Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Signs Of Drug Abuse: Part 3

It was a Monday afternoon, and I received an alarming call from the Vice Principal at Mason High School.  Aaron was in his sophomore year.  The school official told me that Aaron had gone to the school basketball game that past Friday, and that he and his acquaintances were high and drunk, but left the game before police were able to catch him.  Because this was a violation of school policy, Aaron was suspended, an action that would have consequences in his upcoming baseball season.

I did not believe the Vice Principal.  My wife and I went to his office and argued on Aaron’s behalf, to no avail.  I took offense to what this man was accusing my son of, and thought he was out to get him!  Looking back, the “signs” of drug use were present, but I was ignorant.  I could not see the signs and I refused to believe my gifted athlete would use drugs.

Many parents are in the same situation with their kids today.  As I have already stated in this three part blog, people are asking about the signs of drug use/addiction.  Thus far, we have considered two indicators of drug use: paraphernalia and physical signs.  Now let us conclude with the third and most painful sign.

Personality Signs:

The use of drugs will result in a change in your loved one’s personality and lifestyle.  That is a fact.  You begin to notice that he or she is changing, and not for the better.  The change in personality usually starts out slow, but often increases dramatically and, all of a sudden, you have a situation that is out of control.

When a person becomes involved in the drug culture, new friends and acquaintances will surface in their life.  These new people will pick your kid up at your house, or come and hang out in your kid’s room.  You have never seen them before.  This was one of the earliest things that began to happen in our life.  I wish I would have had the foresight of calling the school to get a scouting report on these “new kids on the block,” for little did I know they were active users and in frequent trouble at school.

As these new friends enter the life of your kid, old friends, class mates, and teammates will gradually disappear from his/her life.  These “old friends” may know what you do not yet know-that your child is using, and they don’t want to be around it.  As drugs take hold on your child’s life, you will begin to see a lost interest in activities, hobbies, and pastimes that he or she once enjoyed.  Almost inevitably, there will be a decline in academic performance as homework, projects, and studies are put on the back-burner.  Note: this is not always the case.  Some users, somehow, are able to continue functioning in school, graduate, and escape consequences, but I think this to be the exception rather than the rule.

You may observe your child in periods of excessive sleep, deep sleep perhaps, and it is difficult to awaken them.  On the other hand, you may observe your child to be unusually hyper and excessively over-active.  Depending on the drug in question, your son or daughter may be unable to sleep, staying up all night without getting tired.  It all depends on what drug is being abused.  Allow me to elaborate.

Marijuana will produce a lack of ambition and motivation.  When on “weed,” a person will giggle and laugh a lot, act silly, become humorous, or present themselves as one without a care in the world.  Weed mellows people out.  Some people today view weed as harmless, but I firmly believe it can be a gateway drug, not only destroying brain cells, but ultimately leading it’s users on to stronger, deadlier drugs.

A lot of weed users are turning to potent, prescription pills in increasing numbers.  One such painkiller, oxycontin, induces a deep sleep.  The user ends up in a deep sleep and is very difficult to awaken.  We saw this in our teenage son, who would come home, fall asleep on the couch in the early evening and sleep through the night.  Oxycontin is very expensive, which is why it often leads to heroin, which is cheaper and produces an even more profound effect; it also poses an even greater danger.  Unusual, long periods of sleep is a sign of opiate use.  Note, however, that mania, euphoria, and hyperactivity will be present before the sleeping stage.  In the early stage of their fix, the heroin addict will be outgoing, extra-talkative or chatty, silly, bold, or even overly affectionate before they crash.  When Aaron would come home and continually hug us, it was like he was announcing that he had just shot up.  My wife and I would look at each other as if to say, “Here we go again.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are drugs that produce the opposite effect.  Certain A.D.D. medications such as Adderall, when ingested, will produce extra energy and intense focus and concentration.  College students turn to this form of drug use to enhance their performance in school.  Cocaine is a drug known for “energizing” its users, enabling them to operate with tireless energy for lengthy periods of time (thus athletes are sometimes drawn to coke).  A cocaine user comes across as hyper, jumpy, overly talkative and energetic to the extreme.  For a brief time my son used this drug also, but it was not what he was looking for.  From coke Aaron quickly moved on to crack, an all-consuming substance which comes in the form of little balls (“rocks”).  The crack rocks, when lit and smoked, give the user an intense, euphoric feeling.  But its effects are damning!  Crack turned Aaron into a caged tiger.  He was increasingly agitated and on edge in his waking hours, giving his total attention to getting out and scoring his next fix.  On crack, Aaron became a totally different person, just as he did when on heroin.

