The Fix Interviews Co-Chairs of the Congressional Addiction, Recovery and Treatment Caucus

the fix logoOne of my favorite magazines is The Fix, “addiction and recovery straight-up.”  For those of us interested in this kind of thing there are a lot of great articles published each week.  Here is one which highlights an interview The Fix did with the two co-chairs of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus.

In this piece there is information about a possible “Americans In Recovery” Act.  Also, there is a discussion about how policy needs to address early intervention and prevention. Most policies and treatments are affective after the fact, but preventing our children from becoming addicted in the first place is so important to me. As a parent, I just can’t leave this disease to genetics when it comes to my children.

Here is the intro… read the full article here:

It’s been said that addiction and recovery don’t get enough attention in Washington, DC—a result of the stigma attached to the disease, as well as the reluctance of some sober people to speak out about what they and their families have been through. And the latter is precisely what is needed to push forward a positive legislative agenda on addiction and recovery, according to Rep. Tim Ryan, Democrat of Ohio, who co-chairs the 62-member Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus alongside Rep. John Fleming, Republican of Louisiana, who is a physician.

Read the full article HERE.

Great read: Religion and Public Life in America by RR Reno

I got this article from my monthly subscription to Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College. In the April 2013 issue, RR Reno, the Editor of First Things writes a great piece about religion in America.  First Things is a journal of religion in public life. Reno received his BA from Haverford College and his Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale.  He is the author of Fighting the Noonday Devil, Sanctified Vision, and a commentary on the Book of Genesis, as well as many other books and essays.

The following is from a speech he delivered on February 20, 2013 at Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Bonita Springs, Florida.

Here is an excerpt and click here to read the article in full:

“Religious liberty is being redefined in America, or at least many would like it to be. Our secular establishment wants to reduce the autonomy of religious institutions and limit the influence of faith in the public square. The reason is not hard to grasp. In America, “religion” largely means Christianity, and today our secular culture views orthodox Christian churches as troublesome, retrograde, and reactionary forces. They’re seen as anti-science, anti-gay, and anti-women–which is to say anti-progress as the Left defines progress.  Not surprisingly, then, the Left believes society will be best served if Christians are limited in their influence on public life. And in the short run this view is likely to succeed.”

to read the full article, click HERE…

3rd of Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary: Chastity

10 evangelica virtues of maryHere is the third article in a series I’ve been writing for Catholic Mom about the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.  This piece is on “chastity.”

According to Pope Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character.

The ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actual qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization: chastity, prudence, humility, faith, devotion, obedience, poverty, patience, mercy and sorrow.

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in virtue are a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize with virtue in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ.  Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son?

The first Evangelical Virtue of Mary is Chastity.

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How shall this be done, since I do not know man?” Luke 1:34

The word “chastity” is difficult to pronounce in the modern world, hardly evident except within religious circles.  Our children are exposed to all sorts of immodest dress and behaviors through media and through their companions. How can we teach our children the importance of being chaste? Why is this important?

Instilling the virtue of chastity in our children must start first with taking a look at it in ourselves.

Are we chaste? Do we follow the Church teachings on artificial birth control? Are we careful with the way we dress? Do we “like” immodest posts on Facebook? Do we “share” celebrity relationship gossip through our social media channels? Did we read Shades of Grey and recommend it to others?

You can read the rest of the article over at CatholicMom.com here.  Enjoy!

Looking Forward to taking my kids to Opening Night of this Movie

MovieStills_CoryBrand1My boys are aware of the effects alcoholism has on families. As middle schoolers they’re mature enough to understand the themes and relate to the recovery and redemption message of Home Run, which opens in theatres across America this weekend.

Supporters/sponsors of the film include Celebrate Recovery (a Christian-based excellent recovery program), Iron Sharpens Iron, Fathers.com, and the National Fatherhood Initiative.  Gotta love THAT.

I’m all about boys and baseball. And I’m all about responsible and modeling fatherhood.  And any Christian messages that are mixed in will be icing on the cake!  Can’t WAIT to see this.

Here is a teaser from the presser. I’ll review on Saturday, of course:

HOME RUN

Freedom is Possible

Baseball all-star Cory Brand knows what it takes to win in the big leagues. But off the field, with memories of his past haunting him, his life is spiraling out of control.

Hoping to save her client’s career and reputation after a DUI and a team suspension, Cory’s agent sends him back to the small town where he grew up. Forced to coach the local youth baseball team and spend eight weeks in the only recovery program in town, Cory can’t wait to return to his old life as quickly as possible.

As his young players help him experience the joy of the game, Cory discovers his need to find freedom from his past and hope for his future … and win back the love he left behind.  With this unexpected second chance, Cory finds himself on a powerful journey of transformation and redemption.

Based on thousands of true stories, HOME RUN is a powerful reminder that with God, it’s never too late … because freedom is possible.

