Before, and After: How I learned to support the mother of a young addict

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Mention addiction and almost immediately the world becomes a smaller, more intimately connected place. Everyone knows someone. Everyone has an experience to share … if not now, they will in the future. This past spring a mutual acquaintance connected me to today’s guest blogger, Mandy Meisner, and we’ve now connected in a variety of rewarding ways. Mandy shares an important experience and message of how to support a friend – a lesson for all of us. MWM

When my husband and I were first married, we dreamed of starting a family someday and thought about the kind of parents we’d be.  One of our favorite ways to wonder at, was visiting our friends and family who had paved the way first.  We would spend an evening with them, cooing over babies and small children, smiling at the messy chaotic scenes, listening intently to all the advice given to us for when it would be “our turn”.  We’d wave goodbye, thank them for their candor, then hop in the car and as soon the door shut we’d look at one another and gasp, can you believe …?  Before we had kids, we thought ourselves experts in parenting.  We had all the answers.  We knew exactly how we’d do things. Before.

After we had kids, when we were living the messy chaotic scenes, when we didn’t recognize how cute they were because of sleep deprivation and the bone deep fatigue that comes from trying to reason with unreasonable beings, we realized we would never be an expert in parenting.  We would never have all the answers.  Hell, we would never know exactly how to do anything, save blow our tops.  But we never fully understood our deficiencies until After kids came.

I met Tammi years ago.  She was the sort of person people were instantly attracted to.  Her small frame, long dark hair and megawatt smile kept her timeless and youthful.  She was charismatic, open, and exuded fun and positive energy.  She and I hit it off right away.  Over the ensuing years we would become professional colleagues, and later, good friends.  We racked up countless laughs and dinner dates, strewing empty wine glasses across the north metro.  I would come to learn underneath all the fun, she had a steely center, forged in a past laced with abuse, heartache and self-doubt.  But these things only made her more self-reliant, strong and incredibly kind.

When I learned her two young adult sons were heroin addicts, I was shocked.  I thought of addicts as inner city, homeless, their sinister looks or vacant faces hiding in dark corners.  Outsiders of some kind.  Not middle-class, suburban, articulate, shiny young men.  Adam_Before_AfterOf the two, one of them—Adam—would be the most unbelievable.  He took after his mother in many ways; good looking, charismatic and charming, he made anyone and everyone feel important.  Being in his presence felt like warm sun on your face.

At the time, I was not well versed in addiction and its complications.  Though I presented patience and understanding to Tammi when she shared stories of Adam’s relapse—another job lost, another program failed, another lie discovered—I did not in fact feel patience or understanding.  I felt anger at Adam for throwing his life away, seemingly over and over again.  I felt impatience at Tammi for enabling Adam to keep making bad choices by allowing him to live with her, for constantly running to his aide, for bailing him out of every bad situation his choices brought him.

After a while, I ventured to say things like I applaud you and am amazed at your support and love for Adam, but my love and support is for you.  You need to protect yourself. Show tough love.  And still…even saying and feeling these sentiments, I too held out hope for Adam.  He had heaps of potential, if you only knew him! When he was well, he was magnificent in every way, made more beautiful and humane by his suffering.  Perhaps this time he would change!  Perhaps this time it was truly going to work! Perhaps. Next time.

As his addiction would ebb and flow, I grew more steadfast in my perspective.  You can’t control the choices of other people. You can only control what you allow in your life.  I felt I was there for Tammi as best I could be as a friend, but secretly grew tired of the drama and wished she would too.  I wished she would cut him out to allow peace in her life.  Peace she longed for and deserved.

All of this I felt righteous and confident in.  Before.  When Adam was alive.

Then came After.

After Adam’s death, when I saw the devastation of a mother who found her child dead in her home, when I understood the meaning of the loss of this one life—permanent and untimely—I began to own and see how I had failed her as a friend.

I am a mother myself, and as every mother knows, love for your child is whole, illogical, and will always hold your best wishes for their future.  Children, like all humans, have their limitations and challenges.  As loving parents, we are compelled to aid them as best we can, no matter what.  I forgot this.  I disregarded this fundamental drive as a parent because instead of a car accident, or cancer, or genetic disability, Adam was an addict.  I believed he chose this.  Before.

