Dear Parents…

Parents play a vital role in the recovery of addiction in young adults. Our guest blogger today has years of experience with young adults and parents, and advises our readers on how to take back their parenting from addiction. MWM

Print

Dear Parents,

An epidemic of drug addiction with our kids today is scarier then ever! Every day on national and local news, more and more stories keep pointing to the opiate epidemic, overdoses, and addiction of our young people.  These kids have parents whose hearts are breaking and need ongoing support and strategies to take back their parenting from the addiction of their teens and young adults. I believe no parent ever intentionally wakes up each day and decides to harm their kids.  Yet, with the affects of addiction on their parenting, most of these parents find it difficult to believe that their kids really care about them and they feel overwhelmed and powerless. Many of these teens and young adults have the following in common that parents need to know: (1) remorse for what they have done to their families; (2) loneliness, sadness, rage, fear, and shame; and (3) love for their parents.  How do I know?  I surveyed 300 teens and young adults newly sober from a recovery high school and sober living programs with young adults in recovery during the past 4 years. Their responses were heart felt, wise, and important to share with parents. They want you and need you in their lives even if they show otherwise.

One of the questions asked to the teens and young adults was:

“Dear Parents, I wish you knew this about me-“

 

  • I did my best and tried to be stable, but couldn’t.
  • I wish you knew how much I have suffered.  Sometimes I feel that they only saw my maladaptive behavior as an attack against them rather than a cry for help or an act of desperation.
  • I’m trapped in a vicious cycle of using because I can’t gain trust and I’ve given up.
  • I have really struggled.
  • I deeply regret hurting them.
  • I love them and never wanted to hurt them with my addiction.

 

 

Who are these kids?

Many of these teens and young adults have been through treatment anywhere from one to nine times. Drugs of choice range from alcohol to marijuana to street drugs, prescription drugs, designer drugs, opiates, and heroin. Many of them have been bullied in grade school, middle school, and high school. Quite a few of them have been sexually or physically abused. Developmentally, many experience delays socially, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

Through the years, I have worked directly and indirectly with thousands of adolescents and young adults all over the country. Their stories are heartfelt and telling. Many are children of addicts, many are in recovery, and many have co-occurring mental health challenges. Most of them don’t know how to step out from active addiction and remain sober. Many of these children have mental health challenges that went untreated or were unsuccessfully treated. These include depression, anxiety, severe mood disorders, and learning disabilities. Many of these children mask untreated mental health issues with addiction to ease their pain. Most of the teenagers and young adults have dual diagnoses of chemical dependency with coexisting mental health challenges.

“How did addiction affect your relationship with your parents?”

 

  • When I was depressed, I totally shut down and blocked my parents out, which caused them to try harder.
  • They lost trust in me, and I’m not sure when it will ever be back
  • They were scared I would kill myself
  • I completely disappointed them

 

Different Children, Similar Messages

No matter where these children come from, no matter their substances of choice, and no matter their ages, the message to their parents is the same:

  • Be present with me physically and emotionally.
  • Build a relationship with me.
  • Console me if I am having a problem.
  • Do absolutely everything to stay together and not get divorced.
  • Don’t let your mental health problems wreck your family’s life.
  • Don’t try to buy me with things or trips.

  • Give me more attention.
  • 
Have family dinners and get to know me.
  • Help me know I’m not a bad person.
  • 
Listen to my point of view. 
Make sure I know that I can tell you anything without judgment.
  • Show me that you love me.
  • Take time to learn how I think and feel.

 

Addiction/mental health challenges often suck the life out of parents due to their enmeshment, and inability to know how to detach and make difficult decisions. To take charge again in their families, parents need support during that first year of recovery when there are so many new challenges.  Family programs only begin the journey. Parents have years of habits of parenting that maintained an addicted family system.  The 5 steps below teach parents how to shift their family, empower their parenting and not let addiction be in charge again. There are very few ongoing programs after treatment that  support parents directly.

From my research and interviews with parents, the following 5 steps of foundational parenting were instrumental in teaching parents to regain their parenting, and restructure their relationships with their kids. Parents who were part of groups, weekend programs, coaching, regained hope and strength to heal their parenting and in turn their families. Identifying concrete action steps or strategies that can be used in their relationship with their kids, gives parents something tangible that can be practiced at home daily.

 

The following 5 steps of Foundational Parenting, teaches parents to:

  • Practice being present with their children
  • Develop emotional attunement
  • Act and respond non judgmentally with their children
  • Create sacred family time and recreate rituals
  • Clarify values, rules and boundaries-natural/logical consequences

Healthy parenting is vital for a child’s continued sobriety. A healthy parenting approach does not allow for a child’s moods or actions to cause reactions that escalate into a destructive situation. The addiction or threat of a relapse is no longer permitted to rule the home, depleting the parents’ energy and power. When parents are clear about their values and expectations and adhere to them, children can push and test, but healthy parenting doesn’t allow this to influence them into bending the rules. In this way, children know that parents “mean what they say and say what they mean.”

One parent so eloquently shared this message after a year of working on these 5 steps, “I can finally own my emotions, our family values and create a family where addiction no longer rules our life.”  Recovering teens and young adults need parents on board to provide a healthy family to help them sustain their recovery and deal more effectively with the ongoing high rate of relapse.  Parents also need support during the first year of their loved ones recovery to help them maintain healthy parenting and healthy family.

