Hi, my name is Mark and I’ve worked as an admissions coordinator for Inspirations for Youth and Families for nearly two years. I spend most of my time at work on the phone, talking to parents about their child’s possible drug or alcohol addiction. I listen to the parent’s worries and concerns and I advise them on what to do based on their specific situation. For some parents, the choice is easy. Their kid is doing drugs so they get their kid into treatment as soon as they can. For other parents, the choice is not so simple.
During my time as an admissions coordinator, I’ve learned a lot about parents, teens, and drug addiction. I’ve also learned a lot about family dynamics and the reasons why some parents refuse to get treatment for their teens. Obviously, these parents are scared. They’re scared their child might overdose and die, or that their kid will get drunk and do something dumb while under the influence. These parents are also terrified about making the wrong choice. When it comes to drug addiction, doing nothing and sitting by is ALWAYS the wrong choice, yet many parents continue to do nothing even when they know their child is in danger.
Getting young teenagers into treatment and getting them the help that they need is difficult. It’s emotionally draining for everyone involved, but the process becomes much more difficult when moms and dads refuse to see the possible consequences of their child’s drug addiction. Sometimes the most difficult part is convincing mom and dad that their child is just made of flesh and bone and they can easily kill themselves or end up in prison if they continue using drugs or alcohol.
Some parents aren’t ready to make the commitment yet. Some parents downplay the situation. They tell me, “Oh Susie’s just using marijuana” or “Bill only drinks on the weekends”. This is very frustrating to me. I understand that alcohol is legal for those who are at least 21 years old. I know that recreational marijuana use has recently become legal in a few states. However, it is ILLEGAL for a teenager to consume alcohol or marijuana in any state. Not only is it illegal, there have also been many studies which show how harmful it is for a minor to consume alcohol. Combine the illegality of alcohol along with the harmful effects on the teenage brain (which isn’t fully capable of making the most rational choices even when sober) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
I’ve dealt with many parents who weren’t ready to make the commitment to put their child in treatment. They didn’t understand the reality of drug addiction or the fact that people don’t just get better on their own without treatment. Some parents believe that their child’s addiction is “just a phase” or that they can fix it themselves. The way I explain it to them is fairly simple. If you, as a parent, found out that your child had cancer, you’d find the best treatment center and get your child help as soon as you could right? Addiction is a disease, just like cancer. Your child needs treatment as soon as you can get it to them.
Unfortunately, the parent’s lack of action can be deadly. I had one case where the dad called looking for treatment for his son. I spoke to him many times and finally convinced him to put his son into treatment. The family had great insurance and it would have been more or less free for the son to go to Inspirations Teen Rehab. However, the dad never made a move. I called back a few months later only to hear that unfortunately, the son had never gotten treatment and he had died of an overdose.
Parents, listen to me. Your child will not get better on his own. He will not just stop using drugs or alcohol if he is already addicted. It’s foolish to think that your child will stop using drugs without going to treatment or changing his school, his friends, or his hobbies. It’s foolish to think that your 16 year old son or daughter knows what’s best for him or her. You’re the parent. You make the decision. Make the right choice and don’t let your child become another statistic.
Contributed by Guest Blogger Mark Soto