Disorders Co-occurring With Addiction Among Teens and Young Adults

When addiction is accompanied by a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self harm, etc., it’s called a co-occuring disorder. These are common at all ages, but are particularly evident within young adults ages 12 to 22. Today’s guest blogger shares insight. MWM

Side note: Join us for the second-annual From Statistics to Solutions conference on May 11, 2017, in Minneapolis, to develop solutions for co-occurring disorders and substance use among young adults.

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Often times addiction comes with other pre-existing, or co-occurring disorders. These issues can exist alongside addiction, exacerbating the substance abuse, or even sometimes lead to its onset. Many times those suffering from these co-occurring disorders are unaware of their existence, and many times they are unaware that the substance abuse that follows is actually a form of self-medicating. They know that when they smoke pot, drink, use prescription pills or other illicit substances they experience a decrease in anxiety or depression, but they do not understand on a conscious level what this truly means. They only see the results and do not see the fact that their substance abuse is merely masking a larger issue that has probably gone undiagnosed for years.

 

Unfortunately, all of this usually comes to a head during the formative teenage years, due to the fact that the brain is still developing, and due to the mounting pressures of teenage life. Many American youth fall into the temptation of drug abuse during this time period and it is often a direct result of some underlying mental health concern.

 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6 in 10 people who suffer from addiction also suffer from a mental health disorder. Among teens this number is a little lower, but about 50% of all teens who have a substance abuse disorder also suffer from a mental health concern. This means that 1 in 2 teens who are abusing drugs may be doing so as a way to deal with such issues as depression, anxiety, or any other number of co-occurring disorders.

Luckily, our understanding and our ability to treatment teenage drug abuse and co-occurring disorders has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 20 years. We now understand that in order to deal with substance abuse issues in teens that suffer from a co-occurring disorder, we have to first get them free from drugs and other mind and mood altering substances, and then within the treatment protocol for their drug treatment, we also deal with the underlying issues that may have furthered their drug abuse.

So let’s take a look at some of the co-occurring disorders that commonly appear alongside teenage and young adult drug abuse. It is important to note that if you or your teen appears to be suffering from any of the below and a substance abuse problem, professional help should be sought in order to help stave off further issues down the road.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders with Addiction

  • Depression

According to studies approximately 20% of teenagers will experience depression before the age of 18. Besides this the World Health Organization states that depression is one of the leading causes of disability throughout the world. Among teens, depression can cause a number of different issues, but one of the most common co-occurring disorders to arise out of depression is substance abuse. Many teens who suffer from depression and who have not as of yet sought treatment are more apt to drink or use drugs as a means to cope with their depression.

  • Anxiety

Having an anxiety disorder is more than just having the occasional feeling of stress. It is more than just losing sleep before an important event, but rather it is something that can rule over a person’s life. People who have an anxiety disorder will experience an elevated level of stress or anxiety a majority of the time, sometimes even causing them debilitating social issues or panic attacks that can mimic heart attacks. Some people who suffer from anxiety disorders will turn to drugs such as pot or opioids in order to quell their anxiousness, but without dealing with the underlying issue it will always resurface over time.

  • Eating Disorders

Unfortunately many times eating disorders and addiction go hand in hand. Sometimes the eating disorder will predate the addiction, and the addiction is developed either as a means to help with the eating disorder, i.e. weight loss pills or other stimulants, or the addiction can be unrelated to the eating disorder. It is important if you are having an issue with an eating disorder to seek out professional help sooner rather than later, because it can cause a number of health complications and in some cases even result in death.

  • Self-Harm

In a sense addiction is a form of self-harm, although many addicts would not initially view it that way. The reason I say this is because a person who abuses drugs to the point that it is detrimental to their health and life is inflicting an inordinate amount of harm on themselves. For other teens though, self-harm may take on the form of cutting or burning themselves as a way to deal with anxiety, depression, or other confusing emotions. Often times teens that suffer from self-harm will also suffer from substance abuse, as the two both act as a way to cope with life.

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

Teens or young adults who are suffering from addiction and some other co-occurring disorder may feel a tremendous amount of shame about their illnesses, to the point where they will not want to discuss them with anyone. They may want to hide the fact that they are abusing drug and depressed, yet neither of these things are anything to be ashamed of.

Many times in our society we place such a negative connotation of drug abuse and mental health issues that people will just pretend that everything is okay at the expense of their own happiness and wellbeing. With that said, if you believe you have an issue with substance abuse or some other mental health concern, reach out for help; even if it is frightening, and even if you think people may judge you for it. Don’t suffer alone and remember that there are millions of people around the world who feel and have felt exactly like you do right now. Give yourself a chance to get better and ask for help.

About Today’s Guest Blogger:

Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

 

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

 

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 Daily Text

Thinking about you.

What’s your horoscope say?

We miss you.

You won’t believe the cute thing the dog did today.

You deserve to be happy and healthy.

During much of my son’s addiction journey, he was homeless or sofa surfing. It broke our hearts, and in many ways I know it broke his.

However, we saw him regularly and took every opportunity to encourage him to get the help he needed. At the time, he did not appreciate our message or efforts to intervene. In fact, it often created more friction but my mom sense compelled me to continue.

One of the things we could never bring ourselves to do was to stop paying for his cell phone. It was a lifeline we didn’t want to let go of. And, we never regretted it.

So I started sending him daily texts to let him know we cared. Sometimes these were that simple and direct. Sometimes I shared updated on the family letting him know that our life was moving forward (and hoping he’d be joining us).

Not all the texts were so serious. I would say silly things. Send part of a song lyric. Tell him about a funny billboard. Ask about his horoscope. Comment on the family dog. I just tried to keep it open so he could choose to reply or not.

Sometimes he wouldd reply. Other times he wouldn’t. Whenever I got a reply, I knew it was a good sign – he was alive – even if his message was brief or if it was irate or belligerent. When he didn’t reply, it usually meant his phone wasn’t charged, he had lost his phone or left it somewhere, or he was sleeping. It might be days before we would hear back from him and sometimes it would propel us to go looking  for him – oh, the horror.

Regardless, the daily texts were our lifeline, and his too.

We believed that when he was ready to stop using drugs, he would reach out.

We’re coming up on three years of my son’s recovery and I know that the daily texts were part of the foundation that helped him forward.

Currently, my teenage nephew is struggling with substance use and mental health issues. He’s not homeless, but he likely feels just as lonely and hopeless. I’ve started a daily-text routine with him and hope it will help him realize that he has a loving family ready to help him forward. So far, he’s only responded once. It’s a start.

We count our blessings that our son is thriving in his recovery and hope the same for my nephew. If you are in the same place with a loved one, know that keeping the lines of communication open can make a difference. At the very least, you will know that you have shared your love even if they are not able to reciprocate for the time being.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts         All Rights  Reserved.

 

 

Recovery During College

 

Coming to St. Cloud State University was a little nerve racking, says Guest Blogger Thaddeus Rybka in part two of his story.

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I’d be leaving the Twin Cities where I had made a home the last two years, and was nervous about what others were telling me about SCSU’s “party school” reputation. Would I be able to make this program a success in what I perceived to be a hostile environment? Little did I know of all the great work that was being done at SCSU to address the high-risk drinking culture that existed in the past, the measurable changes that occurred, and the incredible administrative support for the new collegiate recovery program. Needless to say, my fears of SCSU were lifted immediately once I arrived on campus and was welcomed into the Husky community.

I quickly connected with the campus. It has a true college feel to it; large but accessible with the mighty Mississippi right next door. I discovered an appreciation for the outdoors especially with the abundance of water nearby. I realized that being by water, especially with a fishing rod in my hand, is where I find my serenity.

Having that accessibility to recharge and meditate really strengthened my recovery and in turn allowed me to do my best work.

We began our collegiate recovery community (CRC) the fall of 2012 with one student.

That first year was unique because here we were, two guys spreading the message that recovery works and fun can be accomplished without the use of substances; challenging the national college drinking subculture glorified by the media. I vividly remember promoting our community in the Atwood Memorial Center (main hub of campus) and initially getting odd looks, but after a while, students began to approach us asking about our community.

The stigma associated with recovery prohibits a lot of us from embracing our identity and seeking out others for support. Our exposure on campus allowed students to come forward and be comfortable sharing their story. “You really have a community for students in recovery?! I thought I was the only one!”

That’s where S.T.A.R.S. was born.

Students Taking Action in Recovery and Service (S.T.A.R.S.) is a student organization I helped create not only for students in our residential-based CRC, but for anyone who wanted to find purpose in their recovery. Not only did I see students in recovery from chemical dependency want to get involved, but also those with mental health challenges, eating disorders, PTSD, sex addiction, as well as supportive allies.

They wanted to be part of a healthy group of students who were working on bettering themselves and overcoming their previous challenges. S.T.A.R.S. offers opportunities to get involved with service work, advocacy initiatives, and fun social events.

