Monday, January 28, 2019

Music Mantra Monday ~ Facing and Fighting the Power of Addiction

*Today's post touches on a very serious issue. It is shared with love and concern but may be too graphic, including the music choice, for our younger readers. Although I believe that all young people need to learn about and understand what can result in following down the path of drugs and addiction, it is recommended that younger readers read this post with a parent or guardian who can answer questions on this subject.*

I've been researching songs that depict what I've been wanting to write about on the blog for weeks now. Those of you with a keener eye can most likely read between the lines for some of our recent song choices. Today, I'm going to throw it right out there.

Addiction is a powerful force. For some people, it is something their born with, or at least are predisposed to developing. This isn't a lesson in genetics here. Any book on psychology, addiction or even specific memoirs out there will describe how those who have addiction in their family tree, especially parents, are a little more likely to turn to substances than others are. But then there are those who have the same issues in their family history yet are strong enough not to follow down the same path. Knowing this, then, what leads the decision to follow?

There are various reasons that can go from simple curiosity and experimentation all the way up the ladder to using it as a crutch. Once at that level, it's difficult to encourage the person to come back down. In my experience, getting up there is usually a sign that there is an underlying cause for using substances that has to be healed first before the person is willing to toss the crutch aside and find their way back down. But it takes time, patience, love and gentle encouragement for the first move to be taken. And that one is the hardest.

I have a lot to say on this subject, but I'll keep it as short as possible. I am more than aware of how many adults out there are dealing with addiction or trying to help someone who is. But after a certain point, and at a certain age, if an adult is aware of what they're doing but not willing to take the help they are offered, the last option is for the witness or helper to step back and say, "I can't watch you do this to yourself anymore. I am here for you when you want to come back. My heart, ears and door will always be open. I love you too much to help you when you don't want it." Trust me, I know how difficult it can be to get those words out, but they are true. An adult who doesn't want help, no matter how much they know they need it, has to get to the point where there are only two choices left for them. And only one of them is the hopeful one. Dealing with youth is completely different.

My focus today is more on youth and addiction. Parents, guardians, teachers, and community members? This is not just a 'teen thing'. You may not even be aware of the fact that problems with substance abuse can begin as early as the elementary years. By the time some of these young people get to Junior High, and are getting the, 'Just Say No to Drugs' stuff, it's too late. They're already there. I'm sorry, but that's a fact.

And it is truly the saddest thing to see. I have four kids. I always made a point to get to know their friends and their parents, not because I was a controlling, busy-body mom but more because it created a unified trust among all of us to help the kids stay focused and on track. These are kids I had in my home, who had sleepovers, and who enjoyed the simple things about being kids. Now, many of these same kids are in the whirlpool of addiction, in and out of rehab or even living on the street. I still know these kids. I still know their parents. But somehow, along the way, the kids let go of their dreams and innocence and have gotten lost.

Before I bring this post to a close, I want to make one last point. I cannot stress the importance of paying as close attention as possible to early signs that intervention of some kind is needed. I'm not talking about when you think or know a youth is already into drugs or alcohol. I mean watching for signs of why they'd turn to these crutches as a 'safe place to go' rather than home. Have they experienced some form of trauma recently (and the definition of 'trauma' here is endless)? Have they dealt with some form of abuse that they haven't been given the chance to address or deal with appropriately? Are they in a relationship where they are less than appreciated? Do they already show signs of low self-esteem, low self-confidence and/or poor self-image?

These are all red flags that lead a young person down a path to those who think the same way and use substances in order to cope, get over things, shut the negative voice up, feel or even not to feel. In this state of mind, it's much easier to absorb and hear the negative stuff they feel about themselves than to believe those of us who are trying to remind them of all the good that's still there. They don't want lectures, opinions or talks about what they should be doing. Without even saying it, what they really want is to have that one person who will just listen to them. One person they'll allow themselves to trust enough to help allow the good back in.

I implore everyone out there who cares for or about a young person living with addiction to be as hard as you have to be to help that kid turn around. Put help in arms reach, connect them with people and places they can go in their lowest moments and remind them at every turn that even though they may have given up on themselves, they have people around them who haven't and never will. I want to be that mom whose kids will say, "I was a total shit and put her through so much. But you know what? No matter what shitty things I did, she was always there for me."

Be that person.

And for you beautiful young people out there who may randomly come across this post, someone does care. Be the strong and brave person we know you are and let them.

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