Substance Abuse, Recovery, and Michael Phelps

i Aug 12th No Comments by

What does the word recovery really mean to someone like Michael Phelps?

michael phelps

Michael Phelps swam past his substance abuse issues at 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo credit: edition.cnn.com

The phenomenal Olympian’s legacy was called into question over the past 8 years after he was charged with substance abuse.

What Happened?

Photographed taking a hit from a bong
Handed two DUI’s
Sentenced to an 18 month probation
Suspended from Team USA Swimming and forced to miss world championships in Russia
Spent six weeks in an alcohol rehabilitation program

What Next?
Girlfriend became his fiancée
Estranged relationship with his father improved
Peers elected him captain of Team USA
Developed reputation as a mentor at 2016 Olympics
Increased his Olympic medal collection to 26 (as of today)

Recovery is rewarding. But recovery is a hard word to swallow. A lot of people seem to believe the word brands them as addict, or alcoholic. Yet experts tell us that only the individual who has suffered from substance abuse can brand himself or state he is in recovery.
Michael Phelps rebranded Michael Phelps. The word recovery, in my opinion, should only be used in the context that Phelps recovered his career, his self-respect, respect of loved ones and peers, and most important, a rewarding relationship with his authentic self. His journey should be celebrated on multiple levels and bring a message of hope to families who struggle with loved ones who suffer from substance abuse. Congratulations, Michael Phelps. And thanks for showing those of us who want to recover our own self-image, that we can.

Substance Abuse Incident, What Next?

i Aug 21st No Comments by

There has been an incident with your loved one involving substance abuse. Quick – what are the first 5 steps you should take immediately?

  1. Make sure the person is out of physical danger
  2. Identify the facts about what exactly happened
  3. Remove any substances or items that could cause additional harm, including an automobile, if necessary
  4. Seek the counsel of an experienced substance abuse counselor
  5. Assess the degree or extent of the problem
Parent-Support-After-Child-Addiction-Incident

The first five steps after a substance abuse incident can save a life and help people think and act more clearly.

If your teen is on your phone plan, then start monitoring their call, text and internet activity. Start a record to track habits and calls. Start exploring the best course of action. Now.

Law enforcement or Student Conduct might dictate the next step, giving you no choice regarding what to do next. Unfortunately, depending on the community or school, some teens will be forced to attend mandatory, often inadequate DUI schools, which in many cases feel so punitive, that they hardly inspire sobriety or improved behaviors. What’s more, law enforcement might also impose community service, which could add fuel to feelings of humiliation, particularly if it is a service that does not necessarily fit the transgression or the behavior.

Intensive out-patient programs (IOP), which combine therapy, group therapy, counseling and medicine dispensation, along with other programs are available. Look for details forthcoming. Here is a start, in the meantime.

  • Weekend outpatient
  • Inpatient recovery programs, which usually involve detox for addicts, alcoholics. Detox needs to be medically supervised, or death could result in severe cases
  • Comprehensive residential addition programs
  • Wilderness programs, 20 to 90 day recovery centers that focus on intensive outdoor forms of therapy, combined with individual/group therapy
  • 12-step programs or communities

Will Ban on College Campuses Curb Alcohol Abuse?

i Aug 17th No Comments by

In January of this year, the New York Times ran a story about Dartmouth banning hard liquor on it’s campus. Since then, I have been meaning to write about this.

So banning hard alcohol at frat parties and on campus will help “arrest bawdy behavior and reduce sexual assault”? Hmmm… who said so? Addiction therapists and experts at many respected facilities advise clients that it is alcohol, more than other substances, that wreaks the worst havoc on young adults and families. Beer, wine, or booze, they pretty much have the same impact. Heroin is an exceptional substance because it kills from overdose and has more addictive characteristics than many other substances. But alcohol, regardless of the form, is often more damaging.

Ban_Alcohol_on_College_Campus

Dartmouth College attempted to curb alcohol abuse by banning booze on campus.

In fact, the most dangerous substance abuse problem on many campuses is allegedly alcohol mixed with Xanax. So what does Dartmouth expect to accomplish with a ban on booze, but not beer and wine? Does the action placate wealthy alums who expect action but don’t understand the real facts surrounding substance abuse? Hard alcohol is easier to conceal than a case or a keg. That doesn’t mean that banning it will help.

How about institutionalizing programs that support prevention and teach and enable students to intervene if a friend is getting into hazy territory? How about mandatory group substance abuse counseling on Sunday night at the Frat house? How about a sober tailgate? Sponsored by the likes of Coke or Pepsi or Ford, and other big brands that want to target young and millennials and be part of a healthy, even a party culture?

Come on Dartmouth, show a little leadership. Show a little resourcefulness. Get real on young adult behaviors and alcohol abuse.

Substance Abuse and a DUI or MIP

i Aug 9th No Comments by

If you need to pay bail, then arrange to pay, or get a bail bondsman to pay, so you can get your child home and stabilized. If it’s not the first time, let your child figure it what to do this time. Watching that unfold will enlighten you about the extent of the problem – is this a bump in the road, a chronic habit, or a bigger problemiss?

Call the number on the citation and get a copy of the police report, to see what exactly happened and whether other stuff went on. This could take 2-3 days. You will need to go to the jail to get the report. But get it, because you need to know what really happened.

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DUI or MIP for substance abuse can help families identify extent of a problem and accelerate a recovery path. Photo: Library of Congress.

Get an attorney for your child or request a court assigned attorney. Everyone has a right to one. If you hire one, get a specialist, a litigator who has handled this sort of issue before, preferably in the county or court system in which it is assigned. Expertise helps save a lot of time.

Comply with a lawyer’s advice. First time offender statutes work in your favor, if you think your kid will abide by the statutes.

Show up in court, and early. The court system can be punishing to anyone who wastes its time. Tell your child to address the judge yes or no, “your honor” and to look presentable. It matters.

If the incident was reported to your child’s school, schedule a meeting with the school counselor and your child immediately. Make the school your friend. Believe it or not, school administrators are potential advocates for your child, unless he has been a repeat offender – in which case, they might feel your problem is beyond their expertise.

J. Tom Morgan wrote an excellent book called Ignorance Is No Defense, about the laws in Georgia impacting teenagers. It is an excellent overview of what every teen and parent needs to know.