Legends never die. The ironic complexity of this age-old adage is all too familiar. The recent news about the tragic death of 28-year-old Swedish EDM artist Avicii (born Tim Bergling) has sent shockwaves throughout the music world and serves as another example of the devastation alcoholism and substance abuse has caused.
This past Thursday I buried my 24 year old son. He died March 25, 2017 after an overdose on what we suspect was tainted heroin. He had around a 9 year history of substance abuse. He started like so many kids with a little drinking and some pot. All of which were hidden. He was an extraordinarily talented musician, a world class Halo player, the most popular guy in school and made straight A's through middle school. As he grew there was increasing aggression, and a decreasing desire to do well in school or be anything BUT in control of every interaction. Like so many people with whom we may relate, he had the type of "A" personality that was sometimes a problem.
About 2 years ago his problems blossomed. He couldn't hold a job, my dad died and he used that as an excuse to hit the turbo on his drug use. He burned through relationships as fast as he could go. Eventually only close family had any significant interaction with him and unfortunately some of them were actively living the same life...one cousin in particular.
About 7 months ago he went kicking and screaming into a residential rehab. Within 2 weeks a new man was writing letters and expressing feelings of long thought were beyond him. The next 4 months were almost heaven with him as new relationships were formed, old wounds were bound and new hope was on the horizon. But as a wise man once said, "Addiction is a 3 fold disease.... Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years". A few days into this year he left U-Turn and now within a few months he's gone.
(I) Cleaned out his car yesterday. The contrast was stark. Trash and open containers against suitcases of neatly folded clothes organized by season. Old candy wrappers and receipts contrasting little presents he had been collecting from the thrift store where he'd worked. He's gone and I'm still here. See, his story and mine aren't all that different.... for some reason he just couldn't stay in the solution and kept going back again and again to the problem.
A whole lot of you have already been expressing support for our family and for that we are grateful. Family......it is real, it is a disease, and it is survivable.
One last thought. As Andrew got closer and closer to leaving rehab he kept using the excuse of this (rehab) being a "waste of time now. I'm sober. If I get into school it'll help me stay focused and I can use the tools I've already learned." My response was "what is even a year's investment in this vs 50 years of life when if you leave you may only have a year?" He got out...got into school...hated it and for whatever reason just kept on going.
“We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
― C. S. Lewis
Parkdale CEO, Rodrigo Garcia will address attendees at the National Organization of Alternative Programs (NOAP) in San Antonio, Texas to discuss the addiction crisis amongst health care professionals. During the April 28-April 30 National Symposium, Mr. Garcia will present his highly regarded “Catch Me If You Can” presentation which depicts the impaired professional managing the care of patients. Drawing from his vast professional experience in the health care industry as a board certified nurse anesthetist, his formal didactic studies in addiction and health care, his role as CEO of Parkdale Recovery Center, and his personal experience, Mr. Garcia depicts the challenges, struggles, and societal implications of the impaired health care provider. In experts from an interview with Mr. Garcia, he stated the following:
Interviewer: We hardly ever hear about this so how big of a problem is this really?
Mr. Garcia: That in it self is part of the problem. The potential fallout and publicity hospitals will receive if the news of an impaired provider got out could be detrimental to their image. This often encourages the facilities to act swiftly and quietly although not necessarily in the best interest of all involved. According to the National Safety Council, 1:15 people currently suffer from some form of substance use disorder. Those numbers are estimated to be closer to 1:10 for health care workers for a variety of reasons including increased stress, accessibility to controlled substances, and expert knowledge in how to use them.
Interviewer: That number seems very high. I would expect to see impaired health care providers falling over themselves in the hospitals. How does the impaired provider typically present?
Mr. Garcia: That is a great question. In fact, it can be very difficult to detect unless you are looking for it specifically. The impaired provider can present in many ways that, on the surface, may not appear significant until a sentinel event occurs. An impaired provider can be: A surgeon who is hung over from the night before, A radiologist suffering from withdraw symptoms and unable to concentrate, a pharmacist that is diverting pills from patients leaving them in pain, a nurse that is actively under the influences of drugs or alcohol and forgets to administer a medication, a technician who is switching out medications and infecting unsuspecting patients, or the anesthesiologist that just overdosed in the bathroom. As you can see, the implications on the patients can be quite profound.
Interviewer: I am still surprised as to nearly 10% of providers being “sub-optimal” due to some form of substance use. These providers have spent years of their life and significant financial sacrifices to be accomplished professionally. The burning questions is “WHY?” would they do this?
