A Word from Amy Weiland on Parent Denial

Drug and Alcohol Abuse InformationMovies, T.V., and reality shows make it look like it’s easy to recognize a drug problem in a young adult. If a young adult is arrested, overdoses, or is having problems at school, a parent should be able to easily recognize these problems and connect the dots to get their child help. They also make it look like after the intervention, everything just works out easily. As we know, lives on a screen are nothing like real lives.

The entertainment writers fail to mention real life, feelings, fear, ego etc. that come along with being a parent. I have never encountered a parent that has excitedly dreamt of one day dealing with their child’s drug problem. In fact, this is often one of most parent’s biggest fears.  Parents want their children to grow up and be successful and lead fulfilling lives.  They see a child with a drug problem as a parental failure and someone else’s problem.  In turn, a lot of parents avoid looking at drug use as a possible issue out of this fear. It is my observation that parents often times use thoughts like, “If I don’t see it, it must not be happening”, “not my kid, my child knows better”, “it must be a learning issue, maybe it’s a mental health problem”, and “they are just experimenting” to avoid looking at the truth of the situation.

Denial (Don’t Even Notice I’m A Lying … don’t worry we know that this acronym is super cheesy) is powerful and can affect all levels of treatment. Families desperately want to believe that maybe it’s just a phase or, after he/ she experiences some consequences, they will change. They also tend to forget just how severe the pain was after some time has passed. One of the many problems associated with this is that the longer one avoids confronting the problem, the more power the problem is given. The earlier an intervention can take place, the better. A person does not need to be a full-blown addict to get help. In fact, if a parent continues to stay in denial, they are actually enabling the user’s habits to increase and worsen.

Let’s back track for a moment and reexamine the idea of drug use being an “experiment.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an experiment as “something that is done as a test: something that you do to see how well or how badly it works.”


Hypothesis: Smoke weed, inhale, get stoned, feels great.
Experiment: Smoke weed, inhale, get stoned, feels great.
Conclusion: The hypothesis was correct and the experiment was a success.

Anything past this is use.

Not all parents can and/or will intervene at the exact moment use begins. Most parents usually look for a problem to develop. That being said, when problematic behavior does begin to occur, parents often struggle to define what a problem truly is and what it looks like. Again, we refer back to The Merriam- Webster Dictionary, as defined a problem is “something that is difficult to deal with: something that is a source of trouble, worry, etc.”

As for what a problem looks like, let us step back from the idea of drug abuse and examine the idea of a problem through a different set of eyes:

Bobby jumps off the desk and twists his ankle. Later that week, he climbs up on the desk and jumps off again, and this time he breaks his arm. At this point, Bobby’s teachers begin to express concern and refer Bobby to the school counselor. After meeting with the counselor, both Bobby and his parents agree that Bobby should not jump off desks. However, three days later, when nobody is looking, Bobby climbs back up on the desk, closes his eyes, and jumps again. Now, it is safe to say that Bobby has a desk-jumping problem. His habit of jumping off desks has been identified as the source of his troubles, yet neither Bobby nor his parents are equipped to resolve the situation.

Drug & Alcohol Treatment Information for ParentsBoth The Crossroads Program and I believe that rather than waiting for the problem to get so severe that there appears to be little hope left or waiting for a young person to hit “rock bottom,” is NOT the best course of action. We suggest raising the bottom. In order to do this, the family must come out of denial and see the problem for what it truly is. This usually requires assistance from a substance abuse counselor. Contact Crossroads for assistance.

If your child had a mild form of cancer, you would not argue with the doctor about whether to treat the cancer or wait until it becomes life threatening. Drug and Alcohol abuse can lead to Addiction, which the American Medical Association classifies as chronic and terminal disease, the same classification they assign to diseases like cancer and diabetes.

The following statements are true statements submitted by real parents who actually believed these things at some point. We are sharing them, not to make fun of but hopefully to shine some light and maybe break through some denial of others. If you relate to any of them, you should call a Crossroads counselor to discuss them.

You might be a parent in denial if….

  • You actually believe that your child is holding it for a friend.
  • You find yourself along with your child blaming the school, legal system and his friends.
  • You think school will make the drug problem go away.
  • You think changing schools will make the drug problem go away.
  • You just busted your child getting high, but you feel like you are the one in trouble.
  • Your husband calls an exterminator because he is convinced that there is a skunk living under the house. (Exactly under your sons room)
  • You are paying more in a month to pay off legal fees for your child than your car payment.
  • You actually believe that the foil that you keep finding around the house is for a cooking class.
  • You think it’s just a phase.
  • You think that just because all your kid’s friends are getting high that doesn’t mean your kid does.
  • You keep finding pipes and bongs around the house and believe your child when he says that he is holding the paraphernalia for a friend who doesn’t have parents as understanding as you.
  • You think that the dishwasher ate all of your big spoons, like the dryer eats socks, and that is why they are all missing.
  • You think that’s an “interesting vase” that your child made in pottery.
  • You believe it’s “just pot”  and I did my fair share of partying in my day.
  • You think that your child is exploring his artistic side by making stuff out of water bottles, nuts, bolts and straws.
  • You keep replacing the screens on your faucets and have no idea why.
  • You hear the shower running, and you know that your child is in the bathroom, not in the shower, and you don’t even think about the fact that there is a towel blocking the door (to block smells).
  • You keep finding needles and your kid tells you that his friend is a diabetic.
  • You can’t figure out why your house smells like a skunk all the time.