There is one thought that all parents have at one point or another: Our kids are perfect because we raised them right. They are better versions of ourselves, and, because of the nurturing environment we created for them, they won’t make mistakes.
The fact is that even good kids can make bad decisions.
I always considered my family to be a normal, suburban family. My husband and I had a great relationship with our two sons. As they were growing up, I worked from home and was able to stay closely involved in their lives. We were a strong family that shared everything. So when my youngest, then 18 years old, was arrested for armed robbery while high on over-the-counter cough medicine, reality struck our close-knit family.
Our son is incredibly sensitive with a huge heart and had always been open with us about everything that was going on in his life. Everything, that is, except his drug abuse.
I had no idea that teens, especially our own son, abused over-the-counter cough medicines to get high. I couldn’t help but feel that if I had known, maybe I could have prevented him from going down that path.
Instead, our son, now in his mid-twenties, is serving a 13-year prison sentence
in Folsom State Prison for actions he took while under the influence.
After my son’s arrest, I made it my mission to educate parents about the realities of teen substance abuse and to help teens overcome addiction. I quit my job and embarked on a journey to educate myself, share my story, and spread the word about cough medicine abuse to other parents:
- I realized that in order to prevent medicine abuse, you have to know about medicine abuse. I dove head first into the issue, learning everything I could about teen substance abuse in the community. I learned that teens are taking up to 25-50 times the recommended dose of over-the-counter cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM).
- I learned that I wasn’t alone in my community. Parents in Placer County and across the country have experienced the awful realities of teen substance abuse. In response to my own family’s experience and learning about the serious drug problems in the Placer County high schools, I helped found the Full Circle Treatment Center. I am also founding member of the local Coalition for Placer Youth, which is dedicated to preventing and reducing substance abuse amongst our youth. I also regularly provide parent education regarding teen substance abuse at community forums, local schools, and police departments.
- I found new ways to reach even more parents. In 2007, I became part of the Five Moms campaign, along with four other moms, who share a common concern: teens abusing cough medicine to get high. Together we are talking with our friends, family and neighbors to raise awareness and provide important resources about cough medicine abuse. In addition to my work as a Five Mom and at Full Circle, I have started a website and authored a book, Lost & Found:
A Mother and Son Find Victory over Teen Drug Addiction.
Yes, good kids can make bad decisions, and we can’t always be there to steer them onto the right path, but we can do our best to educate ourselves and ask the right questions. Be informed about teen culture today, which includes knowing what types of drugs teens are abusing to get high. I urge all parents to educate themselves about teen cough medicine abuse, talk to your teens, and share what you learn with others. The parent network can be invaluable when it comes to keeping your teen safe.
There are resources out there for you, now start talking. Visit http://www.stopmedicineabuse.org/ for more information.