Today, we have Rose McKinney, the Midwestern Mama and the founder of Our Young Addicts joining us on The SHAIR Podcast.
Too many young people are becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. Our Young Addicts is a growing community of parents and professionals who share experiences, resources and hopes – no matter where your child may be on the spectrum of experimentation, recreational use, abuse, addiction, treatment, relapse, or recovery.
The Midwestern Mama created Our Young Addicts when her 20-something son’s addiction was spiraling out of control; today, he is in recovery and thriving in his sobriety.
The mission of Our Young Addicts is having parents and professionals work together in our local communities. Watch their news clip here.
This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation
Here are Rose’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights:
Rose McKinney: Life is good today, and I contrast that to eighteen months ago when we were in the depths of my son’s addiction, but we’ll get into that in a little bit. Daily routine, it’s a full routine like, I’m sure, many of your listeners, wife, parent, business owner, adjunct professor at a local university, so things are pretty busy. On top of it, I am a passionate advocate for parents who are facing addiction with their children.
Omar: Do you have a routine that you follow weekly, meetings, stuff like that?
Rose McKinney: I would say, now, it’s a little less of a recovery routine, because it’s more of a routine of living and recovery versus pursuing recovery, if that makes sense. That routine still involves focusing every day on gratitude, taking inventory of how things are going, putting things in perspective, and again very grateful that today, being able to look at family life as the time of extreme gratitude because we’re seeing our son thrive in his recovery.
Omar: Good. Well, listeners, just so you know, Rose is the mother of a drug addict. She is not actually a drug addict, so we’re going to be coming from the perspective of the parent. We’re going to talk about what she has had to do in her life in her own recovery to deal with her own son’s addiction. This is going to be a perspective that has been requested from me on a few emails to get the perspective of a parent and what they’ve done to take care of themselves as well as take care of the family member.
How do you maintain a spiritual condition on a daily basis, that conscious contact with your higher power?
Rose McKinney: Well, it really does start, I think, every morning when I wake up, and that’s just simply taking stock of the fact that I’ve woken up and that I know, you know how today is, anybody can now what’s going to happen today. It doesn’t mean I know everything, but I have a better sense today than a few years ago, and that means I know that most things are going to have their ups and downs, and that I can weather them. Then I find that throughout the day, I’m taking time to pause, to breathe, to reflect, and to share a message of experience and hope for others.
Omar: Okay, and do you have a … Is it a God concept, a higher power concept?
Rose McKinney: Thinking back on it, it was probably around 2011 when I had started going to Al-Anon meetings that I’ve figured if ever there was a time to embrace a higher power and to explore spirituality, this was the time to do it. Things were out of control, and that first step really spoke to me. Life had become unmanageable.
Omar: I think you’ve got a really good idea of what it is to be the parent of a child that’s using and a lot of really good advice and suggestions on just what to do, so let me just ask you some closing questions just so we can really nail down some really good suggestions for our moms and dads out there, okay?
Rose McKinney: Okay.
Omar: All right, so first of all, when did you first decide that it was time for you to start … I guess, at what stage were you at when you decided, I need to do something about myself, I need to do something to help myself here before I can start helping my son?
Rose McKinney: We were a good year to two years in, and I think at this point, we had exhausted our common sense and we needed help ourselves. It was a couple of years in. Interesting, right along that same time, Om, I had seen a news release, and I think it was from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, but anyway, I had seen a news release with some current statistics about youth substance use. Without really thinking about it, I whipped off two emails. I whipped off an email to a recovery publication and I whipped off an email to one of our local newspapers, and I said, “First and foremost, where is the report on this? Secondly, when you report it, you need the parents’ perspective.”
I heard back from both publications ASAP asking me if I would write that, and that wasn’t why I had sent the note to begin with. The writing piece began about that same time, and I have to say, writing was a great way to grapple with concerns and tryout ideas and begin to articulate my feelings. That writing piece was early on in this process, and to this day, I think writing, and encourage parents to write. It’s very, very helpful.
Omar: Now, was this published in an online magazine?
Rose McKinney: It was a print publication with an online presence, and then the newspaper was both print and digital.
Omar: Do you continue to do that in a public way?
Rose McKinney: I do still write some magazine articles from time to time. I don’t do the newspaper column anymore, but then that’s when I started Our Young Addicts and started the blog and Twitter and online presence.
Omar: Okay, so please, our parents want to know, what are those resources?
Rose McKinney: All right, OurYoungAddicts.com. When you get there, there is a blog. It’s updated at least once a week, sometimes more often. We do guest blogs. I write blogs. It’s still very much real time. Fortunately we’re not in the muck so much these days, but it’s still very real time. I have resources on there for parents and professionals. When I find something good, I put it on there, how to talk to your kids about this, what to do if, number you can call, et cetera. I try to share as much good information because it’s a maze and sometimes you don’t find very good information, so when I find something good, I share it.
Omar: Can they reach out to you in there Rose?
Rose McKinney: Yes, they can.
Omar: Okay, perfect. All right, so folks, I’m going to go ahead and list that on the show notes. That website will be there. Is there any other resources you want to share with the listeners?
Rose McKinney: There are a lot of good resources. I encourage Twitter in particular and just throw in some keywords, but PartnershipForDrugFree.org is a good one for parents. There are some of the … It’s escaping me now, but it’s not hard to Google and find good resources.
Omar: Okay, so we’re going to go ahead and I’ll have these resources available on Rose’s show notes. Also, you had mentioned some books. You were reading a lot of books. Can you list the books that you would recommend to our listeners?
