The death of Whitney Houston left America wondering about the emotional well-being of her daughter Bobbi Kristina after such a sudden, serious trauma. Traumatic events can affect your mental health and lead to serious problems later in life. This holds true even if the trauma happens at an early age—as young as 18 months old!
Traumatic experiences can include a number of things, such as the death of a loved one, a car crash, or a natural disaster like a hurricane. Trauma also can result from experiences that take place over a long time, like having a parent with a drug addiction, or experiencing bullying or family violence. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, so it can be hard to know who may need professional help to cope.
The good news is that—with help from families, teachers, counselors, and the community—young people can get well.
National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
On National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day—May 9, 2012—communities and organizations across the country will help people understand how important it is to take care of children’s mental health. People will share the message that, with the help of caring adults, young people can recover from traumatic experiences and lead full and productive lives.
How Trauma Affects the Brain
Studies on how young people respond to stress show structural changes in the brain that, for some, can lead to problems like depression, anxiety, aggression, acting out, and drug abuse.
Hear Real Stories On May 9, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. eastern time, you can watch a Webcast at samhsa.gov/children about young people who have successfully recovered from a traumatic event. They will be accompanied by their “Hero of Hope”—the person who has supported them through their challenges.
You can participate by commenting on Facebook and tweeting during the Webcast using the hashtag #HeroesofHope.
Help Raise Awareness
A youth group in North Carolina is planning a “flash mob” for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Last year, we suggested drawing your emotions on paper to increase awareness of your feelings and how they affect your behavior. What are some other ideas to help raise awareness about the importance of your mental health?
Today, communities and organizations across the country will help people understand how important it is to take care of children’s mental health. This year’s focus is on helping children recover from traumatic experiences. Learn more about the observance and the effects of trauma on the brain by reading our previous post, Mental Health and Young People.
Attend an Awareness Day Event
More than 1,000 communities in the United States are celebrating National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day by hosting interactive events for children and adults. Here is just a sampling of the activities planned:
Delaware. Delaware’s B.E.S.T. for Young Children and Their Families will host its 8th annual “Get the Scoop on Mental Health.” Participants will learn about children’s mental health and get a free scoop of Italian ice at participating Rita’s Water Ice locations.
Michigan. American Indian Health and Family Services of Southeastern Michigan has planned several activities that include poetry and storytelling “open mic,” healthy cooking demonstrations, green smoothies, face painting, an art table with beading, bouncy house, Native musical chairs, and a play area for younger kids.
Texas. Hand in Hand is partnering with a Fort Worth high school program in which at-risk high school art students and local college graduates develop murals for walls that have been targets for graffiti. The mural theme is “Play Matters 4 Children’s Mental Health.”
Virginia. The Virginia Art Therapy Association is hosting "Heroes of Hope" at the Children's Museum of Richmond. The event will include a Q&A panel discussion for parents and caregivers, art making, and the “Heroes of Hope” exhibit of art by children and teens ages 4–18.
Find a National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day event near you!
Watch Heroes of Hope
If you are unable to attend an event in person, you can participate by watching a tribute program about children and teens who have recovered from traumatic experiences, as well as the parents and caregivers—their Heroes of Hope—who helped them get well. Live performances by youth from around the country will also honor these Heroes of Hope.
Watch the live webcast from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. eastern time. You can participate by commenting on Facebook and tweeting during the webcast using the hashtag #HeroesofHope.
Ever have one of those days? One minute you’re feeling great; the next, you’re knocked down by a bad grade or a fight with a friend.
Setbacks like these can seem like the end of the world to some teens. Others can bounce back after they’ve had a little time to think and see that the situation isn’t so bad. But not everyone can recover so easily.
As part of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, the National Institute of Mental Health hosted a panel discussion that focused on what happens when mental health disorders—like depression or anxiety—or drug abuse interfere with the development of the teen brain.
What’s Happening in Your Head?
No one feels good all the time. Teens are particularly vulnerable to a roller coaster of emotions because of major brain changes taking place between the ages of 12 and 25. These emotional ups and downs are all part of normal teen development.
But for teens suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or ADHD, the stresses—from peers, family, or problems in school—may be more than they can handle. Some maystart using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope, or to escape from anger, hurt, or disappointment. However, over time, these behaviors can lead to a bigger problem…addiction.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
Every brain is different, and just because you feel down or stressed doesn’t mean you’re going to develop a problem. But, whatever you’re going through, it’s important to be aware of your feelings.
