It is really simple to make, this one big mistake unless you use it in your favor. Most parents believe it and its not a bad thing to do if they are doing it right. Parents say it all the time. You want to believe it. It's not even really harmful until after the thing that you believe turns out to be false.
It can be the difference between empowerment and the biggest mistake.
Those three words are
"NOT MY KID"
The biggest mistake is being naive or in denial about the chances that your child is experimenting or will experiment with drugs and alcohol between ages 12-21. Operating on the belief that your child is immune to using drugs or alcohol from the ages of 12-21 and potentially developing a substance use disorder or full blown addiction, damaging their developing brain and potentially losing their life because of drug or alcohol use is the biggest mistake you can make as a parent. Quite frankly it's dangerous.
If you are operating on the belief that your child is immune to substance use disorder you are opening yourself up as a perfect target. You won't know what is unfolding until it hits you squarely in the face and even then you will have a hard time reconciling whether or not the situation needs your undivided attention and understanding how much attention it actually needs. You might not even be hit in the face with it, it might creep up on you and then show its scary, ugly face when it's almost too late to intervene.
If you don't think your child is being confronted with the opportunity, the influence or the choice to use drugs or alcohol on a daily basis no matter what your social or economic status is you are being naive.
If your child has already "experimented" and you haven't intervened with communication, rules, boundaries and guidelines to protect your child from early substance use disorder or addiction, you are being reckless with your child's brain.
If you are allowing your child to continue the "experiment" and drink underage or smoke marijuana because you did it when you were young and you "turned out ok," you are being reckless with your child's brain.
The good news is there is an alternative way, a way that those three words can work in your favor.
You can use NOT MY KID as your shield, as your armor, as your protection in these three ways.
Preparation, Education, Communication.
1. Be Prepared.
2. Educate yourself and your children.
3. Communicate with your with your family, especially if there is a propensity for heavy substance use in the family.
The goal is to prevent early use. The goal is to create open communication. The goal is to help your children wait. The goal is to use the emerging power of their developing brains to foster their dreams and build resilience for the difficult times and pressures of being a teen. The goal is to intervene early if it starts and disrupt the behavior so that addiction doesn't take hold.
Research shows that waiting until after age 25 when the prefrontal cortex of the brain attaches people are less likely to develop dependence on substances including alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Statistics show that 90% of people with addiction start between the age of 12-24. Addiction loves immature brains.
It is a preventable disorder.
All three of the power tools are intertwined. Part of preparation is educating yourself and your children about what happens to the brain and why they might not want to activate that thing when they are confronted with the choice and they will be. Educate yourself on what the signs of substance use are, what drugs are out there in your community. Learn about the effects of misusing Xanax, oxy contin, adderall, marijuana and alcohol. Go to the prevention events put on by your community before you "need" to. BE PREPARED. Part of Education is communication. Have open discussions about drugs and alcohol with your children and set rules around substance use for your family. Part of communication is is preparation, preparing your child with the words and responses when confronted with the opportunity to use substances. Prepare yourself for the moment it happens so that you can respond with love instead of fear and with action rather than denial.
Empower your child with the exact thing to say when someone hands them a beer or a joint or a pill at a party or school or at an event.
"No thanks, my parents drug test me."
"No I'm not into that kind of thing."
Practice the responses so that they come naturally and feel right. It's going to be a challenging moment for your child. Make sure they are ready. Peer pressure is powerful no matter how good, honest, smart, connected and moral your child is.
Empower your child with boundaries and structure. Help them learn what is ok for them and what is not, what is safe for them and what is not. Help them learn about themselves, their unique gifts and affirm their good behavior and good choices. Children with a strong sense of self, affirmation of their worth and feeling self confident are less likely to pick up substances. Being connected and feeling a sense of belonging create the conditions for natural happiness and joy, the same feelings that drugs and alcohol give temporarily. Addiction loves disconnection and isolation.
Addiction & Substance Use Disorder are preventable. It starts with one bad choice. The way to prevent them is not by thinking it won't happen to your kid or denying that its happening now. The way to prevent them is by empowering your family against the possibility of activating it.
