#TBT – Do “All The Right Things” But Kids Can Still Lose Their Way – Addiction Happens

In 2012, Midwestern Mama contemplated the dichotomy of doing “all the right things” but still having a kid who was struggling with addiction. It seemed to run counter to the recovery principles of “you didn’t cause it, you can’t change it, you can’t control it, you can’t cure it …” Which is it, she wondered? (And still does wonder.)

A Real Mom 5-7-12 – All the Right Things

To me, this is where parents and professionals need to come together for the sake of family consensus, treatment and recovery – for ourselves and our young addicts.


Why Do Young People Take To Addictions?

The Twitter-sphere connects us to people and perspectives from all over the world. This week’s guest blogger is Dr. Sona Kaushal Gupta, a neuro-psychologist and director of the PARI Foundation, in India. She shares her ideas on the parent-child relationship as it pertains to addiction.


Guest Blog by Dr.Sona Kaushal Gupta
Founder Director PARI Foundation.

The role of Parents is very important in a child’s Physical, Mental and Emotional development. The way a Parent nurtures or brings up his/her child is called Parenting. And therein lies the whole story! It is a known fact that no parent can ever think/do bad for his child, but sometimes the communication between them turns nasty and into a conflict or a complete BLOCK. Why is this so? Because the parents either lack good parenting skills of which good communication is an important part or they do/behave as they had seen their parents behave with them, while they were growing up.

As parents, we always think we are doing the best for our child. We tell him to do this and not to do that. Till about he is 8-9 years old he follows us meekly and does exactly what we tell him to do, and that makes us feel so good AND IMPORTANT. We feel happy that our child is behaving so well and is so obedient !

Later, as the children grow up and enter their teens they start reasoning and analyzing situations and people.

They try to figure out WHY they should do this or that, as YOU want them to do, while they themselves want to do something different? You as parent, feel you are losing your control over them and they are being disobedient, so you become more loud and harsh or you become a whining parent, blaming your child for his rudeness! This further aggravates the situation.

While a child is developing his self-esteem he wants to be given regard, he wants his views to be heard and given due importance. But we parents are often so weighed down by our own emotional baggage of our childhood, that we unknowingly pass on our past hurt to our children. We do not accept them as they are, criticize them, scold them and behave rudely or angrily with them. We try to control, compare or compel our children to do exactly what we want them to do! This further lower’s their self-esteem and makes them drift away from us, towards their peers, who never criticize them but accept them as they are!

This is called PEER-PRESSURE, and the child will do anything for his peers, behave and act like them, because he WANTS to be one of them.

It is now that he may follow his peers and drift into addictions and other maladaptive behaviours, to show them that he is as good if no better than them.

Had we realized this as parents, that love and acceptance is what binds us to our children, we would have tried a different and better way of parenting. We need to remember always, that children drift away from us because they feel rejected by our behaviour towards them, and they move towards their peer’s because they find complete acceptance there.

As parents we always tell our children to do this or not to do this, but we never try to tell them WHY they should do so. WHY should he not take drugs? when so many of his friends are taking them? WE RARELY TRY TO ANSWER THE “WHY OR WHY NOT” BECAUSE WE OURSELVES DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE ANSWERS.

Unless the child does not agree COMPLETELY to what he is being told, he will NOT comply.

To bond with your children and guide them in the right direction, away from drugs and alcohol, it is imperative for parents to accept them first, love and appreciate them for who they ARE.

Only then will the children bond and listen to what we want to tell them. Parents need to awaken to this new way of Parenting and Bonding with their children.
So, brush up your parenting skills parents, be a happy stress free parent, learn to accept your children first with all his/her values and problems, love him and empower him to be in high self-esteem. This is the only way your child will respect you and listen to you and will be assertive enough to say ‘no’ to drugs and addictions whenever he is confronted with them.

Dr.Sona Kaushal Gupta
Founder Director PARI Foundation.

Lost & Found – Reconnecting with Those Who have Helped our Family through Addiction


Along our journey through addiction, many professionals have helped our son and our family. From time to time, I reach out to let them know what has happened next – often each professional was just a brief participant.

Last night I texted a private investigator whom we hired in summer 2011 when our son had run away from a wilderness treatment center just nine days into the program, to give him a positive update.

