10 Early Warning Signs Of Illicit Drug Use In Teenagers

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The teenage years are a time of great change. Many teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol for the first time during this stage in their lives, while at the same time they experience new emotions and feelings about their bodies. A growing teenager may exhibit strange behavior such as mood swings, outbursts, and other aberrant behavior. During this time of great chance, you may wonder what is going through your teenager’s mind, or whether they are possibly hiding something from you. It’s important that you are able to distinguish between the signs of a normal growing teenager and the signs of a drug or alcohol addiction. Here are some of the signs your teen is using illicit substances.

More Secretive Than Usual

Teens are naturally distrusting of their parents. They don’t want parents to be involved or know what they are doing because they long for independence, so it’s not uncommon for them to crave privacy. However, if you notice that they are repeatedly lying about their whereabouts, adamant that you not enter or clean their room, or attempt to sneak in and out of the house, there may be a problem.

Making Excuses and Lying

As stated above, teens generally don’t want their parents to know what they are up to, but if your teen is chronically lying about their whereabouts or who they are hanging out with, there’s a chance they may be purposely hiding something from you. If they’re chronically missing or making excuses to why they’re late, they could be hiding illicit drug use.

Significant Weight Loss or Gain

During teenage years, the body will undergo a lot of changes, but sudden weight loss or gain is never a natural part of life. If your teen experiences rapid weight loss or chronic loss of appetite, they could be amusing stimulants such as methamphetamines, cocaine, or prescription stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin which suppress the appetite. Alternatively, if they seem to be packing on the weight, they could have a problem with binge drinking, which leaves excess carbs in the body, or binge eating following alcohol or marijuana usage.

Loss of Interest in Old Hobbies

If your teen suddenly abandons a long time interest in something such as a hobby or sport with no apparent explanation, they could be developing a drug addiction. It’s not uncommon for teens to grow out of childhood interests, but if they begin to replace the time they used to spend on their hobbies and interests with time spent doing unknown activities, there may be cause for concern. Addiction tends to swallow up other activities in a person’s life, so watch out for this sign.

Poor Academic Performance

Not everyone is an A student. However, by the time they’ve reached their teenage years, it should be apparent what their academic skills are. If your teen experiences a sudden or significant drop in their grades and academic performance, this could be a serious sign that they may be experimenting with or have a full blown addiction to an illicit substance. Look out for signs such as GPA drops, calls from teachers, and serial tardiness.

Unexplained Spending or Extra Cash

Typically, drugs and alcohol do not come free. If your teenager has a job, they may have disposable income that can go towards paying for illicit substances. If your teenager has a job but seems to spend all their money on unknown activities, this could be a sign they are buying drugs. Alternatively, if your teenager seems to always have unexplained cash, they could be buying and selling drugs to other teenagers. This is usually a big red flag to look out for.

Interest in Drug Culture, Drinking Culture

What kind of music and television shows does your teenager consume? Odds are, if they are a fan of certain artists or characters that advocate a certain lifestyle, they could be experimenting with those substance they see depicted on television and in music. Check out their Netflix history or Spotify library to see what they are tuning in to.

Paranoia, Irritability, Anxiety

Some of the side effects of common drugs that teenagers try include anxiety, paranoia, and irritability. For example, marijuana is known for inducing paranoia and even paranoid delusions. Stimulants cause people to feel intense elation and pleasant feelings, but as a downside they always experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and irritability. If your teenager is drinking at night, they may wake up feeling less than rested, leading to extra irritation during the day.

Unexplained Injuries / Accidents

Unexplained bruises or damage to property such as a car could be a sign that your teenager is engaging in unsafe behavior while under the influence of a substance. Binge drinking increases the risk of someone hurting themselves, as does consuming hallucinogenic substances and operating motor vehicles. If your teen seems to appear with new injuries or cuts, or has a dubious explanation for why they wrecked their car, they could be hiding a substance dependency.

Abandoning Old Friends, Suspicious New Friends

It’s not uncommon for teenagers to shed their childhood friend groups, but if your teen is hanging out with shady characters or older teens, there may be a problem. If your teenager starts to hang out with other teens known for smoking, drinking, or doing other drugs, they may also be experimenting with illicit substances.

