Drama Files: Never Leave a Man Behind

It May Have Been Too Late to Say Goodbye, But Not Too Late to Address His Addiction.

Carson had been a substance abuser since entering the military. He returned four years later, upon an honorable discharge from the army.  He was one of 13 children and always a loving and devoted son to his parents.

Carson was reared in a very spiritual and loving family.  He was very supportive, caring, and helpful towards his parents all while struggling with his personal drug and alcohol addiction. One afternoon after a day helping his mother and enjoying the afternoon with his parents, he walked out and told his father “I’ll be back.”  

Passing of Time

Later that week Carson’s father, James, went into the hospital for a breathing treatment. His physician decided to extend his stay because the effects of a  longstanding smoking habit were now exacting its toll. James’ lungs had been deteriorating for at least 10 years.  After a week, James was no longer breathing on his own. His body was getting weaker and weaker and his lungs were no longer functioning properly. 

Carson’s mother and siblings visited James several times throughout the week, until the doctor called and told them nothing else could be done for him.

James and seven sons all served in the military.  “You never leave a wounded solider alone,” they believed, and the family gathered around James one last time as the life support was removed.  He passed away early the next morning. 

A week later when James was buried, Carson was absent.  He missed his father’s illness and passing. Carson’s ex- wife, a police officer, went looking for him for the family. When she found him and told him that his father had passed away, Carson was in total disbelief.  He remembered seeing a huge funeral possession going down the street and was so surprised by how long it was, not knowing that it was his own father’s funeral. 

Life, Well-Lived

Immediately, Carson went home to find his mother and a single obituary in the china cabinet.  Carson realized he had to live with this for the rest of his life. 

Ever since that day Carson has lived with his mother and finally found healing in drug recovery.  Carson has begun counseling for PSTD  ( Post Traumatic  Stress Disorder) and also grief counseling. 

All Suffer

Alcoholism and drug addiction have obvious and well-documented effects on chronic substance abusers. Prolonged abuse of drugs and alcohol deteriorate a person’s physical health, impair mental functioning, and damage the spirit. These adverse effects also impact the immediate family’s finances, physical health and psychological wellbeing. 

Family roles naturally shift to adjust to the behaviors associated with drug or alcohol use, and to continue maintaining order and balance. Including the addict, there have been six roles identified to understand how the family functions around the substance abuser. They are:

  • The Enabler-Carson’s parents enabled his behavior by allowing him to come and go from their home knowing he was an addict. 
  • The Mascot-The Mascot was his sister Ann. This child feels powerless in the dynamics which are going on in the family and tries to interrupt tension, anger, conflict, violence or other unpleasant situations within the family by acting as the “court jester.” The Mascot seeks to be the center of attention in the family, often entertaining the family and making everyone feel better through his or her comedy. She may also use humor to communicate and to confront the family dysfunction, rather than address it directly. 
  • The Hero-The Hero in this family was Carson’s mother. This family member devotes his/her time and attention to making the family look “normal” and without problems. The Hero can mask or make up for the dysfunctional home life. Over-responsible and self-sufficient they are often perfectionistic, over-achievers and look very good – on the outside.
  • The Scapegoat-The Scapegoat was Darry,l the troubled child. The Scapegoat is the “problem child” or the “trouble maker.” This family member always seems defiant, hostile and angry.  The Scapegoat is the truth teller of the family and will often verbalize or act out the “problem” which the family is attempting to cover up or deny. This individual’s behavior warrants negative attention and is a great distraction for everyone from the real issues at hand.  The Scapegoat usually has trouble.
  • The Lost Child-The lost child was Carson’s brother Earl. This child avoids interactions with other family members and basically disappears. They become loners, or are sometimes very shy.  
  • The Addict-The Addict was Carson who spent many years fighting this demon inside of him. He felt trapped and worthless in his life. He wanted to stop the drug addiction but didn’t have the desire or motivation to do so. 