Drugs will also cause isolation on the part of the user and withdrawal from family members and family events.  Time spent alone in their room, or absence from the house is a personality sign that should cause concern.  Before drugs, Aaron loved being with family, and he enjoyed family gatherings immensely.  Drugs greatly altered his personality and for seven years, he wasn’t the same person.  He was often a no-show at holiday gatherings, and when he did come, he was uncomfortable, fidgety, and always wanting to leave.  It was apparent to extended family that something was wrong-Aaron was not the same kid.

Drugs always affect the personality of the user.  We saw these signs, through the years, in our son.  It is my hope that this information is helpful to you if you suspect your loved one to be using.  I am so grateful to God that our son, the real Aaron Emerson, is back.  Eleven months clean, Aaron is his old self again…no, he is really a new and improved person.  God is good.

What are the signs of drug use?  In summary, I suggest you look for three indicators: paraphernalia, physical signs, and personality signs.  The sooner you recognize them and take action, the better your chances to helping your loved one down the road to sobriety.

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The Signs of Drug Use: Part 2

From Boston to Burbank, concerned family members share the same concern: how can I tell if drug use is taking place in the life of this person whom I love?  If you, like me, have not dealt with this demonic influence before, it is not always easy to identify, especially in the early stages of addiction.  In part one of this blog, I shared about paraphernalia which you may see that can tip you off to drug use: small cigars, beverage containers, pipes, sandwich baggies, eye drop bottles, fragments of marijuana known as shake, powdery remains, spoons, q-tips, aluminum foil, neatly folded strips of paper, hardened pieces of cotton, little pieces of saran wrap, and syringes.  If you see such items in your home or on your loved one’s person-beware!  Today, I would like to focus on a second sign of drug use in the life of your loved one.

Physical Signs

Drug addiction in the life of a family member will manifest itself in, first of all, strange paraphernalia-those odd, material things you haven’t seen before.  In addition, there are also some physical signs to watch for in the life of your loved one-signs we learned to look for in the course of Aaron’s seven year battle with addiction.

First, pay close attention to your loved one’s eyes.  The eyes, as the old saying goes, “are the windows of the soul.”  Drug use will manifest itself in the eyes of your child/loved one.  When someone is smoking marijuana, their pupils become enlarged and their eyeballs turn bloodshot. When somebody is on opiates their pupils become smaller than normal.  Their eyes no longer sparkle.  There is something different when you look into their eyes.  Heroin produces a unique, dark, even sickly appearance in the eyes.  The eyes seem to cry out, “I’m using drugs!  I need help!”

Second, observe your child/loved one’s eating habits.  Appetite changes provide evidence of drug use.  Marijuana is known to produce the “munchies,” a pronounced increase in one’s appetite.  Opiate users, ultimately, may shed weight due to their lack of appetite.  You may notice your kid’s clothes no longer fit the same as weight loss occurs.

There are other physical signs to watch for.  One is unusual smells on your loved one’s body, clothes, or in the bedroom or car.  Weed has a distinct aroma-a sweet smell, unlike that of a cigarette.  It may seem similar to burning leaves or certain kinds of incense, and some can smell almost like a skunk.  It does not smell anything like a cigarette, though.  Crack cocaine will also produce a distinct smell.  Drugs will manifest themselves in the aftermath-clinging to the user’s clothes and lingering in their rooms or vehicles.  If you detect unusual aromas, your child or loved one is probably using drugs.

When serious drug use is taking place, another physical sign is a change in grooming habits.  Opiate use becomes all-consuming in the life of the addict.  A consumer of crack or heroin no longer cares about their physical appearance.  All they think about is getting their drug.  Showers may be passed for days.  The same clothes may be worn, day after day.  Excessive use of cologne is often utilized in order to compensate for the other negligence’s in grooming.

I would be remiss in not mentioning two other glaring, obvious physical signs of drug use.  One is an excessive itching of the skin and head.  When opiates are being used, the addict can be seen itching the arms, legs, or head repeatedly.  Itching is a sign that your loved one has used some type of opiate.  If you witness frequent itching, there is a chance that opiate use is taking place.  The other physical sign of serious drug use is track marks on the arms or other body parts, indicating that a needle has been used to inject drugs into the veins.  Quite often, drug addicts wear long sleeve shirts to try to hide the physical evidence, even in warm weather.  The frequent wearing of long sleeve shirts is definitely something to watch for.