Preparation + Education + Communication = POWER
The Partnership for Drug Free Kids has a plethora of information and guidance for parents. Use the free resources.
If its already happened or happening right now in your family. Reach for help and intervene. As with every disease and disorder early intervention is key. Drugs and alcohol are dangerous for developing brains. There is enough evidence out there to support it.
An intervention can be as easy as meeting with a professional, having a family meeting or connecting over coffee. For information about intervention you can go here.
Whatever you do, don't allow it to continue unchecked. The path of addiction is brutal for the whole family.
Empower your family.
You can say "NOT MY KID" but say it because your family is prepared not in denial.
I am devoted to helping families be free from addiction and substance use disorder. If you have questions, concerns, need help or intervention. Help is right here.
I AM DEVOTED.
If you have a child who has experimented with substances or you believe is using, reach out now. It's never too early but it can be too late. You can set up a free consultation here or here
Photo Credit: Internet Search
Until just a few years ago, this word was as foreign to me as if it was from another language.
a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
I had my first brush with "recovery" in 2005. I was almost 40 years old. I had just given birth to my third daughter and I mean just, like less than 2 weeks, just. I'd driven with my aunt to take my mom to a treatment center two hours from home. It was the first time we'd confronted addiction in our family, ever. I was sad, angry and emotional. I had no idea what we were signing her up for, I just wanted her to stop drinking and feel better so that we could have a normal life. I drove back the following week with my newborn baby to visit her. A two hour drive with a newborn, nursing baby only to be told I couldn't sit in on the program because I had a baby and the baby wasn't allowed. I had to wait while the rest of the visitors were given the recovery presentation, then could meet with my mom privately. At the end of the visit my mom stood in the parking lot and begged me to take her home. It was brutal but not as brutal as her drinking so I shook my head no and got in the car and told her I'd be back the following Sunday.
We were invited to attend a family program at the treatment center while she was there and maybe if we'd gone, things would have been much different. My father refused, said it was her problem not ours and wouldn't pay for us to attend so we didn't learn what "RECOVERY" was or how to support recovery in our family. I picked her up after the thirty days and dropped her off at home, all alone. We had no instructions.
The second time what I now understand as a recovery program came in the form of Alcoholics Anonymous seven years later after a hospital detox and a seven year long relapse. After a series of frightening situations we asked her to please get help. What we didn't know was that we needed help too. Still her problem, not ours. She found AA and it became her new found salvation. She found what she'd been looking for all along. A place where she fit in, people who understood her and an abundance of friends. I still didn't know about "recovery" because it was her thing, not ours. The good news was, she was not drinking and she had finally found her tribe and that made her feel good, which in turn rippled out to better relationships with us.
The third time recovery knocked at the door was a year after my mom had found her fellowship in AA. My son had suffered two devastating losses and prescriptions drugs had taken over his life as he tried to block out the pain of losing his two closest friends in two separate tragic car accidents. A few days before his 20th birthday the doctor recommended residential treatment. I found myself dropping my first born son, my golden child off at the same treatment center that I'd dropped my mom off just a few years before. This time though I went to the family program they offered. I listened, I learned and I participated but recovery still didn't become a part of my vocabulary.
I still didn't get it. Recovery.
Two years later I would find myself driving up the long and tree lined drive that opened up to the sprawling center on the Chesapeake Bay for a second round of the family program with my son who'd come back to Ashley after an intervention that I believed saved his life and mine.
This time I came to it with a new mindset, a new lens, a fresh set of ears. This time was different. I'd begun a program and had been working it on my own, not knowing I was in a "recovery" program. I'd begun to recover what addiction in my family had taken from me and return to my natural state of being.
I'd published a book the winter before about recovering from a broken relationship and shared the practices I'd used to return to love and recover my heart that I'd learned while my son was in treatment the first time. I'd begun to recover my power, my health, my own heart and my own mind and by doing so it began to ripple out into my family. You can order a copy of Craving Love here.