Ah, but After.  Now that I have the luxury of a neatly tied loose end, now that I see Tammi’s enduring devastation, I know now that an addict may choose that first hit, but no one would ever choose to become an addict. To be an addict goes against the grain of all that it means to be human.  It is to relinquish your sense of self, and all the tremendous things that make up you and your life—for the temporary visit to a beautiful island made of sugar.

After, I realize the way I should have been a friend, was to better empathize an impossibly difficult and complex situation.  To tell her whatever she feels and decides, is OK. That I could not say she is a good mother enough times.  To be the one she can share anything with about her life with addiction and there would be no judgment.  Only love for her.

I was foolish to think “tough love” or cutting Adam out of her life would somehow bring her peace.  It would have only traded one kind of pain for another. Denying our love is seldom a wise choice, let alone possible.

In a horrifically bittersweet way, I have the chance to act on my revelation. Tammi’s second son, Josh, is also an addict.  He continues to struggle—I think with more determination now, to reclaim his being.  He has his own After, finding his brother dead with his mother.  My compassion for Josh fills me up.  I am in his corner until he wins.  And I’m committed to being a better friend and supporter to Tammi.

I am only sorry it took an After to find out how.  But maybe, like many things in life, it’s the only way to truly learn.

About Mandy Meisner

Mandy_3Mandy believes in the power of stories and that we all have important ones to tell. She has been blogging for nearly five years on Fridley Patch and is a nationally published blogger on several different syndications, including Patch (national). Simply, she loves to write and welcomes all opportunities.

Mandy is honored to be a guest blogger for Our Young Addicts, sharing a deeply personal story she hopes will help the many others who are supporting loved ones with addiction. To learn more about Adam, you can read his original blog, Life, Unfinished.

You may connect with her on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

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“We are at capacity …”

For parents, addiction is a waiting game. If we don’t know it at first, it’s something we figure out quickly … while waiting.

We know something isn’t right but have to wait to figure out what the heck is really going on. We know our loved one needs help but have to wait to get in to see a counselor or other professional. We know our kid should go to treatment but have to wait for a bed to open up, and who knows if that will be soon enough for them to actually go – the window of opportunity is small and quickly closes. So, we wait for the next time. Once they go to treatment, we wait for it to work only to learn that treatment is just the beginning and that sometimes it takes more than one go at it. By now, we’ve been waiting a long time.

The other day, I was at a meeting for Our Young Addicts at a local treatment program. As I waited for the person I was meeting with, I could hear the receptionist conducting an intake over the phone. The person was kind, empathetic and helpful, and they maintained privacy and confidentiality during the conversation, but what I could hear was the following:

We are at capacity right now. The first guaranteed spot won’t be available until two weeks from Saturday.

How devastating for the person on the phone! I don’t know if it was a parent or a young person on the other end, but I do know that calling takes courage and commitment and to hear that they would have to wait is unfortunately a reality that many of us face.

Having “been there and done that,” here are a few ideas on what to do when you have to wait.

  • Say the Serenity Prayer. Over and over. I did and it works.
  • Tap your network. This includes other counselors, programs, parents, friends who know your situation. You never know when someone might know of another place with an opening.
  • Be open minded to other options. Don’t get your heart set on one place, no matter how much you’re sure it’s just the right one.
  • Consider outpatient. Consider inpatient. Consider harm reduction. Consider anything that encourages progress.
  • Look into scholarships and other finance options, so you’re knowledgeable and ready to go.
  • Keep in touch with your loved one. Text. Call. Visit. They may skedaddle and that’s a risk, but at least they know you’re still there making arrangements and willing to help them get to treatment.
  • Check out things like C.R.A.F.T. Begin trying their 20-minute guide.
  • Take care of yourself. Go to Al-anon, Nar-anon or other helpful family support groups.
  • Hug your other family members. Keep them posted on what’s going on, but remember their needs too. You’re in this together.

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Is Your Child or Loved One Using Drugs?

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Drug testing. Parents have a lot of questions about drug testing, so one of our twitter contacts offered up the following guest blog post. As a first step, many families wonder about drug tests you can purchase at a pharmacy or a reputable online source. More sophisticated and accurate testing can be done by labs that specialize in working with treatment programs. In addition, check out #AddictionChat from August 24, 2016, with expert Q&A with Burlington Labs. MWM

So… Are you once again sitting at the kitchen table and staring off into space wondering where your kid is and what drugs they are doing right now?  What’s it going to be like when they come home?  Are they even going to make it home?  The way things are today, there are many moms in this same position day in and day out just praying for a change.  Knowing for sure where you stand is one way to get this ball rolling in the right direction.  Drug testing your children or loved one at home or at a medical facility will make certain a number of things.

