What are they thinking? Substance use and the developing brain.

When you spend your days working with parents and kids within a public school district, it helps to know a thing or two about brain development and neuroscience. That’s exactly why we asked Judy Hanson, chemical health coordinator for Wayzata Public Schools and prevention expert, to be part of our From Statistics to Solutions conference. She shared her expertise and experience on a panel that explored how the brain develops and how this correlates with substance use and co-occurring disorders. Thank you, Judy, for being part of our conference and this week’s guest blogger. MWM

Print

One of the concerns I often hear from parents is how to differentiate between what they might consider normal teen behavior and what we call substance abuse.  There are definite differences but if this is new to parents, they do not have a reference point to substantiate between the two.  I have asked parents what is their gut telling them as they know their child better than anyone else.  They know their nature, personality and what they are like when just hangin’ with the family.  Differences can be subtle or completely out of the norm.

When in doubt, seek immediate help and don’t wait a year to find out.  A year’s time can take experimentation to full blown substance use disorder.

This is a common question I respond to from parents.

I sat recently with a set of parents that firmly believed in allowing their children to experience what it feels like to be intoxicated yet monitored by parents.  I know this is common practice amid the culture of alcohol use in our state and country.  Part of this thinking is to “ready” them for the college experience or post high school plans.  Another part is that they are going to drink anyway, might as well allow it under a parent’s watch.  This is where I beg to explore other perspectives.

Exploring our own expectations around drug/alcohol use first, is an exercise in self-awareness, no matter what the family structure is i.e.  two parent households, single parents, blended and co-parenting situations.  Knowing what it is that you stand for is a building block for parenting.  Next steps include sharing your personal beliefs with your partner, spouse, co-parent to find middle ground if necessary.  The following step is deciding what the expectations are going to be prior to sharing with your child.  This starts at an early age and can help parents avoid “making it up as they go.”  This is not a simple process; not at all.  It takes a lot of conversation, setting the stage of expectations and consistency.

From Statistics to Solutions 2017 – Panel Discussion on Brain Development

FSTS17 Panel 1 with Judy Hanson second from leftThe panel I sat on at the From Statistics to Solutions conference discussed some of the newest brain research and what is happening on a neurological level when substances are introduced to the developing teen brain.  I find myself having this discussion multiple times within a week to students who may or may not choose to listen.  I get it…when their perception is that all their friends are using, it can’t be that bad.  The latest research is fascinating and can serve as a great platform for parents willing to be a student as well.

 

What I do know for sure is that Minnesota has a strong community of prevention, treatment and recovery/maintenance resources and people who “get it.”

Most parents are willing to share their journey as not only does it provide a personal healing aspect it sets the stage to pay it forward to another family.

This tight knit community of parents, professionals and agencies can make all the difference in the world.

HANSOJUD000Respectfully Submitted by:  Judy Hanson, Chemical Health Coordinator, Wayzata Public Schools and conference panel member, 2 years running!

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.

 

©2017 Our Young Addicts                  All Rights Reserved

Ready for the weekend? Memorial Day kicks off #SoberSummer tips for Prevention-Oriented Parenting

School is winding down and summer break is arriving soon. Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start to summer and this brings changes in routine for families.

While the warmer weather and care-free days may be welcome, these days also present challenges for families. Kids with more free time on their hands and less supervision may experiment with drugs and alcohol. This is the time for POP (Prevention-Oriented Parenting).

Each summer, we put together a #SoberSummer – Resources for OYA Parents – 2017, and from Memorial Day through Labor day we post tips on Facebook and Twitter.

Let’s keep our kids safe and sober this summer!

Midwestern Mama

© 2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved

What a Difference Recovery Makes!

Life with #SoberSon is going pretty well these days.

Three years ago, not so much. Then finally recovery came. For real this time.

Because things were so bleak, it was hard to be hopeful but our family maintained a hopeful outlook even on the darkest days.

In our son’s early recovery, our hopes slowly turned into beliefs as he began to rebuild his life.

  • Moving back home.
  • Attending and graduating from a high-intensity out-patient treatment program focused on addiction to opioids.
  • Passing random UAs.
  • Working through his journey with an amazing LADC.
  • Rebuilding relationships with family and friends.
  • Getting a job and saving money.
  • Returning to college to get an associate’s degree in mathematics – and paying for it himself!
  • Getting straight A’s.
  • Making plans to complete his bachelor’s degree.
  • Thinking about law school in the future.
  • And more!

