Teen alcohol abuse....I don’t know whether to start at the beginning or the end of my story. As I write that, I realize there is no end. My experience has taught me many things, including a new language. I’ve learned that addiction is forever so we don’t talk about the “end” of being an addict.
There are, however, multiple beginnings. Hmmm ...as I was writing that sentence, I was referring to the beginning of my daughter's drug and alcohol addiction and the beginning of recovery from teen alcohol abuse. However, I find I am self-correcting again ...from what I understand, there is no “beginning” to addiction. It’s there at birth.
One thing is obvious to me …there is no end to my education about alcohol and drug treatment. I am still learning and probably will continue learning new things about teen alcohol abuse and addiction in general for the rest of my life.
Teen alcohol abuse is the last subject I ever thought I would be writing about or even thinking about. The one thing I fear most ….oops, there I go again. Fear is something the Mother of an addict has to learn to cope with to the extent that it almost can’t exist if Mom herself is to survive. More on that later. So …I don’t fear, but I wonder if, by the time you finish reading my story, you will think I am a complete idiot. Will you wonder “how could she be so blind as to not recognize the signs of alcohol abuse and drug abuse in her own daughter?”
I won’t blame you. Even I still don’t understand completely how I missed the alcohol abuse symptoms. I think the bottom line is that my daughter was an exceptionally good actress (and stubborn and independent) and I was pathologically trusting and optimistic about my children’s wisdom. (Another new concept. It’s not a lack of wisdom that makes a child or adult turn to alcohol and drugs. Addiction is a disease. It has been new to me to think of alcoholism as a disease.)
Sometimes I comfort myself with the knowledge that her father missed the signs of teen alcohol abuse, also. Even her boyfriend, who was living with her, thought she was “sober” after giving up alcohol. She hid her drug abuse from him and they were together practically 24 hours a day.
See, there’s another new word – sober. I thought sober just referred to alcohol. Apparently, you’re not really sober unless you’re off drugs as well. Which makes sense, of course, but if you’re like I was when I didn’t even consider that a drug problem could exist, then you don’t associate the word “sober” with the absence of drugs. I mean, how can drugs be “absent” if they don’t exist in the first place?
The comfort I get from reassuring myself that her father and boyfriend missed her drug problem is always very temporary. I guess I believe that a Mother has to be held to a higher standard, and that it’s more acceptable that they missed it. Mothers are supposed to know everything and fix everything for our children. Oh, if that were only possible!
So …how did I learn of my daughter’s alcohol and drug problem? Read on.
THE EARLY YEARS
My baby girl was the most adorable baby ever born. Of course, I thought that. I’m her Mom. I felt that way about all my children. She is my only daughter so she was particularly cute with her blonde, curly hair and shy, infectious smile.
She adored her Mommy as much as I adored her. She wanted to be held by me every minute until she could walk. Even after that, she was a very physically affectionate child. We were as close as I could imagine a Mother and Daughter being and I thought it would always be that way.
I have always thought my Mom was the greatest Mom in the world (still do), and I wanted to be a great Mom also. I had spent a great deal of time caring for my sister’s son the first 10 years of his life and loved him as if he were my own. When I held my first child in my arms for the first time, everyone said I was a natural Mom.
Being a mother felt so right and natural to me. My love for my children and my desire to protect them and be a good mother to them has always been the most important thing in my life. I have never thought that I am perfect, but I do believe that my love and concern for my children is as great as any mother’s could be.
From the beginning, I tried to be aware of and prevent any type of harm to my children. That included teaching them, as they became old enough to understand, about such things as sex, alcohol, and drugs. These are not subjects that were avoided in our home, but instead were discussed openly and frequently.
I had consumed my share of alcohol during my younger years and now that I was older and “wiser”, I tried to teach my children the dangers of alcohol intoxication, driving while drinking, teen alcohol abuse, and mixing over the counter drugs with alcohol. I didn’t tell them to stop drinking alcohol. I knew that just wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I tried to teach moderation and making smart, safe choices.
I really thought I had succeeded. Both of my two older children played sports, got good grades, had lots of friends, graduated from high school and went to college where they continued to play sports, have lots of friends and get good grades. No signs of teen alcohol abuse in our family. All seemed well.
Read Part 2 of Mom's Story, Alcoholic Symptoms
Read More of Shelby's Story
Read Mom's Story About The Family Cruise
Drug Addiction Signs: How Did I Miss Them
Return From Teen Alcohol Abuse and Teen Drug Abuse
to our Addicted Home Page