Indeed, the physical signs of drug use are often right there before our very eyes.  Pay close attention, and be observant of your child or loved one.  What you witness may clue you in to a serious problem, and reveal that this person needs help.

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Cravings

Recovery from drug addiction has brought me so much pleasure and joy.  It has brought me many opportunities and, overall, has given me another life.  My new life has enabled me to actually enjoy it without having to use heroin.  Good things happen to addicts when they stay clean.  I have been blessed with many chances to build a successful life in these 11 months, like the opportunity to go to college, get back in my daughter’s life, restore my relationships with my family, find an amazing girlfriend, and start writing for a local newspaper.  Great things happen when an addict stays clean, but to keep the blessings and maintain sobriety, there are many battles that have be fought.

One of the things that hold back addicts from maintaining sobriety for a lengthy period of time is the cravings that will grip hold of an addict’s mind for a time.  It is a fact that individuals in recovery from addiction will have to fight through cravings to get high.  And this last week I have been experiencing many of them.

This last Tuesday I was in my car on the way to pick up my girlfriend from her dorm at Michigan State University.  It was one of the first nice, warm days that we have had here in Mid-Michigan in months.  The sun was shining, the sky was clear, kids were out playing, people were walking their dogs, people were wearing shorts outside for the first time, and I started to notice a feeling creeping up in the back of my mind: “Man, wouldn’t it be nice to go have a beer at the park right now?”  It came out of nowhere!

I can’t drink alcohol.  I am allergic to alcohol and drugs.  Once I start drinking or using drugs, I can’t stop until something horrific happens like ending up in the county jail or waking up in the hospital from an overdose.  I am a recovering heroin addict and have been clean for 11 months, but that doesn’t mean that I am not going to go through some hard times.  Some days it is an all-out war just to get through it without getting high, and this was one of those days.  Even though I have been sober for a while, the thought of using drugs still pops up in my head sometimes.  So I called my sponsor from the Narcotics Anonymous program and he helped me through it.

A couple days later I was having a great day and feeling pretty good and bam, there it was again!  Once again, out of nowhere, I started experiencing intense cravings to use heroin.  This one was bad.  I got really depressed and anxious, and the thought of doing heroin was running through my mind.  I started praying and went to a NA meeting shortly after.  After the meeting I felt a lot better and my girlfriend stayed with me the rest of the night to help me through it.

The next morning I woke up and after I drank my coffee and read the newspaper, they were back.  Again, the thought of using heroin started running through my mind.  At this point I was exhausted from all of the cravings.  I was doing everything I was supposed to do when I get cravings: call my sponsor, go to NA meetings, do my devotions, and pray.  Why did they keep coming back then?   I don’t know the answer.  All I know is that cravings happen to every recovering addict at random times and it is perfectly normal.  Experiencing intense cravings doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong or that recovery is not working.  Cravings are normal and happen to all of us.  It is part of the brain disease aspect.

When we take a drug like heroin, the heroin breaks down in our system and binds to our dopamine receptors in our brain.  Dopamine is a natural chemical in our brain that gives our bodies messages of pleasure, reward, satisfaction, and pain relief.  So heroin enters our brain and stimulates dopamine.  When we exercise or have sex, the pleasure that we feel is due to our brain producing dopamine.  But when we take heroin or other drugs, it produces hundreds of times more dopamine than what sex or exercise could.  Studies show that even when an addict THINKS about their drug of choice, the dopamine levels go up.  That is what cravings are.  So when I was thinking about using heroin that last morning, my dopamine levels were literally multiplying just by the thought of using heroin.  That is why it is so hard to stay sober, because when we have cravings, chemicals in our brain are reminding us of what we are “missing.”  The bottom line is this: when an addict thinks about drug usage, it triggers activity in our brain that reminds us of that feeling, which in turn, produces the “craving” to want to go get high.

That is why recovering addicts must find a support system, learn about cravings, and learn how to fight the cravings.  When I experience these cravings, I call my sponsor, who talks to me and helps me fight through them.  The worst thing an addict can do when he or she is experiencing a craving is sit around and try to fight it on their own.  It only intensifies them and that is why it is almost physically and psychologically impossible to beat addiction on your own.  A lot of people don’t understand that addiction is truly a disease of the brain.  It is a disease that is not curable but is treatable, and to treat it we have to put a system in place that allows us to fight it.  Each person’s system is different.  Mine is using the Narcotics Anonymous program and calling other recovering addicts when I am having trouble.  I wake up every morning and ask God to help me through the day and each night before I go to sleep I thank God for helping me stay clean.  When I stop doing these things I really notice a difference in my life and my moods.