Take note if you’re overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or unfocused. You may just be experiencing the normal emotional reactions to events in your life. However, if these feelings don’t let up, or if you feel like you can’t bounce back on your own, talk to a friend, family member, or someone you trust to help you.
Watch a videocast of the whole discussion about mental health and the teen brain, then share your thoughts with us. What are some things you do to stay grounded when things seem out of control?
I’ve always been a huge Star Trek fan. When I was a teenager, my hero was Mister Spock—cool, analytical, even-tempered, and smarter than everyone around him. Being raised in his ancient society of the planet Vulcan made him a force to be reckoned with. He was kind and compassionate, but his mind was unswayed by human passions and fears, and he was always in control. When he was alone, he often sat, eyes closed, deep in meditation.
Vulcan is a fictional planet, but I later came to learn that there are real people on Earth kind of like Mister Spock, who possess many of his qualities and abilities because they have trained their brains in ancient Eastern mental arts.
Going to a “Zen Place”
A German philosophy professor named Eugen Herrigel discovered the power of a calm mind when he went to Tokyo in the 1920s. One day, he was having lunch with a Japanese colleague when an earthquake struck. Panic quickly broke out, and most of the diners (including Herrigel) jumped up and hurried out of the restaurant.
But the man Herrigel was having lunch with remained seated with his hands folded, his eyes nearly closed, completely undisturbed by the shaking going on around them. Fascinated by his companion’s trance-like calm, Herrigel sat down too and felt strangely safe. When the earthquake was over, the man continued the conversation exactly where it had broken off, saying nothing about what had just happened.
A few days later, Herrigel learned the source of his lunch partner’s amazing, infectious calm—he was a Zen Buddhist. His emotional steadiness came from practicing meditation.
Buddhist literature is full of stories of people achieving amazing feats of insight, courage, and even control over their own bodies after years of practicing simply sitting and focusing their minds. Such people often become rocks of support, giving strength to those around them, or even become calmly inspiring leaders themselves.
Meditation’s Effects on the Brain
Brain scientists have gotten really interested in the effects of meditation on the brain. A Harvard psychologist named Richard Davidson has done brain scans on dozens of Buddhist monks and found that their training has permanently altered their limbic systems, giving them heightened empathy—or the ability to understand and identify with another person’s feelings.
A recent study of “beginner” meditators by another Harvard researcher found that 8 weeks of training in techniques like mindfulness meditation and yoga increased gray matter in brain regions involved in memory, learning, emotion, breathing, and motor control.
[Caption: These high-resolution brain image scans show where gray matter increased in different parts of the brain for those who practiced mindfulness.. A: The posterior cingulate cortex and cerebellum; B: The left temporo-parietal junction; C The cerebellum and brainstem.]
The bottom line is, the brain is a powerful instrument, and you can make it do even more amazing things when you sharpen and enhance its powers. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a tough, disciplined, compassionate, and fearless brain like a Buddhist monk … or Mister Spock? P.S. After his remarkable experience with the Zen man in the earthquake, Eugen Herrigel promptly decided to learn Zen himself, and went on to study with a Zen master for 6 years. He then wrote a classic book about his experience, called Zen and the Art of Archery, as well as a short introduction to Zen philosophy and meditation (which I highly recommend, if you are interested) called The Method of Zen.
Eric Wargo writes about the brain and addiction for NIDA’s Office of Science Policy and Communications. He has a Ph.D. in anthropology, and in his spare time, he writes and blogs about science, history, movies, and other cool topics. Read his previous SBB guest post, Mindset Over Matter.
In the U.S. military, servicemembers ask each other this question to make sure that they're ready and able to accomplish the mission at hand. If someone is "good to go," then they are alert, accountable, and prepared to do their job. Someone who is "good to go" will avoid mistakes and make better decisions.
One thing is for sure: you can't be "good to go" when you're taking drugs.
For you, the workplace might be school or your summer job. If you're not "good to go," it could mean a bad grade on your chemistry test or getting benched on your football team. But for our men and women in uniform, drug use threatens their ability to protect one another and defend our Nation. A lack of concentration or a wrong decision could put everyone in danger. It could even cost someone their life.
That's why the Department of Defense is taking steps to create the largest drug-free workplace in the world. Its zero-tolerance policy (PDF, 51.27KB) on drugs means that servicemembers will have the best mental and physical health necessary to do their jobs.
