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!

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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

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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 www.MiraclesAreBrewing.com 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

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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

Chocoholic

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

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http://www.justkeepgoingparents.com/chocoholic/

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

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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

apothecary

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.

Carfentanil

  • 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. 

Fentanyl

  • 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.
©2017 Our Young Addicts All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Learn the Language of Addiction & Recovery

When you’re new to addiction and recovery, the language – including acronyms and terms – can seem foreign. We continue to hear that language is a contributor to stigma and that that has considerable bearing on an individual’s readiness and willingness to pursue treatment and recovery … so I’m am pleased to share a fantastic resource: the Addiction-ary.

The Recovery Research Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) research institute of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry.

In recognition of the increased medical, social and economic burden attributable to substance use disorders, the Recovery Research Institute was created in 2012 to conduct cutting-edge research in addiction treatment and recovery.

A D D I C T I O N  – A R Y

Check it out.

MWM

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

Still Letting Go

Midwestern Mama shares a poem that provides comfort and affirmation as her son begins a new in-patient treatment program.

The first time my son went to treatment, he ran away on day No. 9. It was no surprise, but still it was devastating. Six and a half years later, he’s back at treatment following a relapse after a few years of sobriety and recovery. It’s his third time at an in-patient, residential program. He’s also participated in three high-intensity out-patient programs.

Once again, we are letting go knowing we have brought him to a place that is his to embrace.

In a small book called House Blessings – Prayers, Poems, and Toasts Celebrating Home and Family, I found a poem during those terrifying days of 2011 called, “Letting Go.” It was as relevant then as it is today.

Letting Go by Sandra E. McBride

I’ve brought you to the mountain … the climb is yours.

I’ve brought you to the shore … the sea is yours.

I’ve brought you to the sky … the wings are yours.

I’ve brought you through the shadows … the light is yours.

I’ve brought you to this day … tomorrow yours.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

Thrive – Even in the Midst of a Loved One’s Substance Use

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This week’s guest blogger offers insights and tips for parents about teen drug use. These thoughts can help prevent and/or educate your teens on drug use. Read more below:

Last month, our community was stunned by the tragic loss of a 17-year-old. The definitive cause of death is unknown but according to news reports, this young man was engaging in risky behaviors that involved substance misuse.

I had a parent reach out to me and ask what parents can do to prevent or educate their adolescents regarding drug use. Here are some thoughts:

  •  Don’t minimize the effects of pot use or drinking. When a teen engages in those behaviors they let their guard down and it makes it far easier to take “the next step.”
  •  Say no to painkillers. There is no reason why a young teen needs opiates for things like wisdom teeth or even a simple broken bone. That pain can often be managed with a regimen of Tylenol and Ibuprofen.
  • Opiates are NOT a right of passage. They are not fun and games. Many young adults are now heroin addicts that started with one pill from an injury. You can refuse the prescription or ask to have only 1 or 2 days worth of pills filled. The longer someone takes opiates the greater the chance they will become addicted.
  • KEEP ALL YOUR MEDS AND OUR CHILD’S MEDS LOCKED UP. We can not stress this enough!!!

  • For most parents, the first place they go is to their medical doctor when their children struggle with anxiety, depression or other trauma. Unfortunately, most doctors prescribe medications. For example, anti-anxiety meds had the greatest uptick in overdose deaths in the State of Minnesota last year. It’s far easier to take a pill then it is to do the work of therapy. But our recommendation is to go to therapy first.
  • Remember that kids aren’t just abusing pain meds. The greatest uptick of deaths in the state of Minnesota last year was benzodiazepines. Those are things like Xanax and Ativan which have proved to be the new high school designer drug. Even if you completely trust your child, it’s better to be safe. You may not just be protecting your child, but their friends as well.
  • Stop and listen to your children. Most of the time they just want someone to understand rather than “solve” their problems. Offering that listening ear will often give you insights into what your kids are up to.
  • Pay attention to any kind of trauma they may have experienced. Trauma is the greatest indicator of substance misuse. And that can include things like bullying, a pet dying, another family member in crisis and many other things that we may not consider as trauma. If you suspect any kind of traumatic event, please bring them in for a therapeutic evaluation.
  • Watch out for the signs of drug use. There are many clues in a teens bedroom. Things like broken pens, plastic bowls, lighters, matches, tin foil, an empty bed at night. All of these things are red flags and warnings that there may be a problem. Work with your school counselors or health insurance to find a good counseling option for your teen if you notice any of these things as being “off.”
  • De-stigmatize the idea of therapy in your home. There is nothing wrong with getting help, yet young people see it as “weak” or “silly.” If your family is struggling, start there yourself and set an example for the rest of your family. The more we normalize getting help, the more likely your child will be to take that step.
  • Carry naloxone in your home. We have become aware of many instances where a parent did not even have a clue that their child was using opiates. Having naloxone could save a life.