 

About the Author:

unnamed-1.jpgBarbara Krovitz-Neren, MA- coaches parents of teens and young adults who are chemically dependent or have mental health challenges and consults with programs to enhance parent involvement in recovery using her foundational parenting model.   She has been a youth and parenting advocate for more than thirty-five years. As a pioneer in the addiction prevention field, she has created dynamic programs that have impacted more than 50,000 youth, adolescents, and young adults around the country. Barbara has trained individuals in school districts, community social service agencies, and parent groups, both nationally and internationally. She was also one of the founding board members of the National Association of Children of Alcoholics. Her work on behalf of children and families has earned her numerous awards over the years. The 5-Step Foundational Parenting Program is the culmination of her life’s work in her new book, “Parenting the Addicted Teen, a 5 Step Foundational Program.” Published by Central Recovery Press.  Release date, July, 2017.

 

 

 

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.

 

These things are leading to the rampant suicide, addiction, and mental health problems of today (Pt. 2)

Continuing our guest blog from last week, Adam writes about his personal journey to receiving help. MWM.

Print

A Treatise on Human Thought (or thoughts on thinking about it like my twitter handle 🙂.

A friend told me to see a therapist. I mulled the idea over until finally I mustered the courage and went to my dad and said “I think I need to see someone.”

He looked at me lovingly and said “of course, Adam, we love you, we will absolutely get you a therapist, you’re probably going through a phase, but we can certainly get you some help.”

What did I hear though? “you are probably going through a phase” so I kept to it and I abused substances as a way to cope with my pain, lack of feeling, and lack of purpose. Finally, I had a true-rock bottom moment and my parents intervened and I got help.

I looked back on the mental health system and thought, why

Years later, my father and I reconciled this disconnected moment when I came to him in a time of need and I felt he was asking me to toughen up. He explained that the trepidation I sensed was ultimately from his very real fear that he was not providing enough to me as a father. To him, me getting professional help meant he did something wrong or wasn’t a good enough father for me.

That was of course never the case, he gave me everything I could have wanted and more. I was never thinking about him or my mother and their inadequacies as parents, I was wholly consumed with my own negativity, self-hatred, and helplessness.

It was neither of our faults which can be hard for a parent to hear and probably accept”

However, both of our insecurities prevented us from connecting in a constructive way to get me the support I needed at a vulnerable time. It was neither of our faults which can be hard for a parent to hear and probably accept…it’s not your fault. I wish I could communicate that point more strongly…

After I got help, I started to tell my story. That story was one of struggle, dissatisfaction, confusion, isolation, emotional trepidation, fear, and uncertainty. And often times, I couldn’t even get more than two or three sentences in that direction before the other person blurted out how they felt the same!

I realized something was going on here. Something was happening with young people that were causing them to feel these emotions with few constructive ways to address this issue.

So I set out to change that. I developed Marbles, an iOS and android mobile phone app that allows people free 24/7 anonymous mental and emotional health support to be a tool for people to montior their mental and emotional health and reach out for support any time they may need it, 100% troll and stigma free.

suffering,

I’m lucky though. I got help.

However, not every undergraduate student is so lucky. In the United States, there are 1,100 collegiate suicides every year. Half of that group never tell anyone.

I was part of that half.

I struggled reaching out for help because I didn’t know where to go and I didn’t know what was “normal” or real distress that I needed help with vs. what I should just “deal with.”

Rates of mental health diagnoses are rising year over year. College students’ who’ve seriously considered attempting suicide rose to a staggering 33.2 percent, up from 23.8 percent just 5 years ago.

The tendancy to use suicide as an alternative for our mental health struggles

That’s why we created Marbles.

 

 

About the Author:

unnamed

Adam is an advocate for youth mental health support and understanding. His passion about mental health awareness led him to develop Marbles Inc., an Android/iPhone app that offers 24/7 peer-to-peer mental health support. 

 

 

 

 

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.

These things are leading to the rampant suicide, addiction, and mental health problems of today (Pt. 1)

Current social, extracurricular, and educational climates are stressful and harmful to our youth. This week’s guest blogger provides a heartfelt and insightful piece. -MWM

Print

When I was a junior at the University of Minnesota, I struggled with depression and suicide. On the surface, nobody would would have guessed…I was going to school, had some good career prospects, a seemingly fulfilling social life…but I was silently suffering. And every day I contemplated whether or not continuing life was worth it.

It was a slow slip into this hole and I didn’t know what to do, I had never had these thoughts or feelings before, and I had never talked to anyone about them. (watch me explain more here in this TEDx talk)

It took me awhile to get professional help, but when I did, I realized I was not the only one. When telling my friends, I could only get about 2 or 3 sentences into my story before they would blurt out how much they were hurting too (nearly 1 in 3 college students meets the criteria for a diagnosable mental illness). So I started making videos about people sharing their mental health stories (now over 50,000 views!).

I realized there was something going on with young people as I was not the only one who felt this way.

Over the years, I’ve been fighting to de-stigmatize mental health and support by public speaking at high schools, churches, and other youth orgs. I volunteer as a peer-to-peer mental health group support leader for NAMIMN.org, and am developing ways for people to improve their mental and emotional health. Our latest project is called Marbles. It’s an iOS and android app for people to monitor mental health and find anonymous support, 100% troll and stigma-free.

Many of these anonymous posts and conversations have similar themes and come from people of all ages, but we know the average age of our users is around 24 years old.

What’s the bottom line? Overall, a lot of people feel worthless.

And…it’s not anyone’s fault.

It’s only our responsibility to reconcile. Below is a list of some reasons that a person, particularly a millennial young person, could feel worthless. At the end, I give a few tips as to how to overcome that sense of worthlessness:

An overemphasis on outcomes

The grade has become more important than learning how to learn or the score has become more important than how hard we try in the game.

We tie our sense of self-worth to our performance on tests, in games, our careers, relationships, everything. So, when we encounter inevitable failure, it’s crushing to our bubble-wrapped sense of value and self-worth instead of viewed as a learning opportunity from which to make better choices.

Thus, people avoid situations that could lead to failure and personal growth is inhibited. We are protected from failure in many ways by helicopter parents, more rules — across the board, school, politics, relationships, athletics, getting into college — there are just more written and unwritten rules for young people to abide by, and the stakes are way higher than they used to be.