Mr. Garcia: Although there are some factors that may predispose people to addiction or alcoholism, there is usually a precipitating event. Sometimes it is increased personal stress, a prescription for pain after surgery, a chronic medical condition, or a significant life event. The event coupled with maladaptive coping skills and a genetic predisposition creates a perfect environment for the addiction to seed it self and take root. In other words, the addiction and subsequent addictive behaviors usually have a benign onset. In fact, at some point most of our patients say a variation of “ I once said I would NEVER do those things yet here I am”.
Interviewer: If that is the case, why don’t they ask for help before they get caught or hurt someone else?
Mr. Garcia: Unfortunately, society does not allow that to happen so easily. The stigma associated with the word ADDICTION or ADDICT and the common punitive response to it often dissuades people from asking for help. It is easy to track the “scarlet letter” of addiction through work history, insurance submissions, legal fall out, and general town hall gossip. Once the stigma is placed, it and all its’ prejudices are hard to shake. As a result, the addict will try to stop on their own repeatedly, until the subsequently get caught. Ill ask you a similar question, and be honest, what is the first thing you think about when you hear that your nurse is a recovering drug addict? Furthermore, does the word “recovering” bear any weight?
Interviewer: Point taken, I can see how that could be a problem. I am sure there is no simple solution but what is one thing you would suggest that we could all do about this apparent epidemic?
Mr. Garcia: You are right; solving this problem will require the dedicated concerted efforts of many. However, we can all start by learning more about this disease and realize that not talking about it is making it worse. The facts are that nearly everyone is affected by addiction or alcoholism. One in ten people live with addict or alcoholic and one in three know an addict first hand. The only way this gets better if we all commit to talking about it with an open mind and more importantly, an open heart.
Mr. Garcia continued the interview by discussing proposed solutions for health care facilities, suggesting ways the general public could help safeguard their care, and provided resources / advice for the impaired professional.
Rodrigo Garcia possesses an MBA with a focus in Health Care Administration; he is a Board Certified Nurse Anesthetist, Advanced Practice Nurse, and Critical Care Registered Nurse with over 20 years of patient care experience. He is also the current CEO of Parkdale Center, a treatment center specializing in the holistic management of the impaired professional. To contact Mr. Garcia directly or to request a speaking engagement with your facility, please email email@example.com
“Just Stop!” That phrase had replaced more common conversational dialogue between people like “Good morning”, “ What’s for lunch?” or the one I missed most, “I love you”. I had become a numb to the repeated cries to “Just Stop!” I knew I was getting worse; I didn’t need to hear about my progress regarding my self-destructive behaviors. I knew I was a piece of shit, I didn’t need to be reminded every time I talked to my loved ones of how much potential I once had. I knew that people had grown tired of me and had accepted the fact that I would soon be dead. In fact, I believed that more times than not and even wished that on some occasions. What I expected was to be treated like this from people who didn’t know me, but what I was surprised at was that those closest to me often judged me the harshest. I get it, I really do. I knew my friends and family were driven by fear of the worst possible outcome and stood to loose the most. Call it the “tough love” approach if you must. Regardless, my addiction had consumed not only me but also all the people around me. Those that were lucky to be on the outer most concentric circle of my life were able to disappear into the unknown never to be seen or heard of again. Those that remained close to me suffered the consequences by proxy and were anchored into a deep, dark, and helpless abyss filled with sadness and despair. They, however, knew the way back to sanity for the never left it. I was completely trapped and did not know if I would survive my addiction, or if I even wanted to.
Although I had a great childhood and upbringing, my parents blamed themselves for something they did or did not do. There was never a specific point of accountability but rather a pessimistic and looming thought they must have done something wrong. I was able to pick up on their empathetic parental instincts and early on used that to my advantage. It would always get me bailed out of a tough spot; provide me with an alibi, or the financial means to quench my ever-needy opiate receptors. I soon realized the trend that the people closest to me would often enable me to keep getting away with things that I wanted to do, despite the caustic effects it was creating in my life. Despite that, I used everyone around me to meet my addiction latent agenda because of no other reason than I could….. and it was easy.
The thing about addicts is that we know we are addicted. It usually starts off simple enough like social drinking or recreational drug use. Sometimes it’s just a little pot on the weekends, sometimes its one of these to sleep better, one of those for this unrelenting back pain, and another prescription from my doctor because I really need it. I was a little mix of all the above. Through the cacophony of my all-consuming “extracurricular activities”, I graduated top ten in high school, 4 years of the college dean’s list, and successfully defended my dissertation to cap off graduate school. While I would like to accept full credit for my academic accomplishments, it was really due to a well orchestrated and self-administered pharmacologic balancing act that would even make the best alchemist envious. Sleep, wake, energy, relaxation, recreation, anxiety, confidence, depression, and self-esteem all controlled by exogenous chemicals. What I failed to realize was that I had physically and mentally deteriorated to a state were acquaintances were leaving, friends were worried, and my family was crying. By social standards, I was a success therefore believed I had things under control.