Drug Testing Solutions

You will now know within 99.7% accuracy what drugs, and in some tests the number of drugs in their system.  The conversation becomes difficult, especially as a parent, to talk about not only the use of drugs but having your child admit they are addicted.  An addict will minimize and lie to avoid the confrontation.  They will animatedly deny they are using or down play the use of heroin as just smoking pot. Many addicts are masters at manipulation, but being armed with the knowledge of the disease of addiction will assist you in holding your ground. No more enabling your child to continue using by being in denial or exhibiting co-dependent behaviors. It’s time to take action.

The easiest, most private, and fastest way to get to the bottom and have sound answers for once is an instant 12 panel drug test.  A panel refers to a drug class.  So that means there will be 12 drugs tested.  The tests come in several options, but the 12 panel will give you a broader determination of the drugs being abused.  Theses test kits can be bought at most pharmacies or even ordered online, but make sure it’s a reputable site. Online drug testing solutions offer both the standard urine test cup and the all new saliva test. The saliva test is a revolutionary oral swab that provides instant and accurate results. I recommend the saliva test because there is less chance of altering the results.

What a number of parents do, and what I recommend, is having the test on the same kitchen table you were sitting at one point feeling hopeless.  Then your child knows the gig is up.  Expect resistance and a song and dance but hold to you guns. This is the time to be proactive.  Make this happen.  Be level and straight up.  Tell them how you feel and do not falter.  Let them know no matter what you love them and it will be OK!

They may pull all types of tricks.  They will try and alter the test.  They may dip it in the toilet and use that water.  Catch them off guard so they are not prepared or expect the drug test.  Drug addicts are slick.  Don’t let anything get passed you.  They will be ready after the first time when they come home with clean pee in a bottle, or have dried bleach on their fingers to alter the tests.  Just remember the whole purpose is the knowledge.  The facts.  No more guessing, no more not trusting or disbelief.

Having a supply of cups at home at all times will work great as a deterrent.  If your loved one or child knows every day they come home and there is a test on the table… you mean business.  Continual drug use does not get better and life will only get progressively worse.  No matter how hard or how uncomfortable, a great first step to helping your child, who you think is abusing drugs, is to know for sure and that knowledge comes with a drug test.

About The Author

Dana Kippel is a case manager at Oceans Medical Centers (www.oceansmedicalcenters.com) a full spectrum mental health and substance abuse facility in always sunny Boynton Beach, Florida.  She has a passion for families and their struggle in addiction and wants to share her real world experience with others. Phone: (561) 376-8130 Email: info@oceansmedicalcenters.com

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

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Recovery is a lot more than just not using drugs or alcohol. This week’s guest blogger offers a professional’s perspective on the key physical and psychological aspects that help people find success in recovery. MWM

My name is Jesse Sandler, and I am an addiction therapist. In working with people in recovery, I have seen that the ones who do better are those that actively tend to both their physical and mental (psychological) wellbeing.

 

The Physical

Taking care of your body is so important to maintaining your recovery. When you do, you feel better not only physically but emotionally as well. I advise my clients to pay particular attention to four aspects of their physical wellbeing: intake, action, upkeep, and rest.

 

Your intake includes everything you do and don’t put into your body: food, drink, and medicine. If you fuel yourself regularly and nutritiously, you will feel more energized. Staying hydrated makes you feel better too. Further, taking your medications as prescribed can help keep you stabilized and keep you on track.

 

Similarly, regular exercise not only helps you establish healthy routines, but also relieves stress and releases endorphins to keep you feeling your best. If you’re not used to working out, it can be tough to get into the swing of it, but it’s worth it. Try out a variety of workouts until you find something that doesn’t feel so much like work—maybe you’re not a gym person but hiking outside puts a smile on your face. Whatever you do, make sure you move everyday. Both your body and your mind will thank you.

 

In addition to fueling and moving your body well, you also need to rest your body well. Getting on a regular sleep schedule and making sure you get 6-8 hours of sleep per night will give you more energy. Good sleep hygiene also makes it easier to deal with tough times, since getting enough sleep can help you focus more on the positive and fixate less on the negative. Since you’re more likely to relapse when you’re feeling negative, this is especially important for people in recovery. So try to go to bed around the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning, only use your bed for sleep and sex, and get off that computer or phone screen at least an hour before bedtime.

