Today I spoke to over 600 middle school students about being the parent of an addict and what drugs did to my family and my son. These are students that are 12-14 years old. There were over 600 students, too many parents for me to count and a whole school of teachers, staff and administration. It was a jam packed gym with maybe 2 open seats to spare.
My daughter Erica went with me. She is Alex's oldest sister.
This was the first time I ever spoke with this age group. I was a little less graphic than what you have seen on my YouTube presentation. But I tried to be just as intense. For 35 minutes I spoke to this packed gym and other than my voice you could hear a pin drop. These kids were quiet and respectful. I felt every eye on me the whole time. The nurse said that it was amazing how focused and intent they all were on your message.
I introduced Erica in the beginning as Alex's sister if they wanted a sibling perspective. I then began my talk. I introduced myself, introduced my son and his addiction issues, then I issued a spoiler alert and told them that Alex has been clear and sober for over 2 years, since July 2010. When I said he was clear and sober entire gym burst out in thunderous applause and it just went on. The speaker nearly lost his composure at that minute.
At the end of the talk Erica and I found ourselves surrounded. I glanced at her and she looked like a teen rock star she had so many students around her. They were asking her about what to do for their brothers and sisters with issues in there own family. Erica said one little girl ask her if she cried a lot. Erica said, "Yes, she was very sad for a long long time and cried often." The little girl ask Erica if she could hug her. She said if it was her brother she would want someone to hug her.
I was quickly swarmed with parents and students. I answered a couple questions from parents but I quickly focused my attention on students. I'm not going into details but students talked to me about their parents that are addicted. The only thing I could say to these students, tell your parent that you love them, ask them to get help, tell them there are people they can call for help and not get into trouble. But, most importantly, your parent is sick with a disease. This situation is not your fault and you don't have the power to help them. The most you can do is to tell them you love them and ask them to please get help. I left them with my info and told them they can write or call any time.
My heart hurt today. I spoke about the terrible pain when you are the parent of an addict. Today I saw what is even harder to imagine. I met 12-14 year old kids processing being the child of an active addict.