This week, here at Mumsy, we are spotlighting the hard things in life. We love to share joy-filled ideas, yummy recipes, and beauty trends. And while those are good and fun, this week we wanted to address the hard things in life too. Because life IS hard. For some of us, it's harder than others. And for each of us our trials, at their peaks, feel like they are harder than we can bear. Thankfully most of the time we endure and sometimes we are fortunate enough to conquer those trials.
We become stronger and wiser. We grow and learn. And sometimes we become better people. Overall how we react and choices we make during those hard times shape who we become and they become a part of us. And sometimes we feel comfortable with sharing those gut-wrenching moments with others in hopes to help and maybe prevent future turmoil. Today we are privileged to hear from Dustin John, a recovering drug addict, who has offered to share his experience with us today. I asked him to share his knowledge and some ideas for parents on how to protect our children from addiction. This is his opinions and experience. 
We all know drug addiction is serious. But many of us may not know how to prevent it or even worse, tackle the addiction when it happens. Parents, mothers, you are doing your best. But if you have found a child or loved one has become addicted, here are some resources for you. Here at Mumsy we care for each of our readers and feel for the trials in your lives. If you have a loved one facing addiction we wish you strength and love. We hope you find this information useful, and as always wish you peace!

Drug Addiction Help For Parents

1. Can you tell us a little about your background and your experience with Drug addiction or addiction in general?
I began using drugs recreationally when I was about 17. That was the point in my life when I realized that I didn’t fit in very well with the majority of my peers. Experimenting with what many call the gateway drug, marijuana seemed to open friendship doors that were previously nailed shut or non-existent. Using marijuana also helped to soften the blow of feeling like an outsider. I was labeled a not-so-cool kid. At 17, I was too young to realize that I had been a daily user of the real gateway drugs, nicotine and caffeine.  I picked up my first cigarette at the innocent age of 11 and was a full-on, daily smoker by age 15. Caffeine is so tightly wound into American culture we often feed it to our children when they are still on all-fours. There is page after page to be said about the socially accepted drugs, so I will move on and save those for later blog posts.
My life seemed to be going quite well after high school however. After a swift kick in the butt by my father, I graduated with a high GPA and I found a beautiful woman who I later married. As most people in their early 20s, I thought I had the world by the horns. I thought I had life all figured out, there was nothing more for me to learn. I couldn’t have been more wrong. By the age of 21 I found myself in the midst of a humiliating bankruptcy and a failing marriage that lasted a brief, but heart crushing 24 months. This time in my life was truly devastating. On the surface I appeared strong and fairly apathetic to my devastating circumstances. The emotional waters seemed calm. No one knew that a towering tsunami was building, just miles off-shore.
For the next 10 years, I became completely helpless against any and all drugs. My moral boundaries were only a vestige in the high winds of amoral chaos. My inability and inexperience to cope with my sour affairs became the ignition source for a raging inferno that no one could extinguish. For many years I believed that I could get my drug use under control. I thought it was just a phase that I would snap out of. I thought my addiction was a vicissitude of my will. From marijuana to Lortab, from Lortab to mushrooms, from mushrooms to acid (LSD), from acid to cocaine, from cocaine to heroin. At each demoralizing juncture, a little more helplessness and self-sabotage would seep its way in. I used cocaine and heroin intravenously for many years before understanding the full process and very complicated science behind addiction. Up to that point, I never understood why I kept going back to using drugs and alcohol and it didn’t matter how hard I tried to stay sober. My attempts always fell short. I have relapsed over 100 times in 13 years. I have tried every logical method to stay sober.  Some were even illogical but they were a cry for help none-the-less. Out of over 30 methods that I have used to stay sober, only ONE has worked for me. To learn more about what methods I have tried, please go to

