Addiction & Recovery

talk to your kids about drugs. no, really.

Marion Post Wolcott, 1940, Library of Congress Collection

I hear a lot of jokes about prescription drug abuse. Nearly every day, actually. 

People think it’s funny to tease about being high after a dental visit. Or to jokingly ask if you can “score me some Vicodin.”

I’m not judging. I’ve made plenty of insensitive jokes myself about serious things.

We joke about drugs because of course none of us would really be addicts, would we? . . .  we’re good Christian people . . .

But it’s really not funny at all.

Because I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a recovering addict’s story start with I was raised in a good Christian home. 

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School starts next week. 

My four kids are going to four different schools: one will be in 5th grade at an elementary school, one in 7th at a middle school, one a freshman in high school and one a senior in high school taking classes at a junior college.

I pray for God’s protection on them. And for them to choose their friends wisely.

We talk with them. About being kind. About respect. About purity. About watching for cars. About responsibility. About honesty.

And about drugs — street drugs and prescriptions.

Public school, Christian school, home school. Our children are not immune.

Teenagers whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those whose parents don’t, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations. Read More

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I know not everyone who takes prescription drugs becomes an addict.

I’ve taken them myself: cough medicine with Codeine so I could sleep when I had bronchitis, Vicodin after surgery, Valium so my ridiculously claustrophobic imagination could endure an MRI, steroids to reduce swelling in my jaw . . .

Sometimes people are compelled remind me of this. That people take drugs for legitimate reasons. I know they do.

Not everyone will be injured or die when they are in a car accident, either. And yet we take precautions: we faithfully buckle up our seat belts, require classes before someone can drive, engineer cars for better safety.

In my opinion, you can’t be too careful about drugs.

And now drug overdose kills more people in this country than car accidents do.

It’s probably time to take some precautions.

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Some of us are old enough to remember when a sports injury meant ice, heat and ibuprofen. A broken bone meant just a little more than a normal dose of Tylenol, Benadryl for the itchy cast and rest.

Today it’s common for a teen to be prescribed Vicodin (hydrocodone) and Percocet (oxycontin) for injuries and even dental work.

More and more often, a kid’s first taste of narcotics comes from a legitimate prescription — for them.

No parent I know would hand their teenager heroin and tell them how to use it.

And yet every day good parents give their kids drugs that are just as potent, just as addictive and just as dangerous.

“I don’t need to talk to a gymnasium full of kids,” said Keith Brown, assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement office in Albuquerque. “I need to talk to gymnasiums full of parents. They’re the ones we need to educate.” Read more

How many of us really stop to think about what we’re giving our kids or if it’s even necessary? 

And what about the drugs we’re taking ourselves?

A few years back, Dave had a couple of teeth pulled. Rightly concerned about taking pain pills — too many recovering addicts relapse after a trip to the dentist — Dave asked what he could do instead.

“Oh, just ibuprofen,” said the surgeon. “You’ll be a bit uncomfortable, but ibuprofen manages your pain just fine. I don’t know why we always think people need narcotics.”

I was told the same thing by a different surgeon just a couple of months ago.

We’ve bought a lie.

And are we really willing to risk such a high price for relief from discomfort?

According to the FDA one in seven teenagers admits to abusing prescription drugs to get high in the past year, and prescription painkillers are now teenagers’ top choice after alcohol and pot.  The problem is, teenagers are unlikely to understand how highly addictive these drugs are. After all, if mom takes them for her knee injury, they can’t be that big a deal, right? — Forbes, August 27, 2012

The most commonly abused prescription drugs by teens are the pain reliever Vicodin and the stimulant Adderall. NIDA

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Sometimes people get into trouble because they were brought up in it.

She never had a father. He was abused. His dad went to prison. She was abandoned. She grew up in a gang infested neighborhood. He’s been a Hollywood star since he was a little boy . . .

Of course, we say. How could we expect anything different . . .

So it’s a little terrifying. 

This idea that you can try to do all the right things, raise them in the right neighborhood, give them Truth, pray for them and even talk to them about the dangers of drugs — and alcohol . . . and in the end, they still could become addicts. 

Because you can only shepherd their hearts for so long and then they choose.

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. James 1:14

Some of you reading this know this too well already.

You know it’s not always about dad or mom or neighborhood or even friends . . .

But you never stop teaching, loving, praying.

Because there is this other thing we know. This promise. Training up your child does matter.

And it’s often the joyous end of the story.

That moment the addict who grew up in a loving Christian home hits rock bottom and cries out to the God who loves him.

Words of Truth from his childhood flood his mind and he reaches out for help.

I hear their stories all the time. Prodigals do come home.

Teach your kids the truth. Not just about theology. About life.

Guide them with wisdom and advice. Start now. Kids are exposed to more than we imagine, earlier than we think.

Listen to them.

Know them.

Love them when they fail.

Seek forgiveness and forgive yourself when you fail.

Pray. Keep praying. And never give up.

My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment.
Hang onto them, for they will refresh your soul.
They are like jewels on a necklace.
They will keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble.
Proverbs 3:21-23

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James  5:16b

Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. Luke 18:1

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Additional Resources:

Join a local Moms in Prayer (formerly Moms in Touch) to pray together for your kids and the kids in your community

More information and links about prescription drug abuse:

Straight from the government:

How to tell if your child is abusing drugs:

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