Athletes at Higher Risk for Addiction?

I had no idea and it was never even on my radar to think it.

Athletes potentially have a higher risk towards substance misuse and addiction than the average high school student.

 

He’s a BEAST!

was the exclamation of two football coaches as they watched my son leap over the hurdles for his first time ever. With no previous training in hurdles, he filled an empty slot at a meet and he powered over them like a bull with the agility of a gazelle.  He was recruited for the football team on the spot.

That’s my boy!

Caleb was an athlete who excelled, earning him status from awards won at the state level, in recognition being a co-captain on both wrestling and football teams, and with purpose leading as an example of determination with a never-give-up attitude, for his teammates. Sports was his identity. It was his true joy.  I am comforted in knowing that he experienced the highs of accomplishment and pleasure in his experience as an athlete; literally, they were the best years of his short life.

Little did I know, shortly thereafter, he began experimenting with marijuana during this time of his life.  With accomplishments come expectations and pressure to perform and work to surpass your own records. Beating your body into submission brings pain; no pain, no gain, as they say.  I am fairly confident that he occasionally used weed to reduce anxiety and ease the pain of sore muscles.

This is where it all began.

Fast forward two more years………..An injury, was re-injured, and then re-injured again; smashed and rammed on the footfall field and stretched and torqued on the wrestling mat; surgery became inevitable. Surgery provided opiates to manage the pain. While I cannot say that this opiate use was the cause of his downward spiral into addiction, it certainly exacerbated the course in more than just the obvious way.  More than self medicating for physical pain, my son was self medicating for emotional pain.  It is my firm belief, that the injury and surgery that prevented him from finishing his senior year of wrestling season, plummeted him into depression.  You see, when an accomplished athlete suddenly cannot engage with his sport anymore, his identity and purpose is suddenly stripped away. This secondary pain became primary to the path of substance misuse for Caleb.  

My athlete was certainly one of those at higher risk for addiction.

But, no one would know this looking on from the outside; the facade of bravado that dominates the athletic realm, masked the inner pain he endured. Coupled with a genetic predisposition, it was a perfect set-up to propel him toward substance abuse.

Addiction became a BEAST bigger than he could have thought possible; It overpowered him like a bull and stole up on him like a gazelle.

BEAST v.s  BEAST

…there could be only one winner as they battled to the death…

What could have altered this course for my son?

That is the proverbial cry of this grieving parent, and every parent, who has lost a child to substance use disorder.

Thoughts anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give Hope: Send Balloons!

“I fought depression during  the last and worst days of my chemo cycle.  A dear friend sent me a dozen helium balloons in bouquet fashion.  Clipped to the string of colorful ribbon were encouraging words calling me back to Hope: ‘When you stick to what you know, the what-if’s don’t matter.’ ”   p. 118, Towdah, A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope

I am a frugal shopper and I know.

A dozen helium balloons, delivered, is not acquired via pocket change.

This dear friend did not consider the cost of the gift – she thought more highly of the effect of encouragement this gift would have on my struggling heart.

“And do not forget to do good and share with others,

for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Hebrews 13:16

“Stick to what you know” — such wise words delivered so cheerfully!  This was good and it was shared from the heart; I am sure the sacrifice pleased God!

This gift lifted me immediately out of the slippery slope I was on and reminded me to stand on the promises of God.  Sounds a little trite, but it was true.  I began to recall all the ways God had upheld me and carried me through my struggling days, weeks, and months.  I knew a lot about God and it was ALL graciously good!

One moment was all it took.

One moment for my friend to decide she was going to do good and share.

One moment for me to receive the balloon bouquet.

One moment for me to take to heart the gift

and be transformed in my thinking by remember all I knew about God and sticking to it!

cropped-towdah-paintings-011.jpg

HOPE was restored for me.

What about you?  Are you willing to make sacrifice to do good and share with the one you know is suffering during this Christmas season?