GUEST BLOGGER

Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, a drug and alcohol recovery center. He has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years with a new emphasis on recovery. Before his ventures into healthcare, Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After Duke Matthew went on to work for Boston Consulting Group before he realized where his true passion lied within Recovery. His vision is to save a million lives in 100 years with a unique approach to recovery that creates a supportive environment through trust, treatment, and intervention.

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.

 ©2018 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

 

The Drop Off

Each drop off sets me to reflecting on where we’ve been with our kiddo and where we’re heading … or where he’s heading. Last night was no different, and yet it’s as different as it’s ever been.

Let me take this blog post out of the ambiguous and into the specific, and let me catch you up on our family’s journey.

From the time our kids are little, we begin a series of drop offs. Perhaps it includes: Daycare. Preschool. A friend’s house for a sleepover. Camp. College.

Perhaps is the key idea. Perhaps it’s any of the usual, expected places. Perhaps it’s not.

In our case, it’s also included drop offs at treatment for substance use disorder. It’s also included drop offs to nowhere, when our son was homeless or sofa surfing. It’s included additional drop offs at treatment. It’s included drop offs at court for consequences related to use. It’s included drop offs at class and work when he’s had challenges with transportation. It’s included drop offs at his sober living facility.

With each drop off, I’ve embraced the time together catching up, getting a glimpse of where he is these days, and sensing where he’s headed. At 26 years old, he’s not a kid anymore and he’s not a stranger to the challenges of addiction and the possibilities of recovery.

Things are better today than they have been in quite awhile. He’s in recovery, living in a sober home, going to group, attending AA, taking a college class, working part time at a job he enjoys with a mission he embraces, he’s owning up to legal issues that cropped up through an unfortunate series of DUIs, and he’s thinking about his future.

But it’s still a long haul, and each drop off reminds me of the uncertainty ahead. I muster up all my natural positivity and gratitude to realize how far he’s come, how rough the road has been and how much smoother it is now, and yet how much of a road is still before him.

It’s his path. It’s his recovery. It’s his journey. I’m along for some of the ride, but not all of it, and with each ride I cherish our time together. I silently say the Serenity Prayer. And then, with each drop off, I do my best to encourage, to share my love, to hope, to believe.

Rose McKinney aka Midwestern Mama

®2018 Our Young Addicts

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a year

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It’s been a year since we got the text.  “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I can’t stop using and I need to go to treatment.”
For 3 years we’d been struggling with the knowledge that J was using.  We had seen the “evidence.”  An empty bed in the middle of the night.  Missing plastic bottles (where did our hair products go?).  Broken pens.  Knives.  Bowls.  Parts of sockets sets that smelled like weed.  And finally the day before, missing jewelry set aside to sell.  The elephant was in the middle of the room and it finally couldn’t be ignored.  Should I be surprised?  After all we had plenty of addiction in our family.  But could this monster really be in my house?   Surprised but not surprised.
And so we began…this cycle of hope and disappointment.  More hope and more disappointment.  And so it goes.
It’s been a year of judgement.  Most harshly from ourselves.  What did we do wrong?  Maybe we should have disciplined more.  Maybe we disciplined too much.  Maybe we shouldn’t have homeschooled.  Maybe we should have homeschooled longer.  Maybe if we would have taken that trip together….Maybe we shouldn’t have let him playing video games so much when he was younger.  Maybe we should have kept him on that ADHD medication.   Maybe we should have tried more therapy sooner.   Judgement from others (real or perceived).   They didn’t teach him to say “no” to himself when he was young.  They were too permissive.  They weren’t consistent enough.  They were too strict.  They should have kept him from “those” friends.  They should have insisted that he hang out more with the “good” kids.  They should have never let him get those earrings.  They should have let him express himself more.  They should put him in this treatment, not that one.  Oh, addiction is a sin matter and should be treated that way.  He was genetically predestined from birth and he really didn’t have a prayer against the monster.
It’s been a year of waiting, wondering and praying.  Waiting for help.  Waiting for insurance.  Waiting for a bed in rehab.  Waiting for J to “decide” if he really wants to recover.  Waiting for him to come home at night.  Wondering if he is going to come home.  Praying that we don’t get a call from the police yet in a weird way praying that we will.  Praying that he’ll have some sort of wake up call.  And mostly waiting on God.  Waiting on him to pierce J’s heart.  Waiting for Him to open doors.  Waiting for Him to show us the next right decision.  Waiting for change.  In J’s life.  In my life.  Waiting.
It’s been a year of learning.  Learning that “you didn’t cause it, you chan’t change it and you can’t control it.”  Learning all the “treatment jargon.”  Detachment with love.  Letting go.  Learning way to much about THC levels, benzo’s, mollies, tar, salts and all the names of the various drugs and pills, what the police can and can’t do, juvenile courts, drug courts, public defenders, county attorney’s and judges.  Learning the in’s and out’s of insurance.   Learning about recovery, enabling and co-dependance. Learning that there are still so many misconceptions about addiction and trying to figure out what is truth and what isn’t.  Learning that’s it’s o.k. some days to sit on the couch and cry and not be able to get off of it.    Learning how to hold my tongue.  Learning that I don’t need to be right all the time.  Learning that I am right sometimes.  Learning how to set boundaries.   Learning that I have my own “stuff” I have to deal with.
Mostly it’s been a year of healing and growing.  Understanding that I can’t support anyone else unless I take care of myself.  Believing that I need to “recover”  and work my own “program.”  Sitting at the Lords feet every day, crying out to Him, sometimes in joy, mostly in desperation.   Listening as he whispers to me words of comfort and truth and power.  Soaking in the presence of my savior and accepting, truly accepting for the first time how much HE loves me.  Seeing others through the eyes of our Savior with love and compassion.  Loving the unloveable.  Forgiving the unforgivable.  And hoping when there is not hope.  Understanding that I am not God and completely and utterly giving up any notion of control to him.   Surrender.  Truly surrendering.  Laying it all at the cross.  My life.  My son’s life.  Because it is all I have to give and I have given it all.
We are here now.  A year down the road.  J is no more recovered then he was 365 days and 6 rehabs ago.   But I have changed.  Transformed really.   Today I have love.  Today I have joy.  And today I have hope.  Not in J’s recovery.  That may or may not come.  But I have hope in the great knowledge that we can grow and we can change and God’s not finished with me yet.
Pam wrote this blog 5 years ago.  Just for today, gratefully, her son is sober and working a program.

