Edited to add: Just calling attention to the fact that I received a comment from Partnership for a Drug Free America in the comment section, that you guys might wish to read. Thanks!
I was catching up on blogs this morning when I came across Anna's post concerning a recent ad she saw in an issue of Everyday Easy Recipies from Better Homes and Gardens. This ad made the statement "When moms get involved kids don't." (implying parental involvement will prevent kids becoming drug users/addicts). This ad was apparently placed by The Partnership for a Drug Free America.
After I took a number of deeeep, cleansing breaths (yeah, that earthquake you felt was me hyperventilating and falling out of my chair!), I remembered a post I had written about three months ago, I think, for a guest posting on another blog. This other blogger asked me to write something for her to post in a specific portion of her blog and I wrote the piece you will find below. For whatever reason, this was never posted on the intended site (just verified, it is not there), so I am going to post it here.
We never know when a heartbroken parent is going to be googling and searching, a "newbie" so to speak, on this particular road we trudge as parents of addicts. Perhaps someone will come across these thoughts, and find them helpful.
And I hope and pray that The Partnership for a Drug Free America gets a better idea for their next campaign.
My Thoughts on Being the Parent of an Addict
I get sick to my stomach every time I drive by a grade school with the red cups stuck in the chain link fence or the ribbons tied to it, spelling out giant letters "say no to drugs". My personal opinion: What a pathetic waste of our tax dollars to take kids out there for several hours to put those up. My daughter participated in that stuff every year (except the two years we home-schooled, which she requested). And it may have only fueled her curiosity.
I think a more in-your-face approach in junior high school with exposure to the abused and scarred bodies of dead addicts and mandatory attendance at a dozen AA/NA meetings, and perhaps a stay in the hallway of a jail corridor, watching an addict “kick it” for about 36 hours would have more impact.
My daughter was told early on, and often, about her genetic predisposition to alcoholism, and the risks and effects of alcohol/drugs. She endured a close family member’s occasional drunken behavior.
But, it is just so basic, really. You tell a child not to touch the oven door because they will burn their hand. They don't believe you until they do it.
You tell them that if they pick up the snake (drugs) they may get bitten (addicted). But the same immortality complex that makes them think they can take other chances enters into the picture. They don't think THEY will get hooked. They don't think THEY will end up in the jail cell. And once they make that single bad choice to raise a little hell, experiment, etc, it is over for some of them. My daughter said the first time she tried heroin, she said to her friend, "I'm in trouble." She knew in that instant that she would crave/pursue that feeling for the rest of her life.
My beautiful, spunky, spirited, compassionate, smart, hard-working, butterfly girl….. is a bipolar alcoholic/addict. Her drug of choice is heroin.
Do not think that because you homeschool, work your butt off for private Christian school, are room mom, team mom, snack mom, brownie troop mom, girl scout cookie mom, church youth group mom, the mom who works at home and can hand out cookies and juice to the entire neighborhood at 3:20pm, the mom who drives for any and all activities, the mom who never let her kids sleep over without confirming with the other moms just what was going on and who was going to be on site, the mom who had skating parties, pool parties, teeshirt-painting parties, monthly sleep-overs, the mom who considered raising her children to be her God-given privilege and responsibility…..
Don’t think that those things will make any difference at all. By her own admission, my daughter has never been abused in any fashion, was privileged, was given every possible opportunity in life.
And she picked up the snake(s) as an experimenting, risk-taking teenager. By 18, she was an addict.
This disease of addiction is a non-discriminating killer.
We’ve been at this for ten years now. And now she is in prison 250 miles from here.
And if you’ve read this far, let me say that if for no other reason than your sanity, if you face this issue in your family, go to Alanon or Naranon. I know Alanon is supposed to be for family/friends of alcoholics. However, Alanon meetings are far more prevalent in my area than Naranon meetings. And most of the alcoholics that are represented by the attendees at my two favorite meetings are also drug addicts. Indeed, at any Narcotics Anonymous meeting, when they read their literature at the beginning of the meeting, a very pronounced distinction is made that they consider alcohol to be a drug.
So get to whatever meeting you can, and soak up the ESH (experience, strength and hope) of those other members. And keep going back! “It works, if you work it.”
You will learn important concepts like setting healthy boundaries for yourself. An example: It’s not that she can no longer live with us. It’s that we will no longer live with drugs in any fashion, and we will not live with the risk that she will again relapse and steal from us. This puts the focus on US. Not our addict.
You will learn the difference between enabling addiction and assisting with recovery. For everyone, this is just a little bit different. You will learn how to determine what is right for you.
And if at some point (I’m talking after several months!) you decide that Alanon or Naranon is not for you, or you do not wish to participate in a 12-step program of your own, you will have acquired a better foundation of education for dealing with this, in whatever fashion you deem appropriate for you.
For example, along the way you will pick up sayings like the three C’s:
“I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it.”
And, “don’t stuff your feelings”, “expectations are premature resentments”, “put the focus back on myself”, etc.
You will hear many of these slogans, and something will click on another day, in another place, when you are in the midst of a situation with your addict and you recognize exactly what a particular slogan referred to… because it’s right in your face at that time. Recognition enables you to choose to step back and appropriately take care of yourself, in a healthy manner.
You’ll take a great deal of comfort in being with others who know your pain up close and personal, themselves. It will help, seeing those who are further along in their journey, living lives of relative serenity and contentment, and you will realize there is HOPE, both for your addict, and also for you.
I’ll close with two little sayings I have found especially helpful. The first, I read on the blog of An Addict In Our Son’s Bedroom (http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/):
“I must learn to live in the world of what is, and not in the world of what ought to be.”
And I don’t recall where I happened across this next one, but oh how true:
"There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less." Kurt Hahn
Never give up Hope!
By Her Big Sad