How easy it is to start out gun-ho to go on the road to recovery and then wake up one day and feel your confidence has disappeared. Panic sets and you don’t want to continue. It’s only fear. It’s a distraction you can pass by taking a break. Go for a ride to the beach and unwind, visit family who support you or call a friend from AA who has accomplished overcoming this stage you are in that day. They have all been there.
Don’t go to your regular hangouts, drinking friend or any environment that helped you get into this habit of drinking or getting your drugs. Anyone trying to change the course of their lives runs into roadblocks. It’s what you do about them that counts. How serious are you with wanting recovery? This is only a test. Getting to where you want to be is not easy with any change. Habits are hard to break, and they make you comfortable because you are familiar with that life, even though it’s bad. You have to look at what life you are heading toward, and realize that if you return to your bad actions, life will no longer exist; you will be looking at death.
There can’t be a better feeling of accomplishment for an addict than getting to sobriety. It won’t be easy to get there or stay there. But you can do it. Just read my Narrative Non-Fiction What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict to see how thirty-four addicts recovered. What helped them? You will appreciate the gift because you persevered with every ounce of strength in your body to reach it. Something good is worth fighting for if it gets you healthy in mind and body again.
Don’t mistake your lack of knowledge as lack of ability. Lack of knowledge in not keeping in touch with professionals and the addicts who became sober. Without these, you are apt to quit. Don’t take the easy road to fall again and give up on trying. Everything in life that is good for us comes from keeping that mind clear to get where you want to go.
One problem is feeling you have to get sober fast. You won’t. It took you years to become an alcoholic and it will take time to give it up for good. You have to do the work. Family can only love and support you. When you feel weak to continue on, think back to the deep desire within you that developed to reach your goal. Fight for it again.
Life has a way of working itself forward. We can’t change what we did years ago or yesterday. That’s how life goes forward. It is us that makes the choice to go backwards. Losing your confidence is normal; realize this so don’t get torn apart with this process. Mental work can become exhausting. Buy a good book and relax the mind for a few days or weeks. Everyone needs a break trying to finish a task, because we work so long and hard getting there.
Having stress in life from jobs, raising a family, meeting bills, losing a loved one, breaking up with your lover, problems at school, family fights, or other personal problems, can be an easy excuse for an alcoholic to fall back. Lets face it; alcoholics love excuses to give them a reason to go out and drink. It is not easy either knowing all your drinking friends are gathering together and having what you think is fun. They are only digging a hole faster with their lifestyle. Get honest, out of denial, and tell yourself that you are better off without them or the drinking. Until you reach the point of believing this with your whole heart and mind, you won’t make it.
Become familiar with all your feelings that pull you toward going back to your habit and step through the fear. Start a journal to see how it just keeps repeating itself. Take time to pray to God and ask for His help. Doing this will never have you alone with decisions.
Forgiving may not seem like an action that is that important to heal and recover from alcohol abuse, but it is. The first person to forgive is yourself. You made the choice to go down the path of addiction with friends, maybe from an emotional or physical event from the past that devastated you, loneliness, hurt, abuse on you, bullying, or whatever reason. We all make mistakes in life. Someone physically hurting us or giving emotional abuse, can mold us into what we become in adulthood.
As a young child, you can't defend yourself. You depended on the other sober parent to protect you and a lot of times that person fails you. I failed my two daughters by not getting them out of that unhealthy environment. Lori became an alcoholic and died like her father. Debbie was effected more emotionally than she knew as time went on in her adult life. Everyone is effected by the drinker. Innocently, the parent becomes a great enabler bringing the alcoholic deeper into their addiction. They live in denial the same as the drinker thinking the problem will go away. So what happens, it's a merry-go-round of sick lives living behind closed doors to silent abuse.
It is not easy to forgive the person who hurts you. If you don't, you live the rest of your life in anger, hurt, resentment, and turn to alcohol or drugs to drown your past. You slowly become the person you were upset with in the first place. This action of over-drinking needs professional help.