This partial list is a living, breathing reminder that #SoberSon is making progress. But what makes it all the more rewarding is that he shares his successes with us – and his challenges. That’s not the way it always was when he was using.

Now he’s more of an open book, which in turn means we trust him more and give him even greater privacy and independence. It’s amazing how that works.

In spite of all the positive things going on, life still has its ups and downs but #SoberSon is better equipped to deal with these and it warms my heart when he shares the good and the not so good. He knows we are on his team – just as we always have been. But now he believes it.

Setbacks no longer derail him, and for that I am proud and happy. Yes, recovery works!

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Nightmare or No Big Deal? A Mom’s Perspective on Drug Testing

“I think my kid is using drugs. Should we drug test?”

“Where do we get a drug test?”

“Are drug tests reliable?”

“My kid has to take a drug test and I’m worried it will show drug use.”

“What should I do if the test comes back positive for substance use?”

These are questions and comments I hear more frequently than I ever imagined. Quite frankly, I never anticipated being an information source on anything related to drugs or alcohol, let alone testing for substance use.

The funny thing is before people started asking me these questions, I – again, never expecting to be – was the person asking the same ones. Why? Because when my now 24-year-old son was in high school, we noticed attitude, behavior and mood changes. We were worried he was using drugs.

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s to trust your gut.

Drug testing was one of the ways we were able to determine whether there was substance use, but it was not a quick and easy path. In fact, it was a nightmare especially early on in our son’s substance use, which included marijuana, heroin and other opiates, and a host of other drugs over a five-year period.

My husband asked our primary care physician if he would test our son because we were worried. The doctor brushed it off saying, “It’s tough being a kid these days. He seems like a good kid. Maybe some family counseling would help.”

Finally, after calling around trying to find out how we could get our son drug tested, we discovered these were available at our local drug store. There were quick tests to do at home and mail-in tests that went to a lab. The first time we tested our son, it revealed marijuana. No surprise to him or us, although his behavior seemed to indicate other types of drugs.

To us, drug testing conveyed two important messages: 1) We are concerned, and 2) We are serious.

Our concern was multifaceted – concern for why he was using, concern for the dangers of use, concern for the consequences of use. And our seriousness was steeped in acknowledging a problem, in encouraging him to go to treatment and in supporting him in recovery.

Admittedly, after a while, we gave up on the testing. He wasn’t particularly cooperative – imagine that! And, whether positive or negative, the results weren’t always helpful to the cause.

However, at one point he had applied for a job that was contingent on an extensive drug screen conducted at a professional testing facility. The night before, he went out with friends and I knew in my heart that even if he had abstained to use in the few weeks prior that this was going to be a night that would change all that. The next day, he went to the test. The next week, he didn’t get the job. While I don’t for a fact, my hunch is he didn’t pass the drug test, and that was turning point for me in realizing the extent of his addiction – using regardless of consequence.

During each of his treatment experiences, there was always some form of drug testing but because he didn’t want to stop using the testing didn’t really motivate him to recovery until a few years later.

For example, following a successful inpatient program, he was eager to make it on his own and was resistant to support in recovery. This led to a return to use that came on quickly and took him down hard. Honestly, I was preparing to write an obituary because death by overdose was a more-than-likely possibility, and I think he realized it, too. That was another turning point.

In 2014, my son decided it was time to stop using. He no longer wanted to live as he had been: homeless, jobless, penniless. His childhood friends were graduating from college and going on to graduate school or to grown-up careers. He was finally ready for treatment. He was finally ready for recovery. This time, he knew what he wanted and he knew what he needed.

He did his research. For him, this combination included out-patient; medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opiate use disorder – specifically Suboxone (buprenorphine) to eliminate discomfort from withdrawal, decrease cravings and inhibit the ability to get high allowing him to focus on sustainable recovery; mental health support; a health-realization focus, etc. Researching the options and creating a program gave him greater buy in.

As part of his MAT program, he willingly participates in random drug testing and to date, each and every one of these has been negative for substance use!

Today, a random drug test is no longer a nightmare. It’s simply, “No big deal.”

Shortly after he began the program, I asked him why this time was different. He told me it was the first time that he wanted to stop using. In the past, he knew he needed to stop but he just didn’t want to. This shift from need to want remains key to his success and it also offered me some incredible insight that share with other parents.

