web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Dear Brocha’

Road To Recovery

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Dear Brocha,

As I write this letter I am overcome with emotions. Relief, fear, trepidation, elation…the feelings are all jumbled up inside of me.

Please allow me to back track.

My daughter, who recently turned 20, just left to rehab. After four years of denial, lies, manipulation, anger and chaos she finally admitted she has a problem with alcohol.

Her drinking started at a school Shabbaton. Some of her so called friends brought liquor and they drank that Shabbos away. Since then she has been continuously sneaking drinks.

It took my husband and me a considerably long while to fully grasp the severity of the problem. Eventually, we finally emptied our house of all alcoholic drinks, informed the local liquor store that she should not be permitted to purchase any alcohol (evidently, there are various frum liquor store owners who will permit under age children to purchase alcohol if they say it’s for their parents, without any verification) and limited her access to money.

At that point, out of desperation, she figured out how to replace straight alcohol with mouthwash. What a nightmare! The mouthwash abuse was impossible to control! Additionally, it seems that it was much more damaging to her liver than regular alcohol. Recently, with Hashem’s help and the involvement of both a rav and an interventionist, she was able to admit that she had a real problem and to enter rehab.

While I am hopeful and happy that she is in a rehab, I need to know if you can advise me on how to deal with the phone calls. My daughter keeps calling and telling me how awful the food is, how she doesn’t like the other clients, feels restricted and various other complaints. Almost every time I see her phone number on the caller ID I start to cringe wondering what the issue is going to be.

By nature I am a very giving person. When she complains about the food, I try to send her home cooked meals. When she gets into arguments with her roommates I try speaking to her counselors about switching her room. The list goes on and on.

I am unsure if I am helping or hurting when I try interceding on her behalf. I am hearing terms like co-dependent and enabler and am very confused. At what point does helping become unhealthy?

This has become a major point of contention between my husband and me. He is more of a disciplinarian and feels that I need to take a tougher stance with our daughter.

Please advise.

A Giving Mom

Dear A Giving Mom,

Congratulations!

You should be very happy that your daughter is finally on the road to her recovery! She still has a long and difficult road ahead of her. She will need to learn more about herself and retrain her self-perception. She needs to learn how to be real with her emotions and to be in control of them and not vice-versa. She needs to learn how to live, laugh and appreciate life again.

Most people enter the rooms of recovery kicking and screaming. They are usually upset that they “were caught” or “trapped” and now have to learn how to live sober.

It is hard work. Very hard work!

There is shame, guilt and various other forms of emotional pain they now have to learn to deal with as opposed to numbing themselves.

On the other hand, you should be using the time your daughter is in rehab to learn more about yourself.

For the past few years your daughter’s issues have been the sole focus of everything. If there are other children at home you should be spending considerably more time with them.

Additionally, you mentioned the terms co-dependent and enabler. The truth is that many loved ones who live with addicts inadvertently assume that role.

The addict becomes the drug.

Our “high” comes when there are no incidents and they appear to be doing well. Then, when they fall, we fall with them.

Your job is to learn how to live in peace and serenity, independent of the addict. You should be looking for Al-Anon meetings in your area. Your entire immediate family needs to find recovery.

Road to Recovery

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Dear Brocha,

I am married for 5 years and am unsure how to proceed with my husband and his behavior. Our religion incorporates alcohol throughout the year and during life cycle events. Purim, Pesach, bar mitzvahs, weddings and every Shabbos kiddush (not to mention the kiddush club) all seemingly require alcohol as an integral and necessary ingredient. For my husband, it seems like there is always a “good reason” to make a l’chayim.

My husband is truly a wonderful and caring man. He is a faithful husband and an amazing father to our two children. However, when he drinks all of the positive qualities seem to disappear and the children and I are left with an irritable, moody, and at times, a very angry person. Whenever I broach the subject of his drinking, he tells me that I am being foolish. After all, he is a good provider, helps with the children, and is sensitive to our needs. “So, what’s your issue?” he always asks. He also keeps saying that he needs “an outlet.” He doesn’t tell me how to dress, and I shouldn’t be telling him what or how to drink. He gets defensive at the mere mention of his drinking – at times even becoming enraged.

Usually, after an outburst – meaning after he sleeps it off – he becomes very apologetic, regretful and promises to stop. However, every time he picks up that schnapps bottle he once again loses all self-respect, control and willpower.

