You might have heard, “Boys will be boys.” While this sentiment may be common, it does not reflect the very real dangers that impact our young men, their families, and our communities. Beginning in high school, and sometimes even earlier, young adults compel one another to try new experiences, including illegal drugs and alcohol.
When we imagined what it would be like to be a parent, substance abuse was not in our minds. It is not something you can prepare for, but once it has impacted your family, things will never be the same. How does having a loved one with substance abuse issues impact the family?
In dysfunctional relationships, people live in reaction mode, responding to each other’s attitudes, behavior, and actions instead of being guided by their own perspectives. When applied to substance abuse in the family, this tendency is called codependency: when individuals “share the responsibility for the unhealthy behavior, primarily by focusing their lives on the sick or bad behavior and by making their own self-esteem and well-being contingent on the behavior of the unhealthy family member.” Dupont and McGovern (1991).
Nearly every young adult will have the opportunity to experience an altered state. Those who feel secure, and are opposed to using drugs or alcohol, will decline. Many more will join the crowd and experiment with the mind-altering flavor of the week. Some will enjoy it and make it a regular habit. And, too many of them will later find that their lives have forever been altered by addiction.
There are tell-tale signs that a person may be abusing or dependent on alcohol or other drugs, but it is often surprising how people who know these addicts or alcoholics miss the typical signs. Substance abuse counseling can help, but only if the person is involved with counseling and that generally requires them to have symptoms. Rehab treatment is the answer for this problem, but the signs of relapse should be showing themselves long before rehab comes into their life.