At the same time, many of our servicemen and women are young and need as much support as they can get. Just like when you had to move to a new school or find a new group of friends, life in the military can be stressful. The day-to-day grind of combat, the effects of injury, or being apart from family can cause people to be depressed. And depression can lead to drug use. Just like you, service men and women sometimes need help getting through those tough periods - using healthy ways to cope without turning to drugs.
The Real Warriors Program is aimed at wiping out the stigma associated with getting mental health care in the military. The campaign uses the stories of servicemembers who admitted they needed help and now are pursuing successful military careers. From October 23-31, the Defense Department will honor these real warriors during Red Ribbon Week, an event to raise public awareness about the negative effects of drugs on military personnel, civilians, and their families.
Now, more than ever, we need good role models. Whether you are serving in the military, working at a desk job, or going to school, don't hesitate to offer help to someone in need. When's the last time you asked someone, "Are you good to go?"
Do you have a personal story about the importance of role models and encouraging one another to overcome life's challenges? If so, please comment on this blog post - we'd love to hear your story! This is a guest post from Dr. John Ohab, host of the Defense Department's weekly science radio show, "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military."
Sometimes, the best entertainment takes you to an alternate world and helps you forget about your stresses for a while. Other TV shows and movies succeed because they are so true to life that you feel like the characters could be living next door.
Each year, the Voice Awards honor films and television shows that accurately portray behavioral health issues, including drug and alcohol abuse, trauma, suicide, and other mental health problems.
You can read full descriptions of the movies and TV shows—such as “Glee” and “Parenthood”—that were honored in 2012.
Accuracy Is Essential
Why is this recognition important? Many people (teens and kids especially) watch what’s onscreen and believe it to be accurate. This can lead to problems, like if a teen watches a party movie and starts to believe that everyone their age is getting wasted on Friday nights.
When shows reinforce myths about drug abuse or mental health problems, they can hurt already vulnerable people in our society. Examples include implying that all people with mental illness are dangerous, or that people who have drug problems are “bad”—inviting our judgment instead of our compassion.
So the Voice Awards honor TV shows and movies that work to tell the real story. For instance, “Parenthood” portrayed the complications caused by alcoholism, as well as how the disease affects the entire family. In the episode Forced Family Fun, the main character’s ex-husband talks to his therapist in rehab about how his addiction harmed his relationship with his children and how much he regrets his past his actions.
If you’ve seen a TV or film production released after April 15, 2012 that you think offers a respectful and accurate portrayal of people with substance use or mental health disorders, you can nominate it for a 2013 Voice Award. Let us know in comments which movies or shows you think deserve recognition!
It’s hard to keep good news a secret. Some organizations think they can work “hush-hush” without us noticing, but at NIDA, we’re always on the lookout for people and places that are doing a new thing. So (drum roll please), let me introduce you to WyoCARE, the Wyoming Chemical Abuse Research Education (CARE) project:
WyoCARE is an organization that supports healthy living and substance abuse prevention in the state of Wyoming. So, what makes it so special? Well, WyoCARE not only provides free and interesting resources (like stickers, bookmarks, and magnets) on drug abuse and other healthy topics, its staff—along with a great team of graduate student and AmeriCorps volunteers—provide trainings, workshops, and consultations when they’re not busy sending out materials. It is this kind of “CAREing” that has helped them disseminate over a quarter million resources in the last three months!
This year, WyoCARE also displayed “NIDA Goes Back to School” campaign materials at the 2010 Governor’s Roundtable on Children’s Mental Health, an event held to thank everyone committed to improving children’s mental health. WyoCare used the opportunity to help educate youth and state leaders on the science of the brain, addiction, and drug abuse.
Think you have what it takes to CARE? Would you or someone you know quit smoking if it were proven that secondhand smoke was hurting your pets? Would you vow to keep a lookout for signs of drug activity in your neighborhood? WyoCARE’s resources can help you lead a healthier life and create a positive change in your community. Thanks WyoCARE!
OK, speaking of resources, we have a question for you—yes, you reading this blog post. NIDA wants to hear about how we are helping you (or how we could be doing better). For example, did you use information from our Web site for a science project? Or share it with a friend? We want to know—the good and the bad.
“Be More Than a Bystander”: Enter a video contest telling how you stand up to bullying
During October’s National Bullying Prevention Month, SBB wonders: Do you have sympathy for kids who bully other kids?