Finally, remember that no matter what a parent does, 1 in 10 kids who abuse substances end up addicted. And in many cases, the parents did everything right. If that is the case, please seek help for yourself through therapy or a great support group like Thrive!

Questions about Thrive! Family Support?

Contact Pam Lanhart, Director (612) 554- 1644

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.

What Parents Should Know About Heroin

heroin

Read how fellow OYA guest blogger, Zena Dunn talks about the real-life depictions of heroin use. Learn about substance use and addiction; and how addiction affects you both psychologically and physically. 

The Danger of Heroin Is Not Attractive


The image of heroin has transformed within the past few decades. In the 1990s, the fashion industry fell in love with photographs described as heroin chic or pale, slim, even gaunt models who looked as if they were using drugs such as heroin.

Heroin chic was a new and edgy trend that captured the mainstream’s attention. But there was soon a backlash.  The idea of drug use of being a high-class activity or vogue faced harsh criticism. Hard drugs like cocaine and heroin invite a variety of users. People from all walks of life fall under the spell of substance abuse.

Who Uses Heroin and What Does It Do?

Addiction has captured millions of individuals from various demographics. Now, in the 2010s, the image of heroin has beyond the runways of London. The average person in middle America is now making the drug popular in the media again.

This time, real-life photographs depict the realities of heroin use. The images are not glamorous. And the realities of drug use comes with a tragic lifestyle and bad health.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that heroin users put themselves at risk for “HIV, Hepatitis C, and Hepatitis B, as well as bacterial infections of the skin, bloodstream, and heart.”


Pure heroin has a matte white powder appearance. Dealers often include additives in the heroin that they sell. Additives such as caffeine, rat poison, sugar, or starch sometimes alter the coloring and potency of the drugs, which can have a bitter taste.

Users normally sniff heroin through the nose, inject it using needles, or smoke it. However, most users prefer injecting it to achieve more immediate and potent highs. The U.S. federal government classifies heroin as a controlled substance. The Controlled Substance Act (CSA) labels it a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs and substances are especially dangerous and addictive.

What Are Substance Abuse and Addiction?

Substance abuse is the habit of misusing of alcohol or drugs beyond medical purposes. People who find themselves indulging in addictive substances might develop two types of dependences.

Drug and alcohol dependency and addiction are both psychological and physical. Physical dependency occurs when the body adapts to the chemicals contained in alcohol and drugs. But substance abuse can also take control of people’s brains and create a psychological addiction that compels them to want drugs or alcohol. People can go through withdrawal when they stop supplying their bodies with such substances.

Heroin addiction takes a huge toll on people. The health of the physical body is not the only thing that can become impaired. A person’s mental capabilities can become unstable. Addiction often takes over a person’s train of thought. Life goals, relationships, careers, and day-to-day responsibilities all take second place to the addiction, which rules over all. Heroin addicts also often struggle with decision making and the inability to make correct judgments about normal events.

But even despite such problems, there is hope. Specific programs and facilities can assist teens struggling with heroin abuse, just as executive drug rehab can treat busy professionals. Just like the click of a camera, a drug such as heroin can transform a person’s life in an instant. Recovery programs do just that, they help people recover from such changes.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/index.html

CNN article about heroin chic:

http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/9608/02/heroin.chic/

About the Author:

Zena Dunn writes about personal improvement, preventive health, and 12- Steps for everyone. Her knowledge of health-related information spans five years of individual research.  She is a wildlife protection advocate and enjoys reading biographies. Connect with Zena on Twitter- twitter.com/writerzena

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.

The Shadow of Death

 

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This is exactly what’s on my mind right now, too. Today’s guest blogger, Pam Lanhart, founder of Thrive Family Support, captures the essence of my feelings as we embrace our son’s relapse and struggles. Thanks, Pam, for sharing your experience, your family’s story, your family’s path toward living vs dying. THIS is why we are the OYA Community. MWM

The counselor looked at us with a sober face.  The kind of face that says “this is serious” and asked us a pointed question “Do you realize that your son could die from this disease.”

Through the past 6 years we have had to wrestle with that reality.

We know that addiction ends one of 3 ways; recovery, jail or death.

5 years ago, when our son was in his first rehab, the counselor told us that he didn’t know if this was the beginning, the middle or the end of our son’s journey with substance abuse.  Hearing that was Ike a punch in the gut.  I naively thought this would be a one and done experience.

But as time went on and he progressed in his disease we were forced to come face to face with the answer to this question.  “Do you realize that your son could die from this disease.”  Yes. We do.

Yes, I have planned his funeral in my head.

Yes, I have actually told him that if he chose to use, he should send me an email with his memorial services wishes.

Yes, we have checked to see what his life insurance situation is.

Yes, we have clung to him, yelled at him, tried to control him, manipulated him into rehabs in an effort to keep death at bay.

Yes, I have walked side by side, hand in hand with other mothers who have lost their children.

Yes, I have opened his bedroom door, just to make sure he was still breathing.

And yes, we have grieved.  We have had days where we were paralyzed by the fear, by the weight of the truth of the disease.  You either find recovery or you die.

At some point though our focused shifted.  Not on the dying but on the living.

What if…what if he did die?  What would our time together look like?  Would I look like the maniac mother trying to hold on so tightly that she destroyed every shred of the relationship?  Would the only memories of our life together be shadowed with desperation and anger?  Would I look back and be able to remember any good times, any moments, even within his disease that I could smile about?

I don’t want it to end that way.  I refuse to let it end that way.

So today,  I will embrace every bit of good that I can hold on to when I am with my son.  I will not shroud this moment with “what if’s” or “if only’s” or “you should’s.”  I will not push my agenda on my son.  I will be truthful and authentic and I will allow him to be the same.  I will not waste even a second of our time together worrying about the future.  I will breathe in everything good about my son and breathe out judgement.  I will not hold on so tightly to him that I crush him.    I will purpose to radically accept and love him, right where he is at.

And together we will not give any power to the dying.  We will chose embrace the living.

Copyright @ 2017 Pam Jones Lanhart, Thrive Family Support. http://thrivefamilysupport.org/

 

Twice in Two Weeks

An update from Midwestern Mama.

Some sleep. Some good food. Some family time.

These positive building blocks were starting to stack up this past week. Our son had returned home after a bender that landed him in detox the week before and then had him on the run until he had the courage to come back home.

And when he did, he asked us to hold onto his car keys and wallet. A couple of times he asked for his license and keys to run an errand, and each time he promptly completed these and returned home.

He shared a bit about what had happened, what he was thinking and what he planned to do. While we were somewhat skeptical – not of his intentions but of his current capacity to follow through – we let him make these decisions and offered, as always, our unconditional love. We carefully thought through whether this was support or enabling a 25 year old who knew well the perils of addiction and relapse.

One day at a time, we thought. Let go and let God, we thought.

Not unlike the Friday two weeks ago when our son left the house without any indication that a bender was about to begin, this past Friday he said he was going to let out our daughter’s dogs and then go to the gym to work out. This was around 1 p.m.

At 5 p.m. he wasn’t yet home. We wondered. Radar on.

At 5:45 p.m., my husband and I were walking the dog. Our son whizzed by in the car. Did he see us? He hadn’t stopped home and he didn’t stop as he passed by us on the road. We wondered where he was heading. We wondered why he didn’t stop to chat or greet the dog. In our hearts, and our heads, we knew this was not a good scenario.

Another hour or so passed and he hadn’t come home. We texted him. He didn’t reply. Yep, not good.

We checked in with our daughter. She said he had texted earlier about accidentally locking her key in the house after taking care of the dogs. She texted back and he commented that he’d had a nice visit with the dogs. Nothing more, nothing less.

By now it was getting even later, so I called him. It went to voice mail and I left a message.

Around 10 p.m., the phone rang. It was our local police department alerting us that our son had been picked up for DWI in a county about 40 miles south of our home. They had no other details to share.

Oh my. The second, significant, alcohol-related incident in two weeks.

