“New Life Recovery Outreach of E. Lansing, MI Is Doing Awesome Work! A Message To Parents About Drug Addiction”…


Hello Friends and Welcome Visitors,

 

Today’s “Guest Blog Share” is by a wonderful recovery friend of mine, “Aaron Emerson” and his dad “Wes Emerson” at “New Life Recovery Outreach,” in East Lansing, MI…
They help & support ” Families Against Narcotics (FAN)- www.familiesagainstnarcotics.org ” and are involved in other Christian outreach organizations like them, who try to keep kids safe from drugs. And this blog post today on their website from Aaron’s dad Wes needed to be shared to all parents whose kids have been touched by drugs. It’s a hard road, and one I’m sure none of us want for our children to go down, and that is why I’m “sharing” Wes’s post of advise on how to talk to your teens.
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I myself would like to take it one step farther and ask parents to also talk to you teens and your college age kids going off, or back to campus. A growing number of college young adults are becoming “addicted & problem gamblers” at an alarming rates! Of the current 17+million problem gamblers in just the US alone, half that number is now YOUR High School and College age young adults. That to me is just UN-ACCEPTABLE!  How do you feel about that? So not only do you worry when your kids leave the house is they will be pressured into drinking or introduced to drugs, but now you have to worry if they are gambling as a fast past time in their dorms. The good news is, many colleges and universities are trying to help students through offering many addiction & recovery resources through the schools “Counseling & Mental Health Services” on campus. So when you do give your young adults, “The Talk,” please include the dangers of gambling.
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So here is a special message for parents from “Wes & Aaron Emerson” of New Life Recovery Outreach, and more of how they help others!
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Hello, my name is Aaron Emerson and I am a recovering heroin addict. I am the founder of New Life Recovery, and here is a little about my story:
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Dad and Me New
*Aaron Emerson and his father, Wes Emerson*
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New Life Recovery is an outreach of New Life Fellowship that was started to spread hope to drug addicts and their families, educate the public on the effects of addiction, and prevent drug use in our youth.  We accomplish this through various methods:

Blog-This is where we share our story in detail and write about our struggles and triumphs dealing with this deadly disease.  It is written by Aaron Emerson(recovering heroin addict) and his father, Wes Emerson.  There is a form down below where you can subscribe to our blog for free and get all of our posts and updates sent directly to your email, or just come check them out on here!

Speaking Engagements-This is where we go to schools, churches, or anywhere else interested in our presentations and share our story in person.  We educate people on the disease of addiction and how it can affect anybody in any walk of life.  We also talk to youth about addiction and it’s effects on the lives of people who use drugs.  Contact us if you are interested in scheduling a presentation if your in the Lansing, MI area…

We also do everything we can to help support addicts and their families and help them find recovery.  We help them find resources in the community and can refer them to professional Recovery Coaches who will offer the help, assistance, and tools needed to find recovery and build a new life. We also work closely with the Ingham County Chapter of Families Against Narcotics where family members of addicts, recovering addicts, the professional substance abuse community, law enforcement groups, medical professionals and anybody else interested join together to offer support, group forum activities, resources and anything else needed to help addicts and their loved ones.

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The Not-To-Do List

By Wes Emerson

5-4-2014
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Every now and then, a parent will ask me what they should do in response to their child’s drug use or addiction.  Looking for step by step instructions to get their kid off drugs, they assure that I, the father of a now recovering heroin addict, have the answers they need.  Even though we went through seven years of active addiction, I have to admit that I still find this question hard to answer.  Drug addiction is so powerful and every case is different.

