Guest Blogger: Anonymous – A First Hand Account of Heroin Addiction

Hi all. I talked to Nick about wanting to share some thoughts about heroin addiction. So, here it goes…

What a wonderful tool of information this website provides. What I wanted to do was give his readers a 1st hand account of addiction and try to erase some of the stigma associated with addiction.

My name is **** and I’m a recovering addict.

I’m going to try to make this short and simple. “Try” is the key word. Like so many of us, I have attention seeking behaviors that might make things difficult. However, I was taught in recovery that when expressing one’s opinion you have to ask yourself a few questions first.

1. Is it warranted?

2. Does it need to be told?

3. Does it need to be said now.

4. Does it need to be said by ME?

5. Will it hold any merit given facts?

I believe that I can answer YES to these questions, and would like to offer up the following thoughts:

If you’re a parent, the biggest thing you can do is be supportive without ANY negative connotations as far as your child’s illness is involved. This is going to be hard to hear, but you have no right. This is their fight and no matter how hard you try, it will be their decision to keep fighting, or not.

At the age of 38, my mother asked me point blank, ”Can’t you just stop?” The answer was NO, and it was the first truth I had told anyone in a very long time.

Ask yourself this question… What does an addict look like in your mind?

Did you picture a weak minded and out of control junkie?
Did you picture someone who is breaking into homes and running to the pawn shop for a few bucks, and then running to his dealers home to score?
Did you picture someone sitting in a house where so many others sit and scratch and wait for their fix?
Did you picture someone offering themselves to any man willing to pay the price, just to temporarily not feel “sick” anymore?

I want you to be honest, and picture an addict, flaws and all, in your mind. Now put your child’s face on that person.

Those are just a few of the judgmental images that are evoked when the public, or what we affectionately call you guys, “normies”, pictures an addict in their mind.

You are blessed, but not as much as we are and I’ll tell you why. An addict is a survivor and can adapt to ANY situation they come across. How many of you would go to one if the most dangerous cities in America, just to get “medication”, knowing you have a 50/50 chance of dying before, during, or after your purchases? Would you risk your life and go to a place where they sold your favorite sports team’s jersey for $10, even after you watched a man die minutes after he bought that jersey because they had a severe allergic reaction to the material?

No sane person would do this, but we do, regularly. We watch others in pain. We watch others die. We watch others do unspeakable things for a fix and say, ” I’m not there yet I’m OK”. Only to end up having to do that exact same thing to get that fix the next day.

That’s addiction. Addicts get this thought in their minds. It’s universal, but worded differently for everyone… ” If I take this thing outside of myself and put it in my body, I will feel OK about being me.”

I am a member of Narcotics Anonymous. I have been since 4/10/2004. Admittedly, I have not been clean the entire time. I relapsed in 2011. I got this thought in my head that I could “just have one beer or one joint” and still be “normal”. I was wrong. We have a saying in NA, “One is too many and a thousand is never enough.” This ended up being very true in my case.

I relapsed. I went to two separate mental hospitals in NJ. I moved back to AZ and went to a halfway house. After 30 days of being clean, I used again. That time I OD’d and was told by healthcare professionals that I died, three times! My story doesn’t end there, because someone, or something, that has more energy than I do, thought that maybe I was still salvageable and maybe I could help one more person like me before I leave this Earth.

I’m slowly getting back on my feet. I may not be where I want to be but I’m grateful I’m not where I was. It was tough, and a hard fought battle. It still is, actually, every single day. I had to buckle down and work on me. See, that’s the real truth. I had to want it. I had to need it. Nobody could guilt me into doing it, scare me into doing it, or threaten me into doing it. It had to be my choice.

There is a foolproof plan, which I can almost promise you will work… If you are vigilant and dedicated.