Now that I have gotten through these recent cravings, I can look back and evaluate the situation.  In my 11 months of sobriety, these were the hardest and most intense cravings I have had.  Is it scary?  Yes.  But I now have a feeling of relief.  I now know that if I can fight through these cravings and stay clean, then I can fight through any craving.  The more we addicts fight through cravings, the more experience we gain and the easier it gets to fight them.  Recovery is a process, one that brings assurance of hard times.  I now know that I can get through these hard times.  I now know that God is stronger than any addiction.  I now know that it is possible to maintain long-term recovery.  I now know that you can too.  If you are an addict, please know that I am always available to talk.  My email is aenewliferecovery@yahoo.com and if you are having cravings or need to talk, email me your phone number and I will call you right away.  Please have assurance that you can fight the cravings that you will experience.  When you fight them and get to the other side, it is a great feeling.  Recovery is worth it!

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The Signs of Drug Use: Part 1

Quite often, I have heard people ask, “What are the signs of drug use?”  As the drug epidemic worsens every day, impacting families from all walks of life, concerned parents want to know what to look for.  Before my son’s seven year struggle with various drugs, I knew nothing about drugs or the signs of drug use.  I was never around drugs, I never used drugs, and I was in the dark on this issue.  Prior to 2006, I would not have been able to answer the question about “the signs,” but today I feel comfortable addressing this subject.

I do not claim to be an expert in the area of substance abuse.  I am not a professional in the substance abuse field.  But I have lived it, and I have witnessed severe drug addiction from the parental side for what seemed to be an eternity.  Based on our experiences, therefore, this is what I have to offer, and I hope it proves helpful.  What are the signs of drug use?  In the following blogs, we will focus on three indicators: paraphernalia, physical signs, and personality signs.

Paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia comes in numerous forms.  A host of items/objects found in your child’s pockets, wallets, purses, bedroom or vehicle can be indicators of drug use.  These items can appear innocent or harmless initially.  You may not have noticed them before.  You think, “That’s odd.  What’s this doing here?”  My son’s addiction began with marijuana, and so I will begin with paraphernalia associated with weed, and then turn the focus to items pertaining to opiates.

Let’s start with little cigars, like swisher sweets.  Some marijuana users purchase small cigars, hollow them out and replace the cigar tobacco with weed.  If you find swisher cigars (or wrappers, boxes) in your kid’s room, look in the trash (you may find the cigar tobacco that was removed).  Fragments of the cigar may also be on the floor.  Swishers may be a clue that “wacky tobacky” is being smoked.

Another odd thing you may notice are water bottles or pop cans with little holes poked in them (possibly covered with aluminum foil).  This is another way weed is smoked, mostly by teens.  We found plenty of perforated cans and bottles back in the day-in trash cans, the yard, under the bed.  Smell the bottle or can-it will no doubt have an unusual smell.  In the more “sophisticated” stage of marijuana use, a funny looking pipe is utilized.  If you find a pipe in your kid’s room, trust me, he isn’t smoking a Prince Albert.  Another popular way to smoke weed is in a “bowl.”  A bowl is usually made out of colored glass and can come in many different shapes and sizes.  You can buy these at smoke shops and some gas stations sell them, as well.  They are meant to be used to smoke tobacco but any weed smoker knows what they are really made for.

Sandwich baggies are another sign to watch for.  You may see baggies lying around in your kid’s room, in the trash can, or in his pocket.  Weed is often sold in a baggie.  The bag will likely have a unique smell.  Of course, other drugs could be purchased in a baggie-but there aren’t too many good reasons for empty baggies to suddenly begin appearing.  Another object marijuana is now being bought and stored in is a mason jar.  With the new medical marijuana everywhere, medical weed usually comes in one of these jars.  And then there is another clue: eye drop containers.  In an effort to remove “evidence” of smoking from their eyes, pot smokers resort to putting drops in their eyes.  These little bottles on your kid’s dresser, in the car, or purse, are not a good sign.  It is also important to be watchful for remnants of weed, which is green in color, and distinct from cigarette leafs, with a totally different smell.  You may see little fragments of marijuana on the bedroom floor, in pockets, or in your kid’s vehicle (on the floor, dashboard, or seat).  These stems or leafs are called “shake.”  A Mason P.D. Officer told me, after writing a ticket for possession, that if I was driving that vehicle and was pulled over, could get a citation myself for having “shake” on the floor of the car.  Other marijuana paraphernalia often used by smokers that you can watch out for are grinders (circular objects that are used to grind down weed), scales (used to weigh marijuana), lighters, or anything else related.

