DennisBeaverAugust 23, 2014   •  By Dennis Beaver

Narcotics Officer Frank Martinez of the Hanford Police Department is a soft-spoken, easy-to-like guy, revealing a passion for his job and profound desire to “just help, to make my community a better place.”

Blessed with a rich vocabulary used as an artist’s pallet, when speaking to kids and young adult drug users, he paints a picture of where they are headed.

“I have been in this job long enough to see the path you are taking and where you are going to end up. You are going to end up dead or in jail for a really long time, deprived of all the nice amenities you have on the outside. You will definitely experience things that you do not want to experience, things that I have seen that you do not want to ever see.”

“They must be told — they must know the consequences of their actions and information on treatment programs, court ordered or otherwise,” Martinez tells You and the Law, advice that all parents can use. “I have seen success stories and lots of failure. Success depends on something else that no treatment program can offer.”

There must be a catalyst — something has to happen

Ultimately, for a child to change, there must be a catalyst, something must be ingrained in order for the child to change course. Something significant has to occur and could be as simple as being caught by a police office and brought home to mom and dad, caught by parents, to the extreme of being put in jail and their liberty taken away.

But there have to be consequences leading to an understanding —especially in the high school years before age 18–they must learn to be responsible for their own actions.

“The challenge for parents whose kids are using drugs is in avoiding a situation where a breaking point is reached–where they feel you are ‘suppressing’ or being ‘on top of them’ all the time — and they run away from home, justified in their own immature brains that they are tired of your attitude. Parents in this situation often hear, ‘I’m going to do what I want to do.’ “

“As parents, we try to tell our kids what life is, but so many children think that they already know what life is all about. Where kids can go to extremes, parents must be consistent at all times and allow our children to face the consequences of their own choices and behavior.

“This is where the term enabler comes into play. When a parent does not allow the child to face those consequence — bails the kid of trouble, makes excuses for bad behavior — then you create a situation where what is unacceptable continues into adult life, usually with disastrous results,” Martinez notes.

Families are usually aware of a drug problem

“Unlike family members being unaware when a child is a gang member, I typically find with drugs that most know what’s going on. They notice, especially when you have a child dealing drugs, they have more money than they should. They have nicer things than you are able to provide. Most parents will know by instinct that something is very wrong.

“Instead of being in denial, I often find disgust and detachment from their own teenage children who have drug or alcohol problems, reasoning, ‘I don’t bother him and he doesn’t bother me.’ This is not an effective approach,” Martinez firmly maintains.

Stay on the wagon by dumping your drug friends

“Why does someone fall off the wagon and go back to drug use?” we asked.

“In treatment you are cut off from access to drugs, but you’ve got to get away from the people who associate you with drugs. They will draw you back. The craving can be overcome, but the strongest catalyst that draws you back, that re-ignites your desire to use again, are the people you must get away from, the peer pressure.

“We’ve all seen the cartoon with an angel and devil. It’s happening to these people who have been clean, they’ve gone through withdrawal sickness. The good angel says, ‘Do you want to go through that again? You’re doing so well, you are beating this thing!’ “

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.