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5 Things I Wish I’d Known About Mental Illness and Teens
Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

1. teen mental illnessIt May Not Look Like Mental Illness I was a teenager who wore black, slept a lot and cried often. I ate too much or too little, couldn’t concentrate on my homework and wasn’t interested in a social life. I had no idea that these symptoms, if they last more than a couple of weeks, can signal serious depression.  I  simply thought this was what being a teenager was like. It wasn’t until I was 26 that I had my first “nervous breakdown” and was diagnosed with chronic depression. I was lucky. If I’d turned to drugs or alcohol as a way to solve my problems, I might have been another teenage drug addict or alcoholic, and never have gotten the help I needed. Even so, I didn’t recognize the symptoms in my son until it was too late. He was already doing drugs every day. He wasn’t diagnosed until he was 33.

2. Look for Mental Illness in the Family
Was there an aunt in your family who had a “nervous breakdown” when you were growing up? A grandparent who never spoke to anyone?  A relative who ‘burned out’ at work? A cousin who had to leave college because the stress was too much? A brother who was in trouble because of drinking or partying? These may pointer to underlying mental health issues. Many mental illnesses run in families. If there’s mental illness in yours, then your child’s drug activities may be an attempt to self-medicate the family disease.

3. Get Informed
When I was dealing with my own depression and then my son’s there wasn’t the vast amount of information around that there is today. I had to look for books in the self-help section of the library or bookstore. I felt ashamed that I needed the books, and sure other people were judging me. These days, there is almost too much information around — so pick your sources carefully. The best information on drug addiction and mental health comes from reputable sites like The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Parents’ blogs can be helpful too, mainly because they tell you about other parents’ experiences, and may help you realize that you’re not alone in dealing with this.

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Posted by Gabi Coatsworth  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Co-Occurring Disorders, mental illness, Stigma, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



The Stigma of Drug Addiction
Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

One of the biggest barriers to patients getting help is the stigma of addiction. The stigma is so pervasive that many family members also resist seeking help for a loved one and for themselves out of fear of discrimination, shame from feeling like a failure or embarrassment from being judged by others.  This happens too often resulting in too many families destroyed.

Addiction affects many individuals and families.  But, it doesn’t have to be this way.  And it begins with sharing our stories, better public education and a broader sense of acceptance of addiction as a treatable disease (similar to diabetes, heart disease, etc.).

Read what these five parents had to say about the stigma of addiction:

this river

Susan: I have felt shame about having a child who is an addict. It’s one of the toughest emotions I’ve had to deal with. The ignorance of others; neighbors, friends, family, etc., is frustrating and can make you feel bad about yourself. I’ve found that reading the Intervene blog and going to Alanon meetings have been a big help.

Colleen: Family members and friends do not understand. They try, but society and media have them convinced that there is something amoral or weak about addicts. I get asked,”Why would he do this to you?” “Why do you allow him to live this way?” I am perceived as a bad parent by many, and I have been completely torn apart by some neighbors on a very public social network. My son is considered by many to just be a problem that society doesn’t need. I tell my friends and family, “It was his choice to try heroin the first time. That was his very bad choice. After that, he had no choice.” No one would choose death or jail if it wasn’t a disease. Anyone who can’t see that, well, they are the problem.

Ron: We spent years hiding from our son’s addiction. We denied it, we were ashamed of it, we tried protecting him from it, if we could have disappeared we would have. That strategy served no one well.

When we were able to overcome our shame we were finally able to take the first steps forward in helping ourselves and being in a place to help him when the time comes. We also began to realize that when people ask about our son it was because they cared about us and they cared about him. It isn’t fair to shut out these people that care for us because we are ashamed and embarrassed. I actually wrote a posting for The Partnership about overcoming your shame.

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Posted by Community Manager Olivia  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, Shame, Stigma, Substance Abuse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more






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Welcome to Intervene. We are a community of experts, parents and caring adults concerned about our teens’ alcohol and drug use and have come together to share our insights, inspiration, guidance and help.









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