5 Morning Routines to Improve Recovery

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

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

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

  1. Morning affirmations

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Inner peace

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

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

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

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

  1. Get moving

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

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

  1. Planning 

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

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

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

  1. Bigger than you 

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

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

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

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

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

About Our Guest Blogger:

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

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

©2017 Our Young Addicts      All Rights Reserved

The Sudden and Real Dangers of Opiate Addiction

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

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

Young People are Vulnerable to Opiate Addiction

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

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

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

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

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

The Cost of Addiction

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

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

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

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

Hidden Dangers of Illegal Opiates

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

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

Ending Addiction

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

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

Seeking Recovery for the Addict and the Family

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Today’s Guest Blogger: Bill Weiss      

                                                                                                          Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 1.50.08 PM

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

 

If you want to learn more:

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

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

©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

The Solutions Team #fsts16

Meet the “solutions team” who worked together to host the From Statistics to Solutions conference on May 12. From left to right: Tracee Anderson, Adam Pederson, Rose McKinney and Laura Zabinski.

Our Young Addicts partnered with Know The Truth, the prevention program for Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge. Together, we convened more 425 professionals including licensed alcohol and drug counselors (LADCs), social workers, educators, medical professionals and law enforcement officers. Each professional earned five CEU credits for attending the conference.

Our panel discussions covered early intervention, warning signs, collaboration and moving forward.We are grateful for participation by the following individuals and organizations:

Abe Abrahamson – Wright County Juvenile Probation Officer

John Choi – Ramsey County Attorney

Saul Selby – VP of Clinical & Transitional Services, MnTC

Linda Skillingstad – LICSW, LADC, PrairieCare

Brent Thompson – Pharmacy Director First Light Health Systems

PJ Agarwala, MD – Director of Child Psychiatry at the U of M Masonic Children’s Hospital

Bill Hutton – Washington County Sheriff

Judge Michael Mayer – Dakota County

Jason Reed – PsydD, LP, Psychologist and Clinical Lead for Melrose Center

Sherry Gaugler-Stewart – Director of Family & Spiritual Recovery at the Retreat

Lexi Reed Holtum – Steve Rummler Hope Foundation

Patrice Salmeri – MA, LADC, Director of StepUp Program at Augsburg College

Lindsey Smith – Regional Prevention Coordinator

Misty Tu, MD – Mental Health Medical Director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota

Judy Hanson – Chemical Health Specialist at Wayzata High School

Chris Johnson, MD – Allina Health

Paul Meunier – Executive Director YIPA

Jill Petsel – Former Executive Director of MN Recovery Connection

Tim Walsh – VP of Long Term Recovery and Mental Health Services MNTC

Laura Zabinski – Program Manager of Know the Truth

In addition, we featured three personal stories:  Kaityln Arneson, a  young woman who works for Know the Truth, talked about her experience with addiction and recovery (coming from a non-stereotypical environment); Lori Lewis, a mom who lost her son to a heroin overdose (read the transcript of her presentation posted on this blog yesterday) – she called out how the healthcare system failed her son; and I shared our family’s story of addiction sharing hope for possibility of recovery – even when it seemed hopeless.

Our keynote speaker was Chris Bailey, with an incredible tale of his own journey through addiction. He led us through mindfulness and meditation, which were key components of his recovery and included a walking journey across America in 2015 with his twin brother, Bobby.

In addition to volunteer support from Know The Truth and from my team at work, this conference was made possible by generous sponsors including:

Melrose Center

Mn Adult & Teen Challenge

Recovery Brands

The Retreat

We also had more than 25 exhibitors who contributed to the success of From Statistics to Solutions.

It was an incredible day that will move away from statistics and toward solutions to the underlying issues of youth substance use, including strategies for prevention and treatment. Everything about the conference exceeded our expectations. Without a doubt, we will be back bigger and better for #fsts17.

Midwestern Mama aka Rose McKinney

©2016 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

I never thought we’d face addiction.

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At a recent community event, I had the opportunity to speak with parents and professionals. My message: I never thought we’d face addiction.

Read highlights from the presentation, here.

http://pressnews.com/2016/01/28/i-never-thought-we-would-face-addiction/

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

Anoka-Hennepin Schools – Parent-Awareness Event #1

Thank you for attending the Anoka-Hennepin Schools Parent-Awareness Event #1
Thank you for attending the Anoka-Hennepin Schools Parent-Awareness Event #1

Tonight, you have done one of the most important things that you can do. You have connected with parents and resources within the Anoka-Hennepin school district to learn more about substance use among young adults.

