Navigating Addiction during the Holidays

With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays just around the corner, I’m ever grateful Sherry Gaugler-Stewart’s guest blog post: Navigating Addiction During the Holidays. #Gratitude2017 MWM

With Thanksgiving 2016 one week away, the holiday season kicks off. This can be a particularly challenging time for families whose loved ones are using drugs and alcohol. Today’s guest blogger is Sherry Gaugler-Stewart, Director of Family and Spiritual Recovery at The Retreat.  She share first-hand experience as well as professional guidance to help families, and was one of our panel speakers at our conference this past year. Thank you, Sherry, for your blog post!


Oh, the holidays!  When we think of them, so many thoughts and images pop into our heads!  Snow!  Family!  Food!  Togetherness!  Traditions, old and new!  Excitement is in the air, and we start planning how and when our ideal holiday will come together.  Unfortunately, for those who have a loved one struggling with alcoholism or addiction, an additional level of stress typically accompanies the holidays: worry that our imagined holiday will turn into…

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What Parents Can Do If They Notice Signs of a Relapse in Their Recovering Teen


Having a teenager in this day and age is hard work. As a parent, there are so many things to think about as your child begins to move into high school and beyond. You worry about him driving, whether or not he fits in, if he’ll do his homework and how peer pressure will affect him.

Sadly, a lot of teens these days turn to drugs and alcohol at a young age. When your child experiments with drugs and winds up addicted, it can be a very disheartening experience. From there, all you can do is try your best to support him in getting the help he needs.

teen info graphic

If you’re lucky enough to get your teen into treatment and recovery, the next phase is helping him remain sober.

This is no easy task. It takes patience and empathy to support a teenager who has battled addiction.

As parents, it’s important to be as educated as possible about the potential for relapse. Here’s what to look for and how to respond if you suspect your teen has relapsed.

What Are the Signs of Relapse?

The first thing you should understand about relapse is that it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that builds up over time in three stages: emotional, mental and physical.

Relapse usually begins with emotional states that may be very subtle, yet still very triggering. As it moves into the mental stage, your child may think about using or drinking and become aware of these thoughts. Finally, she gives into her emotions and thoughts, and the actual (physical) relapse occurs.

Relapse signs to watch out for include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger or frustration
  • Mood changes or irritability
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Isolation and not being social with friends
  • Withdrawing and disengaging from family gatherings
  • Verbally romanticizing about using, saying things like she wishes she could take the edge off or it would be nice to escape
  • Demonstrating shaky behaviors, such as being dishonest or wanting to hang out with old friends you’ve identified as bad influences
  • Asking to visit places that may be a trigger, such as concerts, music festivals or house parties
  • Rationalizing or displaying extreme confidence, perhaps saying she’s okay now and “has things under control”

Keep in mind that the stages and signs of relapse are like dominoes that can quickly lead your child into a place where she picks up substances again because she’s built it up in her mind as the right thing to do.

What Should You Do If You Notice Signs of a Relapse in Your Recovering Teen?

First of all, don’t just assume that, once your child enters into recovery or returns from treatment, all is well and the addiction is over.

Recovery is a daily practice and needs ongoing monitoring. This means you need to keep a very close eye on your teen and maintain open lines of communication.

If your child begins to show signs of relapse, it can be frightening and overwhelming, as you may not be sure how to handle it. The best thing to do is remain calm while you work through your valid concerns. Start by realizing that you are not helpless and can head off a relapse before it happens.

Next, take action by speaking candidly to your teenager. Ask him how he feels, what kinds of thoughts he’s having and how you can support him. This step can be tricky, as you don’t want to interrogate him or make him feel like you’re angry with him. Take a non-aggressive approach by initiating a healthy conversation with your teen about what’s going on so you can work together to find a resolution.

It’s also a good idea to involve a therapist trained in recovery aftercare or speak to your teen’s treatment center about aftercare services it offers.

“One of the biggest changes in our lives has been the repairing of relationships within our family.” – Katie D. shares on her daughters recovery journey with Heroes in Recovery.

Often, relapse signs mean your teen may not be integrating back into normal life as easily as he had hoped and may be struggling to find a sense of routine or comfort.