He’s now sitting in jail waiting until a bail hearing in a day or so. I don’t know what will happen next but I do know the building blocks have tumbled, again, and he’ll need to pick these up, again. He thinks he can do it on his own but we know he needs help, again. We only hope he will recognize this and be open, willing and ready to get help, again.

Midwestern Mama

A new book for Parents- Parenting the Addicted Teen, a 5-Step Foundational Program

Recently, Midwestern Mama had the chance to meet with author, Barb Neren, MA. Barb has been a youth and parenting advocate for over 35 years. She also coaches parents of teens and young adults who are chemically dependent, or have mental health challenges. Barb has also contributed to OYA by writing a blog this summer, “Dear Parents…” Her new book, “Parenting the Addicted Teen, a 5-Step Foundational Program” is an innovative approach for parents of young adults who are using drugs and alcohol. This step-by-step program teaches parents how to reconnect with the entire family and be in charge again. The program is designed to help parents let go of the addicted-family system and begin parenting with renewed strength and positive power. Barb’s five strategies comes from years of interviewing 300 teens and young adults, asking what they needed from their parents.

Parenting the Addicted Teen, a 5-Step Foundational Program. Barb welcomes your questions or comments at- competentparents.confidentkids@gmail.com

 

 

 

Car Keys

It’s been a long, long week*. A week ago Friday, our son left and we didn’t hear from him until he walked back in the house the following Friday morning.

He was cold and his hands were shaking as he held out his car keys and wallet, asking, “Would you hold onto these for awhile?”.

This was followed by hugs and a brief conversation. Then he took a warm shower, made himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, took the dog for a walk, and settled in for a long nap followed by another walk with the dog.

Here’s hoping this week brings clarity and positive steps forward.

*Read The Third R blog post for details.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

 

 

The Third R

An update from Midwestern Mama on #SoberSon and his recent Return to Use aka Relapse.

Ordinarily when I think R & R, it conjures up the concept of rest and relaxation. However, when it comes to addiction and mental health, the R words that I think of are Relapse and Recovery. Oh, and there’s one more: Ready.

2017 has been a struggle for my son. He’s maintained sobriety from opiate use, but began using cannabis and drinking alcohol again. He thinks of it as self medicating, yet his mental health is suffering, not improving.

It came to a head this summer. To top it off, he decided to stop taking Suboxone – almost cold turkey instead of a slow taper with support from his treatment team. The effect is terrible. He’s irritable and agitated. The cravings are strong. Anxiety and depression are ever present and getting worse.

“I feel great. Everything is good. Never felt better,” he tells us. But we know better, and so does the dog. (Read my recent posts, The Dog Knows and The Birthday Cake.)

Last week he admitted that things aren’t working and that he hadn’t anticipated the impact of going off Suboxone. To his credit, he made an appointment with a mental-health professional and decided to go on an anti-depressant. Of course, they counseled him about the risks of using marijuana and alcohol while taking the medication.

No more than a few days into the new approach, he left one morning and didn’t come home later in the day to get ready for work. He didn’t go to work that evening. He didn’t come home that night. He didn’t respond to text messages or phone calls. The next day, he didn’t show up at home or work, and still wasn’t responding to outreach. His medication was on his dresser. The day after that, he still hadn’t made contact – with us or with any of his friends.

He’s 25 – an adult. We give him space and let him take responsibility for his life and decisions. In years past, he reacted terribly when we intervened claiming we were overreacting – that’s the addiction talking.

In the three years he’s been in recovery from opiate use, he’s never missed work. He’s always kept us posted on his whereabouts and work schedule. He’s always let us know if he was going to stay at friends for the evening.

Given this, you can imagine our concern and worry. This behavior was out of the ordinary. Where was he? Had something tragic happened?

Through the grapevine, we learned he texted a co-worker that he’d been picked up for public intoxication and was being taken to detox. Two days later he texted the co-worker, “I’m out :)”.

It’s concerning, but we are grateful he’s alive. Now, we’re wondering what is next.

It’s now been another 24 hours and he hasn’t come home or responded to our outreach.

In our hearts, we know he’s hurting and we know he’s resistant to help – always wanting to do it “on his own.”

We don’t take it personally. We’re not mad. We’re not going to yell at him or lecture him. We’re simply concerned and want to be supportive. We want to have communication. We want to have him in our lives. We want him to come home.

