What Got Me into Treatment? A Drug Intervention

I was 17 years old when I walked in on my own drug intervention.  It couldn’t have come soon enough, but I realize today that it almost came too late!  My time was running out and it was exactly what I needed to help me make the decision to enter a treatment facility that specialized in teen substance abuse and addiction. 

As a teen addict, I justified my behavior because I didn’t suffer the same ramifications that most adults in my situation would (loss of home, family, marriage, job or health). I thought I was invincible and that once things got “really” bad, I could stop on my own.  In reality, I did lose a lot due to my drug and alcohol addiction.  Though I did not have some of the more severe consequences of an adult in my situation,  I certainly experienced consequences. Here’s a list of some of them: 

* I threw away friendships and had friends walk away from me, leaving feelings of loneliness.
* I lost my parents’ trust so that even when I was being honest with them they still couldn’t trust me.
* I lost all motivation to go after my goals and dreams since my ultimate motivation was to get high.
* I lost my desire to help my mom around the house.
* I lost my desire to be a good example for my younger brother.
* I lost motivation to study and stay in school, since that ultimately it got in the way of my using.
* I lost motivation for any extracurricular activities.
* I lost all of my earned money in purchasing drugs and alcohol.
* I frequently found myself in dangerous and scary situations.
* I experienced physical changes, such as rapid weight loss and unbearable withdrawals.
* I lost my freedom as a result of being grounded by my parents so often.
* I lost my self-esteem and used drugs and alcohol to build an artificial confidence.
* I walked around with an overwhelming sense of guilt because of the pain I was causing my family.
* I ultimately lost the door to my bedroom when my mom decided that it was a luxury I didn’t deserve because of my secrecy when I was using.

Many of these consequences still didn’t make me quit using drugs and alcohol.  I eventually found myself at a place where I didn’t know how to stop on my own, and each time I tried I failed miserably.  My substance abuse habit had turned into an addiction that consumed all the good that was in my life, leaving nothing but destruction and misery in its path. 

Suggesting Treatment to a Loved One

If we listen, our loved ones often express a willingness to get help. How and when to introduce the idea of getting treatment can make all the difference.

On that sunny June day when I walked in on my own drug  intervention, I was shocked and angry. I threw up all my walls and began to shut down as a defense mechanism. My addiction wanted to find any way it could to keep surviving inside of me.  The overdramatic teenage part of me felt like I was being ganged up on and I didn’t leave my intervention without a fight.  It felt like my world was coming to an end because I couldn’t picture my life without the drugs and alcohol in it.  What would I do for fun, to relax, to feel better about myself?  I thought I would have no social life and that my free time would consist of playing board games with my parents on a Friday night.  This did not seem like a fulfilling option to me as a teenager who cared a lot about what other people thought of me. 

Since my mother sought the help of professional teen interventionists, they were more than ready for my uncontrollable behavior and reasoning.  My intervention process was designed to help me face the truth about my addiction and understand how it was affecting my life and my family and to show me that my family loved me and wanted me to get help.  Everyone involved in my drug intervention handled it with love, respect, and concern, while helping me to break through the denial and motivate me to make a decision to accept the help that I needed.  I can’t imagine what would of happened to me if my mother had not taken the chance to see if the intervention would work. It was the single most effective experience I had in that it got me into drug and alcohol treatment that saved my life. 

When you find out that your teen has been using drugs and alcohol, it’s time to accept the new reality and act sooner rather than later. Intervening to help get your child back on track is not an easy solution. Your kid may kick and scream and protest and shut down, but chances are it will help, as it did in my case.  If you aren’t getting through to your child, enlist the help of an interventionist or counselor.  As a parent, looking the other direction will only make things worse.  Nothing is ever gained by not taking action.  It is unrealistic to expect teens to make the decision to quit for themselves without being shown how.  Families have to ask themselves how far are they willing to go to help save their teen’s life.

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    December 12, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    penny lee….if your daughter is willing to get help start calling around to some long term residential treatment centers….many have ‘scholarships’ that ppl can use to get into the program. I know the one my daughter went to has saved her life, and my son is currently in a long term program also on a scholarship. but they have to be willing to work the program 110% cuz if they aren’t willing to do that, there’s someone out there that is and they will kick them out to get the other person in there that’s willing to work. check it out, don’t stop looking – God will provide the right place at the right time. Ask Him to guide you. In the meantime get yourself to Al Anon or Nar Anon…..you have to help yourself! and the ppl there have been through what you are going through and worse!!! good luck

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    penny lee

    November 15, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    How do I know how to help my 19 year old daughter get off drugs? Shewent for an evaluation and drug test but won’t follow their recommendations. Do we use “toughlove” and say she can’t live at home without treatment or will that push away? Or worse she’ll actually leave. There’s no place for her to go except the boyfriend’s and he is worse off than her. What do parents do? What has worked?

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    Helder Paulino

    November 20, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    Hello, im facing the same situation…
    i’ve lost everything, i’ve lost control of my mind, i’ve lost the love of my life, i’ve lost all my money on drugs, now im here without anything, all alone by myself, no friends to help make me happy, on my own by now…
    , maybe with the time i hope i can recover myself :'(

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    August 14, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Hi, my world has been crumbling around me lately. My 19yoa son has been abusing pot, downers, and alcohol to self medicate for 3 years. I found pot a couple of times and cried my heart out, had him drug tested and believed his promises to quit. I’m divorced, his dad doesn’t think pot is so bad and doesn’t feel desperate at all about it. He helped him get his own apt and pays him too much money to work in his business. My son attends college locally, but is really not motivated. On Wed, I rec’d a devastating phone call, he was arrested at his apt for growing marijuana, they threw in 4 felony charges and a misdemeanor. I work in the court system and the thought of him being in a cell with all those animals brought me to my knees in agony. He is depressed and has low self-esteem, threatens suicide when he’s upset….I nearly died. We bonded him out and it looks like if we can get him to quit using and complete a drug program, the charges will be reduced and he won’t be incarcerated. He’s very scared of jail and I think he’s trying, but I’m still so emotional. I’m trying to do things as normal, go out with friends, but I just can’t get rid of the lump in my throat. I don’t want to lose my child, but drugs and crime scare me so much! The people they are around in order to get these drugs are not desirable……often dangerous situations. My daughter who is older and married never put me through anything like this. I’ve suffered a lot of death and tragedies in my family and I am obsessed with losing him. Last nite and today are better, he admits he’s struggling with the desire to smoke, but promises he won’t because he knows he will soon be drug tested. His eyes have been lost and in a daze so long, I keep assuring him how much better he will feel when he shakes this. He will probably placed in our drug court program which is very intensive and he’ll go to jail if he tests positive…..oh, I pray not. I know I have to accept that if he fails, I can’t protect him, but I can’t breathe when I think of him in jail…..ok, enough ranting, I just thought it would help to write my feelings down. Thanks.

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