We all never forget our past, but it's what we do with the rest of our lives that counts. You can stay stuck feeling sorry for yourselves and hate the person who made your life so awful or forgive them and move on to become better than them. Why give up happiness? Why let the past rip us up inside? They either don't know you are upset with them, or do and don't care. Someday you will look in the mirror and see yourself at sixty years old still drinking because you didn't want to get on with life. You make your changes.
Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. You don't have to associate with that person and forgiving doesn't mean they were right. It means you are going to go down the healthy path and have a good life for you, a future mate and children. Ending the abuse, starts with you. Don't use your hurts as excuses to drink. Alcoholics look for any excuse to drink so you can feel they are reasons for our actions.
We suffer because we keep thinking back to our pain and we repeat and repeat our past to anyone who will listen. What you are trying to do is show how right you are and how wrong someone else was. You're trying to control the situation. Let it go and put it in God's hands. You can't move on until you let go of the past. You can't return to it and change anything that happened to you. What you are missing is not bringing appreciating the good within you. You hold the key to the way of recovery.
Feel alone and weak? Purchase What is and isn't Working for the Alcoholic and Addict in Amazon. It's written by 34 substance abusers. Who can understand you more than another addict? Learn what helped them. Key in Alberta Sequeira name at www.amazon.com and all her books will come up.
Today, I want to take an excerpt from my book Please, God, Not Two: This Killer Called Alcoholism, which is a sequel from Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis. These are my words to describe my pain watching my daughter being taken off life support.
For the last time, Dr. Sousa met with the immediate family in the doctors’ conference room. “Lori’s organs have all shut down. It’s only the life support keeping her going. The next stage is her possibly having a heart attack, as we talked about. The stress of no organs working is going to cause something dramatic to happen to her physically. In two days, Thanksgiving will be here, and it would be sad to have her die on that day. Any day is bad, but the holiday won’t have good memories any of you.”
How could any of them after this, I thought.
We all knew what he was saying. I believed that she died on Sunday, when she had been rushed to ICU hemorrhaging throughout her body. Here it was Tuesday, and we were selfishly keeping her alive by a machine, only for us. She no longer looked like Lori because of the horrible battle her body had gone through trying to hold onto life.
After an hour, the family decided to take her off life support. We were now hoping God would take her swiftly without any more suffering.
Oh God, how do we do this? Once life support is taken off her, she’s gone, never for me to enjoy again. Why didn’t you take her Sunday so we wouldn’t have to make this decision? I felt like we were about to take her life instead of God doing it.
Family members and friends took their time to be with her for the last time. Everyone carried pain on their faces along with the continuous flow of tears.
Lori's son, Joey and her daughter Meagan, arrived and entered the room. We weren’t sure if they should be in the room while they took the machine off their mother. They needed good memories with her. They were only seventeen and eighteen years old.
The nurse spoke softly to our family, “There’ll be no sudden movements from her, and she’ll go peacefully. We can take the ventilator off her, but I’ll keep the tube in her throat so you won’t hear gurgling sounds. They can upset a family.”
I suddenly felt sick and dizzy. Nausea overtook me. Why did she say that to us? My legs were ready to give out. When my husband, Al, saw my emotional and physical distress, he got me a chair.
The nurse walked over to disconnect the ventilator.
No, don’t touch her! Please, God, not her too. You took my husband, Richie. I’m not going to live through this.
I was trying not to become hysterical, fighting the desire to scream at the top of my lungs. I fought to control the urge to go over and reconnect the ventilator.
She can’t breathe. Put it back on! I was in a state of horror, although, my body was absolutely still, just staring at my daughter, Lori.
“It won’t take long,” the nurse said quietly.
Lori was in the slow process of dying, and the nurse walked around quietly collecting things to be thrown away after shutting everything down. She had no emotional ties.
I watched the monitor as Lori’s vital signs started to fall. Her normal heart rate was erratic turning from short to long wave lengths.
Stop this. Oh, God, her heart is stopping. We’re killing her!
I stood up and kissed her, while the tears blinded me. I whispered, “Go to the light, Lori. Jesus is waiting for you. Take everyone’s love with you.”