Every week we bring an AA meeting to an adolescent treatment center in town and share our experience, strength, and hope with them. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting out in the community and giving back. Service work is crucial! By giving back to those new to recovery we are actually enhancing our own recovery.

Over the past 5 years, we’ve established a campus AA meeting, NA meeting, SMART Recovery meeting, and the first Crystal Meth Anonymous meeting in St. Cloud (started by one of our former CRC students). Also, the St. Cloud Alano Club and its 30 meetings-a-week is right across the river. We are very blessed to have accessible support group options for our students.

After our first year, our CRC started to blossom.

Slowly, our community has started to grow. The next year, we welcomed 8 more students and the next year we welcomed more and so on. Our CRC is located on campus in Coborn Plaza Apartments, where students enjoy fully furnished 4-person apartments with a private bedroom, walk-in closet, and private bathroom.

What’s really neat is that students don’t have to pay extra for the additional support services we provide; in fact, CRC students receive a scholarship of $1,000 each semester if they continue to meet program requirements which include being a full-time student, attending weekly individual and group support meetings, and remaining abstinent from alcohol and other drugs.

We acknowledge our students are busy balancing their recovery with school and work life, so a scholarship is meant to help them out financially.

Our CRC is unique. We offer multiple pathways to a degree by admitting students from either St. Cloud State University or St. Cloud Technical and Community College (SCTCC). So, whether you want to pursue one of the 200+ majors SCSU offers, complete your generals at SCTCC then transfer to SCSU, or pursue a certificate or trade at SCTCC, we have you covered and you can live in our community.

To qualify, prospective students must be accepted into SCSU or SCTCC. The students must then complete our application with references and treatment records, if applicable. After the application is processed, each student is interviewed to assess his or her commitment to sobriety and readiness for academic work in a Recovery Community setting.

When students move in, they are immediately connected to a peer and campus support system designed to help them succeed in their recovery and in their academics. By having a balanced routine and staying busy, our students are able to create positive new habits resulting in better academic performance and strong recovery. In fact, our students achieve a higher GPA than the overall student body, and are more involved with campus life.

If you’re not having fun in recovery, then what’s the point?

Part of that balanced routine is to take a break and have fun! As Coordinator, I facilitate social events and advocacy initiatives for our students to participate in.

For example, every month we co-host a recovery celebration called Recovery Rocks! with students from the Rehabilitation and Addiction Counseling (RAC) program.

The event features live music, milestone recognition, food and sober fun. We designed the event so we can bring the community together to support those in or seeking recovery while encouraging help seeking and reducing stigma.

We go fishing, snow tubing, bowling, and to the movies. Our students also have potluck dinners and simply enjoy hanging out with each other. They ask each other for help, celebrate accomplishments, and hold each other accountable. My goal is for them to have the same college experience as anyone else, just without the use of substances. Maybe sometimes we have too much fun. I’ll give you an example. We started on the 4th floor of Coborn Plaza Apartments and were moved down to the 3rd floor because students below us were complaining we were too loud. The next year, we were moved down to the second floor because below us were offices.

Today, we are a leader in the collegiate recovery movement.

When we started our collegiate recovery community in 2012 there were roughly 40 CRCs in the country. Today, that number exceeds 150. We are honored to have had various institutions visit us to gain insight on how we run our community. Whether it’s a residential-based program or a drop-in center, I strongly believe a CRC should be on every college campus.

According to SAMHSA’S 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 15.3% of 18-25 years olds meet the criteria for a substance use disorder.

That is an alarming number and shows the need for resources available on college campuses for this at-risk population. Everyone should be given the opportunity to pursue a higher education!

My time at St. Cloud State as a graduate assistant and now as its Coordinator has been special, to say the least. To have helped lay the foundation for a program that has helped so many students in recovery pursue a college degree has been truly priceless.

Heck, I never thought I’d see the age of 28, but here I am with a master’s degree, my parent’s trust back, genuine friends, and a job that allows me to help others and spread the message that recovery works. It doesn’t get much better than that!

For more information about the Recovery Community visit:

http://www.stcloudstate.edu/reslife/recovery.aspx

Like the Recovery Community on Facebook: https://facebook.com/scsurecovery

Follow SCSU Recovery Community on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SCSU_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.

The Early Years by Jason S

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Early years trauma … compulsive eating … gamblingàfull blown addiction

I was a 5-year-old little boy playing happily when one day there was a knock at the door, it was the police. They asked if they could come in, next thing I remember was my mum lay on the floor screaming hammer fisting the floor over and over. I don’t remember the bit in between but I was carted off the neighbors house while the police consoled my mum. My dad had been in an accident and had died. I didn’t know what this meant, what would happen, when he would come back, or where he would go, 5 years old is supposed to be a magical time for children so how would I cope.

I didn’t show any emotions (apparently) in hindsight and with an insight into people these days I know my mum was left alone, angry, confused full of grief but at the time, all I knew as a little boy was, she left me also. The abandonment of losing both parents and having no one to help me make sense of grief left me scarred for life.

Food became my friend, it comforted me and gave me something to look forward to, my mum was a workaholic to deal with her grief and loss and I was left to my own devices. I gained weight at the rate of around 1 stone a year (14lbs)

This brought a whole new angle to growing up. Ridiculed at school, kids can be so cruel, I sunk further into myself, eating more and more to deal with the shame, the loss, loneliness, isolation and rejection I experienced daily, I can see how this viscous cycle was forming itself.

What is addiction?

I’ve often said addiction is like a cancer of the emotions; it eats away at anything good in your life, it affects your emotional well being negatively, its progressive and its fatal.

You can see from the above that no one roll modeled me a healthy way to deal with grief, no one helped me make sense of loss in fact quite the opposite happened. As I grew up an angry mother criticized me at most opportunities so I withdrew and lived in fantasy with food as a comfort.

I was sent to ‘psychiatrists’ and specialists?  To see ‘what was wrong with me’ I was put on anti depressants at 9 years old. This was back in the 80s and I’ve got to say looking at the medical reports which I have done recently those people had no clue about children who suffer trauma! I am glad our psychological and emotional understanding of development has come on these days.

Gambling became my next thing, I would steal money to gamble and get away from life as I knew it, the misery of being fat, and the loneliness of just being me.

See at this time, I really didn’t understand what trauma was, or addiction or anything to that matter. All I knew was I was depressed, unhappy, overweight, didn’t really want to live, I didn’t think much about my dad but probably because it was so painful.

Trauma is described as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience, and its only relevant to the person who experiences it. I’ve heard many a time people saying ‘it wasn’t that bad’ or ‘ah pull your socks up’ or ‘get over it’ if you have experienced something that was traumatic to you, don’t let anyone else tell you differently, if its traumatic to you then that’s enough, other peoples job is only to understand that.

Progressive, fatal, incurable?

By the time I was a teenager there really was only one way I was heading, from gambling to co-dependency to alcohol to drugs. I went through the progression of addictions till I found heroin, it was the solution to all my problems. You see addiction is not about drugs, or alcohol or any substance for that fact, the substance or process is the solution to the problem, the problem is the internal condition, the misery, the loneliness, the isolation, misery, depression that I used the substance to fix. So really, it just adds another layer of problems on top of your problems.

I don’t expect anyone to read and find a logical solution from my writing, as nothing about addiction is logical, if only it was that simple. People used to say to me, get a job, go to college, lose some weight you’ll be happy then.  But they really didn’t get it. Soon as I put the drugs down, I had that big list above to contend with, the drugs were the lesser painful option on how to live.

Sure enough the consequences of drug use, jail and institutions became too much after many years and I had had enough, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Sure enough when I did stop, I was that anxious, lonely, overweight little boy who had never grown emotionally.

Recovery from addiction and trauma without medication is possible

Luckily at that time there were other people I met in recovery who showed me the way, who guided me and helped me find a way to deal with my emotions, how to be a productive member of society. I learned to live life without the use of drugs or addictions to cope with emotions, I was finally learning who I was.

It wasn’t till later in my recovery many years clean and sober till I started to look at grief and trauma. What I realize was it was my reaction to the situations that happened that contributed to my addiction, it wasn’t the situations. I started to open up about my childhood and went through some deep seated grief and got the support I needed to make sense of some things, but to this day, it has not gone and still haunts me from time to time, I just deal with it differently today.

Today as a psychotherapist I use my experience to help me understand others, and to help them help themselves. No one could direct me, or help me until I wanted to help myself. I still feel so strongly about that time in my life as a traumatized child but with some compassion and sadness when I think about it.

Jason S

Transactional Analysis Psychotherapist

22 years of addiction recovery

Proud dad

https://www.recovery.org.uk

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.

From College Drop-Out to Graduate: The Gift of Collegiate Recovery Communities

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When your kid is using drugs, it may seem like sobriety – let alone college -is impossible. Today’s guest blogger, Teddy Rybka is proof that it’s possible. He’s a young person in long-term recovery and the program director of a popular, growing collegiate recovery community. Enjoy his post. MWM.