It saddens me that my children are seeing this erratic and sometimes abusive behavior. They are young, ages 4 and 6, but as soon as my husband starts yelling they run to their rooms. I myself try to stay out of his way when he drinks hoping to prevent a major confrontation. I feel as if I live my life walking on eggshells. I am at my wits end, but I still love my husband and don’t want to get divorced over this. However, I feel that I might have to give him an ultimatum: the bottle or me?

Am I being too harsh, or do I need to let him have his “outlet?”

Seeking direction

Dear Seeking direction,

I feel for your situation and the traumatic events to which you and your children are subjected. You are not alone. However, I wish to laud you for your desire to salvage your marriage and wish you much hatzlacha in seeing this through!

Unfortunately, abuse of alcohol is one of the diseases that is swept under the rug in many homes. It is the cause of financial distress, emotional issues amongst children, continued cycle of abuse, break up of marriages, and is one of the major contributing factors to the ongoing youth at-risk epidemic.

The following is a list of symptoms of alcoholism, issued by the Mayo clinic:

Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Feeling a strong need or compulsion to drink. Developing tolerance to alcohol so that you need an increasing amounts to feel its effects. Having legal problems or problems with relationships, employment or finances due to drinking. Drinking alone or in secret. Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating and shaking — when you don’t drink. Not remembering conversations or commitments, sometimes referred to as “blacking out.” Making a ritual of having drinks at certain times and becoming annoyed when this ritual is disturbed or questioned. Losing interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring you pleasure. Irritability when your usual drinking time nears, especially if alcohol isn’t available. Keeping alcohol in unlikely places at home, at work or in your car. Gulping drinks, ordering doubles, becoming intoxicated intentionally to feel good or drinking to feel “normal.”

Alcoholism is a disease. One of the difficulties in recognizing alcoholism as such is that it simply doesn’t appear like one. At the onset, it doesn’t have recognizable physical manifestations, can occur unannounced and “under wraps”, and it certainly doesn’t act like a disease. To make matters worse, the abuser generally denies its existence and resists treatment.

Alcoholism has been recognized for many years by professional medical organizations as a primary, chronic, progressive and sometimes fatal disease. While the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence offers a detailed and complete definition of alcoholism, the simplest way to describe it would be as “a mental obsession that triggers a physical compulsion to use.” The rage, and what ensues when one uses, is a result of the compulsion to drink. In order to curb the rage and alleviate the mental anguish you are dealing with, the disease itself must be treated.

Road To Recovery

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Dear Brocha,

Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story. I am getting chizuk just from reading about your journey. I know my husband and I need to go to a meeting, and we will. Let me tell you my story:

My 20-year-old son lives at home. He has some learning disabilities; however they never affected him socially. In school he was always “one of the guys.” However, now that his friends have graduated they are all either in college or Beit Medrash. He went to college for one semester then dropped out. He now has two jobs, and I am proud of him.

While I was cleaning his room last week, I found some marijuana. My husband says he has smelled it for the last couple of weeks. I am a child of the sixties, and some of my friends did experiment with drugs and today they are productive citizens. I am left with a lingering question, is my son an addict or just experimenting? If he is an addict I would like to get him help. He has so much potential and I don’t want him to waste his life, yet I don’t want to accuse him of being an addict and jeopardize our already fragile relationship.

Caring Mom

Dear Caring Mom,

Unfortunately many teenagers who turn to drugs do so because they do not have the proper tools to deal with their emotional pain. If a teenager feels he is inadequate, and is unable to go to the same school/college/yeshiva as his friends due to a disability, if he does not realize that he is blessed with many talents that his friends do not have, and the pain gets too strong to bear, he (or she) can turn to drugs.

At this point, only your son knows if he is an addict. In the beginning most people feel they can handle the drug use, yet after a while it is the drug that is handling them. They lived to use, and now use to live. An addict’s life becomes controlled by the drugs.

We all have preconceived notions about what an addict is. There is no shame in admitting to being an addict once he begins to take positive action. If he can identify his problem then he can begin to identify his solution. The following is an abbreviated list of questions that if your son can answer honestly will help him define whether or not he is an addict.

