Walking out of the highschool on a warm day, that is one of the best feelings.
(Even a decade later I will say that’s one of the best feelings.)
Your classmates are everywhere, wearing different things, being who they are, and getting into various cars. Nothing much you really have to do for the rest of the day.
As a person on the cusp of independence, as all highschoolers are, the coolest kids are going to be the ones who are free to do whatever they want. A lot of the time these are also the ones who will build a castle out of their teenage angst. (Yes, most angst goes on for a lifetime, but teenage angst is a special kind). When you get older those feelings of anger and resentment for the world can actually be embarrassing, because by the time you mature, you realize that the world is in YOUR hands, and if it sucks, that’s because of YOU. (Can’t blame the adults when you are one!). But when you’re a teenager you CAN blame the world and the adults, self pity is kind of a source of power.
And you know why? Because we already kind of know the truth.
These are also the people who fall pray to their own positive qualities… if they’re not directed properly or motivated to take care of themselves. Because the part of the brain which considers LONG TERM is not developed.
Here are some common pitfalls a strong, independent, exciting person might experience.
Having a baby before you can afford everything you’d want your baby to have.
Using a drug before you understand what a habit like that brings.
Quitting school before you have dared to dream.
Choosing laziness over the belief that you can DO big things.
Seeking love from others before you have realized that only you can love yourself the way you deserve to be loved.
These are all examples of paths which take us down roads which are hard to climb out of. Not to mention the poverty you’ll almost definitely experience if you embark on one of these journeys.
It is so important that you dare to have big dreams for your life. And that you understand that it takes preparation to make these dreams come true, and that if you do prepare, they will come true!
The years of your life will go by one way or another, will you be walking an uphill path, or coasting a downhill path?
Our brains are at the center of our whole lives, wielding unimaginable power. (how’s that for a conundrum.)
From the time we are born our brain begins to make paths within itself, meaning it makes connections between cause and effect, thought and action. The more frequently particular paths are used, the stronger that they get. If we are taught to retreat and conceal emotion, we will likely carry that into adulthood. If we learn to pay attention to the feelings of others and to empathize, that will likely become a part of our personality. This is not to discredit “nature vs. nurture”, because for some traits our mind will genetically carry predisposition. That doesn’t mean we can’t still hold power over our own actions/our own life.
The tendency towards addiction is a great example of one human psychological condition which may be caused by nature, nurture, or both. But how we get to the threshold of addiction is not what I am looking at tonight, at least not on an external level. I want to describe what happens to the mind during adolescence, to better argue my stance on prevention. I am trying to remain an easy read so I am not going to get too deep into the anatomy.
The human brain is still developing during adolescence. It is also maturing, and it matures from the back end first, towards the front. The back of our brain (above the spinal cord), is all of the emotional connections. The front of our brain is where logic and reasoning happens. In adolescence, we have all of the DRIVE but our BREAKS are not so strong. Not to mention all of the excitement that comes with the “first-times” for almost everything.
This explains why teens feel like they “know it all”, because they kind-of do… they just don’t have the experience or fully developed break system in place to live safely. A parent might feel like they are forced to steer something which is accelerating 200mph. A tough task, to say the least. But to let go is asking for disaster, although so is a permanent grounding.
Young people actually have a biological need to take risks and find independence. Communicating is so important during this time of their life.
When a young person finds their first “joint” or can of beer, they will probably NOT be thinking about this fact: they are actually in control of building their brain, and therefore, their life. When we’re young, we’re new to responsibility of that level, and the future may seem like something which will just one day land in our lap, all wrapped in a bow. Unless- a young person has been talked to, extensively (we learn by repetition, and need even more of that when we are preoccupied) by a caregiver, and/or have really read my book, which goes into all of this, but directed more towards them.
Just because young people can’t touch the future doesn’t mean they can’t see it. I spent my teenage years thinking nothing mattered and that the future would just work itself out. But the future is built everyday by the decisions that people choose to be every single day. People can easily weave themselves into a tangled web of carelessness, which takes a long time to untangle (time which would be better spent doing something else). When people are thoughtless about the actions that they take, that doesn’t mean that they’ll never have to think about them (so no one is really getting away with anything)
When a young person spends their weeks routinely turning to a drug or alcohol, even if it feels harmless, they are creating neuro-PATHWAYS in their mind. They are building their brain- now. The same brain that decides whether they get to be happy or sad.