 

Pam Lanhart 

Director

Thrive! Family Support

612.554.1644

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.
©2018 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

What Parents Can Do If They Notice Signs of a Relapse in Their Recovering Teen

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Having a teenager in this day and age is hard work. As a parent, there are so many things to think about as your child begins to move into high school and beyond. You worry about him driving, whether or not he fits in, if he’ll do his homework and how peer pressure will affect him.

Sadly, a lot of teens these days turn to drugs and alcohol at a young age. When your child experiments with drugs and winds up addicted, it can be a very disheartening experience. From there, all you can do is try your best to support him in getting the help he needs.

teen info graphic

If you’re lucky enough to get your teen into treatment and recovery, the next phase is helping him remain sober.

This is no easy task. It takes patience and empathy to support a teenager who has battled addiction.

As parents, it’s important to be as educated as possible about the potential for relapse. Here’s what to look for and how to respond if you suspect your teen has relapsed.

What Are the Signs of Relapse?

The first thing you should understand about relapse is that it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that builds up over time in three stages: emotional, mental and physical.

Relapse usually begins with emotional states that may be very subtle, yet still very triggering. As it moves into the mental stage, your child may think about using or drinking and become aware of these thoughts. Finally, she gives into her emotions and thoughts, and the actual (physical) relapse occurs.

Relapse signs to watch out for include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger or frustration
  • Mood changes or irritability
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Isolation and not being social with friends
  • Withdrawing and disengaging from family gatherings
  • Verbally romanticizing about using, saying things like she wishes she could take the edge off or it would be nice to escape
  • Demonstrating shaky behaviors, such as being dishonest or wanting to hang out with old friends you’ve identified as bad influences
  • Asking to visit places that may be a trigger, such as concerts, music festivals or house parties
  • Rationalizing or displaying extreme confidence, perhaps saying she’s okay now and “has things under control”

Keep in mind that the stages and signs of relapse are like dominoes that can quickly lead your child into a place where she picks up substances again because she’s built it up in her mind as the right thing to do.

What Should You Do If You Notice Signs of a Relapse in Your Recovering Teen?

First of all, don’t just assume that, once your child enters into recovery or returns from treatment, all is well and the addiction is over.

Recovery is a daily practice and needs ongoing monitoring. This means you need to keep a very close eye on your teen and maintain open lines of communication.