That summer, without a phone or wallet, our son left on foot to escape treatment. He was in denial of his addiction and was not at all ready to stop using drugs. We were devastated to receive the call from his counselor and very concerned about our son’s well-being and whereabouts.

After checking in with area shelters and filing a missing person’s report with the local sheriff’s department, we had fleeting hope of finding our son and getting him back to Minnesota. A day or so later, having heard no word, we hired a private investigator.

Fortunately, this caring, young man tracked our down our son within a day. He told our son how worried we were and how much we wanted to help him. They had dinner together that night and he let him sleep at his home before getting him on board a plane for Minnesota.

While there is more to this story as you may have read in many of the old posts on this site, it was a turning point in more than one way – many of which were even more devastating. I felt compelled to reach back out to the private investigator to let him know that #SoberSon is 14 months sober, living at home, taking college classes, working part time, attending counseling, and more.

Shortly after texting him with the update, I received the nicest note back. I imagine that often people never know what happened next and must wonder if things eventually turned out all right.

Midwestern Mama

©2015 Our Young Addicts                            All Rights Reserved.

Autumn Blessings & Updates

This year's fall routine is most welcome as #SoberSon continues on the recovery path and Midwestern Mama pursues a series of parent-awareness events.
This year’s fall routine is most welcome as #SoberSon continues on the recovery path and Midwestern Mama pursues a series of parent-awareness events.

Positive routines are such a blessing. Right now, we are in such a great place with our #SoberSon. He’s taking college classes (13 credits), working part time, attending counseling sessions as part of his medication-assisted therapy, seeing a psychologist, living at home, taking part in family activities and loving our family dog.

His outlook is positive and he’s mastering coping skills that help him with stress management, depression, anxiety and more. Each day, we see more and more of the happy, healthy kid we love. Each day, we become more and more confident in the future, and more importantly, he feels confident as well.

After such a long, devastating haul through addiction, this is a welcome routine. Each day, I pause to think about what a blessing it is to have weathered his addiction and to witness his recovery.

As such, it’s also a time for me to reflect on the journey and plot out the future for Our Young Addicts. One of the exciting things underway is a school-district wide series of events for parents in my local community.

A group of parents has met with our local principal and is organizing an upcoming parent-awareness and -education night. We are pleased about the school district’s support and envision the possibility of this being replicated in districts across the state of Minnesota and beyond.

Likewise, we are organizing a spring summit on addiction and young adults. It will be a lot of work to put together, but we have some willing partners and know the outcome will be a conversation that builds awareness, decreases stigma, and creates solutions. This, too, I believe has the potential to replicate beyond Minnesota.

Stay tuned as each of these develops. I welcome your ideas, support and participation.

Midwestern Mama

#TBT – Keeping In Touch No Matter What is What Matters Most

Throughout my son’s addiction, we made every effort to stay in touch and we worked at understanding the complexity of addiction and its grips. In this 2012 column, Midwestern Mama talks about why this is important an even shares an insight from Chicago Bears player Erik Kramer. These strategies made a big difference for our son and our family.

A Real Mom_ Keeping in Touch, No Matter What is What Matters – Minnmoms

Guest Blog: Drug & Alcohol Treatment for Young Adults

This is the third of a three-part series by @DrewHorowitz, a recovery coach and interventionist who specializes in working with young adults and their families to work through addiction, treatment and recovery. Thank you, Drew, for sharing your professional insights to help families confronting substance use.


A young adult is a hybrid of an adolescent and an adult. I consider most young adults that I work with to be professional adolescents since they have not yet taken on the responsibilities of an adult and have been in graduate studies in adolescent behavior. The oppositional-defiant behavior coupled with the feeling that they are entitled to free room and board eventually causes parents to feel disrespected, resulting in anger. This cycle creates chaos between the young adult and parents, and the untreated addiction coupled with immaturity continues to dominate all parties involved.

A new study shows that nearly 7 million American’s aged 18-25 (more than one in five young adults) needed treatment for drug or alcohol use in the last year. The study, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also shows that 95 percent of these young adults did not receive the help they needed at a treatment facility. These levels have remained fairly stable since 2002. In addition, 96 percent of the young adults needing help did not believe they needed the help. Even among the 4 percent who thought they needed treatment in the last year but did not receive it, less than on third made any attempt to get treatment.

