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Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

September is Recovery Month

This article focuses on teens in recovery from substance abuse.

Recovery is a lifetime commitment; not only for the addict but also for his loved ones and supportive friends, teachers and mentors. It starts when the addict takes recourse for an addiction issue. It isn't in the act of seeking an alternative to the lifestyle but in actually taking steps to change the way of life. Recovery is a progression; a means of fighting a disease. As with any ongoing illness, addiction does not have a cure. It has recovery. This could be compared to a reprieve or remission.

Source: http://www.recoverymonth.gov/

Some people, when given the proper information and guidance, are able to refocus and move toward choices that are more positive. These changes can come at a hefty price such as losing friendships associated with the drug abuse. We can say, "...if they allowed you to do drugs, they weren't really your friends." However, that’s not their truth. The same friends, feelings, surroundings and temptations await the teen consistently alongside recovery.

There is the stigmatism when recovery includes professional help. I have heard that seeking mental wellness help is a "sign of weakness." In truth, recovering from chronic, habitual substance abuse is not a “pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps” situation. In the case of our physical health, our bodies can be affected by misuse, genetic factors, injury or malnutrition. Mental health is affected by substance abuse, stress, injury and genetic factors. Seeking external help for mental health is no different than seeking assistance for a physical need. Substance abuse changes the way our brains operate and our bodies work. Reversing the effects can be very difficult, and may be unattainable without trained professionals.

Recovery can include medication, counseling, group therapy, mental health out-patient care and in-patient hospital care, mental health programming or a combination of these. Addiction treatment provides safe, physician care and can care for linked problems like mental illness and suicide. It can address the after-effects of drug use such as weight loss, flash-backs and cravings. Treatment has the ability to provide a combination of psychiatric care and medication.

As members of a recovering addict's support group, we continue to build assets along-side the recovery. Taking an interest in him or her and being safe and reliable outside of treatment is appropriate. However, it is not in the teen’s best interest to play an active role in his therapy.  In a more passive role, teachers, family and other adults must support his expectations of a caring school climate and role models.

In all recovery, the only person who has changed in these circumstances is the teen. As a young person, it is very easy to sink back into the same habits and temptations that caused the substance abuse in the first place. Our assistance through observation of temperament, behavior, grades and attendance can be valuable. Our involvement helps to round out the mix of adults in his or her life who will hold the teen accountable for putting their new mental health skills into action.

Sources for Locating Services and Treatment

Mental Health of America

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Family & Social Services Administration
Getting Service-by County

Federal Addictions Hotline

By Katharine Sadler, 9/1/2012