Parents tried their best to help because they saw the stakes were now higher for their children, and like all things, this involvement is also double edged sword.

Too little has consequences and too much has consequences, and there’s never a correct amount. It’s only after someone crosses a line do they realize a line was crossed…and if you or they don’t cross the line, well then nobody knows where the line is! So please, forgive yourself.

The devaluation of hard work

People think it’s cool to be naturally gifted. The American Idol generation grew up celebrating people who seemingly out of nowhere become instant stars. And most American Idols never even amounted to that much! But that’s not what we saw growing up. We observed over the course of a 30 minute feel-good television program how problems arose, somebody apologized, and everybody was happy by 7:28pm.

Grit and resiliency were never celebrated. There was never a story about the person who studied for 2 hours every night for above average grades, it was all about the gifted athletes, socialites, and scholars who naturally rise to the top and overcome a miniscule bout with adversity.

Even “cool” kids in school were the ones who looked like they never did anything. As a high school senior I was embarrassed to say that I studied for my AP calculus 2 test because if I tied my friend’s score, but I admitted to him that I studied, that meant I was dummer…that I was less than him.

Worthy achievement seemed to be a mixture of good looks, perfect parents, supportive friends, and a quirky and inspiring mentor — none of which are actually accessible for an average 15 year old from Omaha!

But in these formative adolescent years, the messages of what it took to be successful, popular, and therefore worthy, were almost the complete antithesis of what it actually takes to have a fulfilling life.

The wrong goal

All this contributes to young people having the wrong goal, and we are still reconciling with this one. Never once did anyone tell me to seek out activities, hopefully one that pays you for it, that fulfill my life. The closest anyone came was “find something that makes you happy.”

Happiness is the wrong goal though because in happiness, there is no room for sadness, struggle, disgust, fear, hopelessness, failure, frustration, confusion, anger, and whatever else that are natural emotions we all feel.

We thought it wasn’t ok to feel bad.

So, we teach ourselves to emotionally inhibit, avoid, and numb ourselves from those emotions. How? Any distraction we can find — drugs (legal and illegal), alcohol, self-harm, suicide, social media, porn, gossip, bullying, achievement, etc.

We learned to push our own emotions, our own feeling interpretations from the world, away in favor of more “desireable ones.”

It’s been the deepest, darkest, and most hopeless times when I’ve realized what’s really inside me, others, and what’s important.

But it’s not a very fun commercial to watch Adam huddled in his room alone, tears streaming down his face, overwhelmed, thinking about dropping out, filled with guilt and shame.

No…meaningful progress and worthiness appears to be beautiful people cheersing outside on a sunny day.

Yes, that certainly can be what success looks like, but it’s about balance. All I’m saying here is we are out of balance. Too much of the aforementioned ingredients. Too much self-interest, not enough compassion.

Too much salt, not enough diversity. We may benefit from a little sweetness…some savory…maybe a hint of spice in our soup of life, our own personal marinade as my friend Kenny calls it.

What can we do about it?

It’s pretty simple, do all the usual stuff, spend time in nature, eat well, exercise, be with family, celebrate one another, forgive. And, get to know yourself.

Figure out what luggage you are bringing to the situation and relationship. Instead of focusing on other people’s luggage, get to know your own.

What’s the best way to recognize your luggage? Spend time with it, just it.

Sit in a quiet room, close your eyes, and listen to your thoughts. Some call it mindfulness, some call it meditation, call it what you want, just listen. Listen to the luggage of your thoughts.

Simply observe what happens. Continuously let go of the thought-creation side of you, just listen to the luggage of your thoughts…listen to which suitcases the thoughts are stored in.

And if you don’t know how to do that…maybe someone on Marbles does.

Thank you,

Adam

Part two of Adam’s blog will air next week. His post will enlighten us about his personal journey towards recovery. 

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 8.46.38 PM

About the Author:  

Adam is an advocate for youth mental health support and understanding. His passion about mental health awareness led him to develop Marbles Inc., an Android/iPhone app that offers 24/7 peer-to-peer mental health support.

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 Are Sober High Schools & Are They Working?

With only a handful of sober schools across the nation, the general public has little to no knowledge of sober schools. This week’s author highlights the functions and efficacy of sober schools. -MWM

Print

The journey from addiction to sobriety isn’t a straight line. In fact, every person’s path will curve in unique ways, representative of the multitude of different recovery resources that can be any person’s catalyst toward lasting sobriety. Of course, many of us associate addiction treatment programs with recovery, particularly when the individual is taking the first steps to sobriety; however, many individuals have achieved success in recovery without stepping foot in a clinical rehabilitation facility. Today, there are more and more alternatives to the traditional clinical model of recovery, and these new alternatives are largely a reflection of how the face of addiction has evolved over the decades.

If you look at recent statistics, you’ll see that one of the demographic groups that at extremely high risk of addiction is adolescents, teens, and young adults. For this reason, there’s been a surge of research and development when it comes to recovery solutions that target youths who are either at risk of addiction or developing substance abuse problems. One such solution is a recovery school, also known as a sober school.

What exactly is a “sober school”?

Over the years, youths have proven to be one of the most concerning demographic groups when it comes to risk for alcohol and drug problems. While it may seem like overbearing parental concern is to blame for making teens a risk group, statistics have actually shown that more and more teens have been abusing alcohol, marijuana, prescription painkillers, and a number of other substances over time. As a result, there’s been a push for more recovery resources that are tailored specifically to youths, which is where sober high schools come into play.

These schools allow for the separation of these at-risk teens from public schools.”

