Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Blog Post at Heroes in Recovery

A slightly modified version of an earlier blog post of mine has just been published over at the Heroes in Recovery website. If you get a chance, check it out. It's a very personal reflection about something that means a lot to me. One of those "aha" moments, if you will.

Here's the direct link to the post: A Reminder in My Pocket.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How Far He's Come

Yesterday afternoon, while he was at work, my son posted the following status update on Facebook:

"Just feeling grateful today. Glad to be fully functional and doing something productive with my life."

Then last night he texted my wife to tell her about an incident that happened at work involving a customer in the rest room. Let's just say it was drug-related.

My son told my wife how that incident made him feel incredibly good about where he's at right now. (It also prompted his Facebook post.)

I had gone to bed early last night and found out about those texts when my wife came upstairs to tell me about them. She also told me about one other text my son had sent her:

"Go upstairs and tell dad I love him."

My son has come so far. I am truly blessed and beyond grateful. Every. Single. Day. And I believe in my son.


"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude." --A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Another Blog Post Republished by

I'm happy to report that another one of my blog posts--Depression and Addiction: We Must Break the Stigmas--has been republished on (Here's the direct link to my post:

I'm a big fan of The Fix's website and am so glad that my writing on issues that are so important to me is starting to reach a larger audience.

If you get a chance, please check out my blog post on The Fix's website and consider leaving a comment on it. Also, feel free to share the post. As I've said before, education and awareness are keys to making change happen. Let's spread the word!

To everyone who reads this blog: Thank you for your continued support. I truly appreciate it. Together we can help bring depression and addiction out of the dark and into the light, and help break the stigmas associated with these two diseases.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why Self-Care Is Important

Whenever I talk to parents of a child who is struggling with addiction, I tell them that taking care of themselves is just as important as taking care of their child. Sometimes that instruction is met with funny looks or skepticism. But self-care for the parent of someone fighting addiction is absolutely essential.

I've written about this issue before, for example in the blog post entitled "Parents Need Recovery Too," which I wrote for the Heroes in Recovery website back in February. But today while I was re-reading the Center for Motivation and Change's publication The Parent's 20 Minute Guide: A Guide for Parents About How to Help Their Children Change Their Substance Use, I found their explanation about why self-care is so important to be spot-on:

"If you love someone with a substance use problem, worry, frustration, and feelings of helplessness probably consume large amounts of your time and energy. Even more so if that someone is your child. As you focus on your child, taking care of yourself probably falls to the bottom of your list, if it makes the list at all. You might reason that you'll feel better when your child gets better, so it makes sense to prioritize his needs at your (and perhaps the rest of the family's) expense for now. This impulse to suspend paying attention to your own health and happiness is understandable but is likely to cause more problems than you realize if it causes you to be reactive, anxious, or easily frustrated. Your child is struggling with a variety of issues (all in the spirit of growing up!) and he needs you to be strong, calm, and optimistic. It helps if you are sleeping, eating well, and finding some comfort and joy in your life. It helps if you don't hang your wellbeing on his. Having your health and outlook on life be dependent on the choices your child makes can be too much for a child--even an adult child--to bear.

"Taking care of yourself is vital to helping your child and the rest of your family. Try to resist the impulse to put your life on hold and live only in emergency/panic mode. How can you possibly go to a movie when you're worried that your child is out getting high again?! Well, what if taking a break from worrying is the most helpful thing you could do right now, and you can learn how?

"Remember the safety announcement on planes before takeoff: secure your own oxygen mask first before you help someone else. This is for the benefit of the whole group. Helping works the same way on the ground. You need a certain amount of 'oxygen' (sleep, nutrition, exercise, socializing, and fun) to sustain you as you help your child. Without attention to your own needs, you risk collapsing before you manage to help. Even if you stay standing, you won't be able to think, plan, act, and troubleshoot as effectively--as you can when you're healthy, optimistic, and resilient."

That pretty much sums it up. Taking care of YOU should be a top priority.

Trust me. Early on in my son's battle with addiction I did not take care of myself. I was totally consumed by my son's issues--addicted to his addiction--and it was the worst thing possible, both for me and the rest of my family. Years later, when I finally realized that my life had value, too, and I started taking care of myself, it was a game-changer for everyone involved.

If you're new to the parent-of-an-addicted-child world, the concept of self-care may seem completely foreign to you. But you owe it to yourself, your child, and the rest of your family to get on board and start treating yourself like you matter, too. Because you do.

P.S. The Center for Motivation and Change's 20 Minute Guide is a companion to their book Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change. I cannot recommend these publications highly enough and wish they'd been around years ago when my wife and I first became aware of our son's addiction issues.

(Note: Excerpt from The Parent's 20 Minute Guide: A Guide for Parents About How to Help Their Children Change Their Substance Use is Copyright © 2013 by Center for Motivation & Change. All rights reserved.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Movin' on Up

My son got a promotion at work yesterday, along with another raise.

I'm a proud dad.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Bergamot: Help This Great Group Make Their Next Record

I rarely use this blog to talk about things that aren't somehow related to addiction. I can probably count the number of times I've done so on one hand. The last time (I think) was my post about how awesome my younger son's high school is. I believe in the Leelanau School so much that I had to share it with everyone.

