Friday September 30th 2016

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Signs my kid is on drugs

I don’t know if pot kills brain cells or leads to drug addiction.  But I will tell you something I do know. At 30 years old, I had a 10-bag-a-day heroin habit. At 13 years old, I began smoking marijuana and taking pills. If you’d like, connect the dots.

Parents looking for answers

Last month, I was speaking to a group of parents who meet every Wednesday evening to speak about their kid’s addiction. They tell their stories. Several cry. It’s healing, but to some it seems almost addictive. To most, it’s a place to go to find answers.

Anyway, this very attractive woman, maybe 40, asked, “How can I tell if my kid is high?”

I immediately looked away from her gaze and searched the ceiling for answers. You see, I have a big problem with telling the truth, being blunt, and not pulling any punches. However, my wonderful wife Melissa has taught be to be delicate. She tells me to remember I’m not on the streets of Lowell anymore talking to drug dealers.

Signs of drug use

Now, I could have told her what anybody can find out easily on Google. Signs of illicit drug use or symptoms of prescription drug abuse are many.  Look for:

  • a distinct smell on their clothes
  • always eating munchies
  • blurry, red-eyes
  • eye-drop bottles in the desk drawer
  • significant mood changes
  • spending too much money
  • withdrawal from the family structure

But to me, an ex-junkie, that’s all bullshit.

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Parents…take off the blinders!

I said, “With all due respect, race horses wear blinders so they only see straight ahead. They never are distracted by what’s on the peripheral. But you’re not a horse, so take your blinders off.” The room was silent. “I’m not trying to be rude to you. I want to help you save your son or daughter from the pain I suffered. My advice may help you escape the pain my mother suffered from my addiction.”

I continued, “You never have to ask anybody about the signs of drugs use. You already know. And because of that, if you suspect it, then there is a 60/40 chance your kid is already on drugs. Take the blinders off parents and you’ll save your kids.”

But I didn’t stop there, because that would make an asshole. I explained. I have 5 children. I raised them from birth. Each one of them had a unique personality from infancy. Oh sure, they all were teenagers struggling with hormones, making bad decisions, and knowing it all. But I knew immediately, if my daughter’s personality changed for more than a week. I knew immediately, if my happy-go-lucky oldest son barely spoke for more than three days.

Save your kid and intervene

Think about it parents! Don’t bury your heads. You cannot care about what other people say if your sons or daughters need help at 13 or 14 years old. You can’t believe it is just a phase they are going through. You know your kids better than anybody. How to help a drug addict son or daughter begins with your immediate action.

Save their lives, intervene!

Trick them!

Take them to the doctor for a “routine check-up” when you’re really drug testing them. Find out the truth and get them help now!

A true story to consider

Now for those parents that think they’ll never have to ask themselves the question, “Is my son or daughter taking drugs?” I’d like you to really think about this true story. Don’t just pass it off. Consider it!

The week my memoir was published, I was reading at a Barnes and Noble. After I finished, a line of parents gathered to buy my book and get my signature. Each one told me a horror story about their kids. But the one that stuck is about an all-star tennis player. She was recruited out of high school by all the major Division 1 schools in the country. And then a knee injury, the doctors gave her Oxycontin. Within 12 months, she was selling herself on the streets to support her habit. The mother cried when she told me, they were going to see her in prison and bring a copy of my memoir “What’s Left of Us.”

Get out of denial and into action

Most of the time, I despise being the guy bringing bad news. But you know what, when it comes to drugs, the majority of people need a wake-up call. They have their heads firmly up their rear-ends, their eyes selectively closed, and suffer from extreme denial.

It’s a very slippery slope parents. If you want the odds to be against you sitting in a support group years from now, asking, “Is my kid a drug dealer,” or handing over your license to a prison guard as your being checked in to visit your child, take the blinders off today. You’ll be grateful someday you did.

Photo credit: kevin dooley

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About Richard Farrell

Richie Farrell won the du-Pont-Columbia for directing the HBO documentary film, High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell. That film inspired the 2010 major motion picture The Fighter that went on to win academy awards for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Farrell's memoir What’s Left of Us: A Memoir of Addiction has been optioned for a movie and currently in development. Richie Farrell is one of the top substance abuse and motivational speakers in the United States. More Info @ My Heroin Life.

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