I just read an excellent article that very clearly lays out the aspects of an adolescent’s life that can lead to minor or major depression and the hope and help available. In my teen years I was fortunate to escape anxiety and depression, but I have danced with both as an adult and I feel compassion for any young person today who is dealing with the same mental/emotional conditions. Gratefully, a lifetime of spiritual, interpersonal, and professional support has given me the tools to navigate life with joy and success. But I worry about the kids.
As the normal day-to-day demands of school, work and relationships couple with the many changes and pressures during adolescence, it is not surprising that teens often struggle with feeling down, discouraged, rejected, or stressed. Unlike when I was young, long before the internet and social media, the positive and negative influences of these outlets on teens add an extra layer of demand on their mental and physical health. I believe that often teens (and adults, too!) are not even aware of how easily and thoroughly they are influenced by the multitude of media outlets and their constant presence in our lives.
The following quote from their article, “Depression In Teens” by Mental Health America summarizes it well and certain phrases definitely spoke to me: “Unrealistic academic, social, or family expectations can create a strong sense of rejection and can lead to deep disappointment. When things go wrong at school or at home, teens often overreact. Many young people feel that life is not fair or that things ‘never go their way.’ They feel ‘stressed out’ and confused. To make matters worse, teens are bombarded by conflicting messages from parents, friends and society. Teens need adult guidance more than ever to understand all the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing.”
This article gave me hope for the teens out there who may struggle with depression - hope that there are clear paths to understanding and helping anyone in need. I encourage you to read, share, and talk about the full article on adolescent depression. To find this article with the following topics, click here.
My recovery journey began about 32 years ago. My 14-year-old son led me into action. He was skipping school and not obeying the rules of our home. I was reacting like a crazed mother. Mainly, I was worried sick about his actions and knowing that he was using substances. I was afraid for his life.
After trying many avenues to get him help we decided to put him in a rehab program for juveniles. This program was very strict and used a family disease approach. I promised, during a conference with counselors at the rehab facility, that I would not drink any alcohol and all alcohol would be removed from the house. A week after I made that promise I drank wine with dinner to the point that I was drunk. I woke up the next morning with such remorse and a realization that I had broken my promise. I had been learning about the disease of alcohol addiction at the parent education programs. I remember hearing “if you think you have a problem with alcohol, you do.” This question never comes up for someone without a problem (a normal drinker).
I went to an AA meeting a couple of days later and announced my name, that I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I I wanted to stop drinking and had heard it works for people in AA. They laughed at me but I was told after the meeting that if I don’t have a problem it would be a piece of cake for me. The third tradition was pointed out to me: “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking”. I had the desire and about 3 months later after attending meetings I realized that I also had the disease. I broke through the denial and realized that I didn’t drink normally. I’ve not had a drink since that first meeting and my life is beyond my wildest dreams. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t. I had to work through the steps with a sponsor, go to meetings, read lots of literature, and commit myself to being a better person by doing the right things.
My life has not been without challenges. My husband died of lung cancer about 3 years into my sobriety. The child that was sent to rehab struggled with his addiction and ended up in jail from actions taken while drunk. Then he was killed in a traffic accident when he was 23 years old (even though he had no substances in his body at the time). The most amazing thing is that I didn’t take a drink during all that pain. I was surrounded and carried through by supportive friends, family, and a faith in God that is unending. I am thankful that I found a new way to live and grateful for the son who started the process for this new way of life. His life had purpose and our whole family is better because he lived.
Not my kid, not my kid. How many times have I said that in my head and out loud. When the truth was, it is my kid. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend, a nurse and a mother of a heroin addict. This journey was fast and furious starting with marijuana at age 14 and ending with IV heroin by age 17. I remember early in my nursing career in the ICU caring for overdose patients. The frustration and eventual disdain over IV addicts who we called “repeat offenders”. Fast forward 20 years and here I am — my son is a heroin addict. Throughout his journey, our journey my mantra changed, “At least he’s not doing (fill in the blank).” Unfortunately, it took only 3 short years to get to the point of serious heroin addiction that I ran out of “at least he’s not doing…”
I had my head in the sand for a year before I realized this wasn’t going away and he needed me to be strong - I needed me to be strong. I turned to the internet and forced myself to become versed in the ways and means of drugs and addiction. From webMD to signing up for HC DrugFree. I used Urban Slang to help me understand the acronyms and jargon surrounding drugs and teens. Eventually I started going to Naranon meetings at Shepard Pratt Hospital in Ellicott City on Monday nights at 8 pm where I met a group of courageous, non-judgmental parents and spouses. A gentleman there introduced me to the “3 C’s of addiction: I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it”. I would like to add a fourth C - you can’t change it - only the addict can. I finally started opening up about my son’s addiction and found people who were in the same boat or knew of someone whether family or friends who were also addicted. I am not alone.