To prove my family wrong, I would stop immediately and without trouble. After years of using pills, I stopped completely. That lasted no more than 8 hours. I was immediately flooded with nausea, anxiety, fear, restlessness, and general discomfort. I would sneak off to “pop a few pills” to stop the symptoms while simultaneously proclaiming to my family “See, I told you so”. Their response was “Just Stop!” I was out of control and now preferred to be alone. When my family saw me, all they could say was “Please, Just Stop”. I was working just to support my habit and gladly bartered suitable living conditions for my next fix. When my dad found me sleeping in my car he looked at me with tear filled eyes and said, “ Just stop”. This went on for months and months. After I was let go from my job, I quickly turned to the streets for a quicker and more affordable alternative. I lost it all, my health, my friends, my financial security, all meaningful relationships, time, and most importantly, my will to survive. I was incredibly shame filled. You know the difference between shame and guilt? Guilt means you feel bad because you did something bad and shame means you are a bad person because you did something bad. In my mind, I was a bad person, a very, very bad person and didn’t deserve to be treated otherwise. I was being told how bad I was for years and I found out that there was a pill for that too.
I found my way into a treatment center because I literally had no other option. I was living in my personal hell every day and everything I touched burned to the ground. I needed to get help. Ill never forget when the treatment center asked why I was there. I said, “I have hit rock bottom”. Without missing a beat, my counselor said, “While you are face first at your rock bottom, look around for the trap door, you can still go lower”. That made all the difference to me at the time.
I was asked to write this and share my experience and any advice I have. I want to tell everyone that being an addict or an alcoholic is not fun. It is a living hell. We know we need help but if “Just Stop” was the answer, we would all do it. It just doesn’t work like that. I would encourage you to get help for yourselves before you try to help your loved one. Make sure that YOU understand addiction and what to do to take care of yourself first and the addict only after that. If you are struggling now, just know that you are not a bad person, you just got off track somewhere and need a hand up. On March 23, 2017 I will celebrate 8 years of sobriety. I am grateful, healthy, back on track, and did I say grateful? Ill leave you with this final thought, being in recovery and living a healthy life does NOT open the gates of heaven to let you in, it opens the gates of HELL and let’s you out.
D.O.S. March 23, 2009
Opening the Gates is a story in the Perspective Series, presented by Parkdale Center. Every story is a self-told personal account of someone struggling with, recovering from, or affected by addiction/alcoholism. For more information on how to receive help or assist someone currently struggling, please visit www.parkdalecenter.com or call 1-888-883-8433
I knew all about my craft. I am was in total control. How was this any different from a dietitian modifying their intake or a trainer using his background to sculpt his body? “I’m doing this under the safest of conditions”, was my maxim. “If I just stick with clean supplies and remember to use sterile technique then I’ll be just fine.” These were the thoughts echoing through my opiate addled mind as I propped myself up between the toilet and the sink in the single occupancy bathroom that I had turned into my own personal opium den.
I loved everything about it. The ritual always culminated in a wave of feel-good euphoria as I drifted further into the warm embrace of my drugs. And it was any drug. Anything I could get my hands on was sufficient after my initial sample platter of experimentation. I wasn’t picky. I was an unlikely mix of anxious and groggy but I wasn’t picky. I’d show up to any case any time and I’d definitely stay late! As a matter of fact I’d dread vacations. A time to enjoy my family and friends and to relax was spent withdrawing in misery.
I was always managing. For a type A personality like me, whether I created the chaos or not, I got a kick out of solving things. The craving and using cycle could be quite painful but at some level it was an end in and of itself. To slyly divert a drug, steal off into the bowls of the hospital and untangle all the knots in my stomach was a thrilling ride. It created a solvable problem that I could manage quite adeptly. There was something sexy about anesthetizing a patient only minutes after tying off my foot with a tourniquet and injecting myself with drugs. After the injection I would quickly remove the tourniquet and from my thrown on the bathroom floor raise my foot in the air as if to salute the drug as gravity hastened it’s journey to my heart.