I was introduced to recovery at a young age, 18 years old to be exact. I had been an active user since 15 and the summer after high school graduation I decided to reach out for help. Two days later I found myself in inpatient treatment. I immediately regretted fessing up to my parents that I was chemically addicted as it meant I had to miss my first semester of college. What a bummer. I was all set to study business management and play upright bass for the college’s jazz ensemble, and here I was in a facility with other young junkies.

After inpatient treatment and a subsequent outpatient program, I found myself on a college campus. I was so excited about school. Finally, no more living at home with my nagging parents! I remember vividly standing outside my residence hall after my parents dropped me off and screaming at the top of my lungs, FREEDOM!

I was serious about staying clean and sober.

Well, sort of. The clean part, yes, but not the sober part. I could admit drugs were a problem, but I had a hard time grasping being powerless over the alcohol bit. How could I really be an alcoholic? I wasn’t even legal to drink nor had I ever had a drink in a bar. I figured I could control my alcohol use on my own and drink socially. How hard could it be? Little did I know the effort I needed to put into recovery, the support needed, and how recovery was an all or nothing deal. Within a week I started drinking almost every day again and a week after that I was back on my drug of choice. It was so sudden. Within a month of “partying” (in my case isolated drinking and drugging), I knew I needed to give it all up in order to survive in college.

I tried to stay clean AND sober. I realized that drinking led to my drug use and once I picked up that drink there was no telling when I would stop. I sought out help. However, the university I was attending had no support for students in recovery. The counseling support didn’t have any resources besides area AA meetings filled with old people I couldn’t relate to. I tried outpatient treatment again and also hooked up with a therapist who ended up telling my parents that I was a lost cause because of my continuous relapses and excuses based on endless lies.

I managed to complete 3 semesters of college. I got passing grades, but I was a wreck physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I knew I couldn’t go on so I dropped out, and for three years I bounced in and out of treatment centers. I put my parents through the merry-go-round of deceit, lost a lot of friends, and destroyed my self-esteem and motivation.

I never thought college would be possible.

Despite my out-of-control behavior I knew deep down inside that I was better than this; a testament to my parents and their unconditional love and support. A college degree was my dream, but my previous attempt had traumatized me. I thought the temptations around me would be too strong to overcome. How could I find friends who were also clean and sober? How could I have fun? These thoughts almost destroyed any hope of becoming a college graduate.

While at an inpatient treatment center in Minnesota in the fall of 2009, I learned about Augsburg College’s collegiate recovery community called StepUP from a couple of students who came in to share their testimony. A comprehensive program on campus where students in recovery can receive an education while enjoying college life clean and sober?! I was so overwhelmed with hope that I knew right then and there that was where I needed to go to obtain my college degree.

I was sent to California after treatment for after-care which was a great experience. My sober living roommate was a celebrity, we went to meetings in Hollywood, and for the first time I really started to have fun in recovery. Everything was going great until my best friend, and using buddy, was sent to the same place where I was for aftercare. Bad idea.

Within a week of being together we had relapsed and were kicked out of our sober living home. His parents took him back home, but mine would not. To this day my parents say this was the hardest thing they have ever had to do; to stop enabling me and let me go 2,000 miles away from home. I found myself with three options: homeless shelter, the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), or suicide. I chose the Salvation ARC, but soon after getting admitted I contemplated suicide. Here I was, going through withdrawal, the youngest in a facility of 110 men – the majority facing 10+ years of prison time, and stuck working 9 hours a day in a rat-infested warehouse.

That was my rock bottom; but instead of jumping to my death I got on my knees and prayed. I had an overwhelming sense of relief and calmness come over me. I had a spiritual awakening, surrendered to my disease, and have been clean and sober ever since.

I ended up hand writing my application while in the Salvation Army and was accepted to Augsburg College and the StepUP Program. I had never stepped foot on campus, but I knew that’s where I needed to go. I needed 6 months of sobriety so I really immersed myself into my recovery. I went to 4 support group meetings a week, and worked the 12 steps with a sponsor. I really had a goal which made it easier getting through the initial few months of sobriety. I went back to school in the fall of 2010 and immediately hit the ground running.

People in recovery are the most perseverant people in this world.

I am a testament that if you put just 50% of the energy you put into getting your drink or drug into something healthy and positive you can achieve anything. For example, I decided I wanted to get into shape and play the sport I love most again, a sport taken away from me from my addiction. I accomplished that and played baseball collegiately. I wanted to take on a leadership role and become a Residence Assistant and mentor for a group of students in recovery. I got the position and thrived. I wanted to graduate magna cum laude and I needed to get straight A’s my senior year. Success.

Before graduating with my degree in Marketing, I heard that St. Cloud State University was starting a collegiate recovery community and needed a graduate student with residential life experience helping students in recovery. What an opportunity! I could use my experience mentoring students in recovery while the university paid for my master’s degree. I got the position. Little did I know those would be the 3 best years of my life.

To be continued…

About our Guest Blogger:

Thaddeus “Teddy” Rybka has been a person in long-term recovery since February 2, 2010. Hailing from the Chicagoland suburbs, he has lived in Minnesota now for six years. He currently is the Program Coordinator for the Recovery Community at St. Cloud State University. In his free time, Thaddeus enjoys fishing, listening to music, exercising, and spreading the message that recovery works.

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

U.S. Surgeon General’s Message; Addiction Prevention Programs Work

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Among the most welcome for mental health professionals, policy makers and parents to hear as they battle the escalating social and personal tragedies of drug and alcohol abuse is this:

There is now a new national policy commitment to preventing abuse of alcohol and addictive substances, and with it, emerging new approaches to preventing youthful experimentation and dabbling in mind-altering substances from progressing into mental health crises.

Public Health Approach: Prevention

The new muscle behind the prevention/intervention message comes from the first-ever U.S. Surgeon General’s report on Alcohol, Drug and Health, Facing Addiction in America. It not only declares preventing use from escalating to abuse to be the mission—it emphasizes prevention works. “Evidence based programs have a 40% – 60%” success rate in terms of reducing the onset of addiction and associated behaviors,” says A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., the renowned addiction scientist who helped co-author the report, speaking at the landmark Facing Addiction in America conference in fall 2016. Dr. McLellan is chair of the board and co-founder of the Treatment Research Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Reason 1 Prevention Works: Tested Scientific Model

In the U.S., the public health prevention model has more than 100 years of study, data and positive outcomes of widespread improvements to the health of Americans. Diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella are among the public health victories of the 20th Century.

“The public health-based approach called for in this Report aims to address the broad individual, environmental, and societal factors that influence substance misuse and its consequences, to improve the health, safety, and well-being of the entire population,” Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A. Vice Admiral, U.S. Public Health Service Surgeon General explains in his November address and elaborates on The Surgeon General’s web site.

Reason 2 Prevention Works: Brain Science

In the past ten years, the medical and technological advances that yield insights into the brain on drugs – the emerging discipline of neurocognition and the biology of addiction—are yielding a level of proof never before available. And it’s persuasive.

Now, with the advent of technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other lower-radiation imaging studies safer to use on youth, researchers can observe brain tissue responding to drugs, map the molecular pathways that are activated or shut down by drugs and alcohol – and at last understand cause and effect.

The brain can be hacked by drugs; neurotransmission systems that normally regulate healthy behaviors such as judgment, motivation, decision-making and well-being can be negatively impacted by the disruptive input of chemical modulators that drugs and alcohol bring.  This is especially true for teens where their brains are not fully developed.  Brain science now shows that that use of addictive substances hacks and hijacks the brain’s functioning, while excessive and continual use can rewire the developing brains of teenagers in a damaging way.

Helping the Developing Brain

Making prevention a national mental health priority is exactly the right public health move. We believe that not every teenager who experiments with drugs or alcohol needs treatment—they need tools and a guide to navigate the new world of possibilities.

By promoting a conservative prevention/intervention mindset, which includes addressing substance use that has already started the goal is to help correct missteps that developmentally can be a natural part of adolescence—risk taking, including experimenting with mind-altering substances.

This is why we developed Gobi, a set of online tools, surveys, exercises, scripts, prescribed excises—such as parent or care-giver and youth going for a focused walk discussing prescribed questions—Gobi encourages reflection and connection to self and family. Available via a smartphone or other device, Gobi can help support, clarify, reconnect, redirect.

We are encouraged by the response to the early testing of the Gobi tool set. Our research shows there is ample evidence that young brains really are at risk—and no one sets out to make that happen when they crack their first beer. So yes, we’re out to save brains—and kids and families with them. That’s what Gobi’s about.

Contact Gobi: http://www.gobi.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.

Crushing the Myths About Drug Rehab

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Anybody who has been to drug rehab will tell you that it wasn’t a planned vacation. There are many ways to end up in rehab, but I guarantee nobody has said “when I grow up I want to take a 30 day trip to California for drug rehab.” Although, some drug/alcohol rehabilitation centers are very much like a vacation rehab a time for recovering. How to help a drug addict with addiction starts with rehab, but drug treatment facilities have a lot of negative stigma behind them, and most are untrue. From a personal perspective of being inside the closed doors of rehab, I am going to explain some of the common myths and truths behind rehab.