It doesn’t take parents long to figure out the three C’s of addiction. We didn’t cause it. We can’t control it. And, we can’t change it. However, we have incredible influence through our unconditional love and support, and during recovery it becomes the foundation for rebuilding trust and positive family dynamics.

As one who has “been there and done that,” I understand how frustrating and scary it is to see a loved one’s problem and live with the fact that they deny the problem or resist the help that’s available. I encourage families to get smart about substance use disorders, treatment and recovery; to find support groups – either in their community or online; to share their situation with others without judgement because many have been through addiction and will be eager to help in any way possible; and to set healthy boundaries. No matter how desperate things become, never stop believing that sobriety and recovery are possible – you are not alone and neither is your loved one – as evidenced by more than 23 million people in long-term recovery.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts           All Rights Reserved.

Above & Beyond Awards

Congratulations to Champlin Park High School Principal Mike George for being recognized as one of the 2016-17 Above & Beyond Award winners! Mike has been an active champion of the parent-awareness nights within the Anoka-Hennepin school district to educate on drug and alcohol use among young people.

Read part of the nomination here, including the criteria for selection:

Develops positive relationships with students, families, and/or community.
Mike George’s leadership style is sincere and charismatic, an admirable combination that conveys his genuine care for students, families, teachers, staff and the community at large. At the start of the 2015-2016 school year, another parent and I approached Mike to see if we could host a parent-awareness event to educate about drug and alcohol use.GEORGE_MICHAEL - Principal Champlin Park High School

Demonstrates care and concern for students.

Without hesitation, Mike embraced the idea and helped us approach it from a variety of perspectives including students, families and community.

Within a week, he’d pulled together an initial group of folks within the district who became a dedicated task force. He quickly envisioned more than a single event, but rather a series of events that debuted in 2016.

In every interaction I’ve had, the individuals have the utmost respect and admiration for Mike George and the common sentiment is they recognize how much he cares. And, to make it even better, he has the innate ability to put people at ease – I’ve observed him in interactions with students, faculty, staff, families and community members and everyone is always impressed by his easy-going nature yet decisive, leadership style.

Mike George is the first person to share his “why” for leading the Anoka-Hennepin Schools Drug & Alcohol Awareness program.

He’s not at all shy to explain that addiction has touched his family, and it its this honesty that best conveys how much he cares for students and healthy choices.

Mike knows firsthand the challenges that young people face and the complications that drugs and alcohol present. He’s an advocate for prevention and education, and moreover for helping students and families connect to helpful resources. He calls the school district a family and that means that he cares for each member just as he would his own son or daughter.

Brings together ideas and/or resources and/or people to overcome difficulties or challenges.

Another of Mike’s “above and beyond” strengths is that he is a collaborator and connector. He’s always making new relationships and then bringing the parties together.

He doesn’t see barriers; instead, he sees opportunities. Many administrators would have dismissed parents who wanted to schedule an event let alone something that would address a potentially scary topic such as substance use. Mike, however, say this as being proactive and as a way to enhance the district’s reputation for preparing students for life.

In convening a diverse group of experts as our task force, Mike considers a variety of perspectives, approaches and agendas. He’s able to integrate these into a cohesive message that’s proven invaluable to the community. Event surveys are exceptionally positive about the program, the task force and the content.

Collaborates with outside resources.

In addition to district resources, Mike welcomed “outsiders” from the community to help shape our program and its content. He brought in Allina, Fairview, Know the Truth, Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge, Our Young Addicts, Headway, the Anoka-Hennepin Drug Task Force, the school principals from the other high schools and their staff, the district’s Regional Prevention Coordinator, the state’s epidemiologist, and more. As stated above, Mike George is an extraordinary collaborator and I am honored to work alongside him to help families and students.

Rose McKinney aka Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

I Didn’t Know I Was Getting Sober, But I’m Happy I Did

Connecting other bloggers is one of the most rewarding parts of the #OYACommunity – especially when it’s a blogger like Kelly Fitzgerald aka The Sober Senorita, who has with a similar mission to share experiences, resources and hope. Thanks, Kelly! MWM

Print

I never knew May 7, 2013 was going to be my sobriety date. I didn’t know that that day would stick in my head and my heart forever.

It started out as any other day, I was nursing another hangover, I was questioning my life, I was beating myself up for not being able to drink like a “normal person.”