My heart often skipped a beat. Whether it was when the warmth of the drug hit my chest or when I almost got caught injecting while crouching beneath the surgical table pretending I was checking my various monitoring equipment. However, like Icarus, you can only fly that close to the sun for so long before you come crashing down.
My run at juggling addiction and medicine didn’t last very long. In fact, the last day that I worked I knew it was the day that I would get caught. I had a very good idea of what was to come in the form of lost licenses, court dates, and unemployment but I couldn’t stop myself. This is what addiction looks like but there is always hope. The journey to put the pieces back together is far from over but it helps me to revisit these memories. Not as a euphoric recall but as a warning of where I’ve been and where I can easily go again.........
BY: Jason R.
The Flight Of Icarus is a story in the Perspective Series, presented by Parkdale Center. Every story is a self-told personal account of someone struggling with, recovering from, or affected by addiction/alcoholism. For more information on how to receive help or assist someone currently struggling, please visit www.parkdalecenter.com
In the age of millennials, conceptually standard 9 to 5’s are almost considered archaic thanks to the increasing number of young entrepreneurs, bloggers, tech wizards, budding media moguls and social media (savvy) savants. In today’s workplace, time clocks are almost irrelevant as round-the-clock work is typically standard, almost required, in order to meet the demand of the current competitive marketplace. All of this in an attempt to further meet the demand of massive global consumerism. While seemingly faux pas in its plight, irony has a way of making itself evident in that many of those working such feverish hours are finding enjoyment in it. Part of it may be that in some vocational venues, today’s “office” isn’t much of an office at all. Workers today are given the freedom to work when they want, how they want as long as they meet their deadlines. In one place of employment you might find a gym, full on cafeteria, an arcade, even a daycare, all perks put in place to encourage “creativity” and allow an atmosphere conducive to developing “effective workers”. Sure seems like the ideal job to have, but even when surrounded by such frills and freedom, is there a point where you working a job transitions into a job working you, even while taking pleasure in it?
Rumor has it that within today’s highly competitive workforce lies a group of individuals whose drive and determination, while seemingly noble, have led to the unfortunate, treacherous path of workaholism. Yes, as one of addiction’s many deplorable minions, vocational extremism has been known to rear its ugly head from time to time among those who, for one reason or another, find it necessary to tirelessly put in more hours than is required from their respective place of employment. And while being diligent and dedicated to one’s work is an admirable trait, there is nothing beneficial to being overworked to the point of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. There is a danger to workaholism that can lead to depression and in some cases contribute to other forms of addiction. It goes without saying, that being a workaholic isn’t limited to those who simply “enjoy what they do”. For many, like those struggling with other addictions, it can be used simply as a way to escape what some may feel is an unhappy life, even if for a brief moment. And like those addicted to other vices, while seemingly beneficial to their immediate needs and desires, a price is being paid that no amount of overtime can match.
According to an article in The Fix, like drug and alcohol addiction, “work addiction could be a way of escaping from other issues” and “a new study out of Norway has found that workaholics are more likely than non-workaholics to suffer from anxiety and depression, among other psychiatric disorders.” Researchers in the article have also found that “Taking work to the extreme may be a sign of deeper psychological or emotional issues.” Finally, the article cited a study from the British Medical Journal (January 2015) which reported that “ those who work more than 48 hours per week are more likely to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol.” (https://www.thefix.com/workaholics-have-higher-rates-anxiety-and-depression). These reports suggest that at the very least, there is some merit in trying to determine whether or not one befits the title of a workaholic and that if they find they are one, determine the root cause of the issue so that it may be addressed accordingly. Having the appropriate knowledge can help to quickly obtain the proper response and treatment. And that is something worth working for.
Like this article? Check out some of our other blogs to find more topics that appeal to you! Also, let us know how we can be a part of your journey to self discovery, awareness and overall quality of life. Visit us at parkdalecenter.com we’d love to hear your story and maybe be a part of it!
For more details on this study please visit: https://www.thefix.com/workaholics-have-higher-rates-anxiety-and-depression
For those of you familiar with the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, you may recall a very powerful moment in cinematic history when the film’s central character, George Bailey, (as played by the great Jimmy Stewart) suddenly stumbles upon the realization that the positive impact he’s made on a number of lives would not have happened had it not been for his very existence, an existence he was wishing never happened. When he sees how differently life would have been had he not been born, he becomes horrified at the idea and begs God to let him live again. Earlier, during his moment of realization, Clarence the angel says to George, "Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" What a powerful statement! Each person’s life can have a significant impact on so many other people’s lives.
