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All these behaviors intensified leading up to the two-ounces-of-marijuana-in-the-toilet day. Maybe, just maybe, if my Mom and Dad read an article like this they would have done what needed to be done: put me in an inpatient treatment center.

I probably wouldn’t have stayed sober. But learning the fine art of sobriety is like learning to ride a bicycle – most flounder and crash a couple times before learning to ride without incident. Early intervention isn’t part of my story.

But my saga maintains a happy ending. I use the word “maintain” because I am now in recovery. I finally graduated college with a degree in liberal arts, magna cum laude. I now advocate for those both in active addiction and recovery on national media outlets. And I enjoy an incredible job at a nonprofit addiction recovery center in Tennessee.

One of the main reasons I claim those achievements today is my family decided to stop tolerating my addiction. But their tolerance of my addiction could have stopped much earlier. This isn’t me blaming my family. It’s simply the truth, though my parents undoubtedly acted as best as they knew.

Most parents don’t know addiction’s early warning signs. Even those that notice something awry tend to deny their son or daughter have a substance abuse. So let’s look at some early warning signs (behaviors is an equally applicable word).


I can’t emphasize this enough: this article is not intended to be a scare tactic. Its purpose is to educate you so action can be taken prior to a serious problem. If your loved one exhibits one warning sign, it’s probably not enough to sound the alarm. But several behaviors might indicate a serious problem.

Don’t wait if you think your loved one is struggling with drugs. Get quality addiction treatment. Do your research on candidate rehab facilities. Read reviews on treatment center’s Facebook pages. Ask to speak with past clients.

Do NOT make hasty decisions when it comes to where you send your son or daughter or drug and alcohol treatment. I know it’s usually a crisis situation. But do your research, follow the advice of the staff and hold your loved one accountable to following the facilities’ plan of action.

Finally, avoid large, for-profit addiction treatment networks. You might have seen one of their commercials on television. These places usually have a motto, “fill beds, make money and save lives.” Notice which term falls last on the list?

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