A nightmare came true when my son OD’d and landed in the ICU where I worked. My embarrassment was palpable. It was at this point I decided to get certified to administer and carry Narcan. I attended a one hour free class at the Howard County Health Department on addiction and administering nasal Narcan to an overdose victim. At the end of this class I received a kit containing two doses of nasal Narcan, a barrier mask for rescue breathing (opioids can cause respiratory depression or severe slowing of breathing), a treatment reference card and a card allowing me to obtain Narcan at the pharmacy counter for 2 years whenever I needed it, without a prescription, at low cost. I used that Narcan to revive my son 5 times in one year. He even carried it himself once in case he needed to revive a friend or vice versa.
Four rehabs later and sending him to live across the country, my son is now shy of 2 years heroin-free. Is this the end of my story? Sadly no, he struggles every day with mental illness and keeping his addiction at bay. I continue to love my son and tell him every chance I get how proud of him I am of his sobriety. I emphasize that I will always support him in his recovery but no longer in his addiction.
Last night I attended my first Senior Week: Staying Safe in OC program. When it concluded, all I could think about was that every family that goes near a beach needs to hear this valuable information! While the focus is to keep high school seniors safe as they celebrate their “rite of passage,” there were so many important issues discussed that are beneficial to anyone who plans a visit…and I definitely wouldn’t send my senior off to the beach without this program under our belt.
I know about rip currents and have always had a healthy respect for the ocean, but I didn’t know exactly how to handle the currents or that people have suffocated in holes in the sand at Ocean City. During my own Senior Week adventure (long ago) we didn’t have a clue about lease agreements and how to protect ourselves or the headaches that misbehavior could cause our parents. Luckily, I was a rule follower, so I didn’t get into trouble; but I had no idea how tight the laws are in Ocean City on a variety of issues.
I haven’t been able to brush off what I heard last night and just say, “Oh, no big deal, all will be fine.” I am truly grateful to HC DrugFree and Howard High School for presenting this program. We are extremely blessed in this community to have access to resources from the OC Police Department and Beach Patrol. Someone is doing something right…thank you very much from a very grateful parent!
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 91 Americans die from an opioid-related overdose every day. Now, that average has increased to 115 Americans a day. This is a national crisis that has serious, lasting effects on our society’s public health, as well as our social and economic welfare.
To combat the misuse of and addiction to opioids, last year IMPAQ International’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee launched an initiative focused on this epidemic. As a part of this initiative, each of IMPAQ’s five offices and a remote staff representative selected a local, opioid-related charity to support. IMPAQ’s Columbia, MD office chose to support HCDrugFree and participated in HC DrugFree’s Drug Take Back Day for the first time in October.
The Drug Take Back Day was very successful despite the cold and rainy weather. We are proud to say that HC DrugFree’s site collected 776.3 lbs of medication and 18 bins of sharps!
While the weather was far less than ideal, HC DrugFree’s most recent Drug Take Back Day turned out to be terrific!
Even while out in the cold, wet, breezy atmosphere of the October 27 medication and sharps drive-thru collection in the Wilde Lake Village Center parking lot, I knew the weather could have been far worse; for those 4 hours the rain could have fallen harder, the wind could have been really whipping, and the temperature could have been even more unseasonably cold. At first, I wanted to give up and go home, but a spark of gratitude danced around inside my head as I realized the weather conditions were going to be bearable and I experienced more than 85 of us working together…working to keep our community safe...working to maybe save one family from the pain of drug use by their child.
Wow, more than 85 of us working as a team!
What impressed me the most and helped keep up my own spirits in “an attitude of gratitude” was the positive energy of everyone. There were many members of HC DrugFree’s Teen Advisory Council; students and parents from county high, middle and elementary schools; and adults from local businesses. I still cannot get over their toughness, their willingness to hold their posts with smiling face, their dedication. I even had several interesting conversations with some truly joyful people. I couldn’t help but feel good about what we all were doing and how positively it was being done. Volunteers didn’t have to be there or could have left early; however, many stayed for more than 4 hours to help with set up and clean up.
I admit there is much that can bring discouragement to my mind and heart these days. But that rainy Saturday in October, which gathered volunteers together to serve our community, brought me hope, encouragement, and joy. Despite my wet feet, the day was truly terrific and I can’t wait for the Spring collection!
