Unclassified Info: Being parents, rather than pals

I happened recently upon a small editorial in this paper regarding drug use among teens. It seems today's youth are turning to everyday household items to get high — in addition to the variety of drugs already available just about everywhere.

As the editorial contended, the most obvious way to find an answer to the problem is for us to pull our heads out of the sand.

When I read that, I thought of a family I know very well whose lives were torn apart by drugs.

Had their heads been on the proverbial swivel, things might have not spiraled out of control. The boy's father refused to see a lot of the early warning signs. Perhaps he wanted so badly to think they weren't true that he was willing to pretend that everything was OK.

A lot of you might ask why a parent would do that.

As a divorced parent, I'll say that when you see your kids a handful of days per month, you just want everything to be fun. You don't always spend your time looking for trouble. But sometimes, that's exactly what needs to be done.

I also think it's valid to say that when my generation was in its teenage years in the 70's and 80's, we drank beer and did some experimenting. But by comparison, the things we were into weren't even close to what confronts our kids today.

Unfortunately, these days everything is accessible. Think about it. What would it have been like if we had cell phones and Internet access? We had pay phones. We couldn't text our dealers 24 hours a day. If the people we bought things from weren't home, we were out of luck.

We had no instant access to the latest fads in getting high. Personally, I can't imagine the trouble I might have gotten into if I could Google the phrase, “cheap ways to get high.”

It's also important to remember that easy access isn't the only thing that leads to a dependency problem.

For this particular family, I believe the ugliness of their divorce was a catalyst that fueled the boy's desire to self-medicate and numb himself from the pain and confusion of life at home. He also spent a good deal of time unsupervised, with time to roam around.

Combine those stresses with parents who wanted to believe a drug problem couldn't happen in their family and you've got a recipe for disaster.

As the boy began to slip deeper and deeper into a world of drugs, his behavior became more erratic. His grades and schoolwork suffered tremendously. There were several minor brushes with the law.

In the end, the family's best option was getting their son completely removed from the destructive environment in which he had become so immersed. The family was able to get him into a safe residential facility out-of-state.

I know what they were able to do is not an option for everyone. It took considerable effort to get their son out of harm's way. But it was completely necessary. He needed to start over in a place where he could work on himself without the temptations of his peer group. He needed to comprehend why he had chosen to use drugs as a way out.

I truly believe if they hadn't gotten him out, it was going to end tragically.

And what about when he comes back?

We're all hopeful the boy will have a different perspective. He has great potential and now he has a chance to reach it.

As for the parents, they are 100% in the business of being parents — not their kids' buddies. Doing that is certainly one way to get your head out of the sand.

GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at gh@garyhuerta.com.

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