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Meet Chris Barr, a senior at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. He’s active in the school’s StepUp recovery program, and a voice of hope for young people and families facing addiction. MWM.

Addiction has been a part of me my entire life. Growing up, my addiction lied in athletics. The focal point of my life from the time I can remember has been sports. This aspect of my life enabled me to achieve things I will always be proud of. I was an all-state football player in Ohio my Junior and Senior year of High School. I received a scholarship to go play football at Miami of Ohio and where I continued to pursue my passion while getting an education. It was not until college when my addiction to drugs and alcohol began. I am blessed to have a family that has continuously supported me in everything that I do and my upbringing was a positive experience. I think that this goes to show that the disease of addiction does not discriminate.

The college atmosphere took its toll on me. I saw what everyone was doing and figured that it was the norm.

Everyone around me was partying so I followed suit. Before I knew it, I was smoking weed and drinking everyday while abusing Adderall to keep up with my studies. I developed an addiction to these drugs along with Xanax, Percocet, acid and cocaine. Drugs and alcohol consumed my life and drove me to become an entirely different person. I became unhappy and drugs became my coping mechanism.

All things considered, I never missed the deans list and continued playing football. This was my way of rationalizing that I didn’t have a problem and that I would be able to quit using once I graduated.

It wasn’t until I ended up in jail on three different occasions that I decided enough was enough. I had hit my rock bottom. I drove everyone I loved away and destroyed every relationship I had. I called my parents from a holding cell and told them that I needed help. They posted my bail and on the way home from jail I finally admitted that I needed to get help. I remember saying I needed 30 days somewhere that I had no access to drugs.

As I mentioned, my parents have never stopped supporting me so they got me into a rehab center.

April 6th, 2016 is when I entered a rehab center and began my journey as a young person in recovery. I can tell you that this journey has not been an easy one. It is hands down the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I started living my life one day at a time.

Each day sober is a success in itself.

Practicing mindfulness has ultimately been the key to my sobriety. AA has been a one tool for me because it provides a healthy environment. I continue to see a psychiatrist for bipolar disorder as well as a counselor. After 4 months of sobriety I relapsed and got kicked out of my sober house. I was living homeless for two weeks until I could get back into a sober house but since I went through rehab and was apart of AA I had the tools to get back on the horse and picked up where I left off.

After two months in a new sober house I once again relapsed and continued using for a month until I got kicked out of that sober house. I found myself once again, homeless but I didn’t give up.

I got back into another sober house and since October 28, 2016 I have remained sober. January 2017 I went back to school at Augsburg University to obtain my degree. At this point, I was still living in a sober house in Saint Paul where I was drug tested once a week and I can say this was a pivotal method of accountability for my sobriety. For anyone reading this that might be in recovery themselves, still suffering with addiction or parents with kids in either situation, I highly advise when the time is right making sure that you get into a sober house that is approved by the state. This is known as being M.A.S.H (Minnesota Association of Sober Homes) approved. You can find successfully managed sober homes on their website.

Living in one of these homes opened new doors for me.

I entered the StepUp program at Augsburg that has the mission of allowing anyone in recovery that wants to get an education with a conducive environment to do so.

I am now in my last semester at Augsburg and graduate at the end of April. There’s hope for everyone! As you can imagine, this has taken a great deal of resilience. Being a young person in recovery is an arduous task but if you truly want to live a better life it is certainly obtainable. I really like to live by the quote “Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have ever been to stand back up taller than you ever were”.

This past fall I reconnected with my first passion and played one last semester of college football here at Augsburg.

I have never missed the dean’s list in sobriety and do so by practicing time management and putting my recovery and well being first.

Exercise is my outlet and I would say is my main tool for staying sober.

At least five days a week I lift weights, run, play basketball or do some other type of exercise. In addition, I do yoga three times a week and take this time to meditate and practice mindfulness.  I have a great group of friends and can truly say that I am standing taller now, than I ever have. Each day I get a little bit stronger. I have an internship now and I am hoping to get a full time job lined up by the time I graduate. The relationships I have today with my family and friends are stronger than they have ever been. I can feel joy and love everyday and for that, I am grateful.

Chris Barr

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

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Our Young Addicts - Blog by Our Young Addicts - 6M ago
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
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Whether your kid is in active addiction or in recovery, ’tis the season for holiday stress. That’s exactly why you need the gift of self care! Here are some of my favorite tips and reminders. MWM

During yesterday’s #CADAChat about finding joy during the holidays, one of the questions was about self-care – the most important gift of all, and often the one we forget about. Midwestern Mama took notes to share.