I have been homeless. I have lived on my parents porch. I have slept in their shed. I’ve slept under bridges. I’ve slept and homesteaded in abandoned fields. I have lived in a car and I have lived in a tent. I have lived with my heroin dealer and I have lived in sleazy motels. I have stolen from my loved ones and I have watched a man overdose. I have put a gun to a mans head. I have been kidnapped by a gang of chainsaw wielding thugs. I have wrecked a stolen car. The list goes on. I have handed over everything good, anything loving and caring in my life- for one more shot of soul robbing heroin.
These are the appalling actions your children can and WILL do if they chose to do drugs. Doing drugs or drinking in excess is self-medication for a much deeper and serious mental void. Drinking and drugs are only a symptom of a much bigger problem.
I have been clean from heroin and cocaine for almost 6 years. I had a brief relapse on pain killers in January 2012. My current sobriety date for drugs and alcohol is February 1, 2012.
There are many ways we can help our children to live drug and alcohol free and in the next question I will begin to talk about how we can give our children the very best chance at a sober, happy future.
2. What are your thoughts on a child's environment both at home and school contributing to addiction?
Scientific studies have made it perfectly clear how a child’s environment contributes directly to addiction in later years. The research, especially in the last few years is undeniable. Just a decade ago, addiction and alcoholism was easily passed off as genetic or you hear the statement “it’s in the genes”. Now that the truth is out, that our early environment is what triggers our genes on or off, or in other words, our genes are modified by our environment without changing our DNA sequence, scientific circles had to implement epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of environment coupled with genetics. This finding, in my amateur opinion is monumental.  
We now understand that no drug is inherently addictive. This is why most people who have experienced drugs do not become addicted. Tests have proven this over and over. So why do some people become addicted and others do not? First, I need to explain how the majority of drugs affect the brain. “Addictive” drugs work to raise the brains “happy” or “self-soothing” chemicals; dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphin. I would argue (and with strong evidence) that a child’s brain is learning how to properly excrete these chemicals from pre-birth, in the womb, up to age five. If an infant is raised in an environment that does not allow these extremely important brain functions to develop automatically, their chance of becoming an addict and or alcoholic is largely increased. What can cause these brain deficiencies’?
  1. A stressed out “expecting mother” (causing the fetus to be bathed in cortisol etc.), loud or constant commotion while in the womb, lack of nutrition for the mother.
  2. Lack of: breastfeeding, eye contact, soothing touches, cooing, smiling, holding and swaddling.
  3. Not raising a child in a nuclear family. (Having the mother and father in the same home) This is the biggest predictor of negative behavior throughout the child’s life.
  4. Not having at least one stay-at-home parent in the first 4 years of life. (When an infant experiences only 20 or more hours of daycare a week, the infant perceives it the same as paternal/maternal abandonment.)
  5. Physical abuse including spanking. (Spanking is a detachment word that softens the blow of what we are actually doing which is hitting our innocent and dependent children.)
  6. Verbal abuse. Yelling, screaming, and calling names or profanities.
  7. Emotional abuse. Not allowing our children to explore their emotions or not being there for them on a true emotional level.
  8. Sexual abuse.
  9. Neglect. Not meeting the needs and or wants of our children. Number four can also be considered a form of neglect. Just remember, during our childrens first four years of life, 90% of their brain develops through their experiences!
  10. Teaching our children to respect a hierarchy no matter what the circumstances. This is what we do to gain power and dominance over our children and it has been proven to be ineffective. It is wrong in so many ways. Teaching them to negotiate is what works. Win/win negotiations, not win/lose.
  11. Lying to our children. One very important thing you can do for your child is be honest with them. Don’t make up answers. Don’t make up stories. If you don’t know the answer, explore the answer with them. Never get mad at your child for telling you the truth. Even if they did something terrible. Thirty percent of children, when dealing with a problem chose to NOT go to their parents because the problem gets worse. They then have to deal with their problems alone and believe that is the way life is. What does this say about a lot of parents? A genuine, honest bond is essential and building it early will make the teen years much smoother. Don’t skip over the deep, important but difficult topics about life lessons. A strong parent and child bond also alleviates the possibility for bullying and to stave off sexual predators. I talk more about this on my blog site. The positive outcomes of a strong bond with your child are mind blowing.
  12. Divorce. Divorce is extremely tough on children and it creates a huge crater in their life. If there is a divorce, it will be an uphill battle for the child(ren) and their chances of at least some negative life outcomes is almost certain.
3. What would you say is the most important action a parent can do to help with drug prevention?
I would have to say the most important action a parent can do to prevent drug addiction is to study all they can about peaceful parenting. Our society does not tolerate a husband hitting his wife when she does something wrong so we should definitely not tolerate hitting our innocent children. Our children should be held at the highest of standards. Keep and live by universal principles. Children are smart and they know when we have a universal principle that we exclude ourselves from. Spare the rod spoil the child is complete crap. The circle of violence begins in the home. There are many honest moral principles that should be practiced until achieved but when 85-90% of women claim they are still “spanking” their children; I think this is the best place to start.
4. Are there any resources out there to further educate parents about addiction prevention?
WEBSITES:  search words: peaceful parenting, bomb in the brain, addiction
YOUTUBE VIDEOS:  The Biology, Morality and Politics of Addiction - Dr Gabor Maté  Interview - Dr. Gabor Mate - Close Encounters with Addiction
5. What advice would you have for a parent whose child is experimenting with drugs?
I think it would benefit all of you to be very upfront and honest about the situation. Don’t keep it quiet because you think it may just be a “phase”. Don’t sweep it under the rug in hopes that it will just go away. If your child is experimenting, there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Convincing your child that the path they are taking is a very destructive and progressive one should be addressed. They need love and understanding. Therapy is almost always necessary but making it happen is not in your full control. At this point, the ship has left the dock but is still in sight sort-of-speak. If a child is already experimenting with drugs without your consent, the imprinting of his/her peers has already taken place. Parents have the most control over their children’s drug use before they begin to experiment. Prevention is now thrown out the window. I know that isn’t very comforting but my job is to be honest, not comforting.
6. What advice would you have for a parent whose child is addicted to drugs?
If your child is addicted to drugs/alcohol, the addiction has already begun to affect the entire family. Not in an abstract way but in a real, tangible, co-dependent and destructive way. Do not continue enabling your child's actions. That means no more financial help and no more allowing him/her to live within your home. Until the current system that’s in place starts to have addicts interest at the center of the so-called drug war, all financial ties to the addict must be cut by the parents. Allowing your loved one to continue living in your home; using drugs/alcohol on your dime will only slow the process, making it much more painful in the long run. Some form of family addiction counseling should be attended whether it is an addiction counselor or some sort of Alanon recovery option. These will help your family in ways I can’t even begin to explain. If you are the type of person who thinks you don’t need counseling, you are the one who may need it most. Finding the right counselor is very important.  Choose a counselor wisely; one who fits your family criteria and dynamic.
7. Any other thoughts for parents and increasing addiction awareness?
I know I have talked a lot about spanking children and child raising practices which may seem to be off the topic of drugs but I assure you all that there is deep correlation between the way we raise our children and drug/alcohol/nicotine addiction.  It isn’t just spanking our children that can cause addiction but it is a very large part of the problem. I know a lot of people have been violently abused and never used drugs as adults. Correlation is not causation but it does have significant negative repercussions with one of them being addiction. If you are currently dealing with a loved one who is actively using/drinking, please reach out for help. You cannot do it alone and you are not alone. There are currently millions of us just like you online and throughout your social networks who are bringing this life crushing disease to the forefront of society. I hope this short version of this topic has been helpful.