TOWDAH

Be the first to comment on my blog today and I will send you a free autographed copy of my book and  a letter of encouragement to your friend or loved one who is suffering this Christmas season.  Message me on FB with your address & details – just click on my name below:

Sheryl

Merry Christmas!

Where am I? Part 2 of 3: “Counting my Loss”

Traversing over new paths, the Lord has led me into some interesting territory.  He has opened doors I never imagined myself standing before.

#1.   I have had opportunity to share my story and I became a published author (you can read about my book on this site – click on the “Book” tab).

#2.    I walked in my first Relay for Life event this past spring and Magnificent Hope was my supportive partner ( http://www.facebook.com/MagnificentHope ).

#3.    I have been thrown back into the regular duties of life with family and home – schooling and all that goes with running a household of ten.

#4.    I have been nominated in Yahoo’s online contest as “A Woman Who Shines” ( you can vote for me at: bit.ly/SherylHolmes — vote now, I think you have to vote by Oct. 26th).

BUT….

To be honest – I have not been feeling all that “Shiny” lately and I have been struggling with keeping up with  my life because I feel like I am in, what I am going to call, a second phase of recovery.

I have been grieving loss.  I have not healed back to my “dump truck state” (see yesterday’s blog).  I am not the old Sheryl I use to be, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

Physically I have lost strength, endurance, and sharpness of mind.  My body has been altered from the toxins and poisons that were given to me for killing cancer cells.

These transfer to emotional burdens.  I cannot do what I use to do…I cannot keep up the pace or remember the multitude of things I use to keep in my head.  I still suffer side effects from chemo drugs – neuropathy keeps my feet numb 24/7; in the morning my feet are so stiff, I shuffle like a 90 year old barely able to move across the floor.  I cannot garden, go for long walks, or teach dance like I use to do.  Radiation to my lower pelvic area has affected my marriage relationship; the honeymoon life of passionate lovers is long gone.

I realize now, that I have been internalizing these losses.  I was downcast.  I was weeping in my deepest of hearts and at times paralyzed by the recounting of my losses.  I have been trying to figure out who I am again….not quite fitting anywhere…cuz I am not quite the Sheryl I use to be.

Spiritually, I began crying out to God and questioning Him again – WHY ME!  What more are you gonna take from me!  I needed to go read my own book, Towdah, for encouragement!

Searching scripture and trying to identify Where am I now…..I related to Paul’s declaration in Philippians 3:7 & 8:
“Whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…”

Really, I have been mourning my losses — what were my “profits” — those accomplishments that made me established and comfortable in my life before cancer.In my weakness and in my losses I have had to rely on God and search deeper into the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.”  Like Pilgrim, in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, who slipped into the slough of despond, I needed to call out for Help…..

Help sent me a meditation on the Cross.  Chewing on the truth of the Cross is always a turning point for me.  Jesus, my Help in all manner of trouble, already did everything I ever need on the Cross for me. Daily I find I have to surrender to that truth and count my losses as my gains in knowing Christ intimately.  As I rid me of myself, I accept my losses.

The things I once held up as profits, I held in pride.  Letting go of those profits gains me a gifted position.  This gifted position allows me the privilege of a deeper knowing of Jesus.

#1   The loss of my strength and endurance means I can access the Lord’s strength.

#2   The loss of my body’s agility and balance means I can wait on God and ask Him to show me what I need to see and what I need to do.  I can be open to how He will use me in a new way.

#3   The loss of my old relationship with my husband means I can rely on God’s grace to wash over our marriage bed.

#4   The loss of the old me and what I dreamed for me means I can trust the Lord even more to fill me with the Holy Spirit and show me the new creature He is molding.

#5   The loss of what profited me means I can be found in Christ and I can be in continual relationship with Him.  In my relationship with Christ, I fit!  I have a place and a purpose.

Where am I?  I am found in HIM.

Friends, count your losses…they can be gains for knowing Jesus in a  deeper way.

(Tune in to Part 3 of 3: ” Driven to Know” tomorrow!)