Rehab is a Punishment

This is one of those 50/50 scenarios depending on how you look at it. In my case, it was both a punishment and a reward. When I was younger, I was forced into outpatient rehab programs. My parents had a strict rule on substance abuse like many typical parents of teens, yet I never obeyed the rules. If I got caught under the influence, my parents would often threaten rehab and even send me to outpatient programs from time to time. At that moment in my life, it was a punishment. Whenever I got caught with drugs or alcohol it was instantly a trip to a treatment center. But I always relapsed.

However, I reached a point in my addiction when drugs and alcohol completely ruled my world.

Getting high was the only thing on my mind and I would virtually do anything to get my fix. While using, I surrounded myself around bad people, I was constantly in fear of my surroundings and I couldn’t stop getting high.

I was a danger to myself and everyone around me, I needed to be in a safe place. I finally made the decision to take recovery seriously.

It took some time but I finally reached a point of pure surrender. It was at the darkest moment of my life when I finally admitted myself to rehab, but completing recovery treatment  was the most rewarding feeling I have ever experienced. I was finally in a place where I was safe.

You NEED to Hit Rock Bottom

The term “rock bottom” is merely a figurative speech.

In my opinion, hitting “bottom” is when you decide to stop digging.

The addict or alcoholic’s true bottom is a casket. During my using times, there were plenty of times where I thought I hit “bottom,” however, I kept using.

An  alcoholic can often slide by without any serious consequences, then suddenly get smacked with a DUI. That instance may be enough for that person to get sober. On the other hand there are those who can take way more of a beating. For example, five DUIs, suspended licenses for multiple years, maybe a divorce and thousands of dollars in debt from drinking, may seem like a bottom to you, but that person might still not be ready for treatment.

This myth about an alcoholic and addict needing to hit a bottom is simply a myth. If someone has experienced enough pain and suffering from this disease then treatment, followed by, recovery is then possible. If you are waiting to hit your bottom before entering drug rehab you might as well begin digging your own grave.

Treatment for Drug Addiction Should be a One Stop Shop

I can attest to falsely believing this claim. How many times have we heard an addict or alcoholic say, I’ve been to rehab and it didn’t work? For many people, rehab doesn’t keep someone sober past those first crucial30 days. But usually, this first trip to treatment plants a seed. A seed that shifts the concept of getting high and drinking alcohol, in addition to informing that person that sobriety is possible.

There was nothing worse than getting high after rehab knowing that I shouldn’t be getting high. I was in rehab seven times before I was 20 years old. After completing treatment each time, I learned something knew and after every relapse I wish the relapse never happened.

Rehab is a wonderful place if you take it seriously. My two final rehab stays changed my life.

I was ready to learn the concepts of recovery and willing to apply them to my life. After a while, it became second nature to me. Staying sober was possible.

About Today’s Guest Blogger:

Benny Emerling got sober at age 19 and has written about his journey to recovery: https://ouryoungaddicts.com/2016/11/03/what-it-was-like-then-and-what-its-like-now/

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.

5 Reasons This Young Person Decided to Stop Drinking Completely

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 The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese proverb

Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese proverb

Having just written that title, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have called this article “5 Reasons I HAD To Stop Drinking Completely” instead. Maybe that would be more accurate considering the fact that my life at that point simply wasn’t worth living; not to me anyway. However, when it all comes down to it, it was my decision, whatever the reasoning.  I was 14 years old when I first tasted alcohol. I was sitting in the local park with some guys from school, they were drinking either whatever one of them had stolen from their parents’ drinks cabinet or just simply stole from a store. Someone passed me a bottle of bourbon and they rest, as they say, is history.

I was kind of average at school – medium popularity, medium looks, medium grades, medium everything. After that night, they guys I sat with treated me differently – in class, on the basketball court, outside of school. It was like I had been accepted into some secret fraternal gang only the popular kids were part of. It made me feel cool to be like them. It sounds so sad now, but it’s how I felt. It wasn’t long before I was the one stealing alcohol from my parents or the local store.

That was 14 years ago. I’m 28 now and I have been sober for just over 4 years. Basically, I flunked school, ended up in a dead-end job (which I lost pretty quickly) and got married at 18. We were together less time than I have now been sober. My drinking became so out of control so quickly that nobody knew what to do with me. More so, I didn’t know what to do with me. I was in an inescapable hell. I thought that for years and years. But I was wrong. This article isn’t about my recovery, how I ended up in rehab or what it’s like living my life as a sober. It’s why I decided (or had) to stop drinking completely. It all boiled down to the following 5 reasons, which I’d like to share:

#1. Family

From the age of about 16, my family (my parents and my 2 sisters) started to distance themselves from me. I can see that now. Failure at school, constant arguments about where I was going, where I was getting my money from, and the smell of booze at the dinner table. A year later, having had enough and maybe the pressure of self-guilt forced my Dad to kick me out of the house. I lived in the garden for a while, believe it or not, in a tree house he had built for us years before. Soon after, I was crashing in the shabby apartments of other drunks. I didn’t see my family for years. We talk now that I’m sober but I can hear the strain in their voices. They’ve never invited me to stay over, but I do visit during the day sometimes. And we talk.

#2. Friends

Did those guys back in the park stay my friends? Nope, of course not. I was disowned by them just like I was eventually disowned by my family. Any other friends I had soon went the same way. A drunk with no-one to talk at but himself is an even sadder drunk. My inescapable hell.

#3. Relationships

Like I said before, in all the craziness with my obvious alcohol addiction, I got married. What was she thinking? In all the years of my drinking, I never could keep a relationship. Second dates were rarer than free drinks at my local bar… Still, we met, I thought I was in love and we tied the knot. Her parents weren’t impressed and mine didn’t even come to the wedding. My verbal abuse, my moods, my sullenness, and my constant drinking saw her walk out the door about a year and a half later; she tried her best to help me, she was patient and helpful, but I was in no place to be helped.

#4. Health

Alcohol will kill you in time. Its accompanying medical issues will see you in your grave. In all honesty, even though I felt like it many times, I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to wake up different each day but I never did. Withdrawal in rehab was just about bearable – in fact, it was nothing I hadn’t done before as a drunk. Vomiting, shaking, screaming, crying.

#5. Sadness

I have included this because this was simply how I felt every single day of my drinking years. Terrible, terrible sadness. Some may call it self-pity or even depression, but for me it was just plain sadness, all part of my inescapable hell.

Young & Sober

So, that’s why. I have written stuff like this before – in my diaries, my journals, and other notebooks. Writing is part of my new, sober life and my ongoing recovery. Writing I can control and is definitely at the opposite end of the spectrum to my alcohol addiction. Just over 4 years sober and so many things that happened before have come more into my perspective and my understanding. I’m 28 but I often feel like I’ve lived the life of someone far older. So these were (and still are) the 5 reasons I decided to stop drinking completely: family, friends, relationships, health and sadness. If you have decided to quit your drinking for good, what was your main motivation for doing so? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

From one of my favorite songs – “Go easy, step lightly, stay free.”

About Our Guest Blogger:

carl-t-guest-bloggerI’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.

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The first time I ever got drunk was when I was 9 years old from an anise-flavoured drink we call Aguardiente. I come from a Colombian-born family who immigrated to Southern California and naturally, Colombian’s like to party. I was a curious kid and I loved how it made me feel but things escalated. At age 14 I smoked marijuana, at the age of 19 I tried meth and at the age of 23, I ended up arrested in Idaho on drug charges and was given a two-year sentence. I came from a loving family, my parents worked hard to provide for my siblings and I. So when I entered rehab and came out, these are 4 important lifestyle changes that turned my life around to help me stay sober:

I changed my sleeping pattern

Having a healthy sleep pattern helped a big deal to have a much better life. Our bodies require an average of 8 hours of sleep a day and depriving it of this amount can lead to severe consequences in the future. Heart problems and focus problems are some of the many effects that sleeping less than what’s recommended can bring to us.

By having a good sleeping pattern I was able to better concentrate on my daily tasks and my work. I was more focused on my priorities and this allowed me to improve my performance at my job and my own personal life. It also made me feel healthier, awake, motivated and eager to take up on new challenges.

I changed my diet/exercised regularly

Adopting a healthy new lifestyle is what changes your attitude towards life. Eating better and exercising were 2 of the main things that improved everything about me making a huge difference on my everyday. By starting a healthier diet I felt energized and was able to have a much more balanced life-rhythm. Healthier food meant better moods and overall better acceptance of the person I was turning into. Exercise helped me to feel fit, work on my self-esteem and gain more respect towards my mind and my body. Working out has a unique effect on how we perceive life itself. We become more positive and happier, this is due to the fact that by embracing a daily routine, our brains release the same chemicals as when we’re happy or in love, making us feel a lot better about ourselves.

