Yesterday my town, which included the mayor, town council, police department, the school district, counseling community, as well as a number of parents, collectively admitted there is a drug problem here as well.
The day long community event left me feeling the same way I have felt about kids and drug/alcohol ab(use) for the past several years...both hopeful and helpless.
These are the main points I got out of the event:
1. Parents, schools, police, local business and government have to work together. Just as important, we all need to stop wasting time pointing fingers.
2. The issue is not the substance itself (ie: does not matter if its marijuana, alcohol or heroin), the problem goes much deeper and involves family life, time constraints, stress level/pressure to perform, parents who are not available to listen, and the silent epidemic of trying to keep up with the Joneses (or with our society's expectations).
Substances will ALWAYS be around. Putting a finger on why YOUR son or daughter wants to escape whatever the pain is in their world can be elemental in finding recovery for the child and the family. Addiction is a disease, not a moral character defect, which definitely affects the whole family.
3. At first a child may just be curious and feel some peer pressure to experiment with alcohol or drugs, but in the perfect storm of addiction that use gives way to the unfortunate quest a young person travels alone.
3. This is not a problem we are going to solve. Or even one we are going to snap our fingers and have a magical answer to. Constructive input, along with a dedication to tackle this huge (former elephant in the room) dilemma is what is needed to first make, then execute, a plan of action which can change the path we are currently headed down. With that approach we will gain ground against what has become an epidemic, not only in Flower Mound, but throughout the entire country.
4. The people who really needed to be at this educational event (the citizens who don't think this could ever happen in their own home/ those in such deep denial they cannot see what's happening under their own roof/those that may have their own addiction issues or mental health issues and are unable to see the problem) didn't show.
In a town of roughly 70,000 I estimate the turnout to be about 250, tops. Which was, in some respects, great for a summer Saturday but not what was needed in proportion to this problem we face.
After listening to the different panels and having had my own experience with a child in recovery, my feeling is this:
It's time to take a serious look at our families. Evaluate priorities, values, goals and ask ourselves if we are putting the quality of our relationships before the myriad of other (less important) commitments which consume our lives. Parenting involves time, commitment, CONSISTENCY, discipline, a sense of humor/playfulness, being willing to guide and to love unconditionally. When our children's foundation at home is stable and our schools partner with us to help ensure that environment is safe, academically sound, socially appropriate, and fun, we move in the right direction.
That being said, we [parents] can be doing all the "right" things: eating meals together, limiting extracirriculars so there is time for family, attending religious services, being involved at our kids schools and sports/scouts, model a loving and stable marriage. be financially secure and EVEN THEN we could still have a teen addicted to drugs.
But there is a better chance we won't if we work everyday, to the best of our ability, towards those ideals. And if there is a problem shown us by the school, law enforcement, your child's friend's parent, neighbor, whomever...we have got to take our head out of the sand and deal with it. There are many resources to help with this problem in Flower Mound and now that the word is out about our drug problem, we should see even more programs to assist in all areas of addiction.
Our town officials, Mayor Tom Hayden, the town counsel members, the school board and administration expressed a sincere desire to work towards making progress with the drug problem in Flower Mound. Please contact them with your thoughts, ideas and concerns.