The actions that they take, and even the thoughts that they think are building pathways, which get stronger with every single instance.
For every cause there is an effect.
And the hobby’s and habits that they let go of? Well, use it or loose it, because the mind not only is building pathways during this time of life, but it is also spending a great deal of time during adolescence destroying the connections which are no longer used. This is to clear out childhood behaviors, but if they neglect other behaviors, those will go out with the pile as well. I’m not saying they wont remember, but those habits will have to be re-formed.
Every adolescent person should understand at least a little bit about their own mind and the power they have over it during this important time of their life. The pathways which are strengthened during this time are much harder to be “swept-away” later, the way that childhood behavior does during this “pruning” stage. And addiction usually takes a lifetime of recovery to overcome.
WHY talk to your little loved ones about drugs? Because… like an ostrich with its head in the sand, it is innefective NOT to talk to them about drugs.
“Kids will be kids.”
You know that addiction destroys lives.
You know that addiction does not discriminate.
I hope by now, you know that addiction is not an easy fix, for anyone.
Drug addiction is preventable.
1. “Kids will be kids.”
Of course there is truth in this statement! But it should not apply to avoidable, life-threatening situations. This endearing phrase should apply to toilet papering a house, or getting a Friday-school for climbing rooftops (hey, I’m a thrill seeker!) … not to eating poison or dropping out of school.
“God grant me the serinity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Your words, your attitude, and your actions have a serious impact on the lesser developed people in your life. If you are sincere they will at least hear your message. All children deserve to hear their loved one say, “eating and drinking poison is not the coolest thing a person can do. Dreaming and reaching your goals is the coolest thing a person can do.”
2. You know that addiction destroys lives.
If you haven’t witnessed a death to drugs or alcohol (you have got some good luck), I bet you can at least think of one addict that you know. It doesn’t matter if they’re in recovery or not (I hope they are!). Imagine this person as an innocent child, see their little face, and allow your heart to soften as you think of all the ways that their life, and the life of those around them have been effected by their addiction. Do you think they chose addiction? They didn’t. They may have chose to use, but they did not chose the way that their mind reacted to the drug. Do you think there were tears shed related to this addiction? Drama filled nights? Days spent paralyzed in pain? Mass amounts of work spilled down gigantic drains of hopefulness? Precious time lost, forever, to a drug?
All of these things are a part of the disease of addiction. To love an addict is to watch your loved one die a slow, disgraceful death. It is to lose them before they are even gone. The addict knows nothing but pain and euphoria. Either they are hurting, or they are using. And their instincts are screaming “YES, USE”. Enjoying life as it is, becomes unthinkable to the addict. Like a fairy tale, it becomes an unreal idea.
3. You know that addiction does not discriminate.
It is not just the kids in Section 8, or kids born into the party who are volnurable. Your teenager who breaks his leg and gets pain medicine from the doctor is very volnurable. I think it is so important that we all be aware of how volnurable pain medicine makes us.
Do you think your child has “better character” than a child who would use? No. It is not about character, it is about the random situations of life. In a school bathroom your child is very likely to be faced with drugs. When that happens, will they be depending on their own substance to make a decision? Or, maybe they will remember what their loved one has repeatedly told them, as well as what they have already decided. I would hope that as a caregiver, you’ve talked to this young person enough times that when they are finally faced with the inevitable situation, they will *instinctivly* say no. They wont even have to think about it, because you’ve already given them plenty of time to think about it. Years, idealy. My book “Lets Talk About Drugs”, goes over all of the most common drugs in detail, yet in a very understandable way, so that young people are able to form their opinions. They should already know what the different drugs are, and what they do. The book encourages the formation of unique opinions and individulized decision making. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my 13-year-old standing in that bathroom asking, “Well, what is it? What does it do?” and getting answers FROM ANOTHER 13 year old. No child should be trying to make a quick decision that way. *exasperation* Almost every child does.
