Bereft of any authentic sense of self and the grit it takes to form one, and relentlessly pushed to socially defined ends, a privileged adolescence becomes
the consummate breeding ground for self-harm, however unintended.
Such a notion catches most parents entirely off guard. After his initial confession and subsequent return home, Evan remained an addict for a half-decade
longer. He found a hook-up in his suburban neighborhood, began injecting the oxycodone directly into his bloodstream, and eventually turned to heroin when
his dealer's source went cold (an increasingly common trend). His parents were
wholly oblivious to the fact that he was using again until they were faced with the physical evidence: used syringes casually discarded in his bedroom
It's seems contradictory that a life of ample provision could lead to such desperation, so the ignorance is somewhat understandable. Culturally entrenched
and statistically unsound stereotypes are also to blame. A study released last
month found that only 13 percent of white parents are very concerned about the abuse of narcotic painkillers in their families, over two times
less than black or Hispanic parents. This is regardless of the fact that abuse rates are three times higher amongst white teens.
The real delusion, however, is apparent in their attempts to seek rehabilitation -- by sending their children "away for a bit" to a fancy treatment center,
or military school, or into the wilderness to be healed. The hope is always that they will come back as clean as their empty bedrooms have been kept, but
again, the answer is not so simple.
"It was hard to find kids who wanted to stop," Evan told me me. "Most of the time they were trying to quit just to maintain the support of their parents,
and they were just using more money, and you would talk to them, and they'd say things like, 'I plan on getting high the second I get out of here .'"
That was at one the best facilities in the country, where Evan's parents spent $70,000 trying to get him sober. It was his third attempt, and it failed
exactly like the previous two. Five of the kids he met there are now dead.
* * *
The true solution is a far more abstract one. It consists of making an effort to cultivate steadfast meaning rather than fickle joy, and understanding that
ceaseless superficial achievement means endless unfulfillment. It's one of life's greatest paradoxes: Those raised in a state of want are taught to be
grateful for what they have, while those who have everything are brought up to continue wanting. As Evan describes it, "I wanted comfort in a way that
doesn't even exist."
Eventually, he attempted suicide, throwing himself sixty feet from the top landing of his parents' home, his body denting the wooden floor in the fall. He
woke up on his parent's couch with nothing more than a broken rib and a cracked collarbone, and the revelation felt by those who survive the almost-end: