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What can happen here.

This is a site for discussion...about addictions, addictive behavior, relationships and other aspects of addictions.

It is also a place to discuss educational concerns in general, or specifically.

Let's see what develops as we move forward with a respectful and informative process.

Lina Liken, Ed.D., CAP

Do you, your friends, or your family have issues or questions about addictions? Let's talk.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Education Situation

Is there any way to stop the downslide of what is happening in our schools? Or is the question more aptly put "what is not happening in our schools"? I have the opportunity to hear from students, parents, and teachers. And for the most part, the news is not good.

The good news is, the situation can be turned around. Does anyone really want to take responsibility in that process? It does take responsible partnerships. Partnerships of those folks involved in the lives of students, and those teens who could be students.

Anyone want to talk about what is possible?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rehab for Substance Abusers and Their Families

is not a simple thought, and, there is no simple response. There needs to be clarity within the topic to support the most effective benefit for readers. In addition, to satisfy this need, our approach is perhaps wider and deeper than you will first think necessary.

This discussion requires foundational information explained long before the philosophical or even the practical discussion can move forward.  Let us make it straightforward for the purposes of this discussion and limit the category of substance abusers to those abusing legal, as well as illegal substances, and reserve discussion of behavioral abusers for another discussion, though much dialogue crosses over categories. What population, then, could this rightfully encompass.

            Abusers can be described as those who continue to use substances after that usage causes disruptions in major life areas. Those life areas are the essential ones, family; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health; employment, financial and other relationships. Therefore, could this suggest that once abuse is established, significant others have some type of a role in the abuse. Does this  “why” address rehab for families.

            Continuing to determine our definitions for this discussion, rehab, rehabilitation, can be an opportunity for re-aligning choices that support more healthful and sometimes, law-abiding, life choices and styles. Having the terms clarified, on to the discussion of rehab for substance abusers and their families.

            Generally, substance abusers who choose to enter treatment with the goal of success in mind are those who are internally motivated to make changes.  When the motivation is external, including the desire to keep a job, or to please family, rehab results are more disappointing. The primary reason can influence much that follows.

            To move the discussion forward, assume ideal circumstances: the identified client, the primary abuser, is self-motivated for rehab and signs on. Regardless of the modality, outpatient, inpatient, individual or group treatment, short or long term. the client will be exposed to education, direction, and support to make thinking changes, as thoughts, feelings and attitudes drive behavior. Along with all of this, is the over-riding opportunity to be substance-free.

            As the client progresses, makes changes and stays substance –free, where does family rehab fit in? While the client is experiencing the above, there can be the parallel process of family education and re-alignment.  If the client is taking care of things. why is family rehab a consideration.

Has the client lived on an island or have they been interacting with real, live folks?  Do you think that trying to relate to someone who is altering their consciousness with substances does not cause splashing onto those other people?  Quite possibly, before the admission of the client to rehab, no one in their circles thought of needing “rehab” as well. Many times the reality of family members and significant others having taken on dysfunctional roles is ignored or downplayed. Yet, the cold fact is that in order to survive, not thrive, in a relationship/friendship with a substance abuser, role adaptations are made.

            It does follow that new roles, ways of relating and communicating, setting, and honoring boundaries are vital for the significant other. It has been my professional position with both clients and families that their recovery is not dependent on that of the other, yet each can enhance the other. There can be the synergy of the parallel process in recovery.

            Should all parties desire ultimate recovery, then the parallel process, that of positive and effective change of one part can influence positive and effective changes of the other part. The reality is, it is possible indeed, for both family and substance abusers to succeed in rehab.



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dual Diagnosis: When Addiction Partners with Mental and Emotional Disorders.

Relapse, use, fall away from sobriety, why, oh why, do they it. Why do they relapse. Don’t these folks know how to stay sober? Don’t they get it?
Have you heard these words? Have you said them? Let’s stop here for a minute. Consider this, could what you see be a bit more complicated than what it seems. Could the homeless person, or the one in treatment, halfway house or shelter, or even your house, suffer from something more than what shows…abusing alcohol and drugs. What if there were an underlying problem….what if there were pain, confusion, uncontrollable mood swings, voices that shouted all day and night in their heads, an overwhelming sadness that just lived on. Then would you view them differently? Then would they be more than a drunk, or an addict, who just doesn’t make it.
If any of the above is happening, and a swig from the bottle, or a pull on a joint, or swallowing a pill stopped it all for just a short time, now what. Now what do you see. Do the relapser and the relapse seem less pathetic, is the drunk/addict less hideous to watch. Would the stumbling, homeless drunk/addict be accorded a more generous welcome.
If there were a better understanding of co-occurring mental illness and substance disorders, would you be able to offer an outstretched hand, one with love, kindness, and understanding, to the chronic relapser, the dually diagnosed client. Would you? Would you see “One of the least” standing before you? One of God’s children, looking for what He has promised. Looking to you to be the shepherd, to be the one who guides the casting out of demons, his demons. The one who guides him to a “peace that surpasses understanding” ?
If you are curious to see just what these clients carry around in their head, read a bit. Then come back better equipped to understand what it means to be dually diagnosed. And have clarity on how to help.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Can Distance Learning Rescue Teens From Dropping Out of High School

Can Distance Learning Rescue Teens From Dropping Out of High School?

Good question, but let’s not jump to a simplistic yes or no answer. From this side of the computer and distance learning, I say the real answer is…maybe. As with all options and all populations, can there be a solitary, concrete yes or no. It doesn’t seem so when you really look at the problem before offering the solution.

