Have You Ever Wondered, “Will My Child Become Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol?”
The fear that one of my children might become addicted to drugs or alcohol at some point in their lives started when they were babies. As I held each of these incredible people in my arms and stroked their hair each day, the thought would blossom into a daydream of chaos and peril. When my children were all in diapers, the angst of living with an addict was one thing. At least in that scenario I had a choice to leave, and leave I did. But when it’s your child, there is no walking out on that no matter what they do, however destructive or frightening. Even if you have to love them from afar, you still love them unconditionally.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that my children are far more likely than other children to become addicts because of their family history. That fact doesn’t terrorize me anymore once I figured out that there are affirmative actions we, as parents, can take to abate that possibility. And we have one super weapon that parents have always had, but didn’t recognize.
I don’t know about you, but my parents never talked to me about uncomfortable topics. Well, my father did have the “sex talk” with me when I was a sophomore in college, but that ship had totally sailed by then. “Thanks for the tips, Dad!” It was like he woke up one day and realized I was almost twenty years old and he forgot to teach me how to ride a bike. Needless to say, I figured it out. My parents didn’t talk to me about real-life scenarios. They taught me useful things like how to balance a checkbook, to check the oil in the enormous maroon Chevy Impala they sent with me to college and what shoes to wear after Labor Day. But because the nitty-gritty of life was not a polite conversation, we never had it. I was thankful for the superficiality of our discourse because in my twenties I was clearly far, far more worldly than my parents. The had no useful information about anything I needed to know. I was superior and they were idiots.
Will My Child Become Addicted: Age of First Use
One thing I didn’t realize until recently was that the age of first use is one of the most important factors in one becoming an addict. That would have been helpful to know when I was twelve (twelve!) at an adult party sucking down greyhounds (served to me by adults, no less). My oldest daughter is twelve now. The biggest difference between then and now is that as a family we talk about addiction, outwardly and openly. We don’t beat around the bush of many topics. Call it one of my character flaws, but I want them to hear perspective from me first before their peers convince them that two condoms are better than one.
As with adults, prevention can’t happen until the child addresses the underlying problems causing them to drink or do drugs. Children feel stress just like adults but they aren’t as well equipped (as some) adults to deal with that stress in a productive way. You know, like road rage and retail therapy, which have helped me. It’s important to create a home environment in which children feel respected and important, despite the fact that they can be little assholes. They can, after all, be assholes AND taught that their opinion counts. I seem to be doing that quite expertly in my own house. “I’m an asshole, and I matter, children. Let that be a lesson to you!”