If your child has advanced to hard drugs, other signs will begin to appear.  To get a quicker, more pronounced high, drug users grind up pills into powder and snort it through the nose, usually with rolled up dollar bills, straws, or empty pen containers.  Sometimes, they will leave behind the traces of the powdery remains, smeared on a desk or other hard surfaces.  You may come across an unexpected pill you don’t recognize-call a pharmacy, describe the pill to the pharmacist, and he or she will be able to tell you what it is.  The abuse of prescription painkillers is rising dramatically, but many users aren’t swallowing them, they are snorting them.

Spoons in your child’s room are definite red flags.  Spoons are tools used in the melting process of opiates.  On occasion, I found spoons in Aaron’s room and at first, ignorantly thought he had indulged in a bowl of cereal or ice-cream and forgot to return the spoon to the kitchen.  We also noticed that our spoon supply in the silverware drawer had mysteriously decreased, but didn’t make the connection at first.  Alas, he wasn’t eating cookies and cream in his bedroom!  A spoon as sign of drug use?  Strange, but true.  Here’s another unexpected sign: Q-Tips.  In the process of consuming hard drugs such as heroin, Q-Tips come into play.  Needle users go through a lot of them.  So, if you are spotting Q-Tips in increasing number-in the bedroom, on the floor, or in trash cans, beware!  Serious drug use may be taking place right under your nose.  Aluminum foil was referenced earlier in regards to pot smoking, but this seemingly innocent item is also used in the opiate world.  You may notice a square of foil peeled off from your roll of Reynolds Wrap, or find aluminum foil in your kid’s room or in his pockets.  Trust me, aluminum foil is a dead give-away that something serious is going on.

Look also for hardened, little rolled up pieces of cotton-these little “balls” are used in the process of heroin use and production.  In the event of heroin use, another puzzling thing you may see are tiny pieces of food wrap-plastic saran wrap baggies.  They are twisted at one end in a knot-these strange pieces of plastic are what heroin is often packaged in for sale, and sometimes dealers will use old lottery tickets folded in half to make a “pack.”  Another sign of intravenous use of drugs are large rubber bands, and belts lying on the floor on your kid’s bed.  These could very well be instruments to enhance the injection of drugs into their veins.

The most frightening and tell-tale sign of serious drug use is the syringe, the actual device used for injecting life-threatening drugs into people’s veins.  Finding needles in your child’s room is a very devastating, depressing discovery.  Many times we, Aaron’s parents, made this painful discovery.  It broke my heart every time I found one.  The addict will hide syringes under television stands, dressers, drawers, shelves, under shoes, beneath stacks of clothes, under the bed, in boxes, and a host of other places.  Used needles can also be found in the trash can, as well.  Be careful touching any needles, for obvious reasons.

With every discovery of syringes in Aaron’s room, my heart sickened.  These needles, I knew, could claim the life of my young son.  Aaron had always said that he would never put a needle in his arm.  That was the one thing he swore he would never do.  But he did, many, many times, and we nearly lost him.  The syringe is the last and most sobering sign of drug addiction.  I pray that you, as a reader of this blog, have not yet reached this very devastating point, and never will.

Now back to the original question asked by many: what are the signs of drug use?  In summary, look first for the paraphernalia in the world of substance abuse.  Drug addiction almost always begins with the gateway substance of marijuana.  Weed can lead to harder substances.  The “signs” begin with little cigars, beverage containers, pipes, sandwich baggies, eye-drop bottles, and shake.  Powdery remains, spoons, Q-Tips, aluminum foil, neatly folded strips of paper, hardened pieces of cotton, and little pieces of saran wrap, followed by syringes, are definite signs that somebody has embarked on a deadly trail.  The paraphernalia described in this blog is one answer to the troubling question of our day-what are the signs of drug use?  May God help us as parents in this time, and more importantly, may He help our young people who need God in their lives.

