It’s hardest when they are young and they see themselves a grown up, living a full-grown adult’s life, thinking they know everything, and believing this without any doubt; meanwhile, the truth is they have only been speaking in full complete sentences for a little more than a decade. Meanwhile, less than a decade ago, they watched cartoons (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and they believed in things like The Easter Bunny, Santa, and the tooth fairy. They know it all; meanwhile, they don’t see what we see. No, they see through the eyes of self-preservation.
It’s hardest when trying to work with young kids like this. They do their best impression of a tough guy. They think the way they are is like being a rock star, and outlaw, or a gangster; meanwhile, they haven’t even completed all the stages of puberty and growth.
Yet still, if you ask these kids, they’ll tell you. If you ask them, they’ll know it all. And this doesn’t mean kids like this aren’t resourceful. And it doesn’t mean kids like this won’t know how to work the system, get over, and get away with it. This only means that few attempts in manipulation and in the art of conning are original at this point. The game is not new. But it’s new to a kid and they’ve already believed they’ve mastered the art of getting by.
They already know it all. They know better. And it’s tough to deal with kids like this because their minds are sealed shut. Their open-mindedness is closed tightly like a vault and it takes a lot to break through.
It is hardest when dealing with the parents of children like this because their most common misconception is a popular statement that goes, “My kid would never do anything like that.”
It’s hardest when parents of children like this defend themselves too often because no parent wants to feel like a failure. Certainly no parent wants to accept the responsibility of their child’s behavior. “But we never raised him that way,” they’ll say.
Most commonly, I hear parents say, “It’s his (or her) friends.”
Parents will swear it’s the friends or someone else’s fault because no parent wants to believe that depression, mental illness, or chemical dependency disorders, and teenage alcoholism is the parent’s fault.
Parents of kids like this don’t like to believe it could have something to do with them, so they make excuses; they rationalize the history and sometimes they turn away because although the “Elephant” is definitely in the room, denial is prevalent and a much easier feature.
It’s hardest when speaking to a parent and letting them know, “You have to let them go through this.” It’s hard to speak with the prime enabler in the family, the one with all the excuses, the one who if possible, would bleed or take their child’s place in a police line-up just to save their kid. Unfortunately though, no one is saved this way. EVER!
It’s hardest when you hear a kid cry and admit, “I wished I would have listened to you before,” because now is too late.
Now it is out of their hands and the jailhouse officers stand behind them as they make a collect call to home asking, “Do you think you can bail me out.”
Meanwhile, the kids believe they are the victim. These kids believe it is society against them. Unfortunately, it’s the other way around.
It’s hardest when arriving to a hospital bed and there is a kid lying in the Emergency Room; either passed out or nodding off with an I.V. in the arm and a monitor beeping in the background. They all have the same look on their faces.
All of them do. Partly sick, partly scared, and partly unsure why they’re in the hospital; they can’t remember why or what happened. And you come in and you clear the room. At least, I do. I move everyone away from the bed, giving the client the right to privacy. Also, people in these conditions tend to lie about their drug use. So in an effort to hide their lies and keep their hustle going, they are more honest with me then when say, their mother is in the room.
It’s hardest when the denial is so thick.
Bad things like this only happen to street bums and homeless, right?
That’s the stigma, isn’t it?
It won’t happen to you or your kids, right?
Wrong . . .
There is a saying Park Avenue to Park Bench. This means different things to me but in this case, I will give it one of my definitions. Mental illness is not limited to social classes and status. I have met miserable millionaires that come from money and live huge houses in places like Wycliffe, New Jersey. I have met the street level kids; they are kids with absolutely nothing. No money. No insurance. However, the one thing they have in common with the wealthy kids is a parent that said, “My kid would never do anything like that.”
I have news for them.
Yes, they would . . .
It’s hardest when these cases become personal.
Now, I understand that I am to maintain a level of personal detachment. I don’t have a dog in this fight. Sometimes, my resources are limited. Sometimes, kids slip through the cracks and then we see them again, months later, and they have that look in their eye, detached and absent of the charisma they used to have.
And you want to shake them but you can’t. And then you speak to the parents and you want to shake them too. You want to ask them, “What the hell; are you doing?”
At one point, I spoke with a woman from my old neighborhood. I did not remember her from my youth but she remembered me. Nevertheless, the person she remembers is gone and very different today.
She had a son, 16 years old, and he overdosed two times in one weak. And sadly, this wasn’t the first time.
I offered to help with treatment location, detox, follow up, and even long-term, inpatient treatment. But the mom balked.
“No,” she told me. “He hates me enough as it is. If I send him away, I’m afraid I might lose him or he’ll run away again.” To which I offered, “If he overdoses again, you will lose him. And since this is the case, what do you want to do to help prevent this.”
