Too Many Young Addicts – No Statistics Needed

The stats are startling. Each one that I read is riveting on its own. Together, it’s downright overwhelming. But stats don’t tell the story, and stats don’t solve the problem. That’s why I’m glad you’re part of the #OYACommunity – we need you, and we need your stories to personalize the stats, and hopefully to see these diminish.

A recent survey revealed that parents are more concerned about teens mental health than substance use: http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/mental-health-greater-worry-substance-abuse-parents-teens-survey-finds/?utm_source=Stay+Informed+-+latest+tips%2C+resources+and+news&utm_campaign=35bd1152ce-_JT_Daily_News_Controversial_Bud_Light&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_34168a2307-35bd1152ce-223036473

Another source offers 20 stats about teen substance use:

http://www.teendrugabuse.us/statistics-on-teenage-drug-use/

I’m not anti stats, and I don’t want to stop reading these – I just want to do more. I want our #OYACommunity to share experiences, resources and hopes, and the best way to begin by being informed. So, I’ll keep seeking and sharing the stats … as if any of us need convincing that there are way too many young people becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Midwestern Mama

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Siblings Deserve a College Scholarship

Without a doubt, siblings are impacted by their brother’s or sister’s addiction. Dean Dauphinais​, a father with a son in long-term recovery, has created a special scholarship to help siblings. Fantastic idea.  Check out this great opportunity and please spread the word.  http://mylifeas3d.blogspot.com/2015/04/my-life-as-3d-scholarship-essay-contest.html

I remember the day we dropped my son off at college. It had been a tumultuous couple of years with an addiction that we were just beginning to understand. He thought he was ready. We were hopeful that a new crowd, a tennis coach that truly believed in his talents, and a clean slate might just be the best-ever opportunity.

As we said our goodbye’s, my son said, “Mom, I promise I won’t F- this up.”

His little brother, 10 years old, at the time, was no stranger to the promises and excuses of an addicted sibling.

Six days later, big brother passed out from drugging and drinking. Someone found him in a snow bank in sub-zero temperatures. He was taken by ambulance to the ER and later sent to detox. The downward spiral spiraled faster than ever.

Fast forward four years, big brother is sober and in recovery (nine months!), and little brother is a freshman in high school.  College is in the near future for him.

Addiction costs so much, tangibly and intangibly, financially and emotionally. For every member of the family.

I do not know Dean Dauphinais​ directly but am familiar with his blog and social-media presence. My impression is he’s a good dad who is an excellent advocate for our young addicts and their families. He seems to have the respect of parents and professionals, and I am only too happy to help spread the word about the college scholarship he’s put together.

See what you think.

Midwestern Mama

Chit Chat is Good for The Cause

Whether face-to-face or online, good things happen when we talk – and listen – to each other. Midwestern Mama shares a quick reflection on a recent #AddictionChat and encourages others to participate.

When parents and professionals talk, and more importantly when they listen to each other, we make great strides on the challenges of young-adult substance use. Last night, another online mom and I co-hosted #AddictionChat on Twitter. It was thoughtful, insightful and informative. Participants included parents, young people in recovery, therapists and other professionals, as well as association representatives. Not only did we share a variety of perspectives, we had a chance to understand each other.

Before starting Our Young Addicts, I was hesitant to share much online. Now, I understand why it’s a highly engaging and helpful way to communicate. I have learned so much from listening to others and have found short- and long-term strategies for helping my son, my family and myself. And, I truly believe it helps others. #OYACommunity

If you’d like to join these chats, it’s on Twitter each Wednesday night at 8 p.m. CST. There is a different moderator/co-host each week, and the topics rotate.  The next #AddictionChat on parenting will take place on May 27.

Midwestern Mama

Coming Together as a Community

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We’re gearing up for lots of activity among the Our Young Addicts community with writing and speaking opportunities. To that end, check out our new logo which now brands our Facebook, Twitter and WordPress Blog. Midwestern Mama invites parents and professionals to be part of our community to share experience, resources and hope. #OYACommunity

When I started writing about our family’s experience with addiction, it was just that – writing, more often than not it was therapeutic stream of consciousness with the hope that it might help other parents and families facing addiction. Quickly, however, the writing became a calling and a gathering of perspectives. We became a community of parents and professionals.

