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

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

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

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

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

Midwestern Mama

© 2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved

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#SoberSummer kicks off for 2016

Certain tunes and lyrics get stuck in my head. One of these is the theme-song from the Disney series Phineas and Ferb, a delightful cartoon about making the most of summer vacation by having fun every day:

 There’s 104 days of summer vacation

And school comes along just to end it

So the annual problem for my generation

Is finding a good way to spend it.

It reminds me of my youngest son’s  innocence amid the chaos of his older brother’s addiction.

As we near Memorial Day – the unofficial kick off to summer – it’s time to bring back the Our Young Addicts #SoberSummer campaign. Each day from Memorial Day through Labor Day, Our Young Addicts will post substance-use prevention tips for parents, professionals and other adults of influence.

Please follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Linked in, by liking, sharing, retweeting and quoting these tips. Use the #SoberSummer hashtag. And, by all means, share your tips with us and we’ll incorporate these into our postings – after all, we have 104 days of summer to fill!

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts    All Rights Reserved

New Content Debuts – The week ahead on Our Young Addicts

We’re getting exceptional feedback about Our Young Addicts, and it has spurred Midwestern Mama to create and curate additional content for parents and professionals who care and are concerned about young people in their lives who are using drugs and alcohol.

Here’s a quick overview of what’s coming up this week, and in the weeks ahead, for Our Young Addicts on the blog and on Twitter.

Mondays or Tuesdays will generally feature an update from Midwestern Mama

I’ll continue to share with you what’s going on in our family as our son nears his 11th month of sobriety and recovery.

Wednesdays will now feature Guest Blog posts

On Wednesday, we will kick off a weekly series of Guest Blog posts from parents, addiction professionals and young people in recovery.

  • Wednesday, June 10: Our first guest blogger is a dad with a son in recovery. He’ll share what he’s learned through this experience and the changes he learned to make as part of it.
  • Wednesday, June 17: Next up, our guest blogger is a young man in recovery from opiate addiction that started as a result of  a high school sports injury. Now, this young man is back in college and has a job he enjoys.
  • Wednesday, June 24: We’ll start a three-part series with a professional who works with families through their kids’ treatment and recovery.

Thursdays are #TBT – Throw Back Thursday

Thursdays, we’ll continue with #TBT – Throw Back Thursday – featuring a previous column from the St. Paul Pioneer Press or from this blog. There is merit in looking back and realizing the extent of this journey, including its ups and downs. It really provides perspective on where we are today and what’s possible tomorrow.

 #SoberSummer Continues Daily on Twitter

On Twitter, we’ll continue our #SoberSummer tips, and I encourage you to share some tips of your own as well as checking out our Resource pages. Click around on the site to find resources for parents and professionals on a growing number of topics.

Thanks for reading, commenting and most importantly for being part of the #OYACommunity.

Midwestern Mama

©2015 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

School’s Out for Summer – Overcoming Addiction

After a successful return to college, Midwestern Mama’s son is taking a break from classes this summer with plans to return in the fall. Without the structure and routine of classes, homework and studying, how will he spend his time this summer?

School's Out for Summer

Three things have undermined my son’s experience with overcoming addiction: time on his hands, boredom and money. When one or more of these has been present, his drug use would take control. Now, 10 months sober he is learning to work through these- even though summer without college classes could present a challenge.

During Addiction:

Time: When very little interests you, even amid commitments like school, sports and a part-time job, you end up with a lot of time on your hands. When you no longer have to go to school and you don’t have sports or a job, then you sit around a lot. Sitting around leads to boredom.

Boredom: More than anything, my son has been living with boredom most of his life. Before drugs, he would easily get bored even with seemingly exciting things to engage his interest. No matter what, I can’t solve this for him. Even in his sobriety, not much interests him. He craves excitement, yet nothing ever seems to capture his attention for long.