When my son – now 18 months sober and embracing recovery – was using drugs, it was a quagmire of situations and decisions that impacted our family and friends. There was nothing easy about the journey except for the wonderful people who supported us and tried to help.

That’s why I began sharing the journey, and why I created Our Young Addicts as a community for parents and professionals who are concerned about substance use among adults.

During the presentations tonight, you heard from Know the Truth, a substance-use prevention program that goes into schools throughout Minnesota. This organization has an excellent pulse on what young people are feeling and experiencing. They offer incredible insights into the mindsets of our students.

We also had data provided and interpreted by an epidemiologist, Melissa Adolfson, from Substance Use in Minnesota. She highlighted perceptions vs reality as reported in the most recent Minnesota Student Survey findings and broken down for us specific to the Anoka-Hennepin Schools.

Thank you for coming to the Our Young Addicts website. Here you will find our blog, with regular posts from parents and professionals as well as posts from me. You will also find resources and links to helpful organizations.

If I can be of help, please email me: OurYoungAddicts@gmail.com  You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook.

Please return for future events on March 3 and April 12.

Many thanks,

Midwestern Mama aka Rose McKinney

 

#TBT – In Hard Times, Siblings Will Ask … And Deserve to Know – Truth about Addiction

There’s no hiding the fact that a sibling is struggling with addiction, so it’s important to include and involve the other siblings. In this 2012 column, Midwestern Mama embraces a #NoMoreStigma approach.

Real Mom_ In hard times, siblings will ask — and deserve to know – Minnmoms

#TBT – Do “All The Right Things” But Kids Can Still Lose Their Way – Addiction Happens

In 2012, Midwestern Mama contemplated the dichotomy of doing “all the right things” but still having a kid who was struggling with addiction. It seemed to run counter to the recovery principles of “you didn’t cause it, you can’t change it, you can’t control it, you can’t cure it …” Which is it, she wondered? (And still does wonder.)

A Real Mom 5-7-12 – All the Right Things

To me, this is where parents and professionals need to come together for the sake of family consensus, treatment and recovery – for ourselves and our young addicts.

Autumn Blessings & Updates

This year's fall routine is most welcome as #SoberSon continues on the recovery path and Midwestern Mama pursues a series of parent-awareness events.
This year’s fall routine is most welcome as #SoberSon continues on the recovery path and Midwestern Mama pursues a series of parent-awareness events.

Positive routines are such a blessing. Right now, we are in such a great place with our #SoberSon. He’s taking college classes (13 credits), working part time, attending counseling sessions as part of his medication-assisted therapy, seeing a psychologist, living at home, taking part in family activities and loving our family dog.

His outlook is positive and he’s mastering coping skills that help him with stress management, depression, anxiety and more. Each day, we see more and more of the happy, healthy kid we love. Each day, we become more and more confident in the future, and more importantly, he feels confident as well.

After such a long, devastating haul through addiction, this is a welcome routine. Each day, I pause to think about what a blessing it is to have weathered his addiction and to witness his recovery.

As such, it’s also a time for me to reflect on the journey and plot out the future for Our Young Addicts. One of the exciting things underway is a school-district wide series of events for parents in my local community.

A group of parents has met with our local principal and is organizing an upcoming parent-awareness and -education night. We are pleased about the school district’s support and envision the possibility of this being replicated in districts across the state of Minnesota and beyond.

Likewise, we are organizing a spring summit on addiction and young adults. It will be a lot of work to put together, but we have some willing partners and know the outcome will be a conversation that builds awareness, decreases stigma, and creates solutions. This, too, I believe has the potential to replicate beyond Minnesota.

Stay tuned as each of these develops. I welcome your ideas, support and participation.

Midwestern Mama

#TBT – Keeping In Touch No Matter What is What Matters Most

Throughout my son’s addiction, we made every effort to stay in touch and we worked at understanding the complexity of addiction and its grips. In this 2012 column, Midwestern Mama talks about why this is important an even shares an insight from Chicago Bears player Erik Kramer. These strategies made a big difference for our son and our family.

A Real Mom_ Keeping in Touch, No Matter What is What Matters – Minnmoms

Blogs I’d like to write, but haven’t yet written.