Without a doubt, we have a mission, vision and core values for Our Young Addicts. And, today, we have a logo that begins to convey what we are all about and what we hope to accomplish. I’m looking forward to an active calendar of writing and speaking and other ways to spread the Our Young Addicts message.

The logo is a teal blue box with reverse type that says Our Young Addicts.

In large, capital letters, is the word OUR. This word stretches over the words YOUNG ADDICTS, indicating that this is our community, that we are coming together because we care and are concerned, and that helping young people with a substance use disorder is OUR shared responsibility. Not one of us can do this alone, and fortunately, within a community, we don’t have to be alone.

The word YOUNG is bolded in orange to call out the distinct needs of this age group – the age group when 90 percent of addiction begins.

For the time being, we are still using the word addicts because it is familiar and less cumbersome than saying “people with a substance use disorder.” We also hope that we can role model and de-stigmatize that the word by demonstrating our care and concern for them.

Thank you for being part of the Our Young Addicts community. I am forever grateful that parents and professionals are coming together to share experience, resources and hope.

Midwestern Mama

My Child Has a Problem with Drugs

Here’s a post I wish had been around when our son started using drugs. This is informative and realistic. In particular, check out the questions for parents and the suggestions it offers. One of the hardest things for us was that we recognized our son’s drug problem long before anyone else did and long before he was ready to admit it let alone accept help. In time, however, he successfully completed treatment (not the first couple of times) and has embraced sobriety and recovery.

800 Recovery Hub Blog

As a parent, it is your role to take care of your child. But, when your teen or adult child is addicted to drugs, most likely the best you can do is to guide them to a solution.  If your loved one wants to get clean and sober, then help them get into a rehab. But what if you are not sure they are addicted to drugs …or what if they don’t want help…

If your teen or adult child starts behaving differently for no apparent reason––such as acting withdrawn, frequently tired or depressed, or hostile—it could be a sign he or she is developing a drug-related problem. Parents and others may overlook such signs, believing them to be a normal part of the growing up process.

Through scientific advances, we know more than ever before about how drugs work in the brain. We also know that addiction can be successfully…

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5 Year Blog Anniversary

Blogs work! Congratulations to Janaburson’s Blog about opiod addiction and its treatment. Fantastic resource for all of us.

Janaburson's Blog

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I never imagined my blog would be going strong after five years. Initially, I started it to promote I book that a wrote. The book did OK, but the blog has been so much more interesting and rewarding. I hope I’ve helped educate my readers, because they surely have educated me. I have a much better idea what’s going on out there in “addiction land.” My patients educate me about local trends, but blog commenters give a more universal view.

Thanks for reading and let’s continue our education of each other.

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Recovery: Giving and Earning Trust

Recovery is possible. I can relate to this mom’s story. Can you? Together, parents and professionals can share experience, resources and hope.

mariebrunoblog

I remember the pit in my stomach when I realized I could no longer trust anything my son told me. I was watching Monday Night Football, becoming increasingly agitated that Jon wasn’t home. His class had ended at 7:30 p.m.. Where was he? Furthermore, what was keeping him from his beloved Steelers?

The game finished. I wanted to go to bed, but the last time he came home this late, he banged on the windows while yelling for me to open the door, waking the neighbors. In anticipation of a repeat performance I decide to text him: DO NOT come home tonight. Sleep wherever you are!

My phone rang within seconds.“Mom…don’t be mad.”

“Don’t tell me how to act!” I yelled, blood pressure soaring at the mere sound of his voice, as was often the case these days. “Spare me the story and tell me where my car is.”

“Why…

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Today’s Heroin Addicts Are Not Who We Expect

It’s so important to scrap stereotypes and perceptions in order to have a clear sense of today’s drug users. I encourage parents and other adults to recognize that our kids are today’s users. This is why our community must come together to share experiences, resources and hope. MM

The Antidote Clinic

Today's Heroin Addicts Are Not Who We ExpectAt one time it was poor, minority urbanites that become addicted to heroin.

