I say “April 20.” Kids say “420.” And Jon Daily, Founder of Recovery Happens, says that say April 20 is a problem. “April 20 means a time to get high,” Daily said. “For chemically dependent kids, 420 happens every day. Parents and teachers have been in the dark. Kids aren’t going to go to school that day. They’re going to go get high.”
Seeking housing for my son on Craig’s List was a parent’s worst nightmare when “420-friendly” showed up on many of the listings. He was in early recovery. How was he supposed to pursue a life of sobriety when his roommates were smoking pot? That brings up a larger issue: how can we tell our kids that pot is bad when in fact it is legal in a growing number of states?
Marijuana is different today than when most parents gave it a whirl in the 70s or 80s. Drugfree.org reports that “Marijuana increases the risk of chronic cough, bronchitis, increases risk of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals. May increase risk of anxiety, depression and a series of attitude and personality changes, known as “amotivational syndrome.” This syndrome is characterized by a diminished ability to carry out long-term plans, a sense of apathy, decreased attention to appearance and behavior, and decreased ability to concentrate for long periods of time. These changes can also include poor performance in school. Marijuana, just like any other drug, can lead to addiction. It affects the brain’s reward system in the same way as all other drugs of addiction – and the likelihood of addiction increases considerably for those who start young.”
Knowledge is power – seize it. If you child says, “It’s just pot,” well, you know different. Be vigilant about April 20 and every day.
This is an “encore” post from Eliza
As our beloved addicts decline, so do we, hell bent on parallel paths of destruction. My son was physically depleted/I was physically exhausted. He had legal problems/I had legal problems (his—which I made mine.). He was addicted/I was addicted to his addiction. It was overwhelming to survey the landscape of destruction that my home and life had become in the wake of Hurricane Addiction.
Just as we work on the twelve steps one at a time, just as we tackle each day—and sometimes each minute—one at a time, we pick up the pieces and move ahead one inch at a time. Baby steps are the order of the day.
Where to begin the repair work? I was very sick myself—heartsick, and physically depleted by the sleepless nights and the days of incessant worry. My baby steps took many shapes and forms, but across the board, felt like huge leaps. Sometimes I could hardly bring myself to turning off my phone in case he called, or in case someone else called about him. It took a lot of practice to think of myself instead of obsessing about my child; in fact, when people asked me about me, I often told them about him. I was consumed with locating him—where was he? What was he doing?
I had to learn to tell my brain “STOP” to turn it off. I worked with a great therapist to understand the role my childhood played in my response to my child’s dangerous choices. It took me a year to learn how to say No with conviction. No with a period; No meaning “End of sentence, end of discussion.” No meaning “No more.”
I had a lot of good role models, other mothers who showed me how to be strong and stay the course. As they say, practice makes perfect, and I am still practicing. What words of wisdom do you other parents have to share about taking those baby steps? What baby steps have helped you get recover from your child’s chemical dependency?
Forewarned is forearmed. Get ready for your beloved addict or alcoholic to tell you why they can’t stay in rehab:
- “The rehab just wants your money.”
- “I’ve got my drinking/drug use under control now.”
- “Everyone here is worse off than me.”
- “We don’t do anything worthwhile here.”
- “I’m all better now” or “I can get better on my own.”
- “I know better now and have figured things out.”
- “The counselors are mean and have stupid rules.”
- “The food is bad here.”
- “I don’t like going to the meetings.”
- “I need to get back to work and stop wasting my time here.”
So how can you respond? Here are some options:
- Just say “Oh” or “Hmmm” or “Let me think about that.”
- “That sounds like something you could discuss with your counselor”
- “We support your recovery here, and if you choose to leave rehab, you’ll have to find somewhere else to live.”
- “This is the right place for you to get healthy.”
- “I love you, and I know you can do this.”
This is an “encore” post from Eliza
I sat next to a pediatrician at a charity dinner the other night, and the talk turned to teen addiction. He posed a thought-provoking question: “Do you feel guilty that your son became an addict?” If he had asked me that same question earlier in the game, my answer would have been an unequivocal “Yes.” I was wracked with guilt (co-mingled with anger, shame, horror and fear) because I believed I had somehow created an addict by failing my son in some unintended way, although I wasn’t certain what that was. Was I too controlling in my son’s young life? Not controlling enough? Were my standards unreachably high, or perhaps too low? Was I too much of a mother to him and not enough of a friend, or vice versa? My painful self-examination and self-flagellation was endless, but still—I had no answers. I didn’t know what I had done—right or wrong. In the rear view mirror, I began to look at my parenting as an abject failure.
My perspective started to change as I learned how, for some, drugs and alcohol take on a life of their own. It is a neurological, inheritable, biological reaction unrelated to willpower, character or desire. Apparently I passed that gene on to my son from my side of the family tree– unknowingly, as addiction hasn’t reared its ugly head in me. (The gift that keeps on giving across generations –Uugh). Still, my son has chemical dependency in his genetic toolkit where it keeps company with courage, determination and his very kind nature, among many other great qualities. Those are the gifts that he uses today in his life of active recovery. He got those from me, too.
But I won’t take credit for the good stuff any more than I take blame for the bad. My son was dealt a genetic hand of cards; how he plays it is up to him. And how I play the hand that life deals me is up to me, and that includes discarding the guilt card whenever I can.
There is no single answer to this question. It depends on your relationship with your parents or in-laws, and your child’s relationship with them.
If grandparents don’t have contact with your beloved, chemically-dependent child, why tell them about the pain and struggle? If grandparents are fragile and sick, don’t add to their worries. In short, if there is no reason for them to know, then there is no reason for them to know. Alternatively, if they are close to your child, they probably already have concerns and may actually be relieved to learn you’re taken steps to get help. And they may be able to offer financial resources to help with rehab.
Possible “land mine” ahead: many of “the Greatest Generation” are in the dark about the biological origins of chemical dependency and may consider this a character or personality defect. Be ready to explain to them that your child has a brain disease and has become chemically-dependent upon drugs or alcohol. Help them understand that there is great hope for sobriety, and that you are taking steps as a family to get help.
It’s critical that grandparents understand you need to be united as a family. That means Grandpa cannot give the addict money, and Grandpa cannot make her home a safe place for the alcoholic to crash. You all need to be united in the conviction that professional assistance is necessary to help your child get healthy again. You need to circle the wagons around your child.
This is not a time for blame or guilt. (Is there ever a time for blame and guilt??) No one made your child an alcoholic/addict, any more than anyone could make him or her diabetic or allergic. No one has the power to make another person chemically-dependent. And no one but the addict or alcoholic has the power to reclaim their sobriety. Long-term recovery is within reach: 23 million Americans have already claimed theirs. If you enlist Grandma and Grandpa in a loving and informed way, your child will have a healthy network to help them claim their own recovery.
This is a guest post from John Perry, co-founder of Clean & Sober Recovery Services in Orangevale, California
Who knew the trifecta of benefits for early recovery that you get when you ramp up your cardio workout? Here are three very compelling reasons to work cardio into your workout:
- Cardio activates natural “happy” chemicals called endocannabinoids that latch on to the same brain receptors as THC.
- Cardio boosts levels of brain-derived neutrotrophic factor, which enhances the growth of brain cells in the part of the brain involved with mood. Get fit, get happy.…could it be more simple than that??
- And when a pot smoker begins burning fat via aerobic exercise, it burns off THC stored in body fat and releases it into the bloodstream, taking the edge off withdrawal.
“Take a hike” takes on a whole new meaning for those in early recovery. Learn what science teaches us about how workouts can work wonders.