She took two deep breaths. Her eyes suddenly opened and rolled back. The nurse came over and closed her eyes so they wouldn’t frighten anyone, but she was too late to hide the scene.
“Oh, God, No, No, No!” I screamed. My daughter was gone. I cried uncontrollably as Al held me. The other family members left the room in tears. My daughter, Debbie, Al, and I stayed.
I sat looking at my daughter, lying so still; no chest movement or sound of her breathing were seen or heard. My child whom I had carried for nine months, the one who moved inside me, the child to whom I had given birth and watched her lungs fill with air to give her first cry. All the memories of love, her laughter that echoed in rooms, were gone. I had watched her take her first steps; watched her go from a child to a teen, to a young woman, to a mother. Even the bad times were good, because she had been with me.
Now, I was there to see her take her last breath. I watched her come into this world, and now watched her leave it. God gives and He takes away, because we belong to Him. Our children are a gift from Our Heavenly Father. In the end, we all return to our Maker.
The alcoholic demon was not happy taking my husband, Richie. It returned to take my precious daughter. I knife went into my chest and cut my heart out.
Purchase this book and all published by author, Alberta Sequeira at Amazon.com. Key in her name to see all her books.
How many times in your life have you paused and thought: If you would have told me ten years ago that I'd been doing this heavy drinking, I wouldn't have believed you. Sometimes whatever it is that would have surpassed you ten years before is a good thing, and sometimes it's not a so great.
Life is endlessly surprising, and although you may act though the life you created with drinking and using drugs is in your control, it really isn't. You may act as though the path you took is safe and something that you can stop anytime, but in reality the percentage of deaths with using is overwhelming.
So grow closer to God and prayer, A.A. sponsors, counselors and other alcoholics with a serious desire of reaching sobriety, and hopefully, you will become stronger and wiser to where you are heading; on a dead end road.
What a title for this topic!
When I was a young, married woman, around my early thirties, I would of read this and thought, "Are you crazy? How?"
The non-drinker lives in denial as much as the substance abuser. We use excuses on why we can't do something, instead of looking at the fact that every person walking this earth has "choices." Taking action against something that is harming you, or your family, is a step closer to resolving the situation. Fear comes from the thought of doing something, but once you take the first step, your cycle completely starts to change. I call it "Getting off the Merry-Go-Round." Someone has to stop it. That is why I titled my first memoir Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis.
The abuser during their drinking, will start to see that you are no longer excepting the fear, confusion and abuse from their actions going through every member of the family. Because you love them, doesn't mean you have to give your safety and life up to save them. They have to save themselves. The more you take from them, the more they will use you as their punching bag; mentally and physically. Once you show them that you can't stand up to them, the control your every move.
Run as fast as you can to professional counseling. If your life has turned into fright or abuse from them coming home after a night, or all day drinking, get a restraining order and get them out until they get help. Have a police officer there while you do it. Have a locksmith at your home the same day you do, because that night, the drinker will become more intoxicated knowing what you had done to them. If they try to come in, call the police and have them arrested. Believe me, you are doing them more good than allowing them to know you won't do a thing to stop them.
If you want out, don't tell them until you have a place, or go directly to a home of protection for women or men. Again, have an officer at the house while you get your things out. Take abuse very serious because I didn't. I am lucky to be alive today. My once shy, loving husband and devoted father to our children, turned our lives into complete fear, along with my poor innocent girls watching and listening with no control to stop it, with the yelling and fighting when my husband arrived home in blackouts. I have had my head smashed into an arm of a chair, causing a concussion keeping me on the couch for three days. I didn't go to the doctors or hospital because he would be arrested. I had been chocked in bed almost to the point of passing out, because he wanted to kill me, and had a threat of him getting ready to throw me through the living room bay window. Now, Who was more sick?!
Why do we allow someone, anyone, to treat us this way? Let friends and family know your living situation with alcohol abuse. Our parents didn't bring us into the world with their love and protection, to be abused by another person. If family is not aware of this, the drinker has no one to answer to for their actions. You help hide it, giving them strength to not stop. The more you allow someone to over-rule your every move or thought, the deeper you bring that person into their addiction from not having to make any choices with changes. Innocently, our enabling keeps the actions going with no results. Tough love is not just an expression. It is a sign of love.
