Parent Perspectives

Parents of addicts offer unique and personal stories of their children suffering from addiction

A Mother's Perspective

“My son had shoulder surgery in his sophomore year of high school,” Cindy Munger said.  “And that’s when I gave him his first Oxycontin.”

“I remember his face.  He just got this look and frankly it reminded me of the 1960’s when people were taking things you would never be prescribed,” Munger said.  “You would never be prescribed something that would give you the face that I saw on my son.”

When Munger gave her son that pill, she had no idea that four years later, she would be pulling her son out of college for an addiction that he had lost control over.

“He had great SAT’s, early acceptance and a baseball scholarship,” Munger said.  “However he was missing all of his classes because he was taking as many pills as he could for the sole purpose of being able to pretend he had no pain.”
Once he was pulled out of school, that same loss of control continued and Munger’s son quickly went from popping pills to shooting up heroin.

Now 25 and in recovery, her son’s story is actually no different than thousands of high school aged students across the country.

A study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that in 2016 12% of twelfth graders had abused some form of prescription drug.  This abuse is even more popular among athletes who suffer an injury.  

When an opioid is prescribed after a surgery, many times the former patient can be found popping as many pills as they can for pain that is no longer there.

And what’s the biggest problem for someone with a painkiller addiction? It is expensive.  So they go looking for something cheaper and stronger.  And for just ten dollars, they find exactly that.


In addition to the abuse, prescription drug use in the last decade or so has created an entirely new population of young heroin users.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 80 percent of those who began using opioids in the 1960s and are now entering treatment for heroin addiction, started with heroin.Of those who began abusing opioids in the 2000s, 75 percent reported that their first opioid was a prescription drug.  Additionally, nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin.  

The gateway is clear.  However, it leads back to where these now heroin addicts first got their hands on their first prescription opioid.

In a 2013 and 2014 study done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), it was found that 50.5 percent of people who misused prescription painkillers got them from a friend or relative.  22.1 percent got them from a doctor.

Munger had called her son’s doctor immediately after his surgery and presented her concerns about the OxyContin he had been prescribed.

“I told the doctor I was concerned about how potent the prescription looked,” Munger said.  “The doctor told me not to worry.  He said it was proven that people cannot become addicted unless they take it really hardcore for 21 straight days.”

Now watching her son struggle everyday with a battle he will face for the rest of his life, Munger highlights the anger she feels about the lies she and millions of others have been told.

“As a mother, I am angry and ashamed that the doctors knew they would make addicts,” Munger said.  “They administered pills that should be locked up in the same shelf for end of life and only administered at the end of life.  They knew it all along.”

For now, Munger holds onto her hope and prays that  she will not have to suffer the same loss so many other mothers have.

“Everyday I wake up and think ‘Is this gonna be a good day?,’ Munger said. “And I hang onto my hope and swallow my discouragement and close my ranks around the people who have lost their kids.  I keep plugging because I want to see a change.”

Written by Allie Stein

Addiction doesn’t just touch the life of the addict, it touches the lives of those close to them as well. Parents of addicts suffer watching their children struggle with this disease. Created by: Katie Muska

Two Addicted Children Under One Roof

Skylar Smith was just like any other kid growing up. He lived in a normal home with a mother, a father and one brother. He was in the gifted and talented program as a younger child, he took seven years of classical music and he even graduated valedictorian of his private high school. He had scholarships to any school he wanted to go to. Skylar was on the road to success.

He was 17 then. Now Skylar is 22, and he is in jail.

“A lot of people think these children, they come from broken homes and they’re misguided and it’s not the case,” Skylar’s mother, Victoria Smith, said. “We had a really good support system in place. But it wasn’t enough and things went south really fast.”

Addiction can happen to anyone. It does not discriminate against certain ages, genders, races or household incomes. It does not matter if someone is a “good person” or not. Addiction is a disease that can inflict anyone.

“When an individual is using a substance, the individual doesn’t realize that they’re affecting the entire family’s system,” Mike Blanche, licensed social worker and therapist, said. “The brothers, the sisters, the parents. The individual that’s using the substance doesn’t really know their brains are hijacked, they’re just thinking about their next high, the next substance. They’re not thinking about how addiction affects everybody else.”

Blanche describes addiction as being a “disease of perception and perspective,” meaning how people see themselves and how they see the world around them.

“A lot of kids will minimize the impact of their substance use of their families. They won’t see it as a problem. But it does. A lot of parents go sleepless nights,” Blanche said.

Victoria was no different.

“He had a really robust life. But he also had a secret life, you know, and we started to realize that. And we were very involved parents, but we were almost like the last to know,” Victoria said.

“And that’s a really scary thing because it happens all the time for the well intentioned parents that you know you’re taking your kid to music lessons or they’re in plays or they’re in sports. You’re on top of them, you think you know everything. You don’t.”

Victoria’s son went in and out of rehab. She described the process as pulling out all the stops and putting up every barricade that she and her husband could find. One of the owners of a facility gave them high praise for their efforts, saying that they would win the olympic gold medal for parents in just doing what they had to do to keep their son alive.

“It’s hard to imagine. You know, you look at kids and you see, oh they have a lack of self esteem,” Victoria said. “Well that is a really important point because a lot of these kids do have self esteem issues, for whatever reason we don’t know.”

Victoria’s second son, Sloan, was not immune to the disease of addiction, either. As a high schooler, he was prescribed oxycodone. And although Victoria would split up the tablets and only gave him a couple, that’s where things went wrong with him, and it snowballed. His road to recovery was much smoother though, with his story ending with him being a year and a half sober today.

“Parents, always trust the gut. That’s my big thing,” Victoria said. “Trust your gut, get on the same page. You need to do your research, and you need to understand what this disease is because at the end of the day it’s a russian roulette game. That’s all it is.”

Written by Katie Muska