It dawned on me that my son needed me to recover too. That the best odds of keeping this disorder in remission were on the side of recovery.
The greatest power in the world is the power to change your mind about something. I changed my mind about addiction and I immersed myself in recovery and learning the language of recovery. Learning the powerful effect of recovery and the people in it. The power of the recovery community is profound.
It was just about 4 months after that intervention, my son 4 months in recovery that he said to me, "I want to be on the other side. I don't want this to be about addiction anymore." And it hit me. He was directing me to "be about recovery." He knew intuitively that we had to speak about the power of recovery to end addiction. We had to speak from a place of healing to share with others the possibility and the hope that recovery holds. I had to fully embody recovery to understand it.
We had to return to a normal state of health, mind and strength to gain possession of what we'd lost to addiction.
Recovery is a process. It takes time and devotion. Science supports the recovery lifestyle as a way to cure addiction. Whole families need the same care, treatment, healing process, healthy life practices, community and love that individuals need to return to the natural state of being, to regain what addiction tries to destroy. Recovering together. It wasn't just one person in the families problem, it was a family health issue that needed to be addressed and healed as a family.
Recovery doesn't happen on its own. It happens through you and with you.
We are a family on the other side of addiction.
Recovery is the cure for addiction. All addictions.
And for heartbreak, grief, loss, emotional pain and trauma.
It's how you return to your true nature, a whole, loving being.
It's how you return to Love and get your Power back.
I AM DEVOTED,
To begin your family recovery journey all you need is a willingness to change. Our family is devoted to helping others get to the other side too. If you'd like a free guidance session on family recovery, reach out. I am sharing the wisdom gained on the journey and an education in recovery, spirituality, intervention and family systems. Reach out. That first step and a willingness is all you need. You can schedule your free session here www.ourloverising.com/the-cure-for-addiction.html or www.empowerintervention.com. It's where powerful family recovery begins.
Photo: The day I broke the silence about addiction in our family. The facing addiction rally in DC October 2015.
September has been declared Recovery Month and Childhood Cancer Awareness month.
Four years ago, when they were 12, my daughter's best friend was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer. I'll never forget receiving the call from her mother while parking my car in the grocery store lot and we cried on the phone together. As a community we rallied around their family, cooking meals, helping with the other children and supporting them as they divided their time between home and hospital. As a close friends we spent time with them in the hospital, were there to witness how the disease was being treated, able to listen to doctors explain treatment plans and protocols, experience art therapy, music therapy and all the ways others families were supporting each other with hope and creativity. We were exposed to a whole new world of family run non-profits and organizations that were funding new research, helping families with basic needs, giving kids in the hospital special moments, taking their siblings to camp with other siblings, hosting retreats for the parents, hosting events for the families to connect.
Four years ago I didn't know what "Recovery" meant but I was intimately familiar with addiction and it was doing its part to ravage our family. I was suffering as a mother. One day my friend whispered, I don't know if she is going to live and I whispered back, I don't know if mine will either, tears streaming down our faces.
It was so different but so much the same.
There was a moment two years ago that I believe changed everything for our family and the disease of the brain we were in battle with. It was the moment I decided to treat addiction the way my friend Lisa was treating her daughters cancer. I remember vividly stating it out loud.
"I know what I am going to do. I am going to treat this like Lisa treated cancer."
And I did. At every turn. Lisa and her family showed me how to treat a disease. People in the pediatric cancer community like Tattoo Tom, Gabrielle Miller's family, Gavin Rupp's community, The Truth365 taught me how to treat a disease. I also learned that like every disease, not everyone survives even with treatment and all the love of the community but that people carry on in the arms of each other.
Things began to change, to shift with my belief system. Not all at once but over time big shifts happened. I'd been on the fence about the disease. Was it a phase or was it really a disorder and was treatment the answer all along? By being on the fence I'd been allowing addiction to rule our family and depriving my child of the professional treatment needed to heal and recover.