The more I write, the more I want to write – mostly before there is always more I want to share. This is certainly the case when it comes to Our Young Addicts. There is so much to talk about and so many topics that parents, young people in recovery, and addiction/treatment professionals want to read about.

As the back-to-school season moves forward, I have less and less time to write. Fall is always a busy time for my business (unrelated to Our Young Addicts, although I do have a few clients in the addiction space). In addition, I am an adjunct professor at a local university, so I’m in the classroom two nights a week plus grading my students’ papers. And, as every parent knows, the school year brings extra commitments – getting up earlier to get my 15-year-old off to school, encouraging good homework habits, carpooling to sports practice, and more.

My day is the same as yours. Twenty four hours. No more. No less.

Yet, I still want to give Our Young Addicts just as much energy, passion and content as the summer months. Some of that I put in play with our #SoberSchoolYear campaign with Tweets and Facebook posts running daily to offer tips and insights.

As well, I owe you all a good update on #SoberSon and his continued success with recovery as well as an honest account of some of the struggles that run parallel on this path. These real-time observations prove valuable no matter where your kid (of any age) may be on the spectrum of experimentation, use, addiction, treatment, relapse, and recovery.

On my list.

For now though, I’m just going to share a whole bunch of topics that I’d like to write about at some point. Let me know what you think. Tell me which ones are of greatest interest. I remain committed to one post per week about our family’s journey; one guest post per week from a parent, young person in recovery, or addiction professional; and one #TBT column – because there is so much wisdom in the early days of my son’s addiction and its impact on the family.

Here are “just a few” of the future blog posts that I may just write one day:

  • Even with “all the right things,” you kid may use … and may become an addict
    • Coming to terms with we didn’t cause this, can’t change this, can’t control this, can’t cure this … yet were supposed to do these “influential things” that still might not work, reconciling all this.
  • MWM’s “AA” is Appropriately Anonymous
  • The freedom of a fence
  • A short leash … advice to the tennis coach … oops
  • Check it out – act now
  • Check it out – testing
  • Create and orchestrate a community team
  • Be open to possibilities
  • Less rigid, 180 degrees
  • #NotMyKid – the most dangerous mindset
  • Still Curious – So much we still don’t know, might never know
  • The day I cleaned my son’s room
  • Then & Now
  • 24/7/365 – it’s the same allotment, every day, for all of us
  • Role Models – inspire others due to our vulnerable honesty, and this inspires others to keep on keeping on … Experience
  • My goal was to have no goal – when the mind was quieting down, the answers came to me … in part it inspired the writing and the formation of Our Young Addicts, find solutions in a place of peace
  • Beyond Been There And Done That – Here Now and Doing This – Real-time Experience
  • Takeaways for Parents:
    • Trust your Mom Radar
      • Check it out
      • Don’t be naïve
    • Create a team, a community
      • Variety of perspectives and experiences
      • It’s going to be a bit of a haul, need support from those who have been there and done that, and from those here and doing this
    • Share the conversation, which creates hope and hope becomes belief – experience, resources, hope
    • Quiet the mind and be open to the possibilities
    • The positive outcomes of this horrific journey in addition to son’s sobriety and recovery, are the relationships, the personal growth, the clarity of purpose… there is a gift in the journey of addiction
  • Dual diagnosis – are there different rules for support? For action? For expectations?
  • Don’t be rigid – recovery perceptions
  • Just as we had perceptions of addiction, we had perceptions of recovery
  • Trust each other
  • It’s OK for Mama to have some wine, if she doesn’t have a substance use condition
  • Diet Coke – addiction, it’s real

In one of my many English courses, I remember someone attributing this quote to Ernest Hemmingway, “I don’t like to write, I like having written.” This says a lot about the discipline of writing and the compulsion to edit. For this and many other reasons, I have never thought that I should edit content for Our Young Addicts – that it should come from the heart and brain to the page, just as it is.

There you have it, just as it is!

Thanks for reading and for your continued support and participation as part of the #OYACommunity.

Midwestern Mama

#TBT – Travel & The Baggage of Remote Parenting

It always seemed like the few times I was out of town for business would be when the dreaded phone calls would come. The ones about an incident with my chemically dependent son.

Midwestern Mama wrote in 2012 about a recent trip that actually went smoothly.

A Real Mom – Travel and the Baggage of Remote Parenting 3-27-11

What a relief!

