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drugs are bad mmmkay

drugs are bad mmmkay

The kids keep bringing home pamphlets from school about drug abuse. DJ usually just leaves his in his backpack until I find it a few days later, but Natalie always hands hers to me and wants to "discuss" drugs. She points out that this particular pamphlet she is holding lists caffeine and nicotine as drugs. So in essence, her mother is a drug addict. I tell her that while they are not really drugs in the sense she is talking about, the combined pleasures of coffee and cigarettes can sometimes be like crack. Well no, I didn't say it. But I thought it.

So I know the inevitable question is coming. She is going to ask me, probably at the prodding of one of those pamphlets, if I ever used drugs. All the "experts" say to be completely honest with your children with this issue in order to form an open forum for communication. So, if she were to ask me and I were to follow that advice the converstation would go something like this:

"Mom, did you ever use drugs?"
"Well, when I was 13 I tried pot for the first time. By the time I was 15 I was drinking pints of Miller Lite behind 7-11. By the time I was 18, I smoked more pot than Cheech and Chong combined. Oh, and let's not forget the acid and the mescaline and the speed. Did you know that mom was addicted to those little black beauties at one point?" Here, my eyes would glaze over as I flash backed to the summer I spent putting little purple microdot tabs of mescaline in my mouth, waiting for that hallucinatory high.

Natalie would run screaming from the room, and probably call the authorities to see if she could be placed in foster care.

Now, if I follow the advice of people who say "you don't owe your kids an explanation for your past" then the conversation would go like this:

"Mom, did you ever use drugs?"
"Drugs are bad, mmmkay?"

So what do I say to her? Do I find an even ground somewhere between lying and withholding? Do I tell her that I tried drugs but they were horrible and evil and then make her watch The Osbournes and use Ozzy as an example of what drugs can do to you?

Face it, if I were to be completely totally honest with her I would have to say that I quite enjoyed being high. And then we would end up like some Jerry Springer family and I would be teaching Natalie how to roll her own joints while we drink 40oz beers in our dilapidated trailer.

So I figure I could say "I tried drugs but didn't like them" and that would be good because it's not specific enough to say which drugs I tried and it wouldn't be an outright lie because I did have some really bad trips in my day. But knowing Natalie and her overactive imagination, I would get a call from the guidance counseler at school wanting to know if I was really an ex crack dealer and heroin addict.

Anyone have advice? Suggestions? A joint?

Comments

If I were you, I would tell her that you had tried drugs in your youth, had become addicted to them, and luckily was able to stop using them. From that point of view (first-hand knowledge) you could continue by recommending that she not try drugs herself because she may not be as lucky as you were.

I would also add that if she ever felt like she was unable to cope with school, or peer pressure, or anything else that might lead her to want to experiment with drugs, it might be easier to just come to you to discuss things.

My kids tried drinking and smoking before they should have, and a couple experimented with drugs; but I always made it clear that they could call for a ride home from a party - no matter what time, or state of mind. As long as they're not afraid of being severely punished, there will be no reason for them to hold back when talking with you.

I agree with JE, although I wouldn't necessarily admit the addiction part (perhaps saving that for later discussions if warranted).

I would admit to trying drugs, and simply be straightforward about them. Altering one's mind can be a novelty, but it doesn't solve any problems, can be a hardship, and in the wrong circumstances can be dangerous.

My parents were very open with me. I didn't have to choose drugs to be able to do something different than them, rather they provided a safe space for me, and I simply chose not to use drugs in general because I seem perfectly capable of getting high by doing a killer experiment in the lab, staring at my fishtank, making love to my girlfriend, or reading your blog posts.

I think it's ok to explore one's curiosity. I've tried pretty much everything except heroine, had good trips and bad, experienced how drugs can occassionally offer an insight by making me question how and why we perceive things the way we do. But in the end I ended up simply being amazed and appreciative of normal brain biochemistry - and choose not alter it other than an occasional beer. Drugs provide novel sensations that soon become cloying, but not happiness.

When my parents first told me they smoked pot, I was very confused and thought they were bad people for a few days (I was 11 or 12 in the late 70's). But I soon figured it all out, and have ever since then appreciated their openness. (as far as I know they quit rolling 20 years ago - at least I think? Ha!).