Why is it so hard?

Deemed the most challenging age group to treat, the young adult population has flooded drug and alcohol treatment centers throughout the country. Many treatment centers have developed specific tracks, while others have devoted their entire program to this population.

Why? Because young adults do not easily fit into an adolescent group or an adult addiction group. Usually the young adult is the only 24-year old in a group of adults with the average age of 38. The young adult will quickly use this fact as a reason why an addiction program is not what they really need. This patient cannot relate to the adult stressors of childcare, marriage nor the pressure and responsibility of paying bills (which he has never experienced).

Further, this same population cannot identify with the adolescent group either. Adolescents face different stressors and challenges with sobriety when compared to the young adult. Part of this confusion stems from the young adult believing that they are grown men, mature and no longer need “babysitting,” which sometimes occurs in adolescent treatment programming.

For this reason, the combination of young adults with adolescents can be extremely counterproductive, causing patients to leave against medical advice or “checking out” for most of treatment.

How to Treat Young Adults with Addiction

Recognizing the unique needs of this population is imperative for successful recovery. Any addiction treatment program that treats this age group must have the experience, the ability and the interest to deal with this population.

The onset of chemical dependency in the adolescent or young adult stage of human development can result in arrested development preventing the sufferer from maturing into healthy adulthood. For this reason, many young adults arrive at treatment with many childish like tendencies.

For example, the young adult may become argumentative with his or her counselor, push the rules of the program and potentially get them removed from the program for breaking rules. It is common for addiction counselors to create behavioral plans, threaten to involve law enforcement and family, while confronting the young person on their acting out.

This is one of the greatest mistakes that a counselor can make. Confrontation generally makes the situation much worse. Young adults are naturally oppositional and respond poorly to demands and threats. Therefore, when counselors become agitated and frustrated with their client, it amplifies the situation.

The young adult is accustomed to being spoken down to and told that they are out of line or misbehaving. By re-enforcing this pattern, it essentially tells the patient that they are “bad” or “misunderstood”, which pushes them further away and leaving them to cope by using substances.

Changing Our Approach to Treatment for Young Adults

The solution lies in taking a more empathetic, compassionate and caring role to validate frustrations and provide support. Taking a client-centered position and changing the cycle will ultimately create greater outcomes.

The key: to not become part of the dangerous downward cycle that this population creates. By engaging in arguments it fuels the addiction and leads to poor outcomes and early discharges from treatment. However, when validated, recognized and heard, the young person is almost left speechless and in awe by the counselors attitude. It is this understanding and rapport that sets the young adult up for success.

In my experience, this population suffers tremendously from low self-esteem and self-worth. At the basis of their illness rests strong feelings of inadequacy and failure. It is these emotions that fuel the addiction and keeps the young person caught in a cycle of anger and helplessness. For that reason, the foundation of treatment must be built on trust, empathy, support and unconditional positive regard. Additionally, it is crucial that they play a strong role in their recovery. Asking them to assist in writing their treatment plans, allowing involvement in aftercare planning and validating frustrations and concerns goes a very long way with this group.

I recently asked one of my clients, “How can I help you in your recovery?” His response, “Just treat me like a person.” This young man has been through several rigorous treatment programs and all have failed him. The treatment center is not entirely at fault, however many have not set the stage for their recovery.

It is imperative that prior to treating young-adult clients that counselors must first build a strong alliance where the patient and his or her counselor can walk with them through their recovery as opposed to dictating their recovery.

About Drew Horowitz, MA, LADC, RAS, CIP

Drew Horowitz, MA, LADC, RAS, has a vast range of experiences working with addiction and mental health. He gained a wealth of knowledge through his own recovery coupled with extensive training: a master’s level education from the Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction and an undergraduate degree in psychology and human development from Hofstra University. Following a career with several substance abuse and mental health organizations, he formed Drew Horowitz & Associates, LLC, an organization designed to assist young men who struggle to overcome addiction and mental health.

Contact Drew:




Blogs I’d like to write, but haven’t yet written.

The more I write, the more I want to write – mostly before there is always more I want to share. This is certainly the case when it comes to Our Young Addicts. There is so much to talk about and so many topics that parents, young people in recovery, and addiction/treatment professionals want to read about.

