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.
It seems that as the time goes on I am making progress on with my recovery as a co-dependent. But, yet, I get frustrated that I can’t ‘get it’ right all the time. It’s an interesting paradox to immerse yourself into learning about co-dependency, what it is, how it is negative to yourself and others, how to change these behaviors. Then you have ‘book smarts’ about it, just like any other topic or subject you decide to become proficient about. So, why can’t I turn this information from intellectual understanding to daily behavior? It occurred to me that if I thought about a sports analogy then maybe I could make a parallel that would help me be a little easier on myself.
For instance, if I bought a book on water skiing and read it and studied it and even bought videos on instruction and technique, should I expect to go out on the water and be proficient at water skiing the first, second, third and so on tries at it? Of course we would never expect this. So, why do I think I can read about a behavior and think that I can take this intellectual understanding and instantly turn it into practice in my day to day life? What I’ve found is that with every opportunity to practice, I become a little more proficient. I’ve even found when those opportunities do not come for a bit, that I also become a bit rusty. It is progress, not perfection that I strive for. As long as I am making progress I am heading in the right direction on this journey.
Many of my posts focus on the aftermath of addiction, chronicling the devastation that is inevitable due to severe drug and alcohol abuse. Today I am focusing on the hope for this generation of teenagers. While at my morning workout there was a conversation among the wonderful women in the group. The conversation was about ‘pre-testing’. ‘Hmmmm… ,’ I thought,’ I need to listen to this…’ The Mom’s in the group were talking about how they drug test their teens in order to keep them accountable and give them a reason to tell their friends they can’t try drugs and alcohol. ‘My parents drug test me and I’ll get grounded or in trouble’. This was music to my ears, a full symphony no less!
One of the ways we can help our teens is to do this act of love. While I am an activist for prevention of teen drug and alcohol addiction and I often talk about the effectiveness of randomly drug testing your kids, it isn’t always clear what parents think of this. It was truly a joy to hear the positive conversation about parent’s drug testing and telling other parents why they do it and having such a constructive conversation amongst the group. The thought of drug testing my kids never even entered my mind when they were in high school. Even when the trouble started with my daughter I didn’t consider drug testing. Thinking back now I realize it could have done several things. It would have forced me to see clearly what was going on – I was in denial and that is a dangerous place to be. It would have validated the seriousness of the drug abuse that was taking place. I would have no longer been able to hope it was nothing serious, I would have known it was very serious. All of this is hind sight, I realize, but worth sharing for others to gain insight. I applaud parents willing to drug test their teens – it is a very loving act that can possibly be the difference between a sober teen or a teen traveling down a road that can lead to eventual addiction.
It occurs to me that the tragedies we endured during my loved ones addiction are like a distant shore that is fading away. While I can recall every difficult detail, it is not as visceral as it was when it occupied my life during the tumultuous years of her active addiction. As a matter of fact, I often recount the blessings that have occurred because of this journey and they are plentiful. Still I would have appreciated my daughter being spared the whole experience, but that was not our journey. It falls under the category of ‘life happens’ and we have dealt with it as best we could.
I’ve talked to my daughter about various things that had happened and I’m sure there are much more in her past that I am not aware of, but that is okay. It is not my experience or any of my business to try to delve into it with or without her. I do remember at one point when she was struggling to get clean that she said something along the lines of being a ‘bad person’ because of things she had done. My message to her at that time was, ‘that was your experience, that was not you or who you are.’ It was important to let her know that she should not let her past experience define who she is, that was a time to learn from not a time to dwell on. I think this is important to emphasize to our loved ones, so they can move away from their ‘experiences’ just like the distant shore that is fading away. Eventually their life becomes filled with good times and the bad times are a fading memory.