I learned what gratitude was

When I was using, I was self-centered and blamed everyone around me for my problems. Reliving and dwelling on my past was counterproductive but focusing on a new healthier life was what helped me become sober. Becoming grateful for my friends, family, job, lifestyle and all around what is “good” in my life helped me stay on track with my sobriety!

I found new hobbies

By discovering new interests that were both healthy and productive, I got to work on my life as a big project built on milestones that I myself have set. Finding new hobbies meant using my free time in much better and more productive ways.It also allowed me to get passionate about new things and in the same way, learn new things that I’ve found very useful at some points in my life. Growing a passionate interest in an activity allowed me to see that I am capable of things I didn’t think I was, it also taught me that with motivation and dedication I can produce amazing results that made me be proud of what I did and also made me feel happy and useful.

When recovering from addictions, finding out how to properly invest your free time is perhaps one of the most relevant aspects to progress into a new healthy-sober-and-happy life. When combined with a healthy lifestyle that includes a good sleeping pattern and a workout routine, you start immediately feeling a lot better about yourself. Adopting new hobbies allows you to see progress in small projects that you consider important and entertaining. When you invest your time wisely, your priorities fall into place and relapse opportunities and temptations become scarce within time.

If you have any questions or would like to suggest any other lifestyle changes that you consider important to a better life please let us know in the comments below.

About Our Guest Blogger:

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

 

 

 

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

 ©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

Dealing with Your Child’s Addiction – A Father’s Story

It’s nice to get a dad’s perspective on parenting a young addict through to recovery. Today’s guest blogger shares his story. MWM

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Growing up, I experimented with methamphetamine on a few occasions. I was socially pressured into doing it but thankfully, it never took a hold of me. For some reason, the abnormal ecstasy put me off and I stopped after a few tries.

When I became a father and as I watched my kids grow, I was overwhelmed by the crippling fear that my kids may experiment as I did, and I wasn’t sure if they would be as lucky as I was. I tried not to talk to them about drugs or substance abuse because I believed if I avoided it, it would not come up.

My son, Jake started taking drugs at 14. I missed the initial signs and I have never stopped blaming myself. Reading Rose’s post on addiction tell-tale signs, I can’t help but think things might have turned out differently if I had known what to look out for.

How It All Began

Jake was never a gregarious child but he seemed more withdrawn soon after his 14th birthday. His grades also started to drop and we worried he was struggling with some emotional changes as a teenager.

My wife and I tried to talk to him, but he never indicated there was a problem. We tried to be more communicative, did all the fun things he liked, and paid more attention to his study habits. This seemed to work initially as he talked a bit more and got more involved at home. But he was never the same and his grades didn’t see much improvement.

As time passed, Jake started finding more excuses to go out at odd hours, became disrespectful and stopped caring about his appearance. He didn’t do well at school and could care less. He would have mood swings from talkative and animated to withdrawn. He would also get uncharacteristically aggressive on occasions.

Jake was away at school most of the time, so we did not see his condition progress.forward-1276291_1920

It Was Not Very Obvious

When you think of drug abuse, you think of prominent symptoms like dilated pupils and conspicuous, uncontrollable cravings. This wasn’t the case with Jake as far as we could see. Also, he hardly ever asked for money so we were more concerned than suspicious.

The changes in him caused us enough concern to seek help from counsellors. It was suggested that Jake may be dealing with substance abuse. We broached the subject with him but he would always deny the fact. Something was wrong but we were at a loss for what it was.

Discovering the Addiction

A year later, when Jake came home for a summer holiday, he was far gone in his addiction. He was skinny, outright depressed, was very easily agitated, slept a lot and was often tired. He also had a seizure once. It was clear to us by then that he was struggling with substance abuse.

Our first reaction naturally was panic. We wanted to immediately take him to a rehab center but a friend of the family advised us against that. She said any action had to be taken with his consent and after due consultation with him. According to her, taking any actions without first talking it over with Jake was likely to put him in a “me vs them” mentality.

Thanks to her advice, we were able to first:

  • Discuss the situation with Jake – At first, he was defensive. But he eventually acknowledged that his addiction was harming him and that he needed help. He wasn’t very forthcoming with information. He would not tell us why or how he started abusing drugs but we were content to leave that to the specialists.
  • Agree on treatment – We were able to get Jake to agree to professional help. This was tough. As a teenager, he could not face the reality of being a drug addict. The psychological implications of getting help was more profound than we imagined.

Please note that these processes took several days. We did not try to immediately stop him from taking the drugs because we understood stopping cold turkey without professional supervision could be dangerous.

Jake’s Treatment, Recovery and Rehabilitation

After researching our options, we found a rehab centre out of town. Jake wanted to be away from the people that knew him.

The rehab professionals were amazing. It’s hard enough dealing with a teenager that has no addiction problems. The experts were able to get through to Jake in a short time and his outlook changed. I may not be able to go into details, but his treatment involved:

  • Counselling by rehab experts; and
  • Clinical therapy (nutrition, exercise and medication) to manage detox and withdrawal – this helped to soften the withdrawal symptoms like agitation and irritability, anxiety, fatigue and depression.

The terrible thing about substance addiction of any kind is the lasting effects it has on your body even after the addiction. We learned that drug chemicals lodge in fatty issues, which not only exposes the patient to health risks, but can easily trigger relapse. We are sure the detox process went a long way in making his treatment effectual.

Youth Support Group Overseen By Trained Professionals

The rehab centre had a support group for youth where they were made to relate with each other on a broad range of topics other than their addiction. I think this significantly helped Jake because it made him learn to communicate again, to feel like a normal individual with more to him than his addictions.

We were also counselled on how to relate with Jake and provide him with the kind of support he needed to stay strong. We provided him with a warm and loving environment, taking care not to make him the centre of attraction as this could cause him to withdraw.

Notes

Treatment, especially the detox phase, was not easy. Initially, there were times when Jake would ask to come home, promising to stay sober. He would also try to blackmail us into feeling that we had left him alone to suffer at rehab. We remain grateful to the rehab experts for how they handled the situation and for their advice on responding to every scenario.

We were also advised alongside Jake on how to deal with tricky situations such as:

  • Meeting friends from his addiction days.
  • Meeting his old drug dealer(s).
  • Handling romantic relationships from his addiction days.
  • Finding meaning and substance in life through sober eyes.

Jake has been sober for one year now. We all continue to get counseling from the rehab specialists and we believe that Jake is on his way to a fulfilled life.

About Today’s Guest Blogger:

Today’s guest blogger is a father from North-West London in the UK. His son has been clean for a year now but he’s always conscious that problems like these never really go away. He appreciates if you would read the tale of his son Jake and how the family missed the signs of his drug addiction. Just knowing he’s been able to help other families out there with their tale helps immeasurably.

Article Source: addictionhelper.com

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

 

©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

The Trek to Treatment

Imagine a blizzard. Icy-cold temps. Blustery wind gusts. Slow-go traffic. Slippery roads.

Now add in the emotional toll of white-knuckle driving with your a 21-year-old kid on the way to an in-patient treatment program. He needed to check in by 9 a.m., so we had to leave extra early to make it through rush-hour traffic complicated with winter weather.

What normally would have been about a 45 to 60 minute drive was double that. Let me say, it was a long drive for many reasons.

There was plenty to say yet very little conversation. My son slept – thank goodness. I concentrated on the road and listened to the radio, and I’ll always remember hearing an upbeat song that morning that has had great impact on my attitude:

Best day of my life,” by a group called American Authors.

Indeed, it was a good day and one our family had been hoping, praying and waiting for as we loved our son through addiction. Now, whenever that song comes on the radio, I remember the trek to treatment – not just that December morning, but the years that led up to it and the relapse that followed. In spite of that, however, it was our son’s first successful completion of a program and it laid the foundation for his future recovery.

For all the parents and treatment pros out there, it strikes me as important to recognize that each day is an opportunity forward, an opportunity to have the best day of my life even though the path may be long and difficult.

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

My Story of Recovery 1000 – Meet Randy Anderson

Through my work with the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, I’ve had the opportunity to get acquainted with board member Randy Anderson. Here,  he shares his story of recovery with gems for parents, treatment pros and young people. Way to go, Randy, for being such a wonderful voice and inspiration! MWM

My name is Randy Anderson and I’m a person in long term recovery. What that means to me is I haven’t had to use drugs or alcohol or any mind or mood altering substance since January 9th 2005. Because of my recovery I’m able to be a husband, a son, an uncle, a brother. I’m able to own a home, vote, have a job that I love, go to school, and even pay taxes. Today I’m able to live life on life’s terms and to be present every day in my own life.

My “rock bottom” occurred in 2004 when my home was raided by a DEA drug task force and I was arrested for selling drugs to support a drug habit that had become so enormous and all-consuming, selling drugs was the only option I felt I had left. After spending a short time in jail I was offered a lifesaving procedure for my disease and that procedure was affordable, effective treatment for my substance use disorder.

