Each year impaired drivers put thousands of lives in dangerAn article in The (Easton, PA) Express-Times reports a child, riding with his impaired father, was so fearful of Dad’s driving abilities that he snuck in a 911 call from the backseat while Dad was driving.The Rhode Island father, Owen Gilman, had his 10-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter in the vehicle when he commenced to drive like a maniac. The son was so in fear of crashing at the high rate of speed his father was driving that he told the dispatcher he was considering jumping out of the car. It was reported that the father had smoked marijuana (police found the stuff in plain view) and had been drinking when he left with the children.And that fearful 10-year-old was not so far off with his fear. The car rear-ended a Jeep Cherokee and sent it down an embankment. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. The kids went to the hospital for cuts and bruises, and the driver of the Cherokee was reported to be in fair condition.Dad went to jail, where he was given multiple charges, including reckless driving, driving under the influence and other related charges.The secondary tragedy of this incident is the fear and mistrust those children must now feel towards their father, who is being held on 35,000 bond.
So many parents put their children in jeopardy over their denial that they are impaired.There is Debra Oberlin, former president of a Florida chapter of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, who was arrested for her own DUI; Sherri Wilkins, a drug and alcohol counselor, who killed a pedestrian while driving under the influence – she was so drunk that she drove for two miles with her victim, Philip Moreno, still partially through the windshield; Cesar Ruiz, of Louisiana, who poured rum in his infant’s feeding tube; Brandi Baumgardner and Rebecca Rachelle Hill both used Heroin with their 14 and 12-year-old daughters, respectively.One would hope that those who worked in the field or rallied for change would know better, but such is the nature of addiction and the denial that goes with it. Addiction is a disease that tells those who have it they don’t – even those who should know better. Sadly, many of these parents perpetuate the addiction cycle that’s often passed down to their children. How many of those children who declare they will never repeat their parent’s mistakes move on into addiction themselves? It’s a sad statistic that those who work in the field of substance abuse and recovery are all too sadly aware of.If you are a parent and those around you challenge your abilities to care for your children due to substance abuse, maybe it’s time for a head’s up before someone’s life is forever changed. A vehicle isn’t the only weapon when one is entrenched in an addiction. Leaving drugs around a toddler is a recipe for disaster. Poor choices or lack of supervision leave children vulnerable to predators or other forms of abuse. Children may be vulnerable to poisons or other dangers in the home as well. Some parents feel that giving a child drugs to keep them asleep or to calm them is a reasonable solution, but it ‘s like playing Russian roulette with overdose and death as possible results.
Effects on the children of addictsEmotionally, these children grow up in fear and often lack self-esteem. Shame of exposing family secrets may get in the way of a normal social life. They may grow into adults that are clueless as to what a healthy living situation should be. Some spend years in psychotherapy while others raise their own families with the same unhealthy dynamics. And many pass the cycle of addiction on to the next generation. That distorted lifestyle may be so familiar that those children learn that’s the way to do life.If you have a problem, seek help before the damage becomes too great for your children. If you are a grandparent or friend of an addicted parent, it may be tempting to look the other way, but then the children remain victims and may even be in danger. Trained professionals can answer your questions about what to do in these delicate situations. Perhaps intervening before the law or child protective services get involved is the best route. Addiction ruins lives – not just the life of the user, but those who surround him as well.
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