I had done those same things countless times before. I guess in a way, I got sober on accident. Sometimes I’d like to think it was divine intervention, sometimes I’d like to think I finally came to my senses, and other times I think my luck just ran out. There was really nothing extra special about that time in my life. But for some reason I was ready and willing.

I’m aware that not everyone has this experience and that some people have to try really hard to get sober, or need to try several times. I’m not saying my experience was easy either, I’m saying that I had no clue I was “getting sober.” On the day I made the decision to quit drinking, I thought it would be a short-term solution, a few days, a week, maybe a month tops.

I still had the mindset that I might be able to learn how to drink normally and not experience all of the negative consequences I had been experiencing for many years due to drinking.

The problem is I was never a “normal drinker.” Binge drinking is generally defined for women as consuming about 4 or more drinks in the span of two hours. The term binge was adopted to describe a pattern of problematic drinking characterized by heavy use, followed by periods of abstinence. This is exactly how I drank. The days of abstinence in between my binge drinking convinced me that I did not have a problem with alcohol. I always thought “I can stop any time so I’m not an alcoholic and I don’t need to quit.”

What I had learned growing up about addiction was riddled with stereotypes, the slogan “just say no,” and the thought that if I wasn’t the textbook definition of an alcoholic, then I don’t need to be sober. The truth is I had been thinking about the pressing question, “am I an alcoholic?” for years. It was my worst fear.

To me, being an alcoholic meant I was a bad person, that I’d never be able to drink again, and that it was something to be ashamed of. We live in a society where happy hours are praised, alcohol ads are normal, and kids are exposed to drinking and drugs use via social media. Why wasn’t I convinced I needed to stop drinking? The simple answer is I didn’t know my patterns of drinking qualified as a problem.

On that day in May of 2013 what I knew was I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was devastated I couldn’t moderate my drinking. I felt like a failure. I felt like a horrible person who couldn’t complete a simple task no matter how hard I tried. At that time I felt like I had tried everything else, to just drink 1 or 2 drinks, to only drink on the weekends, to avoid hard liquor – any tactic to drink moderately, I tried it. I finally decided to try cutting alcohol out of my life completely, but I didn’t expect it to last forever.

I didn’t know how good it would feel. I didn’t know if it would be the answer to all my problems, in fact, I thought it would be a new problem. That day I quit alcohol and drugs for good, I thought my life was over.

I spent the next several weeks crying, emotionally and physically detoxing from a substance that had accompanied me for years. Thinking about being 27 and a non-drinker made my heart ache. I couldn’t spin the situation any way I tried.

As the months went on something miraculous happened, I started feeling better and better and I kept my sobriety sacred. Each morning I woke up and chose to not drink or use. The days racked up and eventually I made it to one year. That’s when I knew that sobriety was for me and that I wanted to keep it forever. It’s funny that something I dreaded and thought was the result of a moral defect, became something I learned about, grew from, and became proud of. I was so deep into my addiction that I didn’t see how good life could be. I didn’t see my part in my own pain. Getting sober has completely transformed the course of my life.

Today I am not afraid to say I’m an alcoholic, I’m in recovery, I’m sober, I’m a non-drinker. These statements empower me. To me they are a symbol of everything I have overcome and the gratitude and grace I have today. I didn’t know I was getting sober in 2013, but I’m happy that I did because sobriety has given me every good thing I have in my life. Because of sobriety I have become an award-winning writer. I am paid to do what I love and to spread the message of hope and recovery to others. Sobriety has provided a stable foundation on which I’ve built a partnership of love with the man I married. Sobriety has enabled me to become a responsible member of society who pays their bills and can afford a mortgage. Today I get to show up and be there for my family and friends when they need me.

I no longer believe that life is just something that happens to me; it’s something that I am part of and have choices in. All of these drastic life changes would not be possible if I was still drinking and using drugs. That’s why I’m so glad I chose sobriety, even if it wasn’t on purpose.

Bio: Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Medium, The Fix, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, and AfterPartyMagazine. She is currently writing a memoir.

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.

©2017 Our Young Addicts      All Rights Reserved.

 

#FSTS17 Second-Annual From Statistics to Solutions Conference on May 11, 2017

KTT & OYA Logo FSTS17

 

Prevention Conference Will Address Solutions to Substance Use & Co-occurring Disorders Among Young Adults in Minnesota

The statistics are alarming. According the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), children and adolescents with mental-health conditions are at a higher risk of using drugs than other youth.