#TBT – Not Using is Not the Same as Recovering – Relapse in the Making

In spring 2012, Midwestern Mama’s son was not using, but he wasn’t exactly embracing treatment, sobriety or recovery. Here is a column where she explores the concerning pattern, which repeated itself many times through many relapses.

A Real Mom – Not using isn’t same as recovering 3-19-12

Fortunately, in 2014 and continuing forward, my son has embraced sobriety and recovery in a much more encouraging way. We have transitioned from hope to belief!

#TBT – Making Peace With Patterns – Addiction is a Series of Patterns

Early on, Midwestern Mama relied on her “Mom Radar,” which often revealed patterns of addiction. In this column from 2012, she writes about how patterns emerge and change for her young addict.

Real Mom_ Making Peace with Patterns – 3-13-12

Fast forward to August 2015, I must say, I much prefer the positive patterns of my son’s recovery.

#TBT – No Car, No Way – What My Young Addict Wanted

Having a car was a privilege – until Midwestern Mama’s son began using drugs and driving under the influence. It was a turning point when we finally took away the privilege. In this 2012 column, read about the impact of having, or not having, a car during my son’s addiction.

A Real Mom 3-6-12 No car, no way

Three years later, now sober and in recovery, Midwestern Mama’s son is now in his 20s and has regained driving privileges. He’s saving money from his part-time job to buy his own car in the future.

#TBT – Sappy Greeting Cards – For & From Our Young Addict

Throughout our son’s addiction, we made every effort to remain in contact with him and to celebrate family holidays. Often, greeting cards expressed the ideas that we had a hard time saying directly. Midwestern Mama wrote a column in 2012 about some of these cards and the heartwarming, encouraging messages that we exchanged with our son during his addiction.

A Real Mom – Sappy Greetig Cards 2-29-12

What’s on your mind? Guest bloggers tell all.

This summer, Our Young Addicts kicked off guest blog posts on Wednesdays, and it’s become one of our most popular offerings. I’m so glad, because this is the true spirit of community. We alternate between parents, people in recovery who used as young adults, and professionals who work in addiction, treatment and recovery.

Each post offers something substantial – I know these are making a difference in your lives and mine. Together, we are sharing experiences, offering resources and instilling hope.

Browse the recent posts and archives:

  • A Minnesota dad shared what he has learned through his son’s addiction. An Alabama mom wrote about recognizing her daughter’s meth use and then how she learned to shift from enabling to supporting her through treatment and early recovery.
  • Two young men have shared their stories as well. One became addicted to opiates during high school; he is now in recovery and rebuilding his life through work and college. The other wrote a letter to moms and dads telling us things he wished we knew – like we didn’t cause his addiction and that there was nothing we could have told him to make him stop … until he was ready. That one, in particular, resonated with me.
  • The first two of three parts from Drew Horowitz, our addiction and recovery specialist, has focused on his personal journey with addiction as a young adult and how this has shaped his national practice. He also wrote about how to create a successful, youth-centered intervention. I’m looking forward to his third post, which will run on August 12.

In the coming weeks, we have scheduled some truly fantastic posts. One is from a fellow #OYACommunity friend who writes about the impact of addiction on families. She’s become a passionate advocate and is working to create effective community outreach in her hometown in Connecticut.

I’m also excited to run a guest blog post from an author that helped me through some of my son’s early addiction years. My son attended the same treatment center as the author, so I reached out back in 2011 and he provided great encouragement during a particularly trying time. This author now works as an addiction counselor as part of a mental health program in Georgia.

Those are just a few of the guest blog posts that you’ll find in the coming weeks on Our Young Addicts. If you would like to share what’s on your mind, please see our Writers Guidelines – send me a message to schedule a post.

Meanwhile, I’ll be taking a short break next week for some R&R. See you here when I get back, and thanks for your ongoing support of the the #OYACommunity via this blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Midwestern Mama

At Wits End with Your Teen’s Substance Use? The T.E.A.M. Approach is a Better Fit ThanTraditional Intervention for Young Adults

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Today’s guest blog post is by Drew Horowitz, MA, LADC, RAS, CIP, a Twin Cities-based substance use and mental health professional. Welcome to the #OYACommunity, and thank you for sharing part 2 of a 3-part series with our readers.

Recently I had a conversation with a mom from North Dakota, and truthfully, it’s a typical conversation I have with parents all over the country.

