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I am reading a book by a gentleman that came to my daughter’s school a few years ago to speak about the impact of his son’s drug addiction on him and his family.  It is a riveting story of the struggles of a father to deal with the fading away of his Beautiful Boy.  It walks the reader through the guilt, shame and helplessness experienced by those that are torn apart by a loved one’s decision/disease.  (I know they are not one in the same but, it takes a long time for those not diagnosed with an addiction to accept that to be the case.)

Beautiful Boy, written by the father and Tweak, written by the son, allow a glimpse into their lives/their pain.  They were at the school to open their world to our teenagers.  I attended because these were people who lived in our neck of the woods and these are issues that effect all necks of the woods. 

I ended up buying both books, not to dive into the world of the addicted or because they were particularly more interesting than any other addiction story but, because they were there and The-Girl-in-the-Middle wanted an autograph.   I bought these books at least a year or so ago and, as I am in a reading frenzy, I am just now picking up the first one.

Not far into the book it comes to light that the father had dabbled in drug use during his college years.  Although, he did not become addicted, he watched those around him play with everything that was available to ensure the self-destruction that comes with alcohol and drug abuse.   He did not become addicted.  He did not need multiple rehab visit to rebuild his life after the destruction of addiction.

Everyone thinks they won’t get addicted.  Some don’t.  Most do.

I am almost done with the book and will not spoil it for those that are inspired to pick it up.  But, what I will say, is that I did not know or pay close attention to the fact that methamphetamine used to be prescribed to treat a number of different ailments.  I did not know that the treatments available for those addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, prescription medications fail to meet the very specific needs of a meth addict. Methamphetamine attacks the body in a far different, spectacularly dangerous way.  Of course, I have heard/read the “Public Service Announcements” but, that does not mean that I really knew. 

I feel his worry for his son.  I worry for my son.

About two years ago, The Man decided that it was okay to smoke marijuana.  Despite all of the discussions, despite my being vehemently against smoking anything (as if me being against it is full proof that he will avoid it…don’t we all wish that?), despite everything, he did his research.  

“Mom, studies show that marijuana is not a gateway drug.”

He did his research on the medicinal value of marijuana and firmly stands by any research that stands by his belief that there is no harm to someone who uses marijuana.  Show him a study that says there is an increased risk for testicular cancer in men who smoke marijuana and he discredits it.  Show him a study that says that there is no medicinal value in the smoked or raw form of marijuana and he discredits it.  Show him a study that says there have not been enough studies to prove the benefit of marijuana and he discredits it. 

“Marijuana is natural.”

Ultimately, what is natural, is a tendency to believe only that research which proves exactly what you want to hear/exactly what you need to hear to justify your choice. 

I am not, in this post, taking a stance one way or the other with regards to the legalization of marijuana.  For the record, as much as I don’t want to smoke it and I don’t want my kids to smoke it, I don’t care if others do.  As a matter of fact, the whole situation reminds of a ridiculous conversation I had with a woman several years ago.  She had had several abortions and we were in an election year where one of the main issues was whether a woman should have the right to make a choice to have an abortion(what election year doesn’t include this issue?).  Her contention was that abortions should be illegal.

Me: Wait, but, you had two abortions.

Her: Yes, but, I regret it.  And, if they were illegal then I would not have had them.

(Dumbfounded) Now that makes perfect sense. 

Legal or not people will find a way to have an abortion.  Legal or not, people will smoke marijuana, they will have it in their brownies, there will be cannabis lollipops (I know….crazy)  Legal or not!

This all brings me back, in a sort of windy-road-almost-got-lost kind of way to the drug addicted son and the father/family coping or struggling to cope.  My son’s marijuana smoking got to a point where as much as I hated to do it, I had to put him out of my house.  He had to go lest I try to explain to the others why it is acceptable for The Man to stay when he is clearly breaking the rules…drugs are not acceptable…Marijuana is a drug.  California-legal or not.

He is back home now and finally understanding the importance of respecting my position and my objections.  To my knowledge, he has not taken the next step to any harder drugs.   And, I pray, everyday, that he never does. Because of the path my son has taken, reading a book like Beautiful Boy frightens the hell out of me.  I don’t want to know David Sheff’s pain.  I worry about where my kids are even without the fear of drug overdose.  I worry about the company they keep and the influence of that company even when their friends are not stoners/alcoholics/heroin addicts. 

I worry but the reality is that I CANNOT make his decisions.  I CANNOT protect him from himself no matter how hard that I would love to.  I CANNOT look to find where I went wrong to justify how he goes wrong with this or any other issue.  He is responsible for himself.

In so many ways, with parenting, we should all embrace the 3 C’s of Al-anon (whether addiction is the issue or not)

I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, I can’t cure it.

Read the book.

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