The idea that getting treatment (going to rehab*) was somehow a negative thing or a way of giving up instead of seeing it as treatment for a disease we were prolonging the agony and allowing the disease to progress. (*I don't use the word rehab for treatment but I have here to as a way to show the difference language makes.)
I opened up to the prayer group that had been organized to meet every Friday before school started to pray the rosary for Amelia and asked them to please pray for my son too and they did, without judgment and with so much love. And every Friday we circled up at sunrise from kindergarten to grandmother and prayed the rosary for Amelia and Mitchell and anyone else who needed extra prayers that day then had breakfast together.
I dove deep into research and science. I read all the books, tossing out any that spoke of disconnecting with my child. I went to support groups, leaving any that spoke of "letting him figure it out on his own" or "waiting for rock bottom."
This was a medical condition that needed medical attention but I'd been told that the way to treat this medical condition was to turn my back on it and let it go. I tried that. That didn't work and it only got worse.
Instead, I showed up every day present, aware, ready to learn and respond to the disease as a mother, somedays were brutal and some days we made headway and somedays we just rested. Just like Amelia and Lisa.
I learned the language. The right language that supported recovery and brain science and broke down stigma. You can access an Addiction-ary here to help shift your language to support recovery and end the stigma that keeps people from seeking treatment.
As we made our way to and through the treatment phase I continued to study and connect with people in "RECOVERY." That word that I didn't understand the meaning of until we were in it. I began to ask the providers for the treatment plans and ask more questions and hold the providers accountable in a different way. I reminded myself that they were working for me, for my son, for my family and the onus was on them to provide excellent care. His treatment and recovery was as much their repsonsiblity as it was his. We stayed connected to treatment as a family and followed the recommendations of professionals and other people in recovery.
I decided to model myself after people I met in the pediatric cancer community. The mothers and fathers who were outraged by the lack of treatment protocols and money for research for their children. The parents who'd built support systems for each other and encouraged each other even when they'd lost their precious child to an underfunded and outdated treatment system. The people who were shining a little on the darkness and asking for the culture to look at their darkness and love it in to the light. The people who were showing the truth of what was happening and bringing about change by calling it out. And the people who were just plain loving all the kids who were sick and doing what they could to help them survive.
What I found in Recovery is that community exists just like it does for the families with cancer or any other disease. The Recovery Community is emerging into the light, out in the open and out of anonymity in order to save lives and support the families who have lost their precious loved ones to a disease not a phase or a choice. A disease/disorder of the brain, supported by brain science, supported by peer reviewed research at NIH, the National Institute of Health, supported by the surgeon's generals report on addiction.
What I also found was a man named Dr. Tom Kimball who was doing incredible research in addiction and recovery and also had a child in recovery from pediatric cancer. God always puts the right people in front of me at the right time. This validated that I was on the right path with my beliefs.
For the families in the pediatric cancer community I am deeply grateful for how you modeled how to treat a disease as a mother, a family member and a community. You are always in my prayers and I admire your strength, resilience and especially your ferocity.
For the families impacted by addiction, the recovery community is here to love you through, its rising and big shifts are happening, people are deeply devoted, passionate, persevering and working hard to change the way addiction is treated.
For my community, daily we give thanks and gratitude for the way you showed up for us with love, prayers, meals, support, cards, presence, encouragement and acceptance, because of you we felt less alone and isolated, more connected and loved which ultimately empowered us on the journey.
September is the month declared for Recovery from addiction and Pediatric Cancer. May there one day be a time when a month isn't needed to remind everyone that there are children dying and families suffering. Let's treat addiction the way we treat cancer and embrace the families who are suffering without judgement or shame and instead offer love, nourishment and acceptance.
Let's keep showing up for each other. That is really what it all about. Being there for each other when things get hard and loving each other through.
Love Wins. Together. We can do hard things.
I AM DEVOTED
#familyrecovery #4%isnotenough #ameliais
Photo Credit: Jen Lemen
Family Recovery Advocate
I serve women seeking healing and transformation.
I serve people who have been impacted by addiction recover their lives.