The most straightforward explanation of a sober school is a school that’s intended specifically for adolescents recovering from substance abuse problems or who are perceived as being at high risk of developing alcohol or drug problems. The idea behind recovery schools is the fact that school and peers are often at the heart of teens’ risk for substance abuse problems. Basically, these schools allow for the separation of these at-risk teens from public schools where studies have shown there has been increasing rates of substance abuse; this separation essentially minimizes the recovering students’ risk of relapse. And not only do recovery schools provide separation from mainstream public schools but they also incorporate a focus on sobriety and physical health as a major part of the curriculum. There’s a focus on mental health as well as helping the students to find ways to mitigate stress and anxiety that would otherwise put them at risk of relapsing and developing other substance abuse problems.

Does it work?

According to studies that have analyzed the efficacy of sober schools, they have been extremely effective at safeguarding students’ recoveries and helping students avoid alcohol and drugs. In effect, the goal of the recovery school is to replace risk factors with so-called protective factors. Moreover, these schools want to help students who have experienced substance abuse problems to establish firm footing in recovery since the absence of mind-altering substances, which alter mood and cognition, will result in many students needing to adjust to how they experience their environments and the world around them.

As to the specific parameters of recovery schools, they’ve largely be determined according to the factors that have been identified as leading to recidivism among teens with histories of substance abuse. For instance, the highest risk has been associated with students who don’t participate in productive academic activities, return to environments previously associated with alcohol and drug abuse, fail to maintain or establish contact with students who don’t abuse mind-altering substances, aren’t involved or have strong relationships with family members, and have little interest in attending or joining support groups. In short, the main goals of a recovery school is to mitigate these factors, encouraging involvement in productive pastimes, familial involvement, relationship-building with non-using peers, and so on.

Students are provided with the tools needed to thrive both academically and in recovery.”

One of the main concerns that people have regarding recovery schools hinges on the misunderstanding that the recovery focus comes at a sacrifice of traditional academic subjects, but that’s not the case. Students at recovery schools still take the essential academic classes, including mathematics, history, English, natural and applied sciences, and so on; however, the chief difference is that there’s a strong recovery support system built into the curriculum, ensuring that students are provided with the tools needed to thrive both academically and in recovery.

Considering the results of recent studies, we can conclude that recovery schools are an extremely effective means of reinforcing sobriety among teens with histories of substance abuse. Per the study cited above, the rate at which students enrolling in recovery schools met the diagnostic criteria for addiction was 90 percent; however, after a year of being in a recovery school, that figure dropped to an astounding 7 percent, showing that real results are being achieved with recovery schools. Currently, it’s estimated that there are 33 sober high schools in the United States, but considering the success that students attending these schools have experienced, we will likely be seeing more recovery-oriented high schools opening in the immediate future.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 8.22.16 PM

About the Author: 

Luke Pool is a grateful member of the Recovery community. He has found his purpose in life by helping those who suffer from the diseases of addiction. He uses blogging and social media to raise awareness about this epidemic, affecting every part of this country. Now working for Stodzy internet marketing, he is able to pursue his passion by informing as many people as possible about addiction. Originally from Austin, Texas he now lives in South Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Minnesota Resource Guide for Young People and Their Families, Friends and Loved Ones

It should be easy, but it’s not. So, let’s change that!

For as many helpful resources as there are, it still remains a quagmire to find programs and services for young people who are using drugs and alcohol. Parents, family members and friends want to help but Google searches often lead to 1-800 job numbers that promise local resources … but don’t really offer these. It’s downright frustrating.

Experience. Resources. Hope.

Our annual From Statistics to Solutions conference is all about connections and collaboration, so we are gathering content to develop a Resource Guide. We will start locally with resources in Minnesota, and we hope to expand it nationally over time.

Be part of our Resource Guide – Join More than 100 Minnesota Resources.

If you offer services for young people and their families in Minnesota, please let us know if you would like to be included. Details are included in our recent e-newsletter.

Categories include but are not limited to:

  • Addiction Treatment
  • Assessment Services
  • Community Coalitions
  • Healthy Eating
  • Housing & Emergency Services
  • Intervention Services
  • Local Statistics
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing
  • Law Enforcement
  • Overdose Prevention (naloxone)
  • Prevention Programs
  • Recovery Coaching
  • Recovery Schools – high schools and collegiate
  • Resources for Friends and Family
  • Resources for Parents
  • Reproductive & Sexual Health

©2017 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

5 Morning Routines to Improve Recovery

Print

This week’s guest blogger enlightens us with helpful tips on how to set the right tone for the day. Mornings are difficult, but developing a routine can make them easier. MWM. 

For most people, their morning mood sets up the rest of their day. The same applies for people in drug addiction recovery. If you want to have a healthy, happy, clean day, the best thing to do is start it right. When you are in recovery, and are trying out new things to replace the bad habits for good habits, it can be difficult to find things that satisfy you.

Motivating a young person to change and embrace positive things can be challenging, however today I would like to share with you 5 specific things I learned in recovery to make sure that my morning routine was the first thing to do for a successful day.

  1. Morning affirmations

Addicts generally don’t have a very high opinion of themselves. In fact, low self-esteem is a big reason that people turn to spice or other substances so that they can somehow feel better. Add in the teenage/young person factor, the self-esteem problems and the constant struggle between addiction and how to look for their loved ones, and you could even end up with a depressed person.

It can be difficult to feel confident and self-assured when going through recovery, especially during the beginning stages, but good self-esteem is a key contributor to successful recovery”

The problem is that the negative consequences of a life of addiction only worsens the already fragile image that young addicts have of themselves, making the problem bigger than it already was. We tend to look to others for compliments and praises, but the most important person whose approval and encouragement we need is ourselves.

It can be difficult to feel confident and self-assured when going through recovery, especially during the beginning stages, but good self-esteem is a key contributor to successful recovery. 