Stay active in encouraging him, and be as compassionate to his needs as possible. Remember, your recovering teen can always get back on track, return to recovery and seek more help if he needs it, as long as you stay vigilant.

Carly Benson, a writer for The Life Challenge
As an avid traveler, yogi & confessed self-help junkie, Carly writes about her adventures in life & sobriety on where she offers inspirational concepts & coaching for recovery, faith & living an intentional life.

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 Right Reserved

5 Steps Towards Addiction Recovery You Should Know


Strive to learn how to live a life in recovery, says Andy – nine years sober. He shares five key ways to do this. 

The first thing you need to know about addiction is that it never really leaves you. There is no cure for addiction and that’s not what you strive for during recovery. Recovery is about learning how to live your life constantly making the choice to abstain from drugs and alcohol, which have caused so much damage in your life.

I still live with my addiction every day, despite the fact that I’ve been sober for almost a decade now. I know it’s always in the background, waiting for me to relapse, but I’ve grown stronger.

My addiction problems began when I was only 9 years old. I was a very curious kid and I had been wondering about alcohol for a while, but when I asked to have a sip, I got a lecture from my parents. So, one night at a family party, I snuck a bottle while the adults were busy, and a few sips later I was drunk. I had never felt anything like it. I loved it. A cousin of mine found out and made me promise I wouldn’t do it again, and to be honest, it took longer to make that promise than it did to break it.

As a teen, I started experimenting with marijuana, which quickly escalated to other stronger, more horrible substances. My family and friends recognized the signs of my addictive behavior. The problem was I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I used to tell them and myself that I could quit anytime I wanted to, even though deep down I knew it was a lie and they were right. As a result, I ended up alienating myself from them.

Flash forward to 23 and I’m sitting in a prison cell, serving a 2-year sentence for drug-related charges. Those were the hardest years of my life, but it was there where I made the decision to change my life and embarked on the road to recovery.

As soon as I got out of prison I checked into a rehab center. I learned there are 5 essential steps to recovery which need to be taken. Some of them continually repeated in order to ensure you won’t fall into addiction again. Today, I want to share these steps with you:

1) Powerless

The first step towards recovery is admitting you are powerless over your addiction. As I mentioned earlier, I used to lie to myself and those around me saying that I was in control over my substance consumption and that I could stop using anytime I wanted to. If I had kept thinking like this, I would probably still be an addict. In order for a problem to be solved, it needs to be acknowledged and accepted.

Getting to this realization can be a different process for each addict. For me it was through a testimony I heard in prison. It was a middle-aged man who said he had lost his wife, his daughter, and everything he had ever cared about due to his drug problems. I could relate to this, it made me think about my family and how I didn’t want to lose them, which led me towards the path of sobriety.

2) Asking for help
Now that you’ve admitted your problem to yourself, it’s time to admit it to others. Your family, your friends, your doctor… anyone you consider should know in order to help you get better. I told my family first, I told them I wanted to get clean and that I would like them to support me during this process. They were so proud, so happy. They helped me find a great rehabilitation center and they were with me through it all. You are not alone in your recovery, getting help from others is fundamental in order for you to start changing your life for the better.

3) Treatment

The next step is finding the right treatment. It is essential for you to explore the many options there are so you can choose the one that can help you the most according to your condition. There are many services available, such as residential rehab, out-patient treatments, and other medical services and therapy.

There are also meetings, like those provided by Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, in which you can talk and listen to other addicts. Whichever treatment you choose, I would recommend it involves medical assistance and professional counseling and therapy.

4) Commitment

You would think that treatment is the hardest part of recovery. It does implicate a lot of physical discomforts as well as mental and emotional changes, but, the real challenge comes after you’ve finished treatment and are left in the real world again. You need to rebuild your life from scratch, a life of abstinence. It will take a lot of strength, discipline, and willpower.  

The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. I kept attending AA and NA meetings regularly after getting out of rehab, as well as therapy sessions once a week. This really helped me be strong in moments I thought I would relapse -which were a lot-. Creating strong, healthy relationships is fundamental in this step too.

The way I see it, the more people there are that care about you and want to help you stay clean, the more chances you have to succeed.

5) Acknowledgement

As there is no real cure for addiction, there is no ultimate step in recovery. However, acknowledging how far you’ve come and celebrating it is what I consider the last of these 5 steps. Nothing compares to celebrating your first anniversary of sobriety, and each year you become more determined to continue.