This all reminds me of the earlier days of his addiction journey, which further reminds me that recovery is possible and available to him, again, when he is ready.

Ready. That’s the third R, and that’s the one I want most for #SoberSonNotRightNow

MWM

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

Author Tim Ryan – From Dope to Hope – Visits Minnesota

Displaying GuestBlogger_Header_937pxwide.jpgThrive Family Support is hosting an evening with author Tim Ryan. He will share a message of hope for individuals and their families who are living with addiction and recovery.  Join the community in The Twin Cities on Friday, September 15, from 7 to 9 p.m., at The Recovery Church – 253 State Street S., St Paul, MN.

Tim Ryan: Recovering Heroin Addict, A&E’s “Dope Man,” and National Thought Leader on Opioid Epidemic

Tim Ryan is no stranger to addiction. Despite a successful business career, Tim found himself in the grips of heroin and, ultimately, was sentenced to seven years in prison for drug-related convictions. Tim got clean and sober behind bars.

Six months after his release, tragedy struck. His son, Nick – for whom Tim had paved the way to use deadly drugs – died tragically from an overdose. Reaching beyond the devastation and heartbreak, Tim used Nick’s death as the inspiration to spread hope, believing that if even one addict or family could be spared the horrors of addiction, he would make a difference. As a result, he founded A Man in Recovery Foundation, a nonprofit that helps anyone find treatment and recovery.

Thrive! Family Support

Questions about Tim Ryan’s bio?

Contact Jocelyn Carbonara (919)732-5549, timspeaks@spirituscommunications.com, or visit http://www.BookTimRyan.comImage result for tim ryan author from dope to hope

©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

3 Signs Your Child May be Struggling with Addiction

Adults aren’t the only ones who suffer from substance addiction; many children suffer as well. Are you a parent concerned about your child’s sudden change in behavior? Our guest blogger below offers insight on ways to communicate, help and signs to watch out for with your child.

Drug addiction is a serious problem in the United States. It’s not limited to adults; many children have a substance addiction. Sometimes, the signs that a child is struggling with substance abuse mimic the symptoms of mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety, or even the signs of puberty. It can be easy to overlook the symptoms, because it’s very difficult to admit that your child may have a problem. The best step you can take is to get professional help if you notice changes in your child’s behavior for which there isn’t another reason.

Watch for these signs:

  1. Problems in school, missing classes, a decline in academic performance or a loss of interest in school
  2. Trouble with the law
  3. Changes in relationships with friends and family, acting withdrawn or hostile

Your child may also have changes in grooming habits, eating and sleeping. When the patterns change for more than a week, you may need to look at the underlying causes. Grief can mimic the signs of substance abuse. You don’t want to rush to judgment, but you do need to take control of the situation.

3 Ways You Can Help

When someone is struggling with addiction, he or she may become deceitful and react negatively to any suggestions of help. You have to be assertive, but not confrontational. What can parents do?

  1.  Strengthen your relationship with your child. Ask open-ended questions about what’s going on in your child’s life. Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a yes or no answer. You want more communication with your child. Ask questions that let him or her express their concerns and struggles. Focus on what’s good and be understanding.
  2. Create and reinforce guidelines. Setting boundaries with a teenager is difficult when there is no addiction problem, but when you have the added pressure of substance abuse, you will have to be strong. Work with your child to create consistent rules that are enforceable. If a certain behavior occurs, then this will be the response. You may not be able to cover every contingency, but you can certainly establish rules and consequences for the most common issues. This lowers the emotionally-fueled reaction that isn’t productive.
  3. Encourage positive behaviors. You will need to help your child learn new healthy coping skills and build better relationships through the healing process. You have to be a cheerleader that encourages your child to change. You cannot solve each of the problems created by drug abuse, but you can focus on positive messages.

You can do it.
You can be successful.
You are important in my life.
What can I do to help?

Many substance abusing teens will be reluctant to enter treatment unless compelled by the court system or their family. An intervention is not always the best method to get a child struggling with substance abuse into a program. Instead, you should encourage your child to talk to a professional about the problem to address their concerns and to find the best solution. Take care of yourself as you care your child’s needs. You don’t need to deal with burnout, stress and depression when your child needs you at your best.

Author Byline

Daniel Gellman

Dan Gellman is the Director for 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.
©2017 Our Young Addicts All Rights Reserved.