Tag Archives: alcohol

One For My Baby

Parents have been arrested for throwing their children a booze infused party.  Perhaps I’m being a bit incendiary with the phrase; “throwing their children a (party)”  However, I suspect that teenagers and their tons of friends did not buy the alcohol themselves, and certainly not with their own money.  The justification that these gated community Queens parents make is the standard: “I’d rather they did it at home.”

Can we just tease that apart a bit?  It’s sounds so wholesome on the surface, doesn’t it?  “Baking: I’d rather they did it at home.”  It suggests supervision and perhaps even an informal tutorial.  Nobody is hosting wine tasting parties for their teens (to my knowledge.)  These kids are drinking to get drunk.  That is the goal.  Drinking as a social behavior takes a level of sophistication and social ease that teenagers rarely possess.  They drink to get drunk, they use prescription drugs to get high or stoned, they use street drugs (and freaking aerosol cans!) for the same reason.  Would these same parents host a few dozen teenagers and pass out methamphetamine?  It happens (usually not in gated communities) and (with any luck) those children go into protective care.

I’m all for parents teaching children how to be fully functioning adults.  If they feel that teaching their child to drink responsibly is part of that, so be it.  But hosting your kid’s friend’s booze bash is not about that.  It’s about wanting to feel cool.  Children from this gated community are going to the hospital for alcohol poisoning (delivered by parents to avoid detection.)  Do you know how much alcohol needs to be ingested to result in poisoning?!  Banish all thoughts of Liesl having her first sip of champagne at the ball.  You’ve got to power drink serious alcohol (or be a toddler) to be poisoned.

They’d rather they did it at home.  What does that mean?  One parent suggested that he’d rather his kid was drinking at home than at the beach.  Why’s that?  Is drowning a concern?  What about the dozens of teenagers getting drunk in your house?  Are they all sleeping it off in your bonus room?  How do you feel about your cherub getting drunk at their friend’s house?  Is that okay?  I’m guessing not.  I’m guessing you want the party at your house.  You know what would make you even cooler in a 16 year old’s eyes?  Invite tattoo artists to the next bash.

Let’s put aside class discrepancies (people of means don’t usually lose custody of their children for indiscretions) and even issues of physical danger for a moment.  Instead let’s focus on what this behavior actually teaches children.  1) The rules don’t apply to you 2) It’s not breaking the law if you don’t get caught 3) Behaving irresponsibly is not only a natural part of adolescence it’s a healthy part of middle-age.

Kids do stupid things.  It’s their job.  It’s only by going too far that they find their own limits and comfort levels.  The best protection you can offer a child is a strong sense of self.  A teenager who feels he/she has worth is less prone to trying to prove it in questionable ways.  The same could be said for parents.


Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Childhood, Well-Being


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The Race To The Cure

“28 days” has become shorthand for a detoxification program.  Perhaps you doubt me.  Perhaps you grew up only hearing “28 days” intoned by a distracted health & hygiene teacher while she directed her pointer towards an image evoking more cartoon bull’s head than uterus.  Trust me, four weeks (categorized in as days) means something else now.  Feel free to give it a test run and announce to your co-workers that you’re taking some time off; 28 days to be precise.  Then sit back and watch as one by one your office mates slide up to you and give you an awkward pat on the back, or shyly tell you about their own/their spouse/their parent/their child’s struggle.  Be prepared for the happy hour invitations to taper off as well.

28 Days” has become the normative addiction treatment time to such an extent that a movie was given only that title.  No subtitle was necessary; the masses knew exactly what was in store for Sandra Bullock.  But how in the world did we get to a point of this time period being synonymous with becoming sober?

Have you ever tried to cultivate a new behavior?  Perhaps you’ve quit smoking (if not, you really should consider it) or adopted an exercise program.  Maybe you’ve tried to modify someone else’s behavior, say, trying to get an infant to sleep through the majority of the night.  The first two weeks are hell.  Pure unadulterated hell.  Every morning brings the realization that; yes, you have to do that THING again.  At two weeks a change in diet is still feeling punitive and perhaps constipating.  By three or four weeks, the sulking starts to ebb and a begrudging buy-in takes its place.  By six weeks most new behaviors have found their firm footing.  Yes, you might still find yourself with a cigarette in your hand (perhaps at your high school reunion where you become a 17 year old trapped in a 42 year old’s body.)  But, by week six, your body and mind now have a sense memory and you have gotten past some unconscious triggers.  You can have a drink without smoking, finish a meal without smoking, etc.  It may always take effort to keep from lighting up, but it doesn’t take every cell in your body to resist.

Keeping that analogy in mind; how in the world is four weeks sufficient time to a) rid the body of substance b) discover why you use the substance c) develop coping mechanisms beyond using d) learn to be in the world without substances?  I don’t think there is anyone in the medical profession who would recommend such a brief treatment stint.  Six weeks might be sufficient time for some people who do not have multiple diagnoses (ex.; addiction + bipolar) or have not been addicted for too long a period.

Abbreviated treatment, whether 28 days inpatient or 6-10 therapy visits, is the brainchild of insurance companies.  There is no doubt that there are many many people who can greatly benefit from short-term problem solving based therapy.  But viewing all psychological conditions as the same is as nutty as considering every physical condition as equal.  A hospital stay for a tonsillectomy is not the same as that for brain surgery.

Addiction treatment is tricky.  Addicts are crafty folk.  Their relationship to their substance is the most important thing in the world to them.  The substance one is addicted to is not the issue.  Removing access to alcohol, drugs, starvation, for 28 days is meaningless.  Addicts don’t use because of how it makes them feel, they use to stop feeling like they do without it.  Helping someone to find comfort in their body, soul and the world without their substance of choice is hard work.  There are no shortcuts.  Four weeks is a significant time, it is.  It’s a long time to miss a traveling spouse.  It’s a long time to wait for test results.  It’s a long time to wait for an electrician.  But I don’t think it’s enough time to change the fundamental wiring of a human being.


Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Cultural Critique, Well-Being


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