God blessed us by bringing him home while others never returned. In 1953, he retired as a One Star Brigadier General in Army.

I remember being around twelve when my father took just me to a Memorial Day parade in Rhode Island. We had arrived early to reserve a spot on the street so no one would block our view of the parade going by us. As the different organizations, floats, and school bands marched in front of us, an Army unit that was out of range approached. I didn’t know that the soldiers were from the 101st Infantry of the 26th Yankee Infantry Division or that Dad had been one of their commanding officers during WWII. They marched directly in front of us. Dad stood tall with a salute while they passed.

The Army’s military band followed right behind them. The marching troops were ahead of the band, just far enough so the instrumental sounds from the company were at a distance. Their boots hit the blacktop with a loud shuffling rhythm. They marched in perfect unison and every step was in sequence with each other’s. They stood proud and tall with their eyes straight ahead. The soldiers’ demeanor exemplified their pride in wearing their uniforms with honor.

As the Army band came closer, the drums and horns vibrated deep in my chest and ears as well as under my feet as I stood on the sidewalk.

The whole atmosphere gave me a sense of distinguished military men. Seeing them was a wonderful experience as I witnessed a branch of the armed forces trying to show civilians how proud they were to protect this country. Even at a young age, I understood this.

I looked up at Dad to say something to him, while the group still proceeded by us. I saw something I’d never forget. There was my father, in his plain, weekend clothes, standing tall saluting the unit going by, while tears rolled down his checks. He stood as proud as the men who marched by him.

Back then, being immature and not knowing the pain of war, I thought Dad was being sentimental, remembering when he was in the service. Now, as an adult, I understand more clearly the suffering my father probably felt with the recollections of his fallen comrades. He had been in charge of making serious decisions for the servicemen in his unit.

It had been the first time, as a child, that I saw my father cry. Seeing him in such an uncontrollable state scared me. I had grown up feeling secure because Dad had been so strong in any situation. He never showed any weakness. Now I had seen a different side of him. To this day, when I hear a military band, it chokes me up.

Read about Albert L. Gramm’s life in A Spiritual Renewal. It is not just a book for women. Read about his military status and the letters and emails from soldiers from the 26th Yankee Division talking about the war.

You can order it at Amazon.com.  It’s not too early to put a book aside to place in a stocking or add to a gift for Christmas.

Whose Life is it Anyway?

We come in this world alone and we go out the same way. We should take the time to stop and recognize these precious moments God has given us. How do we? Stop and think how luck you are to have friends, family and total strangers who love and want to support you. Are you the one who is stopping this special gift to come to you?

Who you interact with is who is leading you in the decision you are traveling toward. Holding off from taking that first step toward recovery is a choice, an opportunity you are missing that will bring you back to enjoying the life God intended for you to have and live. How you use this chance is up to you. We will all have to account for our choices in life. Don't waste them on fear, not having hope or because you have lost the confidence.

By Alberta Sequeira

Tools to Change

How do alcoholics and drug addicts change?  Change, is not an easy thing to do when we are automatically tuned into our daily habits, especially bad ones.  One factor that keeps people away from change is fear, fear that we won’t be able to do it.  Just the thought of doing something new with unknown results or putting ourselves in an unfamiliar direction with a new way of life may keep us on the same path.

I have also feared things, especially talking in public.  Who would think?  In my high school senior year, we had to write an article on a certain history topic. Not knowing what to write, I turned to my sister who received nothing under an A in class to write it for me. Wow! I came away with an A+.

God has a sense of humor, because the teacher picked four people with the highest score to talk at our graduation…..without any paper to look at in our hands. Guess who was one of them. Right, me. Just before it was my turn, we sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and my mind went blank on the very first sentence.  I had to memorize four pages. I was so sick to my stomach, I was ready to run off the stage.

Somehow, by the grace of God, the manuscript came to me, but I talked non-stop without breathing and there was no easy flow for people to enjoy my speech.  My father would be shocked if he was alive to know I give speaking engagements to halfway homes, rehabs, court-ordered programs, to the family of addicts and to the public.  After hearing me talk, he told me that I was the worse speaker he had ever heard. That was enough to put me deeper into my fear of speaking.

How do I handle facing people?  I tell myself to worry about the talk when I start, because I put my fear into God’s hands to help me through it.  The biggest problem with change is thinking about making them.