As the back-to-school season moves forward, I have less and less time to write. Fall is always a busy time for my business (unrelated to Our Young Addicts, although I do have a few clients in the addiction space). In addition, I am an adjunct professor at a local university, so I’m in the classroom two nights a week plus grading my students’ papers. And, as every parent knows, the school year brings extra commitments – getting up earlier to get my 15-year-old off to school, encouraging good homework habits, carpooling to sports practice, and more.

My day is the same as yours. Twenty four hours. No more. No less.

Yet, I still want to give Our Young Addicts just as much energy, passion and content as the summer months. Some of that I put in play with our #SoberSchoolYear campaign with Tweets and Facebook posts running daily to offer tips and insights.

As well, I owe you all a good update on #SoberSon and his continued success with recovery as well as an honest account of some of the struggles that run parallel on this path. These real-time observations prove valuable no matter where your kid (of any age) may be on the spectrum of experimentation, use, addiction, treatment, relapse, and recovery.

On my list.

For now though, I’m just going to share a whole bunch of topics that I’d like to write about at some point. Let me know what you think. Tell me which ones are of greatest interest. I remain committed to one post per week about our family’s journey; one guest post per week from a parent, young person in recovery, or addiction professional; and one #TBT column – because there is so much wisdom in the early days of my son’s addiction and its impact on the family.

Here are “just a few” of the future blog posts that I may just write one day:

  • Even with “all the right things,” you kid may use … and may become an addict
    • Coming to terms with we didn’t cause this, can’t change this, can’t control this, can’t cure this … yet were supposed to do these “influential things” that still might not work, reconciling all this.
  • MWM’s “AA” is Appropriately Anonymous
  • The freedom of a fence
  • A short leash … advice to the tennis coach … oops
  • Check it out – act now
  • Check it out – testing
  • Create and orchestrate a community team
  • Be open to possibilities
  • Less rigid, 180 degrees
  • #NotMyKid – the most dangerous mindset
  • Still Curious – So much we still don’t know, might never know
  • The day I cleaned my son’s room
  • Then & Now
  • 24/7/365 – it’s the same allotment, every day, for all of us
  • Role Models – inspire others due to our vulnerable honesty, and this inspires others to keep on keeping on … Experience
  • My goal was to have no goal – when the mind was quieting down, the answers came to me … in part it inspired the writing and the formation of Our Young Addicts, find solutions in a place of peace
  • Beyond Been There And Done That – Here Now and Doing This – Real-time Experience
  • Takeaways for Parents:
    • Trust your Mom Radar
      • Check it out
      • Don’t be naïve
    • Create a team, a community
      • Variety of perspectives and experiences
      • It’s going to be a bit of a haul, need support from those who have been there and done that, and from those here and doing this
    • Share the conversation, which creates hope and hope becomes belief – experience, resources, hope
    • Quiet the mind and be open to the possibilities
    • The positive outcomes of this horrific journey in addition to son’s sobriety and recovery, are the relationships, the personal growth, the clarity of purpose… there is a gift in the journey of addiction
  • Dual diagnosis – are there different rules for support? For action? For expectations?
  • Don’t be rigid – recovery perceptions
  • Just as we had perceptions of addiction, we had perceptions of recovery
  • Trust each other
  • It’s OK for Mama to have some wine, if she doesn’t have a substance use condition
  • Diet Coke – addiction, it’s real

In one of my many English courses, I remember someone attributing this quote to Ernest Hemmingway, “I don’t like to write, I like having written.” This says a lot about the discipline of writing and the compulsion to edit. For this and many other reasons, I have never thought that I should edit content for Our Young Addicts – that it should come from the heart and brain to the page, just as it is.

There you have it, just as it is!

Thanks for reading and for your continued support and participation as part of the #OYACommunity.

Midwestern Mama

So Happy Together!

Recently, Midwestern Mama reflected on the stress that a child’s addiction places on the parent’s marriage. In an article for the Fall issue of In Recovery Magazine, she writes about her experience and offers suggestions for other parents facing a similar situation.

Read the article here: 2015 IRM Fall McKinney-1

Wishing you and your spouse strength during your addiction, treatment and recovery.