1. Your substance is NOT your issue. You are.
2. Change your thinking and your actions will change as well.
3. Go to 90 meetings in 90 days.
4. One day at a time.
5. Don’t pick up, no matter what.
6. Stay away from old playmates, play places, and playthings.
7. Alcohol is a drug, period! Don’t be that asshole.
8. Get a sponsor and call them every single day. Not your girl or boyfriend, priest, or rabbi, an actual sponsor. Nobody will be able to understand the trauma you have inflicted on yourself like another recovering addict. The therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel.
9. Get as many phone numbers as you can and call 5 a day. Stick with peers of the same gender until you’re told otherwise. Now is not the time for romance.
10. Do your step work. It’s the only thing that’s gonna save your ass in the long run.
11. Go get treatment and detox. Don’t do that shit at home! It’s painful and dangerous.
12. Help others after you learn how to help yourself.

I’m no expert. Check your facts and always keep learning. In fact, the more I thought I knew, the more I found out I was taught a bunch of bullshit by others who were just guessing. Organizations like NA are important and proven to be effective. People in NA will love you until you can learn to love yourself. You can download literature and find meetings at NA.org. Information is available in almost every state, and in 600 language’s all around the world.

If you’re an addict and reading this, I say to you now, with all of my heart and soul, that I LOVE YOU. I do not know you, or your name, but I LOVE YOU. If you need me, day or night, I’m always available. Leave a comment here, send an email, or ask Nick to get in touch with me.

Give yourself a break and allow yourself to re-learn how to live a “normal” life.

Thank you Nick, and everyone who might read this.
****.

 

addictionClick Here To Purchase H is for Heroin – Proceeds go towards helping fight the nationwide opioid epidemic. 

 

Dress Code Blues: Why Are Girls The Target?

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It’s that time of the year again, back to school. As much as I’ll miss my 15 year old daughter, I am so glad that we are back in session, that is unless we’re talking about the Dress Code Blues. (more…)

3 Tips for Studying: High School Edition

Now, I was a little different as a student. My face was always buried in a book, so the idea of studying was pretty appealing to me. It meant that I didn’t have to deal with whatever was going on in my family and personal life at the time. However, just because I liked to study does not mean that I was good at it. 

Studying is a skill. In order for that skill to work at peak performance it must be taken care of. Tools need to be cleaned, greased up, stored properly, and used for the right job. Studying works the same way. 

Here’s a few tips that will help your high school student get the most out of their study time. 
  1. Organization: This is a skill all on its own, but it is also an essential part of studying effectively. Organizational skills have to be used to come up with a “plan of attack” when it comes to studying. You have to organize your thoughts, then your tools. Planing for tests in advance, studying regularly to avoid cramming for tests and quizzes, making lists of the things needed to complete each assignment, completing assignments before their deadline in order to free up time for other pressing projects, and even simple time management, are all part of the organization needed to study effectively. 
  2. Notes: There are dozens of different ways to take notes. The key is to pay attention to what the educator tells you. Facts, key dates, problems written on the board, these are all usually tools that teacher use when formulating a text or quiz. Remember, tests and quizzes are assessments, they assess what the student has learned. If the teacher takes the time to point something out, chances are, it’s on the test! Writing notes by hand also stimulates key areas of the brain that reinforce learning and memory. Use your hands, and use your notes. 
  3. Flashcards – I’m a big believer in flashcards, because they work. Sure, it’s about memorization, but so is most academic testing. flashcards, along with adequate note taking, are a solid foundation for studying. In today’s digital age it’s even easier than ever too! There are flashcard apps that can be shared by students and teachers. There are flashcard apps that can be used on smart phones and PC’s too. So even “green” parents can get in on the flash card action. 

High school can be brutal. They throw a ton of information at you, and usually students find themselves in a sink or swim atmosphere. Well, it’s easier to prevent drowning by using a life-preserver, and that’s what good studying habits and techniques can do for students of all ages. Sit down and take the time to organize work into manageable tasks. Conquer them one by one. 

Until next time, 

Nick. 

Guest Blogger: HopeLine Provides Survivors A Helping Hand

HopeLine

I recently came into contact with Joanne Peters from HopeLine. Joanne had some great information to share. So, rather than simply giving out a link, I thought it would be great to have Joanne tell all of my readers about this amazing program. I hope you all take this valuable information and share it with your social networks. (more…)

Video: Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are so dangerous, especially when it comes to teens. I wanted to share a video with you. This video contains some basic information about eating disorders. It’s not my video, just one I came upon not to long ago.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to message me.

