Drugs: Destroyer of Families
With so many issues plaguing society, you would think that I would have an endless number of issues to write about, however, in the past two months I have been contacted many times by numerous individuals all seeking help for themselves or their loved ones who are losing the battle to drugs. So once again I must return to the issue of drug abuse.
Why do we struggle so much with such an old issue? We can put a man on the moon but we don’t seem to have the ability to defeat drugs. Why is this? The short answer is that we as a society fail to understand how our values affect us. The long answer comes from my experiences. Twenty five years ago when I began working with at-risk young men I was very naive and believed that our government held all the answers to all these social maladies. Seven years later I knew better.
My experiences and research have shown me that most users begin by smoking cigarettes. This is something our society views as minor. However, I do not see this as minor or normal. Cigarettes are highly addictive. The average age a juvenile tries smoking is 10 – 11 years of age. That statistic alone should cause great alarm, but yet many parents who find themselves in this situation rationalize that at least it isn’t marijuana. Thus the folly begins. Such illogical thinking will cause them to minimize the gravity of the situation and later they will live to regret it.
In my experience most of my young men have had some sort of substance abuse issue. Not all but most. Of those that did most of them started off smoking cigarettes and by middle school, which is where most of the trouble begins, they were either experimenting with or casually drinking and/or smoking marijuana. Does this mean that every person who smokes at a young age will become an addict? No it doesn’t, but research shows that when someone who is 15 years of age or younger begins using addictive substances there is a 400% greater chance that they will become addicts themselves.
Once again this statistic should be alarming to parents. It is the responsibility of the parents, both of them, to guide their child and model the example. So what will impede these parents? There are only two things which I have witnessed that have interfered with the parent’s ability to make an effort – ignorance and/or their own addiction.
We can implement program after program, but if a child does not have good examples to follow, a support structure which invests in that child and a proactive environment that nurtures and teaches them, then these programs stand a very dismal chance of succeeding. People need people and the most important people in a child’s life are his parents. Drug use and abuse is a war with casualties. Do not be deceived into a false state of security simply because you haven’t seen any obvious drug activity. Addictions do not begin with hard drugs. They begin with small compromises in character. Children need parents not buddies.