Well, today I'm sharing something else I believe in with you: A musical group called The Bergamot.

The Bergamot is made up of two wonderful young people named Jillian Speece and Nathaniel Paul Hoff. They've been writing songs together for ten years--since high school--and touring together for four years. This husband and wife duo has an American indie, folk rock-inspired sound, featuring unbreakable harmonies. Their songs are written from the heart and tell stories--both happy and sad--about life.

When my wife and I first heard The Bergamot, we fell in love with their music. Not only that, we fell in love with Jillian and Nathaniel as people. They are two of the nicest, most down-to-earth, joyful people we have ever met. They exude positivity and are incredibly passionate about their music. Their music is their life. So much so that they recently relocated from South Bend, Indiana, to Brooklyn, New York, so they could continue to pursue their dreams.

As they finish up writing songs for their new album called Tones, The Bergamot needs financial help. They started a Kickstarter campaign called "30K in 40 Days" to try and raise money they desperately need to make the new record happen. So far, as I write this post, people have pledged $23,390.00 to the campaign. So Jillian and Nathaniel still need $6,610.00 to be pledged; and they only have nine days left.

Bottom line: Check out The Bergamot's Kickstarter campaign page. Check out their website. Check out their Facebook page. Follow them on Twitter. But most importantly, check out their music. If you like what you hear, please consider making a pledge on Kickstarter so they can get their new record completed and released.

I believe in these "kids" so much. They have hearts of gold and even came to our house this past Thursday night and played a house show to help celebrate my younger son's high school graduation. They are first-class musicians and first-class human beings.

Below is a video of The Bergamot playing their song "Linen" at my house the other night. And a few photos from the event. Watch and listen to the video. I hope you like their music as much as my family does. If you do, maybe throw a few dollars Jillian and Nathaniel's way.

Thank you for letting me digress. And to borrow The Bergamot's catchphrase...Shine on!

To quote my wife, "Jillian sings with her whole body."

After the house show.

After-house-show selfie. :) 

Father's Day 2014

I'm going to try and make this post as short as I can.

I've blogged about Father's Day here before, in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013 (2010 must have been a tough year). If you read those older posts, you'll get a feel of how my feelings have changed over the years.

I still think of Father's Day as a "Hallmark holiday," but even so I feel tons of gratitude today thanks to my two boys.

My youngest just graduated from high school and will be moving on to college in the fall. My oldest is rapidly approaching two years of sobriety and is maturing more every day.

Two-and-a-half years ago, I could never have imagined things being how they are today. Now it's reality and I thank my lucky stars every single day. I am truly blessed with two amazing sons who have come so far in their lives.

This is the second Father's Day I've experienced without my own father, and I miss him. I think of him often and certain things trigger memories of him. Some are good, many are bad; but they're still memories. Today I'll remember him when I see the U.S. Open golf tournament on TV because my dad loved golf and always wanted to spend Father's Day watching the last round of that event.

To all the fathers who are dealing with/have dealt with an addicted child: Speak up and help break the stigma associated with addiction. You shouldn't feel ashamed or guilty or embarrassed. Addiction is a disease and you are not alone in what you are experiencing/have experienced. Let's stand together as dads, tell our stories, and let the world know that we as a society have to address addiction with the same energy and tenacity that we used to bring AIDS and breast cancer out of the shadows and into the light. If we don't, we will continue to lose more beautiful children at an alarming rate.

To all the fathers out there who have lost a child to addiction: My heart aches for you. I can't even imagine what you're feeling today or what you feel every day. Know that none of it was your fault, and that your child is in a better, more peaceful, less painful place. If you haven't already, I urge you to share your stories so that people can learn how awful addiction can be, and that it can happen to anyone. I admire your courage so much.

If you're a dad, love your kids 24/7/365. Make it a habit of telling them how much you love them. Be an example for them. Appreciate them for what they are. And most of all, just be there for them.

Happy Father's Day.

"I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway... let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves." --C. JoyBell C.

Me and my dad at Niagara Falls, circa 1965.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Graduation Day Postscript

After my younger son's graduation ceremony at the Leelanau School on Saturday, my older son came up to me, gave me a hug, and said, "Congratulations, dad. At least one of us made it."

I was immediately overcome with tears because I knew that a part of my older son was hurting because he didn't graduate from high school. (He actually got his GED about a week before his high school class graduated.)

While crying, I hugged him tightly and told him, "You did make it! You've come so far and I'm so proud of you. I love you so much."

He hugged back just as tightly and said, "I love you, too, dad."

Saturday was probably the proudest day of my life. I love my boys.

"Accept the children the way we accept trees--with gratitude, because they are a blessing--but do not have expectations or desires. You don’t expect trees to change, you love them as they are." --Isabel Allende

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Graduation Day

Today was the day.

My younger son graduated from "The Greatest High School on Earth" today.

It was spectacular.

I don't think it's really hit me yet, but I know that I'm grateful beyond words and incredibly proud of him.

I love both my boys so much.

