A Light at the End of the Tunnel

It’s difficult to imagine the agony will ever end.  From the insidious disease and raging teen hormones to the ancient tradition of the younger generation happily torturing their parents, living with a teenage substance abuser feels like a roller coaster ride without a seat harness.

So some good news. If you haven’t joined the witness protection program, rest assured that aging (no, not your aging) impacts the disease.

Something happens as teen addicts get older; they find a little wisdom. Don’t get carried away, not a lot of wisdom. Just enough to see that perhaps this lifestyle isn’t especially productive. As friends land in jail or on slabs in the morgue, a remarkable process of self-awareness develops.

Maybe this isn’t as much fun as it used to be. Duh.

They also want material things. A job they can be proud of, building their often low self-esteem. College, which requires occasional lucidity. Or a decent mate who doesn’t share their joy of getting high. And they want to grow up. Maybe that originally scared them into seeking sanctuary inside a bottle or a joint.

Encourage this maturation process whenever you can. Having spent years serving as their personal cop suspecting their every move (with good reason), that’s difficult, I know. But if they’re changing, you must, too. If you remain mired in how they once were without showing some flexibility on what they may become, both of you will be trapped in the ugly past.

By giving your kids increased responsibilities, you’re showing faith in their decision- making as young adults. If they succeed, they’re the ones who’ve triumphed, not you.

Now it’s still a disease, not a choice. But within the disease is the choice to get sober. Doesn’t mean it’ll be smooth. Relapses are part of the process. If they can prove to themselves that they can handle the temptations of a more relaxed curfew, the responsibility of a job, perhaps they can handle the responsibility of confronting their addiction and saying Yes, I am getting sober. And staying sober.

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    September 16, 2009 at 1:43 AM

    yeah usually if it’s not to late before they come to the decision, either I stop this now or die

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    Arthur Miller

    September 14, 2009 at 10:53 PM

    Thank you for providing such an important and hopeful post. When parents become aware of the seriousness of their teen’s addiction, it is easy to lose all hope.

    By focusing on the positive things that loved ones can do, you are indeed making a serious difference in these people’s lives.

    Thank you!

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