Parents hear advice on how to handle a child's addiction

Jon Davis
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Updated 4/4/2014 5:36 PM
Editor's note: This story originally ran on Nov. 18, 2002 as part of the Daily Herald's "Hidden Scourge: Heroin in the Suburbs" series.

When the disease of alcohol or drug addiction pulls a teenager into its gaping maw, the addict's family is dragged along for the long, turbulent journey.

Members of Families Anonymous know that truth as well as they know the myriad choices that confront them in dealing with their loved ones' tragedies.


So, choice - especially the choice between chaos and a better way - was the theme for the 24th annual Families Anonymous convention.

The Sunday conference drew more than 100 people to Harper Community College in Palatine from Families Anonymous chapters in Arlington Heights, Chicago, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Gurnee, Libertyville, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows and Skokie.

Attendees discussed family dynamics, how choices affect attitudes, messages of meaning, grandparents' issues, surviving the loss of loved ones to substance abuse, and the limits of parental influence on adolescent substance abuse.

Dr. Joel Carnazzo, who works with recovering adolescent addicts at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, acknowledged parents face myriad choices, none of them good, about how to deal with children in recovery.

He said the first line of Families Anonymous' adoptive prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change ..." is a good guide to accepting a child's behavior.

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Carnazzo also said parents should realize that teens are influenced by their peers than they are adults.

Asked by parents who struggle with intervening in their children's lives or heeding advice that their children will do what they will do regardless, he said teens may deny they want parental authority, but crave it.

Also among the panels were three people profiled in the Daily Herald's "Hidden Scourge" series, who spoke of their experiences, and of the Herald's stories about drug use in the suburbs.

Kane County Circuit Court Judge Jim Doyle, who delivered an afternoon address, urged FA members to shed some of their anonymity.

Addiction is a disease, and must be dealt with as such, Doyle said. Anonymity attaches a stigma to addiction that prevents legislators from treating it as a disease, and funding treatment programs, he added.

"You've got to stand up, ladies and gentlemen, you've got to stand up ... and get the stigma off of it," said Doyle, who runs a unique drug court in Kane County aimed at helping addicts get treatment.

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