A couple years ago I was visited by Mark and Dina, energetic, committed parents who had dedicated themselves to preventing their now-17 year old son from returning to alcohol and drugs. They’d most recently tried nailing shut the windows in his room to prevent escape, but he’d found a way around that, too. They wanted to know if I had any other ideas.
I told them I thought their efforts were in vain. They asked me to explain, and here’s what I came up with:
- Simple truth: Nobody can watch over another human being 100% of the time.
- For example, you’d have to take bathroom breaks, and what’s to prevent them from sneaking off?
- Even if you invented a gadget so that you never had to visit the bathroom, the addict would devise some ingenious excuse that fooled you long enough so he could escape.
- Even if you were superhumanly smart and didn’t fall for any excuses, suppose he just took off and you weren’t fast enough to catch him?
- Even if you were a former Olympic sprinter and managed to run him down, what’s to keep him from trying again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…
- Even if you chained him to the breakfast table, what’s to stop him from picking the lock or gnawing through the table leg?
- Plus sooner or later you’d need to sleep.
- And even if you had some neurological condition that made sleep unnecessary and you were able to successfully keep him confined and away from alcohol and drugs for a whole month — what did you plan to do next month? And the month after? And the month after that?
- OK, maybe you could arrange to have him locked up. But even then, they’d eventually release him.
- And do you really think he couldn’t get loaded while he was in jail?
- And once he was released, wouldn’t he just start using again?
- At some point, it’s bound to occur to you that you have no life.
- And do you really think your kid is going to thank you for putting forth the effort?
Got to be a better way. Fortunately, there is.
(And here’s the Lighter Touch version–Rehab Soundbyte “Determined Mom”)
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