After taking nearly 10 months to complete a 60-day treatment program and finding a life of recovery, I had to face the consequences for my criminal activity. Nothing could prepare me for what would happen next. On July 6, 2005, I would be sentenced to 87 months in federal prison. As a first-time non-violent drug offender who was now on the path of recovery, I never imagined such a lengthy prison term would be given to me, even though my very expensive private attorney continually warned me that I was looking at a multiple year sentence. Even if I had not yet found recovery, more time in treatment is what I would have needed, not prison. I can’t believe our country incarcerates someone for so long with no consideration for the positive changes made in one’s life. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why me? I didn’t burglarize anyone, I didn’t assault or kill anyone, I didn’t steal from any person or businesses to support my habit and I was even paying my taxes.” On August 17, 2005, the worst day of my life, two of my dear friends drove me to Waseca Minnesota so I could self-surrendered to federal prison and begin serving my prison term.

felon-shirt

I did serve out my time and was eventually released in 2009. I maintained my recovery throughout my incarceration because I truly believed my life would be better without the use of any mind or mood altering substances. Upon release, like many that get out of prison, I was required to be supervised, for me that was to be a period of 48 months. Because I decided long ago to do whatever it takes to get my life back, I did absolutely everything that was required of me and because of that I was released after only 20 months of supervision.

By this time, I was working full time as a home improvement sales person. I did that for a few years and then, after becoming unemployed, I decided maybe it was time for a career change. With great trepidation and the GED I earned in federal prison, I enrolled in college at 43 years old, with the encouragement and support of my brilliant wife. I often refer to my first day of college as the second scariest day of my life, with the first being self-surrendering to federal prison. I enrolled in college to become an addiction counselor; something that was a dream of mine since receiving the gift of recovery.

Through the journey of college and becoming an addiction counselor, I found so many causes that I felt compelled to become involved with. One that I’m most proud of is becoming a Steering Committee member for the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition. As a member of that coalition, I had several opportunities to testify in front of a variety of Minnesota legislators and legislative committees to change the drug sentencing guidelines in the state of Minnesota. I truly believe that what had happened to me should never happen to someone else and partly because of my testimony Minnesota did in fact change the drug sentencing guidelines and approximately 700 individuals in Minnesota will not go to prison each year.  There are many more details to the drug sentencing reform that I could probably write two more pages, those changes took effect August 1st 2016. Another major achievement that I’m extremely proud of was being ask to sit on the board of directors for the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation(SRHF). Working with SRHF has provided me countless opportunities to tell my story of recovery. I’m also responsible for training and educated individuals, including law enforcement and non-ems first responders, about the life saving opioid reversal medication Naloxone. I’m also a volunteer for serval organizations including Minnesota Recovery Connection(MRC), Fed Up Coalition, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health (MARRCH). I did complete college and receive my Associates of Science degree in Addiction counseling and now work as a full time alcohol and drug counselor at the very same facility where I found recovery nearly 12 years ago.

I never imagined the life I live today would ever be possible. I often ask myself when will I wake up from this dream? Well, the fact is this is no dream – it’s the life that I live and it’s only possible because of my recovery.

I saw the movie “The Equalizer” with Denzel Washington, not too shabby I might add, at the beginning of that movie it displayed a quote which I connected with and will forever hold close to my heart. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain. Now I know why…

About this week’s guest blogger: Randy Anderson, ADC-T

Randy Anderson.jpgMy name is Randy Anderson and I’m a person in long term recovery from the disease of addiction. After receiving the life-saving gifts of treatment and recovery, I completed my A.S. degree in addiction counseling at Minneapolis Community & Technical College in 2015. I now work as a full-time alcohol and drug counselor at RS EDEN/Eden House – the very same treatment facility where I was once a client. A passionate advocate for recovery and reform, I serve as a member of the MN Second Chance Coalition Steering Committee and I am actively involved in the MN Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health (MARRCH). I’m on the Board of Directors for the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, the organization responsible for passing Steve’s Law in 2014. One of my main duties with the foundation is overdose prevention, my responsibilities include training law enforcement, non-EMS, the public and anyone who wants to carry and know how to administer Naloxone, the medication to reverse an opioid overdose. People can and do recover from addiction. I’m living proof. I am currently pursuing my B.A. degree in human services at Bethel University and live with my wife, dog, and cat in Golden Valley, MN. #WeDoRecover #RecoveryWorks

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

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

Wisdom Teeth & Rx Pain Meds

With high school and college students on break in the weeks ahead, this is a popular time to schedule having their wisdom teeth out. They don’t have to rush back to school and can get some R&R at home. It’s generally an easy procedure with few complications and only moderate discomfort for a few days following the extraction.

Avoid Prescription Pain Medications

However, in an effort to completely alleviate pain, dentists and oral surgeons may prescribe Vicodin or another type of pain medication. These are opioids and are highly addictive, and should be monitored closely if not entirely avoided. Often an over-the-counter medication will be sufficient – a far better option than a highly additive prescription pain medication.

From time to time there are news stories about the dangers of pain meds following dental surgery. It’s important to pay attention to these and take precautions if your kid does end up with a prescription.

Take Precaution – Dispose or Lock Up Meds

When my daughter had her wisdom teeth out over spring break from college, she had a few Vicodin remaining that she didn’t need. She joked that on her campus these would sell for $5 per pill.

Fortunately she disposed of the pills, but the ease with which kids can get, sell and use opioids is horrifying, and can lead to addiction. Many counties now offer drop off days and times in a variety of convenient locations.

One of the other key prevention measures is to lock up medications so that there is not easy access and to “be the parent” by keeping track of the dose, timing and how your kid is feeling.

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Red Flags Parents Can Look For When College-Aged Children Come Home For Break

College kids are arriving back home for Thanksgiving, and it can be an eye-opener for families – especially if there is substance use involved. Today’s guest blogger, Rose Lockinger, alerts us to red flags. MWM

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As a parent one thing that I worry about is whether or not my children will do drugs in the future. I worry about whether they will follow the same path that I went down. I wonder if they will be tempted in High School or go off to college and fall into a bad scene, and I sometimes think about what I can, or will able, to do in order to prevent this.

Luckily, my kids are still pretty young so this concern may be a bit preemptive, but with Thanksgiving break just around the corner and college students all around the country returning home for a quick visit, it got me thinking about what parents can look out for to see if their kids are doing drugs.

For the most part your children will never come right out with it and tell you that they have been smoking pot in college or that they tried cocaine, and what’s more is if they suffer from some sort of substance abuse problem, and are not just recreationally experimenting, they will do anything in order to hide their addiction.

The thing that is perhaps most concerning for a parent is that adolescence is a time when they can be especially defenseless against substance abuse.

That being said there are some red flags that you can look out for in order to see if your child is using drugs in college and I have listed a few of them below.

 Red Flags That Your Child May Be Abusing Drugs In College

  •  Their grades begin to drop

This is not always indicative of a substance abuse problem, but often times where there’s smoke there’s fire. Usually during a student’s freshman year their grades will decline compared to what marks they received in High School and this has to do with getting acclimated to the new environment and the higher degree of difficulty that college work brings. But if you notice a decline in grades that appears to be unrelated to anything, or a continued decline in grades then it may mean that your child is having issues with substance abuse.

  •  They continuously ask for money

Many college students are broke and have to rely on their parents for money, but if you notice that the $200 you sent your child just last week is gone because they needed to [insert excuse here], and this is a reoccurring theme, then your children may be having problems with substance abuse. Often times money is the easiest way to find out if your college aged child has a problem with substance abuse, and this is because drugs and drinking excessively takes a great deal of money to do. So if you find that you are giving your child more money than normal, talk to them about what is going on.

  •  You sense a disconnect in them

Once again this is not always a sign that substance abuse is at hand, but as a parent it is fairly easy to tell when something is off with your child. There is a difference between the normal teen discontentment and substance abuse, so if your gut is telling you that they may be using drug, you are probably correct. As much as people who use drugs believe that they do not affect them in a negative way, abusing substances of any kind creates a shift in the personality and it is noticeable to those around the person using. If during Thanksgiving break you notice that your child is acting strangely, ask them about it, and don’t just brush it off.

  • They begin to associate with drug related pop culture

I am going to date myself a bit here, but in the past if someone listened to Phish, The Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, etc., there was a really good possibility that they were using drugs. Children believe that this shift in their cultural tastes goes unnoticed by their parents, but in reality it doesn’t, and while it is completely normal for a kid’s tastes to develop as they move into young adulthood, if you find that their penchant for drug music or drug related movies increases, they may have an issue with substance abuse.

  • You actually find drugs or drug paraphernalia on them

This isn’t really a red flag, but more of a smoking gun, because the reality is, if your child felt the need to bring drugs home with them during a short break from school, this means that they more than likely are using quite often. It could possibly be indicative of a substance abuse problem or it could just be a phase they are going through, but either way it is important to address this with them, so that if there is a problem, it can be dealt with.

