Last Wed. evening at Rocklin High School, the Coalition for Placer Youth, Full Circle Treatment Center and Community Recovery Resources organized a town hall forum on the social value of recovery through the testimonies of people who have overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol.
The event featured a documentary film entitled “Anonymous People” produced by ManyFaces1Voice. Rocklin Police Chief, Ron Lawrence, served as facilitator whose opening comments encouraged folks to consider the “labeling theory” of criminology. “If someone gets a label, they will adopt the label,” he said referring to the names attributed to people addicted to drugs or alcohol, including junkie, bum and liar. “It becomes a stigma and then it is not possible to understand that when we expose the secrets of addiction to the light, the secrets will die.”
The film chronicles the recovery movement started in the early 20th century with the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. This recovery movement advocated for public policy to recognize that addiction was not a moral issue or a character flaw and to treat addiction as a disease so people could seek help. Today the stigma remains a problem that prevents treatment, and the costs are tabulated in a prison population comprised largely of people suffering from addiction. The argument is that it would be more cost effective and beneficial to recognize addiction as a disease and provide treatment and restore lives and families, rather than incarcerate segments of the population who do not have the resources to pursue recovery. And as long as it is not safe to talk about what is really happening with drug and alcohol use, the lesson the children learn is that the crime is to get caught. Compounding the situation is that cyber-powered communications makes it easy to conceal from parents, coaches and educators the happenings in their cyber social realms.
So the modern parent needs to understand that the shame inspired by the stigma associated with drug and alcohol addiction must not characterize your communication signal. Shame kills open communication which is vital for parents to impart wisdom in a world where kids can pretty much “google” anything they think they need to know and keep secrets that harbor great risks.
Rocklin mom and co-founder of Full Circle Treatment Center in Roseville co- authored a book with her son Ryan, Lost and Found: A Mother and Son Find Victory Over Teen Drug Addiction, about the heartache and joy of restoring a parent-child bond strangled by his addiction to drugs when he was a teenager. “Parents need to educate themselves on all aspects of teen culture including drugs and alcohol,” she said in an email, “The best way to do this is to talk to school resource officers and other school personnel to learn what is really going on in the lives of teens so parents can have an open and honest dialogue (no lecturing) with their teen about the real challenges they are navigating every day.”
After validating your child’s experience, it is with a compassionate and intelligent heart devoted to your child’s personal security that Crandell advises parents to set the bar for zero tolerance at home for drug and alcohol use. “Remind your teen that there will be consequences at home for using drugs and alcohol,” she said, stressing that there should be no excuses or minimizing the risk. “This standard in your home must be expressed with confidence and peace of heart,” she added, “Knowing that your child can and will make good decisions and that no matter what you will always be there for them is the power balance of boundary setting and encouragement the teens seek.”