Fear can bring on physical reactions that make us think we are having a heart attack; sweats, anxiety, nervousness, chills, weak knees, the throat closing, nausea, butterflies, the shakes, cold feet, nightmares, panic attacks, or cause our heart to pound out of our chest. The list can go on and on. Who wants to experience this?

But taking one baby step at a time each day toward that direction of getting healthy will be worth the healing.  Once you get to where you want to be, you will realize those physical feelings paralyzed you from moving forward.

There is nothing wrong with saying, “I need help.”  It takes more strength to say it and realize you are not strong enough to do it on your own and reach out to professionals to help you. Pray each day getting up and going to bed to get through the fear.  You will never be alone with God next to you.

Change for an alcoholic or drug attack is uncovering deeply rooted feelings and pain, especially with counselors and doctors.  Many, like my daughter, Lori, can’t do that and instead bury it deep within them.

You heal by getting the garbage out of you. Talk about “what” caused you to turn to using drugs and alcohol. Something triggered you to get into that world. A world that turned everything upside down.  You changed into a stranger to yourself, family and friends.  You lost your marriage, children, job, cars being repossessed, and respect from others, especially those who have no idea what Alcoholism is all about.

Write down what you want to change about yourself.  Underneath all this, is the good person you once were until you mixed with the wrong crowd or did things that you thought were fun.  Write a journal on each day’s activities and what made you use that day.   Where did you go, who were you with, what was your mood, did someone do something to you, were you depressed and why?

Be honest with yourself and get out of denial.  Don’t blame others for your drinking or using drugs. No one can make you do those actions but you.  You control your mind with your wants.   Needs are different because you will see the difference writing your journal.  You don’t “need” what you are doing, you want it.

Allowing yourself to go deeper into your actions and habit will turn you to not wanting the drugs but needing them. That is where the danger starts.  Get honest with yourself and develop the desire to want change.  Don’t try it on your own, don’t try to drop the drugs and alcohol cold turkey, because doing so may put you in a coma or death.  Get professional help.
 

Launch Day/Monday, October 7, 2013

What is and isn't Working for the Alcoholic and Addict paperback is finally available through www.amazon.com.  I'm having a Launch Day for Monday, October 7, 2013.  If enough people purchase the book on that date, it may make the Best Sellers list. 

I am hoping you can spread the date Monday, October 7, 2013 to your family, friends and social media groups,  The notice below can be copied and pasted into your emails.

Do you ever wonder why some alcoholics and drug addicts recover and put their lives together while others die from this horrible worldwide problem? What gives them the physical and mental strength to fight this battle and come out winning?

These questions, and the author’s tragedy to losing her husband and daughter from their alcohol abuse, encouraged this writing. Here is a book, not only for the substance abusers, but for family members, society, doctors, and counselors to learn, not only what the addict is looking for with support to help them through with their recovery, but new ways to help the addicted. You will learn that childhood emotional wounds mold us into what we become in adulthood.

What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict is a book of personal stories by thirty-four alcoholics and drug users from all walks of life. The first few years of recovery in substance abuse contain numerous pitfalls which addicts in recovery must have the right kind of help with. The best-intention of friends, family, lovers, and co-workers can be healthy supports or obstacles to long-term sobriety. Addicts sharing their experience, strength and hope with others is something that only a recovering addict or alcoholic can do. It is a unique gift.

This book contains the testimonies of individuals who were or are actively in a recovery program and wanted to share their habit and actions with their struggles trying to overcome their own addiction. Their main goal is to help others who are fighting with their recovery and sobriety. These are their own stories on how their addiction led to the devastation of losing control of their life, family, friends and the death of other family members from this disease we call Alcoholism. Their desire is to lift other substances abusers, especially young people, in learning the reality that it’s not that drinking and taking drugs may, could or would kill. It will.

Hopefully, the heartfelt honesty from the participants will help doctors and counselors to use their stories for their own study on what may be missing in the treatment methods. The personal testaments within What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict is an added tool as to how people are affected, and how they suffer long-term drinking habits from living in an active alcoholic family.

As one contributor wrote, “I was tired of getting sick, my hands shaking, my vision deteriorating, my nose bleeding, my bowels moving sporadically, the violence and running from many situations being paranoid to the point of staying home all day (I had a job, a husband, family), not sleeping and not feeling safe.” What alcoholic or addict is not going to relate to these emotions?

Are You Covering up the Truth?