 

The final aspect of physical wellbeing that I think is particularly important is upkeep. By this, I mean showering regularly, brushing your teeth, and wearing clean clothes each day. This may sound obvious or silly, but I have seen time and time again that my clients tend to feel better when they are clean and wearing fresh clothes. Developing this good habit, like the others discussed above, can make you feel better physically and mentally, and give you the right mindset to face the day.

 

The Psychological

I cannot stress enough how important it is to pay attention not only to what you can see, but also what you can’t. As you probably know, emotional and mental wellbeing are huge components of the recovery process. They work in tandem with the physical to keep you on your path. While there are many components to psychological wellbeing, I advise my clients to focus on a few in particular: staying social and avoiding isolation. While these may sound like the same thing, they are in fact distinct, and each is important in its own right.

 

Stay Social

Human beings are social creatures. We thrive when we feel accepted by and connected to other people. But not just any people. Make sure you surround yourself with people who lift you up, understand you, and support your recovery. Build a strong support network of people committed to a clean lifestyle. Avoid your old toxic “friends,” and your old toxic hangouts. Go to meetings. Find fun activities that don’t involve alcohol, drugs, or whatever your triggers are. Whatever feels good, positive, and helpful for you.

 

Don’t Isolate

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, I literally just read about this point above.” But you’d be wrong. Avoiding isolation does not necessarily mean being social. While having a strong, supportive social network is important, you don’t always need to surround yourself with other people. Alone time can be important for thought and restoration. Just make sure you know the difference between being alone and isolating, and only do the former. Being alone is restorative, calming, and recharging. It doesn’t make you feel lonely. Isolating, on the other hand, is draining and depleting. You likely do it to avoid dealing with upsetting feelings or situations, and when you isolate, you may find yourself ruminating on negative thoughts and feeling lonely. This creates the perfect conditions for relapse: you, your negative thoughts, and no one around to pull you out of them or give you perspective. So make sure that if you are opting to spend time alone, you are doing for the right reasons, and that if you find yourself alone for the wrong ones, you reach out to someone in your support network who can remind you of all the reasons you got clean and want to stay clean.

 

Conclusion

Recovery isn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Staying mindful of taking care of yourself, both physically and psychologically, can make the journey a little bit easier.

 

 

Bio:

jesseJesse Sandler is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy for people in addiction recovery. He works at a dual-diagnosis intensive outpatient program and has a small private practice in Los Angeles. Most recently, Jesse is working to address another aspect of recovery: people’s living environments. After watching his clients and loved ones struggle and grow frustrated trying to find sober roommates, Jesse and co-founder Emily Churg created www.MySoberRoommate.com, an online community for people committed to living a clean lifestyle to search, match, and message with potential roommates. Jesse believes that through hard work, commitment, and hope, people can and do get better, and he hopes that MySoberRoommate will provide people in recovery with another tool to help them to do just that.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

 ©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

Resisting the Urge – Parenting a Young Person in Recovery

Helicopter parenting. That’s a term frequently attributed to parents of the millennial generation. It implies that we hovered over our kids as they were growing up, and experts analyze that it didn’t set up our kids for independence.

I’m not sure that I buy into that, and I’m darn sure that it’s not an accurate description of how we parented #SoberSon. After all, he was the toddler that climbed to the top of the jungle gym and swung from the monkey bars to the astonishment of his big sister’s Montessori teacher while we chose not to intervene and simply let him learn by experience. I might add, #SoberSon never fell and never had any broken bones!

That’s not to say we didn’t supervise. That’s not to say we didn’t step in to help him. And, it certainly isn’t to say we didn’t make parenting mistakes. We did, and to a certain extent, I know we still do.

What has changed is we’re not the parents of a toddler or a tween or a teen anymore.

Jungle Gym

From the moment he started using (before we knew it and after we discovered it), our parenting faced unexpected challenges and our perspective was forever changed. Instead of helping him transition from high school to college, we were just hoping he’d graduate. From there, we just hoped he’d go to treatment – and stay the full time to complete a program. After that proved otherwise, we hoped and prayed he wouldn’t overdose and die. When he finally returned and completed a treatment program then relapsed and then entered another program, well, we just hoped this would be the time that he’d truly embrace recovery.

Our hopes met reality. Our hopes became belief.

Each day, the gift of recovery renews itself.

