- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Hazelden (May 1, 2012)
George E. Leary Jr., M.A. was a youth counselor, surrounded by kids all day, and yet he failed to see that his own child was using and abusing drugs. Denial, fear, grief—Leary experienced these emotions firsthand and he has since made it his purpose in life to work with addicts and educate parents on how to help their kids. In his new book WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY KID?: When Drugs or Alcohol Might Be a Problem and What to Do About It (Hazelden Publishing; May 2012; $14.95; Original Trade Paperback) he provides a compassionate, yet straightforward handbook for parents that will answer their most pressing questions including:
- What are the warning signs of alcohol or drug addiction?
- How can you as a parent intervene and find treatment for both your child and the family?
- What is the nature and biology of addiction? How does it affect developing brains and bodies?
- What co-occurring mental health issues are common to teenagers?
- How does a family “enable” the addict?
- What is the role of drugs and alcohol in the increasing teen suicide rates?
Leary maintains that there are differences in how kids are affected by addiction versus adults:
Home and Family: The home is set up to shelter kids from harm and parents are there to protect them. This set up provides the perfect conditions for children with addiction issues to be coddled and “saved” from some of the negative consequences of their behaviors. Not being exposed to the real punishments present in society for addicts, they do not see a need to change.
Inexperience and Invincibility: In addition to being exposed to extreme social pressures as they develop into adulthood, kids are blessed (or cursed) with thinking life goes on forever and that they can do anything. These attitudes work well when put to positive uses, but with drugs and alcohol they can be deadly.
Physical Development and the Brain: The frontal lobe of the brain which manages planning, organizing, emotions, speech/language, movement and problem solving, is not fully developed until the age of 25. Drugs and alcohol, in addition to promoting erratic and dysfunctional behavior, can damage the frontal lobe, which will hinder its major functions as well as make it more difficult to fight addiction. Adults are not immune to the destructive effects, but their brains are not as vulnerable after age of 25.
There is a lot of information available about addiction, but most people are not aware of what to look for. When dealing with kids and all of the changes that take place as they grow and develop, attributing mood swings, declining grades or depression to drug use could be far from the minds of parents, but as George Leary warns it can happen to anyone. WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY KID? is the only book that will be an effective partner to guide and inform parents when faced with a child who has developed a substance abuse problem.
About the author:
George E. Leary Jr., M.A., provides mental health services to addicts and those living with HIV/AIDS. He established and operated two recovery houses in Baltimore, Maryland, and served for nine years on a mobile crisis intervention team.