If you would like to ask us a question, talk to us, get some tips, help or resources, or want more information on this topic, we are always available.  Email us at newliferecovery@yahoo.com anytime and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

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Giving Thanks In All Things

If you have read my blogs about our trials and tribulations during our son Aaron’s seven year battle with drug addiction, you may be wondering how we survived as a couple, and how we made it through as a family.  We endured much suffering as individuals and as a family unit.  Today, Aaron is in recovery-11 months clean, which is a miracle.  In addition, my marriage is intact, I am still in the ministry, and my family is doing well.  This too, is a miracle, for drug addiction often destroys the family unit.

People often ask how we coped with our son’s terrible addiction to heroin and the painful impacts it imposed on Aaron’s family.  Honestly, I will tell you that our family was rocked by Aaron’s addiction, and the painful consequences he, and we, his loved ones, endured during this period of time.  We were all hurting and suffering on a daily basis.  My family was changed dramatically by drug addiction.  Things were not the same and we all mourned, in our own ways, on a daily basis.  Pain and strain were daily visitors in the Emerson household.  So how did I cope, and what helped me survive?  This may sound strange but one of the answers for me was the practice of giving thanks.  This secret came to me from a verse in the Bible, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Contemplate, for a moment, what this Bible verse is saying.  God wants us to thank Him amidst every circumstance of our lives.  This is an act of faith.  Notice, it does not say, “For everything give thanks,” but on the contrary, “In everything give thanks.”  Do you see the difference?  As a grieving father, I was not asked to give thanks for Aaron’s addiction, but in his addiction and the heartaches and trials which followed.  It is easy to thank God when things are going good, but it is another thing to express thanks in the gut-wrenching circumstances of life-when your son is bound to addiction and your family is crumbling.

But, as 1 Thessalonians says, this is God’s will for us, to thank God in all things.  And so, as a father and child of God, I began to thank God in the midst of our circumstances.  I did not thank God that my son was a heroin addict.  I did not thank God for the pain Aaron’s addiction brought on his family.  Instead, I began to thank God in the midst of Aaron’s struggles, as well as the pain addiction produced.  In these circumstances I found myself saying, “thank you God.”  That is all.  The Bible said to thank God in all things, and I did so, even when I didn’t feel like it, or it didn’t seem to make sense!  “In the midst of Aaron’s addiction, I give you thanks,” I would pray.  “In the midst of our circumstances, I thank you.”  This is an act of faith, one which God honors.  It took me a long time to get to this point in my life, but things began to change when I disciplined myself to giving thanks in all things.

On March 13, 2014, I attended a Casting Crowns concert.  What an amazing Christian band!  One song performed that night, “I will praise you in this storm,” was especially meaningful to me, the father of a drug addict who suffered with drug abuse for 7 long years.  God never promised an easy path through life as we head for eternity, nor a life void of heartaches.  Jesus told his followers that in this life we will have tribulations.  Furthermore, in Acts 14, the Bible says that “we must go through many tribulations to enter the Kingdom of God.”  Certainly, you, if you are a parent or a loved one of a drug addict or a drug addict yourself, can relate to these verses in the Scripture.  You are hurting.  You are experiencing “tribulations” of various kinds in your life today because your heart is hurting as your child or loved one is addicted to drugs.  Your family, like mine, was, or is, in chaos and turmoil.  What can you do?

You can’t change the addict in your life, but you can, as the Casting Crowns song implores, praise God in this storm.  You can, as 1 Thessalonians commands, give thanks in all things.  Exercise faith.  In the storm of your life, simply offer thanks to God, even if you don’t feel like it.  There is power in thanksgiving!  Thank God that he loves your children even more than you do (He does).  Thank God that your loved one is still alive (where there’s breath, there’s hope).  Thank God that he has the answer to your loved one’s addiction and that he will see you, and your addicted family member through.  Simply put, just discipline yourself to thanking God, even in the midst of your deep pain.

“In everything give thanks.”  This is what the Bible says, and this is one sure-fire remedy that you can pursue in the agonizing time of addiction.  When I, the father of a heroin addict, began to simply offer thanks to God, great and powerful things began to happen in his, and our, lives.  Train yourself to give thanks-in all things, not for all things-and wonderful things will result, in the life of your loved one and in your life, as well.  At the very least, you will begin to feel better when you thank God throughout your day, and inner peace will begin to return to your soul.  Giving thanks in all things is both powerful, and personally, therapeutic.  It helped me immensely, and I urge you to give it a try.

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