If your child begins to show signs of relapse, it can be frightening and overwhelming, as you may not be sure how to handle it. The best thing to do is remain calm while you work through your valid concerns. Start by realizing that you are not helpless and can head off a relapse before it happens.

Next, take action by speaking candidly to your teenager. Ask him how he feels, what kinds of thoughts he’s having and how you can support him. This step can be tricky, as you don’t want to interrogate him or make him feel like you’re angry with him. Take a non-aggressive approach by initiating a healthy conversation with your teen about what’s going on so you can work together to find a resolution.

It’s also a good idea to involve a therapist trained in recovery aftercare or speak to your teen’s treatment center about aftercare services it offers.

“One of the biggest changes in our lives has been the repairing of relationships within our family.” – Katie D. shares on her daughters recovery journey with Heroes in Recovery.

Often, relapse signs mean your teen may not be integrating back into normal life as easily as he had hoped and may be struggling to find a sense of routine or comfort.

Stay active in encouraging him, and be as compassionate to his needs as possible. Remember, your recovering teen can always get back on track, return to recovery and seek more help if he needs it, as long as you stay vigilant.

Carly Benson, a writer for The Life Challenge
As an avid traveler, yogi & confessed self-help junkie, Carly writes about her adventures in life & sobriety on www.MiraclesAreBrewing.com where she offers inspirational concepts & coaching for recovery, faith & living an intentional life.

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

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Right Reserved

500 Days Sober

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My day job is running a business. My night job is teaching communications courses at a local university. And my passion job is building the OYA Community. One of my students recently shared her story with me and I’m sharing it with you today because Nov. 4 is 500 days of sobriety for Kayla Fosse! MWM

Reading Midwestern Mama’s blog post about the three R’s (Recovery, Relapse, and Ready) in regards to addiction definitely hit home for me, as my story includes all three. When I meet new people now, the look on their faces when I tell them I’m in recovery is always one of shock. I’m an attractive, outgoing, responsible 24-year old-woman, and it surprises everyone to learn that I suffered (still suffer) from an addiction to alcohol.

In July 2014 I lost my job because I got drunk and didn’t show up. I was newly 21 and I just wanted to party with my friends.

I brushed it off, used my bubbly personality to get a new job, and kept drinking.

In November 2014 I totaled my car under the influence of alcohol, taking out another car in the process. It was a frigid Tuesday afternoon, and for some reason the cops didn’t suspect anything. There were no consequences, so I kept drinking. In January 2015 I lost that new job because again, I got drunk and didn’t show up. Two days later, after an encounter with an ex-boyfriend, I went on my first (but not last) three-day drinking bender which ended up landing me in my first (again, but not last) detox, with a whopping .33 BAC.

It was a mandatory 72-hour hold, due to the fact that in my blackout state of mind, I threatened suicide.

During those three days I was urged to go directly to an impatient treatment program and start on anti-depressants. Instead, I got out and continued drinking.

In just 8 months I was hired and fired three times. I would shut myself in my basement with a bottle of alcohol and stay there for days. I suffered withdrawals when I stopped drinking; insomnia, night sweats, and brain zaps were becoming normal for me.

I had graduated from drinking and driving to drinking WHILE driving and I had mastered the one-eye-shut technique, always managing to make it home.

Until September anyway, when my actions finally caught up to me and I was charged with DWI in the third degree – having blown .24, three times the legal limit.

I spent two nights in jail before I was released on an at-home alcohol monitor. I thought I could “beat the system” and still drink at certain times. I was wrong, of course, and due to my violation of probation, I got picked up on a warrant. I spent six days in jail before being released. Due to my violation, and my mom’s admission to the judge that I was a severe alcoholic, court didn’t go well and I was given the condition that I couldn’t drink alcohol. I used this excuse as to why I wasn’t drinking, often complaining to people who asked about my “bullshit” probation conditions, making promises to throw a huge party when I got off and was able to get drunk again.

I was angry, at first, but after being sober for a few months I started to see glimpses of my old self again.

I had gotten hired at a new job that I absolutely loved, I was making great money and paying off all of my fines, as well as setting up old debt payments. (A lot of bills pile up when you spend all of your money on alcohol). I was working out regularly.

I was spending more time with family that I had spent a long time shutting out.

The puffiness in my face was gone, my hair was shiny again and my skin wasn’t dry and cracked anymore. This lasted six months exactly, before I decided that I wasn’t on probation’s radar and drinking a few beers here and there wouldn’t hurt.