First, what is the problem? Can we define it with a closed statement that begins “teens drop out of high school because…” and finish it off with a simple and short phrase. Before the cure, shouldn’t we look at the cause? Do we want to respond to just the symptoms: where does “dropping out” fall in the cause and effect discussion? What about the characteristic of symptom, coincidence, consequence? Or could a teen dropping out of high school be the result of a well-thought through and logically guided decision.

Would it follow, then, to examine the demographics of these high school dropouts? List the multiple factors; arrange the lists as to cause? Would these words describe symptoms, causes, or effects?

After that, would we be able to state that distance learning could be helpful for some teen dropouts. Yet are we inferring that one size intervention will fit all?
Is this a naïve position? Must we regard this population prior to dropping out, assemble the demographics, and then develop and deliver appropriate interventions responsive to the underlying cause. Or offer distance learning.

Most times when there is a high school drop out, there were risk factors. For purposes of this discussion, we will exclude those in prisons, military and not living in any household.

Before a “cure” can be chosen, a rational process would include compiling a list of possible risk factors. What about the larger issue of the universal de-valuing of education in the United States. How is this manifested in society? Is one response that males of driving age choose to drop out, work for minimum wage and sport a car and freedom? Is this perceived freedom and false independence valued more than a diploma?

Could the frustrations and social status of teachers contribute to any part of this devaluing of education in the United States and teen drop out movement... Would education have increased value to high school students if teachers received a “million dollar signing bonus” similar to those other “professionals” who play with a ball?
If the product is not valued, is it easier for customers to leave the store empty-handed?

Frequently, personal risk factors do underscore decisions when teens drop out of high school and many of these could be better identified and addressed within the school system, and to some degree, they are. These can include, yet not be limited to: student or family member physical or emotional illness, homes with single parents with limited or no energy to confront or insist on school attendance, mobility of families which results in multiple school experiences with not enough residence get caught up or to fit in, special needs students who have been overlooked in the system and lack appropriate educational interventions. And what about those students who just don’t see how education is worth the time and effort.

If these students would get to the point of considering distance learning, what are the realistic chances of success for them in that milieu when you consider that probably the core characteristic necessary for success in distance learning is self-discipline. This does stand as the cornerstone of education in this setting. Now consider what degree of self-discipline is available for those we know as the typical high school dropout. If this characteristic is not nurtured, distance learning can in no way be a viable option for rescuing the teen drop out.

What other practical considerations deserve to be included in this conversation? What needs to be in place to support success in distance education learners?
Are we being completely fair in a quick answer to the question “Can Distance Learning Rescue Teens From Dropping Out of High School?” My answer to the question is It could rescue SOME …maybe.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Codependency..loving them to death.

I Saved Him Again: Sometimes We Love Them to Death

He started to fall toward the floor, head first, reeking of stale alcohol, and fresh vomit. His stained and wrinkled shirt covered the latest bruises, but could not hide the sad, tear stained face or those vacant, dull and staring eyes. No, he didn’t hit the floor, his girl friend was there with her well worn pillow once more. Oh safe again. They both know what comes next, and then next. This is the next time after the next time. The co-dependent follows the addict and their decisions from a close distance, being there as they head for the floor, feeling responsible for making everything alright, knowing it is their fault.... . Sooner than later, whether it’s a mother, a spouse, or a close friend, the codependent follows the addict with that well worn pillow of help and uses it again…and again. The addict smiles, apologizes, promises to be more careful from here and walks away.

What do these “near falls” look like? And what shapes do the “pillow” come in. A friendly call to the boss, reporting the Monday flu. A note to the coach that Jr. has a dental problem and can’t run sprints in morning gym class. A hurried trip to the bank to cover the overdraft. A phone conversation with the credit card company about the party not being there just now, but you will pay it today, over the phone with your check.
The excuse to the neighbor that you were helping him out of the car and into the house due to a sudden migraine.

Through it all, the codependent holds their breath, puts personal plans on hold, needing to be there. Be there to mop up, feel guilty and promote sameness. Sameness that feels comfortable for all. Through it all, no one’s head hits the floor, no life consequences are felt, and no changes are necessary. This is their life. The enabling is a success. The agony of addiction thrives! And the codependent has a life mission, protecting the addiction and the addict, and suffering while waiting for the next time.

What motivates the codependency role. Is it wanting to protect the addict? Protect them from what? An early death or substandard living? An opportunity to experience recovery and life and relationships as they are meant to be. An opportunity to be free from the bondage and agony of active addiction? Somehow, once enabling starts and the pillow response begins, the boundaries become blurred between helping, hurting and loving to death. Or is it purely selfish, protecting what they know best, suffering with their addiction to the addict? Codependency kills. Everyone.

Can anyone relate? DrL

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thoughts about kids and hand helds

I have been thinking about the kids I see entranced with hand held games..sometimes those who feel less comfortable in 'real' situations of socialization, family interactions etc. find solace and a 'place to be' in those hand held games. They are not sitting off to the side, either being ignored, insulted or scolded. They are part of the action, and in some ways, controlling it. I fear for those kids and how they will learn to manage well in real society. Thoughts? DrL

Friday, March 26, 2010

South Florida Class Size Quandry

I have been reading the news about Broward and Palm Beach County schools in the vise with regard to class size and budget. Either way, meet them, or not, there is money involved. Does it seem contradictory to measure the vaule of effective education by dollars? Or is this where we are as a society? When children are not educated with regard to the basics, including critical thinking skills, we as a society pay the price in many ways. What do you think? DrL