No matter how old a parent’s child is, discovering that a child has an addiction can be an unpleasant, rude awakening. It may cause mothers and fathers to question their parental abilities or the decisions they made. Parents of addicts, much like children of addicts, often blame themselves for the development of the substance use disorder.

God is a forgiving God. We must be willing to forgive ourselves and grow from our mistakes.  God can turn even the tragic addiction, and the grief-filled experience of losing his father into complete recovery and restoration. 

 

 

 




Heaven’s Help for Our Addictions

Someone I knew who was highly educated and highly respected in his profession became addicted to cocaine for several years. There was a serious problem that he found out about, and it devastated him. I heard that he thought he could use the drug once, and stop. Obviously, he needed counseling. He didn’t seek it though. Because of his professional degrees he knew that what he was doing could kill him if he didn’t stop.

I believe in the power of prayer, so I prayed for him for him, and it took several years. I saw what prayer does. He finally quit, and gave his life totally back to God. Sometime afterward, he became very sick and wound up in the hospital.

I received a call one day that his life was hanging in the balance. He was in a coma. When I walked into his hospital room, I saw peace radiating on his face.

Sometimes a person in a coma can hear, even though they can’t respond. I prayed about what to say while I was there, and God gave me words of encouragement to say in Jesus. Then, I decided to turn on the television just to see what was on.

As Providence would have it, a Christian choir sang passionately the beautiful hymn, “Amazing Grace.” This dear man had sung in some of the best choirs, and he was an equally gifted instrumentalist. The music stirred something deep within him. He started to make sounds as if he was trying to sing. When the choir got to the words “and He saved a wretch like me,” he turned over and said, “I’m sorry.” His face shone so peacefully. Those were his last words. This was on a Friday. He died after I left the hospital, just before the sun set.

I know this story to be true because he was my brother. I know this story to be true because I know only God can turn things around like that!

No one is beyond help, if they choose to be helped. Most cities operate counseling and group resources for people and families dealing with substance use and abuse. For family, friends, church members, and co-workers, one of the keys to helping people is showing love, not condemnation. Along with these, however, the ultimate Counselor can, and will help.

Substance abuse

Definition: pathological use of alcohol or drugs, characterized by daily intoxication, inability to reduce consumption, and impairment in social or occupational functioning; broadly, alcohol or drug addiction. www.dictionary.com/browse/substance-abuselong-term

His name is Jesus, our Creator and our Savior. He came down to this earth from heaven on a rescue mission, to rescue all of us from the devil. He took on our sins, and gave His life for us on the cross of Calvary.

When He was on this earth, He reached out and hung out with people who had all kinds of issues. He healed people physically, mentally, and spiritually. He is willing and able, even now to help anyone who asks. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Read verses 24-26).

No matter what a person has done, even those who have committed crime, he or she can and will be forgiven by God. All any of us needs to do is ask for His forgiveness, and help from Him to live the life He wants us to live.

God the Father gave His Son Jesus, who willingly died on the cross for all of our sins (Read John 3:16). The ground at the foot of the cross is level, I always say. Jesus rose from that tomb and is in heaven, seated at the right hand of God our Father, praying for each and every one of us.

Think about this, our Creator and Savior is praying for each and every one of us. Finally, here’s another dose of hope from the words of Jesus (John 14:1-3): “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”



This article is part of our 2018 March / April Issue
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Doing Dope Together

Drama Files Title Tile

Carole was a client of ours who needed substance abuse treatment to be in accordance with her court probation. She was a freshman at a university in Michigan where she entered not long ago and met John.

John and Carole were so smitten with each other and it was not unusual to see them holding hands and laughing as they walked on the school campus. After a week of classes the first goal was to have fun and be with each other. Feeling very fortunate, their next goal was to live their lives together.

It was together that they attended and participated in all of the school activities planned, especially on the weekends. One weekend John and Carole were at a private party when someone passed a marijuana blunt around the room and Carole received it first. She looked to John who smiled as he encouraged her to try it.

“Go ahead” he said, “it won’t kill you.” John had smoked before in high school, but Carole never used any drugs. She was raised in a home of faith and prayer and was understandably apprehensive, but then John took the marijuana and demonstrated what she should do. “It’s only a blunt” he claimed. Carole slowly drew the smoke into her lungs. Little did they know that the marijuana was laced with crystal meth (methamphetamine).

How Does Methamphetamine Affect the Brain?

Methamphetamine or Meth is commonly manufactured in illegal, hidden laboratories. Other chemicals mixed into the ingredients add a higher potency during the cooking process of the drug. Methamphetamine increases the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine, leading to high levels of that chemical in the brain. Dopamine is involved in reward, motivation, the experience of pleasure, and motor function. Methamphetamine’s ability to rapidly flood the reward regions of the brain with dopamine produces the euphoric “rush” or “flash” that many users experience. Repeated methamphetamine use can easily lead to addiction—a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, Drug Facts Revised 2014)

For John and Carole, the euphoric high made them feel like they wanted to party all night long.
Drugs soon became their primary objective. They each failed to complete their requirements to advance in their studies. When Carole’s parents came to school to take her home, she didn’t want to leave–she was not ready to stop using, and it was easier for her to find drugs with John. She begged her parents to give her another chance and she would make up her classes and work hard to stay on track. As their only child, she was persuasive. They agreed to let her stay because they knew nothing of her addiction to marijuana and crystal meth. Later, they admitted that they knew in their hearts something was wrong, but they wanted to trust Carole, and God. They have stated since that they think they let their daughter down by not listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. John, of course, was glad that Carole would stay after all.

As long as Carole’s parents believed she was making her grades they would continue to help her financially, so she paid friends to take her tests for her and assist her in passing her classes while she continued to use drugs. John, on the other hand, decided to drop out of school and live with Carole. He didn’t work and did not have any communication with his family. Substance abuse was in his family origin. His father was an alcoholic and had been abusive to his mother and the two divorced when John was only nine.

John developed a relationship with the dope man and didn’t need to go to parties to get that euphoric feeling anymore. He and Carole changed in many ways. Their eating habits changed and they started losing weight. They exhibited poor hygiene and didn’t have relationships with their friends, except for their dealer, that is.

God will stop you in order to get your attention

Meeting with the drug dealer had become routine for John and Carole. Sometimes they would smoke as they drove back home and that was the case as Carole drove home and the state police started following them. Blowing sirens and flashing lights panicked John who hid his drugs under the seat of the car. After being stopped they were both removed from their car on suspicion of possession of a control substance. John denied possessing any drugs when the police told him that he had been seen talking to a known drug dealer.

It became difficult for the couple to remain calm. When the officers from the back-up unit searched the car they found an ounce of the marijuana and methamphetamine mixture that John hid. The police asked who owned it and John stated that he never knew the drug was in the car. The officer asked who owned the car, “The car belongs to me,” responded Carole.

After interviewing both at the station later, the police released John and charged Carole with possession and transportation of a controlled substance. She was facing up to four years in jail.

As Carole was being held she remembered John’s words: “Go ahead, it won’t kill you.” But, Carole would later observe that it had killed her dreams and aspirations and she was incarcerated, being held over for a court hearing. Many nights even while getting high she had cried out to God to help her, but she didn’t realize that God will stop you in order to get your attention. She enjoyed the high but soon she realized that her life was a roller coaster out of control and she needed Him to step in and help her.

In so many of our counseling sessions we encounter individuals who have substance abuse problems and who need Narcotics Anonymous and other support groups. One aspect that we have in common with one another is that you must turn to a higher power to correct the substance abuse problem. We pray before and after each counseling session, allowing the Holy Spirt to manifest His power through us to help people understand God’s love for them, His desire that they become whole again and fulfill His purpose for their lives.

Carole understands now that she had become addicted to marijuana and crystal meth. Her world crashed, but her life was not and is not over. She is on the road to recovery and is currently preparing to resume her classes with an online school. Her priority, however, is to maintain her program to recovery. She was able to take an Incomplete in her classes as she worked on getting control of her life. She never saw John again.