Midwestern Mama

Guest Blog: How I Became Addicted by @CharmedChelsie


Recently @CharmedChelsie contacted Midwestern Mama to ask about publishing a guest blog post. It’s so helpful to get a young person’s perspective on addiction and recovery. Enjoy – and learn – from her post.

I believe it started when my parents separated. Being such a daddy’s girl back then, it really shook me up when he wasn’t in my life as much. My mom move me and my brother five hours away and I felt like my whole world came crashing down. Angry at my mom this is when I truly started rebelling for the first time. I was around 11 when I started not listening to anyone and getting angry very easily. No one saw the pain, I was just a spoiled brat with a mother who wasn’t disciplining me enough, which didn’t help because I actually felt the opposite of spoiled. I just had my dad, aka my whole world, taken from me. Seriously I used to follow my dad everywhere. He was the person I admired the most.

People kept telling my mom she needed to be stricter with me but it honestly didn’t matter what she did I wasn’t listening. She could ground me or whatever but unless she was ready to physically fight me I was listening.

I didn’t do anything to crazy then besides stay out late, skip class, smoke cigarettes and hanging out with the wrong people, especially boys.

IMG_20150725_004930 Chelsie IMG_20150729_020554 - Chelsie

I missed my dad and wanted to live with him so when he asked me to move there I drove my mom crazy until she agreed to let me go. I realize now that my dad being really hurt by the separation ended up putting me in a difficult situation. He made me feel like I needed to take care of him and that his happiness was my responsibility. I was only 11 when I was left home alone for days at a time. My dad was a truck driver and was gone a lot. Alone in a big city, I had to do the groceries, clean, make supper, pack my lunch, do my homework, get to school and not tell anyone about it because if I did they would take me away from my dad.

The burden I had to bare then still affects me now.

My dad wasn’t just using coke but was also selling in bulk. At 12 I was old enough to get suspicious and when I asked my dad what he was hiding he was honest with me. He believed keeping my trust was more important than keeping his secret. Whether he was right or wrong for telling me is debatable The first time I saw coke I was 12 years old, there was over a kilo of coke on our kitchen table. He asked me to sit down and help count the money and cut bags up for him. Not the typical childhood I know but it was our secret and he made me feel like I was a responsible adult. It was hard sometimes not to spill to my best friend at our sleepover parties but I was so scared I’d be taken away from my dad that I didn’t say a word to anyone.

Just before I turned 13 my dad started dating an escort and we barely got to spend time together anymore. I was alone all week and on the weekends she would be there and he would tell me to go play with her kids, like I wasn’t important anymore. She started smoking weed with me and her oldest daughter. My dad didn’t smoke weed but he didn’t seem to mind. She ended up leaving me in a bad part of town when she had a fight with my dad. It was a terrifying experience, I was lost and barely made it back home. My dad promised me it was over between them but when he started seeing her again I felt so betrayed that I decided to move back to my moms.

I had a friend there whose brother was prescribed Percocet and he would give us handfuls for free. This was back before anyone knew what the pills were.

Thankfully, I ended up moving to my dad’s before I was too physically dependent on them.

Once at my dad’s, I was smoking weed and doing ecstasy until my dad eventually offered me some coke for the first time when I was 14. I wanted so bad to spend more time with him that doing coke together was great way for me to do that. Then my stepmom would give me coke while my dad was at work because she wanted me to be quiet about her using or hanging out with some guy. The partying became all too much that I decided to move back to my mom’s at 15. She got me my own place and I tried to get my shit together. I got a job and was working on getting my high school diploma but accustomed to that lifestyle I found myself dating a dealer. He quickly moved in with me and the large amounts of coke I did everyday had me severely addicted.

By 16 I was a full-blown coke addict.

We eventually started doing Oxys to relax and sleep after a coke binge but I wasn’t exactly addicted yet. Once my dad got me a connection to start selling the pills I did so much of them that my body really couldn’t go without them. By the time I turned 17 I was addicted to oxys. I had no idea what I was in for. I knew nothing of addiction or the negative effects of drugs. I was taught drugs were great but when I eventually accumulated debt, and my selling career was over I realized how much I needed it. My body cried out for more. The aches and pains took over any control I had over my mind. I soon realized my body needed the oxy and my mind wanted the coke. Once I was high on coke, nothing else mattered. But once the high went away, my body screamed for an oxy.