4. I hope by now, you know that addiction is not an easy fix, for anyone.
If you think that you will be able to “fix” the situation AFTER you realize there is a problem, you are sorely mistaken. I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m saying it is always SO much harder than having had talks before-hand. And not only that, but once they’ve used they have already opened the door… to be easily passed back through in the future. PREVENTION is key.
You might shout, not everyone is an addict!
That is true. Please weigh the losses from the gains.
Refer to my “Addictive Personality Type” chapter of the book. Prevention MAY not always be such a serious issue. There are whole family’s full of mild temperaments with not an addict in sight. But even then, brushing prevention aside is taking a needless gamble, because addiction is still possible, even within the most mild clans. Addiction destroys families and kills people. I think it is worth talking about.
5. Drug addiction is preventable.
That’s it. That sentance encompasses everything you will find in this blog.
I’m here to help. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
When a person decides to get intoxicated for the very first time, it’s usually during their adolescent and teenage years. It is typically handed to them by a friend or family member, and for the purpose of having “fun.” Many young people like to take risks, because taking risks is a chance to learn about life! And they want to know what it’s all about, they have a lot of pent up energy and are dealing with so many emotions. Many times they are not scared of anything! And that can be a good thing, if the risks are actually able to help them grow.
Things go wrong when those risks actually cause them to have a disease.
No one wants to be the “wet rag”, “party pooper”, “Debby downer”, “goodie-two-shoes”, the “chicken”. Especially not someone who internally identifies themselves as a badass. But in a situation like this, that’s where confidence comes in. Confidence can turn an awkward situation into a lighthearted, care-free one. All it takes is one confident smile with a situation like that (being offered a drug) to bring the tension down, almost to 0. And that confidence comes from a mind made-up. The book, Let’s Talk About Drugs, is aimed to help young people make up their own minds. It’s probably not going to be possible to convince other people not to do something that they’ve already decided to do, so the mission should lye solely on the individual for their own choices. We are individuals for a reason! It’s our job to take care of ourselves.
If you have a family member who is an alcoholic or addict, the chances that you are also an alcoholic/addict yourself are uncomfortably likely. It should make a person extremely uncomfortable to be egging on the disease of addiction. Addiction is so insidious, a person may find themselves in the mouth of sharp fangs before they even realize it’s attacked them. *shudder*
When I was a kid, I started drinking with friends for the first time in a guys back yard. There was a tent, a bonfire, and booze. It was so exciting to be at a party. I am the type of person who loves excitement and adrenaline, so how could I not go? But I also wasn’t really aware of the risks I was taking. Maybe if I had been, I’d have felt good about my decision to either go and stick to drinking pop, or maybe even to stay home and do something else, like work towards an exciting dream that I was into.
Did I realize I was an alcoholic/addict that night, no I didn’t! I had “fun” rolling through the grass, falling almost into the fire, kissing a boy and knocking down the tent. That was all very exciting. I loved how easy it made socializing for me, because I had grown up really shy, and my quietness made me angry. Even if the drunk words rolling out of my mouth weren’t the brightest, it felt good just to have words. I’d be at the next party, for sure. Luckily, I never got hurt too bad while I was really young (12-16), but I did learn that I would definitely be making a fool of myself, regularly. I didn’t really understand that I was hurting my sense of self, and that I was an alcoholic.
During one of my parties, I said yes to cocaine. The spiral began spinning faster. Cocaine will have you understanding addiction on a whole new level that is a lot harder to ignore. I still didn’t really understand addiction though, I just knew that I was, addicted, and that I needed SOMETHING all of the time now. I used all the drugs, a lot. It became my lifestyle.
Now, you can see how this works. It’s really hard telling whether you’re an addict or not, before it’s too late. By the time I realized I was an addict, I needed a lot of recovery (now I realize it’s a lifetime of recovery).
I just wish I had understood in the beginning, this disease, so that maybe I’d have realized it wasn’t worth risking. A lot of my family members were alcoholics/addicts, but they weren’t really present in my life, so I didn’t really think about it, and I definitely didn’t think I would be one of them.
I already liked drinking too much after that first party, so I probably wouldn’t have stopped if someone told me all of this afterwards. I would have just considered them highly annoying, and avoid them.