Here are some questions for the non-drinker in the family to ask themselves with honesty to see if you are becoming an enabler because of the drinker, which will only bring them deeper into their addiction.

1. Are you counting how often the person is drinking?
2. Is there becoming a money problem meeting bills because of the drinking?
3. Are you constantly telling lies to cover up the person’s actions?
4. Do you honestly believe if the drinker loved you that they would stop?
5. Are you blaming the drinking of your loved one on their friends?
6. Are your plans for events being canceled numerous times?
7. Do you make threats to the person drinking and find you don’t follow through?
8. Do you find yourself smelling the air or their breath to see if they have drank?
9. Are you afraid to bring the topic up to only cause a fight?
10. Does the drinker embarrass you when you go to gatherings?
11. Do you dread the holidays because of their actions from drinking?
12. Have you had to call the police because of their behavior?
13. Have you backed out of invitations because of the fear of them over-drinking.
14. Do you hate yourself from the lengths you go through to lie for them?
15. Do you believe their drinking is the only problem in the family?
16. Is your daily life consumed with fear, anger, confusion, depression, hopelessness or abuse, physically or emotionally?
17. Are you afraid to open up to a professional or family member to reach out for help?

These are questions Al-Anon may ask you. Be honest with yourself and reach out for the help. The sooner you do, the faster the problem might be solved.  

What are the "Rewards" of Enabling

As a parent, family member or sibling, we all want the alcoholic or drug addict in our lives to give up their habit and survive. Is our enabling bringing them deeper into their addiction?

Our pain is in the fear of death of the substance abuser which causes us in many ways and times to do the wrong things out of love to save them. Family members go through difficult emotions. Our enabling gets stronger as the disease progresses. Emotionally, we get drained.

As a great enabler twice and losing a husband and daughter, I still ask, “What more could I have done.” Professionals would say, “Nothing.”

I have always hated that saying that they have to reach rock bottom, they have to do it on their own, they have to want to recover. Knowing what I know today, after losing them both, I still would say to someone, “Don’t let them get that deep into addiction if you can help it.”

Richie and I had divorced, and I had not seen him every day. As for my daughter, Lori, I would turn the clocks back by keeping in touch with her every moment I could have to reach out. I would have let her know with every conversation that I loved her and wanted to be involved with her recovery instead of yelling at her with her actions and her responsibilities of a mother of two. I would have stopped putting more pressure on a person over-come with addiction and let her feel the open door to come home. I would have shown her compassion and listened to her pain and difficulties with trying to fight this horrible demon.

Would that have saved her and given her the strength to go into the three rehabs with the desire to over-come the illness on top of being bulimic? Maybe not, but I would have been able to live with less pain knowing that I did everything in my power and showed her all the love in my heart without the separation that had developed.

I talk as a parent with mixed emotions of the reality of substance abuse and the mother’s side of wanting to climb into her body and do the work for her so she would have survived. It doesn’t work that way.

Don’t make excuses for them. Talk openly about the path of destruction that they are on with killing themselves. An arm around them, a warm hug, and kisses will work so much better with showing your love, even though you are angry. Remember, you are mad at the disease, not your child, and let them know that. When they wake from a night of drinking or taking drugs, maybe the affection and soft words you spoke will bring them back to you for help.

Don’t ever give up or think that they want to live this way and throw them out to straighten out. Many professionals may not agree with me. As an individual, this is what I would have changed.  

When does it end?

It's a shame that our kids get so caught up with fitting into the crowd that they don't care how they abuse their bodies and minds. Even seeing a close friend suffer from substance abuse and watching them die, still doesn't bring the fear or reality into their souls that they are on the same path.

My heart is breaking hearing that I have a nephew and my cousin's son fighting cocaine and heroin. How dangerous is this? Their addiction didn't just start. They have been battling this disease for over five years.

My daughter, Lori, and her sister, Debbie, stayed by their father's side at the VA Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island while he suffered slowly for a week at forty-five years of age from his young years of alcohol abuse. It was a family disease that just trickled down through his family.

Lori went into rehab three times, and she still didn't grab onto the help and her life. It's so sad to watch history repeat itself. I watched Lori's daughter at seventeen, the same age as her mother had been sitting by her dad's side, now sitting my her mother's bedside while she was in a coma on life-support. We all watched as they pulled the plug after all her organs shut down; no hope. A scene no one wants to ever witness with a loved one. I brought her life and heard her take her first breath. In 2006 at the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, I had to watch her take her last.

