Saturday, May 19, 2007

Off Topic - Code Amber Alert Tickers

Code Amber was created in 1996 after an Arlington Texas child, Amber Hagerman was kidnapped while riding her bicycle. Amber was brutally murdered, and Arlington Texas residents were outraged, calling for more exposure, appealing to Dallas Texas radio stations - to start broadcasting these 'special alerts' more promptly and massively so that situations like the murder of Amber Hagerman could be avoided in the future.

Response to this appeal occurred immediately as Texas Radio stations partnered up with local law-enforcement groups in Northern Texas. A massive system of 'alert' went 'live' on August 23, 2002 - after the TX Region had been pushing this idea and broadcasting alerts whenever possible since '96. After less than a year of the 'live' widespread launch, in April of 2003 President Bush adjusted the alert program to make it a National program.

An Amber Alert organization and system has also been developed to cover Canadian regions - for obvious reasons of 'proximity' of the two countries to each other.

I witnessed a successful Amber Alert in the area of Calgary, Alberta, Canada - about 1 year ago. I am not positive in remembering the exact time, but I vividly remember the details about the success of the Alert issued. I was actually shocked (because the Alert System is relatively new) by how effective it turned out to be at the time!

In this instance, an infant had been removed from a home, from her mother who required intensive treatment for Addiction and Lifestyle problems and also treatment for Psychological/Behavioral issues. The mother was granted visitation rights and bolted with the baby. The Amber Alert went out within an hour or two of the occurrence, and within 36 hours, the mother, herself, heeded the messages from the Amber Alerts. Realizing that the entire region from British Columbia to Nova Scotia (particularly in the Calgary--Red-Deer--Edmonton area) was receiving constant Amber Alerts on TV-station tickers and billboards - not to mention constant Radio-broadcast messages, sometimes at every 15 minute mark, the mother made arrangements very quickly to return her baby into care facilities. , so the child was recovered unharmed!

What does the Code Amber Alert program have to do with this blog?

Not much...

And - A LOT!

As displayed in the Amber Alert account just mentioned, the kidnapper was the child's own mother. And - an Addict.

Sometimes, under duress, and under the multi-faceted chaos that addiction brings, people don't behave in ways that are acceptable. To my knowledge, the mother took her child back for the same reason any GOOD MOTHER would want to retrieve their child from someone else's care (because it is the child they love, whose life - along with theirs, they dream of the future about - regardless that they aren't managing to take care of the child well). The baby was removed from the woman's household due to her addiction lifestyle issues, in part, and also - she likely acted on impulse as most addicts WILL while they are contemplating or are in the first stages of Addiction Recovery.

Life isn't easy in the beginning stages of recovery. The main issue is that people in the first stages of recovery are plainly PANICKY! They have got a million and a half things about life, habits, morals, and behaviors to re-learn! Often, this is a simply OVERWHELMING TIME - a time that some addicts don't endure in order to become 'healthy.'

Most Addicts aren't bad people. Their behaviors and lifestyle are very awful and bad. The woman who kidnapped her baby, in her mind, only 'took back' her child. In the minds of the authorities, she 'committed a crime.' Either way, it was not safe for that infant to be with her mother at a certain time. Hopefully now, the mother has gained a better lifestyle - she probably wasn't an inherently 'bad person' at all. The fact that she was overwhelmed and 'took back' her child is more of an indication of her overwhelmed state (overwhelmed that the child she loved was taken from her) rather than a sign that she was an evil type of criminal. Regardless, the Amber Alert helped in the return of the infant so that the woman's 'lifestyle' and 'addict habits' did not put the child in further and continued jeopardy.

I recall, once I heard the original Alert - and that the woman in question was an addict who had just recently been ordered to turn her child over to protective services - I wasn't worried that the woman in question was some kind of awful criminal. I was only worried that she would be using drugs while the child was with her and that she might be negligent with the child and cause harm in that way.

I just prayed for her to realize the seriousness of the Amber Alert and come to grips with the fact that her child needed to be 'out of her care' for a while until she could get herself straightened out. I never became 'outraged' like some of my peers did when they heard details of the Code Amber Alert...probably because I have experience with turning over a child to a better home while I dealt with Addiction issues, myself.

(Well *gasp* that last sentence was more than I was GOING TO disclose lol but I'll leave it in! 'Cos it's 'on-topic' with this particular post!)

