I could come up with many reasons why my daughter choose to use crystal meth and cross the line to addiction.
It could have been the divorce between her father and myself. It could have been that she didn’t feel right in her own skin during her middle and high school years. It could have been that she didn’t have the confidence or self-esteem to make better choices.
It also could have been that she had wanted a boyfriend for a long time, so when one came along, even though he used drugs and eventually began selling them, she still developed a relationship with him.
It could have been that her father and I missed the signs and didn’t step in early enough.
It could have been all of those things or none of them. What I’ve finally learned after working through my shame and guilt is that addiction does not discriminate. Families of all shapes, sizes and colors have children who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse. Addiction has touched the lives of those living in the inner cities as well as those living in the suburbs.
I do continue to wonder what makes any bright, active girl who had many friends, played on a sports team and seemed to have everything going for her, make that choice to cross the line to addiction.
So often our kids become chameleons and “change colors” when necessary during the teen years to fit in. My daughter’s “colors” changed and at some point she lost her power to decide.
She started out high school with the best of intentions. Her first two years went well. Her junior and senior year was a bit more dicey and we noticed things weren’t quite right. We didn’t suspect any serious drug use until her senior year when I found a small substance in backpack. We discovered it was crystal meth.
When we came together and tried to work through why she would be carrying crystal meth in her back pack, we believed her story that she was carrying it for her friends, she knew she was wrong and that she would never do that again. Looking back, we were clearly in denial.
Off she went to college in Colorado. My thought was that new friends, a new environment and time spent at college would give her a fresh start.
What I didn’t realize is that her boyfriend would follow her there and together they continued on the bumpy road of drug use. A year and a half later when she had dropped out and could not hold a job, we finally had the conversation that was way overdue.
She finally admitted that she was addicted to crystal meth and had been for a while. I was devastated that my daughter who had everything going for her, would choose this path.
For our family, that day was when things began to change. Honestly, I’m not sure why, but maybe my daughter realized she had come to the end of the road. She agreed to fly home with me and begin the long process of treatment.
She went into treatment and then lived in a sober living home. Through this process, she received the help she needed to become the person she was meant to be.
My daughter finished her education, found a job in advertising and we are blessed that she continues to do well today. It feels like a life time ago. It also feels like it happened just yesterday.
Friends and family are often supportive. Yet for any parent there is always that whisper lingering in the air that says as a parent, somehow you “dropped the ball.”
The shame and stigma can feel overwhelming, but when you look around, support is out there for anyone struggling with the addiction of a family member.
Addiction and recovery is a journey for everyone involved. Our family began to work on ourselves by attending group meetings, seeking out counseling and coaching as well as talking to friends who had also experienced drug use with their children. What helped me the most was not staying isolated.
For any parent going through addiction, know that there is hope for your child. Reaching out to get the help that you need can make the difference.
There is tremendous pressure for our kids to use alcohol and drugs. The temptation to use continues to be there in schools, through the media and sometimes even at home. All of our kids deserve better.
Abundance for so many is there, and yet with those gifts comes the power to buy the quick fix. The lure to numb our pain rather than face life head-on can be overwhelming.
As a parent, I’ve let go of my regrets about what could have been. I made the decision that I would not let the stigma and shame hold me back.
Spreading the word about the dangers of substance abuse can help prevent others from going down this path. Forgiveness, compassion and empathy can help heal everyone involved when they are struggling.
There is much more work to be done to lessen the affects of addiction. We need to fully support those in recovery, so that they don’t feel the need to hide their past in shame.
When we continue to have hope, tomorrow can be a better day for all of us.
Cathy is committed to educating parents, young adults and teens about the dangers of substance use. Numerous articles, resources and ebooks are available on her website for all those who are going through the similar challenges in their lives. She is a member of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids National Parent Network. Cathy was an educator for 15 years.