I think the best bit of advice I can really give, and one that comes out of my own experience with substance abuse, is that if you think that something is wrong, it more than likely is.

Drug addiction and alcoholism operate in such a way that they attempt to produce confusion and doubt in those closely affected by it.

This means the person addicted and their loved ones have just enough deniability as to its existence that they can turn the other way comfortably. This however does nothing but allow the addiction to grow unimpeded and results in more damage down the road.

So if you think that there is something going on with your kid then address it with them. If you are wrong then great, but if you are right, you may have the possibility out getting out ahead of their addiction and help them to avoid years of pain and trouble.

About Today’s Guest Blogger

Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.rose-lockinger-guest-blogger-2

You can find Rose Lockinger on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

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

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

Safe & Social

Alcohol is often present during holiday gatherings, so young adults get the sense that it’s part of the celebration. That’s not the message that parents intend to convey. Instead, we want our kids to be “Safe and Social.”

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate on a panel discussion with law enforcement and substance prevention specialists. It was organized by a local coalition, Partnership For Change, and taped by the local cable station. A key part of the discussion focused on the importance value of having a social host ordinance in your community, and I shared my “been there, done that” parenting perspective – what I call POP or Prevention-Oriented Parenting.

Working together, we can educate and help prevent underage drinking.

Rose McKinney aka Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Navigating Addiction during the Holidays

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

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

When Our Young Addicts asked me to write a blog post on how to navigate the holidays when addiction is present, my first thought was “Yes!  What a great topic!  This will be so helpful!”  As I thought about it more, the task became a little more overwhelming.

As someone who works with family members in the addiction recovery field, as well as being a family member myself, I know there is no right or wrong way to navigate the holidays when addiction is present.  But, there may be a way that’s right for you, which is what I hope to address.

My husband and I live in a different states than our families, and we make it a point to be with them over the holidays.  For a number of years, we would get caught off guard by the ups and downs of addiction.  Each year we would start out with our vision of the holiday and prepare for it.  We’d ask for Christmas lists, and go shopping for the perfect presents.  We’d be in contact with everyone in advance to make sure we could all get together.  We would plan festive menus, and listen to holiday music on our drive across the Midwest.  We wanted to experience what so many of us want to experience: family.  We wanted to be in the midst of the love and connection, and thought if we could just plan far enough in advance that we’d get exactly that.

Unfortunately, the addiction in our family wasn’t playing along.  Although there are a few in our family who have struggled with alcoholism and addiction, when I think about the holidays, I often think of my step-son, who is a meth addict.

We would embark into our greeting-card-worthy vision of the holiday, but addiction would stand in our way.  There would be times when we’d reach out to him, and not hear back.  There would be times when he would come, and show up despondent.  There were other times when he would show up and would be angry at the world.  There were times when he left on an evening saying that he’d be back tomorrow, and we didn’t see him again for the rest of the time that we were there (we once found out later that he ended up in jail for a while).  There were visits that ended in loud arguments.  And, then there were the times that he showed up as his incredibly witty, big-hearted, intelligent self – and the family would try to figure out how we had magically set the stage for this to happen so we could be sure to recreate it again, and again.  Of course, we were always confused when we tried to reenact the situation at another time, only to have a completely different, and often heart-breaking, outcome.

One of the things we needed to do as a family was to know what we were up against.  Sometimes the fact that someone is struggling with addiction becomes apparent during the holidays, especially since we usually see each other more at this time than other times throughout the year.

At times families fall into the trap of thinking that someone who is struggling with addiction is just behaving badly.  It’s helpful to know the signs of addiction and alcoholism.

Both the National Institute on Drug Abuse (www.drugabuse.gov) and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (www.ncadd.org) have helpful information.   Educating yourself allows you the opportunity to know what you’re dealing with, and will be helpful in understanding what to do next.

As a family member, I have found that getting support for myself has been imperative.

There is no way that you can watch someone become entangled with alcoholism and addiction without being affected.  Family members often feel that if they love someone enough, and say and do the right things, they’ll be able to fix their loved one so they no longer have the struggles that they have.  To be around others who have had a similar experience in their reactions, and who have found a way to cope with it, helps to break the shame and stigma we often carry where addiction is concerned.  The easiest and most accessible way to find support from others who have been there, too, is through Al-Anon (www.al-anon.org) or Nar-Anon (www.nar-anon.org).  So many family members keep the addiction in their family a secret.  Al-Anon and Nar-Anon provide safe places to talk about it.

Talking about the holidays was important for our family, as well.  We needed to decide what we wanted our holiday to look like, and be focused on what was realistic.  If your loved one is actively using, what is realistic may be different than at other times.

Some families decide that they need to set some clear boundaries: that their loved one is only invited if the can be clean and sober during the gathering.  They also need to have a plan in place on how they’ll honor that boundary if it’s not met.

Some find that they want their loved one included in everything regardless, so that they know that they are in a safe place.

Some families decide to change how they will celebrate so that they can all meet at a place where anyone can easily leave from if they feel uncomfortable.

As I stated before, there is no right or wrong in deciding this.  There is only what is best for you and for your family.  These decisions are more easily made with an understanding of addiction, and remembering that the person you love is still the person you love, even though their disease may bring unwanted attitudes or behavior.  These decisions are also more easily made when you have support.

Families have choices, and they get to make them – including during the holiday season.

Our family feels blessed that we have received the gift that so many of us hope and pray for, the gift of my step-son’s recovery.  He’s been clean with the help of Narcotics Anonymous for more than three years, and we love watching his life unfold.  That witty, big-hearted, intelligent guy shows up most of the time, and even when he shows up occasionally as someone who’s going through a difficult time for whatever situation is happening in his life, we trust that he will navigate in whatever way that he needs to with the support of his people in his recovery circle.  And, yet, we may have gotten a little too excited when our first holiday came around and we thought “Finally!  We get to have our ideal holiday!  There will be SO much togetherness!  We’ll be a Norman Rockwell painting!”

We found that going through the holiday in early recovery was going to take some navigation, as well.

My step-son did a great job of talking to us about what he needed, which wasn’t non-stop family time.  For many folks, the holidays can trigger or exacerbate addiction.  My step-son needed to find his own balance.  His primary focus was to continue to build the foundation of recovery, and we needed to honor that.  We listened, and we trusted that he would show up for what was important for him, and that he would do what he needed to support himself when he needed to do so.  And, we stayed focused on taking care of ourselves, and being grateful for the time we got to have with this wonderful, clean, clear-eyed young man.

Even if the gift of recovery hasn’t happened in your family, my hope for each of you is that you’ll find moments of peace and joy.  I believe that they are there and accessible to all of us, even if our loved one is actively struggling.  Remember to learn what you are up against, find support for yourself, talk about it – and listen.  Be gentle with yourself and your loved one.  I believe that we are all doing the best that we can with the tools that we have, and I’m hopeful that these new tools will be helpful to you as you embark on this holiday season.

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

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

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

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

Addiction Takes Many Forms, Including Gambling.

Young people are natural gamers and our Millennials and Gen Z kiddos are bombarded with opportunities that could lead to problem gambling. Last week, I participated in the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance annual conference to present a session on building community connections. In addition to sharing my experience in creating Our Young Addicts, I had the opportunity to learn from a variety of professionals who kindly shared their presentations.

College Culture and Substance Use

College is supposed to be a transition from teenage years to adulthood, but often the culture creates challenges – and consequences – that result from alcohol and drugs. This week’s guest blogger provides a candid overview of what’s going on, including some valuable sources for more information. Thank you, Sonia! MWM

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College is a time of change and new experiences. College freshmen, being away from their families, tend to latch onto their newfound relationships for support and guidance. While peers are important during the transition from living at home to living on campus, this time in a person’s life leaves room for peer influence.

Peer pressure is a key factor in the development of risky behaviors. Peers may be negative influences, encouraging risky behaviors, supplying dangerous items or introducing their friends to questionable new activities. Many college students, being vulnerable and impressionable, begin modelling these behaviors and regard the abuse of substances as a positive and socially acceptable experience.

A 2014 Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, reported that college students smoked marijuana more often than they drank alcohol on a daily basis.

From 1994 to 2014, daily alcohol use among college students increased from 3.7 percent to 4.3 percent, while daily marijuana consumption increased from 1.8 percent to 5.9 percent. Although Adderall use is decreasing among college students, cocaine use increased from 2.7 percent in 2013 to 4.4 percent in 2014.

Alcohol use is higher among college students than among their non-college peers. An article published in the NYU Applied Psychology OPUS attributes this factor to the social identity theory, which states that an individual’s self-concept is based on the groups they associate with.

Because they want to be socially accepted, students think they must mingle with a certain group. If that group consists of substance-using individuals, it is likely that the college students end up using drugs or alcohol to fit in. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, college freshmen are the most vulnerable to substance abuse influences during the first six weeks of college.