WHO: Know the Truth, a program of Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge, and Our Young Addicts have partnered up to host From Statistics to Solutions, a prevention conference focused on addressing the underlying issues of youth substance use.

WHAT: From Statistics to Solutions is the 2nd Annual day-long conference focused on creating solutions to the issue of youth substance use through collaboration. This conference will discuss youth as ages 12-22.  Nearly 20 local and national experts will speak at the event in a series of panels throughout the day. Hundreds of professionals, including social workers, licensed alcohol and drug counselors, professional clinical counselors, nurses, educators, law enforcement professionals and government officials, are expected to attend. Last year’s conference had over 400 professionals in attendance.

WHY: The statistics are alarming. According the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), children and adolescents with mental-health conditions are at a higher risk of using drugs than other youth. Additionally, as many as six in 10 substance young people who are using drugs and alcohol are also dealing with a mental-health issue such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, self-harm, eating disorders and more.

Each year, Know the Truth interacts with more than 58,000 Minnesota students. Through this presence in high schools and middle schools, Know the Truth regularly hears first-hand about the causes of and issues surrounding drug and alcohol use among young adults. Our Young Addicts similarly hears accounts of substance use among young adults through concerned parents and professionals. Both Know the Truth and Our Young Addicts emphasize collaboration to help young adults, no matter where they are on the spectrum of prevention, addiction or recovery.

WHEN: Thursday, May 11, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Interviews will be available ahead of and during the conference.

WHERE: Hennepin Technical College, 9000 Brooklyn Blvd., Brooklyn Park, MN 55445 United States

PANELS: Throughout the day, speakers will discuss issues surrounding youth substance use as part of four moderated panels.

  1. What are they thinking? Drug Abuse and the Brain.
  2. Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction
  3. Treatment and Approaches
  4. Recovery and Re-entry into Society

PARTIAL LIST OF SPEAKERS:

  • Keynote: Carol Falkowski, CEO of Drug Abuse Dialogues (former director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services) – 2017 Drug Abuse Update
  • Rich Stanek – Hennepin County Sheriff
  • Judy Hanson – Chemical Health Coordinator, Wayzata Schools
  • Tim Walsh, MA, LP, DPA – Vice President of Long-term Recovery and Mental Health, Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge
  • John VonEschen, LMFT, Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance
  • Gloria Englund, MA –Psychotherapist & Recovery Coach, Recovering U
  • Saul Selby, MA, LADC – Vice President of Clinical & Transitional Services, Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge
  • Randy Anderson, ADC-T – Second Chances Coalition
  • Michael Borowiak– MSW, LICSW, Traverse Consulting
  • Anthony Zdroik – Juvenile Division Chief, Washington County Attorney’s Office
  • Nita Kumar, PhD, LMFT, LPCC – Mental Health Consultant, Anoka–Hennepin
  • Brenda Servais, PsyD, LP, LADC –Psychologist/Clinical Lead, Melrose Center
  • Mark Rios – Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge
  • Heather Gallivan, Psyd, LP – Clinical Director, Melrose Center

About Know the Truth

Know the Truth is a non-religious substance abuse prevention program of Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge that is developed to educate high school and middle school students on addictions and the consequences of their choices and help them tackle their everyday struggles. Each year, Know the Truth presenters conduct more than 1,400 presentations in more than 160 high schools and middle schools, and speak to more than 58,000 students. In 2015-2016, 90 percent of teens surveyed made a commitment not to use drugs in the future after hearing the presentation. To learn more, follow Know the Truth on Twitter and Facebook.

About Our Young Addicts

Our Young Addicts (OYA) is a community of parents and professionals who share experiences, resources, and hopes – no matter where a young adult may be on the spectrum of drug experimentation, recreation, use, abuse, addiction, treatment, relapse or recovery. Rose McKinney created Our Young Addicts when her 20-something son’s addiction was spiraling out of control; today he is in recovery and thriving in his sobriety. To learn more follow #OYACommunity on Twitter and Facebook and follow the blog.

FSTS Logo 2017

###

©2017 Our Young Addicts        All Rights Reserved

 

Never Too Early: The Draw of #NOverdose to an Elementary-school Parent

A mother of young children recently attended a community event about drug alcohol use among young people. It was hosted by her school district and the local sheriff’s department. Why did she attend? Today’s guest blogger shares her thoughts. I hope more parents will engage early to prevent and address future issues that may lead toward a substance-use disorder. MWM

Print

I remember watching my three-year-old son Harrison standing on one of the five boulders separating a playground from the parking lot. My friend and I were waiting by our cars for our respective stragglers, when we observed Harrison on the boulder glancing from his feet to the adjacent rock. Calculating the distance. The risk. The wrath.

