"Protective Factors"

Out of curiosity I went to a book discussion meeting at a local library.  The book came out a few years ago to help parents keep their children drug-free.  I hadn't read the book and I wasn't even planning on going but changed my mind at the last minute.   
There was one thing I knew that's written in the book, before I attended the meeting, because I read an excerpt of it on-line when it first came out and it bothered me. Apparently, everyone in the meeting agreed with his idea that you should be honest with your child - if the subject of drugs (that includes alcohol and cigarettes) is brought up and your child asks you if you ever engaged in this behavior.  Although my kids never asked me ~ I recall my mom telling me (when I was a kid - of course) that she smoked cigarettes but quit when she learned they weren't healthy for her.  I remember thinking ~ "Well - she quit ~ what's the big deal?" I hate to admit it but I did for a few years when I was young.  I know I thought I was invincible - that the cigarette addiction wouldn't be an issue.  
Well - in the same breath ` the subject of "scare tactics" (such as wrecked automobiles on the front lawn at high schools around prom time) came up and I knew that studies have indicated that these don't work for kids for the same reason ~ invisibility.  I don't understand how this is different.  My mom wasn't using scare tactics but I had that same thought - that it wouldn't happen to me.  
I was quiet during this area of discussion and even when the "protective factors" subject came up.  I had an issue with this too.  It isn't just about what was in the book but the general idea that "if you follow this route" - you can protect your child.  I have a problem with it in two areas ~ one: Of course if you follow all the thoughts on the best way to raise your child - their chances are better that they won't BUT:  two ~ the message isn't loud enough that there are kids who have a much greater risk of developing an addiction AND that there are no guarantees.  This is where the guilt comes from ~ from the message if "you do this" you can raise a drug-free child.  
That said - I know I could have done things differently but - what parent doesn't say that?  Parents need to hear both sides.  Perhaps if they use a risk "check-list" (like we present in our program) they can be even more vigilant than they would normally.  

Replies

bambusue
bambusue

My parents smoked and my mom died of lung cancer, but none of her 4 kids stopped at that time. Eventually we all did, but honestly, it\'s something that even watching someone die isn\'t enough to do it. I think of that when I think of the nature of addiction.
I suppose admitting whether you did use tobacco or substances is an honest answer to the question . But I know my thinking was not changed even from seeing someone die from their tobacco addiction, so how can a kid get a decent, whole, message from a parent who is truthful about their own use? plus, the \'invisible\' idea (I say they think they\'re made of Teflon and nothing bad can stick to them in their teens) hampers their judgment; And of course their temporal lobe where judgment occurs is not developed until age 25, so they don\'t have a chance if they pick up any substance and they have addiction in their genes. Knowing they might harm themselves if they initially pick up--can it stop someone? is the question.
My own doc, when my kids were babies, explained that they had about a 50/50 chance, genetically, of getting addicted, even though I was in recovery at the time. He also mentioned that growing up in a sober household was a positive environmental factor, which I do believe. However, my boys did follow the 50/50 plan anyway.
my sister pretty much put away the alcohol after I got into recovery; she just felt she was taking too much of a chance herself. But she was a fully mature adult at the time.
i stick with individual examples because I do believe the ways people end up using substances come about in many varied manners, and the reasons to pick up or not pick up are as varied. I suppose some kids do believe the messages that are out there, but they seem to have a built-in braking system. Where that comes from, I wouldn\'t know, but if there was an answer to that, we could patent it and get verrrry rich.
I do know, after my son developed his addiction, I had quite a struggle and relied on support to get to believe I had done all I could in the parenting department, and the best I could.
I think the check list can be a help for awareness. parents too easily want to believe \"not my kid\", and helping to get through that wall of denial is an important thing to do.
Out here, the DARE program became very controversial. It was an early drug-ed program for 5th and 6th graders. I still think any anti-drug message is important. It\'s so hard to say which message will get through. I will comment that as a CD counselor, I liked working with girls much better than boys, because they seemed more willing to give new ideas and connections a chance. There are just so many situations, though, and so many home environments, and if we can make inroads with parents, I think there would be a fairer chance for the kids.
Too many of my kids I counseled came from homes where parental drug use was a given. I can only imagine the difficulty of a kid trying to stay clean in such circumstances.
A huge subject!
deleted_user
deleted_user

that is extraordinary that this group is taking this attitude - there are so many factors coming into why a child goes forward into addiction, sooo many - and in todays world as well? .... in a way, this would give guilt, surely, which parents do NOT need. Parents can be taught the risks, how to look out for signs, guidance on how to cope with all this but surely they dont need to think that it is only them that has influence? a huge subject indeed....xxx
deleted_user
deleted_user

I don\'t put much into info such as this because of the fact that everyone is different. What works for one won\'t work for another. I remember as a kid in elementary school watching films about what it was like to do acid. It was the weirdest thing I had ever seen, and it probably was a scare tactic that worked on me. However, I doubt I would\'ve ever tried acid anyway. I have found nothing but contradiction on not only prevention but treatment as well. It\'s just another reason why addiction is so sad.