Have You Had “The Talk” With Your Middle-Schooler?

“Look Mom, I’m Jack Sparrow!”

A few years back, when my oldest was seven, he was enthralled with Captain Jack Sparrow and Pirates of the Caribbean. He dressed up in a black cape (does Jack Sparrow even wear a cape?) and brandished a sword left over from the previous Halloween.  He then grabbed an empty milk jug, lifted it to his lips and slurred his words, “I am Captain Jack Sparrow!”

jack rumAnd that sword figuratively pieced my heart for a moment. No, no, no.

Not only was he modeling Captain Jack’s pirate skills, he had taken in the plot-line that glorified rum, that rum was a wonderful drink Jack had to have; and it made him act funny.

One of my fears is that one of my children will become alcoholic.  I worry about this because of heredity. I meet women in meetings who have been sober 20 years yet their grown child still gets become an alcoholic or addict.  These women modeled sobriety for their kids and yet, it wasn’t enough.

Isn’t that a mother’s fear—that what we do won’t be enough? That our children will makes our mistakes no matter how much we try to shield them?

jack rum 3There is no way to know whether my child will become alcoholic or not. And most of us don’t have to worry about alcoholism because only about 10% of Americans suffer from it. But aside from the disease, there are plenty of negative consequences when teens and alcohol mix. There has got to be something I can do to stack the odds in his favor in case he does carry the predisposition.

I remember drinking for the first time at 14. This was pretty typical for a middle class high school teenager in the 80’s.  I over-drank on every occasion, never having the ability to pace myself or moderate. High school is when our children will be introduced to alcohol outside the home. Have we prepared them?

The strategy my husband and I have taken with him focuses on the negative implications of drunkenness. We want to instill in him a disdain for excessive drinking. Here I list the five things we incorporate into developing our children’s attitudes about alcohol. I see this “Talk” as more important than the sex talk, because alcohol kills.

The Talk:

1.       Use real life examples.

Remember, son, when Uncle Bobby was asleep during Michelle’s wedding, and Dad had to help carry him out to the car? Remember you had to sit in the hatchback because he took up the whole back seat? You’re old enough now to know the truth. He wasn’t “asleep.”  He was drunk.  And his body couldn’t take any more alcohol so it shut down on him, causing him to fall asleep at the table even before Michelle and Tom cut the cake.

2.   Use “humiliation” or “shame”.

Shame definitely has its purpose. In my opinion the purpose of shame is to establish social norms in order that deviating from them causes one to feel shame, which in a healthy heart sparks a desire to change.

Sweetheart, when you’re out in the world without me or your Dad, I know you understand that you’re supposed to behave with good manners and conduct yourself in ways worthy of our family name.  When people drink too much, they’re unable to control what they say or do. Alcohol affects the limbic system of the brain, the part of the brain that controls speech and actions. We would really be disappointed to hear you had embarrassed our family by getting drunk or drinking so much you behaved badly.  What you do is a direct reflection on our whole family. You know this, right?

3.       Use facts, the law, and statistics.

In 2008, 11,773 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. The scariest part of drinking, for me and your Dad is the fear that either you or your brother will get in the car with somebody who has been drinking. Under no circumstances are you ever to get in a car with somebody who has had even one alcoholic drink. If we find that you did, then you will face severe punishment and loss of privileges.

Alcohol is a powerful depressant drug that slows down thinking and reaction time, as well as other activity of the brain and spinal cord. It rapidly enters the bloodstream and circulates to all parts of the body within a few minutes. When it reaches the brain it knocks out control centers, causing intoxication. Even small amounts of alcohol can reduce coordination and slow reflexes.

Regardless of age, driving while intoxicated is illegal. You will be arrested, lose your driver license and be sent to jail.

4.       Use Scripture.

Grab the iPad and google “Catholic Bible verses about drunkenness.”

Honey, look at what God says about alcohol. Of course, drinking alcohol itself is not a sin. But like with a lot of things, when we use alcohol illegally (before age 21) or recklessly (by drinking too much) we break God’s laws.

I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one (1 Cor. 5:11).

Neither . . . thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

. . . envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21).

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

Our Catholic faith doesn’t condemn alcohol, wine, or drinking in moderation, but the Church does caution against excessive drinking. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air” (CCC 2290).

5.       Use reverse-psychology.

What is the one thing teens want? To be treated as adults.

I know, son that you are very mature for your age and you’re growing into such a fine young man. But some kids are not as responsible as you.  It may be up to you to take care of a friend who is drunk. You may have to be the responsible one to protect your classmates, the girls from doing things they will regret. If Madeline or Catherine drank excessively and you noticed a strange boy leading them into a dangerous situation, you may have to be the adult who stands up and protects them? Being a grown up means you are responsible. It is impossible to act responsibly when drunk. So be sure never to drink to excess.

