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A LIFE DELAYED


There was a time when all we had to worry about was the next biology test, Friday night’s date, and getting your Dad’s car back home unscathed. We never thought about drugs; cocaine and marijuana may have been around in some dark quarters, used by loser kids, but the designer drugs hadn’t been invented as yet, so our parents couldn’t warn us against them.

So we drank a little, and smoked a little and made out in the back seats of our cars, and the boys left to win the War.

Things began to change in the 1960’s, and my daughter informed me that groups of high school kids were smoking marijuana in the local park. Later we had a conversation regarding what we thought was the most threatening thing coming to our country. She said overpopulation and I said drug use. It turns out we were both right.

By the 70’s and 80’s drug use was not only evident but available to anyone. The argument of whether marijuana use led to hard drugs was tossed back and forth in intellectual groups as if people knew what they were talking about.

By the 90’s we began to be concerned with late night “raves” and more frequent partying in fraternities and sororities. The so-called “gourmet” drugs were far more frightening than marijuana.

In 2011 or thereabout, we visited a teenage drug rehab residence to visit our fourteen year old great-granddaughter.

If you have not experienced a beloved child being hooked on a chemical substance, it’s difficult to imagine the impact it has on an entire family. Through many visits to many rehab establishments, the same childish faces appear, growing a little more streetwise with each visit. As the years go by, you realize that the things which made the teenage years so pleasant for you would never apply to this child.

She had been using drugs since the age of eleven and she told me “I tried it and I liked it.”

Who gives eleven year old kids drugs? There is no bearded fanatic hiding in the bushes, it’s schoolyard friends who trade back and forth. The chain of connection is so indirect it can’t be traced. Prescription drugs and cold medicine, found in most homes along with alcohol and even bath salts are readily available.

Obviously not everyone is a potential victim. Chronic stress and trauma in childhood play the determining factor in predicting who will lose control once they start using drugs. Early life experience programs the brain and body for the environment it encounters. A calm nurturing upbringing predisposes a child to thrive, while scarcity, anxiety and chaos threaten. We all need a little stress to condition us to handle the big stuff, but when someone encounters an emotional roadblock too large to hurdle, it can send us over the edge.

A broken home, a lack of self-esteem, shyness or rebelliousness, the sudden introduction of another child into the family, trauma which comes in doses that are too large or too unpredictable over which the person has little or no control are all contributing factors to future drug use. All of these triggers were there for us to see.

Our granddaughter, a sweet and beautiful young woman, will be twenty years old this year and at present seems to be doing fine. We tend to focus on the ones who slip through the cracks, but many of these kids go on to lead successful, productive though delayed lives.

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10 comments on “A LIFE DELAYED

  1. I suppose the same rules apply to smoking, yet it is rare for a connection of external influences to be used when someone gets addicted to cigarettes. No hints of family trauma or dysfunctional upbringing when it comes to smoking.
    I know that even in the most perfectly loving caring families some get hooked on drugs/alcohol the same as many got hooked on cigarettes. No one looks at a young lung cancer dying person and wonders what sort of background he or she comes from.
    Much of the family chaos comes about after the addiction takes hold.

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  2. So well said aunt Kayti. Hope Dakota stays healthy. I appreciate your perspective!!!

    Sent from my iPhone

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  3. This is such a tender, yet realistic, approach to the issue. It’s good to hear that your granddaughter is doing well.I’ve known some who were drawn into an unhealthy culture, and weren’t able to extricate themselves. I do think you’re right about the importance of an early, healthy grounding. It makes it easier to regain health — although, of course, “easy” is a relative term.

    Sometimes, when I hear another report about the drug-saturated culture here, I just shake my head. I wouldn’t have a clue where to find any sort of drug, except for my French roast and a nice Pinot Grigiot. Of course, my experience with marijuana (college dorm rec room, early 60s) was so unpleasant I never felt the urge to pursue experimentation. I didn’t get high, I got a headache. Just as well.

    As for liquor, I’ll have a Campari and soda, a nice wine, or a good craft beer. Just don’t ever offer me apricot brandy. You do know that too much of that is the very definition of aversion therapy, right?

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  4. It’s always difficult to know if they are doing well. You can only hope. The incidence of recidivism is high especially when drug use begins at such an early age.

    The drug culture is frightening when you also consider than so many crimes are committed with drugs as an end result.

    Knowing myself as a teenager, I was a bit of a risk taker and if marijuana was around I might have been tempted. I was a show off! My father told me he tried it once as a young man and it knocked him for a loop! I had my years of smoking (until 35), and enjoyed wine until a few years ago when I realized it was making me cough! In France or Italy it doesn’t. We have sulfides here.

    Now, as the apricot brandy—I have a connection to it from VE Day. While running madly down the middle of Market street along with a horde of other happy people celebrating the end of the War, someone thrust a bottle of it in my hands and I what was I to do?? I probably had the same silly grin on my face as the picture on the right. Which by the way, was taken after my two daughters told me we were going to Paris again.

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  5. I’m glad your granddaughter is doing well and that she’s got someone like you batting for her. How tough it must have been for everyone to see her on drugs and so so young. x

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  6. Sad to know that so many families have the same problem. There’s always Hope.

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  7. Drug addiction is a problem of epidemic proportions and it has ruined many lives. Of course, living a life free of smoking, drinking and drugs is the ideal, but personally I feel that alcohol used to excess does far more damage than marijuana, which has been demonized for political reasons.

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