Viral Aggression – Teens and Social Media Fame

I would be willing to wager that most of you reading this are probably asking, “What is Viral Aggression?”

Viral Aggression is a phrase that I am using to pinpoint and bring attention to a new form of violence and aggression that is eating away at the moral compass of teens growing up the this YouTube generation. Listen, this is not one of those anti-social media posts. I am a big advocate for responsibly using social media, for adults and teens. This is something different. Something far more dangerous.

Viral Aggression is what happens when teens and pre-teens record random acts of violence for the purposes of achieving some level of internet fame.

What is particularly alarming about Viral Aggression is the fact that in many cases there is no typical motivating factors behind the violence. These acts of escalating violence are not motivate by race, anger, or even opportunity. Even scarier, the nature of recording these videos shows us clearly the events that lead up to the act of violence, and many times the perpetrator is not just happy, but eagerly awaiting the act with a disturbing level of joy and anticipation.

You only have to Google “Knockout Game”to see that this “game” is becoming all too real. The game involves teens being recorded sneaking up on unsuspecting individuals and punching them in the face, with the intention of knocking them unconscious. Again, this is not a robbery, it’s not a racially motivated attack, it’s not retaliation either. The purpose behind this dangerous form of “entertainment” is internet celebrity, and bragging rights when it comes to the number of engaged viewers of the video.

viral aggression

The reason for the act of violence committed on another person is for the purpose of uploading the video to social media sites like Youtube or WoldStar, in order to receive “hits” or “likes” for the content.

You read that correctly. Teens are being recorded committing random acts of violence in order to regularly post edited clips, which are quickly ranked against other similar clips, in order to determine perceived online popularity.

The entire system is based on likes and views used as a way to validate physical, verbal, and emotional assaults. It amounts to  perfectly orchestrated, escalating in severity, self absorbed acts of violence. The desire to be the best, at anything, and a demonstrated lack of concern for the personal safety of other people, is a dangerous combination. Violence begets violence. Victimized teens are going to retaliate if possible, and violence tends to quickly escalate beyond mere fisticuffs. There are already more than a few current news stories that feature teen fights and brawls ending in gunfire, stabbings, and escalating acts of violence. This trend is going to continue as long as teens are seeking popularity and validation at the expense of innocent victims.

viral aggression

Just so we are all on the same page, Viral Aggression is not limited to random acts of violence being perpetrated under the guise of a “game”.

The term includes any and all acts of violence filmed and uploaded with the intent to create a hit video, or, “go viral”. A quick scan of sites like Youtube, Worldstar, and Daily Motion, and you can find thousands of videos featuring teens being recorded while committing acts of violence. 99% of these videos are uploaded by someone who was in attendance, typically filming the act and encouraging the violence to continue.

A few parents may read this and think that this could not possibly reflect their teen. However, Facebook sites like “Ghetto Fights & Crazy Videos” have over 2,800,000 likes, and over 88,000 fans talking about the site at any given time. Clearly someone is watching them in record numbers.

A similar video on WorldStarHipHop feature two teen girls fighting each other. The video ends with one girl smashing the other girls head off off the concrete repeatedly. That video currently has over 700,000 views, and it’s one of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of fight videos posted for the world to view.

(I did not post the actual fight video because I do not want to contribute to the views and fame seeking behavior of whoever posted the video).

Have you experienced Viral Aggression first hand? Send us a message and share your story. What do you think we can do to curb this dangerous new trend?

Teaching Teens About Giving Consent

As the father of a teenage daughter, nothing keeps me awake at night more than her personal safety. Aside from STI’s, teen pregnancy, and random acts of violence, consent, and everything that comes with is still a huge topic of conversation in the world today.
consent

Click the image for more information about consent.

