Dillon – Age 15
Dillon’s dream as a very young child was “to be a famous soccer player when I grow up”. Attending soccer camps, practices, and games, his life was geared around soccer from the time he was big enough to kick a ball. He was on select soccer teams and his parents supported his passion with enthusiasm and shared the love of the sport.
Dillon had a history of “anger issues” and acting out his anger while on the field. His coaches would reportedly “turn their heads” to his fits and yelling because he was known “as the best soccer player on the team”. Around age 12, Dillon “went too far” with his anger, punching another player. He was removed from the team.
I met Dillon when he was 14 years old. I knew from our first meeting Dillon absolutely adored weed (marijuana). It was a love affair. He was consumed with weed and justified every single aspect of smoking it. He loved its taste, aroma, how it looked, what it felt like, how it made him feel, and the buddies he hung out with while smoking.
Dillon was an expert in making a “bong” (smoking apparatus) out of soda cans, an apple, a vaporizer, an ink pen, water bottles, and bottle caps. He was proud of his creativity and would boast about it while attending an adolescent chemical dependency group I was conducting at the time. Dillon’s identity (by his choice) was grounded in his knowledge and expertise regarding the substance he adored. Weed had replaced soccer in his life.
Dillon was in total control of his family. His marijuana use was driving his parents “insane” and they feared he would graduate to other drugs. Yet, they did not take a stand against his blatant and determined smoking. They bought into his justification of ,“It’s better than alcohol”, and, “It’s not really a drug”, as well as, “It helps me with my anxiety”.
At 15 Dillon invited Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Demerol into his love affair with weed. Xanax and ecstasy were added around the age of 16. Basically, he reported “eating any pill I can get my hands on”. He reported the easy accessibility in obtaining “pills”, allowing him to use on a regular basis.
At 16, Dillon’s mom found him non-responsive in his bed one morning and called 911. He was taken to the hospital after paramedics worked diligently to revive him.
Dillon had accidentally overdosed on Xanax and hydrocodone on top of marijuana.
Dillon continued to use drugs “on and off” for the next 9 years, never ceasing to smoke marijuana. He insisted on “smoking weed daily” and justified his “right and need” to do so.
Dillon now shares an account of his life that might surprise some. He states his removal from the soccer team was devastating yet deserved. He speaks of curiosity about “the coaches allowing me to get by with my horrible outbursts for years” and then, “cutting me from the team only because they had to do something after they allowed me to be an ass”. He feels “They (coaches) should have been stricter and put their foot down and not let a kid run the team because of his abilities”. Dillon says, “I was wrong and knew I could get by with anything with the coaches and my parents”. Dillon remembers, “My dad always being weak, and I resented him for not standing up to me”. “My mom believed anything I told her, and she was afraid of me”.
Dillon recalls “My parents wanted us to win and be the star of the team so badly, they allowed me to be totally disrespectful and treat everyone like crap – they were scared of me”.
When Dillon was abruptly removed from the team, he lost his status, position, influence, and identity. He remembers gravitating to the “druggies” because they “accept anyone and just want to get high”. He escalated to “other things” (pills) because “I had no fear and wanted to get high”. “My parents let me manipulate them into believing I needed to smoke weed.”
The anger towards the coaches and his parents ran deep. His wish for his dad was to “not have lived through me” his disrespect for the coaches for “making me feel I was untouchable because I was a great athlete.”
Dillon learned to self-medicate his pain, loss, anger, confusion, and resentment with drugs when soccer was gone. At 25, when he could not obtain a meaningful job, he stopped the habits he had created many years back. He entered college, stopped using all substances, graduated from college, got married, and has two small boys today. He doesn’t justify “smoking weed” and identifies the side effects including; depression, lack of motivation, the legal aspects, and the stigma that goes along with it.
Dillon says he is “a strict and involved dad” and “I don’t make my kids think they are better than anyone else”. He doesn’t “push sports on them” nor “live through them”. Dillon instills boundaries and consequences with his boys, not like his own childhood.
When raising kids, there is an underlining foundation, proving to be necessary. Boundaries and consequences…