Talking to Children about Drugs and Alcohol : Nancy's Blog
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Talking to Children about Drugs and Alcohol

by Nancy D. on 11/07/18

I've researched the effects of drugs and alcohol on young people, for the last 14 years.  I've experienced in my own family, what it is like to watch a loved one struggle with addictions.  A few years ago, I figured out that the disease of addiction is derrived from several aspects.  Biological predisposition, lifestyle, family, mental illness, grief, trauma, and putting the drug in your system. 

Now adays, I've seen numerous you tube videos, read books and been in different class enviornments with therapists and other specialist who came to the same conclusion I did many years ago.  I didn't know what to do with the information.  I had no credentials behind my name where I felt anyone would listen to me.  I was just the mother of someone who suffered from the disease of addiction.  What did I know?  

ALOT. Now, I have grandchildren.  Knowing the dynamics of how this disease works in a young person.....a person whose brain has not finished developing until they are about 25 years old, I am in fear for my grandchildren.  The things I know now, that I didn't know then, are:

  1. They are biologically predisoposed to addiction.
  2. They need to have community and be kept active in sports or volunteer activities through school, church, or some other activitiy they have a passion for.
  3. They need to have a loving, close, protecitve and strong family unit and close ties with extended family as well.
  4. They need to be educated on exactly, no hold barred, on what can happen to them, IF they ever put a drink or a drug in their body.  Not from the stand point of some old grandma, pointing a crooked finger at them and giving them warnings with no data to back it up, but from the grandma who understands how addiction works, whom it seeks and how to prevent it from catching up with them.
  5. The chain, must be broken.
We must educate our children/grandchildren on how to stand up for themselves and help them prepare how to stand up to peer pressure if they are in a sitaution where they are offered substances or alcohol.  We need to educate them on a way out.  We need to edcuate them on what the effects, long term can mean for them. Where this can go and how their lives WILL change if all of these worlds collide.  We must use examples of people we have seen in the news, relatives that may be in our families, consequenses they have suffered, but most importantly, we need to help them find the choice.  The choice to not try anything until after they are 25 or so.  

  We don't want them to try anything then, but at least, give their brains time to fully develop before they choose the dysfunctional path it will take on if drugs or alcohol are intruduced into a still growing brain.

When that happens, the brain, physically changes.  It won't become the brain they were born with , it will become different.  The receptors in the brain will develop differently.  The amygidigla will change, their dependence on a foreign substance will move in, and who they were, will cease to exist.  All the dreams, hopes and long term plans, will go to shit, because they will not be in control of making strong, good, well thought out, healthy decisions for themselves.  They can't at that point.  They will only be capable of making decisions from the place they are at the point their brain has been affected. 

It's not about scaring them to death, but it is about empowering them with choice.  To make them strong enough to know the choice is theirs, but if they knew their lives could severely be changed from who they are right now and understand the science on how that happens, maybe, maybe someone who may have said yes at a party, will say "no thanks" and give them the chance to at least develop  normally before making that decision.

To me, it would be like, if I have arms and legs that are still growing, but my friends all of a sudden were doing this "drug" which is fun the first time or two you use it.  You have arrived,  you're "in" with the other peers who are using it, it feels good to be "in".  But, you start noticing that one of their arms is shorter than the other since they began using and one of their legs is shorter than the other...and if they would have made the choice not to drink or use drugs until later,  their limbs would be the same size and not abnormal.  An abnormal, that cannot be reversed.  What would they choose?  It's the same decision with regard to our brain structure.  We can't "see" it, like we can our arms and legs, but ohhhhhh it is there.  And if someone had the power to choose for it to develop normally, or to have things in it shorter, less than, mangled, twisted and develop a mind-set of dependence to "feel normal" after they've messed up their brain, I wonder what they would choose.  I wonder if peer pressure would have any power over them what so ever, knowing that it isn't their peers who are going to suffer from their handicapped brain.   It is they, themselves who will pay for that, for many, many, many years to come.

Once that choice is made, there will be a "before" and an "after" .  A before I used drugs or alcohol, then the after......  It's kind of like, yesterday, I wasn't pregnant, but today I am.  There's a before, when life was normal and good and even though bad things happen in our lives, we aren't self sabatoging ourselves to make them worse.  Add self sabatoge to it, then it becomes our "fault" our life turned out this way, when we had it better "before" the drug, or the unplanned pregnacy.  So now we get to deal with the fall out, accompinied with shame, embarrassment, self criticism, judgment, being financially strapped, constant negative self talk and not facing the same future that we would have had, IF we just didn't drink or use or have unprotected sex.  If only.......

If only, we had of said no and not succumbed to a friend in school we were trying to impress for some unknown reason.  I grant you, they won't be there helping you take care of a crying infant, they won't be there when you have to go to rehab or jail or DUI's, or manslaughter charges you could expereince from the bad results of your own choice.  You'll be alone looking in that mirror and the only one looking back will be your own reflection.

I'm going to impart on my grandchildren, my knowledge of the disease of addiction.  How it germinates.  How it festers and how it  gets in; and do my best to give them other, healthier resourses or things to consider before they make a decision based on someone, barely a friend, who doesn't have to pay your consequences for the rest of your life.   They can't pay yours, becuase they will be paying their own before all is said and done.

I'm always here for my babies, no matter what, but I want to be here for you in the celebrations of life, not in your having to clean up behind yourself and suffer through a much harder life than you deserve.  I want it ALL for you. Those "peers", they won't be around, even if you do with them what they want you to do .  They won't be around if you don't do it, but I guarentee you one thing, they will absolutely not be around when you have to suffer consequenses of it.. 

 Is it really worth choosing to do something bad for yourself to just "fit in" with people who WILL abandon you when you fall?


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