Thankfully - in this instance, the effects of this Code Amber Alert turned out positive!

I think the decision to place the Alert system tickers on this blog is altogether relevant and you will see them in the column to the right from now on.

Please interact with me freely if you should ever see the Alert ticker blacked out and not operational. It may take a moment to load but should then display, basically, it's 'purpose' in the message area - unless there is a current 'Code Amber Alert' in progress - in which case, the details of the message will have a YELLOW/Amber background with details about the Alert in progress.

Thank you, ahead of time for your co-operation!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

About Women For Sobriety (Men For Sobriety, Too)

Women For Sobriety's "New Life" program is for those who would like something in addition to 12 Step programs or who would like some guiding principles instead of a 12 Step program.

WFS is a self-help program that adheres to 13 main principles/statements and accompanying affirmations:

1. I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

Affirmation: I now take charge of my life. I accept the responsibility.

2. Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

Affirmation: My first conscious act must be to remove negativity from my life.

3. Happiness is a habit I will develop.

Affirmation: Happiness is created, not waited for.

4. Problems bother me only to the degree I permit them to.

Affirmation: I now better understand my problems and do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

5. I am what I think.

Affirmation: I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.

6. Life can be ordinary or it can be great.

Affirmation: Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.

7. Love can change the course of my world.

Affirmation: Caring becomes all important.

8. The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.

Affirmation: Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities.

9. The past is gone forever.

Affirmation: No longer will I be victimized by the past, I am a new person.

10. All love given returns.

Affirmation: I will learn to know that others love me.

11. Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.

Affirmation: I treasure all moments of my new life.

12. I am a competent woman and have much to give life.

Affirmation: This is what I am and I shall know it always.

13. I am responsible for myself and for my actions.

Affirmation: I am in charge of my mind, my thoughts, and my life.

These 13 items are to be used as tools to help in gaining and maintaining recovery - a more manageable and balanced lifestyle. In this, it is suggested that a person rises 15 minutes earlier each day in order to place these 'tools' into use. Go through the Thirteen Affirmations at the start of the day, meditating upon the meaning of each. Then take a single statement (alternating on different days) and use the statement 'mindfully' for the entire day. At the end of the day, review the use of the statement and determine, if possible, its effects upon your day and your actions.

WFS has been around since July 1976 and is both an organization and a self-help program. Women For Sobriety, as the title indicates is a program for women, however, there is also a program called Men For Sobriety (MFS) which is similar in nature and, of course, is for Men who are trying to put their lives back together or maintain lives that they've put back on track after the experiences of addiction.

The WFS and MFS programs, based upon the Thirteen Statements above are programs intended to promote positivity, spiritual, emotional and personal growth. These programs have been effective in helping individuals to overcome alcoholism (and other addiction) and learn to live healthier lifestyles.

The Thirteen Statements should not conflict with other programs of recovery and can be used alongside other programs if an individual so chooses to utilize multiple methods of recovery. The Thirteen Statements approach that WFS (and MFS) uses is currently being used in many clinics, treatment facilities, womens (and mens) centres, hospitals, self-help groups and many other places where alcoholics (addicts) are discovering how to overcome addiction.

The WFS and MFS are programs that each attempt to deal with some specifics of gender where addictions are concerned - because life for men and for women in society is, in fact, different. Men have pressures and situations that don't follow the same for women and vice versa.

For example, many men may not have the 'child-care' stresses that women might have and therefore, in the WFS group, women can address women's issues during their 'recovery gatherings' with a freedom that might not be possible in a both-gender setting. By comparison, men may have 'main household provider' issues that they can feel free to speak about within their male-oriented group. In this, the MFS group can more fully meet the needs of men who are trying to deal with addiction and recovery issues, where they may feel that other 'programs' aren't able to meet certain 'safe discussion' or other support needs.

This post is intended to provide information mainly about the Women For Sobriety program, however, I thought it important to mention that although WFS is a gender-specific group, this doesn't mean that Men are excluded entirely from a similar form of support and self-help opportunity. Since I would not naturally, as a female, attend a Men For Sobriety meeting or gathering, I have limited information about the program but I am working on some correspondence with men involved in the MFS group. I hope to have permission very soon to write about some experiences (maintaining anonymity, of course) with the MFS self-help organization and recovery program.

I have attended WFS meeting locally and found many of the affirmations to be helpful in my own recovery - and I use the affirmations along with other recovery principles from other programs.
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