Now you know what to expect before starting your journey to get clean. These are the 5 steps I took during my recovery process, which I consider were the key to my success. Admitting my problem, asking the people I loved the most to support me, getting treatment, committing everyday to staying clean and being able to celebrate my achievements are the steps that got me to where I am today.

As I said before, just because I’ve been sober for 9 years doesn’t mean I’m “cured”. Recovery is a lifetime process, and some of these steps will have to be taken every day.

I strongly encourage you to embark upon this journey. It may be hard, but it’s worth it. If you have an experience or a story about recovery you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.

Author Byline:

Hi, I am Andy! I was born in Bogota, Colombia, but raised in Los Angeles, California. I have been clean for 9 years now! I spend my time helping others with their recovery and growing my online business.

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


Meet Sarah Nielson, author, mom and creator of the Just Keep Going, Parents blog. We often swap blog posts to share and this is one you definitely want to read – it’s about chocolate, after all. Moreover, it adds perspective to the journey by helping us see and define addiction. Thanks, Sarah, for being part of the OYA Community and part of my journey through a loved one’s addiction. MWM


At a listening session on the teenage brain and drug use, Dr. Ken Winters started by asking the audience, “How many of you love chocolate?” Many raise their hands in amusement.  “How many of you would consider yourself a chocoholic — you gotta have it?” he asked playfully as people raised their hands with a smirk.  “How many of you would steal from a convenience store for chocolate?” Silence.  “How many of you would leave your toddlers alone in the house while you went out to find chocolate?” “Would you would go to prison for chocolate?”

We were with some new friends who are dear and know that we have a son in recovery. One said, “I was so spoiled as a kid, it’s a wonder I didn’t take drugs or something.” You know where my mind went instantly, “Our child is a former drug addict because we spoiled him.” It’s my fault. Spoiled people take drugs — (research pending).  I’m not gonna lie — I felt some shame.

This is the birthplace of stigma. It might be why some of us protect ourselves from admitting that we have a problem or someone we love has a problem. We believe it might be our fault and we want to protect ourselves, our image, our parenting, our status; Christian families or good families don’t breed drug addicts and alcoholics. Certainly I was in that belief camp. Then it happened to me.

It’s not all about ego of course. No one on the planet wants a loved one to suffer addiction. Denial, silence, pretending and defending protect our mind from the overwhelming grief and fear and in our case, the also, “and what would we actually DO about it?” question. Our mind sometimes needs protecting, until it doesn’t, and it’s time to face reality.

I learned that people like our kids suffer addiction but people like our kids, us, our grandparents and friends also celebrate recovery.  My friend Sandi Lybert of Your Choice to Live, says that people come up to her and say she doesn’t look like the mom of a former Heroin addict. We thought that was funny. She’d often ask people, “What does the mother of a Heroin addict look like?” Awkward.  She looks like a mom of a son in recovery, whatever that looks like. There’s no stereotype.

I’m not on the bandwagon of addiction stigma because I don’t want you to be uber-careful about what you say in front of me, and playing the semantics game of right terminology so as not to offend, seems silly. If I feel shame, that’s on me. I also am weary of bandwagons at the moment. I’m shining a light on recovery, because it’s true and real and brings hope that is legitimate and deserves attention — a much better use of energy. Addiction defies demographics and thus, so does recovery.

People can and do recover from alcohol and other drug addiction, and they’re the people you and I sit next to in the pew, the theatre, the Bucks vs.Timberwolves game and the company picnic — 23 million of them in America.

I attend an open 12-step meeting where anyone is welcome but only alcoholics participate and speak. If pictures were allowed, which they’re not, I’d love to post the collage:  darling young women and handsome millennial men, middle age dads, fit and fat grandpas, short, white-haired grannies who walk up to the podium in sensible shoes, all of them sharing their experience, strength and hope in recovery to help the newcomer stay sober today.

In that meeting, pregnant suburban wives, and yes, hard-looking characters who might shed a tear or two, thank their sponsors for taking midnight calls when they want to drink or use,  and express gratitude to God for a good life they never thought they’d see. Some are sober 40 plus years, some 40 days, some 40 hours.

