Monthly Archives: April 2016

Pain Killers and OPIOIDS Kill! Estimated 28,000 People Die Annually in America! Combat vets at high risk…

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Substance Abuse Statistics…click image for larger view…

Prescription Drug Overdose Guidance Measures…

The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic.

Opioids (including prescription opioid pain relievers  and heroin) killed more than 28,000 people in 2014, more than any year on record. At least half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

Pentagon getting serious about Apparent over-prescription of antipsychotic drugs

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Stan and Shirley White of W.Va., whose son Andrew, a Marine, suffered from PTSD. When he died in 2008 at 23, they blamed a “lethal cocktail” of drugs. They were in Phila. fighting the use of antipsychotics for service people. DAVID SELL / Staff

Combat veterans are especially at risk… click here for more…

“During about 300 missions, Andrew had a steady diet of death and destruction.
A combat engineer, Andrew cleared mines and improvised explosive devices from roads before they blew up his fellow Marines, soldiers, and civilians. After nine months, White was sent home and eventually received a medical discharge for PTSD.
“It changed him,” Stan White said of combat. “He became a recluse. In the last four months of his life, he ate two meals with the family. He would take his food to his room.”
On Feb. 12, 2008, when Andrew had failed to meet her for a planned lunch at a restaurant, Shirley White went home. She found him dead in his bed. He was 23.”

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The above quote from the referenced website article is becoming an all too common tragedy by combat veterans who suffer from the symptoms of PTSD.  Since the illness is invisible and soldiers will not even talk about their pain, they become a suicide risk without loved ones getting any warning.  The diet of prescription drugs and use of alcohol as well can cause a person to lose hope and no longer have a desire to live.  I know from my own experience that the side effects of medications can cause psychotic episodes that put you and others at risk.  I remain hopeful that the continued monitoring and research of anti psychotic drugs, especially mixing with other prescription medications, including alcohol will help mitigate a troubling trend.

Pain killers came into my life after decades of using alcohol for self-medication.  Physical health challenges hit me like a baseball bat once entering mid-life, especially in my 50’s.  My doctor was very stern with me about the risk of mixing prescription medications or opioids with alcohol.  I drank too much back then anyway, but my ego and self-talk rationalized a determination to start on pain killers and continue my self-medication ways of the past.  After just 12-18 months on this new regimen of pain, sleep, and anxiety medications along with alcohol, I was a total basket case to say the least.

At age 55 with strong support from my family, doctors, and own hyper-vigilance, I stopped drinking, period!  But what I didn’t do is curtail or manage effectively the use of prescription drugs.  I became addicted and kept taking prescription drugs as long as recovery from multiple surgeries to replace joints and fix a severe arthritic condition with chronic pain.  It took me until my mid 60’s to finally get off of pain medications and other opioids, only to discover then the many alternatives of non-narcotic medications and mindfulness exercises.  Now at almost age 70, my life is completely free of narcotic based medications for pain, sleep, and anxiety challenges.

And what a gift in life it has been not to take anything related to narcotics or alcohol!  I feel very lucky to still have a relatively healthy body and mind for the coming golden years of new opportunities and adventures in life.  I’m thankful for my wife and soul-mate who has been so supportive and loving for all of our 32 years of marriage.  I treasure the many years of happiness together.  But without a close friendship and dedication to working together confronting our life challenges, there would not be a future of hope and joy in these later years.

My passion to give back and help others who suffer from post-trauma stress has been strengthened by my own life experience.  I know we can save lives through building awareness and in advancing the conversation of post-traumatic growth that literally saves the lives of so many children and families in life after trauma.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of healing in Life After Trauma, Part1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff…from Amazon.com.

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Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Why do ‘I Worry About the Kids?’ As parents, teachers, and mentors we can save lives!

“I Worry About the Kids” by Steve Sparks is written for parents, teachers, and mentors…

 

Following is an excerpt from Chapter 1, I Worry About the Kids, a workbook for parents, teachers, and mentors, by Steve Sparks.  Anticipated publish date September 2016.

“Although children are resilient and adapt to their immediate surroundings and their broader environment—good, bad, indifferent, and ugly as it might be—kids inhale the pain of loved ones, especially parents they look to for love, support, and security. Parents don’t always see or even think that toxic behaviors in the home, school, and neighborhood will have long-term implications on the healthy growth of their children. Parents who suffer from severe post trauma stress are fully engaged in their own world of emotional pain, a private agony that can strike at any moment by haunting triggers from the past. Outbursts of anger, panic attacks, and irrational behaviors represent a trauma-affected adult who is expressing grieving emotions from past traumatic events. When these scary events occur in the home, kids become frightened for their safety. Children are often silent and try to stay clear of threatening violent behaviors, but they never forget. They live and cope with whatever happens around them just like adults.

I’m often asked why I worry so much about babies and young children when thinking and writing about post-traumatic stress and the toxic circumstances that surround a family when a parent suffers from it. I worry because even unborn babies can be damaged from post-trauma family dynamics. And I worry about the kids because the longer the delay in paying attention to them, the more permanent the damage.