A great way to start injecting your life with positivity, a bigger sense of self-worth, and value is to look in the mirror and say self-affirmations every morning. You can help a young person by saying these affirmations next to them every day. It may seem silly, or like a waste of time, but when you start to think of yourself in a better light and vocalize your hopes and goals in an assuring way, it will slowly help reshape your whole perspective.

  1. Inner peace

Stress and anxiety are two major factors that contribute towards addiction or, at the very least, temptation. A great way to combat these and many other pressures of life is to meditate. Do not let any stigma you move over the word to rob you of the positive effects it can bring to your life. Meditation comes in many shapes and sizes, just like the individuals that practice it. 

You don’t have to sit in the lotus position with your hands holding strange mudras while attempting to clear your mind and focus on your breathing, this is specially boring and unappealing for young people. Instead, teach them meditation through dancing, singing, relaxing music, painting, even taking a walk in a park.

Taking a moment every day to just slow down and focus on your own peace of mind will make a huge impact on your ability to deal with stressful situations or things that could possibly trigger your addiction”

With meditation, you just have to focus on peaceful, beautiful things that make you feel good inside. Taking a moment every day to just slow down and focus on your own peace of mind will make a huge impact on your ability to deal with stressful situations or things that could possibly trigger your addiction.

  1. Get moving

Living with an addiction has a large variety of unhealthy consequences, but the lack of exercise also affects your mental state, your energy levels, and your self-esteem. Take advantage of that inherent energy young people have, especially when they are going through addiction recovery!

When you do physical activity that increases your heart rate up, strengthens your muscles and gets some energy flowing through your body, chemicals released like serotonin and dopamine that improve the way you feel both physically and emotionally. Getting your day started with this kind of boost will help improve the rest of your day.

  1. Planning 

Set some time aside to set some sort of schedule for the rest of your day. In recovery, it is important to build new routines and healthy habits, as far from the things that led you down the path of addiction in the first place. 

You can do this the moment you wake up or while you’re sitting down for breakfast. Your plan doesn’t have to be too detailed or include specific time slots. It could be as simple as a to-do list. 

A set plan and an idea of what’s to come in your day will also help develop a sense of control and purpose to keep your mind from wandering to unwanted things, it is also a life skill that a young person can develop to apply for the rest of their lives.

  1. Bigger than you 

For many people, the sense that they are not alone is the most powerful tool in recovery. 

You don’t have to call it spirituality or religion. This is just the belief in something outside of you that is bigger, more powerful and has your best interest at heart.  For a lot of people, the ability to place their faith in a higher power and believe that everything will be alright takes the pressure of recovery off.

Something like a prayer or a conversation with whatever higher power you believe in when you wake up and at any other point during the day can make your weight feel much lighter. 

Your morning routine has the ability to set your day on the right path, and infuse an extra boost of positive drive into yourself”

Your morning routine has the ability to set your day on the right path, and infuse an extra boost of positive drive into yourself. With the right routine, your addiction recovery will be much easier. 

About Our Guest Blogger:

I’m Carl Towns, a 28-year-old wanna-be writer; I am also a recovering addict in the path of self-discovery. My goal is to learn as many things as possible and to seize every single moment I live, pretty much trying to make up for all that I missed on the years I was lost in drugs and alcohol (among other things). I’m in love with tech, cars and pretty much anything that can be found online.

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

Hiding Drugs: Teenagers Are Smarter Than We Think

Creativity flows out of all children, but as this week’s guest blogger points out, this can mean creative hiding spots for illicit substances. Here are some new places to look, and ways to identify hiding spots. MWM

Print

The teenage years are when habits start forming, and in the future, this could even include drug abuse. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 percent of 12th graders have used drugs at least once in the past year. These are people that are just 17 or 18, who still have their lives ahead of them. They could be using all kinds of drugs like marijuana or even something more obscure like Suboxone. Addiction is also a possibility.

These teenagers often have a secret hiding place for their drugs. Without the help of parents, these teens might be hiding drugs somewhere. They could be hiding drugs around the house or even in their cars. It’s up to you to discover it and stop their drug abuse before it’s too late.

In bedrooms

This is one of the most obvious places a kid would hide drugs. It’s their personal space and it’s not expected that parents would search it. It’s their own safe space. The most obvious place to look for drugs would be a dresser. Or maybe a sock drawer. Still, there are so many other places a kid could hide drugs.

Diversion safes are actually very common. These safes are disguised as something else, for example, cleaning supplies. We all know kids don’t ACTUALLY clean (I kid). Here is a site with a bunch of crafty products. If you fear your kid might be using a diversion safe to hid drugs, look for something that is always in their room and seems somewhat suspicious. Many of these don’t have locks either, so they’re easy to access.

Kids might try to tape drugs to a ceiling fan, open up a light switch and hide it inside, or they could tape it under their bed. It’s overwhelming, but they might also hide drugs in other areas, such as:

  • Shoe boxes
  • Old shoes
  • Clothes in their closet
  • Inside pillows
  • Hollowed out books
  • Makeup
  • Inside appliances that have a battery socket or other hollow openings
  • Old boxes for already opened products.

Around the house

Some teens will think a step ahead of their parents and hide drugs around the house where a parent is less likely to look. If you take off the back of the toilet and look under the lid, teens might hide drugs in there. There are many crevices around the house that never get checked. Here are a few more places that a kid might hide their drugs:

  • In someone else’s room (a younger sibling)
  • Inside kitchen supplies
  • Drop ceilings
  • Highlighters or pens
  • Appliances throughout the house (old VCR players)

In their car

Some kids think their car is their own personal space, so they can hide drugs in it. Unfortunately, this can lead to legal problems. If you think your kid is abusing drugs, you have every right to look in their car. If not, the school possibly could consider the presence of drugs in a car as on school-property. If a cop finds it before you do, there could be very large fines. Here are a few places teens might try to conceal drugs:

  • Under a seat
  • Inside an air vent
  • Glove box
  • Trunk
  • A compartment that can be removed

Teenagers that get involved in substance abuse can be quite crafty with how they hide their drugs. It isn’t always easy to find these concealed drugs, but it’s important to find and talk to a teenager before something truly bad happens.

About this week’s guest blogger: Josh Drzewicki

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 12.33.20 PM

Josh is a variety writer hailing from Detroit. In his free time, he enjoys long walks through the city while listening to NPR podcasts. Josh has relatives and friends who suffered from addiction as early as high school, and writes about substance abuse to help others overcome their struggles with addiction.

Connect with Josh at:

Twitter @joshdrzewicki

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 Sudden and Real Dangers of Opiate Addiction

Being an advocate for the addicted involves understanding the costs of addiction. Today’s guest blogger provides an insight into the reality of America’s substance abuse. MWM

Print

Millions of people across the world, over 300,000 in the U.S. alone, are addicted to the class of drugs derived from the poppy flower made famous in the Wizard of Oz. In 2015, over 33,000 Americans lost their lives due to opiates such as heroin, Vicodin and fentanyl. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has declared an Opiate Epidemic and has organized efforts with other government agencies to intercept the growing supply of illicit street opiates and to curb the dangerous over-prescribing of opiate-based pain pills.

Young People are Vulnerable to Opiate Addiction

One of the greatest dangers associated with opioid drug addiction is the body’s ability to quickly develop a tolerance to the drug and in turn the body’s increased dependence on the drug to function. People who take prescribed opiate-based pain medications like Vicodin and people who use illegal street drugs like heroin have the greatest risk of addiction.

For those taking doctor-ordered pain medication, length of time using the drug, accessibility, low-income and previous alcohol and drug use are high-risk factors. Benzodiazepines, like Valium and Xanax, depress the central nervous system and are often associated with death from opioid overdose.

Astonishingly, young adults aged 18 to 25 are becoming the fastest growing group of addicts”

Illicit opiate addiction is often preceded by other addictions and affects people from all walks of life and ages. Astonishingly, young adults aged 18 to 25 are becoming the fastest growing group of addicts. In the early 2000s young adult addiction rates hovered around five percent. By 2015, though, that number jumped over ten percent.

Perhaps the most frightening part of all is the prescription opioid abuse can lead to heroin addiction. The majority of heroin addicts aged 12 to 21 years old report having first used prescription pills. Without awareness and a certain vigilance in treating our youth for opiate addiction, the addiction can progress into more dangerous drugs.

The Cost of Addiction

In the United States, opiate abuse and addiction are responsible for over $78 billion in healthcare cost, legal costs and lost productivity. More importantly, the high cost of addiction includes tens of thousands of lost lives through overdose, financial ruin and loss of quality of life. Individuals, families and whole communities are negatively affected. The danger of addiction touches the ones closest to those struggling with addiction.

In November, 2016, Niki Hamilton, a Canadian who struggled with years of heroin addiction, lost her life after overdosing on drugs laced with fentanyl. Eight days later, her grieving brother also died of an opiate overdose. Their father, Alex Hamilton who also suffers from an opiate addiction, said he believes his son took his own life or was careless after losing his sister.

Today, deaths from drug overdose is twice that of motor vehicle accidents”

Less than 15 years ago, car accidents were responsible for more than twice as deaths than drug overdoses. Today, deaths from drug overdose is twice that of motor vehicle accidents. Opioid overdoses in particular have increased more that any other class of drugs, with heroin accounting for more than two-thirds of opiate-related fatalities. In 2015, over 33,000 opioid-related deaths compared to over 52,000 total drug overdose deaths.

Hidden Dangers of Illegal Opiates

In 2016, four teenagers overdosed in one rural West Virginian town during a weekend of celebration. Each one ingested drugs they thought was Ecstacy, or MDMA. While expecting the experience of euphoria and energy, the teens went into cardiac arrest and died due to fatal mixture of opiates and synthetic fentanyl. In May, 2016, law enforcement officers in Ohio seized over 500 counterfeit pills that were marked as 30 milligram oxycodone pharmaceuticals but actually turned out to be research chemical U-47700. The chemical, an experimental synthetic opioid, has never been tested in humans and has been responsible for several fatalities in the United States. Increased access to chinese-imported chemicals used in the production of street synthetic opioids is attributed in the huge increase in opiate overdoses. Also, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) attributes more distribution to rural and suburban areas as a large factor in increased opiate use and fatalities.

CDC officials have also directly attributed the dramatic increase of opioid overdose deaths to the increase of illicit fentanyl. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is often mixed or cut with heroin to increase potency. In 2016, the DEA reported “hundreds of thousands of counterfeit pills have been entering the U.S. drug market since 2014, some containing deadly amounts of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.”

Ending Addiction

Overcoming an opioid addiction is a mental and physical battle that can be won. Once the body becomes dependent on opioids, withholding the drug results in extremely uncomfortable and often unbearable withdrawal symptoms. For several days to a week, people may experience severe anxiety, intense cramps, fever, nausea, and diarrhea. Each individual’s degree of withdrawal depends on a lot of factors. Weight, physical health, psychological state, length of time in addiction and frequency of use are only a few of the major issues that affect difficulty with opiate and heroin withdrawal.

Recovery from addiction includes a post-acute withdrawal stage. During this phase, individuals may experience mood disturbed sleep, anger or anxiety. Symptoms may last anywhere from a few weeks to months depending on each case and personal health goals. Risk of suicide is highest during this healing phase as the body’s fluctuating neurochemical levels create extreme mood swings and depression. A strong support network and access to resources facilitates faster recovery and affects each individual’s opiate withdrawal timeline.