At the end of the meeting the room of several hundred stands in a circle, holding hands to say the Lord’s prayer in unison. I confess that I often look up and around with open eyes because it fills my soul. For Thine is the power.

Thanks, Sarah, for sharing this blog post with the OYA Community!




500 Days Sober


My day job is running a business. My night job is teaching communications courses at a local university. And my passion job is building the OYA Community. One of my students recently shared her story with me and I’m sharing it with you today because Nov. 4 is 500 days of sobriety for Kayla Fosse! MWM

Reading Midwestern Mama’s blog post about the three R’s (Recovery, Relapse, and Ready) in regards to addiction definitely hit home for me, as my story includes all three. When I meet new people now, the look on their faces when I tell them I’m in recovery is always one of shock. I’m an attractive, outgoing, responsible 24-year old-woman, and it surprises everyone to learn that I suffered (still suffer) from an addiction to alcohol.

In July 2014 I lost my job because I got drunk and didn’t show up. I was newly 21 and I just wanted to party with my friends.

I brushed it off, used my bubbly personality to get a new job, and kept drinking.

In November 2014 I totaled my car under the influence of alcohol, taking out another car in the process. It was a frigid Tuesday afternoon, and for some reason the cops didn’t suspect anything. There were no consequences, so I kept drinking. In January 2015 I lost that new job because again, I got drunk and didn’t show up. Two days later, after an encounter with an ex-boyfriend, I went on my first (but not last) three-day drinking bender which ended up landing me in my first (again, but not last) detox, with a whopping .33 BAC.

It was a mandatory 72-hour hold, due to the fact that in my blackout state of mind, I threatened suicide.

During those three days I was urged to go directly to an impatient treatment program and start on anti-depressants. Instead, I got out and continued drinking.

In just 8 months I was hired and fired three times. I would shut myself in my basement with a bottle of alcohol and stay there for days. I suffered withdrawals when I stopped drinking; insomnia, night sweats, and brain zaps were becoming normal for me.

I had graduated from drinking and driving to drinking WHILE driving and I had mastered the one-eye-shut technique, always managing to make it home.

Until September anyway, when my actions finally caught up to me and I was charged with DWI in the third degree – having blown .24, three times the legal limit.

I spent two nights in jail before I was released on an at-home alcohol monitor. I thought I could “beat the system” and still drink at certain times. I was wrong, of course, and due to my violation of probation, I got picked up on a warrant. I spent six days in jail before being released. Due to my violation, and my mom’s admission to the judge that I was a severe alcoholic, court didn’t go well and I was given the condition that I couldn’t drink alcohol. I used this excuse as to why I wasn’t drinking, often complaining to people who asked about my “bullshit” probation conditions, making promises to throw a huge party when I got off and was able to get drunk again.

I was angry, at first, but after being sober for a few months I started to see glimpses of my old self again.

I had gotten hired at a new job that I absolutely loved, I was making great money and paying off all of my fines, as well as setting up old debt payments. (A lot of bills pile up when you spend all of your money on alcohol). I was working out regularly.

I was spending more time with family that I had spent a long time shutting out.

The puffiness in my face was gone, my hair was shiny again and my skin wasn’t dry and cracked anymore. This lasted six months exactly, before I decided that I wasn’t on probation’s radar and drinking a few beers here and there wouldn’t hurt.

I thought I could keep it under control.

But, as I’m sure most relapse stories go, I couldn’t keep it under control very long.

A few beers turned into 7. Then I added in hard liquor, and before long I was on another drinking bender. This time it lasted an entire week, resulting in the loss of the job I loved so much. I was ashamed and embarrassed, wondering why I was the way I was. My manager urged me to go to treatment, telling me that if I completed a program he’d give me my job back.

So, on June 22, 2016 I woke up and decided I could never drink again. This time, I was actually ready.

I completed a six-week outpatient treatment program, learning a lot in the process. The room was filled with men and women in their forties and fifties, who all pointed at me and said, “If I had figured this out when I was 23, I wouldn’t be here today.” This was motivation for me. These people had lost their children, freedom, houses, and careers. I didn’t want to be like that. I wasn’t like them. I had a great childhood, a big, supportive family, and plenty of amazing friends. I was ready to stop with the excuses and own my problem.