Tough question...
Here's what I think I'm going to do.
Tell them honestly that I have, that I'm embarassed to have to tell them that, that I sincerely hope that they won't as I've lost too many people in my life and that you never know what the outcome of the experience is going to be, and it's really not worth the risk.

I reserve the right to change this a million times before they actually ask me the question.

I think I would reveal as little as possible about my own experiences. Kids feel more secure when their parents are fairly bulletproof. Maybe admit to trying something and not liking it, but not to being addicted? Admit to being frightened because you "almost couldn't give it up" or something, but don't tell her about when you woke up in a crackhouse in Albuquerque wearing nothing but a tattoo and discovered that you'd forgotten the entire previous year other than that you'd married and divorced a defrocked priest named Sylvester and... Instead, try to give her something that softens the message but delivers it.

Also, you might make it hard to convince her to stay away from things you have yourself confessed to using with no apparent long-term harm. And she might innocently tell the wrong people; a friend might tell her parents, who, if they were assholes, might decide, for example, that their kid shouldn't visit your kid at home. That hurts the kid.

I wasn't an especially troublesome youth, but I have done things that I'll never tell the kid, not, at least, until she's no longer a kid. Then I'll unlock her door, let her out into the real world, and start explaining things: "That's a car. They go fast. And that's another house. People similar to us but not nearly as good live there. And that..."

Damn Michele,
You've totally ruined my delusional theory that my drug use in high school will be valuable to me; because I'll know how to deal with this stuff when my kids get a little older. I'm no smarter, or no better parent than you, so if this issue is hard for you it will probably be hard for me too.
Damn, damn, damn...

Never did drugs but felt pressure to do so. Smoked instead. Told my 17 year old daughter that after getting so thoroughly hooked on cigarettes, I was afraid to try drugs. Felt I might find myself addicted to them as well and be unable to break free. Related stories of parties and friends where drugs were involved. From a sober point of view, they all seemed so incredibly stupid (just as non-smokers relay a feeling of disdain for those fools who smoke).

Seems to have worked, she doesn't show an interest in joining the druggies or the smokers.

Obviously, you're trying to discourage yours from trying drugs. Be honest and find things about your experiences that were especially unpleasant to relay to her. Teenagers never want to appear to be lame or stupid.

Good luck.

Can I just say I'm really glad my daughter is 1-1/2 and can't even say the WORD "drugs" at the moment! :D This will last forever, right? I won't ever have to answer the "have you used drugs before, mom?" question, right? (just say yes, and make me feel better)

I'm so not looking forward to those conversations. I thought maybe I'd just get her a t-shirt that said, "My daddy went to the Vancouver detox and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

My mom was always completely honest. She said, yes, I did alot of drugs. Then provided thousands of examples on how they had fucked her, mine, and every other person I knew's life.

It worked.
I don't even drink.

By the way my mom is a chemical dependancy counciler that has been sober going on 20 years.

As a person who has never done drugs....I'd say JE's suggestion looks approximately right to me. I mean, I'd hate to be dishonest to my kid.

If we're talking about things I have done, I've enjoyed breaking and entering, and trespassing on condemned buildings owned by other people, but I still wouldn't recommend it. It was a nice memory, but that doesn't mean that everybody's experience with breaking into abandoned buildings will come out as cheery as mine. Hell, I remember watching this video when I was seven about these kids who broke into a building and it collapsed and they were trapped there for three days, and one had to be hospitalized. I suppose you could say drug experiences are similar. There is no guarantee that you will enjoy it. There is no guarantee that you won't get caught. There is no guarantee that you won't end up hospitalized because of a bad product. It's unfair, but sometimes life doesn't deal the same hand for everyone.

Of course, this is applicable to some of the legal drugs as well. I've never really drunk much because I know I've got an addictive personality, and I'd hate to turn into an alcoholic. And smoking...well, it's not the healthiest thing in the world. Some people smoke for years and years and nothing happens to 'em. Some people get lung cancer.

My one addiction is sugar. I no longer eat many sweets, and don't crave them. But I'm paying for that earlier addiction with gross obesity and adult-onset diabetes. I've never tried a cigarette, an alcoholic beverage, coffee, or any illegal drug. I knew better, because I understood how easily I could get addicted.

