My son was not always an addict. He was a little boy once with hopes and dreams.
We can't predict!
In a couple of days, this blog will be a month old. Since its creation, it has had almost 10,000 views. Thank you for your visits and support. YOU are making a difference.
Creating this blog felt like the right thing to do, and I have no regrets. The odd time, though, as I am posting something personal about our family, a little voice asks me if I am doing the right thing. Am I going to make a difference in Islanders minds and hearts, or will this come back to hurt my family - mainly, my son - if I can't break down the stigma of addiction? In the end, though, I continue on with my posts because I know that things will never change in the face of silence. The voices of the voiceless need to be heard if things are going to change for the better.
My son and I want to stop the spread of addiction by ensuring that adequate help is available for those already addicted, and that well-developed prevention programs are in place to educate students and empower them to say no to drugs. As my son says, "If they never try it, they will never know what they are missing, and that is better than living like this."
The thoughts of another person and their family going through this keeps me up at night. It is an unbelievably painful journey. If my words can prevent one person and one family from this nightmare, it is all worth it. If my postings can make one person feel less alone, it is worth it. If my messages can make the "unlovable" feel loved, it is worth it. Addicts will not get better because we judge them. They will get better because, as a society, we care about (and for) them.
I want to save my child. I want to save your child. I want to save future children. It takes a village to raise a child and it requires every person in the village. It is no longer enough to put your head in the sand and sit back in judgment. It won't help to solve the problem. Neither will silence and so I speak up in the hopes of empowering others to speak up too.
Many of my friends have heard me say that no amount of stigma or judgment will ever hurt as much as watching my son slowly kill himself, knowing that there isn't anything I can do about it except love him, be there when he wants to get help, and pray. It will also never hurt as much as seeing my son suffer the serious consequences of a decision he made as a teenager to try drugs for the first time.
When someone tries drugs, they have no idea the effect it will have on them and some people get hooked right away. Try telling that to a teenager who feels invincible and is curious about things. My son will pay for the rest of his life for a decision that he made at such a young age, before the thinking/reasoning part of his brain was fully developed.
In many of the news stories about young people committing crimes to feed their addictions, you always see comments such as, "where are the parents?", "parents need to parent", "this is the parents fault", etc. As a parent who loves my children so much I would die for them, these comments are like little knives being jabbed into my heart and twisted around for good measure. They also show me that I have a lot of work to do!
Through this blog, I hope to break down the stereotype that addicted people have bad parents. It simply is not true. Yes, some addicted people have parents who are not great, but many more have good parents. If it was parenting, all good parents would have good kids who do no wrong, and all bad parents would have bad kids who do wrong. It doesn't work that way.
Think back to when you were a teenager. You likely drank alcohol and your parents likely never caught on. Does this mean that you were a bad kid and your parents were negligent? Of course not! It just means that you were doing what most teenagers do, and your parents trusted you so didn't feel the need to act like prison wardens. If prescription drugs were as easily accessible as they are today, you may have tried them as well, and your life story – as well as your family’s – may have been much different.
When forming opinions about situations today, we can no longer look through the lenses of our own childhoods. Our society - and culture - has changed drastically, most especially in the past 10 to 15 years. Our streets are not safe like they used to be. There are a lot of drugs around. When I was a teenager in the late 80's, I was parked on a main street in a small town in PEI. A guy came up to me and asked if I wanted to buy some weed. I was shocked, and I mean shocked. To this day, I still remember that guy who wore acid washed blue jeans, high top sneakers, and a white muscle shirt while carrying a denim jacket on his arm. I remember seeing him crossing the street and walking toward my car and then knocking on the window. This memory is etched in my brain.
Do you think kids today would find this type of interaction with a drug dealer so shocking? Most would not. This type of interaction is a daily occurrence for today's youth, and the item being sold is not only weed; it is also prescription drugs. We have a lot of work to do to fix this mess, and we owe it to our kids to make sure it gets done.
Thank you for visiting this blog. I hope that you will continue to join me in getting informed about addiction and working to save our youth. I welcome your comments on any of my postings, and invite you to share my blog with your friends and family so that we can reach even more Islanders. Please don't assume you know who needs to see this blog. We all do. This is an Island problem.