I have to state right out of the box that the younger the user, the more difficult it is to get that person into recovery. That is not to say there are no success, but the successes are few and far between. The reasons are varied, and each of the reasons is difficult to overcome.
First off, very young addicts have not lost many things or even anything to their use of drugs. No loss of their businesses, no loss of jobs, no loss of custody of children—they are the children. Next, most of their friends are using to one degree or another. Next, they have this feeling of immortality, hence the loss of lives of sixteen-year-old drivers. Add into the mix underdeveloped brains and their inability to see long-term consequences, and you can see why this group is hard to get to. Additionally, it is a rite of passage in all generations to rebel against parental authority, and clearly parents tell their children not to use drugs, and so, well, and so it goes. Also, they are generally brought to treatment against their wishes, and that just makes it an incredibly difficult challenge.
These are, for the most part, just your average nice youngster doing what all the generations that came before them did. Peer pressure and now the unprecedented access they have to one another through texting. Parents find it impossible to know what is transpiring between their child and their friends.
It is sad beyond measure to see how shocked the parents are at being totally clueless as to what is going on in the lives of their children.
So are some of these kids too young to recover? I am sad to say yes, they are. We have to do a better job in educating our kids not to start because clearly we are failing. Peer pressure, seeming to be cool, these are tough to fight. Are there some successes? Yes, but it is really a pitiful number. The younger they start, the more brain damage there is because their brains are not yet fully developed.
The entertainment business, the musicians and singers, rappers and the like are role models that are a disaster.
Most of the kids I have spoken with don’t see using drugs as any kind of a big deal. It is so common in our culture, and there is no stigma attached to using. Add in being high is fun, feels good, and makes you seem cool. It is an epidemic with teens across all divides. Social, economic, religious, ethnic—it doesn’t matter. And it is not an inner city thing. Parents are increasingly not at home during the day, and it is easy, so easy to get high. It matters not if you live in a big city or a small town.
Some of the more frightening statistics state that 8 percent of eighth-graders are using heroin. Heroin!