South Florida rehab centers often have teens and young adults coming through their doors, but due to the stigma of addiction and the dynamics of family, some don’t have the luxury of finding a substance abuse treatment center in Florida because they lose their lives to the drug.
Recently, parents who lost their children to substance use disorder shared their stories and, more specifically, the signs they missed which, had they known what they were seeing in their child, would’ve allowed them to at least try to help them.
One couple, Sheila and Rich Craumer, failed to notice Briana’s actions that were indicating something more than just general teenager shenanigans. She slept all day, stayed up all night and frequently had mood swings and a lack of patience.
Rich recalls a Saturday afternoon when Briana was nodding off in the living room, “I thought it was so cute, and I was taking pictures of her. I had no idea she was high on heroin.” Briana died at age 18 from a fentanyl overdose.
What Sheila emphasizes is that a lot of the signs are of normal teen behavior like moodiness, spending a lot of time in their room and asking for money. “I was so clueless. If you don’t know anything about it, you are clueless.”
After the incident, they started a support group for other families going through the days of living with a child who’s abusing narcotics, with many of the members sharing signs that tipped them off that something might serious might be going on:
- Misplaced spoons for heroin use
- Things around the house go missing because they are being sold for money
- Constant stuffy nose from snorting substances
- Spending lots of time in the bathroom dealing with constipation from opioid use
- Lack of appetite that accompanies drug use
- Tearing up certain brands of cotton swabs to use as a nasal straw for snorting
- Lack of hygiene
When confronting children whether they may be using drugs, it’s important to never take an adversarial or judgemental role; the problem is shared by both the parents and the child. Accusations tend to turn a problem of tackling the substance use disorder into one of trying to ‘chase down’ the teen in order to get to the real problem of getting help. Sometimes, the parents themselves will have played some part in the child’s life that lead them to use yet will inadvertently and instinctively blame the kid entirely, which usually has the opposite effect of what simply reaching out with a helping and loving hand can do. ‘Tough Love’ tends to exacerbate the situation rather than diffuse it, and can sometimes end up with speeding up the child’s pathway towards an early grave.
It’s a delicate situation that needs a delicate approach, but with the intent to help rather than judge, you’re already on the right path.