Cocaine Addiction Parents
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. You did your best to help your child grow, learn and prosper, but for some reason they fell victim to the allure of drugs and got involved with cocaine.
These are difficult times in America. When I was a teenager, beer parties were in vogue, but today it’s a completely different world, a different society. It’s not about beer and it’s not necessarily limited to marijuana.
Cocaine is everywhere and parents cannot take the position that their child would never try this highly addictive, potentially deadly drug. The denial of the possibility that little Johnny or little Jane could access to coke is just like saying you won’t freeze if you walk out the door naked on a below zero day.
The fact is, kids can get cocaine, heroin, marijuana and just about anything else without really having to try very hard. Parents need to be aware that drug dealers are in the schools, at the mall and all over town. It isn’t just in the “bad areas” but in suburban settings, where well-to-do kids, with plenty of spending cash, are looking for entertainment. “No, no, my kid is level-headed and would never to that, never!” The truth might shock you.
Half have tried drugs by high school
By the time they get out of high school, about half of the kids will have tried drugs. Half! That includes children that are in middle school and believe it or not, some even younger. Parents today need to be smart, vigilant, and know what they are dealing with. For starters, assume nothing. Children can make bad choices.
According to Dr. Allen I. Leshner, director, National Institute of Cocaine Abuse, the first thing parents need to understand is WHY their kids would consider taking drugs. He offers that researchers have identified more than 50 factors, which are found at several different levels—individual, family, peer group and broader community.
Idle teens start the problem
Parents need to understand that idle teenagers with money are a prime target for dealers. They don’t necessarily have a part time job, because mommy and daddy have lots of money. Both mom and dad might be professional people and have important careers, but that might leave the teenager alone at home.
The parents may even feel a little guilty about this, so they slip him/her an extra $20 bill. Teens are susceptible to peer pressure and don’t think it isn’t enormous. Kids want to fit in, be a part of the crowd and be accepted. The thought of a teen doing drugs and succumbing to peer pressure is not a stretch, it is not a myth and it happens.
Parent must keep their eyes open
Parents need to keep their eyes open, which does not mean an interrogation of the child, but it does mean knowing your child. The fastest way to turn off a teenager is to get in their face, but watch for the signs of trouble. They might avoid you, or perhaps they aren’t seeing their old friends as much.
You’ve heard the old saying “He/she got in with the wrong crowd,” and that’s just what happens. They might5 lose interest in their hobbies and activities. One observant mother once told me that she knew her daughter was in trouble when she no longer played on the basketball team. Their grades might slip, or they might be keeping irregular hours. Teens tend to stay up late and want to sleep in late, but look for a change in their sleeping pattern. They might lose weight.
Know the risk factors
Parents need to understand the risk factors. Keep your eyes open. There are a couple of reasons why children will take drugs. The first group is just looking for fun and excitement. They want to be a part of the crowd, so they do what their friends do, or what they THINK their friends do. They want to be cool. Even in elementary or intermediate school, kids want to be cool.
The second group is the kids who want to feel better. They might have emotional or mental issues, or they come from an abusive home, or something else is not right, regardless of how loving and supportive their parents are. They want to feel better, or just feel “normal.” They are self-medicating to feel better.
Often snorted or smoked
Cocaine is most often snorted or smoked. The smoked version, called crack cocaine is less expensive and readily available. The powdered cocaine has been glorified in movies and television, a sort of status symbol of the young professionals who have “made it.” Both are highly addictive.
Again be vigilant. Your child may experience mood swings, especially when they haven’t had the drug in a while. Their brain chemistry has been altered and they “think” they need it to feel formal. They may lose appetite, leading to weight loss. Cocaine addiction produces intense cravings for the drug. Addicts will steal, rob and do just about anything for the drug, so obviously the major change in personality is a huge sign.
Must talk to your kid, you can influence them
Believe it or not, the signs and vigilance and the smartening up of parents is actually the easy part. The hard part is talking to your kid. The key here is spending quality time with your child and having meaningful conversations. A conversation is two people talking to each other, not a diatribe or monologue. Listen to your kid! Hear what he/she is saying and listen carefully for clues. Don’t judge, don’t lecture and don’t pressure your child into a confession. Allow them to freely and openly express their feelings and allow you in their life. If you suspect your child is using, do not assume that his/her drug use is a passing phase. Addiction doesn’t go away until it kills its host. That is not overly dramatic.
Get help if you see a problem developing
Parents who suspect something is happening need to consult with a trained, professional person to get answers, but more importantly to begin the plan for treatment. Whether fully in the throws of addiction, or just “using,” a teenager can get into serious trouble in a hurry without intervention from the parents. Don’t be their “buddy,” be their parent and get help. Compromise is not in the equation.
When you compromise you lose perspective and you need to be the guiding light, a never-changing direction. It’s not about you failing as a parent. It’s not about the mistakes you made raising your child. It’s about getting them on the right path after the bad decisions they have made.
Mom and dad are two important influences and in the case of cocaine addiction parents, mom and dad can be life savers.