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Recovery, Addiction, and Children of Drug Addicts
June 6th, 2010 by Patrick

Many people come to me with questions about recovery, addiction, and children of drug addicts.  What are some things to watch out for?

If a child has parents who are addicted to drugs, then the chance that they too will be addicted increases by quite a bit.  In short, they are at high risk for developing drug addiction or alcoholism at some point in their lives.

One thing that you might try to instill in such a child is that alcohol is a drug.  Period.  Alcohol cannot be viewed as separate from other drugs, or it will get them into trouble one day.

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 photo credit: Andreas März

Most people cannot wrap their minds around this, because they view alcohol as separate from other drugs.  It’s not.  It is a drug.  Think very carefully about this for a moment.

Any drug you can think of, be it Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, speed, whatever–ANY drug you can think of can be arranged into a liquid form.  That goes for any drug on the market.  Anything can be procured as a liquid, just like alcohol.  And, some drugs are distributed as a liquid.  But because our society sells alcohol on every street corner, it is somehow more acceptable than other drugs that are typically sold from a pharmacy or cooked up on the streets.  But in reality, alcohol is a liquid drug.  It is just another drug.

You have to convince at risk children of drug addicts that alcohol is just another drug, and that they need to approach it with extreme caution.  Ideally, they should recoil from alcohol just as if it were heroin or other illegal street drugs.  The chances for addiction are not identical, but they are close enough that it is foolish to think that they can enjoy alcohol for their whole life without any risk of addiction to it.

If a child does start to show signs of abuse or addiction, the best thing to do is to try to get them into long term treatment.  The problem with treating younger people and addiction is that they have such a high level of peer influence from their friends.  So if you put them into group therapy or introduce them to NA meetings for young people, these can actually have a detrimental effect on their chances to get clean.  Why?  Because of corruption and their peer group.  They have actually done some studies that show that group therapy among younger addicts is worse than no therapy at all.  They would be better off having no treatment then having treatment with a group of their peers, because the children and teens tend to corrupt each other.

Counseling or therapy is probably a better choice in this case.  Having a young person see an individual therapist may not work 100 percent of the time and get them clean and sober forever, but it is better than sending them off to a group where kids are selling drugs to each other.

Perhaps the best method of recovery for younger people in this situation is long term treatment.  The problem with that is that no kid in their right mind would ever like the idea of long term rehab, as it basically removes them from their friends and sort of destroys their whole world.  But some kids are miserable enough and desperate enough that they may not care too much about this, and long term treatment may be the perfect choice for them.

Younger people have the additional challenge in recovery of dealing with strong peer influence.  Most of them would rather die than to give up their friends, which can make recovery a very tough proposition.


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