I thought I could keep it under control.

But, as I’m sure most relapse stories go, I couldn’t keep it under control very long.

A few beers turned into 7. Then I added in hard liquor, and before long I was on another drinking bender. This time it lasted an entire week, resulting in the loss of the job I loved so much. I was ashamed and embarrassed, wondering why I was the way I was. My manager urged me to go to treatment, telling me that if I completed a program he’d give me my job back.

So, on June 22, 2016 I woke up and decided I could never drink again. This time, I was actually ready.

I completed a six-week outpatient treatment program, learning a lot in the process. The room was filled with men and women in their forties and fifties, who all pointed at me and said, “If I had figured this out when I was 23, I wouldn’t be here today.” This was motivation for me. These people had lost their children, freedom, houses, and careers. I didn’t want to be like that. I wasn’t like them. I had a great childhood, a big, supportive family, and plenty of amazing friends. I was ready to stop with the excuses and own my problem.

Now, if people ask why I’m not drinking, I’m honest and say that I can’t control myself when I drink and I’m better off without it.

Honesty is the biggest thing I’ve learned in recovery. Owning your actions, admitting your faults, and asking for forgiveness. I used to lie so much. “I’m just going to a friend’s tonight.” “I’ve only had one beer.” “I won’t be able to make it into work today because my car won’t start.” While I don’t work any type of program, I do follow the “one day at a time” mantra. I lay my head on my pillow every night and thank God that I didn’t drink alcohol that day.

November 4 will be 500 days sober, and while I’m sure my friends and family are proud of me, I’m the most proud.

I love the person that I am today. I went back to school, and I’ll graduate in April 2018. I’m fixing my credit score. I’m healthy. I’ve more than accepted the fact that I’m just someone who can’t drink alcohol, and I’m happy to share my story.

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

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

 

Just because we saw it coming, doesn’t mean we could stop it.

We’ve seen our son relapse before. That time, his recovery was short and shaky at best, but he went through the motions. He tried to go too fast in returning to work and he thought he could use marijuana and alcohol recreationally. The relapse was quick and deep rendering him homeless again; however, within a few months it led him to a new treatment program and a period of nearly three-and-a-half years free from opioid use.

This time, the period of sobriety and recovery was steady. He participated in a 12-week, high-intensity out-patient program; began MAT, went in daily at first and graduated to weekly; saw his counselor regularly – the same one for three years; saw a mental-health professional for the first year; got and held a job; got his own insurance; earned tuition; returned to college, got straight A’s, earned his associates degree in mathematics and was accepted for a B.A. program. Moreover, he rebuilt trust with the family. Still, he struggled with social anxiety, depression and developing friendships.

Things started to shift and in spite of our efforts to be supportive, to address things directly but compassionately, a relapse begin. We saw it coming. We wished we could stop it. We did try to the extent that anyone can. Almost 11 months later, he’s lucky to be alive and to once again pursue recovery. What a rocky year, but what a hopeful outcome in the making.

Although I’ve updated the OYA Community from time to time this year, it hasn’t been as real-time or detailed as years past, so today I compiled a list of what we’ve experienced thus far in 2017.

The list that follows reflects just some of the things we observed. On the surface, some of these seem like not big deal or something that you could explain or rationalize. In reality, each represents a change in his sober behavior and that’s what concerned us most.