Where and when does it end? Pain and hopelessness goes through the whole family. It seems like such a useless death when substance abusers don't realize they are not going to make it with this demon. No one thinks it will happen to them. They tell us that they have a hold on it. They can stop anytime. Everyone does it. It makes them feel good. They develop confidence with others.

We need to teach our kids at an early age to love themselves for who they are, no matter what they do or don't accomplish in their lives. We need them to not worry about their race, difference in faith, if they are over-weight or not as pretty as the next one. Teach them that they don't have to try to measure up to someone else. Be happy to work with what God gave them. He knew what they needed. He gave them the tools and the path, but too many of our children are turning down the wrong road. Too many are losing their future. Society is losing someone to help our country in our world of medicine. Someone to find answers to serious problems. Someone who was loved by family members no matter what wrong road they took.

How do we show our college kids that the other kids that they are following aren't really cool? They are not seeing a foolish person, who is not only sick, but someone seriously addicted. How do we teach them that a night of binge drinking, sex, or violent acts may seem like fun at the moment, but are things that will lead them to their death? Things that are brought on by over-drinking and taking drugs.
 

The Demon Returned

After I wrote Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis, I never would have believed after the pain and suffering from the loss of my husband, Richard Lopes of North Dighton, Massachusetts, that I would write the sequel, Please, God, Not Two: This Killer Called Alcoholism. Richard had ignored his addiction up until his death from cirrhosis of the liver in 1985.

The alcoholic demon wasn’t happy with just my husband, it returned to claim my youngest daughter, Lori (Lopes) Cahill also of North Dighton. My story will bring a parent, who has lost a child to this horrible disease, to feel the emotions and sense of helplessness that accompanies a child’s death from substance addictions, even though the afflicted has the control over their outcome. But that doesn't mitigate the feelings of regret and self-doubt that a parent will assuredly feel. Loved ones will be left with the question, "What could I have done differently to save the life that was needlessly wasted?"

The story details the tortured life of a mother coming to terms with the fact her daughter is following in her father's deadly footsteps. The book opens with the lives of her two daughters months after their father's death.

Many devastating things that happen in a child’s life lead up to their drinking, taking drugs, and becoming bulimic. I open up with the honest look back to these events: my juggling three jobs to make ends meet, and my oldest daughter Debbie’s marriage to her high school sweetheart. Lori's life turns to stages of struggling with skipping school and drinking, and after graduation, she moved in with her boyfriend. My decision for her to terminate a pregnancy added to Lori's pain and to the distance between her and myself.

Lori's life would see a series of joyful highs and desperate lows over the next several years with marriage, the birth of her two children and a successful career at the Lopes Construction Company in Taunton, MA, a family owned business. Her financial problems and a strained marriage ended in divorce. Her frustration from a husband not maintaining child support, left Lori barely able to provide basic food and clothing for her children.

Her fight to control her drinking would become more apparent during her second marriage. Lori and her new husband enjoyed frequent parties with friends and family, and I couldn't help noticing how drinking to excess was routine at these events. While another marriage crumbled, Lori stressed with health issues, and it contributed to three stays at alcohol rehab clinics, once at Butler Hospital in Providence, RI and twice at Gosnold in Falmouth, MA.

On November 22,2006, two days before Thanksgiving, Lori died at the age of thirty-nine from her years of drinking at the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, MA. It wasn’t until she was thirty-seven that Lori informed her family she had been secretly over-drinking her whole teenage years and fighting being bulimic. We thought her weight-loss had been from the stress of drinking, losing her house, her job, and having a car repossessed. She hid her pain and habit from all of us.

As a parent, there are no words to show the distress of witnessing Lori’s battle with her addiction. I knew with no doubt what was waiting for my daughter if her rehab stays were unsuccessful. I opened up about the guilt I felt for not noticing the signs of alcoholism sooner, and I fully admit to my mistakes and regrets.

Writing this honest memoir had not been easy so soon after Lori's death. Please God, Not Two works as a stand alone, however I recommend you read both books to obtain the full effect of this poignant story. This is a candid look into alcoholism. I made no excuses for myself or my daughter. I wrote with the best of intentions to help others struggling to save a family member caught in the relentless grip of this disease. I present the facts with my own experiences which were described with a desperate honesty to show the pain and suffering that goes on within an alcoholic family.