If we have family members who are addicts or alcoholics it is very likely that our brain will have the same qualities as theirs. The mind of an addict can be inherited, or it can be built with repeated use. I inherited mine, and feel I didn’t stand a chance.
My mission is to help other people avoid the extreme mess of heartache, sickness, trouble, and growth stunts into adulthood which I encountered thanks to my addiction.
Addiction will, eventually, take you to “the bottom”. And that is not a cool place to find yourself, and it takes a crazy amount of hard work to climb back out of.
Born with addiction, really?? *skepticism all around*
But I have a little bit of insight. Because years ago I was a small, pudgy, blonde mess-maker, and I loved to get into the cabinets and drawers of our old house. My childhood home. It was so interesting explore the things inside. The bottle opener that looked like E.T., the weird alligator monster (that I now know removes paperclips), and a wooden ruler to smack against your little sister, possibly. Stuff like that. I can still smell some of the must that came from the old wooden spaces. In fact, I can remember the smell of the exact place I am trying to tell you about. The first cabinet of booze I ever found.
Yes, my long term memory is pretty impressive (while my short-term memory …makes me think I might have a disability). Considering the facts of my rummaging through cabinets, and not knowing what the fancy bottles were, I’d guess I was probably four years old or younger. There was this one clear bottle of clear liquid which had a picture of a palm tree paradise on the back of it, it was fascinating. I think there was a little parrot in the picture, do you know what I’m talking about? Rum. There were only one or two other bottles in there, but they were not as interesting as this one. Brown. I stared at that pretty bottle for a long time, I know because I can still see it. I would come back to this cabinet and look at my treasure every now and then, and then I decided to take a drink. The smell was pure evil, but I remember putting a little taste into my mouth anyway, and gagging. But you know what? I remember this for a reason, I liked it. It really was terrible, and I was a busy kid as most are, so I am not trying to tell you I “started drinking”, but I did go back for a swig down the road. I had no idea what I was drinking. What kind of kid would drink something that smells so rancid? I’ll tell you, the same kind of kid that would get some enjoyment out of any risky situation, the child who smiles meekly in the face of danger. Children are born with certain qualities, and these are some of the qualities which correlate with the addictive personality type.
Back to my story. After a few more years, once I was eight or so, my mom would start letting us drink a wine-cooler with her at lunch, or whenever she was having one. She meant no harm, and I’m sharing purely for purpose of explanation. I loved the wine-coolers, and I ALWAYS got every-last-drop out of them. I remember my mom, on multiple occasions, telling me to, “stop doing that”, because it made me, “seem desperate”. I was so young I pondered on the word “desperate” very hard, and still could not understand the true meaning of it. The word bothered me for years until I began to understand its meaning.
Yes ladies and gentleman, I do believe I was born an alcoholic. In middle school I began “collecting” MIXES of alcohol from under the sink, into a big old plastic water bottle. It was one of those thick jugs, it was blue and it had a white screw-on top, with a handle and spout which could be flipped upwards for a drink. Whatever would be under the sink, I’d pour a little extra into my bottle when no one was around, so that I always had a stash. And the worst part? I’d drink this mix of ‘diluted nasty’ before going to the school football games, or out with friends anywhere. One time, I barfed it up onto my wooden floor………………………………… and proceed to drink it off of the floor. I was no older than twelve, and I was alone in my bedroom.
You guys, that is so gross.
My Grandpa passed due to his alcoholism, and so did my uncle. I was born ready to crash. Alcoholics and addicts do not crash and say “WHOOPS, better not do that again.” NO, that’s not how it works.
So if your child is predisposed to addiction, you need to take that very seriously, before they even take a drink. They need taught about the disease of addiction BEFORE they inflict themselves. It is UNACCEPTABLE that anyone who is predisposed to any disease, not be given the chance of prevention.
Thank you so much for reading, Allison Parrish
(This is my first post! Follow for more)
My little sister and I. Here we are with our chicken, Sally. My dad had gotten a $raise$ for catching this chicken at the steel mill, where he worked. I don’t know how she got there. (Isn’t that kind of coincidental to this post?)