The mom asked, “Would you be able to come pick up my 22-year-old son and bring him to treatment in Minnesota?”

“Sure.” I replied. “I would be happy to help your son get the treatment he needs. What day are you thinking?”

Her reply: “Well that’s the thing, he doesn’t exactly want to go nor does he think he has a problem”

“Oooookay,” I said with an extended tone. “Well how exactly do you want this to happen?”

The parent went on to explain her utter exhaustion with her son’s addiction and reported that she and her husband were simply “done.” She wanted her son out ASAP and in a treatment center by the end of the week.

I asked the mother, “Have you tried to encourage your son to seek treatment, and if so what did he say?”

Her words: “I have told him over and over again that he has a serious drug problem and he is not the son we raised”.

Enough said, I understood.

The Traditional Approach to Intervention Doesn’t Work Well with Teens

In previous years, my common response entailed an immediate plan of action to quickly intervene and remove the young adult from the environment. The plan would have been simple, either he would come with me to Minnesota or exit the home and live independently (potentially with police involvement). Additionally, I would have placed the element of fear inside his head, by letting him believe that he either came with me or he positioned himself near death.

Using this traditional approach, I have conducted countless interventions nationwide. Repeatedly, I showed up at homes around the country and informed young adults that they had two choices: A. Go into treatment TODAY or B. live independently on the streets without the support of family or friends.

Addicted or not, almost 80% made the choice to reluctantly enter treatment. Leveraged into a corner, the young adult considers living independently on the streets, however, generally sees that treatment may be a better option.

That being said, it’s almost never a fairy-tale ending.

An extremely high percent of those admissions did not stay sober or even remain in treatment.

Families would call me a few weeks later and ask for help – in complete despair with the rebellious nature of their son or daughter.

A Realization in the Making

Continually, I was saddened by what I was seeing and it personally effected me. I realized that I was not actually providing a beneficial service to families as THEY, the families, were essentially dictating the course of action.

I posed the question to myself, “Shouldn’t it be I, the professional, to provide the family with the best option to support their son or daughter?” I pondered on that thought and knew that there must be a better way to do this!

Launching a New, Improved Approach to Helping Young Adults with Addiction

In August 2014, when I founded Drew Horowitz & Associates, I decided that my method of intervention would change. My objective would be to incorporate a strength-based, empowering approach to intervention.

The new approach is called the “Teen Environmental Advancement Model” (T.E.A.M) and it’s designed to help teenagers and young adults seek treatment for their existing substance use disorder.

It does not use leverage or force to move them into a recovery setting. Instead, this model works to educate people on themselves, identify values and aspirations, draw discrepancy between existing behavior and goals and learn about steps that best position them to be successful in life.

In my professional opinion, it made much more sense to “meet the client where they are at” and guide them through a process to begin understanding the detriment of their behavior. Not only does this model help the individual make their own decision to enter treatment, but also it increases the odds of long-term sobriety.

T.E.A.M. Work (Teen Environmental Advancement Model) 

Let me share the approach with you in with the counselor applies empathy, genuineness, self-disclosure and compassion and in which we continually work to strengthen rapport and alliance with the young person.

