It is absolutely paralyzing to learn that your child has substance abuse issues. Where do you turn for help? How do you know what steps to take? What is addiction, anyway? There are endless questions and no consolidation source of answers or support. In addition, the stigma of having an addicted child causes many parents to retract and withdraw rather than seek help. In truth, many families struggle with substance abuse issues, and the support, wisdom and guidance they need are not easily found.Parent Pathway was created for parents, by parents, to provide a place to find peace of mind at a time when their world feels like it is falling apart.
SCENARIO: You have received bad news again, either from your son or daughter directly, their employer, landlord, friend, relative, fill-in-the-blanks. This time the emotional roller-coaster is curving through the anger turn. You think, “This is the 6th, 7th, 12th, 100th or another LAST time!” In yet another opportunity to drill into them the PROBLEMS they are creating for themselves, maybe this time you blast them with righteous indignation about the problems they are causing YOU.
ME: “I don’t understand why you do it!” THEM: “I don’t know why I do it!”
Who’s right? Both! “I just don’t understand why” was often said from my mouth. Yet my actions for many years did not indicate any desire to try and learn about it. Moreover, I did not hear myself when I said the words: I don’t understand – I was preoccupied with WHY. Yet it armed me with ammunition: I don’t understand, therefore I will fight-fight-fight.
In recovery I have learned that understanding is mental action of study which is sometimes measured through aptitude tests and scoring. Acceptance is a spiritual action of study with notable behavioral changes in attitude: serenity, kindness, gratitude and love. The further along I get in my own recovery, the less important “why” becomes. Knowledge has provided me with information – it was the resistance to this information that kept me in denial. Denial is the antithesis of knowledge and acceptance. And the battle of the non-Al-Anon vs. Alcoholic/Addict continues on or maybe, this time, something changes…
Jon Daly of Recovery Happens Counseling Center disputes the myth that All adolescents & young adults ”experiment” with drugs. Here is the reality, according to Jon: Statistics show that the rate of drug use remains at a very high level for young people (1). Part of the myth of “experimentation” is that drug use is a naturally occurring “rite of passage” from adolescence in to adulthood. However, not every young person has tried or will try drugs. In addition, not all will pass through their drug use without experiencing negative consequences from their use. Drug use is risky and unhealthy behavior. In today’s society even “experimentation” can lead to car accidents, driving while under the influence, unplanned sexual activity, date rape, and sometimes death. Moreover, the word “experimentation” can be misleading. When we get calls from parents seeking counseling for their adolescent or young adult child, we often hear the words, “I think my son is experimenting with drugs.” When asked how long the parent has been aware of the drug use, the reply can be anywhere from weeks to years. The parent’s response implies that “experimentation” is a phase, when “experimentation” is not a phase at all. In fact, it is a “one-time event. ” (2) Once intoxication has been experienced, the experiment is over. The user has achieved the results of the experiment, “I like this feeling,” or ” I don’t like this feeling.” Subsequent intoxication indicates misuse, abuse or addiction.
When helping young people with substance use disorders, at the end of the day what we are assess and treating is a “pathological relationship to intoxication.” The name of the drug they are using is an illusion . They need to know they are not hooked on weed, they are hooked on intoxication and therefore must see all intoxicating substances as the same. Take away weed from the pot smoker and they drink and/or take pills. Take away Oxycontin for the opiate user and they use benzodiazepines and marijuana. This is because they were not hooked on the particular drug, they were hooked on “intoxication.” The focus of treatment for young people is to severe their pathological relationship to intoxication so as to open up their capacity to have regulating relationships with their counselor, support groups, rebuilt family relationships and healthy peer groups. Such social supports promote dopamine(3), and endogenous opiates (4) which the user has been chasing on the streets, but can be created in health relationships as they were intended to. Helping them and the family to understand this and supporting their growth in this way is the core of treatment after we have helped them to become drug-free