If anyone ever asked my mother, she might have told you the hardest day in her career of being a mother was the day she drove me up to a drug and alcohol treatment facility. I was far away from home and fortunately, I was even further away from my friends and the other influences that kept me sick. If anyone asked my mother if she felt this was the right thing to do; she would have explained about the guilt she felt. She might have explained about the feelings of failure, asking herself, “Where did I go wrong?”
I did not grow up in a broken, nor abusive home. I was not neglected, nor were my parents active alcoholics or involved with drugs in any way. I grew up in a normal, average home with the same dysfunctions as anyone else. I was taught to have manners. I was raised properly, yet somehow, I never fit in. I wanted to be good, but as a result of a series of feelings, I never could pull it off.
This was something that both my mother and father failed to understand. Aside from my learning disabilities, which went undiagnosed; I struggled with a serious case of depression. I was awkward, very small, too thin, and incredibly insecure. I was weak and unable to physically defend myself with others. I was bullied, and in response; I bullied those that were afraid and seemingly weaker than me.
This, however, was not the fault of my parents, nor was this a fault of my own. In the simplest form, I lacked the ability to verbally explain myself.
I alone, struggled to understand me, which made it even more difficult to explain myself to anyone else or ask for help. I thought there was something wrong with me.
I lacked the words and the ability to describe these things. And it began here; it all began here with these tiny seeds of doubt and discomfort, which grew wild like angry weeds and eventually began to suffocate the breath of my better judgement.
If anyone asked my mother what was her most hopeless time; I suppose she would begin to tell you about my behavioral meltdowns. I suppose she would tell you about the times when I was uncontrollable. Perhaps she would talk about the times she tried to reach me, yet not matter how hard she tried, I always remained out of reach.
Maybe she would tell you the most helpless times in her career as a Mom were the times when I came home in the worst of conditions.
My eyes were halfway closed and my mouth hung slightly open with a thin line of drool dangling from my lip. I looked as if my facial expression described me as chemically relaxed. Maybe it was the way I was sick that made my parents feel so helpless. Maybe it was the fact that no matter how they tried to stop me, or step in, or intervene; I always found a way to sneak out. No matter what they tried to put in front of me; I always found an angle.
No matter how they loved me or pleaded with me; no matter what was put in front of my, or whatever gifts I may have been given with hopes to bribe me away from myself; I was always unreachable. And this is what caused my parents to feel most helpless.
The truth is, no parent ever believes this will happen in their house. No mom believes her son would do anything like the things I had done. No father thinks this of his daughter or of his son as well. No parent believes this could happen in their house. And albeit a common thought; teenage addiction and alcoholism is still alive and it is alive and well in the homes of all backgrounds.
Like cancer, alcoholism and addiction is an actual sickness. Alcoholism is a disease; it is a sickness, whether we agree with the theories or otherwise—alcoholism is a clinical disease. This is a fact—not an opinion.
Alcoholism, or alcoholics, is those with a high level of THIQ cells in the brain. For a better explanation of this; research Dr. E Morton Jellinek and the THIQ disease concept of alcoholism. And while yes, family history does often play a role and this disease is certainly hereditary; alcoholism and addiction are a sickness and needed to be treated as such.
(Here is a link about Dr. Jellenik:
If anyone ever asked my mother what the hardest fact she had to face about me, I suppose she would have explained the dishonesties were painful. This is not to say that everything I said was a lie. I had moments of honesty. If asked if I were hungry or tired, I would have answered honestly. If I were asked if I wanted to listen to music or stay home instead of go to school—then in cases like this, I might have been honest. In all other cases, which were in most cases, I was commonly dishonest. I was always hiding something—always looking to get away and keep from being caught.
As it is with mechanics and the tools in their tool boxes, so is the same with addicts and alcoholics. We use people the same way a mechanic uses their tools. We tend to use people as addicts; we use them as manipulative tools. This is how we slip through. We look for the cracks and crevices in the emotions of others and we lean on them until we find ways to get what we want.
As a teenager, this is how I survived. I knew what to speak about with my mother and I knew what to approach my father with. I knew how to lie and get what I wanted and I knew how to manipulate the system. Of all people I have met, the smartest I have ever met were not in conference rooms or sitting in high, honored classrooms. Quite oppositely, the smartest, most inventive people I’ve ever met; the most ingenious, and strangely, the most oddly sensitive, and contradicting their behavior; the most loving people I ever met in my life were in the same treatment facilities as me.
In truth, with all their efforts and all their energy; my parents did not understand nor did they know about the pain I was in. They were not educated about the disease of alcoholism. They knew nothing about the drug culture. They were never taught about the family roles that play along. They never knew the difference between helping and enabling. They only knew they loved me. They knew they didn’t want to see me sick or in trouble anymore. And love, above all things is the biggest contributor to denial, which can be deadly. As parents, we simply cannot, will not, or don’t want to see these painful truths.
When I arrived at the treatment center, I weight 80lbs. My skin was a pale shade of green and there were deep black circles beneath my eyes. I could hardly read full sentences because my mind was so scrambled. I was confronted and told to stop speaking through my teeth. I dragged my feet when I walked because it looked as though I lacked the ability to walk in a correct stride. I was young in my addiction. I had a chippie (Small time habit ) with heroin and the cocaine demons had their way with me. In fairness, I was more fortunate than others. I got off light, as they say. This doesn’t mean I had it easy; it only means that I could have been much worse.
Throughout the years of my sobriety, I have been asked for my opinion by parents of teenagers who were no different from me; in some instances, these children are worse and in other cases, these children had yet to see the true effects of their choices—yet, in all cases, there are always warning signs and whenever the warning signs are ignored—there are always consequences that follow.
In all honesty, I cursed my parents for sending me away. In truth, this was not their choice; however, this was the choice of the court system. Regardless, in my attempt to negotiate the rules and manipulate the terms, I weighed in and tried every angle I could to get over and get out of going away to treatment. And like a bratty child, like a spoiled little kid; when I saw that my way was not going to happen; I cursed my parents. I said every mean thing I could think of. And while yes, everything I said cut through my mother and father like silver blades slicing at their heart; at least they knew I was safe.
Yes, I cursed my parents for sending me away. Yes, I hated them for it. And yes, nearly 26 years later, I am still drug free. I do not drink and on his deathbed, my father saw me sober and healthy. Over the years, I have maintained a relationship with my mother and same as my father, when my mother passed; I was sober and healthy while standing at her bedside
If you are a parent of a child in need of help—then get help.
Set rules and stick to them.
Do not allow your children to manipulate or negotiate the terms of their rules.
There are anonymous meeting near you with parents like you who have gone through the same thing. These meetings will be of support. Use them and stay in contact with the people you meet there.
If you think your child has a behavioral, drug, or alcohol problem; they probably do. Act accordingly. Do not allow them to dictate their behavior. Do not be afraid to use home drug tests and do not give in when they argue. Take charge. Remember something: YOUR”RE THE PARENT!!
Most importantly, remember the tools of a mechanic and how they relate to the tools of an addict or alcoholic.
When I was new in the program, I heard a man explain, “There really is no difference between a junkie and a drunk. The only difference between the two is they’ll both steal your wallet, but a junkie will help you try and find it . . .”
Do not allow yourself to be used a tool of manipulation. In some cases, this is unavoidable. As parents, we can’t catch everything. But we can be diligent. We can love our kids with all our hearts, but same as love will not cure cancer; love cannot cure the disease of addiction
My mother once told me, “I thought it was all my fault.”
She told me, “I thought you hated me.”
None of these things were true. I was sick.
I had this thing in me—and it was something I could never describe. I could never tell anyone about it because I thought I was crazy. I thought there was something seriously wrong with me. As it turns out, I was only suffering from the disease of addiction. And once I found help, I was able to learn how to beat it.
Had it not been for the strictness of the courts and the refusal by my parents to give in to my demands—I would have never beaten this thing I have. Instead, I would have ended up as another statistic. I would have been another suburban tragedy.
My suggestion: Get involved and stay involved. Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids because you never know—it may just save their live one day . . .
If you can’t find the help you need, feel free to email me.
Let’s see what we can work out together