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July 20, 2009

Can You Drug Test For Inhalants?


There is a common misperception that when someone is abusing Inhalants by huffing or sniffing... that drug tests are ineffective.  The reality is that there are more effective and extensive tests for inhalant abuse than any other abused substance.  While there exists only one test for substances like alcohol, cocaine, marijuana or herion NMS Labs (who do forensic drug testing) list 18 tests different tests for Inhalants depending on whether they are a solvent, areosol or gas? 

So if you suspect someone is abusing inhalants know what you are looking for so the right test can be applied by the testing facility!!!

July 20, 2009 at 03:31 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2009

A&E Intervention Bret Cansler

I have been a fan of A&E's Intervention show from the beginning.  To me it is the only "true" reality show on television today in which life is not artificially enhanced by a continuous flow of contrived events.  On Intervention life is allowed to unfold in all the unnatural and natural power of simply living. 

This past Monday's episode about Bret Cansler was a prime example of reality TV in it's poignant depiction to date of adult alcoholism.  A once successful businessman, loving husband and father devolves in a relatively short period of time to a "highly functioning" alcoholic. 

We often hear advocates say that Addiction is an equal opportunity disease but the denial and stigma of our society is so strong that we rarely accept the equality factor of the equation.  In this episode about Bret the raw power of his story stems from the ordinariness of his life, his family and his world.  To the world at large people like Bret present a visage of success behind which lurks the darkness of substance abuse. As the episode progresses we see the darkness emerge as Bret is forced to look at the unmanageability of his life through the eyes of his ex-wife, brother, girlfriend and finally his two children, who are by far the bravest two players in this compelling drama.

In the end the Intervention succeeds and Bret enters treatment willingly with a renewed commitment to make a new beginning with children.  His success is short lived as his life is cut short by esophageal cancer, a direct result of his alcoholism. 

Most would say a sad ending but I do not.  In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous chapter entitled The Family Afterward it says that " this painful past may be of infinite values to other families still struggling with the problem."

Watch the final scene of this episode and decide for yourself.

(Bret's Episode 93

July 14, 2009 at 09:30 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 12, 2009

A Higher Power Of My Own Understanding

I stopped believing in God at an early age.  I stopped when I discovered hypocrisy in the way my parents practiced "their" religion and it was easy to extend that discovery to just about every or religion or practitioner I encountered in my adolescent and adult years.  Oh there were a couple of Gods along the way but they were God's of my first wife's understanding and the God of second wife's understand. Gods of convenience that I adopted when I wanted something or someone. 

When we sought help for our son's addiction to drugs and alcohol and was first introduced to 12 Step recovery I quickly dismissed AA, NA and CA as religious cults.  The evidence was abundantly clear to me...they had 12 commandments they called "Steps"...they had a "Big Book" which they treated like a bible....they began their meeting reading from this book like scripture and at the end of the meeting they circled up, held hand and recited The Lord's Prayer.  A revival meeting pure and simple!!!!

So when my son David died from the disease of addiction at 16 and two years later I willingly checked myself into the same treatment center; I knew I needed help but I was scared to death.  Scared because I thought if I was going to succeed where I had failed my son I would have to undergo a religious conversion...and if that were the case...then alI was lost. And so for the first three days I wandered aimlessly from meeting to meeting, therapy session to counseling session, always hearing the difference in the other patients stories instead of the similarity.

It was on the third day during an alumni panel of former patients that I first heard of the term "a higher power of your own understanding".  the fellow who used the term went on to say that "AA..NA..CA and all the A's were not religious programs but were spirituall programs."  He went on to explain further that "religion is for people who are afraid they are going to Hell and spiritual programs are for people who have already been there."  This was the first thing that I heard during my treatment  made any sort of sense and I stopped him afterward and told him a little about what had happened to me.  he listened attentively and then quietly suggested that instead of using my son's death from substance abuse as an excuse to further my own addiction I should make David part of my higher power so he would become a reason not to drink and drug.  I was incredulous..."you mean I can do that!!!" , I exclaimed.  "Of course",he said, "It's a power of YOUR understand and no one else's."

That evening I returned to my room and had the most restful night's sleep I had had since my son's death 2 1/2 years before. The next morning I awoke refreshed and began attending my daily meetings with a new out look.  His words the day before had opened the door to recovery just enough for me to slip my butt through and I became at least willing to consider that there might be a power greater than myself.  Over time I came to accept not only the existence of that power but the help and strength I now draw upon daily.

My Higher Power today is not a God in the Judeo/Christian sense but more of an amalgamation of belief systems. There is a little Buddhism in Her, a bit of the Native American Great Spirit and a lot of my son in Her.  Sometimes I call Her HP...sometimes Great Spirit and sometimes just Dave.  I have come to understand that the things I hated about religion were really all the man made trappings that surround the different sects and denominations.  I discovered that when I stripped away all the accouterments of Catholocism, Judaism and Islam what remained was my higher power...my great spirit...my Dave. 

And that She had been waiting patiently there for me all the time

July 12, 2009 at 10:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 07, 2009

Coroners and Amends

I hated coroners.

The day my son died from addiction caused by inhalant abuse I was visiting my father 2000 miles away.  It took me 10 hours to get back to Indianapolis from Phoenix Arizona . By the time I arrived the County Coroner had "processed" my son's body at the hospital and because of the "suspicious" circumstance of his death had ordered that the body be taken to the local medical center for an autopsy to be performed.

My wife and older son had been able to say their good-byes to David at the hospital.  To hold and hug his lifeless body for the last time, kiss his lips, run their fingers through his hair...and I was desperate to do the same.  The unspeakable grief I felt was magnified 10 fold by the guilt that gripped my soul for being so far away when his took his last breath.  My desperation to touch him, kiss him, hug him...turned to anger and rage when I was told I could not see him.  And by the time I was finally able to view his body 4 days later that rage had turned to hatred.

Two years after David died I sought treatment for addiction, became involved in 12-Step recovery and began attending AA meetings.  For the uninitiated AA is essentially a program of suggestions on how to live life without drugs and alcohol.  One of those suggestions was for me to get a "sponsor" and then work the "12 Steps."  A sponsor is a kind of life coach or mentor to help demystify the AA program and provide guidance in progressing through the Steps.  One of those steps is to make a list persons we had harmed or who had harmed us.  A later step is to make amends to the people, places and things on that harm list. 

Coroners were high on that first 12 Step list of mine and when it came time to make amends to them  my sponsor and I decided that since it was more the organization than any one individual ....that it was impossible to address the entire organization in any meaningful way.... that a"living" amends would be the best course of action. 

But last week...after 5 1/2 years in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous my Higher Power provided me with the opportunity to finally make a direct amends to all Coroners.  Harvey Weiss of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition called to ask if I would be willing to help him make a presentation to the the group and as I drove to the hotel where the conference was being help I realized I had the opportunity to do something I had needed to do for a long time.  Something that would help me clean up my side of the street by admitting I was wrong and ask what I could do to make it right.

So when I finished my part of the presentation I told the 350+ coroners from around the State of Indiana I had one more thing to do.  I told them I was in recovery and of my need to make amends...how I had hated them and why...that I was wrong....that there were only fulfilling their professional responsibilites and asked what I could do to make it right. 

There was silence in the room for what to me seemed like an eternity but then before I realized it there were on their feet applauding....and I had my answer.

July 7, 2009 at 08:46 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack