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I hope not.  It’s not likely.  But it is possible.

This is a phrase I had to share with far too many families at the start of my career as the director of an adolescent treatment program.

I had to tell parents that their sons were drinking more alcohol on a daily basis than the average adult.

I had to tell fathers that in order to get heroin, their daughters were selling themselves in the housing projects of Chicago.

I witnessed many of those kids go on to have a life, a family, a career.  I even know one that became a therapist.

I also know a few that didn’t make it.

Parents, be aware.  We live in a time when substance use is far more prolific than it once was.  Modern culture has marketed to us the idea that everything can be cured with a pill.  Our kids have been watching.  Despite all the technological advances, perhaps because of their technology, our kids are a very “stressed out” and high pressure bunch.  If they find out that substance use helps them cope, many go from “experimenting” to regular users quickly.

Stay vigilant, parents.

Know your child’s friends.  Know when they change friends.

Know where your child is, where she spends her time.  Trust that he is there when he says is going to be, but also verify.

Give them their privacy, but let them know it is your responsibility to keep an eye on them as well.  Know when the pile of clothes on the ground looks like it is hiding something.

Talk about alcohol and why you choose to drink occasionally, and why it’s not healthy for them – know a little about their brain and developmental stages so you can dazzle them with some science, more than just “because I said so”.

It’s not easy being a parent.  There are a lot of books out their to tell you how to do it – but in the end, it comes down to trusting your parenting instincts and working with your partner to be an effective parenting team.  Talk with other parents who do it well.  If you need further guidance, we can help.