My son and several friends were going out drinking for Cinco de Mayo. They said they were going to be safe because they were going to take the train from our town just 3 short stops to a village that had many bars and restaurants where young folks were celebrating the holiday.
After many hours of partying in one crowded bar after another, my son wasn’t feeling well and went outside for some air. Once he got outside, something came over him and he felt he had to go home. He saw a cab, got it and went home without even telling his friends. Hours later, the rest of the boys realized they had missed the last train home. There were too many of them to fit in one cab and they didn’t have enough money for 2 cabs. In their thoughtless, impulsive condition they decided two boys would take a cab back to one of the boy’s houses and take his father’s Denali SUV and come back and pick up the others.
Once all the boys were in car, they started home. The road down which most of them lived is very winding. The boy driving was going probably over 90 miles an hour when he hit a curb. The car rolled over a few times, hit another curb and rolled end over end until it was jettisoned up into the second story of a house with the roof of the car slammed into a second story bedroom and the front of the car facing the ground.
The three boys in the back seat were thrown from the car. One had a bad gash in his head requiring many stitches. Another ruptured his spleen. The third landed on a fence, broke bones, damaged organs and almost died. He had planned to be a firefighter like his father. That would never happen. The two boys in the front seat got out of the car into the second floor bedroom with only minor cuts and bruises. Luckily no one in the house was injured. If my son had been in the car, he or one of the other boys would have been in the way back and likely that boy would have been killed.
My nephew, Ryan, and his girlfriend, Lauren, met on the streets of Dallas, Texas where both were homeless and shooting up heroin whenever they could get it. They were two attractive, blonde, privileged kids from upper middle class homes--bright and well-educated. Their parents and extended families loved them deeply, but could not tolerate their behavior.
Like many in their situation, Ryan and Lauren sometimes committed petty crimes to support their habits. After a time, they were arrested and both were sentenced to Detox and Rehab. Still together, they attended a very expensive and lengthy program, paid for by their parents. It was my nephew’s third, and his girlfriend’s second, attempt to become clean and sober. The program lasted for several months, and used the most current, evidence-based interventions, as well as a 12-step Program, to help their clients achieve life-long sobriety. Exercise, a healthy diet, individual and group therapy, and vocational training were all included. At the end of their inpatient stay, both transitioned to a half-way house in another Texas town, where they lived with other recovering addicts.
It’s at this point that their stories diverged. Lauren realized that she was pregnant and my nephew was the father. Now that she had the responsibility for a life other than her own, her resolve to remain clean outweighed the pull of her addiction. After completing her stay at the half-way house, Lauren enrolled in college. She reunited with her family, developed a supportive group of friends, and regularly attended church, as well as 12-step programs.
My nephew, on the other hand, succumbed to the temptations of the streets once again. After another arrest for burglary, a judge gave him one last chance for recovery before jail time. His desperate mother, in debt after the last recovery program, found a free recovery program run by an evangelical minister in the western part of the state. He spent a year and a half living with the minister, his wife, and their two children, along with other addicted youth. It was bare bones. They pretty much lived on rice and beans, and made wooden crosses to sell at strip malls. My nephew had attended Catholic Church services during his youth, but was never particularly religious. At this point in his life, though, he found strength by reading the bible and attending evangelical services. Ryan reunited with Lauren and their baby is now a three year old boy, thriving with parents who love him.
"As a parent of a young man in Recovery, I can say with confidence that it feels good to have hope again. There were times when it was all we could do as parents to face the day, knowing that our son was in the fight of his life. But with love, encouragement and some really hard work on all of our parts, we have hope again.
It has not been easy, and there were bumps in the road and stumbles along the way, but we are here to say there is help and there is hope. Stay strong, reach out to others in the community who have walked this path. We all have different stories, sewn together with the same thread - love. Together, we are one giant quilt of love and testimony to the value of every human life. #wedorecover Written by theparent of a young adult in recovery.
"Listen, nothing in life is ever perfect. Nothing ever goes as we want it to. So is life in Recovery. It is filled with ups and downs, emotions crawling to the surface that used to be numb, buried. Anyway you see it, Recovery is a journey. It's a struggle to fight each day but the fight is worth it! They say addicts face three things; institutions, jail, death. But each day in Recovery, there is a choice. Life. A life beyond measure, a life full of possibilities, all you have to do is take it moment by moment, day by day." Written by a man in Recovery.
During Recovery Month, be sure to share your story of recovery and hope with us so we can share it with the Howard County community. Posts will remain anonymous.