Sunday, April 01, 2007


What occurred in our family that led us to this program?
The way I generally describe it is that our daughter had "too much sex, drugs and rock-and-roll at an early age."
She became an addict -- I use the term in a generalized way because the addictions ranged from cutting to bulemia to alcohol to drugs. She was having sex and smoking cigarettes as well, but I don't know if she was "addicted" to either of those -- understanding addiction to mean a dependency that is destructive to other aspects of life.
Where did this come from? While parents don't deserve and can't take all of the blame for a child's choices, I do believe that my decision to take up smoking again, after an eight-year lapse, had some effect on the way my daughter looked at substance abuse. I remember how upset she was the night she caught me smoking a cigarette in the back garden of our house. She had always known that I was a non-smoker. This event disrupted a major belief for her, I think. Was it the "cause" of her later addictions? Surely not. I cannot cause another to become an addict any more than I can cause another to become an athlete or a scholar. But by bringing on a traumatic event in her belief system, I think I had something to do with setting the scene for her to "try" dangerous behaviors and substances.
Nicotine has been the most serious addiction in my life. I've tried lots of other drugs and even enjoyed a few of them, but nicotine is the one that has followed me around and that I have, in turn, followed around. Thirty years and running. It is behavior that I once nearly changed (that eight-year break, brought on by my daughter's birth) but that once I slid back into an old pattern, I have not been able to fully break from. I can spend months away from cigarettes, and I don't seem to have much trouble giving them up initially, but I always seem to head back to them.
Believing as I do that a part of conquering additions is will power, I know that I need to practice my belief. I know I do not want this nicotine addiction (I say nicotine, but I'm actually not sure if it isn't just the behavior pattern of smoking rather than the drug nicotine that I am attracted to) in my life when my daughter returns home from her residential program.
I guess I am in the initial stage of looking at my addiction. I'm not resistant, I am open, and I want to have a different family life and am willing to look internally to get there.
Music: One question in this week's assignment asked us parents to look at our music and what might act as triggers for our teens. My daughter and I do share some musical tastes. Beck, Pink, Maroon 5, Nelly, Eminem. Eminem is the only one of these that gives me pause, because I do suspect that his lyrics led her to try some negative behaviors. Not that I think Eminem's music is the culprit -- I mean, listen to his songs and you hear a major theme of parental irresponsibility and easy blame on the culture -- but I'm not sure the kids get that theme, and I suspect that at least one type of substance abuse in my daughter's case, Vicodin, came from Eminem's lyrics about it.
I want to go through my daughter's music collection and mine with her to understand what her trigger music was. She has (had) a lot of musical tastes I do not share -- Linkin Park, Rom Zombie, My Chemical Romance, etc. -- that may have been her strongest triggers.
I also want to understand how she got so much music -- was she shoplifting, as I suspect? Or was she making money on the side, dealing drugs or sex? All part of the continuing journey toward understanding.