 I expand on it in much greater detail on my blog site Please feel free to stop by with questions, concerns or critiques or to find out more information about addiction. If you would like to stay anonymous to the public you can email me at

I have co-authored a book with my father that details my entire addiction. What took place during my active addiction, what my family went through, how we all coped, as well as a huge amount of information on addiction in America. I wrote a chapter of the book detailing my accounts during a certain time of my active addiction and my father wrote the next chapter detailing the family perspective from the same time-frame. A very uniquely written, educational book with a gripping story-line. Follow my blog post for release updates on the books publication.
Once again, if you would like more details, here is Dustin's blog


  1. Glad to see you writing again Dustin, this is a excellent question and answer blog about addiction. Please read this informative information if your child is on or thinking about being on drugs. Love, The Mom of a recovering addict

    1. We were honored to have him share such a hard and personal journey.

  2. First, I applaud the Mums for taking on a subject like this on their blog site. It's often too easy to keep things light and airy, avoiding some of the harsher realities of life. Especially one's that are a bit scary and carry some elements of shame.

    I have shared comments with Dustin on our own blog sites. Through our addiction experiences and the curiosity to understand of it all happened in the first place, we share common ground. When I read this post on Mumsy, I was quite excited. I sense this is a popular site and many followers are going to be exposed to a different belief about the underpinnings of addiction and they will go out and trumpet it to the world. I was brought back down to earth with the thought of "will they read once and understand". It took my own experience with addiction and then a dogged pursuit of knowledge before the pieces began to fit together. But, I'll leave it in God's hand.

    Adding my own two cents, if anyone is interested to learn more beyond this superbly written post and has very little time, click on the link for Dr. Gabor Mate. He is an amazing man with deep knowledge on this subject matter.

    Well done Justin!

    1. iceman18, thank you. This is probably one of the the most heavy topics we have ever posted about here on Mumsy. But our site is dedicated to helping women and mothers and this means we have to address the hard things in life. We can't others by pretending the world is all craft time and parties. We love those things, don't get us wrong, but life is full of a lot more. We are so taken back by Dustin's story and hope that the information shared helps someone out there.

    2. I am excited for the book be published, so that it may help families who are dealing with children who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. This book is well written and it is different because Dustin writes one chapter and his father writes another clear through till the end of the book. Even though we have lost Dustin's father to a terrible disease he did not relapse and I am so proud of him.

    3. That's sound very informative. And yes, we hope this provides help.

  3. This is a great post and from experience I know that gaining as much support and information for the parent is essential in helping your child overcome addiction. I recently came across an interactive 'game/quiz' which is a great tool to pinpointing the tell-tale signs of drug use and alcoholism in your child which I feel you may all find informative -

    Being a mum has its ups and downs and addiction is one of those things I wouldn't wish on any family. But as I say, from experience, the overwhelming sense of love and pride when you help your child through it makes the bond stronger than ever. My daughter is now 8months clean after a 5 year battle.

    1. Wow! Congrats!!! And thanks for sharing that site!