R&B star Mario recently talked with The Fix about the Mario Do Right Foundation, an organization he established in 2007 to help kids who deal with alcoholism and drug abuse in their families and communities.
Through the Mario Do Right Foundation, the 26-year-old also created the “Live Right Do Right” program, a 16-week after-school program that both educates children about substance abuse and helps them cope with drug addiction and alcoholism in their families.
LRDR also provides family counseling and education for teachers and other school staff members:
A lot of these kids feel alienated because they live in crazy situations where they’re up late at night doing adult duties like taking care of their family. This program gives the school the opportunity to learn who their students are. I believe that teachers have the responsibility of being parents in terms of the social and mental health of the kids.
But wait! That’s not all!
The Mario Do Right Foundation recently teamed up with The Medicine Abuse Project, and in August 2013 will tour middle schools, high schools, and colleges across the nation to talk about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
So, what sparked Mario’s interest in helping children dealing with substance abuse in their families?
His own childhood experiences growing up with a mother addicted to drugs:
I never got help or had anybody to talk to about my mother’s addiction to drugs. I want to inspire these kids to take another route and let them know they’re not alone. I want them to understand that they can learn and build from their experiences.
As many as one in four kids grow up with parents addicted to drugs and alcohol, which can cause stress inside and outside their homes.
Who can they talk to about their problems, if they can’t talk to their parents because their parents are the problems?
- Teachers and other school staff members like school guidance counselors, nurses, and principals.
- Church officials and members, including preachers, Sunday school teachers, and adult congregation members.
- Sports coaches and teachers or other adults who monitor other school teams and clubs like chess, debate, and band.
- Adults involved with after-school activities such as those at community and rec centers.
- Online and telephone support, such as TEEN LINE and Teen CONTACT.
These are logical suggestions, but the problem lies in helping the child feel safe enough to approach these people. The kid might love his football coach or science teacher, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to trust him with something as serious as the secret of a drug-addicted parent.
I grew up with kids who had alcoholic and drug addicted parents; some I knew about as a kid, and others I didn’t know about until later in life. Some of these kids grew into healthy, functioning adults; others became addicts themselves. Like most of you, I’ve seen how addiction within the family and community affects children growing up and later in life.
So, as far as I’m concerned, there’s tons of room for more programs like Mario’s that help educate kids and the other adults in their lives (such as teachers) as well as give the kids a safe place to talk about their feelings and experiences.
Check out these resources for more information about helping children with addicted loved ones:
- Explaining the Disease of Addiction to Children
- Kids Living With Their Parents’ Addictions
- Addiction and Family Roles
- 10 Ways You Can Help Children of Alcoholics
- 6 Skill Sets Every Child Needs to Guard Against Addiction
Were you a child who grew up with addiction in the family or community? How did you cope? Who helped you? How did it shape who you are today?