A blog for parents concerned about their teens alcohol and drug use

I’m Sorry Officer, I Didn’t See The Sign
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

A while back, my wife and I were having a conversation with friends and the conversation turned to that question: What would you have done differently? It’s a question we all ponder endlessly. It stabs us in the heart. It causes untold hours of sleepless nights.  It’s a question we could gladly discuss for hours and still have more to say — if only doing so actually helped someone else.

A better question for us parents is, “What signs should we look for and which ones did we miss?” 

We asked ourselves this very question the last time we met.  As parents of loved ones with a drug or alcohol addiction, how many times did we blow right through the warning signs as if they weren’t even there? And, if there were parenting cops, how many charges would we be guilty of? 

Teenage alcohol use is not a rite of passage.  Even if we drank as teenagers, it cannot justify us failing to exercise our parental responsibility. Seriousness with our kids and grounding them and then laughing about it later is just not wise. …….Guilty, Officer.

Kids are going to try pot. It’s just a little weed no big deal. I’m sure there are addicts out there that didn’t start with weed but I have never met them. We have heard the term gateway drug. Weed is a drug. Not every kid that tries weed will become a heroin addict, can you tell me which ones will and which ones won’t? ……Guilty, Officer.

The cops, teachers, judges, security officers are just being jerks. Don’t worry baby, it wasn’t that bad. We’ll help get you out of it. All we have to do is get a good lawyer and pay extra; the trouble goes away. ……Guilty, Officer.

Why did that intake person at the rehab facility ask if there were any addiction/alcohol problems in the family? Why is that relevant? It’s really none of their business — we are here with our child not to talk about relatives’ problems. ……Guilty, Officer.

My kid wouldn’t do that or go that far — he’s just having fun. You know, boys will be boys. Basically he’s a good kid and he knows his limits and we taught him better than that. Why do you ask? “No sir, I am not in denial.” ……Guilty, Officer.

I really don’t like the way you dress and talk now.  The music you like has changed, too. Your friends, your manners, your disrespect, your grades, your tattoos, your piercings, but I know you will grow out of it. Any one thing may not be indicative of an “addict to be” but behavior changes do mean something. ……Guilty, Officer.

Everybody has role models and mentors. I do, you do, and your child does. What is the modeled behavior your child is seeing? Do you even know? ……Guilty, Officer.

Being a parent to a teen and being a friend to a teen is two very different roles. Do not confuse your role. ……Guilty, Officer.

Every one of those charges could be explored endlessly and debated for hours. I am not calling an attorney to defend my actions to the parenting cops. I’m not really up for the debate, or the hourly charges. I just know my list is not complete, but it is my list. Feel free to add to it as you see fit.

Posted by Ron Grover  /  Filed under Addiction, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more

Katherine, the Early Years
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

My stepdaughter Katherine’s high-school years were like most teenagers.  She was a good student, had great friends, acted in school plays, and sang in the chorus.  She was the center of laughter with a creative mind. 

We shared her excitement when the University of San Diego accepted her and we sent her off beaming with pride for what we thought would be some of the best years of her life.  We wanted to believe she was going to experience everything positive that comes from a college freshman’s first time away from home – dorm life, new friends and feelings of accomplishment. 

But at some point she deviated from the normal college experience and entered a fast-paced world of addiction and chaos. 

It began with hair variations (many colors), weight change and body piercing.  In the beginning these behaviors, by themselves, did not appear to be anything other than experiments with her new-found independence.  Her father and I were not happy with any of these decisions but we rationalized it as typical freshman behavior. Looking back on it now, it’s clear that these were early signs of her drug use.

On another visit we noticed bolder actions.  This time, not only was her hair an issue, but more body piercings were on display.  I will never forget the shock on her father’s face when he first saw her flashy tongue piercing and bright blue hair.  Katherine routinely asked for more food money because she was always running low.  She responded to the discussion of grades with resistance (we later found out that she was on academic probation.)

Visits home during the holidays became confrontational with new “friends” showing up at our door – we later discovered that she used her computer to network and meet dealers and meth users online.  The neon lights were flashing as we began to notice this new Katherine.

Posted by Linda Quirk  /  Filed under Warning Signs  /  Comments: 0

Warning Signs of Drug Abuse
Thursday, May 14th, 2009

When do you know when a loved one is suffering from an addiction? Is it when you notice their growing distance? After too many of their lies have caught up with them? Or perhaps, it is the more subtle moments, when their actions border on the fringe of normalcy and intuition jumps in to warn us that something’s off? For my family the signs were vividly present yet camouflaged with aspects of what appeared to be just teenage behaviors. Looking back I realized, with great anguish, how my stepdaughter Katherine’s disease of addiction manifested right before our very eyes as early as high school. But it wasn’t until college that we finally knew she was using. We thought she was just going through a phase of self-discovery and testing authority with standard acts of rebellion. Little did we know she was experimenting with hard drugs and slipping away further. Before long, drugs had destroyed her sense of family, self-respect and zest for life. Meth had devoured everything she and our family held dear. Our beloved little daughter turned her back on us, shut us out and anchored in a place of loneliness; hopelessness and absolute devastation…and it took everything in our power to get her back.

Katherine’s story is not just ours. Too many families continue to witness the devastating effects of addiction. So as a parent who has witnessed it all and come out the other side with a healthy loved one in full recovery, I would like to share Katherine’s story with you. Over the next several weeks, I will be blogging about her journey from dissent to recovery.

Posted by Linda Quirk  /  Filed under Warning Signs  /  Comments: more


About this blog
Welcome to Intervene. We are a community of experts, parents and caring adults concerned about our teens’ alcohol and drug use and have come together to share our insights, inspiration, guidance and help.

A free service to help you determine if alcohol may be harming your health or putting you at risk.

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