  • Preparation: This consists of the counselor gathering information from family and friends regarding the condition of the identified young person. This process helps the counselor come to understand the person of concern.
  • Introducing the idea: The counselor provides a suggested script for families to use when they introduce their loved one with the idea of meeting a counselor. The counselor then coaches parents and other family members on how to answer the person’s questions and address their objections, thereafter helping families overcome those barriers and create a segue for the counselor to meet with the person.
  • Meeting the Young Person: Next, we schedule a first meeting between the person of concern and the counselor. The counselor begins building rapport and establishing trust, taking an empathetic and person-centered approach that differentiates between the people being “sick” versus “bad.”
  • Building Discrepancy: At this point, the counselor meets with the person of concern to help identify goals, aspirations and personal values, continuing throughout to build rapport and validate the person’s thoughts, feelings and frustrations. While encouraging the person to attain their vision, the counselor begins the process of building discrepancy between the ways the person is living versus their values. The counselor methodically works to help the person see that their current behavior isn’t allowing them to be the person they want to be. In most cases, the person of concern starts to become self-aware of their destructive behaviors and agrees with some need for change.
  • Making a Recommendation: Now the counselor recommends a course of action. This involves remaining non-confrontational and compassionate while informing the person that the next step in moving forward and accomplishing their goals entails entering a treatment program of some type. Opposition and frustration are typical responses, to which the counselor reminds the person that by seeking treatment they best position themselves to be successful in life and attain goals. However, the person is never forced into treatment, but instead is encouraged to keep an open mind about the process. It is not uncommon for the person to start at a lower level of care and work up to an in-patient setting.
  • Entering Treatment: The counselor arranges transport to the treatment facility and, in the interim, prepares the person for their treatment experience, investing considerable time in articulating to the person how much courage and strength they’re demonstrating by taking this life-changing step.
  • Moving Forward: At this point, the person of concern is under the care of the treatment provider and it’s critical that they remain on track. Toward that end, the counselor’s role changes to that of a clinical case manager for the person and a family educator for their loved ones. Ideally, the counselor visits the person in treatment weekly or biweekly, depending on the facility’s location.
  • Providing After Care: As primary treatment concludes, the person of concern receives a recommendation for continuing care. The counselor supports the treatment program’s recommendation and encourages the person to follow through, applying intervention tactics and working with the family as needed to ensure that they take the appropriate aftercare steps.
  • Turning it Over: The counselor’s involvement isn’t intended to be long-term. The hope is, after a period of time, the person of concern will no longer be a concern. The counselor defers to the recovery community and encourages the person to lean on their new found community—their sponsor and peers—for ongoing support. That said, the counselor never declines a phone call or meeting request.

Using the T.E.A.M. model, I have seen a massive increase in positive outcomes among young adults: Pleasant goodbyes from home, motivation in treatment to get healthy, abiding by aftercare recommendations and active participation in the recovery process.

In order to be effective with today’s vulnerable young adult population, we must promote autonomy, strength and mutuality. I now leave interventions with a sense of inner peace and hopefulness that I had never experienced in the past. More importantly, our young loved ones and their families are finding a similar inner peace and hopefulness, too.

Drew Horowitz, MA, LADC, RAS, has a vast range of experiences working with addiction and mental health. He gained a wealth of knowledge through his own recovery coupled with extensive training: a master’s level education from the Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction and an undergraduate degree in psychology and human development from Hofstra University. Following a career with several substance abuse and mental health organizations, he formed Drew Horowitz & Associates, LLC, an organization designed to assist young men who struggle to overcome addiction and mental health.

Drew Horowitz, MA, LADC, RAS, CIP
Drew Horowitz, MA, LADC, RAS, CIP
Contact Drew:

http://drewhorowitzassociates.com/

horowitzassociates@gmail.com

651-698-7358

©2015 Our Young Addicts         All Rights Reserved

The Terrific, Not Terrible, Twos!

The blog is two years old today! Thanks for supporting us and being part of the #OYACommunity
The blog is two years old today! Thanks for supporting us and being part of the #OYACommunity

Two years ago today, I stopped talking about a blog, logged on to WordPress.com and made it happen.

For several years, I had been writing some magazine articles and a biweekly newspaper column about parenting our son through his addiction to drugs. It seemed there was a bigger audience, however, so about six months prior to the blog, I began tweeting as @OurYoungAddicts.

There was so much more to share than was possible within 140 characters, and I hoped some of the online audience would follow to the blog. The first posts were primitive at best in terms of layout – just type with a colored background. It was a start and it felt good. From that point forward, the words kept flowing as did the following.

More recently, Our Young Addicts created a logo and focused the content to focus on sharing our experiences, offering resources and instilling hope while continuing to foster a community of parents and professionals who care and are concerned about the young addicts in their lives – no matter where the kid may be in terms of addiction and recovery.

Twitter remains quite active with multiple posts each day and significant engagement through Tweet chats including #AddictionChat on Wednesday evenings at 8 p.m. CT and #CADAChat on Thursday afternoons at 3 p.m. CT. We also post at least once a week on Facebook.

Our deepest content, however, appears on the website and through the blog. Here, we have created and curated resources – with more to come – and Midwestern Mama (that’s me) continues to provide updates on her family.

Our guest blog posts now run on Wednesdays. These alternate from a parent’s perspective, to insights from a person in recovery who actively used as a young adult (as early as tweens through 20s), and to the expertise of an addiction and recovery professional.

There’s more to come as Our Young Addicts grows. Without a doubt, we’re celebrating the terrific twos and are celebrating your support and participation!

Midwestern Mama

©2015 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved