We are one of the lucky families who haven’t had to face addiction with their teens, but I believe that all families need to have an open dialogue about the issues. I wrote this essay as something I would say directly to either one of my teens.
I thought we had covered all the bases.
From that first moment I snuggled you in the delivery room, we started teaching you about being safe and feeling loved.
When you cried, we comforted you… and when you smiled, we smiled back. We were absolutely pulled into your orbit and held there waiting breathless for your next move.
As your body grew stronger and you started roaming the halls of our home, we protected you from the obvious dangers: stairs, sharp corners on tables, cleaning solutions under the kitchen sink. Small choking hazards were stowed on high shelves, baby foods introduced in the exact order recommended by the pediatrician.
We immunized, sanitized, baby-proofed, read labels, researched crazy symptoms and rashes. We would keep you safe, no matter what the danger.
As you grew older, new dangers seemed to exist around every corner. We frantically had to switch gears, to add in these new warnings to our lessons about being safe.
Look both ways, hold my hand, don’t talk to strangers, wear your helmet, buckle up, don’t tell people where you live.
More warnings, more dangers.
Your teenage years crept in quickly, until your 13th birthday arrived and keeping you safe was no longer simply buckling your car seat or protecting your head from the sharp corners of the coffee table.
Dangers at this age became bigger, more insidious, more difficult to teach.
Drive safely, don’t DRINK at all, don’t smoke, don’t take any pills that anyone gives you.
You were no longer holding my hand, and I was no longer holding your rapt attention.
Warnings began to sound more frantic, as the potential dangers for teens seem to lurk just outside the front door.
And buried in these discussions of what NOT to do I think we missed a key point.
The underlying threat goes way beyond the immediate dangers.
A few beers with friends or the handful of pills your roommate hands you to “help” you study for finals? You may feel the potential window for danger closes when the sun rises the next day and everything is fine.
But the true danger is addiction. When the small handful of pills doesn’t cut it anymore, and you need MORE.
More pills, more booze, more weed just to get you to that point where your body and mind let go and the drug takes over.
And the scary part is that you won’t see it coming.
Addiction will burn your dreams at the end of that glass pipe. Addiction will take your future and twist it into a never-ending cycle of highs and lows. When addiction pulls you in quietly it promises fun, relaxation, a momentary respite from your worries and obligations. The pills your friends shares seem safe — why would the doctor prescribe them if they aren’t?
But they are NOT safe.
And by the time you understand that addiction is real and horrible and life-altering it will have already wound you up in its tight grasp, ready to fling you out at the world in search of your next high.
Like crossing the street without looking both ways.
Stay safe, my sweet baby. Hold onto your dreams and don’t let addiction derail them.
I’ve done my part… it’s your turn now.
I am proud to be a part of this blog tour, which follows a live-streaming event we did on September 10. You can watch the videos here:
Please read about this event on the Listen to Your Mother blog, then visit some of the other amazing and talented writers I am honored to have shared this important event with…
Brandi Jeter from mamaknowsitall.com reading Smoothing Wrinkles
Ellie Schoenberger from onecraftymother.com reading The Power of Story
Heather King from extraordinary-ordinary.net reading How Will Our Kids Fill That Need?
Alexandra Rosas from gooddayregularpeople.com reading End Medicine Abuse
Janelle Hanchett from renegademothering.com reading I Could Tell You My Story
Judy Miller from judymiller.com reading Teen Prescription Drug Use and Abuse
Melisa Wells from suburbanscrawl.com reading LTYM & The Partnership at Drugfree.org Blog Tour
Lyz Lenz from lyzlenz.com reading Dear Little Boy, You Will Never Be Ruined
Zak Watson from raisingcolorado.com reading Raising Awareness to End Medicine Abuse
Lisa Page Rosenberg from smacksy.com reading The Inside World