When Your Kids Ask If You Ever Tried Drugs…

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Now that I have three teenagers, illegal drugs seem
everywhere.  Actors overdose. Meth production and pot
glamorized on television. It doesn’t help that marijuana is becoming less and less illegal every day.

The topic of illegal drug use is particularly troublesome
for me as a parent because I used illegal drugs as a teenager growing up in Washington
in the 1970s and early 80s.  It’s been 30
years since then, but I still consider myself an addict. I don’t drink or use
drugs today and I have immense respect for how destructive (and seductive) they
can be.  My kids know all this.

Which makes it harder – and more important – to talk to them
about why drugs and alcohol are so dangerous for them today.  This is the parenting dilemma of our age: how
to pass on our hard-earned wisdom about alcohol and drugs, without oversharing
or undersharing with our children the details of just how we got that
wisdom.  I simply tell my kids the truth
– I loved alcohol and drugs, they took over my life and made me do idiotic,
destructive things, I was lucky to kick them, and I hope to never let them back
into my life again.

Telling the truth is painful. But in some ways, the most
difficult chapter for me is not to glamorize my own drug and alcohol
adventures.  Part of the truth is that I
had great drunken and stoned times with wonderful friends who are still my
close friends. That’s why alcohol and drugs were so seductive.  The good times were indeed good – until I
began drinking alone, lying to my friends and family and myself about my usage,
and worst of all, ending up in bars, cars, and other places (including a few
beds) I was disgusted to find myself in.

Not my favorite topics – and not easy stories for my kids to
hear about their mom.

As usual when I find myself in sticky parenting dilemmas, I
turn to celebrities for help.  Just like
Oprah does!

Over the past month, I used my kitchen bulletin board to
post the following thought-provoking quotes where the children would see them
10 times a day (and where hopefully they would enter their brains and provoke at
least a few thoughts):

Actress Nicole Richie, who got hooked on heroin and cocaine
as a teenager:  “It was the epitome of caring
about absolutely nothing.”

British comedian and actor Russell Brand: “The last time I
thought about taking heroin was yesterday.”

Hollywood
screenwriter and producer Aaron Sorkin: “Phil Hoffman did not die from an
overdose of heroin – he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d
just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.”

I try to use these quotes to talk to my kids about the
dangerous of marijuana today, despite its increasing legality and medical
merits, and to warn them off all drug and alcohol related siren songs.

Does it work?  I don’t
know.

I’m in that fingers-crossed stage of parenting right now.

The best quote is still one that comes out of my own mouth: “I trust you.  I
don’t trust drugs and alcohol.  If
anything ever happened to you, this family would never be the same.  So don’t use them.”

Even though I did.

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