While this is a perfect example of how one can positively impact another’s life, the reality is that sadly, one’s life also has the ability to impact others in a negative way as well. The chain reaction of individual choice has the power to affect lives in such a way that can literally change the dynamic of a family, a community, a state, even the world. Whole wars have been started over poor judgment and the foolish acts of a few individuals, resulting in thousands of lives lost. It’s amazing what the power of one’s influence can wield and sadly, in many ways, it happens in our own backyard everyday. In fact, even the addict can have such power. Often times when the grip of addiction lays hold of someone, it has the ability to transform them into someone completely different. As the person changes, behaviors have the potential to become erratic, unreasonable, and unpredictable. Narcissistic, self serving behavior begins to cause strife within the familial structure. Theft can often times become an issue. Many times, alliances within the family start forming as manipulation on the part of the addict rears its ugly head. Questions begin rise as do tensions. Arguments break out. Blame games start being played. Self doubt and the question of “where did it all go wrong?” begin to surface. Everyone suddenly decides they have the answer for that individual and many times disagreements on how it should be handled causes more division. The struggle to decide what’s best for the addict and what’s best for the rest of the family starts taking precedence and all other priorities and responsibilities take a back seat. Things start to fall out of place due to neglect and the person to be blamed for it all continues his/her plight into an abyss of self destruction with seemingly no end in sight. Bickering and fighting among the family causes bitterness, other members of the household decide to leave for lack of strength and/or lack of attention. Each individual then takes with them this burden to their place of employment, education, worship, etc. and suddenly the impact is such that some members of the family feel the need to obtain their own treatment/and or counseling as much as the addict does, yet for a different battle, the battle of mental and physical survival.
But treatment for the family members of addicts isn’t available, is it? After all isn’t the addict the one who needs treatment? The answer to both questions is a resounding yes! Due the increasing issues that arise within families due to the behavior of an addicted loved one, much is being done to help those families get to a place where their family structure can be not only restored, but maintained and even thriving through the help and support of different programs and organizations nationwide! According to addictionsandrecovery.org, there are a number of resources available along with tools you can use to help out in the meantime including tips on things you can do for the family, things you can do for the addict and things you cans do for yourself. The main thing you want to do is to take good care of yourself and don’t play the blame game. Don’t try to take this task on by yourself and reach out to professionals to get the right help for you and your loved one. Help is available for you just as much as it is for them. Make a positive choice to help yourself in this struggle, your strength is needed in helping your loved one get back to where they need to be and all the more thriving. You have the power to make a significant difference! Don’t hesitate another minute, much may be at stake!
For more information and tips on where to get help, please visit http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/families-and-addiction.htm or please contact us at parkdalecenter.com, we’d love to chat with you and help get you where you need to go!
Society nowadays seems to have a feverish romance with the desire to pass off responsibility for one’s actions on a plethora of fabricated marketing pandemics that plague our society. And yes, there are legitimate diseases, chemical imbalances and so forth that may cause people to do things they never intended to do. However, there are also adults out there who are hell bent on pushing off the responsibilities for their behaviors on things such as television ads, social media and even the Lord of Darkness himself...Satan. And while there are a number of contributing factors as to why we as societal patrons do the things we do, including being “seduced” by very persuasive marketing, the idea of placing the blame solely on a particular form of mass communication or other seemingly strong influential vices comes across as outright irresponsible. It seems a bit far fetched to suggest that one’s drinking habits were caused by the exposition of a few alcohol ads....you know...”Facebook made me do it!”
But according to thefix.com, there are some studies that may suggest otherwise. Can Facebook ads really cause someone to drink? Well, to suggest such a claim outright may be an oversimplification of the study’s findings. What do we mean? Long story short, a study was conducted using 121 participants who agreed to engage in an exercise that would expose them to a series of specific ads over a period of time with the incentive being a gift card from either a bar or a coffee shop. One group of participants was shown a series of beer ads and the other group was shown a series of water ads. When asked what card they’d prefer to take as their reward for participating in this study, 73% from those exposed to the beer ads chose to take the bar cards as did 55% of the participants from the water group. Coincidence? Were the ads causing elevated interests in alcohol simply because of its over promotion? Or is it simply that people just inherently prefer alcohol over coffee? Is there a “cool factor” to alcohol that makes it more appealing? Does alcohol naturally just have that appealing draw to would be consumers? Could there actually be something to this? Well according to the group conducting the study, it is worth noting saying, "Results show that seeing an alcohol ad on Facebook is sufficient to elevate individuals’ interest in visiting a bar where alcohol is available," they wrote. "Our findings highlight the alarming nature of alcohol advertising in social media."