People often talk about how much bullying affects kids and teens who are the victims of mean-spirited attacks. Adults who were bullied as kids can vividly remember names they were called and times they felt humiliated. Kids who are bullied can experience many problems like stomachaches or headaches, depression and anxiety, and sleeping troubles.
But did you know that bullying also can hurt the person doing the bullying? Many studies show that kids who bully are more likely to use drugs, smoke cigarettes, and drink alcohol; have mental health problems; and get into trouble with violence later in life.
What’s not known is which comes first. As one researcher puts it, “Youth who bully others might be more likely to also try substance use. The reverse could also be true in that youth who use substances might be more likely to bully others.”
Whatever way you look at it, kids who bully need help too. And everyone can do their part to help end bullying.
Be More Than a Bystander
Even if you’re not the bully or the bullied, you can make a difference in your school and community by standing up and not letting bullying happen when you’re around.
Enter the “Be More Than a Bystander” Challenge by submitting a video that explains what kids and teens can do to stop bullying. Entries are due on October 14, 2012, so don’t delay!
For More Information
If you or someone you know is being bullied, or if one of your friends bullies others, you can get help. Visit StopBullying.gov for tips.
Share your experiences with bullying by leaving a comment!
If you were the producer of a crime show on TV, and your police officer character was a chain smoker, how would you write the scene where he chases a criminal down the street? A chain smoker would probably be winded, because of less lung room. So you’d show him panting and out of breath. As noted in NIDA’s Drugs: Shatter the Myths booklet, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use are often depicted in popular entertainment and media. And because TV and movies can influence what people think and believe, the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc., the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and FX have teamed up to host the 15th Annual PRISM Awards. This nationally televised awards show recognizes actors, movies, music, media, and TV shows that “accurately depict and bring attention to substance abuse and mental health issues, including prevention, treatment, and recovery.”
The PRISM Awards recognize people in the creative world who “tell it like it is,” showing the reality of important health issues and increasing awareness. Winners are chosen based on entertainment value, accessibility of the message about substance abuse or mental health issues, and scientific accuracy.
So who’s doing a good job of depicting substance abuse and mental health issues? This year’s PRISM nominees include the movie Iron Man 2 and the prime-time television series, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Drop Dead Diva, The Vampire Diaries, and Degrassi: The Next Generation. Nominees also include reality shows and documentaries such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, Intervention, MTV’s If you Really Knew Me, and VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
So, mark your calendar: the 15th Annual PRISM Awards will take place on April 28, 2011. To read more about the PRISM awards and to see a complete list of this year’s nominees, visit http://www.prismawards.com.
Many people justify smoking one or two cigarettes once in a while—known as social smoking—by thinking occasional smoking won’t damage their health as much as smoking every day. Unfortunately, smoking fewer cigarettes does not reduce the risk of smoking-related health problems.
With occasional smoking, you still have several health risks, like:
- Heart disease
- Lung and other cancers
- Respiratory tract infections
- Slower recovery from torn cartilage and other injuries
It’s not just the body—the brain suffers as well. A 2011 study shows that even occasional smoking affects memory. Northumbria University in the United Kingdom gave a memory test to college students who smoked either occasionally, regularly, or not at all. Results showed that both occasional and regular smokers performed much worse than nonsmokers on this task. In fact, social smokers performed just as badly as regular smokers.
Researchers involved in the study concluded that smoking damages memory no matter how often you do it. And decline in smoking-related memory has been linked with changes in the brain, such as brain shrinkage. That can’t be good.
Regain Your Memory
Fortunately, the damage doesn’t have to be permanent. The psychologists who researched how smoking affects memory published another study last year showing that quitting smoking can actually improve memory, restoring everyday memory to nearly the same level as that of people who don’t smoke.
For this study, participants were taken on a tour of a university campus and asked to remember a series of predetermined tasks at specific locations. While current smokers remembered 59% of tasks, people who had given up smoking remembered 74% of their required tasks. Those who had never smoked remembered 81% of tasks.
What Do You Think?
Does knowing that occasional cigarette smoking has the same brain and physical health effects as regular smoking make you think twice before lighting up? If you smoke now, have you found it harder to remember everyday tasks or errands than before you started smoking?
Sometimes we make jokes about our mental health, but serious mental illness is a real problem among young people in this country. Did you know that an estimated 4.5 to 6.3 million youth in the United States face mental health challenges? These might be about substance abuse, depression, bipolar disorder, compulsive behavior, and other mental health issues, including suicide. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of them do NOT receive the mental health services they need (like counseling and medicine) because it costs too much or they don’t know where to find help.
