Children are accomplished secret keepers, sometimes for years.
Drug abuse can begin at an age we think our kids are still playing at childhood games. And they somehow know this is not something to share with their parents.
The reasons are many, beginning with “all the cool kids do it”, but often triggered from a need to belong; to have someone notice them, to care. Sometimes a divorce, with parents who quarrel, which often puts a mindset into a child that they somehow were the cause of the breakup of their life, can cause a search for something to take the place of the what they perceive as the loss of love. Sometimes it’s “just for fun”. They try it, they like the feeling it gives them, and who’s going to know? It doesn’t take as long as you may think to need that feeling.
How do they pay for all this? I asked a number of people this question, and their answers were the same: the drugs are always there. They take some, sell the rest to friends, buy some more with the profit, and so on. Unfortunately, as the need becomes fiercer, the price goes up, and the addict gets money any way they can.
Many single mothers do well raising their children, holding down a job and coming home to the jobs of both parents. My grandmother was such a woman, running a boarding house and raising my mother and her sister. My two daughters raised my four grandchildren as single mothers, in one case through their entire childhood. Some mothers simply cannot cope. The need for a life of their own becomes too great, and their child feels that loss.
The news media sends out messages that makes it harder to raise decent kids. They face greater challenges and they’re on their own .
We know the consequence of drug use on the user, but what of the family upon realizing that their child is an addict? The heartbreak, the feeling that surely they must have somehow failed are enormous. Freequently they learn about the abuse when it is too late to stop it. A child’s mind and body are still unformed, their brain wiring is still in the process of becoming.
I need to say that drug addiction is not limited to the lower class, indeed, it has spread into all levels of our society, and at a much earlier age. It affects boys and girls alike, scholars and athletes alike .
Several years ago, we sadly discovered that our precious great-granddaughter has been addicted since she was eleven years old.
She is now a tall, movie star beautiful sixteen year old, who spent most of last year in rehab, depriving both herself and her family of the pleasure of her early teen years. The pain is indescribale to realize that she will always be a recovering addict. She is learning that some lives have to struggle a little harder than others, and that the message of rehab “one step at a time” is true.
The cruel paradox of addiction is that it transforms a source of pleasure into an inescapable insatiable need.