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.

The News No One Wants

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Wednesday afternoon, I learned that one of the kids my son used to hang out with (aka use drugs with) has died. He was 22, just a year younger than #SoberSon. I don’t have any of the details and do not know the young man’s parents, yet I feel very connected to them because we have been on parallel paths.

Less than two years ago, before sobriety and recovery, we feared our family might get that horrific news, the news no one wants. That’s just how fragile addiction rendered his life. Hope existed, but it was dwindling. We knew that such a tragedy was a distinct possibility, an unfortunate reality.

Because we knew it could happen – it happens all too often with our young addicts – it makes these lost lives all the more sobering for me. (And for another time, I’ll talk more about my commitment to overdose prevention and why families and friends need to have life-saving naloxone.)

This past fall, my son had asked it if would be OK to drive over to this kid’s house. Word had it the kid was leaving the next day for a treatment program in another state. They hadn’t really been in touch since my son’s recovery, but he wanted to wish him well and offer encouragement that treatment is a smart decision. The kid wasn’t home but my son was able to talk with the dad for a few minutes.

I remember all the hope that families feel when a loved one goes to treatment, and rightly so. Treatment is a positive step forward. It is a move away from addiction toward recovery. It just isn’t always a one-and-done experience as we learned with our son – it can take more than one go until there is a true readiness.

Again, I don’t know the specific circumstances or scenario with this particular kid. I just know that my heart goes out to the kid’s family and friends.

Later this evening, my son will be home from school and working out at the gym. I don’t know if he will have heard the news because he’s truly cut himself off from the old crowd. This is not the first of his friends to die, but it is certainly one too many.

I hug my son every day. I will most certainly be hugging him tonight. Hugs, not drugs. Right? It just seems like the right cliche for this post.

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

Browse the recent posts and archives:

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

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

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

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

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

Midwestern Mama

#TBT – The First Four Columns on Parenting a Young Addict

Midwestern Mama started writing about her son’s addiction in November 2011. Even in the throes of chaos, she wanted to share experiences, resources and hopes for parents and professionals. #TBT will feature past columns.

Throw Back Thursday or #TBT is an online phenomenon. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the past, and hopefully gain perspective on the present. I’ve decided to post some of the early columns that I wrote for the St. Paul Pioneer Press that chronicle our family’s experience with parenting a young person addicted to drugs.

PioneerPress Minn Moms – First Four Columns

Coming Together as a Community

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We’re gearing up for lots of activity among the Our Young Addicts community with writing and speaking opportunities. To that end, check out our new logo which now brands our Facebook, Twitter and WordPress Blog. Midwestern Mama invites parents and professionals to be part of our community to share experience, resources and hope. #OYACommunity

When I started writing about our family’s experience with addiction, it was just that – writing, more often than not it was therapeutic stream of consciousness with the hope that it might help other parents and families facing addiction. Quickly, however, the writing became a calling and a gathering of perspectives. We became a community of parents and professionals.

Without a doubt, we have a mission, vision and core values for Our Young Addicts. And, today, we have a logo that begins to convey what we are all about and what we hope to accomplish. I’m looking forward to an active calendar of writing and speaking and other ways to spread the Our Young Addicts message.

The logo is a teal blue box with reverse type that says Our Young Addicts.

In large, capital letters, is the word OUR. This word stretches over the words YOUNG ADDICTS, indicating that this is our community, that we are coming together because we care and are concerned, and that helping young people with a substance use disorder is OUR shared responsibility. Not one of us can do this alone, and fortunately, within a community, we don’t have to be alone.

The word YOUNG is bolded in orange to call out the distinct needs of this age group – the age group when 90 percent of addiction begins.

For the time being, we are still using the word addicts because it is familiar and less cumbersome than saying “people with a substance use disorder.” We also hope that we can role model and de-stigmatize that the word by demonstrating our care and concern for them.

Thank you for being part of the Our Young Addicts community. I am forever grateful that parents and professionals are coming together to share experience, resources and hope.

Midwestern Mama

Absolutely, please share!

Last week I was talking with one of the professionals who has been with us from midway in our son’s journey.  As I was sharing updates, including pride in the progress Mid Atlantic Mom and I are creating with Our Young Addicts on WordPress, Twitter and Facebook, the professional asked if he could share these resources with another client.

Absolutely! (By the way – BTW – I never knew an online experience could prove so valuable until I gave it a try. So,we encourage others to see if it can help them.)