We need to fix this problem. First of all, studies show that students who need and receive mental health services are more likely to stay in school. This is important because about 11% of high school youth with emotional challenges drop out before finishing high school and are 1.6 times more likely to be unemployed than high school graduates who are not enrolled in college. Secondly, mental health problems can affect many other areas of life–especially social relationships.
This is why SBB is writing about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, being celebrated May 3. Communities all over the country will be holding events to show how important it is for kids to have good mental health, just like having good physical health. The many activities include programs using the theme “My Feelings are a Work of Art.” Think about that—so how would you draw the way you feel? It’s good to be aware of your feelings and how they affect your behavior and the decisions you make.
Find out how you can get involved and help by checking out http://www.samhsa.gov/children/preparing_for_awarenessday.asp.
As always, keep yourself healthy. If you or a friend are having a hard time coping with everyday life, ask an adult you trust for help. Catching problems early can avoid worse ones later on.
A phobia is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Phobias can cause a lot of anxiety, panic, and even fainting. You may have heard of some phobias, such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders) or claustrophia (fear of confined spaces).
But have you ever heard of nomophobia—the fear of being without your cell phone? We’ve all had that anxious feeling when you’ve lost your phone or accidentally left it at home. But does your anxiety increase to the point of being a phobia?
Nomophobia—an abbreviation of “no-mobile-phone-phobia”—is also called “cell phone addiction.” Symptoms include:
- Experiencing anxiety or panic over losing your phone
- Obsessively checking for missed calls, emails, and texts
- Using your phone in inappropriate places like the bathroom or church
- Missing out on opportunities for face-to-face interactions
A recent survey found that two-thirds of people in the United Kingdom experience nomophobia. That number increases to 77% for young people age 18‒24. Cell phone use is definitely increasing everywhere, especially among teens…overall in the U.S., 75% of all teens text, sending an average of 60‒100 texts per day.
Is Nomophobia Real?
Researchers debate whether nomophobia is a real addiction. Addiction to drugs stems from their causing dopamine to flood the brain—which can trigger euphoria and a strong desire to repeat the experience. Researchers question whether the anticipation or rush of receiving an email, text, or Facebook status update may also trigger release of dopamine. But no studies have examined the issue.
So, what do you think? Do you believe nomophobia is real? Do you know people who are addicted to their cell phones? Are you?
During NIDA’s Drug Facts Chat Day 2010, young people asked a lot of great questions. One really basic question came from a student in Pennsylvania: Why do people take drugs?
While the specific answer may differ from person to person, some common reasons are that people think they will feel good, forget their problems, perform better, or fit in.
Drugs may have these effects at first, but they do not last, at least not like the long-term negative consequences can. Here are some “reality checks” on common reasons people have for doing drugs:
“Drugs help me feel good.” Most abused drugs produce intense feelings of pleasure. This initial sensation of euphoria is followed by other effects, which differ with the type of drug used. For example, with stimulants such as cocaine, the “high” is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy. In contrast, the euphoria caused by opiates such as heroin is followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction.
Reality check: While a drug-induced high may temporarily boost your mood, the effect doesn’t last long. Before you know it, the same old worries return, and, in fact, the after-effects of the drug may leave you with additional physical or emotional symptoms. Headaches, nausea, and feeling “down” are common side effects for many people. Withdrawal can be quite painful—physically and mentally.
“Drugs help me feel better.” Some people who suffer from social anxiety, stress-related disorders, and depression start abusing drugs in an attempt to lessen feelings of distress. Stress can play a major role in beginning drug use, continuing drug abuse, or in relapsing to drug use for people recovering from addiction.
Reality check: Some prescription medications can help lessen anxiety- or stress-related problems for a person suffering from a mental health problem that has been diagnosed by a doctor. These medications should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor and used under a doctor’s care. The “high” caused by illicit drugs like marijuana or cocaine may be just a temporary mask over your problems and will not make you feel better in the long run. In fact, illicit drugs may cause you even more stress, anxiety, and problems.
"Drugs help me perform better.” The increasing pressure that some people feel to chemically enhance or improve their athletic abilities or performance in school can prompt them to start or continue drug abuse.
Reality check: So-called “performance enhancing” drugs, like steroids, actually have serious side effects. Men may develop breasts, and women may acquire some male characteristics like a deeper voice and increased body hair. Some people may abuse stimulants to increase their alertness, but dangerous side effects like irregular heartbeat, high body temperatures, and the potential for heart failure or seizures make this a bad bargain.