Today’s heroin addict is more likely a white youth from the suburbs, one study suggests. Most get hooked when they migrate from prescription painkiller addiction. In the majority of cases, these teens and young adults filched pills from someone’s medicine cabinet. How do we know this? It’s all according to a survey conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

9,000 participants in drug rehab centers across the country filled out the survey. 90% of users were Caucasian, both male and female. The average age of a respondent was 23. The majority had taken opioid painkillers before moving on to heroin, 75% in total. The study was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. This is a big demographic shift from the last heroin epidemic during the 1960’s and 70’s. At…

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High Hopes for Our 15 Year Old

On her youngest son’s 15th birthday, Midwestern Mama has high hopes that he’ll make positive choices when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

This morning on the radio, my youngest son (15 years old today!) and I heard radio DJs talking about Pot, The Movie. It’s the plight of a Minnesota family who gave their son medical marijuana, and the filmmaker’s support of medicinal and recreational use.

Without hesitation, my son initiated commentary on this highly charged story. He has a soft heart and is understanding of parents who want the best for a sick child who is suffering. He has a hardened soul, however, when it comes to marijuana – its recreational use and likely potential as a gateway drug.

He bases this on what he has learned and witnessed with his older brother who began smoking marijuana during high school at just about the age that he is now. Until nine months ago, my youngest son knew his brother as someone suffering from substance use disorder that included marijuana and a full gamut of street drugs including addiction to heroin.

His brother’s drug use was a rapid foray into full-on destruction, and for a little brother it was a reality show, a nightmare, and a life lesson with lasting impact. He’s confident he will choose a different path, and we have high hopes for that as well. Without a doubt, he knows the series of events that can happen when drugs are part of one’s life and he knows the consequences that occur. These have firmly established his own perceptions and opinions.

Today as we celebrate his 15th birthday, he is applauding his brother’s nine months of sobriety and commitment to recovery. It is the best present of all!

Midwestern Mama

How I Became the Sober Senorita

One of the coolest things about social media is the opportunity to connect with others that you might never have known. Over the past year, I’ve “chatted” with the Sober Senorita and find her story so real, so true and so inspiring. Here she talks about how she became the Sober Senorita and the viral popularity that her blog brings to our community. I just had to share this here with parents and professionals who are concerned and care about the young addicts in our lives. Together, we learn from and help each other. Muchas gracias to the Sober Senorita!

Moving Away from Abstinence-Based Recovery

It is encouraging to see new treatment models, which offer people options. After all, treatment and recovery is not, never has been, one size fits all. When some of our most established treatment leaders begin exploring, integrating and embracing things such as harm-reduction, it sends a strong message – of innovation and of hope. The blog post below highlights some of the progress strides in evidence-based treatment. Hooray!

The Antidote Clinic

Moving Away from Abstinence-based RecoveryRecovery programs are shifting away from the abstinence-based model.

Two of the largest, the Betty Ford Clinic and Hazelden, are some of the most successful, though recidivism rates for all recovery programs remain high. Regardless, the two centers both used abstinence-based 12-step programs, until now. Each has a remarkable record, helping thousands enter successful, life-long recovery. That’s why it made sense to many when they announced a partnership in 2013. This would make them together the largest nonprofit recovery program.

Many in the industry were astonished. They also announced a limiting or jettisoning altogether of the abstinence-based recovery model. In the abstinence-based model, addicts are not allowed to take any mind-altering substances except in rare cases, such as painkillers after major surgery. This organization is now embracing a harm-reduction treatment model, in which pharmaceuticals are used to wean the addict off of drugs. Drugs like Suboxone and Methadone are…

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Hope Resurrected, What a Difference One Year Can Make

An inspiring story that has many parallels to my son’s. It has been a true blessing to read this blog and share with readers here, too. You see? Together, we are a caring, hopeful and helpful community. We learn from each other and share in the journey no matter where we are. For parents, in particular, this story reminds me why we need to stay close to our young addicts – so that when they are ready to get sober and embrace recovery, we can be right there with them! MM

A Walk on the Wild Side

Wood_Anemone "Easter Flowers"_-_Hooke_-_geograph_org_uk_-_1247605 CCA year ago on March 27, 2014, I began this blog in tears. I did not believe my son would survive his heroin addiction. It had been going on for over 15 years and the past six months had been especially hard. One overdose on my bathroom floor. Two more several months later. He was alone and lost on the streets. He’d given up hope and so had I. Almost. This blog was my way to hold onto a slim thread of hope and to work through the rage and despair.

A year later, on March 27, 2015, my son married the love of his life and became the father to her 4-year-old son. The matching dates are coincidental. But how eloquently it underscores the progress he’s made in 12 months and the resurrected hope we share.

