The following article is a mixture, of an undefined ratio, between personal experiences and observations over the last two decades or so. I know that the ingredients of this article would have helped me, but I refuse to take responsibility for your particular case, because I’m not there to assist in person.
This article also applies to adults, save from the fact that it’s one’s own responsibility to be open to help.
What causes addiction?
In my case, it was an ongoing emotional distress, since childhood and way beyond the means of a 19 year old to deal with. In some cases it can be mental disorders, physical illness and/or something I may have overlooked. Having that said, each of these, by themselves or combined, are bound to cause emotional pain, especially in young people, that lack the experience to bounce back during the shitstorms of life, which we gather over time and often bloom out of, around the age of forty.
I first got drunk when I was fifteen, because it was a norm back then. I got my first cannabis high for real at the age of 19. I didn’t know why it was so good and had to wait until earlier this year, to found out why. Cannabis has always been my prefered escape, other drugs not so much and alcohol only because it’s easily available and accepted by society. Sometimes it just feels more respectful towards family and friends, to gradually ruin our lives by their preferences.
Why don’t we just seek help and improve the quality of our lives?
The answer is lack of understanding and love, coupled together with an overdosis of disrespect from our closest ones. If your kid is a drug addict and/or an alcoholic in the making and you respond with anger, chances are you will either attend their funeral, pick them up at the police station, visit them in prison, or pay a big amount of cash to avoid them being beaten up for debt collection. Young people that ruin their lives with substance abuse, or any other addiction for that matter, are simply living up to the attitudes of their loved ones.
Sustaining addiction can prevent suicide.
One of the most misunderstood theories about addiction, in my experience, is that drugs make people suicidal. Even though I believe it’s possible, it’s also quite likely to happen during the withdrawal period and the reason why is that we no longer have the escape at hand. Remember that girl that was gangraped by the local highscool football team somewhere in the US? The video went viral in her hometown and she started smoking weed. Then she went clean and ended her life. I understand that so well, because I actually share her exact experience, save the fact that we are talking about just one person and it was before puberty, I wasn’t drunk and it never got filmed, nor shared. Compared to hers, my experience was luxury.
Take it or leave it, but I know for a fact that cannabis has kept me from suicide so many times, it is now uncountable. Once we go clean, we need more help. This period can go on for years, even decades. My situation wasn’t that “bad,” compared to millions of people amongst us right now. If you want your kids to successfully go clean/sober, then take me seriously.
How to motivate addicts to seek sustainable help.
The first and most important step for you as a guardian, is to forget everything you believe and be willing to accept that you are most likely totally wrong about the situation and not least the root to the problem. Once you remove your ego, pride and opinions from the equation and just open up and listen to your kid, without responding with anything else than love AND understanding, even if you have to fake it, only then, are we likely to be willing to be honest.
The reasons for us closing you off, can be many and very complex. Often there is abuse of different kinds, bullying, your neglectance and so forth. A gathering of issues, growing out of a fundamental problem, is something I suspect to be typical.
Once trust has been established, and you might want to seek professional help to learn how to do that, only then, will you find out what’s bothering us addicts. If we are ready and the truth comes out, that moment will define your true parental strenght, because it’s likley to be uglier than you can handle or might sound and look too innocent to be an actual reason for substance abuse. Us humans, often downplay the severity of our states of being, probably because we want to be strong. Maybe it’s a survival mechanism, to be accepted by the tribe.
Through an authentic, open and non-judgmental dialog with your child, you can now start helping them go for the appropriate help. This can be very complex. I’ve met a few shrinks I liked, but only one of them actually made me want to change. Finding the right person that an addict feels comfortable with, can prove to be a major challenge. Furthermore, that person might not be the best professional choice. You have to be open to psychiatry, healing, yoga, psychology and whatever else there is, because different people, require different help, even for the same issue.
I never tried rehab per say, but I went to three different groups, for three months each. None of them helped, because the main focus was on cannabis and the dangers of smoking. Some of us actually don’t reap the worst dangers and fear mongering, without practical tools to deal with the root of addiction are a waste of time. What I liked about the groups, is that people that deal with addiction are often way more intelligent and interesting than the average of society. I like people that can elevate my perception of life. Plus it’s a good network to have when going clean and as much as it sucks, most of us simply stop meeting with our old friends and to stay positive, it’s important to hang out with positive people, that are NOT into our old lifestyle choices.
What to do during the recovery phase?
Now that the substance is out of the way, hopefully, dealing with the root of the problem can now take place. This is also where you will truly understand the word patience. If your child starts using again, don’t worry, it’s fixable. Give them a hug and say something like; “It’s ok sweety, I love you the way you are. Tomorrow we continue the clean path together, I am here for you.” If they are having a close off period, offer them their favourite meal and something nice to drink. Just eat and let them be. Well fed people are happier. Or maybe just hit the movies, go bowling, fetch their best friend for a weekend stay, buy them that computer game that everybody else has. Make them happy and then tell them the words above.
It’s important for us in recovery, to get busy with something we love and we all have dreams and desires. What is the most awesome career path or hobby that your child loves? Again, if you think they should have a college degree, but they want to develop computer games, then remember that entreprenuers don’t need diplomas, but would benefit greatly from industry related workshops, success mentality training and networking events. You can also remind them of the fact that during educational years, we build up a network that comes in handy when building up a career. Whatever you help them choose, be there and support their dreams. Anything can turn into a billion dollars. My goal is to build up an empire that helps anyone to live a healthy life.
Group sports are a very typical hangout when recovering. I’m more into meeting with likeminded people at a café and talk about mind blowing things. I also used an XBOX 360 intensely during one of my clean ups. Whatever good things work. Maybe this is the time for your kid to start learning to play an instrument? If they lack confidence, show them some of my YouTube videos and remind them that, from a natural perspective, I’m one of the worst guitarists that I’ve met, though after twenty years of playing, no one hears that. If I can, anyone can, because all I did, was working on it for a long time.
Creating new habits can be a monumental task and getting rid of old ones, even harder. There are biological reasons for this, as the brain simply needs time to dissolve and create new connections, which I suspect to be the major reason for falling back into addiction.
I read an interview with a young man in Denmark, whom went homeless at the age of thirteen. His parents threw him out for smoking weed. Sometimes, that kid would go without food for days, despite being a child of one of the world’s wealthiest nations, with a very expensive welfare system, which he couldn’t get help from, because he was under eighteen. It makes me angry.
Even though this article focuses on alcohol, narcotics and cannabis abuse, I suspect that any addiction, including medicine, gambling, computer games, porn and shopping, to be based on the same reasons for addiction.
If you have ANY criticism on this article, please comment your thoughts below, so we can grow this advice together.
Thank you for reading and may today bring love, understanding and a great deal of patience to you and yours.