When my daughter was little, I took her to see the circus. We enjoyed watching the funny clowns, the death-defying stunts, and all the well trained animals and the tricks they could do. We enjoyed popcorn, cotton candy and really enjoyed each other’s company. We were really having a lot of fun until out of nowhere an angry African elephant came running in from a side entrance, almost trampling a baboon and its trainer. She charged one section of the crowd, turned and tried to charge our section of the crowd. This only took mere seconds, but it was as if time completely stopped for this mother. All I could think of was how I was going to save my little girl? Did I have enough strength to throw her to another section? Would it hurt her and worse yet, draw the elephant’s attention to her? Could I stand up and do battle with this 10-foot massive creature? Brave I know, but ultimately I ended up trying to force her down under her seat, much to her objection, unreasonably thinking that if she can’t be seen, she can’t be hurt. The elephant, which was just looking for somewhere to flee, did eventually turn two feet away from us and burst out through two doorways till she reached the outside. My daughter was young enough that she has no recollection of this happening, but it will be forever burned inside my head as one of the most traumatic experiences I have ever faced.
What could I have done better to protect my daughter? We are always faced with huge problems and just knowing what to do and how to take care of it can mean all the difference. Nowadays, people in our area-parents and grandparents --are being threatened at a more alarming rate with loved ones getting addicted to drugs. Families can be blind sighted that it is even going on for years before they know. Families get taken advantage of and stolen from. There is a real danger with the elderly who take pain-relieving medication to have their drugs stolen by loved ones. Look out for these warning signs:
- Look them in the eyes-pupils can be dilated, difficulty focusing, eyes may be red and heavy-lidded.
- Watch for mood and attitude changes.
- Grades/School attendance can decline
- Keep an eye out for deceitfulness/lying/sneaking.
- Changes in appetite
- Change in friends/social activities
- Changes in how they dress/hygiene.
How can you keep yourself from being protected?
- Always look for the signs & be honest with yourself-no one wants to think their family member could get involved in drugs, but it happens.
- Don’t keep secrets or make excuses for that loved one.
- Seek out support through Al-anon, a peer support group that consists of families of addicts.
- Lock up your medication and money-the more easy access they have, the more it will fuel their addiction.
- Use a united family/team approach with the addicted loved one-this will decrease/eliminate manipulation and lies.
- Don’t offer to buy or supply their addiction just because you pity them.
- Work with the police and justice system-don’t try to hide them or lie for them.
- Always enforce the importance and need of treatment.
- Be patient
Knowing exactly how to fight will help you when that elephant size drug problem comes out of the side entrance interrupting your enjoyable circus of life to come charge you down. Throw everything you have at it and protect yourself so that it runs away from you with its tail between its legs.