I've been reading "NO MORE LETTING GO, The spirituality of taking action against alcoholism and drug addition." by Debra Jay
I'm not finished yet, BUT, I know that right now there is a mother suffering over what's happening with one of her children. There is a father in turmoil about his child's drug or alcohol use. There are daughters, son's, sisters, brothers, friends following a protocol for the treatment of addiction that they heard through the grapevine, through slogans, through a friend of a friend of a friend and they're not taking action because someone somewhere told them not to. Right now someone might need to hear a new perspective and finally release themselves from this old paradigm and start the healing process today, right now, for everyone involved.
Here are FIVE things I believe about addiction besides ADDICTION IS A DISEASE.
1. Addiction thrives while everyone waits for the person to want recovery.
2. The person with addiction is not the problem. Addiction is problem.
3. Families are the most powerful influence for a person getting treatment.
4. The person with addiction does not want to be a person with addiction.
5. You don't have to wait to confront addiction. EVER. Waiting to intervene on or confront addiction is dangerous, painful and detrimental to the health of the whole family.
I picked up this book because it was recommended by someone in recovery and who works in recovery that I trust. I've read a zillion books about addiction. A zillion. This one was different than practically all the others. This one aligned with my heart, my mother heart, my daughter heart, my big loving heart.
Since declaring myself as a passionate family advocate I've been asked to recommend books. I hesitate because so many of them preach the "tough love," "rock bottom," "wait until they want it," "take care of yourself" while addiction runs rampant, ravaging your family, your health, your peace of mind and your soul approach.
Everyone that knows me knows I feel that approach is dangerous and cruel.
If you're a book reader, I'd highly recommend this one. It's comprehensive. It makes sense. It's loving and compassionate. It honors the human with the disease as well as the rights of the family to live a life free from the destruction of addiction. Debra Jay lays out the book in five parts.
1. Questioning Our Assumptions
2. The Collapsed Spirit: Inaction and Old Action
3. What We know
4. Spiritual Negotiation
5. Creating The Space for Grace
Each part breaks down how backwards the way many of us have been trained by society, the media and the even the medical community sometimes, to ignore addiction until it goes away to the detriment of our own well being and physical health.
"Addiction must be denied a place in our families" is the most empowering statement I've ever heard. What that means is we should do whatever we can to prevent it from starting, to intervene if it does and not allow it to perpetuate by confronting it whens it rears its ugly head.
Five Mind Blowers for me reading this book so far:
1. "When we believe that doing nothing is our only option, we give addiction an open invitation to infiltrate the lives of everyone in the family."
2. "Addicts cannot identify their own delusional thinking. The identification- the motivation to get help- must come from outside the addicted brain."
3. When the brain is affected, the soul is affected too. Addiction causes a spiritual sickness that can make getting well more challenging.
4. No addict wants to get well. They learn to want to get well, while they are in treatment.
5. The disease ALWAYS gets worse if left untreated.
"For Addicts, recovery is not simple abstinence. It's about healing the brain, remembering how to feel, learning how to make good decisions, becoming the kind of person who can engage in healthy relationships, cultivating the willingness to accept help from others, daring to be honest and opening up to doing things differently."
This is why 30 days of treatment is not enough. This is why there is aftercare, a continuum of care, a holistic approach. All these things have to happen for healing to take place. All those things are hindered by addiction and don't get better without treatment.
The other mind blowing concept which, I've personally theorized but have not investigated to the depth that Debra Jay and others have is the mirror affect on the family members. Somewhere along the way alcoholics/addicts and family members begin to mirror each other. "The decline of the family's emotional, spiritual and physical health due to stress is affecting the body's organs and tissues." Health problems are caused by the stress of having a relationship and are almost identical to the diseases caused by addiction. In chapter "Two Sides of The Same Coin," describes this in detail. Which is why addiction is a family disease and everyone needs a treatment plan.
I usually devour books. I've taken my time with this one, really taking each chapter in. I'll share on the second half when I'm done. I just wanted to share so far, so that if you're sitting still with addiction you can take an action by maybe reading this book and challenging what you've believed, what you've been told, the way its been done in the past. The book is also an excellent education on the brain science as well as the different stages of addiction and how to navigate those.
"No More Letting Go'" feels deeply aligned with my heart. I've struggled and rumbled with the way addiction is treated and as it relates to the family as whole. I've been challenging old ways and old paradigms and learning, learning, learning.
I believe in recovery. I believe in intervention. I believe in confronting addiction until it ceases exist. I believe in reaching out for help. I believe in second chances.
I also believe that Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes.
Embracing Change with Love,
Love First A Family's Guide to Intervention by Jeff and Debra Jay is another well written read challenging and changing old ways and shining the light on intervening with LOVE.
This is the last card I sent my mom three years ago. It's tucked in my journal on the day before she passed away. I pulled that journal out last night just to see where I was in my heart during that time.
On this day three years ago, this is a page from my journal, April 24, 2013.
Sitting here with my mom just breathing together thinking I wasn't grateful enough, too expectant, mad at my mom too much. It's hard to accept the love of a person so mixed up. The alcoholic part. All of our great memories are intertwined with the bad. I couldn't enjoy the moments because of the circumstances.