"A new World Health Organization report shows that 3.3 million people die each year from alcohol use. Here is a look at annual alcohol intake around the world in liters per person over the age of 14:"
Russia: 15.1 Australia 12.2 South Africa 11 United States 9.2 China 6.7
This report was taken from the May 16, 2014 Time Magazine on page 8.
The aids epidemic had a loss of 20 million people in twenty years. If you took 3.3 million with alcohol abuse (and that is not including drugs), you would have 60 million deaths in 20 years.
I wonder if this count of deaths was from a disease epidemic, how long it would take for our country and others, to do something dramatic about this situation?
HOTLINE for Domestic Violence: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
How I wish I had been aware of Intervention shows with alcoholics on television. But we are talking about the eighties and I was in denial with my daughter, Lori, having a problem with drinking. "After all, it must be a stage and when she gets out of her senior year in high school, and away from her friends, she will straighten-out." An ungodly belief after her father, Richard Lopes, died in 1985 at forty-five years of age from the same disease.
Yes, I was so foolish, uneducated and blind to addiction. Lori did give up drinking, or so I thought, once she got married and had two beautiful children. It wasn't until she was thirty-seven years old that she admitted herself into the Gosnold Rehabilitation Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts that family came to realize that she was an alcoholic. How did she hide it so well? Her children were fifteen and sixteen when they were told by family that their mother was battling alcohol abuse. They lived with her day in and day out and had no idea. Lori was a closet-drinker and never stopped drinking since she was a teenager. When she drank at parties, she never got drunk.
When Lori died in 2006 at thirty-nine, I hit upon the Intervention show on television by accident. I was hitting on one show to the next trying to find something to take my mind off the horrible reality of her death. Al would go upstairs to bed and I'd be drowning in my sorrow that life stopped for me. My daughter was no longer breathing. I would never again in my days left of earth hold her, see her smile, hear her contagious laugh, run my fingers through her black, curly, long hair, my eyes would not see her love for her children, Joey and Meagan, or witness her coming through the door yelling, "Hello, I'm here!"
I was glued to the Intervention show nightly because I wanted to learn what Lori had been feeling and needed when I was blind to her slowly dying from her liver, kidneys and other organs shutting down. She never opened up to me or anyone. I punished myself for my ignorance with her actions that I had ignored or never had been aware of at the time. Someone had to blamed, so it had to be me. I was uninformed that it had been Lori's decision to desire the help to recover.
I watched one girl's life on the show who was in her early twenties with two children. Two children that she loved, and yet, had no strength to give up her drinking even for them; like Lori. This woman was in the hospital dying and her family had been warned of the terrible event ready to unfold. Their hearts would be ripped out of them. Somehow by the Power of God, she survived and went back to her counseling. Her counselor asked her how she came out of death.
She replied, "My family. No matter where I was or what bad state I was in, someone, whether my parents, aunts, siblings or others, made a call to me everyday saying they loved me and were there if I needed them. They took turns to help stop the stress on one person. It was their love that made me survive."
It goes to show that it is easy to "tell" someone we love them, but it's "showing" them that gets results. Go to their meetings, counseling or doctor appointments. Give them the hugs and don't be afraid to say you fear losing them. Let them know it's the disease you hate and not them.
Family can form their own interventions at home. Intervention is an event, hopefully, to make the addicted become aware how much we love them and want to give support. So many alcoholics and drug addicts want help but can't take the first step. We need to reach out and take their hands. Something I wish I had done more often with Lori before she died. It's the thinking about giving up their habit that scares them, but once they take that one, tiny step, they are closer to recovery, and it gets easier.
It's painful and sad the we have to lose someone or something that we love to come to terms on what we could have done to achieve better results. Addicts have to be helped to see they don't have to be alone or frightened. They have to see that we love them no matter how many bad falls or turns they take. We'll help dust them off so they can get up and start again toward the goal of sobriety. They have to feel that they are worth something and have many talents to give to their families and society.