And to everyone associated with the Leelanau School: A million thank-yous!

"If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough." --Meister Eckhart

This place is beyond amazing.

Friday, June 6, 2014

I'm Living a Dream This Weekend

I'm writing this from a cottage my wife and I rented for the weekend. We are in northern Michigan--Glen Arbor to be specific--for our younger son's graduation from the Leelanau School (the subject of an earlier blog post of mine, "The Greatest High School on Earth").

I'm living a dream this weekend.

A few years ago, I didn't know what the future held for my younger son's education because his ADHD made him incompatible with public high school. He was struggling in his studies and feeling lost; and, quite frankly, the school didn't seem to care all that much. But we found the Leelanau School, where everyone cares about students with learning difficulties. It has changed our lives.

A few years ago, things were also very different for our older son. But now, going on two years of sobriety, he is a changed man who is with us this weekend to watch his little brother graduate. I can't even begin to tell you how incredibly grateful I am that he is here. It's been such a joy to see my younger son "showing off" his big brother and introducing him to everyone at the school. He loves him so much.

Today there's a picnic at the school, followed by an awards ceremony, dinner, a play (my son has a lead role), and a "Coffee House" music performance (my son is taking part in that as well). Tomorrow is the "big day," and I'm sure my wife and I will both cry like babies through the entire commencement ceremony.

Everything about this weekend is amazing: the scenery, the weather (which is perfect), the people, the activities, the food. But what's especially beautiful to me is the togetherness and love I feel within my family. I couldn't have scripted anything better.

I'm living a dream this weekend. Only it's not a dream.

"I sustain myself with the love of family." --Maya Angelou

Our home for the next few days.
The view from the Leelanau School's beach yesterday afternoon.

Monday, June 2, 2014

My Son Is 23 Months Clean Today

I woke up this morning feeling a bit uneasy. It's June 2nd and this month is going to be an incredibly busy one for me and my family, with lots of activities and some travel. The busyness starts this week. I'm sure June will be just a blur by the time it's over.

On top of the "June Madness," I'm still looking for work after having been laid off in mid-December. My lovely wife assures me that "things will work out." Call me crazy, but I trust that she knows what she's talking about. If we end up living under a freeway overpass in a few months, I'll tell her she was wrong. But until then, I'm keeping the faith.

Nothing lasts forever, and this morning's uneasiness was no exception. In fact, by the time I got out of bed I was feeling better and had a big smile on my face and in my heart. Why? Because the fact that it's June 2nd means today marks 23 months of sobriety for my son, who is in long-term recovery from addiction.

Twenty-three months. Exactly 700 days. One month away from two years.

I am so grateful today that I feel like writing "GRATEFUL" on my forehead in Sharpie just so everyone I encounter knows exactly how I feel. Instead, I'll just write it on a piece of paper and keep on smiling.

"Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good." --Maya Angelou

Sunday, June 1, 2014

An Overdue Change to the Subtitle of My Blog

When I started my blog back in December of 2008, I didn't know what to call it. I chose "My Life as 3D" simply because my initials are "DDD."

But the title of the blog didn't describe what it was about. I needed a subtitle. So I came up with "3D-mensional Musings from the Father of an Addict. (No special glasses required.)." I thought "3D-mensional Musings" and "No special glasses required"--references to 3D movies and the like--were kind of cute. But I was never very comfortable with the "Father of an Addict" part. There was certainly nothing cute about that.

At the time this blog was created, my son was in active addiction. "Addict" was really the only succinct way I knew how to describe my son back then. So I used that word in my blog's subtitle and in most of my posts.

Then a couple of months ago I read a blog on the Huffington Post's website entitled "I'm Breaking up with the Word 'Addict' and I Hope You'll Do the Same." It was written by Meghan Ralston, the Harm Reduction Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.

"For many people, myself included, the word 'addict' is incredibly harmful and offensive," Ralston writes. "You do not have my permission to call me an addict." She goes on to add, "The sense of fear, loathing, otherness and 'less than' created by that word far outweighs any benefits of using linguistic shorthand to quickly describe a person. 'Addict' is a word so singularly loaded with stigma and contempt that it's somewhat appalling that we continue to let it be used so easily and indiscriminately."

When I read that blog, it really resonated with me. Especially:

"'Addict' is a word so singularly loaded with stigma and contempt that it's somewhat appalling that we continue to let it be used so easily and indiscriminately."

I remember thinking something like "Amen!" after reading that. Yet I never took any action to correct myself. Maybe I was too busy at the time or just plain forgot. It doesn't really matter.

Fast forward to today.

This morning the ManyFaces1Voice Facebook page reposted the link to Meghan Ralston's blog, and I was reminded of how much reading it the first time had impacted me.

So today I am changing the subtitle of my blog to "3D-mensional Musings from the Father of a Person in Long-Term Recovery from Addiction," which is similar to one of the terms Ralston suggested using. In addition, the "About Me" section of my blog has been changed to read, "My oldest son is a person in long-term recovery from addiction..."

Going forward, I will do my best to refrain from using the word "addict" in blog posts, too. If I slip up on occasion, please forgive me. Old habits are hard to break.