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The Professional's Perspective

“My twenty-year-old daughter does very well in college, but has had two DUIs and also a short stint in jail for pot. I don’t want to take her out of college to get help, but I am worried.”

Two DUIs by the age of 20, plus some jail time for pot? Your daughter sounds like she is in the throes of addiction. Please remember addiction is a brain disease, a disease that is chemically driven by mood-altering substances including drugs and alcohol. She needs serious help.

Her whole life is ahead of her, so give her a chance to heal and get back on track. Many, many young people have gone back to school later in life and found great success. Most importantly, taking a critical year off to get healthy will not derail her academics, but addiction will.

Your daughter’s academic accomplishments muddy the water and make it hard to see that she is already in deep trouble. With two DUIs, she is already on the drug that is most likely – statistically – to kill her. And she may be abusing drugs besides pot and alcohol: as one father told me in a family meeting, “If you think your child is on one drug, think again, and throw everything else in the mix. If you think it’s only been a couple of years of substance abuse, then add about four more to that.”

For your daughter to change, you need to change, too. I encourage you to see an addiction counselor or therapist to help you work through our own fear, grief and pain. I also encourage you to get ongoing support at a “parents” Al-Anon meeting, where you will learn how other families make it through these difficult times.

Author Ricki Townsend is a Registered Interventionist, Drug/Alcohol Counselor, Ncac1, CADC-CAS, Bri-1,
Chaplain and Grief Recovery Specialist

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