The struggle with alcoholics is not with quitting their habit, it's with staying sober. My daughter was told by a doctor that they do not recommend that alcoholics quit drinking on their own. Quitting cold turkey can be dangerous to ones health. The addicted can go into a seizures and not come out of one. Quitting alcohol abuse doesn't mean to switch to another drug like marijuana, cocaine or beer.
Alcoholics need a great support system in their fight for recovery. I don't believe they can do it on their own, although, I'm sure others have been blessed to accomplish the task.
John Daubney, an Author, Mentor and Retreat Leader, who was one out of the thirty-four addicts to contribute to my new book What is and isn't Working for the Alcoholic and Addict stated:
"Negotiating the ups and downs of the first few years of recovery contain numerous pitfalls which those 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. Having the addicts tell their story of what worked for them and what didn't or doesn't work would be a most helpful addiction to the literature on the subject of addiction and recovery.
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."
We, as non-drinkers, can't understand how addicts suffer. I wanted to learn what Lori suffered mentally and physically because she would not open up to me. That's why I wrote the book.
Another contributor, CW, stated: "I was tired of getting sick, my hands shaking, my vision deteriorating, my nose bleeding, my bowls moving sporadically, not sleeping and feeling safe, along with the violence and running from many situations becoming paranoid to the point of staying home all day."
Do the doctors and counselors really listen to the addicted? Or do they keep giving pills to combat their mental state?
Here is another statement from someone who wanted to stay anonymous in the book, "I would tell doctors and counselors to listen to us. We are drinking for a reason, but can't stop on our own. Help us identify the reason we are drinking. What are we afraid of? What are we trying to hide, our insecurities, our short-comings? Maybe we just don't like who we are sober and truly believe we are better people when we are drinking or using drugs. Most of all, treat us as humans, not a disease."
To what I had seen losing my husband, Richard Lopes, and my daughter, Lori Cahill, with their mental state, I believe that doctors and counselors should study more why a person is drinking or using drugs more than the disease.
How easy it is to go back to things that are familiar and to do what addicts were once comfortable doing in your lives. Some of these behaviors can be destructive, yet you keep going back to them.
You convince yourselves that it won't be that bad if you do back to the ways that almost killed you and believe you can stop if the habit goes too deep. You think, I'm not hurting anyone. You know it is wrong because it's not working, and you know that it's not only hurting you but hurting the people who love you.
You have to accept you are an alcoholic and addicted, but sometimes that is not enough to get the strength to stay away from using. You miss, who you think are friends. They are doing the same so you think why is it bad for me and not them? But it is bad for them. You are thinking this way because you are slowly starting to get the desire to recover and get your life back on track to being healthy. You are looking at not only what you are doing to your body and mind, but seeing what your addicted friends are heading.
Phil Paleologos, a host to the WBSM Radio show out of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and one of my contributors to my Narrative Non-Ficton What is and isn't Working for the Alcoholic and Addict stated, "You have to fall in love with the struggle." That is such a strong statement. Another remark that hit me was from a football player, sorry can't remember the name, who had it all; fame and money, until he got into drug and alcohol abuse. He was talking to some teenagers and said, "Show me your friends, and I'll tell you your future." Think for a moment on these two remarks. Think hard and often when you feel you are falling back.
You can achieve the recovery, but you think it's too hard and too much work. Don't think about what you have to do, just start toward that goal. Thinking about something is always worse than starting it.
On December 18, 2013, my husband, Al, and I met with Senator Michael Rodrigues from the Bristol-County District trying to modify the Patient Privacy Act. Here is a new Release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Laura Oggeri
January 16, 2014 .
Senate to Appoint Special Committee on Section 35
BOSTON – In response to rising levels of drug addiction, the Senate on Thursday will pass an order to create a special committee to study the application of Section 35 and drug addiction treatment options in the Commonwealth.
According to Trust for America’s Health, the number of drug overdose deaths in Massachusetts has increased by 47 percent since 1999.