As I reflect upon Aaron’s addiction, I realize that we didn’t always do the best things or the right things as parents.  Sometimes we just didn’t know what to do.  Often times we did things that, in retrospect, probably prolonged Aaron’s addiction.  Confused, scared, heart-broken, angry, frustrated…we made mistakes along the way.  And so, from my experience, I have composed a “not-to-do list” with the hope that you can gain insight in your struggle with a drug addicted loved one.  This list is derived, not entirely from my misguided actions, but also from things I have observed other parents do.  So here it goes…the NOT to do list!
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  1. Don’t be ashamed to use the word “addict.”  Many parents are living in denial in regards to their child’s drug use.  They know there’s a serious problem going on, but cannot bring themselves to admit that their beloved kid is an addict.  Addict is a term we refuse to use because it has a negative, degrading sound to it.  This is really a form of pride.  If someone is using drugs despite continuing negative consequences, they are an addict!  But we, in our attempt to preserve our own and/or our child’s dignity and reputation, are ashamed (or too proud) to say, “My son/daughter is a drug addict.”  In the first couple years of Aaron’s drug use, I couldn’t bring myself to call my son an addict.  I loved him, and I just didn’t want to refer to him that way.  Then, as the war worsened, I learned that shame and pride must be put aside.  Drug users live in daily denial of addiction.  If we, their parents, are also in denial, how can they ever reach recovery?
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  2. Don’t blame yourself for your child’s addiction.  When a young person turns to drugs, it is very common for parents to shoulder the blame, believing that the addiction is a direct result of something they did wrong.  This results in unbearable grief and self-condemnation, and often results in the parents tolerating their kid’s addiction or not holding them responsible (wrongly thinking that it’s their fault, after all).  As you may know, I was fired from my position as Pastor at a local church in Mason after 14 ½ years, placing my family in a “homeless” situation for the next year and a half.  It was during the aftermath of my firing that Aaron plummeted into heavy drug use.  Though I knew my firing was not warranted, I couldn’t help but feel responsible for Aaron’s addiction.  “If I hadn’t been fired,” I thought, “Aaron would not have started using drugs.”  When we began attending Al-Anon meetings, one phrase kept being repeated, almost week after week: “You didn’t cause it…”  Eventually, I came to the realization that this is true.  I didn’t cause my son to become a drug addict.  Don’t blame yourself parents.  You will be better able to help your child when you are released from self-condemnation.
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  3. Don’t think you can change your addicted loved one.  While some parents blame themselves for their child’s addiction, many others think that they can “make” their kid stop using.  We resort to harsh words, threats, even physical altercations in an effort to “change” our kids, and in the final analysis, we discover that we are powerless to change the addict.  I tried everything I could think of to reach Aaron, and discovered it was futile.  Drug addiction is a disease-a disease that we as parents have no power over.  The change has to come from within the heart of the addict.  They have to reach that rock-bottom point in their lives where they truly want to seek recovery.  Until they get to that point of desperation, there is little we can do to “change” them.
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  4. Don’t be an enabler.  One common trait that parents of drug addicts all share is that of enabling our children in their deadly pursuit of drugs.  We are bewildered, we love our kids, and we find it hard to say no.  Just to keep peace in the family, we find it easier to give in to the drug addict’s demands, and, thus, enable them to continue in their deadly course.  While you can’t change your addict, there are some steps you can-and must-take to stop enabling your child to use drugs.

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For starters, stop giving money to your drug addicted child.  So many times, Aaron would come to us for requests for cash.  Addicts will tell you that they are going to the movies, out to eat, to a recreational activity, etc.  The money will ultimately be used instead to purchase drugs.  Or, they may tell you that they owe money to a dealer for a previous drug purchase and have to “pay up,” or else.  For years, I am ashamed to admit, I fell for these lines and gave my son money, which was in turn, used to buy drugs.  In giving my son cash, I enabled him in his drug addiction.