Right around the first of the year … January 2017

  • Going to bed early – even before 7 p.m.
  • Getting up early – leaving the house by 4:30 a.m. “to go to the gym and study before his 8 a.m. class.”
  • Taking frequent, deep-sleep naps.
  • Retreating to the basement to re-watch episodes of TV series he’d already watched several times.
  • Playing video games at home.
  • Taking extraordinarily long showers.
  • Saying he’s no longer able to study at home.
  • Becoming less and less conversational.
  • Not interacting or participating in family life.
  • Spending less time at home.
  • Air fresheners in the car and leaving the windows cracked open.
  • Finding lighters.
  • Finding wine-bottle openers.
  • Not wanting to travel out of town for spring break.
  • Keeping secret a romantic interest.
  • Falling asleep at the girlfriend’s house and not letting us know he wouldn’t be home.
  • Skipping a day of classes and science labs to hang out with the girl.
  • Not responding to text messages and phone calls from Mom and Dad.
  • Not wanting to talk about “it” let alone “anything.”
  • Spending more and more time with one of his former using buddies.
  • Going shopping and buying expensive clothes and shoes.
  • Arguing about the positive attributes of cannabis.
  • Self-medicating with cannabis including marijuana and cdb oil to combat anxiety and depression.
  • Going out drinking with coworkers.
  • Not communicating his whereabouts or schedule.
  • Not coming home night after night.
  • Finding pipes, a large quantity of marijuana, cbd crystals, wine and vodka bottles in the car.
  • Family meeting with his counselor.
  • Says he’s relieved he no longer has to keep his cannabis use a secret.
  • Blatantly not following the family rules.
  • Going cold turkey off Suboxone without tapering or utilizing the support of his treatment team.
  • Experiencing withdrawal.
  • Admitting he’s spending all day, every day staying high on marijuana.
  • Waking and baking, every day.
  • Not wanting to celebrate his 25th
  • Not opening his cards or presents.
  • Not eating any home-made cake.
  • Ignoring the dog.
  • Continuing to experience PAWS.
  • Getting a prescription for anxiety meds, but quitting these three days later.
  • Dropping out of his college classes and not making arrangements to apply his hard-earned tuition to a future semester.
  • Going on a bender that landed him a two-day stay in detox due to public intoxication with a BAC of .26.
  • Missing work.
  • Losing his job.
  • Not coming home or responding to calls and texts for a whole week.
  • Coming home, handing us his car keys and wallet, asking us to hold onto these for a while.
  • Visiting his cousin at rehab and noting, “he’s in denial and not ready for recovery.”
  • Five days later, going on another bender.
  • Smashing his car into a guard rail.
  • Getting arrested for DWI.
  • Refusing to take a breathalyzer.
  • Staying in jail for 48 hours.
  • Meeting with a DWI attorney.
  • Getting a voluntary chemical health assessment, but not acting on recommendations to go to treatment.
  • Enrolling in the state’s ignition-interlock program.
  • Interviewing and getting offered a new job.
  • Taking an Uber, instead of driving, to hang out with friends.
  • Not coming home that night.
  • Not showing up on the first day of his new job.
  • Drunk dialing and texting people.
  • Walking home 7 miles in the rain because his phone was dead.
  • Ringing the doorbell early on Sunday morning because he lost his keys.
  • Scrapes and scratches on his face.
  • Less than 48 hours later, heading out on another bender.
  • Sitting by the mudroom door the next morning.
  • Losing the spare set of car keys, the extra house key and his phone.
  • No memory whatsoever of where he had been – said he woke up on a park bench not far from home.
  • Agreeing to another chemical health assessment.
  • Not liking but agreeing to inpatient, dual-diagnosis treatment.
  • Waiting, waiting, waiting for a bed to open.
  • Hanging in the basement watching TV and playing video games.
  • Sleeping a lot.
  • Unable to start his car due to it detecting alcohol in his system.

Finally, riding with his dad to treatment two hours from home … October 27, 2017.

Welcoming us on family night … November 1, 2017.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

The Newest, Most Dangerous Drugs You Need to Know About

apothecary

Stay in the know about emerging drug trends so you can talk to your family and friends about the dangers these present. This week’s guest blogger lists new and emerging drugs and how each is being used.

Illicit drug use is a major health problem in the United States for adolescents and young adults. It’s very helpful to be aware of emerging drug trends, whether you’re a parent, teacher, law enforcement or the medical community. When you know what drugs are available illegally, you can talk to those you love about the dangers.

Although some of these emerging dangerous drugs are only available in specific locations, illegal substances have the tendency to spread quickly into major cities then into rural areas. Don’t think that your town is not vulnerable.

Carfentanil

  • This drug is making its way onto the street scene, even though it was never created for human use. It is easy and cheap to make, but 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Some dealers are passing it off as heroin. Handle carfentanil carefully, because it is easily absorbed through the skin or can be accidentally inhaled. 

Fentanyl

  • A strong opiate, fentanyl is often used in surgery recovery for breakthrough pain. The difference between a therapeutic dose or an overdose is very small. Although fentanyl has been on the market since the 1970s, it’s beginning to be more available on the street. Sometimes, it’s called “China White.” New analogues of fentanyl have been identified and are very dangerous.