I was able to go without coke way longer then I could go without oxys. I’d even quit coke for a bit here and there. But Oxys was the one thing that I couldn’t just stop because the withdrawals were too severe. After getting on methadone, I wasn’t ruled by my body as much as my mind.

In a way, trying to fix the mind can be even more confusing and difficult then fixing the body.

Yours truly,
Chelsie Charmed

Read Chelsie’s blog: Recoveringaddictsexperience.blogspot.ca

#TBT – Travel & The Baggage of Remote Parenting

It always seemed like the few times I was out of town for business would be when the dreaded phone calls would come. The ones about an incident with my chemically dependent son.

Midwestern Mama wrote in 2012 about a recent trip that actually went smoothly.

A Real Mom – Travel and the Baggage of Remote Parenting 3-27-11

What a relief!

Guest Blog: The Deception of Acceptance


This week’s guest blogger is parent Alexandris Townsend who writes about faith-based acceptance – the key to her son’s recovery from substance use.

Social inclusiveness is a very important and prevalent issue in the lives of our teens and young adults. Learning how to handle and deal with social rejection effectively presents numerous challenges for young people in high school and college settings.  One must learn how to navigate through the arena of diverse peer groups, but yet still feel isolated in addition to battling personal self-esteem issues. Social acceptance was profoundly important to my youngest son during his high school years and even post high school.

Dale’s dealing with this personal issue “social acceptance” over time became extremely detrimental for him. Let me illustrate using these poetic stanzas:

The Deception of Acceptance

To be accepted can become one’s life-long dream

To be accepted can cost the lost of your identity and detour God’s divine purpose. The burden to be accepted what a heavy yoke. This process to be accepted  is painful, humiliating, and degrading because in seeking acceptance you lose you God’s wondrous creation. Agents of Satan began to speak poisonous venom and prophesy evil utterances, hindering your God-given potential and talent. You allow them to do this because to be accepted is more valuable than rejection, the burden to be accepted what heavy yoke. To be accepted carries a devouring price tag in which your destiny, character and self-esteem are distorted and disfigured, leaving you with a hand-written receipt engraved with these words “guilt and condemnation.” To be accepted leads to pathways of self-medicating habits engulfed in a destructive lifestyle. Drowning your hurt, pain, disappointments and sorrows with the Adder’s remedies alcohol and cocaine. To be accepted allows pathways to become gateways to the enemy’s domain. His snares and schemes are hypnotic for they are disguised in the sensual Succubus-Satan’s demon. You are left helpless as a lamb for slaughter until a mighty intercessor cries out on your behalf. To be accepted can cost you your soul and dignity, yes, you become well acquainted with bondage and oppression. What will you render for your soul? Is it really worth “the deception of acceptance?” Only you can know!

Underage drinking became the “vice and self-medicating habit” that became Dale’s coping mechanism in dealing with social acceptance. What started out in part as being recreational/social over time escalated into full blown addiction. The downward spiral of just drinking on the weekends led to drinking everyday leaving him powerless to stop drinking on his own volition. It was heartbreaking as a parent to witness this powerful and destructive affliction that consumed Dale’s life for more than a decade. The power of God’s deliverance came February 21, 2012, when Dale experienced the divine deliverance of God, and entered into a Residential Alcohol Treatment Program for Men in Charlotte NC. He has been on the path of sobriety now for 39 months. Serving as Alcoholic Anonymous Sponsor and is employed as a Peer Coach to those diagnose with mental health and substance abuse challenges.  As a parent I want to encourage other young people in knowing that you are so special to God and He has given your life meaning and purpose. To God you are so VALUABLE, and in Him you are deeply LOVED. Even though you may experience rejection by others God will never reject you because His love is NOT conditional but unconditional.

God commissioned me to write a book about Dale’s journey with alcoholism and it was published last April 2014 “Experiencing The Greatness of God in the Spiritual Realm.” Copies of his inspiring story are available @ Amazon.com. The spiritual purpose for me penning this book is to help other families who are still dealing with the devastating effects of alcoholism. Divine intervention lifted my son from the deep despair of addiction. God desires to intervene in your personal struggles with alcoholism; the question is “will you let Him?” I am PRAYING the answer is “YES!” Your life MATTERS to God.

Alexandris Townsend