Where do I find these children? The terrible answer is I find them in every social strata, every economic level, in every neighborhood, everywhere. Children exhibiting the signs of post-traumatic stress often live in military families that include a parent who served in hard combat but came home fueled by anxiety, depression, and anger. They are children of first responders whose work places them in the midst of terrible violence and chaos, and they can’t help but bring some of their despair back home. They are homeless kids sleeping wherever they can lay their head for the night. Sometimes their parents are with them, sometimes not. They are the children of alcoholics and drug users. They are kids living among convicted criminals who need supervision of their own. They are the children of chronically depressed parents. They are undernourished kids living in poverty. They are kids with limited access to education—for whatever reason. They are children who have witnessed a murder, or a gun accident, or pulled the trigger themselves—you read about these stories in the newspapers way too often. They are children who found a parent dead of suicide. Or who was in the room when their mother was raped. They are foster children taken from parents who abused or neglected them, only to end up in another abusive situation. They are kids whose father or mother skipped out one day, never to return. They are children living with their grandparents because their own parents are dysfunctional or violent. They are children at the mercy of adults—stepfathers, pastors, relatives, neighbors—with sexually deviant personalities. Our society is experiencing an epidemic of children suffering from post-traumatic stress right this minute.

Why do I worry about the little kids? Because I see their anxiety, pain, and distress. I watch how they flinch, how they become mute, how they retreat from tender touch. These little kids often arrive hungry at school and nap too long, or not enough. I worry about the kids because, for the most part, they are invisible. They fall through the cracks. When nobody pays attention to them, they grow up damaged. Their antisocial behavior and learning deficiencies escalate. They mimic the toxic behavior of their caretakers by bullying classmates, by lying and stealing, by becoming defiant. They learn to manipulate people and manipulate the system. They are angry. They live in a state of panic. If they get in trouble in school often enough, they are expelled. Pretty soon, they take to living on the street because their home is more dangerous than interactions with strangers.”

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My goal with this latest project is to make the current e-book, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2, a paperback workbook.  Most parents and teachers I talk to are interested in the views and solutions that come to us directly from survivors who thrive in life after trauma.  Post-trauma stress is often a life time challenge if not caught early while the young brain is developing.  After age 5 or 6, it becomes increasingly difficult to change the behaviors connected with post-trauma stress symptoms.  Our best hope for the irradication of post-trauma stress is to start very early from birth to age 5.   Quoting from, Bright from the Start, by Jill Stamm, P.h.D.

  • Spending one-on-one time loving your child
  • Playing with your child
  • Responding quickly and predictably to your child
  • Touching and cuddling with your child
  • Reading and singing to your child

Of course, the above is just a small example of the huge responsibility that comes with being a parent.  Most of us struggle with parenting, and need a good partner to be supportive.  It takes a village, they say.  And for me, I knew none of this very well until reaching the later years of my life.  The often unintentional consequences are enormous!  It is up to parents, teachers, and mentors to become trauma informed so that we are able to do our part in building healthy minds and bodies of the children in our lives…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2.  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate


 

 

 

Missing!!! Please help us bring Katy Roe home to Depoe Bay, Oregon!!!

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Please click this image for contact information and a larger view.

It looked like the entire community of Depoe Bay, Oregon came to City Hall last night for a candlelight vigil for our dear friend and town daughter, Katy Roe.  Katy disappeared last Sunday and has not been seen or heard from since.  Katy spent most of her childhood and young adult years growing up in Depoe Bay.  She and her twin sister Louie Roe have been exemplary citizens of our community and model young adults who have always given back to our town and are loved dearly by all of us.  Please, please, help us bring Katy home!!!  You can do this by sharing this blog post on your own social media networks and talking about Katy to family, friends, and colleagues.  Thank you dear friends and family for giving a little of your time to help the community of Depoe Bay and Lincoln County, Oregon find Katy…  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

With love for Katy Roe and her family,

Steve and Judy Sparks, Depoe Bay, Oregon

Prevent Domestic Violence in Life After War…Kids Become Collateral Damage…

 

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survivethriveptsd.com A work in progress, anticipated publish date September 2016.

 

Treatment Interventions for Veterans with PTSD  by Mike Willbur, M.S., LMHC and Susanne Ruiz Rodriguez, Esq, M.S.

“If there is violence and/or abuse in the home, recognize it for what it really is – violence and abuse. Violence and/or abuse are present in a place that is supposed to be a sanctuary. Does everyone under the roof where you live feel safe? Does your partner feel self-empowered? Is there mutual respect in the home? When you feel irritable, are you able to talk about it with your partner? These are just a few questions that should be asked and if not answered appropriately, then it’s time to seek help.”

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When loved ones return home following deployment in hard combat, the risk of domestic violence resulting from post-trauma stress is much higher without proactive treatment.  The stigma of mental health challenges takes a toll on the entire family, especially children, because those who suffer from the horrific memories of war are often in denial  for many reasons and refuse treatment.  I know this to be true as a post WWII child who carries the emotional baggage of domestic violence to this day. My research shows evidence of an epidemic of generational post-trauma stress in literally thousands of families who live with emotional pain and toxic family relationships from one generation to the next.  How can we break the cycle of abuse and emotional pain that seems to stick like bad genes in families who must learn to love all over again?

I so wish and pray that healing from post-traumatic stress (PTS) could be as simple and easy as treating a case of the measles or the flu, or even taking clear steps to avoid or cure more serious physical health challenges.  But in treating PTS,  it is clearly very complicated and often a life long process or journey of healing…

We know so much more and have a high level of awareness of post-traumatic stress circumstances in the 21st Century.  It is up to families to break the cycle of pain by seeking pre-deployment preparation and education as a first step.  Do not wait! Build a proactive plan as a family.  There are excellent resources at your fingertips just by doing a search with the words “post-trauma stress.”  My website includes archives of over 800 posts, articles and links, books to purchase and download to your ebook reader.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text to order books and other stuff…from Amazon…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

 

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Steve Sparks Amazon.com