Kim Smith was terrified.
It was 2004 and her teenage daughter was in crisis. The summer after her freshman year at Mira Costa, she fell into what Smith calls “substance mis-use.”
Over an eighteen month period, Smith didn’t know where to turn. How, she thought, can she handle this situation and not destroy her relationship with her child?
“There’s such as fine line between normal teenage curiosity and stepping over that line,” she said. “What does a parent do when you’re legally responsible for your kid? And all of the people involved in your life say you have to do something, but what do you do?”
Smith blamed herself. Did she let it get out of control, she asked herself. When she reached out for help, she said people shrugged their shoulders. A school administrator told her: “If I couldn’t control my daughter, they would send someone in to do it.”
The Redondo Beach mom felt she was the only person in the world struggling. Added to her stress was the beach cities cultural assumption that she was supposed to have it “all together.”
Even though other parents struggle with substance abuse issues with their teens, nobody talks about it, said Smith.
“All you hear is the bragging: ‘My son just made Eagle Scout; we just adopted a child from Ethiopia,’ was what Smith heard. “What was my brag letter?,” Smith asked. “My kid just graduated from her 12-step program?”
Smith was determined to use her experience to help other parents. For four years, she ran the Substance Abuse Prevention and Education Task Force at Manhattan Beach Unified school district. She conducted…
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