When it comes to the holidays, several f-words come to mind. No, not that f-word! The ones I’m thinking of are Festive, Frantic, Frenzy, Frazzled …

The only antidote that I can think of is the gift of self-care. What’s more, it’s the gift that keeps giving no matter what time of year. It’s the gift that guarantees satisfaction for yourself as well as the ones who matter most to you.

Addiction takes a toll on the whole family. That’s all the more reason to take care of yourself. I used to feel that it was up to me to hold it altogether to prevent chaos – sometimes that worked, but mostly it frazzled…

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With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays just around the corner, I’m ever grateful Sherry Gaugler-Stewart’s guest blog post: Navigating Addiction During the Holidays. #Gratitude2017 MWM

With Thanksgiving 2016 one week away, the holiday season kicks off. This can be a particularly challenging time for families whose loved ones are using drugs and alcohol. Today’s guest blogger is Sherry Gaugler-Stewart, Director of Family and Spiritual Recovery at The Retreat.  She share first-hand experience as well as professional guidance to help families, and was one of our panel speakers at our conference this past year. Thank you, Sherry, for your blog post!

Oh, the holidays!  When we think of them, so many thoughts and images pop into our heads!  Snow!  Family!  Food!  Togetherness!  Traditions, old and new!  Excitement is in the air, and we start planning how and when our ideal holiday will come together.  Unfortunately, for those who have a loved one struggling with alcoholism or addiction, an additional level of stress typically accompanies the holidays: worry that our imagined holiday will turn into…

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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.

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


Filed under: Guest Blogger - Addiction Professional, Relapse, Uncategorized Tagged: #OYACommunity, Carly Benson, Midwestern Mama, Our Young Addicts, OYA, OYA Community, Parenting a teen in recovery, Relapse, Rose McKinney, The Life Challenge
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Strive to learn how to live a life in recovery, says Andy – nine years sober. He shares five key ways to do this. 

The first thing you need to know about addiction is that it never really leaves you. There is no cure for addiction and that’s not what you strive for during recovery. Recovery is about learning how to live your life constantly making the choice to abstain from drugs and alcohol, which have caused so much damage in your life.

I still live with my addiction every day, despite the fact that I’ve been sober for almost a decade now. I know it’s always in the background, waiting for me to relapse, but I’ve grown stronger.

My addiction problems began when I was only 9 years old. I was a very curious kid and I had been wondering about alcohol for a while, but when I asked to have a sip, I got a lecture from my parents. So, one night at a family party, I snuck a bottle while the adults were busy, and a few sips later I was drunk. I had never felt anything like it. I loved it. A cousin of mine found out and made me promise I wouldn’t do it again, and to be honest, it took longer to make that promise than it did to break it.

As a teen, I started experimenting with marijuana, which quickly escalated to other stronger, more horrible substances. My family and friends recognized the signs of my addictive behavior. The problem was I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I used to tell them and myself that I could quit anytime I wanted to, even though deep down I knew it was a lie and they were right. As a result, I ended up alienating myself from them.

Flash forward to 23 and I’m sitting in a prison cell, serving a 2-year sentence for drug-related charges. Those were the hardest years of my life, but it was there where I made the decision to change my life and embarked on the road to recovery.

As soon as I got out of prison I checked into a rehab center. I learned there are 5 essential steps to recovery which need to be taken. Some of them continually repeated in order to ensure you won’t fall into addiction again. Today, I want to share these steps with you:

1) Powerless

The first step towards recovery is admitting you are powerless over your addiction. As I mentioned earlier, I used to lie to myself and those around me saying that I was in control over my substance consumption and that I could stop using anytime I wanted to. If I had kept thinking like this, I would probably still be an addict. In order for a problem to be solved, it needs to be acknowledged and accepted.

Getting to this realization can be a different process for each addict. For me it was through a testimony I heard in prison. It was a middle-aged man who said he had lost his wife, his daughter, and everything he had ever cared about due to his drug problems. I could relate to this, it made me think about my family and how I didn’t want to lose them, which led me towards the path of sobriety.

2) Asking for help
Now that you’ve admitted your problem to yourself, it’s time to admit it to others. Your family, your friends, your doctor… anyone you consider should know in order to help you get better. I told my family first, I told them I wanted to get clean and that I would like them to support me during this process. They were so proud, so happy. They helped me find a great rehabilitation center and they were with me through it all. You are not alone in your recovery, getting help from others is fundamental in order for you to start changing your life for the better.