Knowing that I couldn’t reach him in time, I said, “Harrison, do NOT jump over to the other rock. You’ll hit your head and get a black eye.”

Without a word he turned to face us, and we thought he would just jump forward into the grass. But no. Sure enough, he turned back, jumped toward the adjacent boulder, and missed sticking a top-of-the-rock landing. As predicted, he hit his face. I ran to my sobbing child to comfort him and assess the damage.

The experience left Harrison with a black eye and me with a clear view of my son’s emerging personality. Today, Harrison is eight years old, and just this week we had to coach him down from two different trees in our backyard. And it’s only mid-April.

In addition to his propensity for age-appropriate risk-taking, Harrison loves to make his buddies laugh. Farting? Check. Poop jokes? Check. Singing silly songs? Check. Eating gross kitchen concoctions? Check. At this age, it’s all pretty harmless.

But it won’t always be.

As a parent of three elementary-school-age kids, I want to do everything that I can now to help them develop the tools, skills, healthy habits, and positive relationships to ward off future battles with addiction, knowing full well that I could do everything “right” and still face the struggles confronting many in the Our Young Addicts community.

So when I got the email from Wayzata Public Schools about the March 20 #NOverdose community forum at the high school, I immediately put it on the family calendar.

NOverdose flyer4 FINAL (1).png

Why did I choose to spend two hours on a Monday night hearing harrowing statistics and stories when my biggest safety concern right now is the giant rock at the base of Harrison’s favorite climbing tree?

  1. The statistics scare me. The opioid prescription rates, deaths from heroin overdoses, increased ER visits, and the rise in overall addiction, among other alarming trends, terrify me as a parent and as a community member. I want to do what I can to help reverse these trends.
  1. Drugs today seem more lethal. At my 25th high school reunion this fall, a classmate remarked to me that one of his biggest concerns of living in his wealthy suburb was the rampant heroin use among teenagers. He said, “I did my share of drugs in high school, but nothing that was going to kill me. Kids today are doing heroin, and they’re dying. We never touched that stuff.” When my husband and I warn our kids about the dangers of drugs, we tell them that it only takes one time for a drug to kill you.
  1. Kids are under too much pressure today. Two years ago in the midst of planning my 20th college reunion, my classmates and I were discussing programs that we could contribute to the college’s overall reunion schedule. A friend suggested having a session on what we could do now to better prepare our kids to get into Amherst. I said, “Your son is 10! How about we do a session with a child psychologist on what we’re doing to our kids?” I worry that stress over performance expectations is contributing to the increase in drug addiction.
  1. Personality traits in my kids concern me. Among my three children are a range of traits that are compelling and engaging – and potentially concerning. Stubborn, change averse, indecisive, intense, perfectionist, a need to please others, and self-critical: it’s a list that I personally know all too well, and one that would be familiar to my own mother in raising me! I’ve thought a lot lately about the pride I took in being unique; in middle school I wore a shirt that said, “Why Be Normal?” My kids and I talk a lot about being true to yourself, and not feeling the need to follow everyone else, yet at the same time maintaining high standards for personal conduct and respect. It’s a fine balance.
  1. I wanted to learn what I can do now. Bottom line, I want to know what I can do right now to help my kids grow up to be kind, happy, healthy, resilient, and drug free. I want to learn from the experience of experts and other parents, and then share that knowledge with my parental cohort. I also want to work to create a space where parents in my circle can talk openly about their challenges without fear of being judged or rejected…or having their child judged or rejected.

I attended #NOverdose to determine how I can contribute to the overall community effort to combat opioid and heroin use. Writing this blog is my first step.

Kristen Spargo is a freelance writer and communications consultant who specializes in health care and nonprofits.

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.

©2017 Our Young Addicts      All Rights Reserved.

Partners Make it Possible #FSTS17

On May 11, 2017, Our Young Addicts is hosting its second-annual From Statistics to Solutions conference in partnerships with Know The Truth and Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge. It’s amazing how an idea can come to life when you engage partners and collaborate to make it happen.

Read a news article about it and register to attend.

Midwestern Mama aka Rose McKinney

©2017 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved