A number of years ago I attended a valuable and practical support group for parents of troubled teens. It was called Parents Together and you had to be accepted into the British Columbia run program. That is, you had to have real problems with your adolescents. I felt like Groucho Marx: “I don’t care to belong to any club that accepts people like me as members.”
That was 2003. Today my children do not have those kinds of real problems. I say that with heartfelt gratitude.
A couple in the group had a daughter addicted to crystal meth. The daughter did get clean and became a poster child for Alcoholics Anonymous, visiting high schools and giving talks and the like. Many recovering drug addicts attend AA instead of, or as well as, Narcotics Anonymous . AA is more established and both programs live by the same basic principles: the 12 steps.
The daughter has since "gone out". She ended up on the Downtown East Side. ‘Last I heard she was in jail and her parents had to make the brutal decision to not bail her out. Their daughter was safe and sober.
I do not purport to be an expert on crystal meth but I know it is cheap and available . And deadly addictive.
Journalist David Sheff is a parent who has become an expert on crystal meth. He brilliantly tells his story of the horrors of crystal meth, and living with a child addicted to it, in Beautiful Boy , A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction (Houghton Mifflin).
The reader grows fond of young Nic Sheff and goes on the journey with his father through the darkness that is – a child addicted. It is also a journey of knowledge, about the drug, the professional help available, and about what parents can, and can’t, do. We agonize with David Sheff as he learns how to stop enabling the addict.
I do know something about the disease of addiction and the havoc in wreaks in families. And Sheff is right on.
Sheff also battles with the question plaguing any parent in his circumstances, why? "What did I do wrong as a parent?" He wonders if it had been unwise to tell Nic about his own drug use. But that leads the reader wanting to know details.
I wanted to see if Nic was sober today and discovered he had written his own book, Tweak : Growing up on Methamphetamines (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing). Tweaking, I believe, means picking at your face, a habit of meth users who think bugs are crawling under their skin.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Nic is still clean and sober. If you know, please comment below. In the meantime, I’ll add him to my prayers.