Seeking Recovery for the Addict and the Family

Withdrawal symptoms are rough, but they are not the only part of ending an addiction. It is important to surround yourself with support during this time as the psychological ramifications are as detrimental as the physical. The addict will likely need a strong support network that fully understands the process of withdrawal. Without this, relapse is a greater threat as recovery becomes an isolating experience.

The family of the addict must create a support network for recovery, as well. There will be moments during the recovery process that can seem so dark and so hopeless. During those time it is especially important to have access to resources and people that may be able to help pull them through. Addiction affects not only the addict but also everyone within the addict’s network. As such, recovery becomes a group effort with each individual requiring care throughout the process.

While some of the dangers of opiate addiction seem obvious, there are hidden dangers everyone should be aware of. The CDC plans to increase public awareness through education, provide more resources for treatment and early detection of overdose outbreaks. “It is important for the public to understand the present dangers of this epidemic that is claiming an increasing number of lives due to more potent street drugs, misinformation and other long-standing issues we must address within our government and communities.”

Sources:

https://www.dea.gov/divisions/hq/2016/hq072216.shtml
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/fentanyl-linked-deaths-regina-1.3868767

http://www.asam.org/docs/advocacy/societal-costs-of-prescription-opioid-abuse-dependence-and-misuse-in-the-united-states.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html

https://www.dea.gov/divisions/hq/2016/hq072216.shtml

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/how-bad-is-the-opioid-epidemic/

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20161004/risk-of-opioid-addiction-up-37-percent-among-young-us-adults

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/counseling-and-addiction-how-therapy-can-help#1

About Today’s Guest Blogger: Bill Weiss      

                                                                                                          Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 1.50.08 PM

Bill is an advocate for long-term recovery, as well as being in recovery himself. He feels it is important to share addiction information with the public to educate them about substance abuse.

 

If you want to learn more:

unitingrecovery.com
455 NE 5th ave suite d478, Delray Beach, Florida

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 are they thinking? Substance use and the developing brain.

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

Print

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

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

This is a common question I respond to from parents.

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

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

From Statistics to Solutions 2017 – Panel Discussion on Brain Development

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

©2017 Our Young Addicts                  All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

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

Midwestern Mama

© 2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved

What a Difference Recovery Makes!

Life with #SoberSon is going pretty well these days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

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

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

“Where do we get a drug test?”

“Are drug tests reliable?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts           All Rights Reserved.

Above & Beyond Awards

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

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

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

Demonstrates care and concern for students.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collaborates with outside resources.

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

Rose McKinney aka Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

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

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

Print

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2017 Our Young Addicts      All Rights Reserved.

 

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

KTT & OYA Logo FSTS17

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PARTIAL LIST OF SPEAKERS:

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

About Know the Truth

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

About Our Young Addicts

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

FSTS Logo 2017

###

©2017 Our Young Addicts        All Rights Reserved

 

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

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

Print

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

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

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

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

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

But it won’t always be.

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

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

NOverdose flyer4 FINAL (1).png

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

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

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

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

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

©2017 Our Young Addicts      All Rights Reserved.

Partners Make it Possible #FSTS17

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

Read a news article about it and register to attend.

Midwestern Mama aka Rose McKinney

©2017 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

5 Tips to Ditching the Shame Game of Addiction and Recovery

Time to stop the shame game. MWM

Print

Addiction is a very powerful venom, it’s a disease that can very easily destroy a person’s life and that of those around them. Something typically associated with addicted individuals is a social stigma because of the enormous misconception that addiction is just something that can be “shaken-off” or that they simply are not willing to stop consuming. However, this is not true; addiction is a very real and very dangerous disease. Due to these misconceptions there’s an ever present shame associated with situations involving addiction.

Addictive individuals are very fragile and vulnerable people, it doesn’t take much to trigger a feeling or emotion where for them the only solution is to run and do drugs or drink alcohol and shame can potentially be one of the worst triggers there is. It is not only the stench of shame coming from other people, but their internal shame as well. Addicts are usually their hardest judges, ironically that harsh judgement is what turns it into a vicious cycle they find themselves unable to escape: Something happens that compulses the individual to consume, after the high is gone they will absolutely hate themselves for using yet again; unable to bear with the shame they are casting upon themselves they turned once again for their substance of choice and the cycle repeats over and over. Add to this the external shaming coming from other people and society in general and it becomes a recipe for guaranteed disaster.

In order to start beating and leaving that vicious cycle it’s necessary to drop the shame game, here are 5 tips that can help you a lot in doing so.

1. Understanding Addiction as a Disease

The nature of addiction is a very sneaky one. As a disease it doesn’t present itself with traditional symptoms and before the person, or their immediate circle of friends and family notest, it’s typically too late and the person has devolved to some degree into addiction. But just as you wouldn’t blame or shame someone for getting cancer or diabetes, there is also no reason for falling victim to addiction, support, care and professional are the elements that’ll pull the person through.

2. Surround Yourself With Supportive People

Addicts are fragile people, due to this fragility lies the reason why shame can penetrate and hit so hard, specially self inflicted shame. In order to combat that self shaming soldiers must be summoned for the battle. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can be a fantastic source of moral support that can help strengthen those inner walls and fix those crack that allow shame in so easily. This can also be a very good opportunity to reconnect with friends and family if the person has become socially isolated, so long as those circles are not a source of external shame themselves.

3. Make Amends

Addiction carries a lot of consequences, some of the biggest come from the harm addicts cause while under the influence to themselves but specially to others, this is one of the biggest sources of shame. Being honest about one’s mistakes and making amends for it opens the path to a more secure and stable state, it can also open the gates of forgiveness for both the addict and the people they caused harm to and begin to understand that there was never ill intent, just a tragic and terrifying disease at work. Liberation is one of the key elements in getting rid of shame.

