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LTYM & The Partnership at Drugfree.org Blog Tour

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I was tremendously honored to participate in a live-streaming event on Tuesday evening for LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER and The Partnership at Drugfree.org (LTYM’s National Video Sponsor) to try and bring about some awareness and help #EndMedicineAbuse. During the live-stream, I joined ten other writers in reading our essays on personal connections to addiction, substance use, and what we want our children to know about the medicine abuse epidemic. It was a very, very powerful hour.

If you missed it, don’t worry. We’re doing a blog tour, making our essays available to everybody. We also recorded the live-stream (there are three parts), so ready? Here we go. I recommend watching the readings first and then going to read everyone’s words, and since it’s my blog, that’s the order in which you’ll get the information. Heh.

Here’s part one:

Here’s part two:

Here’s part three:

Amazing, right?

Let’s start the Blog Tour, shall we?

First, here’s my essay. It didn’t occur to me to give it a title. Oops.

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When I was a teenager, I was what would be considered a “goody-goody” and was able to smoothly navigate through any issues relating to substance experimentation. The idea of smoking, drinking, or using drugs was so far out of my realm of imagination that it was a non-issue, and I didn’t experience any peer pressure from my like-minded friends.

It helped that, when I visited the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany at the age of fourteen, I observed a twenty-something man so intoxicated that two friends were hoisting a giant beer stein up to his mouth so he could keep drinking. I was certain he was going to pass out and die right in front of me while I was sitting there eating a giant pretzel with my host family and that fear, along with the visual of his bugged-out eyes that I still remember even after all this time, kept me miles away from trouble.

Raising two sons in the 21st century required more than an accidental scare tactic. My husband Jim and I started talking to our boys about substance abuse when they each reached fourth grade. We wanted to be the first to broach the subject with them, ahead of the drug prevention program that is part of the fifth grade curriculum. The first conversation in each case was on the short side because they didn’t have anything to contribute, not to mention their nervousness. Subsequent conversations were more of the two-way variety, and opening a dialogue about the topic (and other issues through which they needed us to guide them) became easier and easier.

We were surprised to learn when our older son, D, was in middle school that kids were already experimenting with substances. “Surprised” doesn’t cover it, actually: shocked is more like it. We were saddened too, but felt good about the layers of conversations that had already occurred in our home because our kids were very comfortable talking with us about many hot topics by that point.

D has always been the type of person to surround himself with just a couple of like-minded close friends, and they never engaged in any activities that would have been of concern.

Our younger son, J, always had lots and lots of friends. We learned over time that he also developed a “zero tolerance policy” when it came to friends who smoke, drank, or experimented with drugs. Starting in eighth grade he came home now and then, told us that he learned that so-and-so was smoking pot (or insert other offense here), and that was that: we never heard that person’s name in our house again. I remember when J was a junior in high school he told me one day about how disappointed he was to learn that yet another friend was doing drugs. When I said, “Well, I guess you’ll have to spend more time with your friends who aren’t doing those things,” he looked me in the eyes and said, “I know; it’s just that there are only about four of those left.” It was heartbreaking for many reasons.

If you think the substance abuse problem today isn’t very bad or that it isn’t happening in your local high school, you’re wrong. If you think it isn’t any worse than it was when you were in high school, you’re wrong there, too. The fact is that illegal drugs are stronger—and more accessible—now than ever before. Prescription drugs are readily available and their misuse has become a major problem. The use of alcohol as a coping mechanism has become a widely accepted idea that floats around in the mainstream.

That’s why we have to start talking to our kids about it when they’re young and turn it into a conversation that never really ends. We need to use what’s online, on television, in print, and in real life situations as jumping-off points for discussions with them so they feel comfortable enough to not only be a part of the conversation but also to come to us if they run into a situation they don’t feel like they can handle alone.

It’s what Jim and I did. Our boys are eighteen and twenty-one now, and we’re still talking.

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You can find the rest of the Blog Tour links at the LTYM site: click here.

Thanks for joining us, and please, talk to your kids. Let’s #EndMedicineAbuse together.

This post is sponsored by The Partnership at Drugfree.org as part of a blog tour with listentoyourmothershow.com in an effort to #EndMedicineAbuse

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bonnie September 12, 2013, 8:26 pm

    Communication ….leads to ‘stellular’ parenting!! :))))