I never fully let go because of the eggshell walking. I see now my vision wasn't clear. The fog has been lifting, it began a few years ago. I am beginning to understand the disease.
I am watching you breathe. In and out. Sleeping and sleeping. Peaceful sleep as you prepare to leave this place. I am thinking how generous you are. How you've given it all you've got. How you tried to be here for us and especially for dad.
"Go ahead little bird, fly away with your mama, dad and the dove." (There'd been a cardinal pecking at the window for days before this. It's how I knew she was leaving. Then another cardinal, then a lovely dove showed up.)
"We are all going to be ok," I said. "Really ok."
"God's got us and you can guide things. Send them (the grandkids) all the loves of their lives," I requested. Someone that is healthy and whole. Happy.
Take care of sister first. I am ok. I am happy and well loved by all the people around me.
Keep dad company.
Watch over Mitch and whisper in his ear a lot. Tell him, "take care of yourself, let yourself be healed, then reach for your dreams."
Hold Charlotte tight, this might make her swerve the most. She's your special angel. She has your heart, your kind of soul. She's seen too much already.
And talk to God about A. (Charlotte's best friend was battling brain cancer at the time) I trust Life's plan and I know God knows how we feel, but A. is for Charlotte right?
Ella will be able to see you best. She has that gift. Tell her what you want us to know.
Mom, I am grateful for it all. I am only sorry I didn't understand sooner that your love was pure and there was a disease on your brain that kept you just out of reach.
I know you love me. I don't feel like a burden anymore. I am sorry if I blamed you or ever left you feeling unloved.
You are my angel. You always have been.
My mom, passed away the very next day. We spent the day gathered around her. I laid in her bed and talked to her, telling her all the things I wanted her to know and asking for her forgiveness for misunderstanding what she was up against, thanking her for my life, apologizing for my own missteps and big mistakes that took a toll on her heart, reading letters and text messages from far a way friends, family and people who'd been a part of her life, singing songs with my aunt and my dad. We huddled around her and filled her up with our love until she took that last beautiful, bittersweet breath that set her spirit free.
My mom and I made a deal before she left the hospital that I would know she was with me when I smelled her perfume. She's kept her end of the deal in the most amazing and sometimes subtle ways. I've remained grateful for her life and because of it continued to learn and share what we've learned about addiction. It's been an evolution, an illumination, a revelation. Great healing has happened within myself and my family by way of understanding the impact of addiction and alcoholism not only on the person with the disease but on the entire family.
Growing up in an environment of addiction has a deep impact on how we develop, create a life interact with people and develop relationships. The good news is we can change. We can learn to trust, to speak, to feel with help. That understanding has created a profound shift in our beliefs about addiction and how to treat the disease as a family. My mom was an alcoholic for 35 years, while cancer was the end cause, she really died of the effects of addiction. I spent alot of years being mad at my mom for being alcoholic. I didn't understand that she needed my help and my love but in a very different way than I was providing it. Reading the book featured in my last post has stirred up feelings about treating my mom's alcoholism and the addictions in my family. I highly recommend reading No More Letting Go, The Spirituality of Taking Action Against Alcoholism and Drug Addiction by Debra Jay. It's powerful.
I am grateful my mom found sobriety the last two years of her life. She found great fellowship and support in the rooms of A.A. She was also grateful to have experienced treatment at Ashley. We are too.
My mom was with me yesterday as I sat with these words, these memories, these thoughts from the past. I know she is happy I am doing what I am doing to guide others. I know my life was meant for this. To be this person. I am not done learning. I am following the science, the spirituality and the truth until I take my last bittersweet beautiful breath so that more families find recovery. It's my passion.
Feeling grateful, peaceful and full of love,
At this time, A. is in remission with no evidence of disease. Mitchell is in recovery form addiction 20 months. (woo hoo, happy dance for them both) I know that one day in the future doctors will use the words "no evidence of disease" after a follow up scan of a person who has been through treatment for active addiction. One day there will be a brain scan that determines a treatment plan for addiction. One day. I know it.
Science and the voices of the families will get us there.
We are feeling blessed, happy, well and peaceful.
My Mom. My Angel.
"Addiction must be denied a place in our families. Once we decide that untreated addiction is as unacceptable as drunk driving, we will begin addressing the problem differently. Imagine a time when it will be unthinkable not to intervene when someone we love becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs. Ignoring a friend or relative's addiction will feel as wrong as handing car keys to someone who is stumbling drunk. No longer will we enable the disease; instead we will put a stop to it by initiating recovery " -Debra Jay
I am reading this book.
Book report here on Monday.
I love the concept of "INITIATING RECOVERY" rather than "intervention"
Get a copy here and read along too.
While you're there, sign up for smile.amazon.com before you purchase and you can choose to support a charity with your amazon purchases. You might choose The Chris Atwood Foundation to support.
Willing to change the thing that I can no longer accept,
Family Recovery Advocate
I serve women seeking healing and transformation.
I serve people who have been impacted by addiction recover their lives.