Now, if people ask why I’m not drinking, I’m honest and say that I can’t control myself when I drink and I’m better off without it.

Honesty is the biggest thing I’ve learned in recovery. Owning your actions, admitting your faults, and asking for forgiveness. I used to lie so much. “I’m just going to a friend’s tonight.” “I’ve only had one beer.” “I won’t be able to make it into work today because my car won’t start.” While I don’t work any type of program, I do follow the “one day at a time” mantra. I lay my head on my pillow every night and thank God that I didn’t drink alcohol that day.

November 4 will be 500 days sober, and while I’m sure my friends and family are proud of me, I’m the most proud.

I love the person that I am today. I went back to school, and I’ll graduate in April 2018. I’m fixing my credit score. I’m healthy. I’ve more than accepted the fact that I’m just someone who can’t drink alcohol, and I’m happy to share my story.

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


Just because we saw it coming, doesn’t mean we could stop it.

We’ve seen our son relapse before. That time, his recovery was short and shaky at best, but he went through the motions. He tried to go too fast in returning to work and he thought he could use marijuana and alcohol recreationally. The relapse was quick and deep rendering him homeless again; however, within a few months it led him to a new treatment program and a period of nearly three-and-a-half years free from opioid use.

This time, the period of sobriety and recovery was steady. He participated in a 12-week, high-intensity out-patient program; began MAT, went in daily at first and graduated to weekly; saw his counselor regularly – the same one for three years; saw a mental-health professional for the first year; got and held a job; got his own insurance; earned tuition; returned to college, got straight A’s, earned his associates degree in mathematics and was accepted for a B.A. program. Moreover, he rebuilt trust with the family. Still, he struggled with social anxiety, depression and developing friendships.

Things started to shift and in spite of our efforts to be supportive, to address things directly but compassionately, a relapse begin. We saw it coming. We wished we could stop it. We did try to the extent that anyone can. Almost 11 months later, he’s lucky to be alive and to once again pursue recovery. What a rocky year, but what a hopeful outcome in the making.

Although I’ve updated the OYA Community from time to time this year, it hasn’t been as real-time or detailed as years past, so today I compiled a list of what we’ve experienced thus far in 2017.

The list that follows reflects just some of the things we observed. On the surface, some of these seem like not big deal or something that you could explain or rationalize. In reality, each represents a change in his sober behavior and that’s what concerned us most.