He cites boredom as one of the main reasons he was curious to try marijuana as a teenager. It wasn’t peer pressure or wanting to fit it; it was curiosity. For a while, it certainly seemed that marijuana was his interest, his obsession really. Until, it wasn’t and then he was on to other drugs like opiates. Until, it was addiction and consequences, which controlled his ability or ambition to stop.

Money: From the time he was a little kid, money burned a hole in his pocket. At first, it was altruistically – putting all his birthday money in the donation jar at the zoo. Later, it was impulsively for instant gratification – buying a game or toy immediately and discovering it wasn’t as much fun as he thought it was going to be.

During addiction, having money from a part-time job meant he could fund his habit instead of saving for college (even though that wasn’t the agreement). Getting a tax refund meant, spending it on drugs. Getting gift cards meant selling these for drugs.

During Sobriety & Recovery:

Since going through treatment last summer and committing to sobriety and recovery during the past 10 months, he’s successfully addressed two out of three of these items – time on his hands and money.

Time: The treatment program plus part-time college classes and part-time job have filled his time while still allowing him the downtime that he needs to get through each day. However, with school out, he now has four days a week where he doesn’t have a time commitment. He’d like to increase his work schedule to cover the available hours and to earn more money for things like tuition in the fall and buying a car.

Money: The part-time job has helped him pay off debts incurred during addiction and has given him spending cash to buy some new clothes, get presents for family members on their birthdays, go to a movie, etc. Because he has set some goals such as school in the fall and getting a car, he seems more committed to saving money instead of spending it as impulsively as in the past.

Boredom: This remains the kicker. He still goes through the motions without a lot of zest or interest – save for the family dog. He doesn’t have much of a social life. This is the piece that’s been on my mind. At least with school schedule over the past semester, he had built in commitment and now he’s just got the part-time job …which means could have time on this hands and money … which means????

Time will tell. We’ve had a few conversations about the new routine. In the past, these conversations would have gone nowhere, and although I don’t have a sense what what’s going to happen I am more confident than ever before that he’s aware of the triggers and will come through with a plan that works for him. Silly me, I just wish I knew what it was! #SoberSummer

Midwestern Mama

P.S. Just as we headed into the Memorial Day weekend, my son completed an application to transfer from community college to a bachelor’s degree program at a local university. In doing so, he had to secure a transcript (albeit a blank one) from the college he briefly attended after high school; there was a hold on his account due to a fine for underage drinking and for possession of marijuana in the dorms – one of the pivotal lows of his addiction and the one that got him kicked out. Now four and a half years later, he paid this and signed up for extra hours at work to cover the expense. How far he’s come this year!

#SoberSummer – With School Coming to a Close, Schedules & Mindsets are Soon to Change

It’s almost summer and without the structure of school it may trigger substance use. Join #OYACommunity for tips on a #SoberSummer for our kids.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer. Kids may have a few weeks left in school, but a major shift in mindset and in schedules is about to take place, and it can trigger substance use. Now is the time for parents and other adults of influence to help our kids have a #SoberSummer.

Over the next few weeks, let’s share tips and resources. Check out #OYACommnity on Twitter, Facebook and here on the blog for ideas. One of the many fantastic resources is The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. In addition to the FREE help line for parents (below), the website is full of resources including conversation guides.

If you’re concerned about your child, do not hesitate to call The Parents Toll-Free Helpline – 1-855-DRUGFREE – (1-855-378-4373) Mon.-Fri. – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST. If you are in need of immediate or emergency services, call 911 or a 24-hour crisis hotline.

Our middle kid tells us that his first use was marijuana during the summer between junior and senior years of high school. It was with a kid a year older who lived down the street. Although we had our hunches – Mom Radar as I call it — it wasn’t for about another six months before we definitively discovered his drug use and it was a lot more than pot.

He went from experimenting to abusing to addiction in a relatively short period of time and it has taken years of consequences for him to get on the path to recovery. That is why I advocate becoming aware of the signs of substance use and then taking action.

With summer upon us, let’s join together to make this a #SoberSummer for our kids.

Midwestern Mama