Ignoring the Dangers of Addiction

Good parenting can help eliminate the chances your child will become an addict.

Posted Aug 06, 2013

Boundaries keep us safe, letting us know how far we can go. They hem us in away from danger and instill a sense of centered confidence that we are on the right path. Children flourish with boundaries; even as adults we crave order and a society that respects moral decisions. 

It used to be that mothers were the boundary keepers of the home and hearth; that is why is it so troublesome that there has been a noticeable uptick in prescription drug abuse among women, a 400% increase in the last few years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in women, prescription drug overdoses alone are killing more of our mothers, wives and daughters than cervical cancer or homicide. And now the whole family is tucking into the medicine cabinet for non-medical reasons. Children and teens engage in “pharm parties,” parties in which pharmaceutical drugs are tossed into a bowl and the kids take a handful to see what happens. The wanton loss of life from this quiet killer is staggering.

At Cliffside Malibu, the drug and alcohol addiction treatment center I founded eight years ago, I see the “lucky” ones – the individuals who didn’t accidently kill themselves and now have a shot at putting their lives back together. “How did we get here?” the distraught clients and family members ask me. It’s time to give that answer a wider audience.

The dangers of addiction are everywhere around us. The drugs we have available are easy to obtain and more potent than ever. In combination, they work synergistically in ways that can permanently damage the organs or kill the user. Tragically, this can happen before someone becomes an addict or seeks help. But if we place our emphasis on one another, on balanced, healthy relationships in which love, support, and mutual appreciation and understanding are exhibited, the influence of our surroundings matter little. When we like who we are, there’s no need for drugs to help us feel better.

What does it take to equip our children with the skills to be healthy, well-adjusted adults? Succinctly, it takes giving our children our fullest attention. It takes being present and establishing real familial boundaries that translate into life skills.  Very often, adults will parent out of fear and guilt.  Our intentions are good; we all want our children to have the best. What’s best for them is us paying attention to their needs and taking an active role in their lives. 

Children respond to the effort that parents put into their daily lives.  A present parent is as necessary as food and water for a child’s psychological well-being and to have a successful future as a human being.   

Without these gifts of love, nurturing and attention, children very often grow into adults who lack self-confidence and are unsure of their worth. It is this pain from childhood that carries over into the teen years and adulthood, opening the door to addiction.

There is redemption from addiction at every age. Do not despair if your loved one is twenty or thirty or even fifty and already an addict. Most parents did their very best given their parenting skills in the moment.  At any age, the addict still needs what was not previously given – love, boundaries, balance, and the basics of human survival. With this support, particularly boundaries, there is a very high success rate of getting addicts into treatment and keeping them there until their recovery has taken hold.

Loving a person into recovery is the greatest gift you can give.