Right around the first of the year … January 2017

  • Going to bed early – even before 7 p.m.
  • Getting up early – leaving the house by 4:30 a.m. “to go to the gym and study before his 8 a.m. class.”
  • Taking frequent, deep-sleep naps.
  • Retreating to the basement to re-watch episodes of TV series he’d already watched several times.
  • Playing video games at home.
  • Taking extraordinarily long showers.
  • Saying he’s no longer able to study at home.
  • Becoming less and less conversational.
  • Not interacting or participating in family life.
  • Spending less time at home.
  • Air fresheners in the car and leaving the windows cracked open.
  • Finding lighters.
  • Finding wine-bottle openers.
  • Not wanting to travel out of town for spring break.
  • Keeping secret a romantic interest.
  • Falling asleep at the girlfriend’s house and not letting us know he wouldn’t be home.
  • Skipping a day of classes and science labs to hang out with the girl.
  • Not responding to text messages and phone calls from Mom and Dad.
  • Not wanting to talk about “it” let alone “anything.”
  • Spending more and more time with one of his former using buddies.
  • Going shopping and buying expensive clothes and shoes.
  • Arguing about the positive attributes of cannabis.
  • Self-medicating with cannabis including marijuana and cdb oil to combat anxiety and depression.
  • Going out drinking with coworkers.
  • Not communicating his whereabouts or schedule.
  • Not coming home night after night.
  • Finding pipes, a large quantity of marijuana, cbd crystals, wine and vodka bottles in the car.
  • Family meeting with his counselor.
  • Says he’s relieved he no longer has to keep his cannabis use a secret.
  • Blatantly not following the family rules.
  • Going cold turkey off Suboxone without tapering or utilizing the support of his treatment team.
  • Experiencing withdrawal.
  • Admitting he’s spending all day, every day staying high on marijuana.
  • Waking and baking, every day.
  • Not wanting to celebrate his 25th
  • Not opening his cards or presents.
  • Not eating any home-made cake.
  • Ignoring the dog.
  • Continuing to experience PAWS.
  • Getting a prescription for anxiety meds, but quitting these three days later.
  • Dropping out of his college classes and not making arrangements to apply his hard-earned tuition to a future semester.
  • Going on a bender that landed him a two-day stay in detox due to public intoxication with a BAC of .26.
  • Missing work.
  • Losing his job.
  • Not coming home or responding to calls and texts for a whole week.
  • Coming home, handing us his car keys and wallet, asking us to hold onto these for a while.
  • Visiting his cousin at rehab and noting, “he’s in denial and not ready for recovery.”
  • Five days later, going on another bender.
  • Smashing his car into a guard rail.
  • Getting arrested for DWI.
  • Refusing to take a breathalyzer.
  • Staying in jail for 48 hours.
  • Meeting with a DWI attorney.
  • Getting a voluntary chemical health assessment, but not acting on recommendations to go to treatment.
  • Enrolling in the state’s ignition-interlock program.
  • Interviewing and getting offered a new job.
  • Taking an Uber, instead of driving, to hang out with friends.
  • Not coming home that night.
  • Not showing up on the first day of his new job.
  • Drunk dialing and texting people.
  • Walking home 7 miles in the rain because his phone was dead.
  • Ringing the doorbell early on Sunday morning because he lost his keys.
  • Scrapes and scratches on his face.
  • Less than 48 hours later, heading out on another bender.
  • Sitting by the mudroom door the next morning.
  • Losing the spare set of car keys, the extra house key and his phone.
  • No memory whatsoever of where he had been – said he woke up on a park bench not far from home.
  • Agreeing to another chemical health assessment.
  • Not liking but agreeing to inpatient, dual-diagnosis treatment.
  • Waiting, waiting, waiting for a bed to open.
  • Hanging in the basement watching TV and playing video games.
  • Sleeping a lot.
  • Unable to start his car due to it detecting alcohol in his system.

Finally, riding with his dad to treatment two hours from home … October 27, 2017.

Welcoming us on family night … November 1, 2017.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

Family Night at Treatment

Day 2: Today, I am grateful my son is sober, in treatment and on the road to recovery. #Gratitude2017

There are two visiting opportunities each week at my son’s new treatment program – one is an afternoon on the weekend and the other is a weekday evening that includes an hour of group time focused on mental health.

Last night was our first visit. Within seconds of arriving, our son greeted us with a smile, a hug, and moreover, an overall healthy demeanor. Although it’s just been five days, he looked so much better than the days leading up to this.

His explanation was simple: “I’m not hungover.” Amen to that.

The group session started promptly at 6:30. There were about 30 men, all ages and all walks of life. My husband and I were the only family members present. We sat with our son at a table in the back. A gentleman, quite a bit older than our son, asked to join us and we welcomed him.

The mental health professional leading the group brought an inspirational reading about order and disorder. My impression is that its message was a bit deep for most of the participants. Nonetheless, a handful of people shared their takes on it.

The next reading was from Depak Chokra. It was a letter between the mother of an addict and Chokra’s encouragement to detach with love. From there, several more men joined the conversation.

My son isn’t comfortable participating in large groups, and he’d already been exposed to these readings earlier in the day during other group sessions, so he politely listened and let us take it in. Because the second reading was about mothers of people with addiction, I had a few things to say but recognized and respected my son’s preference that I not speak up.

Later, however, he asked what I wanted to say.

Mothers (parents) will always love their kids no matter what.

The session wrapped with some ideas for the participants to embrace. A few that stuck out to me and that I hope will stick for my son:

  • Using drugs and alcohol solves nothing.
  • You can have fun sober.
  • You can, and should, design your own recovery.

Following the group session, the mental health professional stopped by our table and introduced herself. She hadn’t yet had a one-on-one session with our son but said it’s scheduled soon. My husband and I were glad to have a few minutes to chat with her and convey our support and express how important it is that mental health issues be addressed. Hopefully, this provided helpful context for the work they will do together.

Next there was an hour for visiting. By this time, two other families came – one to celebrate a birthday and another bringing a pizza dinner for their son.