“Addiction is a very serious and often fatal problem that affects families in every community from every socio-economic background,” Senate President Therese Murray said. “Sadly, Section 35 often serves as a revolving door for drug addicts with many falling back to their old ways because meaningful treatment has not been available. We need to take a look at what treatment options are available in all regions of the state, if there is a need for change and how we fill that need. The costs of drug addiction are high, both to families and the economy, and we have experienced a significant impact on public safety. This special committee has been tasked with bringing together experts from every side of this issue to look at the big picture of drug abuse and I look forward to their recommendations.”
The special committee will be chaired by Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan. Other assigned members include Senate Chair of the Joint Committee of the Judiciary William N. Brownsberger, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government Linda Dorcena Forry, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health John F. Keenan, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse Joan B. Lovely and Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means Senator Richard J. Ross.
Section 35 of Chapter 123 of the General Laws allows the courts to commit an individual whose alcohol or drug addiction puts themselves or others at risk to inpatient substance abuse treatment for a period of up to 90 days. If no beds are available at a licensed treatment facility, men are sent to the correctional facility at Bridgewater and women are sent to the correctional facility in Framingham. The Women’s Addiction Treatment Center in New Bedford and the Men’s Addiction Treatment Center in Brockton also provide treatment for individuals committed under Section 35.
Alberta Sequeira’s speaking engagement at the Lakeville Library in Lakeville, Massachusetts on Thursday evening, February 6th from 6-8 pm went well with close to 50 people attending. It was a night on the effect of alcoholism on the whole family and the addict. Ms. Sequeira introduced her new Narrative Non-Fiction What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict: In Their Own Words.
It was a program for both the addict and their family members. There were 34 alcoholics and drug addicts who contributed their stories in the book who wanted the world to know what they believe hasn’t and is not working in their recovery programs. They also tell family members how they can support and help them get out of denial to want professional help.
Two of the 34 contributors were present to talk about their lives with handling the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Phil Paleologos, host to the WBSM Radio Show out of Fairhaven, Massachusetts talked about his life struggle in a marriage and not getting out of denial with his addiction.
Tom Cirignano, and author and speaker from Lakeville, Massachusetts, spoke about how alcohol abuse effected his life to the point of car and motorcycle accidents after another, all from trying to fit into the crowd. He owned a family gas station in Boston during the era of the mob and crime in South Boston, MA. He had a few moments with Whitey Bolger and spoke about it in his memoir The Constant Outsider.
Host for the evening, Alberta Sequeira, spoke from the family side of alcoholism and drug abuse in families and the effect on all of us. She even took the time to talk directly to the addicts to give them hope.
Have you tried talking to your child or adult on their drinking and had the remark from them, “Why don’t you leave me alone. I have no problem. Besides, who am I hurting?”
Lets see who is affected. I see a lover, spouse, parent, child, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, niece, nephew, friend and co-worker to name a few. The addict keeps their loved ones in fear and confusion on how to deal with and help those who are tearing their lives apart with addiction.
All of us, who have someone in the family battling alcohol and drug abuse are affected. It is not just the addicted. In 1985, my husband, Richard Lopes of North Dighton died at the VA Hospital in Providence, RI at forty-five years of age from his alcohol abuse since he had been a teenager. The disease trickled down from his mother, aunts, uncles, siblings and his niece and his daughter. That illness affected many relatives on Richie’s side. My daughter, Lori Cahill, was thirty-seven when the family found out she was battling alcohol abuse and became bulimic. Her son, Joe, was eighteen, and her daughter, Meagan, was seventeen and neither of them knew she had a drinking problem. She hid it well. She entered the Butler Hospital in Providence, RI once and twice at the Gosnold Rehab in Falmouth. Two years later, Lori lost her battle and died at the Charlton Memorial Hospital In FR from cirrhosis of the liver. We had to take her off life-support. I watched my daughter take her first breath at birth and her last at her death.
After I lost two loved ones from their addiction, I had all the overwhelming questions, what if, I should have, I could have, and the guilt of putting her out on her own to straighten herself out while family kept her children with us. I couldn’t help wondering what I could have done differently to save her. The right side of me looked at things logically but the left side where my heart was never stopped thinking with the emotional part of losing a child.
Last year, I started to wonder, “Why is it that 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? Where was I going to get the answers. I decided to go to the best source possible, the substance abusers themselves.
