15 August 2011

Terminator Mom Versus Addiction

The other night, Three and I got in an argument because I wouldn't drive him to the playground at 8:30 to meet a girl. I couldn't understand why the girl's parents would let her go to the field in the dark, and I certainly wasn't going to put him in a situation that could turn out badly. He stormed off, and I drank iced coffee, which is my poor substitute for alcohol.

The next day, when tempers had cooled, he apologized.

"Thank you," I said. "I need you to understand that when I make rules, Three, it's not because I want to be a bitch. It's my job to protect you, and keep you out of situations that could be misconstrued. I was young once, and I made mistakes..."

"Yeah; you smoked crack, right?"

"No; I never smoked crack."

"What did you smoke? Marijuana?"


"And heroin?"

 "No, I never did heroin."

"Things that make you hallucinate?"


"What else have you done? I don't think you've ever told me."


"I can do that another time. And it's important to refrain from classifying drugs as 'bad', or 'not so bad.' Because otherwise some idiot tells you to smoke a joint, because it's not so bad, and believe me, I've met addicts who ONLY smoked pot. Addiction is addiction, no matter what the drug."

I've had this conversation before, with One and Two. Two has told his friends I'm a recovering addict, and they always ask what drugs I was addicted to. Ummm....whichever ones were available? True, I did prefer drugs that sped me up. But if I was very hung over, I'd smoke pot. If I was at a party, and everyone was on Ecstasy, I'd take some too. You get the idea.

So this is the beginning of the frank-discussion phase with Three. I will gladly tell him all the drugs I've snorted or swallowed, because if I had to pick one kid as the future addict in our family, it would be him. I've pretty much had him pegged since he was five. His personality is a destructive blend of bravado and need. He's easily influenced. Like all parents, I hope I will be the stronger influence. But, I know that for the most part my children are like dogs, and only hear, "Blah, blah, blah, Two. Blah, blah, blah, Three..." as I prattle on about how cocaine is proof that the Devil is alive and well on Earth, and how I almost died from alcohol poisoning. Invincible teenagers are a tough crowd.

I keep talking, admitting, but not condoning. I worry that my honesty dulls some of the fear factor that might dissuade the average kid from using.  I know that no amount of talking will stop my boys from trying drugs if they want, and nothing will stop an addict from using.

Except maybe a recovering-addict mom. This disease is relentless, but I like to imagine I'm Sarah Connor in "Terminator 2." It'll have to go through me, and my awesomely toned arms, to get to my kids. I've kicked its ass, and I know its guerrilla moves.

Fear me, Addiction.


  1. I love your attitude. I had the same open attitued with my daughters, now 33 & 35. They're in pretty good shape as adults. And I've seen the reverse. I've seen parents who don't admit their mistakes and just tell their kids don't do it because it's evil and I said so. Those kids (I have some actual kids in mind) in their early 20's are definitely not doing so well.
    My kids can talk to me about anything and I love it that way.

  2. I seem to be lucky to not have an addictive personality, in general. I am weak when it comes to foods that comfort me, especially ice cream. And I have been weak when it came to men, thinking I needed one to complete me. But the alcohol and the pot didn't stick. I am very, very lucky. I hope your kids remember what you've said and let it sink in. My parents were squeaky clean, so all they said was "don't do it because I said so" which is pretty useless when they were not around to enforce it.

  3. Anonymous15.8.11

    I had those conversations with all three of mine too. And I kept having them. Still do, every once in a while. It makes more of a difference than you might think. Like Judy said, way better to admit your mistakes than to pretend you never made any. We ALL have.
    (Oh, and you are not the only mom that has had friends ask either. I liked that there was at least one honest and sure, odd, parent that was available. Even if it was uber flawed me. We are a nice contrast to those others. ;) )

  4. Your strategy is teh awesome. Bravo!

    I have a highly addictive personality but because I grew up having to visit my drug addicted alcoholic father and was subject to his rages, I would not have touched so much as a beer with a ten foot pole. It's good to have a healthy fear of the monster that is addiction and your experiences WILL help the kiddos--they hear more than you think. I know I did.

  5. Anonymous15.8.11

    I'm in the same boat as Lora, I have addictive tendencies but my father and other relatives were drug users and alcoholics, I saw what it did to them and so I had no interest in ever trying it myself.
    Being honest about your own addictions at least gives you the edge of actually knowing what you're talking about and I think that's a pretty big edge.

  6. I think you're awesome, and that's pretty much it in a nut shell.

  7. The thing that concerns me about pot and males is that it can trigger schizophrenia. And it's common enough that I know of two guys with schizophrenia to whom this may have happened. So while I generally see it as a not-big-deal drug (though I've never smoked it in my life) for a percentage of the population it could really fuck up your life BIG time. Scary thought.

  8. I think everyone knows someone touched by addiction, so I'm always awed by the kids who saw it's effects, and stayed clean.

    Thanks, Mabel, for that bit of information! I'll be sure to pass it along. I think that might scare them as much as the fact that chronic pot smoking shrinks your testes.

  9. (What Sarah said.)


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