How far will you go to protect your children? Most parents would probably go to the ends of the earth and call it a no-brainer. But how do you protect your children when they are sick and addicted to drugs? I can tell you firsthand that it is not the same as protecting them when they are well.
An addict does not think clearly and does not process decision-making in the same manner as the rest of us. Decision making for an addict, particularly a teen addict, is rooted in manipulation and making sure that the result of their decision will benefit themselves in the end somehow, whether that equates to another hit, another pill, more time with friends, getting parents to leave them alone, etc. It's all self-serving and incredibly manipulative. Teen addicts are excellent telling people what they want to hear, when they want to hear it, often pitting mom against dad, and vice versa.
So how do you protect these children and shield them from the troubles of the world when in actuality, these children ARE some of the troubles of the world. I think it's only natural that a parent's initial instinct is to want to protect their child and keep them out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, for teen addicts, this protection is not actually what parents think it is. It's not protection at all. It's enabling. It's permitting. It's allowing. It's encouraging. It’s exactly what you think its not.
My stepson has been in drug treatment for a couple weeks now - a program that his father and I do not approve of but that his mother insisted he attend. A program in which he has already failed a drug test in these short two weeks. He also recently had his first day of secondary school, that he attends with the other addicts from his drug and alcohol program. In keeping with the excellent track record he's got going, he was arrested on his first day. One of the kids he met at the drug program gave him some prescription pills and rather than politely decline them (see decision-making in the paragraphs above), my stepson accepted pills and kept them on his person.
Since the school deals with these types of kids all day, everyday, one of the instructors suspected the initial kid was under the influence of something, and also that my stepson looked somehow involved - suspicious - which indeed, he was. On the way to the principal's office, my stepson panicked and was observed trying to toss the drugs into the bushes. The initial child who supplied the drugs is now being prosecuted under felony drug possession with intent to distribute. Not wanting to experience the same fate, my stepson told the school administrators, and the school police officer that he had no intentions of a) taking the drugs, or b) doing anything else with them. He went so far as to say that he really didn’t know why he took them, that perhaps he was afraid not to. Do you believe him? I don’t.
After school, his mother picked him up and they discussed the events of the day. If you recall, Disneyland mom is not one who's big on actions and reactions, rules or boundaries. My stepson told his mother that indeed, he had no intention of taking the drugs he was given, but rather, to sell them to someone else after school. Funny, that's not what he told the school. And beyond that, his mother asked no additional questions. So which story do you believe now? To whom is he telling the truth? His mother believes him.
So as a parent, what's the course of action here? What is the "right" thing to do? Do you accept your child's word at face value, despite what he's already told the school, despite the danger that either of his responses to the events of the day hold? Do you feel in your gut that something - *something* - just isn't right? Do you call the school to report your child's intent to distribute these drugs, and risk his fate to be the same as this other child - legal prosecution and possible remission to juvenile hall? WHAT. DO. YOU. DO?
For me, for us - my husband and I - we made the difficult decision. The decision we felt was “right.” We called the school and reported the secondary story my stepson told, his intent to sell and distribute the drugs. We ASKED the officer to do whatever was in his power to see that our child was prosecuted under the law, and that if warranted, he be remanded to juvenile hall. And you want to know the truth? The decision we made really wasn’t all that difficult. Not anymore. The bottom line and moral of the story is that we fear for our child’s life and by doing nothing, by “protecting” him, what are we really doing except shielding him from truly experiencing the consequences of his actions. And it’s time he start doing that. Without it, he’ll never learn anything and he’ll never get well. So ask yourself next time you rush to protect your child - what are you really protecting them from?
Thank you, Morgan! Your story is powerful, and is a reminder of what so many of us have gone through with our own wayward teens. I am so proud of you and your husband for the choice you made. Many say that an addict won't face what they must do to change until they hit their "bottom" and have exhausted every avenue of help and/or rescue. "Raising his bottom" is what you are doing, in hopes that Z will get the message sooner than later, and can start making better choices for himself and his future.