I put an ad on the website Reporter Connection asking for alcoholics and drug addicts who wanted to tell their personal stories about their struggle battling addiction for a book I was writing. I had 34 addicts from the United States and Canada write back. Many had to be turned away. The reason I wanted so many testimonies was from a remark Lori said to my husband, Al, and I when she was in Butler Hospital. Her statement was, “Ma I just listened to a man in his seventies talk for over an hour and could not relate to him.” I prayed for someone else’s life to hit Lori so she would grab onto hope and belief that she could recovery. It wasn’t meant to be for her. After her statement, I knew I needed a book written by multiple addicts telling different stories on how each one recovered. I wanted each reader to connect to one out of 34 and say, “That’s me or that‘s our family life.”
I have written Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round and its sequel Please, God, Not Two. I feel that the stories are more about lessons than memoirs. I could have titled them What Not to Do with Addiction. I swallowed my pride and opened up about the reality of what actually happened behind closed doors while we all suffered in silently from fear, confusion and abuse.
Now I needed a book with answers to the questions that drove me crazy and kept me in guilt. That’s how I came to write What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict: In Their Own Words. I thought if I had all these questions eating inside me than other parents, siblings and friends of the substance abusers had the same questions. Doctors and counselors from all over the world are trying to find ways to get this illness even at a point to say the death rates are going down with improvement. But each year, the rates go higher.
Here is a book for all of us to learn, not only what the addict is looking for with support to help them through with their recovery, but new ways to help them. You will learn that childhood emotional wounds mold us into what we become in adulthood. It is a book of personal stories from alcoholics and drug users from all walks of life.
I sent the contributors 23 questions and some were; at what age did you start using, are there or have there been others in the family fighting addiction, did they die from drinking, what made you start drinking or using drugs, what gave you the strength or desire to get help, do you think doctors and counselors should look into why you started using more than the actual disease, and what would you have parents, spouses, siblings, and the medial staff members do differently to help you. Some believed in AA, sponsors and others never walked through their doors. I high percentage turned back to God. The contributors main goal is to lift other substances abusers, especially young people, in knowing that they can recover. They also want others to know how substance abuse habits made them lose everything. I wrote the book to save families from going through the stress that caused me to have a small breakdown because I pushed my mind and body beyond what it could take trying to control the alcoholic. Read this book and learn what addicts need. You will come to the reality that that it’s not that drinking and taking drugs may, could or would kill. It will.
My own personal feelings are that the addicted suffer from deep-rooted issues besides drinking and drug use. I failed as a parent in situations that I could have prevented. I was too young with no education or knowledge about this disease to help Richie and Lori. You need professionals.
I want to list some topics that I discussed in my first two memoirs that I felt were handled wrong.
1. Get out of denial with the idea it’s a stage your family member is going through and they‘ll give it up. Stop blaming their friends. They have a choice.
2. Stop the threats with our famous remark: “If you do this one more time, I’ll call the cops, I’ll throw you out, I’ll divorce you, I’ll take the kids off you.” After awhile, it will go in one ear and out the other. Don’t say one thing and then don’t carry through. Taking action is a step toward recovery.
4. Don’t tell them you are leaving until you have a place to stay, have a restraining order if they are abusive, and have a police officer with you when you confront them. If you decide to stay in the house, and want them to leave, follow the same steps.
5. Don’t break the restraining order by taking them back. There is nothing wrong with having them prove they want to be sober by having sobriety for a year. You don’t have to file for divorce. Work your problems and differences out in counseling together and separately in meetings, is a healthy start. When a few weeks or months go by, don’t fall for “Honey, I have changed. I haven’t had a drink in weeks, I miss you, the kids need me.” Kids don’t need that kind of life or love.
6. Protect your children more than substance abusers. Get professional help as soon as you see there is a problem. If something does not seem, feel or look right, find out what‘s wrong.