I was once just like this client – a parent looking for resources and trying to do the right things for my son and for myself not to mention for my husband and our other children.  Some days, I truly felt like my roles and responsibilities were colliding. I was acting part on gut and part on advice from others. In time, I was acting on a more spiritual, Higher Power  I desperately wanted someone to give me a simple three-step solution to stop my son from abusing drugs, to get him into treatment and recovery, and to get him back on track with a happy, healthy life.  It felt like there should be something like 1) have a direct, caring and honest conversation with him about our concerns, 2) take him to a doctor or counselor who will enroll him in treatment, and 3) go back to college … and BTW, tell your parents you are sorry for all the concern you caused and thank us for all the time, money and emotions they spent trying to help you.

That plan is far from simple and even farther from realistic. No matter what we said or did, these steps didn’t go as hoped or planned.  Every effort was met with resistance, hurdles, and more.

What I’ve learned is by acting on our gut as well as taking professional advice (conventional and alternative), we continue to do “all the right things” even if the outcomes haven’t always been “right.”  I’m grateful that none of those more experienced than I have said something like,  “OMG what were you thinking Midwestern Mama – that’s the worst thing you could do.” I’d have been mortified that I was not doing the best by our son and family.  Yet, sometimes, I wish someone would have spoken up and said otherwise.  Instead, we have a report card of As for effort but results TBD and I so much want an A (or at the very least a passing grade) for results – not for ours but for our son’s.

Neither Mid Atlantic Mom nor I have the answers, but we’ve each hit on a trifecta that works – one part gut (mom radar), one part advice (a mixture of professional, parental and alternative) and one part faithful spirit (Al-anon or similar).  Please share our resource so that it becomes richer with your contributions – be these experience, professional, alternative, parental, spiritual or whatever works.

We will keep sharing.  Please keep letting us know what’s working – or not working – for you.

Here for you,

Midwestern Mama

Could it be? The questions we ask. The answers we crave.

Could it be? Drug use? My kid? Are you kidding?

Yes, yes, yes, and no.  Asking questions when we would prefer not to hear the answers, not to know the truth – this takes courage.  It also takes commitment to find the answers, consider the possibilities, and commit to a new parenting role.  It takes a strength we all possess, but one we would just as well not have to tap.

 

When our son’s mental illness and substance abuse began, we focused on finding out what was going on. We focused on him.  We asked lots of questions, sought lots of answers. We didn’t know for a fact what was going on; we just had a lot of suspicions.  We didn’t know where to turn.  We didn’t know much.

 

The more we asked, the more confusing things became.  Each quasi answer was vague, ambiguous and either alarming or even a bit patronizing. 

 

I took a lot of notes.  I Googled lots of topics.  I started putting together pieces until a picture emerged. 

 

When I found something or someone encouraging, I rejoiced.  It didn’t mean the findings were necessarily positive, but the feeling of being understood and of gaining understanding was so helpful. 

 

Looking back over notes on my phone, scribbles on pieces of paper, and journal entries, I recognized a pattern of questions and answers.  I found that the process of asking and answering is valuable, and I found that some of the best sources were other people who had experienced something similar. 

 

Together, we are sharing.  Together, we are learning.  Together, we journeying.  Together, we are recovering.

 

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you care about a young addict.  Perhaps it’s your child.  Maybe it’s a neighbor or student, or a member of a team you coach.  Whoever it is, you’ve asked the questions that Mid Atlantic Mom and I have asked:  Could it be? Drug use? My Kid? Are you kidding?

 

While I hope the answers that you find are different than mine, I still encourage you to ask and seek information.  It’s possible to suspect substance abuse only to find out it’s not.  Not all kids that try drugs and alcohol will have problems with these substances – the substances aren’t good for them, but they may not be addicts.  We owe it to ourselves to ask questions, to find answers and to share with others.  We most certainly owe it to our kids.  We are in this together.

 

In upcoming blogs, I will take this topic in two different directions.  I will explore potential responses to these questions and resources you might turn to.  In addition, I will confess how questioning has driven me batty at times and how I learned to stop the questions especially the ones that kept me up at night.

 

By the way, the question on my mind right now has to do with what it’s like to be newly sober and what it’s like to be in recovery.  This is a new experience for our son, and for us.  I wonder about it quite a bit.  Feel free to chime in with your experience.  Let’s do this together, too.

 

Until then,

 

Midwestern Mama