“Know your enemy” is a phrase that repeatedly returns to my mind when I am looking back on the years of our children’s adolescence. Regrettably, what we have learned is too late for our son, but not for millions of other sons and daughters. I believe that we are at war with an enemy that, as it is taking the lives of our children, it is also taking the future of our nation and our world.
If you know the enemy and know yourself,
you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
If you know yourself but not the enemy,
for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself,
you will succumb in every battle.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Chinese military strategist, 5th century BC)
The wisdom from Sun Tzu holds such significance for all of us at this point in the battle against opioids. Knowing ourselves includes knowing and understanding our children well, and knowing their friends and their families. Knowing our enemy is knowing what our culture currently believes and how our society is battling our mutual challenges––as all other parents through the ages had to know in order to survive.
It is well-known that during adolescence when the brain experiences dramatic developmental changes, it is more vulnerable and primed for risk. Add the normal lack of defense for dangerous experimentation to families like ours – and perhaps yours? – who are drawn to risk and you have double jeopardy. Experts believe that the time when “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is during pre-adolescence. We need to inform parents when their children are in late grade school, 5th and 6th grade, before their children are exposed to alcohol, pot, and pills in middle school – yes, middle school. All the statistics confirm that is the age when my child, your child, my grandchildren and your grandchildren are being presented with life-threatening substances by their peers at school and at their peers homes.
What advice I can offer? Know your children’s friends and families – well.
Get informed. Listen. Read. My top recommended books are:
Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
The BEST comprehensive overview and detailed story of how America got to the point we are at now with opioids (synthetic derivatives from the opium poppy) and opiates (direct derivatives such as morphine and heroin). A MUST READ.
Woman of Substances: A Journey Into Drugs, Alcohol, and Treatment by Jenny Valentish
Not just a great book for young women since it highlights the ways in which studies on, and treatments for, addiction have been based mainly on men. A very informative narrative for everyone based on current research while also sharing Jenny’s personal experiences with addiction and recovery.