I always had enough self-esteem to feel I was a good person without having to give in to peer pressure. But peer pressure is very strong, and it starts very young.

By the time I had my first sex-talk with my 13 year old daughter, she had already had sex (that's not something I knew at the time - but my point is, if you wait until they're definitely old enough to understand the message, it's already too late). The drug message has to start no later than grade 3 or 4. By grade 7, your children will have already come into contact with people who can supply drugs. They need to hear about your experiences so they can make an informed choice, and so that they can make their decisions knowing they have your support.

I went with "I tried a few things when I was a teen and didn't like their effect on me. I would rather you not try them at all, because I've only met two people in my entire life who can TRULY handle drugs, and considering the extremely high number of people I've met in my life, those are really lousy numbers." We had a pretty good conversation on the subject following that (he was about 12 at the time), and we've had a few more since. He's a grown man now, and so far, so good. No problems other than laziness.

What I told him about drugs is actually true for me; and it's true ENOUGH for you, and I'd stick with it. There are some things that kids don't need to know about parents. People should be allowed their privacy -- in the present and sometimes about the past.

I'm not into being secretive with people I love, but some things are no one's business. And it's just my opinion, but I really don't think any good will come of telling your kids the wild/woolly details.

I don't have kids and no one in my immediate family has ever done illegal drugs, but I'm going to peddle my opinion anyway.

Alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine are drugs, and each can be addictive. They are not exactly considered harmful drugs (especially in low dosage), though they do change the body in ways that are probably not noticeable to most users. For one, nicotine and alcohol are depressants and caffeine is an upper.

Research was recently released that found the gene related to "stress-related" drinking. In the past, I have seen articles that claim that the genes that pre-disposition a person for nicotine and alcohol abuse had been found.

Medically, drug dependency is considered a psychological problem stemming from a combination of environment and genetics.

Legally, I still haven't figured out what the hell they are thinking. I think politician have their heads shoved pretty far up their you know where. Must smell good up there.

Another point that seems unrelated but not really is that a female's age of her first pregnancy usually corresponds to her mother's age of first pregnancy. This is considered genetic.

With all this said, I think you should be extremely honest with your daughter. You should tell her why you did them, and why you hope she does not do them.

I was listening to NPR back in Feb. when that "you support terrorism" ad came out, and they were having a huge debate over it and a general discussion on drugs. There was one thing that was said that truly struck me. This woman (who I think worked for the DEA or somehow gov't affiliated) shared a story about a young girl from a well-off family who had a heroin addiction. She asked the girl how she ended up with this addiction. The girl told her that in health class she had been told that pot was addictive. The girl and her friends tried pot and didn't get addicted, so they thought that information they had been taught was a lie. So, she tried heroin, because she thought that it wasn't addictive. That is just one situation in which honesty could have actually gone a long way.

My brother once asked if I did drugs in the 70's. I told him yes, "but now I'll do them at any temperature".

Seriously though, tactful honesty is the best way to go. My experience in dealing with chemically dependent families is that simply being honest is far more effective than anything else. The advice above is so great that I really couldn't add anything else except that.

My mom was pretty flagrant drug use. Consequently, I had great disdain for the drugs she did - you will never catch me smoking pot or imbibing cocaine in any form, and I never have more than 3 drinks.

Sure, I've done my share of other things, but I have always been as responsible as one can be about recreational drug use. I tend towards hyperresponsibility because my role models did not exhibit that behavior.

None of this is advice, just reflection. No one wants to end up like their parents, but there's no guarantee they'll rebel to be the opposite of what they think you are, either.

You'll find the adequate balance of honesty, integrity, and gut-feeling.

My oldest daughter will be 13 soon. She is very critical of smoking, but I was too at that age. I make sure she sees how hard it is for me to quit. I also tell her I smoked pot but no longer do because I am now stupid enough without it, and the new strains are so much stronger than they were 20 years ago, and I no longer have a decent connection.

"ex" crack addict? you mean that wasn't you on the cover of crack whore mum's last week? sure looked like that tattoo on the inside of your...