The Three Dimensions of Peer Pressure

College students experience three dimensions of peer pressure:

  • Direct influence
  • Modeling other people’s habits
  • Perceived habits

Active offers of drugs and alcohol to college students make up direct influence. It can be in the form of a simple suggestion to continual encouragement to use substances in order to fit in the group. While the individual has no intention of consuming drugs or alcohol, they usually cave from the peer pressure.

Contrary to the first dimension of peer pressure, the second dimension is an indirect influence, which the NYU article defines as a temporary imitation of peers’ habits. The article mentioned that college students were more susceptible to consuming more alcohol if they were exposed to heavy-drinking models, as opposed to lighter or no models. College freshmen tend to be candidates for heavy alcohol consumption, but the article noted that this behavior decreases by the time they graduate.

Stemming from a misconception by the individual, perceived habits — the third dimension of peer pressure — is arguably the most dangerous. Perceived drinking norms influence college students through the observation and comparison of their peers’ drinking levels. Students typically end up overestimating the amount of alcohol their peers are drinking, thus engaging in hazardous drinking practices.

The NIAAA’s College Fact Sheet mentions that students attending schools with core Greek systems and prominent athletic programs are more likely to drink more than students who attend other schools. Similarly, alcohol consumption is higher among students living in Greek houses than among those living at home with their families.

However, research revealed that students whose parents previously discussed the dangers of drugs and alcohol with them had a lower incidence of frequent drinking. This reinforces that parental guidance has a great role to play in college students’ substance using behaviors.

Aside from parental support, colleges should implement awareness and prevention strategies that target at-risk students, including freshmen, student athletes and members of Greek life. These strategies should aim to prevent and reduce incidences of substance abuse by educating the students and changing their perceptions about drugs and alcohol.

Colleges should also look into implementing collegiate recovery communities to help current student struggling with substance use disorders through their recovery journey.

Sources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015, September). College-Age & Young Adults. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/college-age-young-adults

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2015, December). College Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/CollegeFactSheet/CollegeFactSheet.pdf

Palmeri, J.M. (n.d.). Peer Pressure and Alcohol Use amongst College Students. Retrieved from http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/appsych/opus/issues/2011/fall/peer

By Sonia Tagliareni

sonia-imageSonia Tagliareni is a writer and researcher for DrugRehab.com. She is passionate about helping people. She started her professional writing career in 2012 and has since written for the finance, engineering, lifestyle and entertainment industry. Sonia holds a bachelor’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology.

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

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

What it Was Like Then, and What It’s Like Now

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Today’s guest blogger, Benny Emerling, got sober at 19. It’s valuable for parents and professionals to have this perspective in mind when working with young people. MWM

As a young kid I always felt like everyone around me was given a golden textbook on life. Mine must have gotten lost in the mail. I was different, but not an outcast, in fact. quite the opposite. I had many friends, a loving family and a decently smart head on my shoulders. However, my idea of fun was different from most of my peers. Misbehaving, stealing and bullying were some of my favorite activities. I was always a happy jokester and had a smile on my face the majority of the time.

Having three older sisters and a younger brother, it was easy to slip through the cracks and get away with murder. In middle school, my behavior got worse and worse. I grew up in a primarily Jewish area, so when I was in seventh grade every weekend we had a bar or bat mitzvah party to go to. Virtually, every weekend there was a different elaborate party to go to. After a couple, I noticed the adults at the parties drinking. Curiosity grew inside me, it looked awesome. It was not long before I tried drinking.

I was 13, one of my friends at the time made me a delicious alcoholic beverage. By delicious, I mean repulsive, it was a combination of anything he could grab off the adult tables. This included wine, beer, a shot and a mix drink. It was the most disgusting beverage I had ever drank but at the same time the best. I felt the buzz of alcohol for the first time in my life and I was instantly ready for more.

Drinking at these parties became the norm for me and a couple of friends. Weirdly enough, none of us ever got caught. Then the summer hit, growing up every year I went to sleep away camp in Northern Michigan. And this year at summer camp was monumental, one of my cabin mates brought weed to camp with him and I smoke it for the first time. Drinking was a blast, but weed was a different type of fun. I finally found the missing piece to my life, and it was drugs. After my first experience getting high, I never wanted to be sober.

I became a huge pothead by ninth grade. I had drug hookups because my sister was older, and I was friends with kids who sold pot, among other drugs. Smoking weed became an everyday habit before school, at lunch, sometimes between classes, and always after school. Weed took over my life. I quit all after school activities I once did because it got in the way of me smoking weed.

Smoking weed is an expensive habit, so how could I afford it? I stole, manipulated, worked little jobs and sold drugs.

My first job was at an elite men’s fashion store that sold thousand dollar suits and top of the line shoes. I couldn’t stop smoke weed and I dabbled a little with taking prescription pills. I didn’t want to get fired, especially because of speculation about me being high at work was on the rise. I came up with what I thought was a brilliant lie: I told my boss who knew my stepmom that I was allergic to wool and that was why my eyes were constantly bloodshot.

I didn’t last long at this job, to say the least. I picked up a caddying job that summer, but no money compared to selling pills. So after a couple of months I made my money exclusively selling prescription pills and little amounts of weed. My supplier? My family. Members of family were prescribed prescription pills for medical reasons. I looked at these pills as dollar signs. My family gained suspicion. They knew I didn’t have a job, but they also knew I had a lot of money. Oh yeah, and all of the pills in the house were missing.

It didn’t take long for my parents to catch me red-handed. I was forced to take my first drug test, which  I failed miserably.

It was then my parents started looking up local rehabilitation centers. When I was 16, I was put into my first outpatient treatment center. I was told I had to stay sober and there would be drug tests once a week. I tried to stay clean for about a month and decided it wasn’t for me.

My high school career could be summed up pretty easily, I got high and partied, then ended up in outpatient treatment. Maintained decent grades and did what I wanted, when I wanted—I thought it was  the greatest time of my life. However, I knew the best years were still to come…college.

I chose to go to the biggest party college I got accepted to. The first couple of weeks were exactly how I wanted them to be. Huge parties every day, drugs whenever I wanted, and unlimited freedom to do whatever I wanted, without any consequences.Or so I thought…

The fun lasted about two months then I hit what most people would consider a bottom. I didn’t sleep, eat, go to class, and barely left my dorm room for five consecutive days. I ended up going insane from all of the Adderall I took, and it wasn’t long before I overdosed and ended up in the psych-ward.

By this time I hadn’t talked to my families in over a month, and everyone assumed I was either dead or in jail. My close friends stopped calling me because I betrayed all of them in one way or another and I was basically alone, miserable and physically and mentally broken.

I remember the exact moment when I realized I needed help and that I needed to get sober.

I was sitting in the psych-ward, I hadn’t slept for two days straight, and then I looked in the mirror. I was 40 pounds underweight, my eyes were sunk into my face and my body was bruised up from trying escape the hospital. At that very moment, I made the decision to get sober.

What’s It Like Now?

This was over six years ago. I was 19 when I admitted myself into treatment. I thought my rehab stay was only going to be three months, but I ended up needing a nine month stay. Rehab was great because I learned how to be a human again. I learned how to maintain relationships, grocery shop and take care of myself. I was taken to AA meetings and I actually learned from them and received hope from them.

I finally started feeling good for the first time in over six years.

After my rehab stay I moved back home. My mom was very skeptical of me living in the house because my teenage years were a disaster. I assured her that no matter what, I will not use, steal or lie to her. She slowly began to trust me again, which I never thought  possible. I started paying back the people I owed money to,  and I kept up with AA meetings. It didn’t take long before I found a friend group,  all young, sober adults.

I realized the more meetings I went to, the more I hung out with my sober friends and the more time I spent helping others, the less I obsessed about myself or getting high. It was an incredible realization, for over five years, every waking moment I thought about my next fix and how I was going to achieve it. But after I came to terms with the fact that I will never be able to use like a normal person, my life was shot into what I call the fourth-dimension.

I got sober when I was 19, I am currently 25 years-old and couldn’t be in a better place.

The disease of addiction took me to the darkest world imaginable, but at the same time blessed me with an amazing one at the same time. Suffering from addiction has made me a better person. I wake up every day knowing that as long as I stay sober, I can accomplish anything.

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

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

30 Days of Gratitude 2016

Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday and each year during November I take time to capture 30 days of Gratitude. When you’re in the throes of a loved one’s addiction, it can be difficult to muster up gratitude – yet it’s there, every day, if you look for it.

During my son’s addiction days, I would say a prayer of gratitude for those things I was thankful for in spite of the challenges, crises and chaos we were experiencing. It made a positive difference.

Now in recovery, we have even more things to be grateful for and it gives us a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come. Please join us as part of #Gratitude2016, and if you want some ideas, check out posts from 2014 and 2015.

#Gratitude2014

https://ouryoungaddicts.com/2014/11/

#Gratitude2015

https://ouryoungaddicts.com/2015/11/

With gratitude,

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.