Grey Death

  • Authorities are puzzled as to the makeup of Grey Death, but they do know that it can kill in small doses. It looks like concrete mixing powder, but the ingredients change from batch to batch. Metro Atlanta was a major hot spot, but the drug is on the radar of Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania state and local officials.

Counterfeit Oxycodone

  • One of the most recent alerts from NIH is from Iowa authorities, who are seeing a rise of synthetic opioids. This analogue resembles oxycodone, but contains fentanyl and U-47700 which makes it much more dangerous than oxycodone alone.

Bath salts, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Vanilla Sky

  • Bath salts are a synthetic form of cathinone, a stimulant in the khat plant. The chemical makeup of cathinone is similar to amphetamines or Ecstasy, but man-made synthetics are much stronger than the natural product. Bath salts resemble their name and are sometimes mislabeled as plant food or jewelry cleaner to get past law enforcement. Bath salts cause severe intoxication and have dangerous side effects.

U-47700 or Pink

  • This synthetic opioid gets its name from its pinkish color and is deadly and more potent than morphine. Even in small doses, this drug is toxic. Pink has no approved medical use and is highly addictive. It’s available to purchase over the internet, generally from China. Sometimes, it is mislabeled as a research chemical to avoid detection by law enforcement.

Synthetic cannabinoids

  • In 2016, New York officials issued an advisory concerning K2 or Spice as it is commonly known, but it has many different street names, such as Red Giant, Ice Dragon, Kick and more. Fake weed is chemically related to THC, but is often much more powerful. The effects are unpredictable. Many deaths have occurred from overdoses. It is suspected that some of the products might be laced with other dangerous chemicals.

Author Byline

danDan Gellman is the director of  High Focus Centers, a provider of outpatient substance abuse and psychiatric treatment programs in New Jersey.

 

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.
©2017 Our Young Addicts All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Learn the Language of Addiction & Recovery

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

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

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

A D D I C T I O N  – A R Y

Check it out.

MWM

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

Still Letting Go

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

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

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

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

Letting Go by Sandra E. McBride

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

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

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

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

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

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions about Thrive! Family Support?

Contact Pam Lanhart, Director (612) 554- 1644

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.
©2017 Our Young Addicts All Rights Reserved.

What Parents Should Know About Heroin

heroin

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

The Danger of Heroin Is Not Attractive


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

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

Who Uses Heroin and What Does It Do?

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

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


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

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

What Are Substance Abuse and Addiction?

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

CNN article about heroin chic:

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

About the Author:

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

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.
©2017 Our Young Addicts All Rights Reserved.

Car Keys

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

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

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

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

*Read The Third R blog post for details.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

 

 

The Third R

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MWM

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

3 Signs Your Child May be Struggling with Addiction

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

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

Watch for these signs:

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

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

3 Ways You Can Help

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

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

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

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

Author Byline

Daniel Gellman

Dan Gellman is the Director for High Focus Centers, a provider of outpatient substance abuse and psychiatric treatment programs in New Jersey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.
©2017 Our Young Addicts All Rights Reserved.

The Dog Knows

Our family dog is the best-ever LADC (licensed alcohol and drug counselor). This rescue mutt came to us in early 2013. He was 14 weeks old and 19 pounds. 

Little did we know what a prominent role he would play in our family – particularly in our son’s life as he lives through addiction, sobriety, recovery and relapse.

At the time, our son was 19 and he was deep on his addiction path. 

Although I had hope, I realistically knew that tragedy was a distinct possibility.

 He was bouncing between living at home, sofa surfing and being homeless.

He was every bit as much in need of rescue as our sweet puppy.

Watching our son meet and interact with the puppy was pure delight. His heart showed. A smile returned. A tenderness came forth. Although he was struggling, he always had a few minutes to play with the puppy, take him outside to go potty and take him for walks around the neighborhood.

It was a bright spot for all of us to observe the bond and it was a reminder that there was a happier, healthier young man waiting to emerge from addiction.

It didn’t happen right away, of course, and even when he decided to go to treatment about a year later it also included a devastating and rapid relapse that once again reminded us how fragile addiction renders its young adults.

Later that year, he would decide again to pursue treatment, sobriety and recovery. This time it took. Our son was three years free from opiate use in July 2017. During this time, he got a job, earned money to return to college and got straight A’s in his classes.

Through it all, the family dog was his constant companion giving new meaning to the cliche “man’s best friend.”

They spent many hours together. The love between the two warmed our hearts, and each one thrived in many ways.