I added my private speaking engagements to the substance abusers in the privacy of addiction rehabs, court-ordered programs, and half way homes to the book. The sequel is also an inside look to what doesn’t work for families trying to get the alcoholic to stop drinking.

I could have easier titled my book “What Not to Do” with trying to help someone get out of denial. It includes my advice to family members on how I would have done it differently today if I could have turned back the clock.

Review by Tom Cirignano, author of "The Constant Outsider, Memoirs of a South Boston Mechanic" and "67 Cents: Creation of a Killer"

People who drink and feel the slow progression of this disease, must be given this book. Maybe if they see how their drinking will destroy not only their own life, but the lives of those who love them, they may just find the strength to alter the destructive path they are on. My heart goes out to the author, Alberta Sequeira, her husband Al, and her entire family. Alberta somehow found the will to not only go on, but to try and prevent others from having to experience the same nightmare. As painful as it must have been, I salute her for sharing her story.

Hunter House Publishing in California is now reviewing my upcoming book titled “What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict: In Their Own Words. This will be a book, not only for the substance abusers, but for family members, society, doctors, and counselors to learn, not only what the addict is looking for with support to help them through with their recovery, but new ways to help the addicted. You will learn that childhood emotional wounds mold us into what we become in adulthood.

My books are available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. For me to speak at any of your events, and to businesses trying to stop the absentee list that climbs from alcohol abuse, contact me at [email protected] for a quote. Visit my blog that is update constantly on substance abuse at www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com.
 

The Merry-G0-Round Effect with Substance Abuse

Many of us have had a spouse or family member arrive home after a few too many drinks and needed to make up excuses for them occasionally with over-drinking. Imagine if this was a daily occurrence.

I wrote Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis because this has become a way of life for too many families all over the world. Waiting, worrying, and watching the clock, wondering when, and in what state, a spouse or a family member, would finally come home, and then we try to hide it all from neighbors, family and the children.

For seventeen years, I existed every day as I dealt with my husband, Richard Lopes' alcohol abuse living in North Dighton, Massachusetts. I had witnessed how alcohol abuse changed him from a loving family man with a successful business to a careless, angry, abusive drunk.

My memoir had been written like dramatic fiction and is a fast paced, tension-filled account of a woman's tireless effort to keep her family together, her two children safe and to protect her own mental and physical well being. She gave an honest telling of life married to an alcoholic-a life filled with sadness, fear, confusion, pain and despair.

I didn't believe in divorce and was too proud to seek help from my parents, deciding to go it alone. Several times it seemed liked Richard was ready to quit his devastating lifestyle and commit fully to being a good partner and devoted father, only to have him fall back to his alcoholic ways. This rollercoaster life took its toll on me, plaguing me with frequent panic attacks and eventually bringing me to the brink of a small breakdown. I had pushed my mind and body beyond what it could take with no changes in our life.

Through arguments, unpaid bills, violent rage, emotional abuse and neglect, I kept hope that my husband would eventually realize he had a problem, and seek treatment. He always believed he was just having a few drinks with his buddies after a hard day's work.

I took my share of the blame for all the times I kicked him out and took him back, becoming a great enabler, which only brought him deeper into his addiction. For two months we had counseling together as a couple at the AA center in Taunton until Richard continued to believe he had no problem. I had private counseling on my own for four years while he kept drinking.

I fought with all my faith in God to save our marriage, because I didn’t believe in divorce. I divorced a man I still loved in 1979, to only see Richard continued to drink, and he died in 1985 at forty-five years of age at the VA Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island from the damage done to his body from a lifetime of drinking since he had been a teenager. His family had a history of alcohol abusers back through the years. 

I swallowed my pride and wrote the book to open up about our lives that had been kept behind closed doors, while my two daughters and I suffered in silence. Readers will see how my enabling, and not protecting our two daughters by getting them out of that sick environment, had damage our children for life. I believe this book could be of great help to alcoholics, their families and even counselors.

Does this life sound familiar? Visit my blog for alcohol abuse topics at www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com.

Review:
My Master’s Degree in Counseling covered a huge portion on substance abuse counseling. I found that I learned a great deal more by reading this story, than I did in reading textbooks. Someone Stop this Merry-Go-Round is a must read for counselors, alcoholics and family members of alcoholics. by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

The book can be purchased at Amazon. It's availabe in paperback and Kindle. I am available to speak on “The Effect of Alcoholism on the Whole Family” at your event. Contact me at [email protected] for a quote.
 

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