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When Anger and Fear Meet: Substance Use by Our Children

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As parents, have you ever felt like you’re spinning a wheel of emotions, and not been sure which one you’d land on? I never thought my anger and fear would ever have to compromise.

Our job is to protect and guide our children and to love them unconditionally even when they make mistakes. But what happens when the world gets a hold of them? When peer pressure consumes them, bullying haunts them, and just bad influences surround them.

What are they to do?

When my daughter took an unknown substance, I was terrified

Last year, I had to experience something I would never hope a parent ever has to go through. My oldest was influenced and peer pressured into taking something. She had never taken any substance before, and had no idea what she was doing, let alone what she was taking. She thought it was cool to use a vape pen that was laced. Without any knowledge of what she was inhaling, she took it all in one shot.

As I sat in my living room with my younger children, it suddenly sounded as if there was a war going on in the room above me, with people kicking, stomping, and screaming.

I rushed to my daughter’s room and found her lying on the floor. She looked paralyzed. She couldn’t move. Before I got to her, she began crying, kicking, screaming … she was hallucinating and terrified.

I saw a look in her eyes that I will never forget. In that moment, there was nothing I could do but try to keep her calm. Time just needed to pass. There was no cure for this drug, so my husband and I just stayed by her side. She didn’t want to be alone. She was so scared.

I was scared, too—terrified of what was happening to her at that moment. But I knew I had to put my emotions aside to keep her calm.

So many thoughts ran through my head. My blood was boiling. How could someone give her this? Did they know it was laced? Where did it come from? These were children; how did they even get a hold of these things?

My anger stayed calm despite the fear I was feeling.

Have your emotions ever had to compromise like that?

This was a reminder to stay involved and vigilant

I want to encourage parents. Life has a way of taking us away from the important things. Our children grow older, and we forget they are still children. They still need the nurturing and love only a parent can give.

Pay more attention. Don’t be so busy that you can’t take time to converse with your child. They may be suffering from something, and you are too busy trying to physically provide for what they are going through.

Please, parents, love your children unconditionally but love them with your eyes wide open. Make time. Pay attention!

There is so much peer pressure out there, and it’s easy for someone to get used to taking something they can’t stop. Don’t be blind to the possibility that it could happen to your child.

Don’t be the reason your child feels they can’t turn to you, so they turn somewhere else.

That night, my daughter wanted me to hold her, and I thought to myself, “Where did this start? When was the last time I hugged my oldest and told her I loved her?” It starts at home.

I may really never know the root cause. Was this her trying to be cool? Was it for attention? Was she dealing with something, and trying this as an outlet? I asked her why she did it. She responded, “I wanted to be cool.” In 2024, being cool means influencing your peers to take something that can hurt them if not taken properly. In many ways, I get it. I remember being her age and trying to fit in, or just trying to find myself. But the world will chew you up and spit you right back out; unfortunately, for some, we have to learn the hard way: you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone to be cool.

There are things we pray our children never have to go through. We can guide them, but it is up to them to make the right choices in our absence.

It could have been so much worse

It scares me that she could have taken something else, and the outcome could have been very different. My daughter could have overdosed. She had no idea what she was doing. What if it had been something stronger? I thank God she was okay, and that we can use this to encourage others to look for support if they are going through something.

On January 1, 2024, I lost a young relative who was 16 years old. She overdosed. There are so many unanswered questions. But for the one I keep asking, “Where did it start?” My heart breaks every time.

I hope my story can touch at least one person. A parent’s biggest fear is the thought of losing a child, and what I experienced was my exact thought.

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost someone to addiction or mental health. And anyone who is going through it now. Support is sometimes all someone needs. Be that person!

Mental health is real. Addiction is real. Feelings are real.

Don’t let it go unnoticed. Don’t let it be too late.

Support can be the cure.

Thank you for reading.

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Venecia Murray is a certified medical assistant. Helping others is her passion. She has previous experience working in the hospital with patients who suffer from mental disorders, and substance abuse. Venecia’s goal is to help and provide members with the best care and resources they need to help with their recovery, while making sure they know they have our full support while attending our program.

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