Many adults and teens alike believe that pushing the boundaries of how drunk or high someone can get is a rite of passage or a phase. However, quite the opposite is true—it is anything but that.
The biggest part about growing up isn’t the physical change—it is the mental change. When we are in high school and college, we are learning far more than just academics. For many, this is also the time in which people develop their coping skills and interpersonal interactions.
For young addicts and alcoholics, both personal relationships and coping mechanisms are seemingly resolved using drugs and alcohol. That might be all well and good when someone does not have a lot of obligations to fulfill, but what does one do when drug addiction and alcoholism begin taking a heavier toll in later years?
Is the answer to drug addiction that simple?
The answer is simple: the addict or alcoholic does the best they can, which usually is not all that great, since their emotional and mental development is impeded through drug and alcohol use.
What happens is that healthy individuals move away from the addict or alcoholic to preserve their own health and sanity, while other sick individuals and fellow alcoholic/addicts gravitate towards one another, which makes their own behavior seem far more normal than it truly is. This, in turn, makes it increasingly more difficult to escape from the disease, as more and more people participating in the same behaviors make it seem that much more normal.
If someone suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism is put in this position, his or her first instinct isn’t going to be, “I need help.” It is going to be, “Forget those people—these other people are the ones who really understand me.”
Some addicts and alcoholics die before they realize what happens, and the moment of clarity never comes. That’s why it is important for parents to address the problem as soon as it presents itself. Alcoholism and drug addiction don’t care what are you are, and it is up to the parents to show them that they are not invulnerable, and that what they are doing is not normal. It is simply a learned behavior.
Teen recovery programs give teens alternatives to that learned behavior—the ones we should have adopted instead of picking up the drugs or drink.
For adults who have lost everything, it can be easy to see that someone is an alcoholic or drug addict and needs help—when you are a kid, there is very little you can lose, but that which you can lose is of the utmost importance. Things like their family, their freedom, their life…all this and more can be irreplaceable.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are not based upon the possessions and people one loses; it is based upon one’s ability (or, more precisely, one’s inability) to control and enjoy their drinking, whether that be the amount, the time, the consequences, or any other aspect that can negatively be impacted by drinking and/or using.