“Everyone’s doing it.” Teens are particularly vulnerable to trying drugs because of the strong influence of peer pressure; they are more likely, for example, to take part in risky behaviors because they assume that their peers are also doing it.
Reality check: The annual Monitoring the Future survey, which measures drug abuse by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders and their attitudes towards drugs, show that nowhere close to a majority of teens are abusing drugs (PDF, 317 KB).
The bottom line?— knowing more about the specific negative effects of drugs on your brain and body can help you think twice before you act.
Are you a “morning person”? If you’re a teen, the answer is probably no—but that doesn’t mean you’re lazy. It has to do with a brain hormone called melatonin.
Studies show that teens’ circadian rhythms—biological “clocks” that drive behavioral responses during a 24-hour period—change during adolescence because of changes in the brain’s secretion of melatonin, which turns “on” in the evening and “off” in the morning. Melatonin signals your body that it’s tired.
Research has indicated that in teens, melatonin production turns off later in the day than in younger children. This means that teens likely will feel awake later at night and want to sleep in later in the morning.
Unfortunately, late-to-bed and later-to-rise sleeping times are out of sync with early school starts. Combined with the pressures to study late, take part in extracurriculars, work, and spend time with friends, it’s no wonder that teens find themselves tired much of the time.
Evidence suggests that sleep deprivation can be harmful to your brain and body. Too little sleep results in difficulty concentrating and learning. In fact, neuroscientists now think sleep is a critical time during which our brains consolidate learning, or put it all together so it sticks.
But there’s more. Constant sleepiness weakens your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick. A recent psychological study also showed a link between lack of sleep and mood disorders, as well as a link to general unhappiness, over-stimulation, anger and frustration, depression, substance use, and suicidal thoughts!
What’s Keeping You Awake?
Our hectic schedules don’t respect normal changes in teens’ sleep rhythms. But when your body tells you it’s tired at night, it’s best to go to sleep—and if you think watching TV or checking in on Facebook at midnight are good relaxers, think again. Screens act like daylight, tricking your brain into thinking it needs to wake up.
So while Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying, “Early to bed and early to rise” may not work well with the teen clock, there is ample evidence that getting enough sleep can help you stay healthy.
Several SBB readers have submitted personal stories about their experiences—or their families' experiences—with addiction. We offer these stories to give you an inside view of how drug addiction can affect people's lives.
We are posting these comments as we received them, unedited, except as reflected in the Sara Bellum Blog guidelines.
@Dale My son is 33 years old and badly hooked on bath salts. Like the girl that wrote her dad talks underneath his couch because he thinks people are under there my son thinks someone lives in his attic and people are climbing the trees around his house and watching him. He has pawned most of the stuff in his house to get it. I have been thru his coke addiction with him and he was clean for three years. That was bad, but candy compared to this. He has lost his job, his son he raised, most friends & family & hurt me when I refuse to give him money for this. All I can do for him is pray for him.
@James Hi, I was a teenager who abused drugs. Not just cannabis, as in this post, but many drugs. A lot of people believed I was doing it in an act of rebel, a way to say ‘[expletive deleted] you’ to my life and society. In some regards it probably was but a part of it was I was battling some major inner demons, as the case with a lot of kids.
When you’re growing up and you’re falling into a chaotic pit of mental health issues, you can often feel alone. You definitely feel like an outcast. You feel like you’re the only person in the world who’s going through this. “Why me God?” is a common question. Drugs, such as cocaine, induce a sense of euphoria and they allowed me, and probably many others, to forget just for a couple of hours, just to get away. It was bliss.
I am not supporting drug abuse. Drug abuse did more damage to my life than I could possibly imagine. For one, I didn’t go to college nor did I finish high school but that might not have happened anyway on account of being hospitalized numerous times over the course of those years.
My point, however, is to make it clear here that drug abuse is often never just the problem itself. It’s a nasty side effect and, regardless of a suspension or kicking them off the football team, a teenager going through serious issues will never stop. If you want them to stop, get to the root of the issue. Don’t get me started on how wrong it actually is to knock children off their favorite extra-curricular activities because of this. This will do more damage than good.
So yeah, this is my view from a reformed drug addict who is now the lead technical director of a marketing company. I think my opinion counts. I’ve just shared something I haven’t shared in a good few years.