1. Have you ever used alone?

2. Have you ever manipulated or lied to a doctor to get a prescription?

3. Have you ever stolen to get drugs?

4. Do you avoid people who do not approve of your using drugs?

5. Have you lied about what or how much you use?

6. Have you put the purchase of drugs ahead of your financial responsibilities?

7. Have you ever lied about how much you are using?

8. Have you ever tried to stop or control your using?

As I said before, whether your son is an addict or not is a question only he can answer. The actual number of “yes” responses to the above questions is not as important as how he feels inside and how the addiction has affected his life. Addiction is an insidious disease that affects all areas of the addict’s life.

When he firsts reads the questions it might be frightening for him to think that he is an addict. Most addicts will try to rationalize saying, “I’m different and I know I use drugs but I’m not addicted.” However, if he is an addict he must first admit he has a problem before any progress can be made toward recovery.

These questions, when honestly approached, may help to show him how using drugs has made his life unmanageable.

Addiction is a disease which without recovery ends in jail, institution or death. Addiction robs people of their pride, self-esteem, family and even their desire to live. If your son has not reached this point he doesn’t have to. There is a way to bring the rock bottom up to him, thereby encouraging him to seek recovery. Although an addict is not responsible for his disease he is responsible for his recovery.

Road To Recovery

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Dear Brocha,

Hi, I’m not sure how writing to an advice column can help, but I feel so alone and have nowhere to turn. My 25-year-old daughter is addicted to prescription pain killers (Percocet), and so far she doesn’t seem to want help or even acknowledge that she has a problem. About two years ago she was in a horrible car accident. She was given pain medication, yet continued taking it long after the doctors stopped prescribing it for her. She keeps going from doctor to doctor telling them of fictitious aches and pains, convincing them to prescribe various pain medications. There are some months where she can go to more than 10 doctors! She has also called Hatzolah and had herself admitted to the hospital. Why, you ask? Evidently, after being admitted she is then able to get the “stronger stuff” by I.V., while continuing to take the pills she brings with her.

When I try to reason with her, we end up arguing and I have to walk away. I fear for her life. She has a 4-year-old daughter, my granddaughter, who I’m currently responsible for. While I appreciate having my granddaughter around, I am well aware that she would be better off having two healthy parents. As a result of my daughter’s addiction, she and her husband have separated. While I can’t blame him, it’s extremely difficult to explain all of this to my granddaughter.

In the back of my mind, I also fear for my granddaughter’s wellbeing. She will sometimes call me Mommy when we are out in the park or the pizza shop, and I understand it is because I am filling that role in her life. She is a sensitive child and will never do that in front of her mother, yet it hurts me to see her in this position.

My daughter’s history of abusing pills has seen many ups and downs. About a year ago, she was in a treatment facility. However, she relapsed this past Pesach. She blames it on her siblings coming for Yom Tovwith all their children, which she says stressed her out and she needed to take the pills to cope. I so badly want to help her, and protect my granddaughter at the same time. I try to give my daughter a stress free life – I pay the bills, take her daughter to school, etc. yet it seems that once she starts popping those pills, there is no stopping her.

Alone and helpless

Dear Alone and helpless,

Welcome! Please know that you are not alone! There are many people who suffer from the disease of addiction. It does not discriminate and continues to afflict people from all socioeconomic circles. This disease kills, and those afflicted will face the choice of either death, jail or institution – unless they seek recovery. What we must realize is that it is a disease, and those afflicted by this disease need help and treatment to stop.

I recall the time I finally acknowledged that my first husband was an addict. My initial instinct was to “fix” him and his addiction. I tried canceling all of his online prescription orders and flushed whatever I found of his pills down the toilet. Yet as the whirlwind continued, I was becoming sicker. I learned later on that by fixing all the obstacles that came our way as a result of his using I wasn’t allowing him to hit “rock bottom,” and see how the addiction was affecting his life and ours.

For example, he once had a car accident and sideswiped a neighbor’s car. The neighbor approached me and I told her that I would pay for it, and she should not bother him. I did this in order to save him from the embarrassment. In reality, I was enabling him to avoid dealing with the consequences of his addiction. At that point I thought I was protecting him from stress, which I thought was the catalyst for his using. However, I was helping him use by shielding him from the consequences of his actions.

After a couple of years of this ensuing madness, I was at my wits end and realized that nothing I was doing was stopping or even curtailing the active addiction. I was not a good treatment center. Someone suggested that I go meet with Rabbi Abraham J. Twersky. I went, and poured my heart out to him.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/battling-addictions/road-to-recovery-2/2012/08/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: