Friday, November 30, 2007

Recovering Teen Addicts

Today I attended drug and alcohol prevention training and was totally blown away by the teenage presenters.

Recovering teen addicts shared their experiences with drugs and alcohol. They shared emotional and descriptive personal stories, too graphic for this family blog.

Stories of being stoned daily at age 4, physical abuse, incarceration, alcoholism and crack cocaine addictions. Family histories of alcoholism, early deaths, and jail time. Indoctrination into criminality by older siblings, routine beatings, violence, and being kicked out of the home.

They told heart-wrenchingly tragic stories with courage and strength. Theirs were terrible tales of decent into addiction and equally terrible determination to overcome it.

Here is a bit of their hard-earned wisdom.
  • "Low self esteem doesn't come from other people telling me I'm bad. Low self esteem comes from me pointing out the bad and focusing on the bad things in me."

  • Adults should be aware of the following warning signs for drug use: frequent bathroom breaks, routine absences & tardies, classroom conversations about drug use, missing after school activities, and a rapid drop in grade percentage.

  • One wished to to have been arrested sooner, another wanted, "someone to tell me that I was putting my parents through misery... to let me know that I was disrespecting my parents."

  • Detoxification was a physical and emotional battle. Detox from marijuana took up to 4 months. Crack cocaine detox made it impossible to sleep normally for 3 weeks. During that time, they were "pissed off", irritated, and unable to focus on school work.

  • They need to feel comfortable and accepted while in treatment. Talking about addiction requires a trust relationship.

  • Talking to people helps teens stay away from drugs and alcohol. It helps to have sober support people as well as recovering addicts with whom to share.

  • Strength comes from a higher power, from role models, or from family. It's important to follow the 12-step programs.

  • Addicts need to stay away from drug hangouts and drug friends after leaving treatment. One said, "I need to strengthen myself to say no to my old friends."

  • Teens can try to convince other teens not to use. One teen wants to "give them the lecture", to say "just because I did it doesn't mean you can do it."

  • The others try not to "preach", just "tell them what happened to me." To say, "I don't know what is going to happen to you, but, think about it, do you want to take that chance?"

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