“My son took his life on his 34th birthday rather than go back to prison for the third time.”
Can there be sadder words than these from a mother?
Pam Christian, the mother, and I (David Palmer) have exchanged several e-mails about her son’s death and now her grandson’s addiction and treatment experience. Here is her account:
“This (her son’s death) came after an addiction to drugs that began when he was in his mid teens. At the time of his death, he had a son who had just turned 11. Smart, good looking, charming just like his dad.
“He, my grandson, became addicted, just like his dad, and was homeless off and on for 6 years with stints in jail and detox centers. He was sentenced to the ADCC and was locked up for 13 months. The family pretty much severed ties with him.
After being released, he returned to Little Rock and resumed his old ways. After 3 months, he had a friend who recommended he apply to Ouachita County Medical Center for their treatment program and he went for 30 days.
He knew he could not return to Little Rock and didn’t. He is now living in Ft. Smith in a sober living house sponsored by a church there with connections to the treatment center in Camden.
He has a job, started going to meetings with a vengeance, got a sponsor, is working the program and has made many friends in the program.
He is learning that you don’t have to drink or do drugs to have a good time.
A Sober Life Style
In October, he went to a regional NA meeting in Houston and had a ball. He has said to me more than once that he loves this lifestyle. It has been five months which isn’t long, but each day clean and sober is a blessing.
I have had quite a bit of Al-Anon for which I am thankful. I just felt compelled to tell you this story. Thank you for your postings which are all excellent. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Pam Christian’s courageous response to the tragedies in her life illuminate the inadequacies of our overall response to a national problem which destroys individuals and families, costs us billions of dollars and makes us more vulnerable to attack from our enemies.
What’s the hold up? We have a good record fighting and winning global wars as well as many diseases-polio, for example. What we lack as a nation is a plan to fight and win against drug addictions, a huge and growing problem.
Alcoholics Anonymous, now nearly 100 years old, has been a phenomenal success as far as it goes in helping people stop drinking or using illegal drugs with it’s 12 Step program, and we can build on it.
Joseph Califano, author of High Society, put the price tag for dealing with the destruction and of addiction to alcohol and other drugs at a trillion dollars a year. I think he’s right.
There is encouraging news about our citizens, They are giving more of their time to non-profit companies which are, in turn, beginning to undertake bigger projects.
Case in point. Blue Meridian Partners
Two years ago, Nancy Roob, CEO and president of the non-profit Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, created Blue Meridian Partners and called for philanthropists to up the ante with their investments.
Blue Meridian’s plan is to invest a whopping $1 billion over the long term in a relatively few nonprofit companies.
Roob said, “The reality is that we’re not going to be able to solve problems in America if American organizations only receive average grants of $35,000, which is really the average grant size in philanthropy right now.” I hope Blue Meridian will be able to inspire more social-sector leaders to think bigger and be able to really solve problems in this country.”
One Day at a Time
Getting clean and sober requires a significant commitment, but the good news is it’s only for one day at a time, subject to renewal. During that one day you will say, “I will commit to being clean and sober for today” or “In the time that I have, I will do my best to get my child evaluated and into some kind of program.”
Living one day at a time is not some kind of “mind game.” It’s a simple truth. We really do have only this day. Tops.
If you are the parent, let’s say, of a substance-abusing teenager or the spouse of an addicted husband or wife, Al Anon is a must. Al Anon, founded shortly after AA in 1935 to help the wives of AA members deal with living with a recovering addict, is a tremendous resource available in thousands of communities. If you are the non-drug abuser you need help as well.
So let’s say it’s your child who is abusing drugs. Your job is to insist that a doctor evaluate him or her. Depending on his diagnosis and recommendations, you, as a parent, will begin to develop a plan and take the actions called for.
If you can afford it, a solid recovery program at a place like Hazelden Betty Ford is a good bet. There are approximately 4,000 treatment facilities to choose from with varying programs and varying costs. Some programs are free.
If you can’t afford a treatment facility, another option is a combination of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step programs combined with involvement in an Evangelical Christian church and a medical evaluation of the drug abuser.
Our role in Little Rock over more than a decade has been to offer hope, encouragement and information to those seeking recovery. This year we hope to add to these services by helping them get treatment. It is an ambitious goal requiring a significant investment but with the potential over time to save lives and families and lower community budgets.
In 2016, during conversations with City Connections, a 501 (c) 3 non profit company, we developed the concept of a local non-profit organization that would address local substance abuse problems by helping each individual develop and implement a treatment plan of his or her own. We gave it the name, the Little Rock Roundtable, evoking, as it does, positive feelings of compassion, steadfastness and courage.
Members will be men and women of faith with a special interest in helping people overcome their addictions to alcohol and other drugs. They will represent Christian churches, hospitals, schools, businesses, prison systems, veterans groups, lawyers, legislators and others. Some will be in recovery themselves.
Listed below is a recap of the six basic resources we need to address the drug problem in Little Rock and other communities we may serve:
- Hospitals to treat mental health problems.
- Treatment facilities specializing in drug addictions and offering detox services.
- Twelve Step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and, for those living with an addict, Alanon.
- Christian churches and other Christ-centered organizations (i.e. Salvation Army, Union Rescue Mission, Teen Challenge and others) offering addiction recovery services.
- Special programs focusing on teens, veterans and prison inmates, three populations which have higher than average substance abuse problems.
- Law enforcement and prison systems that address the recidivism issue with programs which promote a faith-based program and an entrepreneurial approach to getting jobs.