I had a family member ask me several years ago what I thought would have prevented my addiction. In other words, what contributed to me going down this road to becoming an addict?
For many who struggle with addiction, abuse and trauma play a significant role. However, I did not have much trauma, and I had zero abuse. I grew up in an upper-middle-class family. I had love support, and I was never abused. So, I have no way of speaking on trauma’s impact from the first-hand experience. I can tell you though trauma is a very common precipitating factor in addiction. I have met many who felt their addiction started with abuse and trauma.
Keep in mind, the following is from my own experience with my addiction. People are not one dimensional and there are tons of factors that can play into drug abuse.
For me, a lot of it started when I was around 6 or 7. I felt like I didn’t fit in. I had trouble caring about class and felt like I was on an island around my peers. This led me to tell my mother I thought I had something mentally wrong with me. My mom took me to a child psychologist and I was diagnosed with ADHD.
A couple of appointments later, I was on Adderall. Here is the thing. I don’t think it was that alone which lead me further into addiction. Looking now as an adult on when I was a child and what I learned from this experience, two things stand out. Two things I “learned” that I wish I hadn’t. Because they were not true. The first was that I decided I was right about there being something wrong with me. The second was that the way to solve this was to take medication.
I “learned” that for me to be better than myself, I needed chemicals. I stayed on Adderall for a long time. But continuing into high school, I began trying a bunch of different things: marijuana, cocaine, pain pills, alcohol, and anything else.
What advice would I give to those who are raising kids, those parents who worry about leading them down a path which might lead to addiction?
This is what my advice would be:
- Keep them out of traumatic and abusive situations, of course.
- Teach them self-worth. Almost everyone feels at some point that they don’t fit in. Make sure they don’t think they have to fit in all the time.
- Teach them it is okay to be different. After all, that’s part of what makes life beautiful.
- Be careful—don’t give them the impression anything is fixable with a pill.
- Help them find activities that build their confidence.
This is what I think could have prevented my addiction. Keep in mind children are just as different as adults. Also, have a strong relationship with your child so they are comfortable bringing up difficult various problems, likes, dislikes, and insecurities.
I hope you found some value in this article. As always if you need help with a loved one struggling with addiction, do not hesitate to call. There is someone available for you to talk to at our center.