There is a little known secret in this country. That secret is compassion. I am speaking of compassion with a little love and understanding for parent(s) who have a child using alcohol or other drugs.
This frightened parent may first appear in front of a school counselor as she is being informed of her child’s suspension or perhaps the parent is standing next to her son as the juvenile judge discusses fines and community service requirements. These are just two examples where we can see the very beginning of the collapse of the family system and the birth of the disease of addiction.
The parents are buried in shame and guilt and an already disruptive household is laden with additional stress. They are forced into deeper denial and secrecy which only supports addiction as it completes it’s destructive process. All of society will eventually pay a very steep and severe price.
The simple and effective solution is to first establish compassion and understanding for the parent(s). Individuals and/or agency staff personal who are likely to be the first contact with parents dealing with their child’s substance abuse who are formally trained could be instrumental in helping the family focus on the abuse of substances and not on the individual family members. In other words, attention will be directed at the true problem and not just the symptoms of the problem.
The next step is to provide the family with all the resources the community has to offer including connected and supportive mentors to lead them down the path of change. If this compassion can be the focus of schools, police, the juvenile system, and other local resources, the change can be accomplished. Punishment in the way of school suspension or legal burden is not in the best interest of anyone. A healthy change starts in the heart and stepping in the shoes of those who are caught in this situation.
As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”