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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Help for Parents Who Don’t Want to See Their Drug-Abusing Kids Live on the Streets

Like cigarettes in the 50s with their sexy and glamorous portrayal in movies, drugs today intrigue kids because they are mysterious, alluring, and enticing. What kids don’t realize, though, despite what they hear, is that they are also dangerous (because they believe that nothing bad will ever happen to them). 

In the 50s smokers were considered cool. Today people look upon cigarette smokers with disdain and disgust. Unfortunately, kids don’t see that drug abusers are looked upon with that same disdain and disgust, because their teenage friends use drugs and they're popular. As parents, we flounder with our inability to cope with the devastation associated with drug and alcohol abuse.

Like so many parents who struggle to maintain some sense of balance when they know things are going terribly wrong, we stand on the precipice of wanting to help our kids without also enabling them. Susie calls Mom to ask for money – again. Mom instinctively knows, either because Susie has been asking for a lot of money lately, or wants to deny that Susie is using drugs, that the money her daughter wants will not be used for what Susie says it will be used.

So Mom lends her money for all those things Susie asks – I need money for food – I need to pay the rent – the kids don’t have any school supplies – the list goes on and on. The list changes from week to week, of course, because Susie doesn’t want Mom to become suspicious. So Mom, who doesn’t want to see Susie and her grandchildren living in a dangerous alley or under a bridge somewhere, gives Susie money.

Why not just take Susie in, you might ask, and let her live with Mom? That way her kids would live in a safe environment. But Susie stole some family heirlooms and sold them for drugs. One day, Susie’s mom came home to find her home ransacked and she reported the theft to police. A brand new flat-screen 60” smart TV was missing, along with several electronic devices, including the family computer. Susie looked a little too surprised by the theft. Mom suspected Susie and her “friends” had something to do with it, but she didn’t want to accuse Susie in front of her children.

Nobody ever found out who stole the goods, but Susie’s mom knew, and so did everybody else who knew Susie.

So what’s a mom or dad to do?

Probably the first thing to do is to recognize the signs of drug abuse. (For a list of different types of drug abuse and their signs, click this link on the National Institute on Drug Abuse web site.)

The next thing to do is initiate court proceedings to put Susie’s kids in a loving home. Sadly, too often, people like Susie have parents who also abuse drugs or alcohol. If you’re a parent who uses and abuses drugs and/or alcohol, GET HELP NOW!

Then get Susie (and yourself if need be) into a rehabilitation center somewhere. No money? Figure out how much you’ve been “lending” Susie. You might find that the money you’re losing could pay for a stint at a rehab facility. Just plug, “drug rehab centers” into your search engine to find one.

But in the present situation – STOP GIVING MONEY TO YOUR KIDS!! Do they need gas? Drive them to the gas station and pay for the gas yourself. Do they need food? Go shopping with your kids and pay for their food. Do they need money for a doctor or dentist? Accompany them to the doctor’s or dentist’s office and pay the bill. We have to STOP ENABLING our children in ways that result in even more alcohol or drug abuse!

You could argue that paying for gas, food, and doctors constitutes enabling, but a lot of parents feel guilty for not giving their kids money, and this is one way to alleviate the guilt without contributing to more abuse.

We also need to offer our kids alternatives. Maybe we didn’t discuss drug or alcohol abuse with our kids when they were younger. Maybe they saw us drinking and abusing drugs and we feel that because we indulged, we have no right to say anything. Maybe we weren't honest with our kids about drug usage (see link below that talks about why we're not telling our kids the truth about drugs).

But thinking we don't have the right to discuss drug abuse because of what we did in the past is ridiculous. As the parent you have every right to look out for your kids no matter how old they get. We have access to the Internet and to some very reputable resources. Look at some of these resources and figure out a way to help your kids in any way OTHER than giving them money.

Every dollar you give your kids who abuse drugs or alcohol puts them a little deeper underground. If you don’t want to bury your kids, help them find a way out.

For more information on drugs, specifically concerning the lies we tell our kids about drugs, read, Why What We’re Telling Our Kids About Drugs Doesn’t Help Them.  

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