How do we stop feeling "broken" so we can make a fresh start in life? Can we help those close to us find a way from breaking apart into little pieces, and falling through the cracks? How do we put on the brakes when our lives are careening out of control... like a runaway freight train? (ugh)
The following excerpt is taken from Broken, by William Cope Moyers.
"... I wonder how my life might have been different if my father had insisted I get professional help. He knew I was taking foolish risks, and he feared my life might be at stake. Was he hoping I would see the error of my ways and make an about-face on my own? He prayed I would say no to the risks associated with drugs, but I didn't know what risks he was talking about. I wasn't going to get hurt, and I was too young to die.
"I don't blame my parents. What was true for them is still true today for a lot of parents because all the cutting-edge science and groundbreaking research about addiction can't still overcome the shame and stigma that prevents families from seeing what is directly in front of them. It's so much easier and more socially acceptable to talk about a "problem" than an "addiction", a "mistake" than a pattern of out-of-control behavior, a "defiant act" rather than a conduct that defies rationalization. When young people look healthy and relatively happy on the outside, how could they possibly be suffering from a chronic, progressive, inevitably fatal disease? If morals and values have been an integral part of their upbringing--If they come from a "good" family--aren't they protected against addiction and shouldn't they find the strength within themselves to turn their back on drugs? And when families do suspect something more than what they see, where do they turn for help? In my case, the legal system responded with the same "he's a good kid, it's just a mistake" rationalizations. Why argue with that?"
Kids might seem "too young" to be experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol, or there may be no outward signs of struggle, but you know something is amiss. Their attitude is different, they may not want to spend time with you, they become secretive. You stumble on a suspicious "what the heck is this?"when looking for something in their room. This is easy to chalk up to "growing pains," normal teen development, etc. The first sign of trouble might not be evident until there is a situation that has gotten your child in deep trouble at school, or within the community, or there has even been police involvement. As parents, one of the hardest things to grasp is the level of pain your child might be in, and what coping methods they are using to survive. If you suspect there are deep issues within your child that might put them at risk, it is important to take a simple intervention step to see if they are crying out for help.
What needs to happen next can be best described as all people concerned getting into the ring and facing this trouble head on. Now is when you find a counselor in your area who can recognize the signs of addiction, and can help determine whether this is a temporary glitch on the radar, or a more serious problem, such as a progressive drug addiction. Also, coming to terms with the fact that people who are troubled, and cracking apart at the seams, will need long term therapeutic help. These sorts of troubles are not resolved in one or two sessions, or one or two months.
Deep self introspection is the antidote to addiction.
Kids have difficulties facing their shame and guilt, and instead will spend all their time running away from those things that make them feel desperate. When they're hanging out with new kids you've never met (who refuse to look you in the eye), staying high, and isolating... these are all tools to keep their demons away. Facing demons head on is the only way towards salvation. Expecting that you can point them towards a helping path and they will walk it is a nice thought, but it's unlikely it will happen without strong guidance. Giving them the clear message you will not tolerate their drug/alcohol use, but you WILL help them find a way out of their fragile state with therapy and drug counseling. These are the first steps towards healing those cracks, and keeping them from breaking into little pieces.