So, moms, let’s be sure to have “The Talk” with our children. We can’t leave their understanding of alcohol to their friends or Hollywood.

A wonderful resource for us comes from Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD). I typically like student initiated advice because it is more on target when discussing important matters with my children.  Click on this link for the “Opening Lifesaving Lines” brochure.

Cheers!

Suicide Thoughts Are the Dark Before the Dawn for Many Alcoholics

mindy18f-3-webYesterday we learned of the suicide death of popular country music singer Mindy McCready. She recorded a total of five studio albums in her short lifetime, which accounted for twelve singles on the Billboard country singles charts. This figure includes the Number One hit “Guys Do It All the Time”, as well as the Top Ten hits “Ten Thousand Angels” and “A Girl’s Gotta Do (What a Girl’s Gotta Do)”.

The press documented her personal life, which shows year after year the effects and consequences of living an alcoholic life.  Most likely, many people tried to help her. But often we don’t want help. We worship things instead of God. We put other people (in this case possibly her worship of her boyfriend) on pedestals rather than God. And in the end she gave up.

  • In August 2004, McCready was arrested in Tennessee for using a fake prescription to buy the painkiller OxyContin.
  • In May 2005, she was stopped by Nashville police for speeding, then arrested and charged with driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license
  • She was found unconscious in a hotel lobby in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, after attempting suicide in July 2005. She was hospitalized for a drug overdose after consuming a large amount of undisclosed drugs with alcohol
  • In September 2005, while she was pregnant with McKnight’s child, she attempted suicide again by overdosing on antidepressants.
  • In July 2007, McCready was arrested in Ft. Myers, Florida. She was charged with battery and resisting arrest for an apparent scuffle with her mother
  • On December 17, 2008, paramedics were called to McCready’s Nashville home after an apparent suicide attempt; they transported her to a hospital after finding wounds on her wrists
  • On May 25, 2010, McCready was hospitalized in Cape Coral, Florida, for a possible drug overdose; she may have had a reaction to Darvocet her mother had given her.
  • In April 2012, McCready gave birth to her second child, a son named Zayne. The child’s father, record producer David Wilson, was found dead on January 13, 2013, at McCready’s home, of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
  • On February 17, 2013, neighbors called the Sheriff’s Office of Cleburne County, Arkansas, reporting gunshots. McCready was found dead on her front porch, the same place where her former boyfriend and the father of her younger son had killed himself one month prior. Her death was from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Her two children remain in foster care and were not home at the time of her death.

I look at this information with so much sadness because that could very easily have been me, minus the gifted vocals.

When I was 26, I took a whole package of OTC Unisom tablets and drank a few beers.  I ended up in the psych ward of a local hospital for three days. I remember feeling so hopeless. I was drinking a lot. And my boyfriend (Husband now) and I had decided to split up. We both drank a lot but my drinking even then showed its heavy alcoholic tendencies.  It is nearly impossible to have a relationship when there is a lot of drinking involved.  No matter how much passion and interest there is in one another, drinking will always stand in the way of developing intimacy with another person.

I had suffered from bouts of depression throughout my high school and college years but had never gone as far as a suicide attempt.  So, naturally this event shocked me sober and into the rooms of AA for six months.  During that time I rekindled with the boyfriend and began to develop an amazingly new intimate relationship with the God I’ve always known was there.  Alcohol blocks me from having good relationships, especially a good relationship with my Creator.

Flash forward ten years and I found myself drinking alcoholically again, unable to stop.  In the course of things, this cut me off from God, which was horrible for me. No matter how many people God sent to me to plead with me to stop, I simply couldn’t stay sober this time.  I tried AA. I tried begging God.  I started a half-measures devotion to Saint Michael the Archangel. I prayed. I cried.  But I couldn’t stay stopped.

One day at the end of all this, I was outside watering the newly planted azaleas. My boys were inside playing XBox and my husband was on the computer working up an estimate for a client.  I was drinking–it was about 11am on a sunny Georgia Sunday–and something compelled me to walk over to the tree swing we’d put up in our front yard. I stood on the bench there and put the rope around my neck.

And I froze.  I stood there for several minutes.  Nobody saw me.

And then, just as nonchalantly something compelled me to take the rope off, put my beer down and go inside. There was nothing spectacular going on that day that would have made me sad. No fight with the husband. No big issues at all.  But I was tired of drinking. And I had lost hope that I would ever be able to stop. I’d tried everything.

I did put the beer down. And then I went inside and sat in silence with God.  In the silence, He promised me a future and insisted I not give up hope.  Hope is the key. Hope is the antidote to suicide.

And once I got sober again, I reconnected to God with an intimacy I’d never known before.  I gave him my life. Told him to do whatever he wanted with me.  I told him I was tired.  And then I slept.

