When you wake up remembering vivid details of a dream, it’s enough to make you think. If in this dream, a friend who has passed on decides to show up, you hit snooze and close your eyes, willing yourself to drift back.
I hate that I learned about Sara’s passing through Facebook. That I let years go by without staying in better touch. How we both fueled our addictions for over a decade, and neither one of us stopped to actually talk about why. We knew the other was fucked up and had a story – but with every pill, chopped-up line and shot glass, we pacified our pain.
Last night’s dream was so real, it was like no time had passed.
Sara and I met just out of high school. We were in our early twenties and already veteran party-girls, which means our drug use kicked off before the ink on our high school diplomas could dry.
High school. Drugs? Not my kid!
As I’ve said before back in March, it’s pretty easy to fool mom and dad. Most parents don’t see what they don’t want to believe. I’m not saying your kid is gonna end up raiding your medicine cabinet or cut class to smoke a bowl, but statistically speaking – the odds aren’t pretty.
According to the US Government and Columbia University, 1 out of every 5 Teenagers in the US meet the medical criteria for Addiction. This means 1 out of every 5 Teens today is an addict.
If a Teen is lucky enough to be sent to rehab (1 out of 70) and they’re then sent to a regular high school, 90% of them relapse.
I had never heard of a sober high school back in my day, but can’t help but think about what a difference it would’ve made if Sara and I had that option.
I recently purchased a T-shirt to support a friend’s dream in opening up SLAM NYC (Sobriety, Learning and Motivation) a public sober high school in New York City (their first). I don’t have any kids, nor do I live back east (did I really just say “nor?”), but why wouldn’t I fork over some cash to help a sister build a school that will help save lives? I’ve spent more on Venti double lattes.
It’s a total side note that my friend is actress and author Kristen Johnston. If you don’t know her as “that chick from Sex and the City who fell out of the window”, or the recovering pill-popping lush (her words) who penned The New York Times best seller, GUTS, you’re familiar with her Emmy winning performances in 3rd Rock From The Sun. Then there’s Holly, the brazen beauty who cracks us up every week on TV Land’s The Exes.
But enough about the Famous Actress part of Kristen. Let’s get back to SLAM.
The reason I adore Kristen is not because she’s in the public eye for her celebrity – but rather, she’s making a name for her loud-mouthed self in the world of recovery and purpose. Going on seven years sober, she fights tooth and nail to stay on course and takes great pride and happiness (although not responsible for our recovery, as she so brilliantly states in this The Fix article) in helping others do the same. And she also knows how crucial it is to be there for teens, having seen first-hand how this drug epidemic is saturating our rehab programs.
Still think your child isn’t effected by drugs in their school? Hearing these questions from teens in this nine minute video may help wrap your mind around their world:
We all know what a thrill ride adolescence can be. Can you imagine adding addiction to the mix? Thanks to people like Kristen and SLAM, maybe a high schooler you know and love won’t have to.
Here’s the part where you think about pulling out your wallet, clicking this link and ordering a T-Shirt. It’ll be followed by the moment you do, followed by a wave of happy for knowing you helped make a difference.
On behalf of myself, Sara, Kristen, her SLAM family – and countless children who need our help, thank you.
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
8 thoughts on ““Not my kid””
If you had gone to a high school like that, would it have made a difference?
Part of the fun of being a teen is breaking the rules…
Yes but kids break the rules (some, more than others) to see how much they can get away with, and, in my case, to test anyone who gave a shit about whether I was doing them or not.
When you feel as if no one has your back, cares enough to educate you, and takes the time to engage in your life, then drug use (and if you’re the one out of five, addiction) is the natural progression in “normal”, rule breaking behavior.
I absolutely know that a sober high school would have made a difference for me. I wouldn’t have felt so alone, and my behaviors would have been met with intelligent and attentive adults.
It’s one thing to cut classes and drink beer at the football game. It’s an entirely different situation when you’re failing every class, blacking out at parties, having unprotected sex (because you’re too loaded to care), snorting lines and smoking joints off campus when you’re supposed to be in school.
I (barely) graduated high school with a half gram of coke tucked in my bra as I walked the line to accept my diploma. I thought I was so cool. If I attended a sober high school, there’s no way that would have happened – and I would have known how completely UNcool that was.
Christine…thank you for sharing this!! I am a Mom of an addict and it is so hard to overcome the stigma associated with this horrible disease. My Son started using mairjuana at age 12 then quickly progressed to pills and then heroin. We made a very difficult decision when he was age 13 to put him into a rehab. He spent 18 long months there, missed out on his entire high school years. He is now 19 and clean just for today. He came from a very loving and supportive family, solid middle class. Went to a good school, was involved in many sports, just an all-round good kid, still is. Addiction is a BRAIN disease and until it is treated as such our kids will continue to struggle and flounder and, God forbid, die as a result. So many parents have the mentality of “Not my kid”….so so sad.
Hi Pam – Thank you for taking the time to read and share your comment and story.
My mother was one of the “Not my kid” parents.
She and I talk now about the signs that she just didn’t want to see: grades dropping, depression (very hard to differentiate this between normal teenage angst), weight loss, mood swings, theft (she eventually caught on and started bringing her purse with her in the locked bathroom when she took a shower).
I’m happy to read that your boy is 19 and clean just for today. xxoo
Thank you, you lovely, brilliant wordsmith.
Because it might come up, I’d like to explain why a woman smoking is promoting a sober high school. It’s the cover of my book, GUTS, and was taken at the height of my addiction by my ex-boyfriend. It honestly didn’t occur to me, the irony of it. At any rate, that’s why.
And to respond to El Guapo’s very valid thought…I agree teens should have fun, etc. We’re talking about full-blown addicts, kids that are completely reliant on whatever it is (sadly usually prescription meds) to get them through the day.
Yes these schools help, ENORMOUSLY. In fact, the stats from the 25 sober high schools across the US report that 70% graduate clean & sober.
This is an epidemic. It’s out of control, and getting worse every day.
Please go to our website for more info: http://www.slamnyc.org
Thanks for your question!
I’m so proud of you, and am equally passionate about SLAM NYC. Thanks for addressing EGs question and providing more info!
As someone who was in my first rehab at 17 and a born and raised New York City homegrown original, I cannot tell you how this project is needed. It is not just enough to clean kids up, they need a place to go once they kicked the shit out of their system instead of back to the same environment that started it all. Even better yet, START in a sober place.
Thank you Christine for your honesty in your words and your friend Kristen for this passion.
I CAN RELATE.
you can read my story (which you helped me pen here)
On Addiction: Finding My Voice http://wp.me/p3xgjX-9U
Thanks for reading and commenting Michele. I know you can relate!