Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wake the f*ck up

This is probably more of a rant than a blog post. But I need to get it off my chest. (Be forewarned: I'm tired and cranky from being up too late watching election coverage.)

It's time for people to wake the f*ck up and start realizing that the vast majority of addicts are not addicts because they WANT to be. Contrary to popular belief, people don't wake up one day and decide, "Hey, I'm gonna be a drug addict! That sounds like fun!" Or, "It would be sooo cool to be an alcoholic! I'm going for it!"

It's a disease, people. And we need to work incredibly hard at breaking down the stigma associated with the disease and start helping those people who need it. We also have to educate young people earlier on in life about drugs and addiction. I wish schools would cover this subject way sooner than they do now. (If they even do now.) I'm a firm believer in prevention. We teach kids "Don't go with strangers" almost as soon as they're out of the womb. But something that can be just as dangerous sits on the back burner and, in my opinion, never gets the attention it truly needs in schools.

Granted, it's been a while since I've had a kid in elementary school--yes, I'm old--but I don't recall any drug/addiction education being taught to my kids while they were there. Well, here's a newsflash, people: By the time kids get to middle school, it might be too late. More and more kids are experimenting with drugs and alcohol earlier on in life and there are drug problems in schools everywhere in this country. And it's not just the high schools or inner city schools. I live in a rather affluent community and my son used to tell me that he could buy any drug he wanted inside his high school.

Maybe schools don't want to put a whole lot of emphasis on drug/addiction education because they think it's a taboo subject. Screw that. If you try to sweep it under the rug, you're just contributing to the problem. We need to BREAK THE STIGMA. We need to educate kids before they start experimenting and make a wrong choice that leads them down a hellish road I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Wake the f*ck up, America. Start teaching kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol in elementary school. Ramp up that teaching in middle school. And make a more explicit/graphic class on the dangers of drugs and alcohol mandatory for all high school freshmen. Too many kids and parents walk around with the "It can't happen to me" attitude. I'm here to tell you: It can happen to you.

Parents have a responsibility to educate their kids and set examples for them, too. So many moms and dads out there throw cocktail parties, or come home from work and have a couple of drinks before dinner, just to wind down. All they're really doing is glorifying alcohol in front of their kids. They leave alcohol and prescription drugs lying around the house and think nothing of it. Then they wonder what the hell happened when their child ends up having issues with alcohol and drugs. Again: Wake the f*ck up.

I wear a new bracelet proudly. It's a white silicone bracelet similar to the yellow "LIVESTRONG" cancer awareness bracelets so many people wore and still wear today. My new bracelet says "LIVESOBER." I bought a bunch of these bracelets from the store at an online site called "Sober Is Sexy." Yesterday I offered up bracelets to both of my boys. They both accepted them and are now wearing them, too. I think that's totally badass.

You know what's even cooler? When I posted on Facebook about my kids wearing the "LIVESOBER" bracelets, I got friends sending me messages asking me where they could get them. Imagine that. People wanting to join me and my boys in making a statement and spreading the word. I love it. I wish more people--especially young people--understood that it is possible to lead a normal, enjoyable life while being totally sober.

Not that it matters, but this post was inspired by a couple of comments posted on a newspaper story the sports section of all places. The story was about free agent baseball slugger Josh Hamilton--who has a history of struggles with drugs and alcohol--possibly signing with my hometown Detroit Tigers. After reading the story, I read some of the comments people had left about the story. Of course, there were people bashing him because of his addiction. I'm just so tired of ignorant people bad-mouthing addicts; especially those in recovery. Until you've walked a mile in an addict's shoes, how 'bout keeping your mouths shut?

There I'm done. I'm sorry for ranting (not really). And I'm sorry for using the (edited) "F word" (sort of). This is just a subject that I'm passionate about. I wish more people were. Especially our educators.

P.S. My son got his 4-month chip the other day. I'm so incredibly proud of him. One day at a time. They all add up.


  1. Well written and important message.

    For myself I have come to believe the anonymous thing is not helping the cause of drug education or avoidance. It is yourself and many others that choose to stand up to this monster that will have a hand in winning the battle.

    I also very much agree with drug education in the schools. It's pretty well concluded that DARE did not live up to its promise but just because it did not work doesn't mean we should just stop. I have spent untold hours trying to get into schools to speak. I have met a couple of enlightened teachers that allow me into their classroom. A couple weeks ago I got to speak to 1800 middle school students. It's a start but more needs to be done nationally.

    Our blogs help but unfortunately most people find them when it is too late.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. I agree.

    As for the GP schools, there is little education on this topic. While my boys have had some good school assemblies about drugs/alcohol they have not had any worthwhile formal education. I understand there is a class at the HS that does a great job of educating on this subject but it is not mandatory...and by HS the die has already been cast!

    Until there is an open dialogue on this subject there is no hope of truly fighting this problem. Thank you for sharing, it helps more than you could ever know.

  3. Education actually turned my son on to drugs. They were suddenly fascinating to him. The more he was told how bad they were for him, the more he fantasized about using them...all of them. And that is exactly what he did.

    Listen, I mean you no disrespect, I understand your passion on this subject. I feel it too, yet in another direction. Addiction is indeed a disease, and as such lies in wait for the host to use something. For my son, his gateway was alcohol. There is no amount of education that could have spared him his fate. I firmly believe this. He is wired for addiction. Alcohol is legal. Even if he had waited to drink some of it until he was 21 (which he did not), he would have still ignited the spark of addiction.

    We have no way of knowing who carries the bomb. Teenagers, by their very nature, are experimental. It's just what they do. Their frontal cortex, which controls cause and effect, is not fully developed until 24 years of age (for boys). They are as self destructive as a toddler with a fork and an electrical outlet. The problem is, we can no longer cover their outlets for them...and they are too stupid, for lack of a better term, to cover them themselves. They are, in effect, mentally impaired adults.

    What's the answer? Education for parents... Hardcore, in your face education for parents. Kids know the dangers. They think it won't happen to them. No amount of the gory details will change the mind of a teen thinking about getting high. Addiction only happens to the other guy.

    Parents are the answer. Parents should hear our stories when their child is still in preschool, and again in elementary school, and again and again and again. Parents might not be able to stop the spark of addiction, but they will immediately have the tools to ACT, instead of wasting countless years REACTING to the disease (like I did, and many others).

    Side note: My son once had a young man come to speak at his high school. He shared all the bad uglies about his addiction and recovery attempts. My son was positively fascinated by this young man. His take away? Don't be so stupid. Know your limits. Use smarter. We all know where that got him.

    (sorry for the long your blog)