Parents Need Facts on Addiction
Parents raise their children for almost two decades. The fortunate ones don’t
experience drug addiction or alcoholism. For those not so fortunate, they enter a
dark place that will change their world forever. The child that they have raised for
sixteen to twenty years of age becomes a total stranger in their home. The parents are living with a
junkie, an alcoholic, and/or a drug dealer and they don’t even know it. The truth is addiction can strike
at any age, no one is exempt. The big question is how do parents know if their kids are on drugs?
Don’t wait until it’s too late; parents aren’t supposed to bury their children.
Too many parents wait until it’s too late to find out the answer to this brutal question. This i s a very
complex situation that is being complicated by economic pressures, homelessness, joblessness, and lack
of affordability of education. The breakdown of the family unit, lack of supervision, children are starving
for structure and guidance. Broken homes, lack of male role models in the home especially for boys,
and lack of a female role models for girls is a big part of the problem.
Some parents don’t want to know the truth because it’s too painful to
face. Some parents already know the truth, but they’re in denial. Some
families are so dysfunctional that the parents don’t even care! Some
parents are addicts themselves. Some parents are such horrible enablers
that they can’t see the forest through the trees. The ends to addiction
are jails, institutions, and death, so it’s important that we educate
parents. Parents are not supposed to bury their children.
Our children are dying; the time to do something is now!
I’ve answered the phone calls at 3:00 A.M. and listened to the blood curdling screams of mothers telling
me that their sons or daughters had overdosed and died minutes ago. There is nothing to be said, no
words that can comfort, it’s too late! I’ve stood in the cemeteries and watched the fathers cry as their
sons and daughters were buried. It’s almost unbearable to watch. The time to do something is now!
I also want to mention that Pathological Gambling is three to four times more likely to affect teenagers
than older people. Problem Gambling is the number one addiction related to su icide. One in five
Pathological Gamblers will attempt suicide.
Opiate addiction is epidemic in 2014. Marijuana is still frequently used by young people. Cocaine has
dropped in popularity with young people probably because of cost. Prescription drugs are still popular.
Some of the most popular are: Ambien, Diladid, Xanax, Adderall, Oxycontin, Opana , etc. There are also
over the counter drugs that are very dangerous, dextromethorphan is one of the worst. The kids call it
Robo-Tripping. Then there are new “legal” drugs that pop up like Bath Salts, Salvia, Hawaiian Gold, etc.
some of these are already illegal, but may not be detectable in a drug screening. Let’s not forget
alcohol, plenty of damage can be caused with alcohol alone. New emerging trends: Caffeine Powder,
one teaspoon equivalent to 25 cups of coffee, “Krokodil” a toxic homemade opioid used as a heroin
substitute, causes flesh destroying, gangrenous at injection sites, “N -Bomb”, being sold as” legal acid”,
“Smiles”, or “251” generally found in liquid or powder form, or soaked into blotter paper, responsible
for many deaths, “Syrup”, “Purple Drank”, “Sizzurp”, “Lean” contains codeine cough syrup and
promethazine, has caused many fatal overdoses, “Molly”, MDMA in pill form known as “Ecstasy” many
dangerous chemicals are mixed in them, consequences include death, “Gravel”, looks like salt, comes in
many colors, a mix of Klonopin, Meth, and “Bath salts.” A very dangerous drug! Now there is “Flakka” a
brutal drug! ” It is an amphetamine, just like Molly. This synthetic stimulant contains alpha –PVP which
was banned and labeled a schedule 1 drug by the US DEA in 2014 the drug has flooded the South
Florida, Texas, and Ohio areas. It initially increases dopamine, the brain’s pleasure chemical, you
become alert and euphoric. The side effects are aggression, irregular heartbeat, seizures, hallucinations,
delusions, and death.
Take an honest look at any changes.
There are so many drugs, so many new drugs, legal drugs, legal drugs
that become illegal drugs, over the counter dangerous drugs, and
alcohol. Don’t focus on that but focus on the following: Look for signs
and symptoms, behavioral issues, changes in personal appearance,
changes in habit, changes auto and home, and health issues.
If you have reason to believe that someone you love has a problem
with drugs or alcohol, the first thing to do is ask them. Do you have a
problem with drugs or alcohol? Are you in trouble? They may not tell
you the truth, denial is part of the problem. It is worth the try.
Take an honest look at any changes in behavioral issues. Is your teen
buying poker books, playing poker for money on line, or betting on sports? Is there a change in
relationships at home and friends? Is there a loss of inhibitions? Have there been drastic mood swings
and changes? Have there been signs of being withdrawn or depression? Did they stop communicating
or go silent? Are they full of excuses? Are they acting out, being hostile? Are they lethargic, abnormal
sleep patterns, can’t focus?
How about personal appearance? Is their appearance suddenly messy, careless? Is their hygiene poor?
Do they have track marks on their arms or legs? Do they have pinned pupils? Do they have a red
Look at their personal habit changes. Do their clothes suddenly smell like smoke? Do they avoid eye
contact? Are they going out every night? Do they sometimes have large bankrolls? Do they have cash
flow problems? Do they have secretive phone calls? Do they suddenly get the munchies? Have they
started using air fresheners, incense, colognes?