Another form of enabling is allowing your child to drive your vehicle.  If you know, or even suspect, that your kid is using drugs, simply say no when he or she asks to take your car to get together with friends, go to the mall, the movies, etc.  For years, I gave my son access to my car, which resulted many times in a bad ending.  In giving my son use of my vehicle, I enabled him in his addiction.
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Another form of enabling involves rescuing your child from rehab.  In some cases, young people are court-ordered to rehab.  In other instances, they are taken to rehab by their parents.  Quite often, the addict will flee from rehab, and, ultimately, call their parents, asking them to come and bring them home.  We found ourselves in this stressful situation many times during Aaron’s seven year battle with addiction.  Looking back, he simply was not ready or willing to seek recovery.  Sad to say, we went out and picked him up from numerous locations and brought him back home.  In doing so, we enabled our son to continue in his life of addiction.  Therefore, parents, I urge you to say no.  Do not pick your son or daughter up if they flee from rehab.  This is very hard to do, but if you cave in to their demands, you are enabling them, pure and simple.
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  1. Don’t bail an addict out of jail.  Ultimately, drug use and/or addiction will result in the offender’s incarceration.  Jail, as I have written previously, is a terrible place.  Incarceration is not a remedy for drug addiction.  Yet, time behind bars can be an eye-opening experience for some people.  During the course of Aaron’s 7 year battle with addiction, we did not bail him out one time when he was incarcerated, despite his pleas for us to do so.  I do believe that his time spent in jail over the years finally was one motivation for him to turn from the drug lifestyle.  We simply refused to bail him out, though our hearts were aching for our young son.  On the contrary, we witnessed other parents of young addicts step in, repeatedly, bailing their children out of jail, not allowing them to endure the consequences of their lifestyle.  Lawyers were hired, strings were pulled, and their drug addiction continued on.  If your son or daughter is in jail due to drug offenses, don’t bail them out!  They may thank you later on.
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  2. Don’t hesitate to hold your child accountable.  If your son or daughter is living in your home and you suspect or know that he or she is using drugs, it is imperative for you to hold them accountable.  You must make it clear that drug use will not be tolerated in your home.  It took us a long time to start exercising tough love-a very difficult thing to do as loving parents.  I hated doing what I’m about to suggest, but we did some things out of love in an effort to hold our son accountable.  Periodically, conduct a search of your child’s bedroom or vehicle.  If you have concerns when they come home, check their pockets, wallets, purses, or belongings.  If he/she says he’s going to the movies or such outings, ask for receipts or ticket stubs.  When your car is driven, write down the beginning mileage before they leave and the ending mileage upon their return.  You can also keep track of your child’s cell-phone calls-who they are calling, who’s calling them, and at what time.  Phone activity can tell you a lot.  This may sound like detective work, and I guess it is, but if you don’t hold your child accountable, the odds are that their drug use will continue to increase.
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  3. Don’t try to weather the storm on your own.  If your son or daughter is in addiction, you need support from others who are dealing with this terrible epidemic.  Many parents, for whatever reason, are choosing to stay in the closet and are suffering alone.  Please, do not isolate yourself in this trying time.  There is support available: Families Against Narcotics, Al-Anon, and in some locations, Nar-Anon groups meet regularly with the sole purpose of providing encouragement, guidance, and hope to people trying to cope with drug addiction in the family.  Remember, millions of people in the U.S. are struggling with the same issue as you are, and fellow sufferers can relate and understand what you are going through.  You can’t change your addict, but you can get help for yourself.  So step out and get help for yourself.  You will be glad you did.
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  4. Don’t give up on your addict.  At this point in your struggle, you may feel that there is no hope for your addicted child or loved one.  Nothing, to this point, has gotten their attention and he/she continues to follow the path of self-destruction.  You are ready to throw in the towel and give up on them.  We were nearing that point with Aaron.  I didn’t think he would ever change.  I was almost ready to give up on him, fearing he was destined for prison or death.  But we continued to love him throughout those 7 long years.  We remained in his corner.  And then finally, when it appeared there was little hope for recovery, miraculous things began to happen.  Aaron finally turned away from drugs and today he is almost 1 year clean!  We refused to give up on Aaron, and I urge you, don’t give up on your child or loved one.  If you, the parent or loved one of an addict give up and turn your back, who else do they have?

I, the father of a recovering addict, am a graduate from the school of hard knocks.  I have learned, from my own mistakes as well as the errors of others, what “not to do” when addiction strikes home.  It is my sincere hope that these 8 “Not-To-Do’s” will be helpful to you, and I pray your loved one will see the light and seek recovery before it is too late.

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God bless you all,
Aaron & Wes Emerson
New Life Recovery Outreach
http://www.newliferecoveryoutreach.org
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