The Three Most Dangerous Words a Parent Can Say Part 2
Thank you to everyone who read last week’s post! It got more views than all the others combined. I’m so grateful, especially to those who have passed it on to people with tweens and teens.
Rather than put information here that can be easily found on the Internet, I’ll provide you with the links to two excellent and trustworthy websites, then share some things I learned firsthand from other parents, Keven and his friends.
These sites have just about everything you need to know. You can look up signs and symptoms, talking to your child about drugs, how it affects the brain, how to find the best treatment for your situation, and lots more.
The big question is “why?” Why do kids start using drugs when they know the dangers? This is what I’ve come up with after talking to substance abusers over the last 15 years:
Mental health and emotional issues: Being depressed, anxious, lonely, misunderstood, insecure, poor grades, ADHD, etc.
Peer pressure: They want to fit in or be “cool”.
Curiosity: They’ve heard how great drugs make you feel and want to experience it for themselves.
To get back at their parents: I haven’t run across this one too often but thought it was worth mentioning.
The above things are all complex. As parents we need to be like vigilant detectives, constantly looking for clues from our children. When we detect something, we have to face it head on before it’s too late. Please check out those websites I shared above, they have so much helpful info!
Keven would want me to share stories from his life if it would help someone avoid the hell he made of his own. Here are some things he’d want you to be aware of:
If your child starts using, they will start stealing to get money and valuables to buy the drugs. If they can’t steal from you, there are plenty of ways to make money for drugs and none of them are something you want your child tobe doing. Shoplifting, sex for pay, robbery and scams.
Keven and Anthony had a scam going on that brought in thousands of dollars. If you want to hear about it, let me know. For the sake of Anthony’s family, I don’t want to share it publicly.
Keven also had a scam of his own that involved buying expensive watches on credit. I still can’t believe these high end jewelry stores gave him credit, but he would show up in his nice suit and use his charm. They would be impressed with his knowledge about TAG Heuer and Rolex watches, and he was so good about lying about his “job”, they’d give him store credit.
Kev’s last dealer was a woman, and she liked him a lot so gave him deals, or free drugs if he could bring her more clients. All the above come with the risk of being arrested.
If your child gets arrested, especially at age 18 or older, they will be put in The System. I have so much to share about how Keven’s life was further damaged by being a felon and spending time in prison; I plan to write a separate book about how jail and prison cause more harm than good.
Other things to keep a lookout for in your house or on your child:
missing spoons (used for cooking heroin)
shoelaces out of shoes (used for tying off before shooting up)
soda cans cut in half (used for cooking heroin)
aluminum foil missing or showing up in your kid’s room (used for smoking heroin)
straws that have been cut in half (used for smoking heroin)
the insides of pens lying around (they use the tube part for smoking heroin)
black smudges on walls, doors and your child’s hands/fingers (this applies to black tar heroin which is what we get here on the West Coast)
Q-Tips with the tips off of them or the used up tips with a brownish tint (used for shooting up - they all the used up tips “cottons” and save them for if they are desperate because they have traces of heroin left in them).
track marks on legs, arms, hands, feet (long sleeves in warm weather). Long-term use can cause all your surface veins to collapse. Keven’s were so bad that if he needed blood drawn or had to stay in the hospital (a frequent occurrence) they have to use an ultrasound to find a deeper vein for a PICC line and often had to put one in his chest or neck because his arms were so hardened.
abscesses on skin from shooting up in muscles instead of veins (Keven was in danger of having a leg amputated because of the serious infection he had from an abscess. I know of a few people who died from sepsis from one of these infections.
heroin users don’t pick at their skin like meth users, but if you see your child nodding off that is another big sign that they may getting high. (Keven was expelled in his senior year of high school for nodding off in class).
If you’re suspicious and want more proof before confronting your child, check their phone for texts, check their internet history, try to eavesdrop on phone conversations or hand them a drug test.
The drugs are easy to get, they’re literally everywhere. I look for it now since I’ve seen deals go down (I unknowingly took Keven to pick up drugs sometimes). I see it in shopping center parking lots and fast food parking lots. It’s not uncommon for dealers to deliver right to your house.
There are also a lot of “dirty doctors” out there. Keven found a psychiatrist through his insurance that prescribed him Klonopin, a highly addictive benzo that is similar to Xanax but lasts longer. I drove him once, and he said “watch this”. I could see from the car that there were about 4 people ahead of him in the waiting room. In less than FIVE minutes he was back in the car with his prescription filled! That’s 1 person per minute. This guy didn’t ask how you were, he just asked you what you wanted. Fortunately, they are finally coming down hard on these doctors and several are in prison for murder because they had multiple patients die from overdose.
Remember that heroin addiction does not discriminate, your occupation, your income, your age, or your race don’t make a difference.
When the time comes that your child is old enough OR you suspect they are using, its time for THE TALK:
It’s important to think through your “talk” and have it planned out before you sit down with your son or daughter. Be prepared for them to get angry or defensive or to deny it. That’s expected. But that doesn’t mean the conversation is useless! If your child is not using drugs, great! They still need to understand about opiates and meth and prescription drugs.
Time the conversation so that you won’t be interrupted or in a rush, and make sure they are not intoxicated for this talk. Don’t even have your phone on or nearby, you want your kid to know they are your focus and priority. Do your best to remain calm even if they antagonize you to get into a “fight” about it.
The goal isn’t to get them to admit to drug use, it’s letting them know you are watching, you are educated on it and you will help them (if in fact they are using). If they fess up to it, try not to get angry or emotional in front of them. It’s the natural reaction but will cause division when the most important thing is to be unified.
Your child needs to know you care and are on their side. They need to hear about actual lives that have been ruined or cut short. You can share statistics but most teens think they don’t apply to them because they’re the exception to the rule. But don’t let that stop you.
I am only an email away and I'm available to talk to you and/or your child, please don't hesitate to write me! My passion and only goal left in life is to hopefully help others from experiencing the lifechanging effect opiate abuse can have on individuals and families.