"Our Daughter Is on Drugs"

Julia and William are struggling to maintain their marriage in the wake of their daughter's drug abuse. Can this marriage be saved?
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Her Turn

Lies, Lies, Lies

"I should have known," says 41-year-old Julia, reaching for another tissue to wipe her red, tearing eyes. "We'd suspected for some time that our daughter, Ariel, was smoking pot, but we had no proof. Then one day last year, I found a joint in her jacket pocket when I took it to the cleaners. As if that wasn't bad enough, a teenage neighbor told us, 'I thought you should know: I saw Ariel snorting coke at a party.'

"I'll never forget that awful night when we confronted her. I said, 'Ariel, are you using drugs?' 

"She shot back, 'Are you crazy?' 

"My husband, William, could barely control himself. He yelled, 'Don't pull that garbage on us. Mom found a joint in your coat!' 

"'That was my friend Sherry's,' she lied. 'You never trust me! You never believe anything I say!' 

"At last, Ariel admitted sullenly, 'Okay, I get high sometimes, but it's no big deal.' Since then, we've tried everything to help her. We've taken her to psychologists and experts on teen drug use; she's been in and out of treatment programs. But she's 18 now and still using. My older sister, Helen, had a drug problem in college, so I should have recognized the signs earlier.

"I don't know if our marriage can survive this strain. I love William dearly, and up till now he's always been there for me, yet suddenly he's become remote and cold. How can he act like this when our daughter's life is at stake? 

"Still, I never thought we'd have any serious problems with Ariel. She was popular, always excelled at school and was very close to her brother, Matt, who's 11 now. 

 
A Downward Spiral

"The trouble began when those devastating floods hit Iowa a few years ago. We barely had time to throw a change of clothes into the car and evacuate to a motel in a nearby town. The entire first floor of our house--including Ariel's bedroom--was destroyed. On the surface, Ariel seemed to be coping. But soon she grew moody and started hanging out with kids we knew had dubious reputations.

"Then Ariel began cutting classes. She seemed lethargic. Occasionally, I'd find a bottle of eyedrops or decongestant in her room, not realizing that she was trying to hide her telltale red eyes and runny nose. Yet any time we confronted her, she'd shout, 'Get off my case!' It was always 'the other kids' who were getting high.

"Once we discovered the truth, our whole family was turned upside down. Matt was devastated. Then William started to shut me out. Actually, he flip-flops. Some days, we'll talk about nothing except Ariel. Then at other times, he'll clam up and look as if he'll explode if I say another word.

Continued on page 2:  Her Turn, continued

 

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