In the early days, weeks and months, I had to resist the urge to hover over #SoberSon and his recovery. I yearned for he success, happiness and health. I wanted to be helpful, but inherently I knew he had to do this on his own

He had to take responsibility. He had to learn how to ask for help and find resources. He had to navigate sobriety. He had to think through triggers. He had to rebuild his life, remove himself from former peers, pay off debts, enroll in college, and so much more. He had to define and design his own recovery, and to make tweaks along the way.

In his own style and at his own pace, he had to climb to the top of the jungle gym and swing on the monkey bars without parental intervention, but absolutely not without loving cheers and support from Mom, Dad, big sister, little brother and other family members and friends.

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

10 Tips for Raising a Successful Child

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This week’s guest blogger is Joronda Montaño from notMYkid. She shares some good reminders for parents, especially when it comes to communication, honestly and consistency, which lay the foundation for healthy decisions about substance use.

From the day our children are born, as parents, we ask ourselves a million questions. How do I make sure my kid lives a healthy life? How do I make sure he or she is making the right decisions? It becomes a never-ending self-interrogation.

It’s every parent’s goal to raise a successful child. As difficult as it may seem at times, this is not impossible. There are numerous books and studies that give us tips on how to raise successful kids, but I’ve included a few of my own below:

  1. Define what you want – What is your vision for your child? As they get older, be sure to include their own vision in regular discussions about where they are going and how they will get there. Before you know it, they will be implementing everything they have practiced with you as their coach.

 

  1. Know your values – What values are important to you? Share them with your kids and let them share their own values with you. These values may change as your child gets older. Keep talking about them along the journey to adulthood so they are constantly reminded about what’s important.

 

  1. Communication – Teach your child to speak up for what they want and need. Like the old adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil,” support their ability to use their voice. You should also regularly speak up for what you want from your kids. Have the conversations, even the difficult ones.

 

  1. Allow Honesty – Give your child the space to share their ideas, wants, needs and fears. Most parents are unaware that the average age for first-time drug experimentation is 13 for example, and when a child starts using drugs, it is typically two years before parents realize there is a problem. Knowing that honest communication is acceptable can preempt difficult situations they sometimes find themselves in.

 

  1. Be Consistent – Kids will play the game the way you want IF they know the rules. Changing the rules in the middle of the game creates uncertainty so make sure you are consistent with rewards, consequences and ways that you let them know about both.

 

  1. High (achievable) Expectations – Expect them to do what they set out to do. Expect that they will follow your instructions. Expect that they can achieve their goals AND encourage them to believe in their own abilities.

 

  1. Encourage Positivity – Being positive is about making sure kids are tapped into the part of themselves that encourages and supports their thoughts, ideas and actions. This includes positive self-talk, and positive talk to others.

 

  1. Take Responsibility – We always have a choice so teaching kids to take responsibility for every action can help prepare them for thinking before they act or react.

 

  1. Build Skills – Whatever they want to be successful at will require some skill building. This is the ultimate preparation for the goal.

 

  1. Forgiveness – Being successful requires a tremendous amount of learning. Teaching kids to allow for learning and possible mistakes on the way is a healthy way to be prepared for bumps and more importantly to keep pressing on despite the bumps.

 I do not mean to make these tips sound easy, as so many adults know, being a parent can be the toughest job on earth. We do the best we can to prepare our kids for the real world and all of its harsh realities, but it is up to them to implement what we teach them.

About Joronda Montaño:

Montaño works as a program director at notMYkid, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating individuals and communities about the consequences of destructive youth behaviors such as substance abuse. First Check Diagnostics, the leader in high-quality home diagnostic test kits, supports notMYkid by providing drug tests kits to thousands of families in an effort to discourage kids from experimenting with drugs.

Montaño is a master level Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Trainer (ASIST). She is also an Arizona Credentialed Prevention Professional Level 4 (ACPP IV) and is a two-time graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting and a Master’s of Public Administration. Montaño is a mom of four beautiful children.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

 ©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

It’s been awhile

Without meaning to, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted any personal updates. My intention is always to provide at least one Midwestern Mama post each week – usually on Mondays – but somehow summer distracted me … in a good way.

This summer marks two years of sobriety and recovery for my son. It continues to go well. He spent the summer working and earned enough to pay his college tuition and textbooks for fall semester. He also enjoyed down time that included taking the family dog on adventures (aka long walks), playing frisbee golf, working out at the gym, binge watching a number of popular TV series, and reading favorite books.