But then there was a shift. Tiny at first, but unsettling. Then another shift, and then another and another.

Here we are eight months later. Our son’s personality – characterized by attitude, mood and behavior – has changed significantly.

We’re all too familiar with his current state and fear the direction it’s headed.

Exaggeration? No. It’s a pattern we recognize, a pattern we’ve experienced before, a pattern we do not welcome but that we must acknowledge regardless. It’s no longer just mom’s and dad’s radar, it’s the dog’s too.

Without a doubt, the dog knows. He waits by the mudroom door.

When will my guy return he wonders. When are we going for an adventure he wonders. When will we hang out together he wonders. Why is my guy always sleeping when he’s home? Why won’t he talk nicely with Mom and Dad? Why didn’t he celebrate his birthday? Why do I see his car down the street instead of coming home? Why did he come home and go right to his room? Why did he leave in the middle of the night? Will he come back?

The routine has changed, and our dog doesn’t understand. He doesn’t want to eat. He just wants to wait for his guy and get back to the sober, recovery days.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved

 

The Birthday Cake

Homemade chocolate cake with caramel frosting. That’s become the family birthday cake of choice. Year after year for all three kids. That’s the cake.

One year our middle son wondered if we could add an ice-cream layer. A tall order, but Mom figured it out. When our daughter became a vegan, Mom even figured out how to adapt the recipe. Gluten-free?  No problem. Cupcakes instead of layer cake? Yep, can do. Whatever the family needed or wanted, our traditional birthday cake has marked each and every birthday.

This year, our middle son is struggling – with depression, with anxiety, with cannabis use (including marijuana and CDB oil) as a means to self medicate, and he’s decided to quickly taper off Suboxone for his opioid-use disorder.

He’s in a mood, and yesterday’s birthday was no exception.

It’s a concerning observation after three years of recovery and getting his life back in order. Sure, it’s summer, so maybe things will come back into routine and alignment once his college classes start up again next week. I fear I am just hoping, pretending, not wanting this to be relapse, a return to use, not wanting this to be the slippery slope.

But this is a slippery slope and it’s one we’ve watched our son go down before. Even though we can see it, we can’t prevent this 25 year old from going near the edge and possibly slipping and sliding.

As I made the cake a day ahead, in preparation for the busy work week, I told my husband I was feeling sad because I knew I was making a cake for someone who didn’t really want a cake this year. We talked about how the cake is not just for the birthday boy, but also for all the family and friends who celebrate his life. The cake is a symbolic reminder of how much we love the person who is part of our lives and how much we look forward to the year ahead.

The birthday morning arrived and our son wandered down the street to his friend’s house where he spent the better part of the day. When he came home around dinner time, he went upstairs, showered and went to bed. A few hours later, he took the dog for a walk, and when he returned we said Happy Birthday.

Thanks, he said. Then he told us we could go on without him. It’s just another day, he said. He didn’t open his cards or presents. He didn’t say another word. He just went back upstairs and went to bed.

There sat the beautiful cake. This year’s version was a slight variation – salted caramel, butter cream frosting. Dad, younger brother and I just sat there and salivated for a piece of cake but with a sudden lack of appetite. Although there were no candles on the cake, it felt like someone blew out the candles before we even began singing Happy Birthday. It just felt empty, sad, lonely.

It felt wrong to cut the cake without the birthday boy.

But it also felt wrong not to. So we did, and yes it was delicious but it was anything but satisfying.

Rationally, we know our son is in pain and suffering.

We know he needs help and needs our support. From experience, we know that we can’t just expect it or control it so our gift to him is unconditional love and support. Just like the birthday cake, it is the gift he gets even if he doesn’t want it right now.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts      All Rights Reserved

 

Dear Parents…

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

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Dear Parents,

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Who are these kids?

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

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

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

 

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

 

Different Children, Similar Messages

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author:

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

 

 

 

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

©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

suffering,

I’m lucky though. I got help.

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

I was part of that half.

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

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

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

That’s why we created Marbles.

 

 

About the Author:

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

 

 

 

 

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

©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And…it’s not anyone’s fault.

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

An overemphasis on outcomes

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

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

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

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

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

The devaluation of hard work

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

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

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

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

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

The wrong goal

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

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

We thought it wasn’t ok to feel bad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can we do about it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you,

Adam

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

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About the Author:  

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

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

©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.