7. Take time to listen to the person suffering. Saying you love them is easy. Doing something to help them makes them feel the love and bring results. Go to AA meetings, counseling or doctor’s appointments. Show the love! Don’t shut off communications. Don’t become so busy with what you are doing when they come to talk that you want to talk later. Later may not come. It may be the one time they are reaching out. If you can go away with them for a weekend without the other siblings, do it. Make them know they are special. Go where they want and “listen” to them. See how you can help. What do they want from you for support?
8. Don’t believe they have to reach rock bottom and throw them out on their own. It could be their death.
7. Let them know it’s the disease you hate and not them. There is nothing wrong with opening up and saying, “I am scared of losing you with this disease.” Open up on how you feel without pulling them down.
8. Turn back or bring prayer into your family. Prayer is just talking to God. Here is an easy prayer I give to the addicted. Wake up and ask God to help you for the day to stay away from using. At night, even if it was the worse day you had, thank Him. Why? because he is giving you another day to get it right.
My daughter, Debbie and her husband Brian took Lori’s two children in to live with their children Kerri and Michael. Joe got out of the Marines in June of 2013 and Meagan graduated from college and is going for her Master’s degree in Psychology for the addicted. I became an Awareness Coach on Alcoholism.
Lori was buried with her father at the St. Patrick Cemetery in Somerset, MA. I pray this new book helps prevent family members, substance abusers and the professional teams study new ways of handling addiction. There is a huge white statue of The Blessed Mother with her arms opened wide, the one Lori said gave her comfort that She was watching over her father.
On December 18, 2013, Al and I met with Senator Michael Rodrigues of the Bristol County area trying to find ways to modify the Patient Privacy Act for alcoholics, drug addicts and the mentally ill. We want family members to have more authority being involved with addicts over eighteen years of age with counseling and meeting with their doctors, especially if they are at a life-threatening stage with their liver shut-down or if they are admitted multiple times showing no progress or desire to give up their habit. At this stage, we do not feel they can make healthy decisions with their recovery.
For those of you who are here tonight and fighting addiction, I want you to hold your heads up high. You have nothing to be ashamed of because you have a disease. The sad part is if you don’t want the professional help. There are millions of addicts walking this earth who will never have the chance to get into a recovery program or receive any support. Let me give you an example of your disease and fighting it. Say, you got into an accident and woke up with a doctor saying you will never have use of your body from your neck down/or you have been suffering with pain and went for tests. How would you feel having the doctor say you have cancer with a few months to live? They can’t do anything about their lives now. It is over. YOU CAN! You have a choice. You have to fight for your sobriety. You have to want it right here in your heart. You have to push the ones you love aside and put yourself first to recovery. You can’t take care of anyone else if you can’t take care of you. This is your battle.
To me there are three reasons why a person becomes an alcoholic and turns to drugs. 1. alcoholism is hereditary and can be passed down from one family member to another. 2. you got hooked at a young age from wanting to follow the crowd, the wrong ones you thought were cool. You believe drinking and drug use is a stage. All the kids are doing using, but you will find the wanting to use will go to having to because you body is craving it. 3. the person has deep-rooted problems from events in their life and they want to blank them out of their minds. They are too painful to discuss. Lori never talked about the pain losing her father, I forced her into an abortion because the boy did not want to marry her and she hinted eight months before she died that Richie did something to her. All these issues were kept deep within her and she could not share them. She never allowed family or her children to be involved with her treatments.
You have to open up and get the garbage out of you to recover. Forgive people who hurt you. Holding a grudge stops you from moving forward to recovery. Why let someone who was sick abuse you and then allow that person to keep you in denial and feeling sorry for yourself. Get on with life. Let go and put the past in God’s hands.
I am asked if I learned anything from publishing What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic ad Addict. I learned that no matter how much I yelled, demanded, threatened, begged, punished or cried, the substance abuser has to want the help to recover. All we can do as a family is show and tell them how much they are loved and get involved in their counseling and doctor’s appointment. Be there for them.
I am available to speak at anyone’s event, privately to substance abusers, at women’s ministries, organizations, businesses, court-ordered program or to the public. Email me at [email protected] for a quote.
What is and isn't Working for the Alcoholic and Addict can be purchased in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.com. If you are a Prime Member of Kindle, it is now free.