I am most grateful for the return of his personality – conversational, curious, a sense of humor, caring, respectful. We so missed these core characteristics during addiction.

Instead of keeping to himself, being irritable, angry or skeptical as he was when he was using drugs, he now initiates conversations and shares his life with us. And, he even makes a point to ask about our lives – what’s going on at work? how was your day? what are your plans? It’s so nice to share.

The return of trust and honesty is another of the wonderful gifts of his recovery.

He lives at home and is a contributing member of the household, takes personal responsibility, participates in family activities whenever he’s free, hangs out with his younger brother and older sister, volunteers to help out his sister and brother in-law with their dogs (letting them out while they are at work), shares the family car, and more.

Throughout the day, he keeps us posted on his coming and going – his plans for the day, if he’s working late, what he needs to do, what’s on his mind. Long gone are the days when we had no idea where he was or what he was up to. Long gone are the days when lies were the main communication.

Things are going so smoothly, that it’s hard to remember the turbulent chaotic times. It truly feels like that was a long-ago chapter. For mothers, it’s almost like childbirth – you experienced it, you know it happened, but once you hold that sweet infant it’s a distant memory and as that little one grows up, the memory fades even more though it never fully disappears.

I look forward to the many chapters ahead with #SoberSon … and sharing these with you.

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

Building Community in Recovery

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In a local coffee shop, I took a few minutes to check the OYA twitter feed and noticed an interesting chat taking place – #CADAChat. That was a couple of years ago and whenever I have a some free time on Thursday afternoons, I gladly join the tweet chat making amazing connections with others who share a similar commitment to the recovery community. Today’s guest blogger is the #CADAChat creator, Mary Mangione. Learn more about the community she is building! Without a doubt, Mary is one of the most welcoming voices for the recovery community; I am grateful to know her! MWM

As a social media specialist at Recovery Brands, my primary job is to interact with people in the recovery space to build a sense of community around our brand. Prior to being hired, I had my own perception of addiction, a perception that was based upon friends, family, the media, and, unfortunately, the stigma that is so often associated with chemical dependency.

In hopes of changing my perception, I spent hours reading articles about addiction — substances, signs and symptoms, underlying issues, and treatment models. While many differed in their specifics, they all stemmed from a theme of stigma and lack of support. And in that moment, it finally hit me: as a society, we have the power to bring an end to the shame and disgrace of addiction by sharing our stories with others.

As I continued to hone my social media skills and knowledge of addiction, I developed a sense of purpose in this space. Not only was my job to share our various informational resources, but I also had a duty to bring people together – to collectively build a community of hope.

In February of 2014, I launched a weekly Twitter chat series, #CADAChat, via our account @DrugAbuse. I remember being incredibly nervous because I had never hosted a chat and had no idea if anyone would even show up! The topic was “The Dangers of Meth” and, to my surprise, not only did people show up, they actively participated.

Fast forward two years, and I’ve hosted over 65 editions of #CADAChat. It’s been one of my greatest tools of growth in the digital space and has allowed me to make meaningful connections with so many amazing people — including MWM. Each week, we delve into the many facets of addiction and share life-saving recovery tips with one another. I find it to be a great source of information and hope, in an often hopeless space.

Through these chats, we’ve created an ongoing discussion on the ways we can combat stigma and encourage people to actively choose recovery. I’ve found that the more people come together, the stronger and louder our conversation becomes. The #CADAChat community is built on the idea that, when we share our stories, we truly give recovery a voice.

As members of a community, we’re less likely to feel alone because we’re included in and supported by a group of like-minded people. The concept of inclusion is huge in staying accountable, feeling worthy, and promoting an overall sense of happiness in recovery.

About Mary Mangione:

Mary is a social media specialist at Recovery Brands. Through a portfolio of authoritative web properties such as Rehabs.com and Recovery.org, Recovery Brands helps connect individuals in need of addiction treatment with facilities that can provide care. The company’s sites equip consumers with valuable resources to make informed treatment decisions, and also allow treatment providers to connect with individuals seeking care by showcasing key facility offerings through robust profile listings. Complete with comprehensive online directories, facility ratings and reviews, forums and professional communities, site visitors can more efficiently compare and select the treatment options that best meet their recovery needs. For more information, visit RecoveryBrands.com or follow @RecoveryBrands.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.