Rose McKinney: Yes, and they’re not going to be the ordinary books that you might think of, although there are some good ones and I’ll suggest those in a second too. The Four Agreements, it’s been around a long time but it’s a great way of dealing with life. There is another book called Simple Abundance, which is all about gratitude. I read a lot of things Buddha. Those were probably the three things that gave me the most insight and comfort. Today, there are a couple of books out there. Some of the David Sheff books are really good about understanding addiction from a family and a parent perspective. There is a book out right now. I think it’s called The 20 Minute Guide, and it’s the CRAFT approach which is all for families trying to help loved ones to get help for addiction. Those are really good.
Omar: Okay, and so, let’s see, I know that The Four Agreements is Don Miguel Ruiz.
Rose McKinney: Si.
Omar: Then the other one, the one following that, do you have the author for those?
Rose McKinney: Yes, Simple Abundance, the author Sarah Ban Breathnach.
Rose McKinney: Something along those lines.
Omar: Okay, so those are the two that you gave, and then the other ones were …
Rose McKinney: Oh, just any writings about Buddha, about meditation.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy – Sarah Breathnach
The Parent’s 20 Minute Guide to Change – The Center for Motivation and Change
Omar: Got it. Perfect. Let me ask you this. What are the best suggestions that you received on your journey?
Rose McKinney: Well, the good old take it one day at a time, and sometimes it was a minute at a time or a second at a time, the learning to let go, which is not easy, and understanding what that meant, reciting the Serenity Prayer, and again really thinking about what each part of that meant and how to live that. In all honesty, I think the best advice that people gave me is, when he’s ready, he’ll be ready, and they were right. Believing that it was possible, believe in the possibility that things will turn around, that things will be better.
Omar: Beautiful, and finally, for all the parents that are listening out there, what would you suggest to them?
Rose McKinney: First and foremost, take action, but before you take action, do your homework, get smart, go into it with a cool, calm head, because action that is in the moment and that’s heated, it will backfire, but don’t wait, do act. Go to somebody, ask for help, confront your suspicions, all those things, because generally, it only gets worse and you want to hit it as early as possible and be as proactive as possible. Then that support piece. You are not alone. Everyone knows someone that has been through this if they themselves have not been, and I didn’t get the stigma that you hear about. I heard people that genuinely said, “How can I help,” or “I don’t know what to do, but I’m so sorry,” and so I found that opening up really connected me with people, and boy, through that sense of connection, the friends and relationships that I’ve made over the past five or six years, I think I’ve made more real connections during this time than I made my whole life living up to this time.
SUGGESTIONS FOR PARENTS!
“…take action, but before you take action, do your homework, get smart, go into it with a cool, calm head…”
Omar: It’s a hundred percent true. I can totally relate. It’s no different than the camaraderie and the bonds and the friendships that form when we come into recovery because we relate to each other. We’re going through the exact same struggles. We’re battling with addiction. We’re battling with withdrawals. We’re battling to just grab on for dear life, because we’ve ruined so much of our life and we’ve ruined so much of the people around us that when we start sharing openly about what’s going on with us and the wreckage we’ve caused, right away, someone else will follow up and say, “I’ve been there too. I’ve done that too. Here’s what I’ve done.” It’s no different, that camaraderie, those bonds that you form with the other parents, with the therapist, with people within the groups.
Rose McKinney: Oh yeah.
Omar: It grows exponentially, and it’s so real, because it’s not this superficial conversations about blah, blah, blah, whatever. There’s all these …
Rose McKinney: It’s not, hi, how are you? Great, great, okay, good. It’s not that.
Omar: Yes, no, no. Once you connect with someone and you share an intimate moment, in some cases, it bonds you right away for life with that other person. You just feel that instant connection and that instant bond. I think that’s what … The strongest that we need to give to listeners is that the more connections and the more relationships you can establish in this time that you’re going through, the easier it’s going to be for you to get through it.
Rose McKinney: One hundred percent yes, so knowledge and support.
Omar: It’s a hundred percent necessary, and what’s beautiful is, is that I don’t really think that there’s any stigma, at least not on my end on the Al-Anon side or on the family side. I think if anything, it’s going to be of compassion. It’s going to be of … It’s one thing to say, “I am a drug addict.” It’s another thing to say that I am the parent of a drug addict. I think the compassion is much stronger on your end.
Rose McKinney: There’s the fear of judgment, like you don’t want to be that parent, or what kind of parent are you, where did you go wrong in your parenting, or don’t you watch your kid, or don’t you have whatever it is. There is that kind of stigma on the parent side. Again, I didn’t really face it, but I hear about it.
Omar: Right, that does make sense. It does make sense that-
Rose McKinney: You don’t want to go to your boss and say, “Well, guess what’s happening at my house. Here’s how come I’m not really doing my job today because we were up all night.”
Omar: Yes, that-
Rose McKinney: Again, yes, there is compassion but sometimes people roll their eyes, like ooh. Even having the younger sibling, ooh, is it safe for them to go to your house, because you’re the house with the kid that … It’s like, oh, why? Yeah, it’s fine. I now tell parents for our younger kid when I meet them for the first time or if they’re wondering what, we had kids over here for New Year’s Eve, and I said, “I want you to know, we’ve been through things, and so I’ve really got an eye out.”
Omar: I’ll tell you one thing is for sure. My daughter won’t be able to get anything over on me.
Rose McKinney: No. No, I feel bad for the younger one. Man oh man, are we hip to what might happen. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem, but man, are we savvy now.
Omar: Well, I guess the best part of all of it is that for them, it hasn’t been a source of rebelliousness. It’s been more of definitely bringing you much closer together as a family.
Rose McKinney: Yes, truth in that.
WEBSITE AND RESOURCES FOR PARENTS
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Rose!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.