In reading the stories of other sober bloggers out there, I’ve discovered so often suicidal thoughts or attempts are part of the territory.  For many, thank you God, this in and of itself–this realization that OMG I actually considered taking my own life–becomes the springboard to new life.  This becomes the moment, the “bottom,” that propels us to surrender completely, exhausted into God’s loving hands, where He is able to insert a little bit of the grace of hope into our hearts.

I feel so badly for Mindy McCready. She obviously had a substance abuse problem.  She needed help. She needed a support system that would immerse her into God’s world and take her out of this world.  It must be tough to surrender everything to God when we’ve made it big in Nashville.

Prayers for Mindy McCready’s soul and for her children, friends and family members left behind.

Bruce Willis Has a Little Wine “Mostly” With Meals

GoodDaytoDieHardWillisfcTsrYipfull (1)Yippee-ki-yay-mother-Russia.  I know it’s not an intellectual thing to say, but I LOVE action movies. Especially action movies with big strong handsome men who save the world from the bad guys.  Today, Bruce Willis‘ new (DieHard5) movie “A Good Day to Die Hard,” hits movie theatres around town.

If I didn’t have this stupid back trouble we’d probably be having a Valentine’s Day date night, going to see this movie after sushi at Mizu.  sigh.  You can watch the initial trailer here.

This article/video today from Huffpo Live, Bruce Willis Talks Getting Sober, describes how Willis says in a recent interview that he started drinking again.

“I had been sober [for a while]. But once I realized that I wasn’t gonna run myself off the pier of life with alcohol, drinking vodka out of the bottle every day … I have wine now, mostly when I eat.”

The knee-jerk (maybe when we’re being a little “holier-than-thou”) reaction from those of us in the “recovery community” is to gasp at this type of statement, especially coming from a celebrity.  Doesn’t he know once an alcoholic always an alcoholic?  What if he makes other alcoholics think they too can have wine with meals? Wine with meals—harmftt! Denial.

But what does Bruce Willis drinking again have to do with my own recovery–nada.  It just makes me tense up a little, hoping he doesn’t get drunk in public and mess up a good thing.

We have to remember that by nature we alcoholics drink mostly because we like the effect it has on us. And even after a long period of sobriety, if we decide to take a drink–however nonchalantly, innocently–we’re eventually right back where we left off. And we love it.  That feeling that to us surpasses all understanding…the buzz. I don’t think this is what Jesus was talking about in Philippians 4:7.

To an alcoholic, a buzz is not just a buzz.  A buzz is a spiritual experience.

Heather King (she is a Catholic contemplative and sober writer-find her at Shirt of Flame.) describes this perfectly in an interview she did back in 2010 with Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete and Crossroads Cultural Center,

“The first time I drank was a religious experience. Unfortunately for an alcoholic who has this neurological mis-wiring, neurological glitch such that when you take a drink you’ve ceded all free will. Eventually this mental obsession, physical craving (it might take a while) is going to set up, and it progresses. But the very first time I drank, it was that feeling I’d looked for my whole life—I love everybody; everybody loves me. And it lasted a very short period of time before I had a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality.” Heather King

It’s not about what kind of alcohol I drink; it’s about the effect the alcohol has on my brain, the brain of an alcoholic.  To understand the neurological workings of an alcoholic brain, click here.

bruce-willis-covers-gq-march2013

Cover of next month’s (March 2013) GQ Magazine

I was 3 years sober when I decided to “have a glass of wine with dinner.”  Why not?  I can handle it.  I hadn’t drank in three whole years–so obviously, I’d licked this thing.  So on our anniversary in 2009, at a romantic bed and breakfast in the North Georgia mountains, I had a yummy glass of red wine.  Then I had two chardonnays with dinner.

I woke up the next morning and told my husband, “It’s no big deal, honey. I like being sober better. That was a fluke.”

A week later, I had wine when my husband and I went out for sushi.  A couple of weeks after that I had several beers at our neighborhood Christmas party. Within three months I was back to my old ways, drinking every evening, trudging through the days, hung over.

Two people can drink the same drink, the same amount.  The alcoholic has an entirely different internal biological chemical experience than the non-alcoholic.  For you non-alcoholics out there, you’re missing out!  lol.  But seriously, I hope Bruce succeeds in his “controlled drinking” experiment.  He’s a bigger man than I.  It took me a couple of years to get back on track after deciding it was okay to have a little wine with meals.

As a “word girl,” I immediately noticed his use of the word, “mostly.”  At least he’s honest.  Mostly he only drinks wine with meals, but sometimes he drinks it all by its self.  That’s when the best buzzes happen–on empty stomachs.

Here is a blog post from a couple of weeks ago talking about how “real men” (yes, that included Bruce Willis) do get sober.  Not anymore.