Welcome to my Blog - What Is A Blog?

A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. ... Your blog is whatever you want it to be.

For many years I have kept a journal, which I don't write in as much as I once did. I have an inner yearning to communicate with the world through writing and pictures Part of my motivation is to leave something behind to a world that has given me so much - a mom, dad, brother, grandparents, a loving wife, high spirited and gifted sons, close friends and loyal customers. Most of us have had some help along the way to get where we are. In my 12 step program, step 12 is about giving back to others. I hope there are posts here that will warm your heart, make you smile and make you think. That is what my blog is all about. I hope you enjoy it. Ken

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I’m still in Texas and Sam is still on the run. I’m trying to keep my head together but it’s hard not knowing where my son is and if he’s okay. My phone rings. I answer it. It’s Sam’s friend Sandy. She says she knows where Sam is staying. I ask her to call Channa. She says she will. Quickly, I call Channa and tell her what’s going on. I tell her to not go alone to get Sam and ask the police to help. Channa calls 911. The police accompany her to a run down trailer park in Chaska. Sandy points out the trailer and the officer knocks on the door. An older woman with a blank look on her face opens it. The police officer says he’s looking for a boy named Sam. She points into the living room and Sam is sitting on the floor and is higher than a kite. He’s emaciated from not eating. Channa wants to take him to the Emergency room. She asks the police if they will take him but they say no. It’s out of their jurisdiction. So Channa, with help from the police and Sandy, place Sam in the car. She ends up going to Fairview Hospital. Once there, Sam is admitted to the “STOP” program (short term outpatient program). STOP is a lock down facility and here he will go though detox and be evaluated by doctors and psychiatrists. Sam is uncooperative and angry.

After a few days, treatment begins. Sam has to attend mandatory 12 step meetings and his given a journal so he can write down what he is feeling. He writes that he hates being there and as soon as he gets out he’s going back to partying and getting high. His writes Rap lyrics and mentions his favorite rappers, Eminem and Fifty-Cent. Sam relates to their lyrics about living on the street and glamorizing drugs. He writes “if you mess with me, you’ll be sorry you ever got started.” He is given an AA book and tears out the pages.

It takes at least a week for the medical staff to stabilize Sam and when they finally do, they look for a treatment center that has openings. It seems like all of them are completely full. Sam’s counselor finds an opening at a place called Dellwood, in Cambridge, MN. It is ninety miles from home and is an in-patient drug and alcohol treatment program. With no clue as to whether Dellwood is a good treatment center, we trust the STOP staffs judgment.

We are in unchartered waters. The STOP unit does not offer transportation and Barb, Sam’s social worker has another commitment and cannot drive him up there. Channa and I are left with the task of getting him there. We’re nervous because Sam doesn’t want to go. He’s in a foul mood. I make precautions before getting him in the car: I make sure we have enough gas to get there without stopping and also set the child door locks to prevent him from opening the back door and running away. I try to find a route where we will be on the freeway the whole way up. Just as I figured, on the way up, Sam asks us to stop so he can use the bathroom but I tell him we’re not stopping until we get up to the treatment center. Next he asks if we can stop so he can get a haircut but I tell him no. When we get to Dellwood, Sam won’t get out of the car. He’s all has shaken him up and agitated. Having learned not to try to take matters in my own hands, I tell Channa to wait in the car with Sam while I go to the admissions office and ask for help. Eventually, the program director, Dwight – an older gentleman with a round face and soft soothing voice comes out and spends some time talking to Sam. After twenty minutes or so, Sam agrees to give it a try.

In a way, I’m glad this place is far from home because if it were in town, Sam would have run for sure. We have to drive up once a week for family therapy. In group, we learn from Sam that his drug of choice is no longer pot. Knowing this helps explain the disappearance of things from the house and all the missing money. The kids are shown movies every day about the perils of using drugs. At a session with the kids and other parents, we’re asked to watch one of these movies. I notice looking at each other and laughing amongst themselves.

The only kids going to get better are the ones who admit they have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol. The big challenge is how do you get a fifteen year old to admit he has a problem? When I was used, number one: I didn’t think I had a problem and number two: When I did think I had a problem I was too afraid to ask for help.

I’m not impressed with this place. The counselors seem sloppy and unpolished. Timing wise, Sam happens to be there during the holidays and the place is all decked out with Christmas trees and candy canes. I just don’t feel comfortable with this place.

After twenty-nine days they ask us to come get Sam. Although a thirty day program, Sam is released early for talking back and being disrespectful to the staff. When we pick him up, Sam wants us to stop and buy him cigarettes. He says he has his own money. I ask, “Sam, how did you get money?” He tells me one of the kids wanted to wish him well, so he gave him some cash as a going away gift. Only later did we find out that Sam had sold the clock/radio I bought him to another kid.

Fresh out of treatment, Sam quickly starts using again. His treatment requires him to attend a relapse prevention group called “Fresh Outlook.” The group meets once a week in Edina. The brochure says, “Fresh Outlook is a group for kids that need chemical use intervention. “A place where they can learn to nurture their full potential without the use of substances or peer pressure. Fresh Outlook is an interactive forum where your child will learn to empower himself and realize his hidden inner potential and unleash healthy dreams.” The brochure promises the kids will “learn skills to recognize their assets, deal with their emotions, learn healthy social skills, reduce stress, resolve conflict, connect with their peers and adults and follow their dreams.” The “promise” is to “forge change in your child’s life.” What the brochure does not say is that if your kid is not willing to admit he or she has a problem getting them to change is like trying to move a glacier.

Kristy, the program director, calls with progress reports and says although Sam is “there”, he isn’t willing to admit that he has a problem with drugs and alcohol. He seems to glamorize drugs, rap, and the gangster lifestyle. Kristy things Sam is not living in reality and is living in the moment. She sees him as being very impulsive.

Living with Sam is like living in a war zone. We constantly tiptoe around the house never knowing when we might step on a landmine and have to suffer through another one of Sam’s temper tantrums. Without a school to go to, Sam stays up all night and sleeps all day. We’re trying to find another school for Sam – one option is a sober school but Sam refuses to go.

Barb finds a school that Sam has to attend. It’s called IDT (Intensive Day Treatment) funded by Hennepin County. It is a school for at risk kids. Still a school, IDT focuses on behavior modification and has strict rules. A van comes in the morning to the house to take Sam to school. Sometimes he gets up and other times he refuses. The staff at IDT has a consequence. If a student misses school during the week they have to come in on Saturday and sit in detention for several hours. Sam doesn’t like it but he has no choice.

Monday, after school, Sam comes home really upset. A kid he likes and was friends with has died. He got in the middle of a drug deal went bad. Although tough on the outside, Sam is visibly upset about the loss of his friend. They’re tough on the outside but on the inside they’re just kids.

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