Kids who struggle with chemical dependency, drug/alcohol abuse, sexual acting out, bad attitudes and behaviors, and a double life come from all kinds of family structures, including married parents, divorced parents, remarried parents, and single parents. Some kids are birth children, and some are adopted. Some families are strong, loving, and committed, and some aren’t. Some are rich, some are poor, and some are in the middle. Some kids are smart, athletic, good looking, and religious, and some aren’t. However, all these kids and their families are the same as you and me, just real people created by God to love and be loved at a core-to-core level of intimacy and to fulfill God’s dreams for our purposes.
I’ve worked with more than 3,000 young adults and adolescents struggling with alcohol, drugs, pornography, sexual compulsions, compulsive videogaming, trauma, attachment wounds, relinquishment, depression, and the systemic problems that go with the territory. Every single one of these kids was gifted with the same awesome, God-given potential as any other kid. The solutions were never quick and easy, but they were always possible. In every situation I asked the question, “What makes this kid’s story make sense?” Not what makes it right or smart, but how did they get to this point? When a young person gets involved in these struggles, all involved parents and counselors want to find the cause, and rightly so, because when you find the cause, you find the keys to solutions.
But the cause of adolescent and young adult struggles is not singular, instead it is multiple, like a jigsaw puzzle picture with many pieces that work synergistically to create the big picture. Not all families are a part of the cause, but they are all indeed the primary resource for solutions. Discovering the jigsaw puzzle pieces is the first step to a full recovery. More than a million American adolescents and young adults will need treatment for alcohol and other drug abuse this year, and many more will be diagnosed with depression. Many tens of thousands will go to inpatient treatment programs. The parents within those families all want sobriety and a successful life for their children. Sadly, the majority will fail. Only the minority will succeed. What determines the outcome? The successful families: (1) identify the extent or facts of the problem behaviors, (2) discover the causes, (3) create a strategic game plan, and (4) diligently take intentional daily action until the battle is won, which includes the parents doing “their own work” when needed.
In other words, the families who succeed are the ones who accurately determine the severity of the situation and bring a big enough gun to the fight. Taking a BB gun to a grizzly bear hunt is not a good idea. I often say “winning the battle,” and I want to clarify what I mean. Winning, overcoming, defeating, and other words denoting the same concept are thought of in terms of an ending point. For example, “we won the game” means the game is over and we had more points than the other team. “We defeated the enemy” means the battle or war is over and we are the victors. Winning, in the context of the battles Capstone fights with families, is defined by direction and process, not by destination of an endpoint. It is about turning directions to a path that is healthy, balanced, fruitful, and fulfilling.
Setbacks don’t turn into comebacks by getting lucky. Any comeback is built on a winning strategy. The strategy includes praying with humility, planning with wisdom, and acting with courage. The winning attitude is like the tortoise on a triathlon, not the rabbit on a hundred-yard dash.
If you’ve ever had a child in life-and-death danger, either physically or spiritually, you know that nightmares can be true. You may never have said it, but did you ever feel like God had broken the rules? Did you make statements like, “How could God let this happen?” I did. Any of us parents would feel this way. Our experience with our clients and their families is that God is there to help us struggle through and overcome difficult situations. Wrestling with the scripture “All things work together for good for those that love the Lord” is a part of these kinds of dark days. That is where faith has a chance to show up … in doubt. Without doubt, there is no need for faith. Without fear we would not need courage, and if we weren’t discouraged we wouldn’t need hope.
After years of working with young adults and adolescent males and their families in these battles, I asked myself, “If my son or daughter were struggling in this way, what kind of program would I want for them?” My question was answered with the vision of a program that had all the things I had ever dreamed of that would help a kid and his family win this battle. God has blessed that vision into a reality: Capstone Treatment Center. Its name is no accident, because it honors our Builder. That you are reading this letter is no accident either. I believe that someday, maybe even today, you’ll know someone who needs help because of the nightmare some family is facing. In your search for solutions, please don’t wish for a good outcome or hope for good luck, because overcoming these struggles is not about wishing or luck.
Pray for God’s guidance and see where He leads you.
Adrian Hickmon, Ph.D.
Capstone Treatment Center