Feb 9, 2011

I know you know that they know. ya know?

Dear aap -
I have decided to quit doing drugs. I have been doing a lot of them and I know it is stupid and know it has gotten out of hand. Booze and weed sure but some semi-heavy stuff too. I'm smarter than this and it is causing problems and I know it is time to stop. I know it was time to stop a while ago. The problem is, how do I tell my parents? I don't think they even know that I do drugs at all and now I'm going to have to tell them and the rest of the family. They've always been supportive, which makes me feel like shit having to tell them. It is almost like a reverse-intervention. I'm tempted to put it in an email and then deal with their phone calls. My boyfriend says that is chickening out but I don't agree. It is still telling them. I just think if they have to read something before speaking they'll read the whole thing. Any suggestions? - Done.

Dear Done-
They already know. The fact that you said they've "always been supportive" means (I'm guessing) that they've always taken an active and nurturing role in your life, as opposed to you being some kid out there on her own with clueless sh#thead parents... So your folks almost certainly know that something has been wrong with you, even if they're not informed enough to know the symptoms of drug abuse... or more likely they fear it might be drugs but are hoping it isn't.

Even active and involved parents, other family members, or even close friends usually know when someone in their lives is F-ing up... and/or is out of control, but people don't know when or how to intervene. 99 times out of 100 they would rather err on the side of hope and caution and rationalize away their fears as "over-reaction" or something like that.

If you're getting into semi-heavy stuff to the point where even you are noticing negative consequences, believe me then: You couldn't possibly be hiding it from friends and relatives as much as you think you are, even if you're living in another town/state/time zone. No one is that slick. That is part of the lie that drugs tell the user: "You're ok, no one suspects a thing." ...that is dead wrong. Chances are EVERYone in your life suspects something, they're just hoping it isn't drugs.

The question of how best to tell them is a good one. The fact that you think you won't be able to "tell the whole story" without interruption if you go the face-to-face route makes me think that THAT particular family dynamic is part of the communication problem in the first place. I say follow your gut on this one and start with an email... but then be sure to fully engage in the dialogue that will quickly follow - either on the phone or face-to-face. Ya know, the more I think about it, it doesn't really matter how you start this conversation, as long as you start it somehow and soon. Any form of truth is a good start to get away from the lies and delusion (including self-delusion) that you've been dealing with.

By deciding to get clean you've made a great, difficult and profound decision. Don't get too hung up on the etiquette of what to do next - THAT might in fact just be your addiction trying to stall for time, hoping you'll change your mind. The best time to start getting clean is right now, today. Your family will be happy with however you choose to start the journey.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.