If you are perusing this book, it is probably because the title caught your attention. If the title caught your attention, there’s a possibility that you are the parent of a child on drugs. And if that is the case, I want to say it again:

Welcome. Let’s talk.

Having a child on drugs, or even suspecting your child is on drugs, is one of the most scary, lonely, intimidating experiences you can face as a parent. If you yourself never used drugs — or never used whatever drug your child may be using — you really have no idea what you are dealing with. How dangerous is it? How addictive is it? How BAD is it?

You’re desperate for answers, for help, for reassurance. And yet, you don’t feel that you can talk about it. To anyone. How do you say to one of your friends, “Well, it’s like we thought — Sam is hooked on pain pills. Got any advice?” The short answer is, you don’t, unless you’ve got either very close or very unusual friends.

So, you deal with it privately, or try to. Until that day when your child is arrested, or overdoses, or loses their job, or fails a semester, and you realize that (a) the secret is getting out, and (b) this is bigger than you thought. It’s not just a passing fling, or a simple case of teenage rebellion, or just like that time you had too much to drink at the office party. This is real, this is big, and it is going to overwhelm both you and your child if you don’t get a handle on it.

That’s what this book is for: to help you begin to get a handle on it. To try to understand what is going on in your child’s body, and your child’s mind, and in your mind, and in your relationship. To understand both the dangers and the possibilities. Most of all, to help you think through the situation, face reality, and get a plan.

Later in this chapter, we’ll go through the Big Disclaimer, but for now, let me make one thing clear: Even though the outline of your story may be similar to thousands of others, the details are unique to you and your child. Don’t think you can simply pull a checklist from the web (or from this book), follow it for a few weeks, and all will be well. Drug use of any kind is serious, even if it’s only experimentation. And, depending on your child’s drug of choice, you are most likely embarking on a life-long battle to save multiple lives: yours, your child’s, and everyone else in the family system that is affected by your child’s drug use.

Let’s get started.

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