3) Treatment

The next step is finding the right treatment. It is essential for you to explore the many options there are so you can choose the one that can help you the most according to your condition. There are many services available, such as residential rehab, out-patient treatments, and other medical services and therapy.

There are also meetings, like those provided by Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, in which you can talk and listen to other addicts. Whichever treatment you choose, I would recommend it involves medical assistance and professional counseling and therapy.

4) Commitment

You would think that treatment is the hardest part of recovery. It does implicate a lot of physical discomforts as well as mental and emotional changes, but, the real challenge comes after you’ve finished treatment and are left in the real world again. You need to rebuild your life from scratch, a life of abstinence. It will take a lot of strength, discipline, and willpower.  

The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. I kept attending AA and NA meetings regularly after getting out of rehab, as well as therapy sessions once a week. This really helped me be strong in moments I thought I would relapse -which were a lot-. Creating strong, healthy relationships is fundamental in this step too.

The way I see it, the more people there are that care about you and want to help you stay clean, the more chances you have to succeed.

5) Acknowledgement

As there is no real cure for addiction, there is no ultimate step in recovery. However, acknowledging how far you’ve come and celebrating it is what I consider the last of these 5 steps. Nothing compares to celebrating your first anniversary of sobriety, and each year you become more determined to continue.

Now you know what to expect before starting your journey to get clean. These are the 5 steps I took during my recovery process, which I consider were the key to my success. Admitting my problem, asking the people I loved the most to support me, getting treatment, committing everyday to staying clean and being able to celebrate my achievements are the steps that got me to where I am today.

As I said before, just because I’ve been sober for 9 years doesn’t mean I’m “cured”. Recovery is a lifetime process, and some of these steps will have to be taken every day.

I strongly encourage you to embark upon this journey. It may be hard, but it’s worth it. If you have an experience or a story about recovery you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.

Author Byline:

Hi, I am Andy! I was born in Bogota, Colombia, but raised in Los Angeles, California. I have been clean for 9 years now! I spend my time helping others with their recovery and growing my online business.

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


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Our Young Addicts - Blog by Our Young Addicts - 9M ago

Meet Sarah Nielson, author, mom and creator of the Just Keep Going, Parents blog. We often swap blog posts to share and this is one you definitely want to read – it’s about chocolate, after all. Moreover, it adds perspective to the journey by helping us see and define addiction. Thanks, Sarah, for being part of the OYA Community and part of my journey through a loved one’s addiction. MWM

http://www.justkeepgoingparents.com/chocoholic/

At a listening session on the teenage brain and drug use, Dr. Ken Winters started by asking the audience, “How many of you love chocolate?” Many raise their hands in amusement.  “How many of you would consider yourself a chocoholic — you gotta have it?” he asked playfully as people raised their hands with a smirk.  “How many of you would steal from a convenience store for chocolate?” Silence.  “How many of you would leave your toddlers alone in the house while you went out to find chocolate?” “Would you would go to prison for chocolate?”

We were with some new friends who are dear and know that we have a son in recovery. One said, “I was so spoiled as a kid, it’s a wonder I didn’t take drugs or something.” You know where my mind went instantly, “Our child is a former drug addict because we spoiled him.” It’s my fault. Spoiled people take drugs — (research pending).  I’m not gonna lie — I felt some shame.

This is the birthplace of stigma. It might be why some of us protect ourselves from admitting that we have a problem or someone we love has a problem. We believe it might be our fault and we want to protect ourselves, our image, our parenting, our status; Christian families or good families don’t breed drug addicts and alcoholics. Certainly I was in that belief camp. Then it happened to me.

It’s not all about ego of course. No one on the planet wants a loved one to suffer addiction. Denial, silence, pretending and defending protect our mind from the overwhelming grief and fear and in our case, the also, “and what would we actually DO about it?” question. Our mind sometimes needs protecting, until it doesn’t, and it’s time to face reality.

I learned that people like our kids suffer addiction but people like our kids, us, our grandparents and friends also celebrate recovery.  My friend Sandi Lybert of Your Choice to Live, says that people come up to her and say she doesn’t look like the mom of a former Heroin addict. We thought that was funny. She’d often ask people, “What does the mother of a Heroin addict look like?” Awkward.  She looks like a mom of a son in recovery, whatever that looks like. There’s no stereotype.

I’m not on the bandwagon of addiction stigma because I don’t want you to be uber-careful about what you say in front of me, and playing the semantics game of right terminology so as not to offend, seems silly. If I feel shame, that’s on me. I also am weary of bandwagons at the moment. I’m shining a light on recovery, because it’s true and real and brings hope that is legitimate and deserves attention — a much better use of energy. Addiction defies demographics and thus, so does recovery.

People can and do recover from alcohol and other drug addiction, and they’re the people you and I sit next to in the pew, the theatre, the Bucks vs.Timberwolves game and the company picnic — 23 million of them in America.

I attend an open 12-step meeting where anyone is welcome but only alcoholics participate and speak. If pictures were allowed, which they’re not, I’d love to post the collage:  darling young women and handsome millennial men, middle age dads, fit and fat grandpas, short, white-haired grannies who walk up to the podium in sensible shoes, all of them sharing their experience, strength and hope in recovery to help the newcomer stay sober today.

In that meeting, pregnant suburban wives, and yes, hard-looking characters who might shed a tear or two, thank their sponsors for taking midnight calls when they want to drink or use,  and express gratitude to God for a good life they never thought they’d see. Some are sober 40 plus years, some 40 days, some 40 hours.

At the end of the meeting the room of several hundred stands in a circle, holding hands to say the Lord’s prayer in unison. I confess that I often look up and around with open eyes because it fills my soul. For Thine is the power.

Thanks, Sarah, for sharing this blog post with the OYA Community!


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Our Young Addicts - Blog by Our Young Addicts - 9M ago

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


Filed under: Guest Blogger - Young Person, sobriety, Uncategorized Tagged: #OYACommunity, 500 Days Sober, alcoholism, Kayla Fosse, Midwestern Mama, Our Young Addicts, OYA, OYA Community, Rose McKinney, Young person in recovery
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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


Filed under: #SoberSon, Midwestern Mama, Recovery, Uncategorized Tagged: #OYACommunity, Hope, Midwestern Mama, Our Young Addicts, OYA, OYA Community, Parental Observations, recovery, Relapse, Rose McKinney
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Our Young Addicts - Blog by Our Young Addicts - 9M ago

Day 2: Today, I am grateful my son is sober, in treatment and on the road to recovery. #Gratitude2017

There are two visiting opportunities each week at my son’s new treatment program – one is an afternoon on the weekend and the other is a weekday evening that includes an hour of group time focused on mental health.

Last night was our first visit. Within seconds of arriving, our son greeted us with a smile, a hug, and moreover, an overall healthy demeanor. Although it’s just been five days, he looked so much better than the days leading up to this.

His explanation was simple: “I’m not hungover.” Amen to that.

The group session started promptly at 6:30. There were about 30 men, all ages and all walks of life. My husband and I were the only family members present. We sat with our son at a table in the back. A gentleman, quite a bit older than our son, asked to join us and we welcomed him.

The mental health professional leading the group brought an inspirational reading about order and disorder. My impression is that its message was a bit deep for most of the participants. Nonetheless, a handful of people shared their takes on it.

The next reading was from Depak Chokra. It was a letter between the mother of an addict and Chokra’s encouragement to detach with love. From there, several more men joined the conversation.

My son isn’t comfortable participating in large groups, and he’d already been exposed to these readings earlier in the day during other group sessions, so he politely listened and let us take it in. Because the second reading was about mothers of people with addiction, I had a few things to say but recognized and respected my son’s preference that I not speak up.

Later, however, he asked what I wanted to say.

Mothers (parents) will always love their kids no matter what.

The session wrapped with some ideas for the participants to embrace. A few that stuck out to me and that I hope will stick for my son:

  • Using drugs and alcohol solves nothing.
  • You can have fun sober.
  • You can, and should, design your own recovery.

Following the group session, the mental health professional stopped by our table and introduced herself. She hadn’t yet had a one-on-one session with our son but said it’s scheduled soon. My husband and I were glad to have a few minutes to chat with her and convey our support and express how important it is that mental health issues be addressed. Hopefully, this provided helpful context for the work they will do together.

Next there was an hour for visiting. By this time, two other families came – one to celebrate a birthday and another bringing a pizza dinner for their son.

We brought our son some things, too – his winter coat, hat and gloves, some prepackaged Rice Krispee and Peanut Butter Chocolate bars, and some Halloween candy.

It was a good evening and we are filled with encouragement. Because we’ve been through this before, we have greater perspective on the recovery process – we can be realistic and hopeful.

We’ll be back this weekend and will certainly attend future family nights.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts          All Rights Reserved


Filed under: Uncategorized
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