Knowledge is Power – Educating Parents and Teens about addiction

pills in a cup rxWe all know that being armed with knowledge is very powerful. In the case of teenage addiction we are failing our kids and their parents by not arming them with critical information about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the developing teen. I’m guessing if you’re reading this that you are like me and that you have had an experience with your child, or know of someone, who has become dangerously involved in substance abuse. I know so much more now that I wish I had known when my kids were growing up. We are not educating teens or their parents in a way that helps them understand what they are up against. It is always easier to look back and realize this, I understand that. But I also think that knowing what I know now comes with a certain responsibility. I will talk to anyone who will listen and have become an activist in the area of teen drug and alcohol abuse.
I am compelled to write about this because I have recently experienced understanding how some very basic information like ‘prescription drugs are very addictive and dangerous to take’ is not understood by teens and their parents. What may seem obvious to some of us, who have walked this journey with our loved ones, is not at all obvious to others. More information about the effects of substance abuse needs to go out to our communities at the early teenage years and every year thereafter. Awareness does drive prevention, studies and actions in other communities have unequivocal proof. Pathway to Prevention has created the documentary Collision Course – Teen Addiction Epidemic which is aimed at educating parents and teens through stories of young people who have gone through addiction and parents who have traveled the journey with them. I am very hopeful that this documentary will become main stream to educate throughout every community near and far. The heart ache caused by teen addiction is devastating and it is 100% preventable, we just have to convince kids to never take that first drink, pill or smoke.

A Pre-emptive Strike Against Teen Addiction/Alcohlism

Was I an overprotective mother, or was I a negligent one?  Certainly, I was on the lookout for the usual suspects:  stranger abductions, pedophiles, rare diseases—these all seemed like quasi-threatening risks to my family.

But I had no clue that chemical dependency was just a pill bottle away.  In fact, that was the furthest thing from my mind because “we were a good family,” we modeled responsible parental behavior and, most of all, my children wouldn’t be stupid enough to “experiment.”  I don’t know why I expected them to exercise any more judgment or willpower than I did at their age.

Why didn’t someone tell me about the dangers of highly addictive drugs that plagued my community, our communities??  If I had known better, I would have done better—monitoring my child and his friends, attentive to the warning signs, unblinded by denial.

I like to think that, had there been a public awareness campaign about teen substance abuse, I would have taken off my blinders.  Today, we’ve got the tools to tell the story of teen vulnerability right at our fingertips, and this is where I ask your help, Dear Reader.

The Emmy Award-winning documentary, Collision Course – Teen Addiction Epidemic, is available at no cost to public TV stations nationwide.  It has already shown on TV stations across the nation, and you can bring it to your local channel by calling your PBS station director and making him or her aware that it is available.  Start by telling them about the documentary, share your local statistics or own story, and convince them to watch it online and then contact KVIE to gain access to the program.  Free, compelling programming that can spare other families the heartbreak of a child’s addiction or alcoholism is just a phone call away.  And you can reclaim your power against a child’s chemical dependency by preventing others from stumbling into the heartbreak you have known.

Early Intervention Helps

I’m so proud that today’s parents, when concerned about their child’s substance abuse, have courage to take action and start early intervention.  I don’t know if I could have done this myself given the strong sense of denial I was in.  But then again, the drug epidemic we have today was not publicized when my kids were in their teens.  Had there been a documentary like Pathway to Prevention’s  Collision Course, Teen Addiction Epidemic, maybe I would have been paying attention more.

I recently heard some heartfelt testimonials at a fundraiser event for an adolescent treatment center.  To witness recovery through individual achievements as was presented at the event was truly miraculous.  How wonderful this community has options for parents who seek help for their children and family.  And the bright future for these young people brought tears to my eyes.

Recovery takes dedicated team work and money to support its professionals, operating and infrastructure costs to that end.  Generous donations, sponsors and private funding as well as volunteers in service by individuals continue to be the backbone of many non-profits.  Now that we have more places that offer treatment, how much is this going to cost? Parents are often shocked at the costs associated with recovery treatment.  As noted by Dad on Fire, in his blog post “Insurance Woes for Addiction treatment”, it seems “there isn’t a shortage of treatment centers but a shortage of dollars to provide for the care.”

One thing is certain: left untreated, addiction costs are far more costly and damaging than any prevention measure.  Every little bit we can do on education, prevention and treatment will make a difference, because early intervention really does help.

Dads and Grads, Final Act – For this parent, the month of June is a memory and new perspective


Part 3: The last act of a high school graduation.  With a better sense of reality learned the hard way, I had an unconscious surrender.  I realized that I could not control or predict the future especially in light of the problems drugs and alcohol were creating in the family dynamics.  This final act looked and felt different. Graduation would be significant if it meant anything to him, not me. What I saw was his desire to graduate, not my own.  He was the one that studied and attended class seriously.  He took the initiative to go on the senior trip, not I.  His actions resulted in his graduating with his class and I did not have anything to do with it.

The thought occurred to me: I can’t take credit for the success or failure of someone else…and then the awakening: I’m no longer in control as a parent, I’m just mom.  That letting go of my ideas of how the story ends for my children would be a solution to my problems.  A few years later with the help of Al-Anon, I learned that there are tools to help me be the supportive mother, free of constant worry and fear.  I can strive for unconditional love and this only happens when I chose to change my old thinking and behavior.    This has not been an easy change to embrace.  I still catch myself having to detach my will for things to go my way.

June is a memory with a new perspective. Had I known the real dangers of drug and alcohol abuse long before graduation, when my kids were little and innocent, who knows how things might have been different.  If nothing else, my experience may tip others to get informed and involved, while you still have control as a parent.  Fortunately, concerned parents made a documentary that tells it like it is today, Collision Course – Teen Addiction Epidemic (to view  click here.)  To learn more about the project and the mission of Pathway to Prevention – go to

Collision Course – Teen Addiction Epidemic wins an Emmy!

On Saturday, June 9, 2012 the Northern California Emmy Awards ceremony was held in San Francisco, California. The documentary Collision Course- Teen Addiction Epidemic was nominated and received an Emmy in the category of ‘Public/Current/Community Affairs-Program/Special. It was a great honor for the film and all involved in its creation. In addition, the film has been selected to be distributed nation-wide to all PBS stations. This recognition is fantastic because it gives this powerful film a boost which will help it reach many more teens and their parents. The sole purpose of this documentary is to help educate teens, parents, and whole communities of the risks to young people about using substances. These recent accolades will help to reach more families.

To view Collision Course – Teen Addiction Epidemic click here. To learn more about the project and the mission of Pathway to Prevention – go to