We know that drugs cost money and it's not small change I'm talking about. I'm talking hundreds and thousands of dollars for drugs when someone we care about has developed a drug problem. And getting access to drugs takes lots of shapes and forms. Doing favours for someone to get 'free drugs'. Selling a guitar, a play station or phone to get drugs. Or trading these items at Cash Converters ...to get drugs (personally, I detest Cash Converters). Or stealing from friends and family or 'borrowing' a credit card to purchase items to give to someone to get drugs. Or selling one's body for drugs... And across time family members are gradually caught up in this world of money and drugs. The trading and bargaining for drugs is endless. If I do this...you owe me this...if you really care you will give me more... and so it goes on. Slowly but surely, barely noticeable at first the behaviours of family members changes. Even after we notice it, don't like it and say 'no more' we can find ourselves giving money over and over again.
Some family members take their children (of any age) to get drugs to protect them. "I don't want the police catching him/her carrying drugs so I'll go and get them"..."I'll pay that drug debt to protect my child". But seeing that the situation is not improving (not just due to these behaviours) family members start to say 'no more giving money'. Yet this pattern of giving money, saying no, buying drugs, paying debts continues. And giving and not giving money or paying debts becomes a tug of war between family members and the people they love who has a drug problem. Yet family members continue to tell themselves that giving money might be the best thing to do. To keep the peace, to pay debts to drug dealers to save their children from having their legs broken, to prevent their houses from being broken into, to pay Cash Converters to get those precious items back (sometimes theirs, sometimes ours) to pay lawyers and barristers to advocate to keep their children out of jail or off some debt collectors black list. We pay those bills ($2,000, $8,000, $20,000) to keep everyone at bay and protect our child!
After years of working in the area of mental health, alcohol and other drugs, talking to many families and being affected by this problem myself I totally understand how and why family members find themselves in this tug of war between money and drugs. And we all have to do what we think is right for us and our family at the time. But my position these days, years down the track after giving and giving money is "don't give money". "Don't keep paying bills you cannot afford". Keep supporting and loving your child unconditionally in other ways but try hard to break the drugs and money cycle as early as possible. It's a spiral downwards where we can start to resent our child over money when we are the ones giving money (this is something in our control). And if we don't change this behaviour then we can fracture our relationship with the people we love and no positive change can happen.