The journey toward this day has not been smooth, as recorded in these posts over the past 12 months. And…

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The Nose Knows – a common-sense guide to recognizing drug and alcohol use among young adults.

Midwestern Mama is convinced that the signs of drug and alcohol use are right before us. You can see it, smell it, feel it, taste it and hear it. Let the “Mom (or Dad) Radar” guide you in identifying use before it gets out of hand.

It was April 2010 that we first confirmed our son’s drug use. He was a senior in high school and we had suspected drug use but he denied it and we hadn’t found actual evidence. He later confirmed he started with marijuana in summer 2009.

For a full year prior, his behavior and attitude started to change and although we addressed these head on with a visit to the doctor to rule out anything physical followed by family counseling and individual sessions to identify the emotional and mental needs. He always flat-out denied drug use, and stupid as it sounds, we didn’t know how to drug test him.

We later learned that you can get inexpensive marijuana and other drug tests at places like Wal-greens; while not the most thorough, these can be a starting place. There are also a variety of other places to purchase Urine Analysis drug tests. We thought you had to go to a hospital or doctor’s office – we just didn’t know and it was nearly impossible to find answers even among professionals or online. Crazy, I know. Live and learn.)

Some of our observations included changes in sleep patterns, changes in friends, lying, poor attitude toward family activities, not turning in homework, skipping class, and more. Our first thought was some kind of depression and because bi-polar runs in the family, it was a natural concern. However, it was more than mood, it was agitated, angst and other exhibits that really concerned us and gave us reason to suspect drugs.

The timing of our realizations is key here. April. Spring. Spring fever. Kids being kids? Right of passage? NO WAY. Yet, kids get tired of school and sports routines. They feel their oats, as it were. It’s spring break, it’s prom season, it’s graduation coming soon, it’s all kinds of feelings and situations where we trust them because we’ve had all the right conversations, and yet, they make choices that sometimes lead places they never imaging – like experimentation, recreational use, substance abuse, addiction, consequence, and worse.

So what’s a parent to do? I’m big on trust and communication. However, because of our experience with our son, I’m also big on the five senses.

  •  Eyes: Keep an eye out. Become an observer. Take notes. Watch for patterns and changes. Open your eyes to the possibilities – even the unthinkable ones. Drug and alcohol use is often right in front of us, yet we miss it.
  •  Ears: Listen. You know the expression, God gave us two ears and one mouth. Resist the urge to lecture, yell, tell, etc., even though it’s OK and important for our kids to know how strongly we feel about the negative impact of drug and alcohol use among young adults. Listen in your conversations – hear their tone and think about its meaning (intended or just teenage-ease). Without being an overt eavesdropper, pay attention to their interactions with other people – on the phone, in person, etc. Are they talking in code?
  •  Mouth: Above, I addressed talking, so here I want to talk about taste. No, not actual tasting – that could be nasty and dangerous! However, there’s taste as in does this interaction, observation, etc. leave a bad taste in my mouth? There’s also a sense of is their action, behavior and communication in good taste? For example, my son stopped wanting to receive gifts from family members – even Grandma! – and definitively didn’t believe he should have to say thank you for gifts he didn’t ask for or want. Whoa! This was not the polite son we had known. This was a bitter, negative person and it left a really bad taste in our mouths.
  •  Touch: Sometimes there’s a point when our kids don’t want to be touched, even hugged. I get that and as they mature, they become loving again. But let’s think about touch – if they recoil, they may be hiding something. Also, you never know what you might feel. I would feel my son’s jacket and backpack – sort of like a pat down at the airport – and from there, I started to find all kinds of things: lighters, matches, Visine, hollow tubes used to snort, empty baggies with oregano-looking flecks (marijuana), and more. One day, his backpack was particularly heavy and I gave it a gentle kick with my foot. Ouch! There was something large and hard inside – an expensive, gigantic glass bong.
  •  Nose: That same backpack smelled horrible. There was a wet towel drenched with filthy bong water. Yuck. Also pay attention to smells to mask drug use – body spray to cover up smoking and other chemical smells that are related to drugs; strong mints to cover up alcohol use or smoking; Febreze or Lysol sprayed in the car. The smell of marijuana itself. And more.

There are so many clues that may indicate drug and alcohol use, and as parents we have to rely on our five senses and our gut – what I fondly refer to as Mom (or Dad) Radar. Without a doubt, we know what is going on and we must address it before it’s too late.

Midwestern Mama