The mother was insulted by my honesty, to which I explained, “I’m not here to be your friend and tell you ‘You’re doing everything right.’ That’s not me.”
I told her, “All I care about is saving this kid’s life. I mean which will hurt more, your kid being mad at you for a little while or finding him in his bedroom with “a rig” hanging out of his blue arm, —his eyes all glassed over, the plunger pushed in and his last high was truly his last high.”
I explained this is too serious for me to watch my words. One single overdose alone is scary, —let alone two in one week; let alone the fact that he is still shoving junk in his veins; let alone the irreversible damage that may come; if I am too soft and careful with my words then I would be doing your son a great disservice.
I never heard from the mother again . . .
It’s hardest when I have to interview a young girl. It’s hard when they are so young and they resemble my little girl at home. In one case, one girl in particular, looked as if she only gave up playing with Barbie dolls about a year prior to our consultation. Meanwhile, her eyes were watering, nose running, and she looked like she wished she could crawl out of her skin. She was young and beautiful and permanently staining her looks with reddish pinhole lines and puncture holds on the inside pit of her elbow.
She picked her skin, which scarred her. She was a cutter with slice marks. She was a beautiful little girl. But a sickness like hers doesn’t care about beauty.
This kind of sickness doesn’t care about social status, looks, money in your pocket, or anything else. In truth, there is no common face when it comes to this problem, —there is only a common problem.
That girl hung on for about a month or two before returning to her previous life. Simply put, she told me, “This is just who I am and I’m not capable of doing anything else,” to which I responded, “That’s a lie!”
I still think about her.
Truth is I still pray for her and hope she finds her way.
It is hardest when kids refuse treatment. It’s hard to watch them fall into a terrible hole called heroin, or nearly die or sometimes die and then there you are, in a hospital room wondering, “Somewhere, a heart is breaking!”
You think to yourself, “Somewhere, a parent is waiting up for their child to come home but a phone call from the police or the hospital will advise them otherwise.”
It’s hard to see this and not feel helpless and humbled.
It’s hard hardest when a 17 year-old girl calls you and asks, “Can you bail me out?” Meanwhile, this kid has been on the run for a few weeks. In this case, the kid was bargaining with freedoms that were no longer available.
It’s hard when kids tell me, “You just don’t understand,” even after I tell them, “I understand more than you think!”
In this case, I was asked for help that I could not give.
At some point, and at any age, we need to understand the deeper we get into certain behaviors, the more we lose control of our consequences.
“But I can’t go to jail,” the kid told me.
“It doesn’t look like it’s up to you,” I answered.
I am always careful with anonymity for myself as well as my clients; however, this case in North Carolina is no different from a case I worked on with a parent in Ohio, or a family in Maryland, and another one in the Tampa Bay area.
A few months back, I listened to a politician speak about coercing addicts into treatment. He asked, “What would need to be done?”
In my opinion, no one can be coerced into recovery.
Recovery is a daily decision with daily growth and daily changes. Not much changes when there is a needle stuck in the arm. It only gets worse. They need to know “What’s in it for me?” and the only way to answer this is through empowerment through goals and achievements.
It is hardest when I speak with a mom or a young wife, or boyfriend, or a father, and they all have the same look of fear in their eyes. Their look is a look that shows an understanding of mortality.
Meanwhile, the addict is on life-support or being kept alive by a machine until someone comes in to pull the plug.
These kids don’t see the hurt they cause. They can’t. They don’t see the pain or the chaos amongst their family. And it’s not like they want it this way, —they just don’t believe they have the ability to be anything better than the person they are. All they see is the inside of a nod, which is why they try so hard to keep high because everything down here on Project Earth is unbearable and painful to them.
Kids and addiction
It’s hardest for them because they feel abandoned. And they feel this way because they’ve abandoned themselves.
It’s hardest for them when they hear the steal jailhouse door shut behind them and it closes with a loud, echoing boom.
It’s hardest when they are caught in the act because (obviously) it wasn’t their fault. And you wait and you watch; you look to see what they’ll do, but you won’t dare do the work for them; you watch and wait to see if they will understand on their own while hoping to God, they’ll get it before something tragic happens.
It’s hard seeing these kids with a death wish.
It’s hardest when I have a close relationship with them. It hurts enough to make me wonder if anything is helpful anymore. And it’s enough to make me weep.
It’s enough that even while I stayed home sick today, I went over to meet a client at his facility to help create a strategy when discharged later this week.
It’s tough when dealing with some of this, but seeing what I’ve seen, and learning what I’ve learned, it would be harder for me to sit back and do nothing.
And I just can’t do that.