When I grew up, we lived in a world where “No Means No”, but that outdated philosophy has been replaced with, in my opinion, the more accurate and conclusive, “Yes Means Yes”.
What does it all mean? Truthfully, it’s kind of a mess. Why? Because we are trying to define consent using a word like “yes” or “no”. In reality, that’s not how consent works. Sometimes yes means maybe. Sometimes yes means no! Learning about consent isn’t just about preventing sexual assault. It’s about learning now to read your partners physical, verbal, and nonverbal cues. Sometimes, saying “yes” feels like the right thing at the time, but quickly escalates to a situation that one or more parties find uncomfortable.

lmuconsentgraphic

 When it comes to teaching our teens about consent, you want to make sure that boys and girls alike understand that it is OK to say “no”, and it’s OK to change your mind. It’s OK to back out, no matter how “far” things have escalated.
I think it’s important that we teach our teens that consent isn’t just about preventing sexual assault. It certainly is a huge factor, but it’s also about respecting your partner, and the way they feel in the moment. For many teens, intimate encounters, even more innocent ones, are already a jumbled mesh of hormones, emotion, anxiety, and impulse. Add in peer pressure and feelings of rejection, and these intimate encounters can easily become a situation that got out of hand to one or both teens involved.

consent_is_everything

Here’s a couple of things to consider when teaching about consent. Some of them can be taught at any age, and some or more focused on adolescence and young adults.
  1. Make sure you kids ask permission before touching their peers. If the answer is no, move on with your business.
  2.  Educate your teen by telling them that it’s OK to “check-in” with their partner every once in a while to make sure that they are still a willing participant to any activities.
  3.  Help teens understand the importance of the words “STOP” and “NO”.
  4.  Help teens read social cues, body language, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues that suggest a partner might not be as comfortable as they say they are.
  5. Empathy is a gift that we can give our children. Teaching them to put themselves in someones shoes can help children understand that their actions have consequences.
  6.  Don’t assume just because your partner was OK with something once that it means it will happen again.
  7.  Encourage children and teens to speak up when they feel uncomfortable or violated.
  8.  Explain to teens exactly what harassment and assault are, and the consequences of such actions.
  9.  Don’t leave out topics that include consent and other high risk behaviors, like drinking and drugs.
  10.  Of course, include consent related topics in “the talk” when you feel your teens are ready.
Here’s something else to consider. Teaching about “Good Touch” and “Bad Touch” is not just something we teach to younger children. Working in group homes with teen boys I saw a lot of physical interactions: butt smacking, “purple nurples”, pinching, and even hits to the genitals. However, time and time again teens will sit down and discuss consent and often the boys and girls will have dramatically different reactions to these types of physical interactions. I also feel it’s important to point out that this is not just a boys vs girls scenario. We are all different, come from different backgrounds and cultures, so respecting physical boundaries isn’t about not allowing “boys to be boys”. It is about teaching boys and girls to have fun and stay safe and comfortable around each other.

five-bullets

This topic is a pretty big deal. We could spend all month talking about consent in all of its forms. If you have any specific questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below, or message me in private. I’m always open to new topics too!
Nick.

Personal Update: House Fire Destroyed Everything

I get personal in my posts, and sometimes share stories, but I rarely post topics that are 100% about my life. It’s not that I don’t like sharing, I just like helping more. However, since my family has suffered a serious setback this week, I figured I’d share and reach out to my readers.

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We had just sat down to a nice lunch at Panera Bread when a neighbor called to tell us something had been going on at the house. We rushed home, and found 6 fire trucks waiting for us. It was unreal. The fire-fighters who bravely put out the fire informed us that our dogs (Atreyu, Pinoy, and Nick Furry) along with our cat (Miss Kitty Fantastico) did not survive the fire, and that a majority of our belongings were gone as well.

My family was devastated by the deaths of our pets, but that was just the beginning of a nightmare that’s still not over.

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We are now staying at a Motel 8, surviving on the little funds The Red Cross can help us with, and hoping to find a new place to rent before the money runs out.

Friends have started a GOFUNDME to raise some funds for a down payment and some modest furnishings (mattresses to sleep on). If you feel the urge to donate, or share the link, that would be super. I’m desperately trying to bring some normalcy back into the life of my 13-year-old daughter.

Thank you for listening.

Nick.

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