If you are a parent of a teenager — or an adult child — and suspect possible abuse of alcohol and/or drugs, go to Parents Helping Parents, www.parentshelpingparents.info.
You will find education, information and contact with other families.
Parents Helping Parents (PHP) was born out of the frightening and painful experience of Vickie and Pat Nichols, of Edmond.
Back in the '90s, their 16-year-old son began abusing alcohol and drugs. Not knowing the warning signs, they believed it was mere “experimentation.”
Later they learned that teachers, counselors, coaches and parents of their son's friends suspected there was an issue with substance abuse, but none of them mentioned their suspicions to the Nicholses. Pat is quick to acknowledge even if they had suggested that to him he probably would not have believed it. He calls that the denial with which parents protect themselves.
It wasn't until their son turned 18 they felt there was something much more sinister going on. It was another seven years before they reached out for professional help from an alcohol/drug counselor and another two years before Vickie and Pat, with the help of a professional counselor, began making changes in their own behavior to stop enabling.
Out of their frustrating and painful journey and the desire to turn the situation into something positive, the two began to talk openly about their experience. Soon other parents began to reach out to them and in 2001, they had their first group meeting and Parents Helping Parents was begun.
PHP is now a national nonprofit organization with two chapters in Oklahoma — Edmond and Norman.
Pat and Vickie will never forget the dark hours when they desperately needed help and did not know where to turn.
Because of that, Pat established a local crisis helpline, 642-8198, available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. year-round, which averages 300 calls per year.
In the '90s, parents were not as informed and educated about recognizing and treating substance abuse.
It is now 2012, and if you are concerned, Parents Helping Parents is a place to begin.
The Nichols' son is now 35 and in recovery.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at email@example.com.