We brought our son some things, too – his winter coat, hat and gloves, some prepackaged Rice Krispee and Peanut Butter Chocolate bars, and some Halloween candy.

It was a good evening and we are filled with encouragement. Because we’ve been through this before, we have greater perspective on the recovery process – we can be realistic and hopeful.

We’ll be back this weekend and will certainly attend future family nights.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved



30 Days of Gratitude 2017

Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday. It’s a celebration and recognition of all that is good, and it’s a gathering of family and friends to share a wonderful meal.

Several years ago, in the chaos of our son’s addiction, I decided to start posting one example of gratitude each day during November. The idea took off and the OYA Community began sharing their examples of gratitude on Twitter and Facebook. I hope you will join us this year with the hashtag #Gratitude2017 to share your blessings.

This year, our son is back in treatment. We don’t know yet if he will be out for Thanksgiving or if we will be traveling over the river and through the woods to visit him. What we do know is that he is doing what he needs to do to return to sobriety and recovery. For this, we are grateful.

Day 1 – Today, I am grateful that we are going to visit our son this evening and will attend the family program at his treatment center. We’ve had a couple of brief phone calls since he started last week, but this will be our first in-person visit and I can’t wait to see him, hug him and be with him.  #Gratitude2017

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved




The Newest, Most Dangerous Drugs You Need to Know About


Stay in the know about emerging drug trends so you can talk to your family and friends about the dangers these present. This week’s guest blogger lists new and emerging drugs and how each is being used.

Illicit drug use is a major health problem in the United States for adolescents and young adults. It’s very helpful to be aware of emerging drug trends, whether you’re a parent, teacher, law enforcement or the medical community. When you know what drugs are available illegally, you can talk to those you love about the dangers.

Although some of these emerging dangerous drugs are only available in specific locations, illegal substances have the tendency to spread quickly into major cities then into rural areas. Don’t think that your town is not vulnerable.


  • This drug is making its way onto the street scene, even though it was never created for human use. It is easy and cheap to make, but 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Some dealers are passing it off as heroin. Handle carfentanil carefully, because it is easily absorbed through the skin or can be accidentally inhaled. 


  • A strong opiate, fentanyl is often used in surgery recovery for breakthrough pain. The difference between a therapeutic dose or an overdose is very small. Although fentanyl has been on the market since the 1970s, it’s beginning to be more available on the street. Sometimes, it’s called “China White.” New analogues of fentanyl have been identified and are very dangerous.

Grey Death

  • Authorities are puzzled as to the makeup of Grey Death, but they do know that it can kill in small doses. It looks like concrete mixing powder, but the ingredients change from batch to batch. Metro Atlanta was a major hot spot, but the drug is on the radar of Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania state and local officials.

Counterfeit Oxycodone

  • One of the most recent alerts from NIH is from Iowa authorities, who are seeing a rise of synthetic opioids. This analogue resembles oxycodone, but contains fentanyl and U-47700 which makes it much more dangerous than oxycodone alone.

Bath salts, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Vanilla Sky

  • Bath salts are a synthetic form of cathinone, a stimulant in the khat plant. The chemical makeup of cathinone is similar to amphetamines or Ecstasy, but man-made synthetics are much stronger than the natural product. Bath salts resemble their name and are sometimes mislabeled as plant food or jewelry cleaner to get past law enforcement. Bath salts cause severe intoxication and have dangerous side effects.

U-47700 or Pink

  • This synthetic opioid gets its name from its pinkish color and is deadly and more potent than morphine. Even in small doses, this drug is toxic. Pink has no approved medical use and is highly addictive. It’s available to purchase over the internet, generally from China. Sometimes, it is mislabeled as a research chemical to avoid detection by law enforcement.

Synthetic cannabinoids

  • In 2016, New York officials issued an advisory concerning K2 or Spice as it is commonly known, but it has many different street names, such as Red Giant, Ice Dragon, Kick and more. Fake weed is chemically related to THC, but is often much more powerful. The effects are unpredictable. Many deaths have occurred from overdoses. It is suspected that some of the products might be laced with other dangerous chemicals.

Author Byline

danDan Gellman is the director of  High Focus Centers, a provider of outpatient substance abuse and psychiatric treatment programs in New Jersey.


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.
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