Substance Abuse Treatment for a 3-year-old?

Today started off like any day usually does — any day post-substance abuse treatment that is. I woke up, brewed myself some coffee, and checked my email. Some days I’ll finish my coffee – that’s a coffee sans Baileys, since 1997 – in front of some Internet news headlines. I can’t stand listening to the voices of cheesy local news anchors in the morning. But today, my heart sank as I caught a headline of the New York Times online that read: “3-year-old child…England’s youngest alcoholic.” As horrifying visions of a toddler walking through the doors of a substance abuse treatment center danced through my mother-of-4 mind, I clicked on the incredulous link to read more. Apparently, doctors treated the unnamed child for withdrawal symptoms when shakes and wild mood swings were recognized. They estimated that the child had to be consuming alcohol repeatedly over at least a six month period to develop a dependency like that.

I’ve heard of women giving birth to children with addictions because the women were too sick with this disease to give up their drugs in return for a healthy child. But I’ve never heard of something like this. This is shocking and appalling. This gives so much new meaning to the phrase “underage drinking.” As a mother, in recovery myself, I can honestly say that at my sickest, during the darkest of my substance abuse days, there was never a time where I would have even considered force-feeding my child alcohol.

Underage drinking has always been a problem, since the dawn of drinking laws. I agree that it is not an issue to be taken lightly, because it causes all sorts of health problems, from changes in brain development to higher rates of physical and sexual assault and homicide and suicide. But this goes beyond underage drinking! As a mother, I’m outraged! This raises questions and discussions that go much further than the dangers of high-schoolers stealing liquor from their parents. This case only signifies the struggle to control an alcohol-abusing, binge-drinking culture. There needs to be a call to action. We have spread the word for substance abuse treatment and the benefits and positive impacts that treatment can have on one’s life.

Tina G.