Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

If you knew others’ challenges, would you have more tolerance?

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Have you set your mind to achieve your goals?

Ask the Expert: He’s a good kid with a bad criminal record…should I keep him out of college?

making the right decisions in recovery from substance abuseMy son is 20 years old and is in his sophomore year in college and I have come to learn today that he is an addict. He is a study in contradictions…graduated with honors from high school and arrested for felony drug charges. Starting quarterback of the high school football team the in jail for probation violations. When he went off to college 2 years ago he had an academic scholarship, a spot on the college football team, a car, a driver’ license and now he has lost it all. He got 2 DUI’s and is back in jail for smoking marijuana while on probation. As far as I know he does not do any other “hard” drugs but his treatment counselor and his probation officer are recommending long-term residential (12 months!) treatment. My heart would break to have to send him off and be able to see him for months. Do you think this kind of treatment would be best? He has a 3.0 GPA in college and I would hate to see him get off track with his education.

Photo of Christy CrandellEXPERT CHRISTY CRANDELL:

Sounds like a great kid with a very serious problem. My own son was given the same recommendation for inpatient treatment when I had him assessed at age 17 for a drug problem. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the advice and he ended up in prison for 13 years for crimes committed while trying to get more money to get more drugs – something I could never imagine he would do.

I know you are worried about his college completion but he is already off track with the choices he has been making in the last two years. The fact that he continued to use marijuana after having the DUI’s and being on probation is indicative of level of his addiction. Please listen to his treatment counselor as his life could depend on it.

Learn all you can about the disease of addiction and find some support for yourself as you begin this very difficult journey. A local Al-Anon group is a good place to start. Above all, do not despair – many people live an abundant life in recovery!

Photo of Ricki TownsendEXPERT RICKI TOWNSEND:

Thank you for submitting your questions. I know this is a difficult time and the decision you are asked to make seems impossible.

After reading over your question, I agree with exactly what has been recommended for him, and nothing less. He has already shown you he cannot continue in school. Failing more will only be a negative experience for him. His self esteem is already low, with all that he is going through. His whole life is ahead of him. Give him a chance to heal and get back on track, joining so many others who have gone back to school later in life and found great success.

Most importantly, taking a critical year off to get healthy will not derail his academics, but addiction will.

Your son’s accomplishments muddy the water and make it hard to see that he is already in deep trouble. First of all, you mentioned “hard drugs.” With two DUIs, he is already on the drug that is most likely –statistically- to kill him. And he may be on other drugs besides pot and alcohol: as one father said in a meeting, “If you think your child is on one drug, think again, and throw everything else in the mix. If f you think it’s only been a couple of years of substance abuse, then add about four more to that.” I could not have stated this better myself.

Two DUIs by the age of 20? And then you add that he is willing to risk jail for pot? Your son sounds like he is in the throes of addiction. Please remember addiction is a brain disease, a disease that is chemically driven by mood-altering substances including drugs and alcohol. He needs serious help.

For your son to change, you need to change, too. I encourage you to do two things.

1. See an addiction counselor or other therapist to help you work through our own fear, grief and pain.

2. Start going to a “parents” Al-Anon meeting to get ongoing support. There you will learn what other families are doing to help them through this difficult time.

Again, thank you for submitting your question, which will help other families who find themselves in a similar situation.

How being productive helps those in recovery grow into responsible adults

mother daughterMany times I think about what has been instrumental to my daughter’s recovery.  When have I seen the most growth?  There are many dynamics that contribute.   Early in her struggle to overcome her addiction it was a moment by moment, day by day battle to piece together sobriety.  But now that she has many months and now years she is not in crisis mode – she is ‘doing life’ as they say.  She is working and taking responsibility for herself.  My expectations during the early days of recovery were basic; stay clean, move forward.  But as time went on, I knew that part of recovery entails getting a job and learning life skills and responsibilities.

Getting a job definitely propelled her forward in a positive direction.  She had to get up and show up.  She had to work hard and follow directions.  I watched her go from an attitude of ‘it’s all about me and what others do for me’ to ‘I worked hard for that paycheck!’  She began to understand the value of money and how much it cost to live on her own.  It was a real sign of growth when we were shopping one day and I was about to buy something at the grocery store and she said, ‘that’s way too expensive!  You can get that somewhere else for a lot less.’  This was never a consideration when she didn’t have to buy things on her own.  Now she was able to understand the cost and making tradeoffs.  I watched her self-esteem rise over time.  It is one of the most fundamental jobs we have as parents, to help our children grow into responsible adults.  When they take a detour into addiction, it becomes an even more difficult task, but there is hope for recovery.