How about home and auto changes? Are there unusual smells in car? Have prescriptions disappeared
from the house? Have valuables or money gone missing? Is there any missing alcohol? Any rolled up
dollar bills or cut straws? Is there any aluminum foil with black or gray abstract lines? Unusual seeds,
wrappers, or containers? Are there any bottles, pipes, bongs, foil, lighters in car? Any powder residue
on any surfaces?
Are there drugs hidden in your house?
Take a look at health issues: is your loved one frequently sick? Do they often have a runny nose? Do
they often have cotton mouth? Has there been any drastic weight gain or loss? Has there been any
depression? Do they often have headaches? Are they frequently nauseous and sick in the early part of
How are things going at school and work? Have they lost interest? Are their grades tanking? Do they
have any interest in extracurricular activities? Do they fulfill their responsibilities?
I wonder if I asked most parents, “When is the last time you had a sit down real heart to heart
conversation with your kid?” What they would say? It’s so important to communicate and listening is
the most powerful form of communication that we have.
Are there drugs hidden in your house? What would you say to the
police if they came to your house with a search warrant, telling you
that drugs have been sold out of your house for the past six months? Some
good places to look, but remember drugs could be hidden anywhere, in
holes in mattresses, under loose planks in floor, CD/DVD cases, in
ceiling, toilet tank, coffee cans, cereal boxes. There are a million places to
hide drugs, as far as the imagination reaches. State and Federal law
enforcement have been seizing people’s homes and property because their kids have sold drugs from
the home. It turns into a living nightmare for the parents, as they battle to get their homes back.
Welcome to the war.
If you’re very fortunate, you have a normal teenager! If not, welcome to the war! Talk with your partner
or spouse about suspected drug use, you must work together. Be prepared to be called a hypocrite by
the addict in the family. Collect as much evidence of drug and or alcohol use as you can prior to
confrontation. Expect denial and anger from the family addict, that’s normal. Plan for an expected
outcome, you must be prepared before you execute. Spell out house rules and consequences for drug
use. Recognize the significance of addiction in the family. Remind the family addict of the family
support. Know that you are not alone. There are wonderful support groups for the family. Families
Anonymous, Al-Anon are two such groups.
If you determine that your son or daughter has a problem with drug addiction or alcoholism, there is a
plethora of help available to you. The problem that you are going to come across is all the missinformation and bad advice on addiction and recovery. How do you know what is best for your son or
daughter? Families need to understand the problem, only utilize programs that are tried, tested, and
proven. Not theories. A support network, including a fellowship seems to work best for this pu rpose.
Addicts are sick people; don't expect them to act like normal people overnight. Recovery is a process, it
takes time. If you walk twenty miles into the woods, then you will have to walk twenty miles to get out
of the woods. It's important not to put conditions on love, and at the same time, to hold addicted loved
ones accountable, and responsible for their actions. There must be consequences for all actions.
Accountability and responsibility demonstrate the willingness necessary to recover. Daily attitudes and
choices will dictate the quality of each individual's future
There is help to recover, and no addict has to die from this disease.
Spirituality is simply saying yes to life! Recovery is all about breaking the chains of self-burden, and
learning to live in freedom. Recovery is about learning to walk in the sunlight of the spirit one day at a
time. Recovery is about learning to be a part of the world, instead of the world revolving around the
individual. Recovery is about change, and growth!
Whatever your problems are, there are others that have had the same problems, and have worked
through them for a better life. Many people die each year from addiction; most never make it into the
rooms of recovery. Do whatever you need to do, to get between your loved ones and drugs. Their lives
may depend on it. Active addicts are blind to reality; give them a reality check. Hold the mirror up to the
addict's face, tell him how you feel. If you're an addicted person, get help now! As powerful as addiction
is, love is more powerful! You can love the addict back to health, sometimes tough love is needed. Good
choices should be rewarded; bad choices must come with consequences. Most active addicts feel
helpless, and hopeless. Addicts need all the support that they can get: the support of the family, of
addiction professionals such as recovery coaches, the support of the recovery fellowship, and a sponsor.
There is help to recover, and no addict has to die from this disease. The ends to addiction are jails,
institutions, and death. If you have an addiction problem, please get some help. If someone you know
has an addiction problem, help them to see the truth, and help them to get help. Addiction is spiritual
bankruptcy. The more we educate the more power we have to fight addiction. All those beautiful young
souls did not die in vain; because of them we are all more aware going forward to help families and our
youth in the war against addiction.
Together we can save this life!
If you are fortunate enough to get your loved one to go to treatment, through an
interventionist, or because they were willing, consider your family as blessed! Most
addicts never make it into treatment. Once they get into treatment remember that
they are scared, and at some point they will probably want to use their drug of choice again.
Expect your loved one to call home and complain about the treatment center: “Their mean to me here!”
“The food is no good!” “There is no counseling here!” “There are people getting high here!” Your loved
one will say anything they can to push your buttons! They know how to get to you so that you will come
get them! Don’t fall for it! Your loved one wants to use drugs! Let us do our jobs. Please trust us as the
professionals that we are to help your loved one to recover from this deadly disease. We are committed
to helping your family. We need that same level of commitment from you to be strong and not enable
your loved one. Together we can win this fight! Together we can save this life! Unity is key.
©2014 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Rev. Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D., DCC, DDVA, DLC, IMAC, NCIP