4. Brain Growth Activities

Constant and prolonged consumption of drugs and alcohol distort and affect the brain’s chemistry, this is why addicts experience such revolting changes in mood and why in some cases their personality is drastically affected, being aware of this can be a great source of shame because the person doesn’t recognize themselves anymore. To put it in simple words the brain lack will power.

To help overcome; it’s recommended that the person engages in activities that promote healthy growing of the prefrontal cortex section of the brain, which is the section that takes care of the cognitive functions such as social engagement and decision making. Activities such as yoga, meditation, aerobics exercises; even brain teasers and logic problem solving activities can help in this endeavor.

Ditching the Shame Game

Just as it is important to understand addiction as a disease, it’s also important to get a grasp on some of the by products of this. Shame, both internal and external, is one of the more dangerous components that threatens the individual to never escape and recover from the disease.

Only through support and care from family, friends and support groups that can encourage the person to drop the shame and get professional help, will them then start having again any semblance of a normal life through recovery and eventually sobriety.

Do you know someone who is battling addiction? Show this article to them and share your personal experience with everyone else by sounding off in the comments section below!

About today’s guest blogger:

andyAndy was born in Bogota, Colombia, but raised in Los Angeles, California. He has been sober for 9 years now! Andy spends his time helping others with their recovery.

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.

How Interactions at School can Lead to Teen Addiction

Pay attention to your kid’s school day. It may offer clues to mindset and the unfortunate possibility of substance use. MWM

Print

Imagine that you are 16 years old and you’re in science class. The class is divided into groups, each focused on a science project. Suddenly a bully in your class throws a spitball at you. It hits you in the back of the neck and it hurts. Your group members see it and they laugh.

Or imagine being in the hallway talking to your girlfriend and you see her make eye contact with another guy.  Or you might imagine that you are in PE class and you are the last one chosen to be on one of the two teams. Your embarrassment grows as everyone else is picked but you.

The point is that all these scenarios trigger feelings. Perhaps you’ve been in a similar situation, and as a result, you’ve felt anger, disappointment, disrespected, embarrassment, or shame. These are difficult feelings for someone to experience, let alone a teen who may not yet have the maturity to hold such strong feelings. To make matters worse, if a teen is experiencing difficulty at home (alcoholic parent, domestic violence, parental divorce, abusive parent, etc.) then the interactions at school may be making already existing feelings worse.

Yet, even without challenging situations at home, a teen can find it hard to be at school. In general, teens tend to experience the following:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Not wanting to be made fun of
  • Not wanting to lose a friend
  • Not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings
  • The desire to appear grown up
  • The desire to appear in control
  • Not having a clear picture of other’s desire
  • Not understanding how to avoid or handle a situation
  • Not knowing how to say no

When a teen feels emotionally uncomfortable and especially if they feel overwhelmed by their feelings, they may be at risk to saying yes to drugs or alcohol. They may give in more easily to peer pressure, or they may even seek out drugs in order to feel better.

Parents and caregivers should keep in mind that strong emotional reactions can interfere with a teen’s ability to concentrate, focus, and use intellect. Logic and reason compared to emotional distress utilize two different parts of the brain. This is another reason teen’s may reach for drugs and alcohol – to help them do better in school if their emotional state continues to interfere with their ability to think clearly. As you might expect, the more that teens choose to use drugs and alcohol, the more they become vulnerable to addiction.

Typical reasons why a teen or young adult may be drawn to drugs include:

  • peer pressure
  • access to substances (even in the school environment)
  • inability to say no
  • inability to manage strong feelings
  • to feel accepted
  • experiment
  • manage the symptoms of a mental illness
  • to do better academically
  • to feel better

Teens spend a large amount of their time at school. The interactions they have with peers, teachers, principals, counselors, and coaches often influence how a teen feels about themselves, particularly because adolescence is a time when teens are so sensitive about who they are and how they fit in. If a teen frequently feels uncomfortable about themselves, they may choose to regularly use drugs or alcohol to feel better.

Unfortunately, the use of substances is often a downward spiral. As a teen continues to use drugs, the more a dependency on them grows. And the stronger the dependency, the harder it will be for a teen to function in school, in relationships, or at work.

If you are a parent or caregiver, consider the following suggestions to support your teen’s emotional stability, and ultimately, the ability to say no to drugs:

  1. Talk to your teen. Let them know you care and that you’re there to provide support. Let them know you’re interested in who they are and what they enjoy. Get to know your teen so that you feel you’re in touch with their life.
  2. Let your teen know you don’t approve of drug or alcohol use. Teens who know their parents disapprove of drug use are less likely to use. When teens get the message that their parents do not care or that their parents approve of their drug use, teens will often experiment and continue to use substances.
  3. Teach your teen how to have fun without substances. One of the biggest influences of substance use among teens is the idea that getting drunk or high creates a fun experience that they otherwise couldn’t have. If a teen knows that there are other exciting experiences available without the use of substances, they are more likely to say no.

These are a few suggestions for keeping your teen away from substances, even when interactions at school become challenging. However, if you find that your teen is experiencing great difficulty, don’t hesitate to seek the support of a mental health professional.

About Guest Blogger: Dr. Jeff Nalin, Psy.D.

jeff-nalin-headshotDr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY17766), a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist and a Certified Youth Residential Treatment Administrator. Dr. Nalin is the Founder and Clinical Director of Paradigm Malibu and Paradigm San Francisco Adolescent Treatment Centers. He has been a respected leader in the field of emotional health, behavioral health and teen drug treatment for more than 15 years. During that time, Dr. Nalin has been responsible for the direct care of young people at multiple institutions of learning including; The Los Angeles Unified School District, the University of California at San Diego, Santa Monica College, and Pacific University. He was instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.

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