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Aug062012

Young Adults in Recovery Living Consciously

By: Robert W. Poynter, III, MS, EdS, LPC

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I am seeing a surplus of young adults struggling with substance and alcohol abuse. When I say substance abuse, that includes using drugs such as marijuana, LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), meth, cocaine, heroin, prescription pills, bath salts, and synthetic marijuana called spice. And yes, I am leaving out several other drugs, because this is what we are seeing the most, especially during the summer. I can speak for many counselors that young adults are reaching higher levels of addiction earlier in their lives due to the potency of the drugs found on the streets today. And with it being summer time and kids being out of high school, in transition into college, or home from college, I have seen an increase in young adults seeking substance abuse treatment. For many of these young adults in recovery, I am finding out that this is not their first time trying to get clean and sober. When I say trying, I will elaborate in further detail as to what is really going on with these young adults in our neighborhoods and in our homes.

 I will share a story of a young man in his early 20’s that sees me every week and is battling a severe heroin addiction. He comes from an upper-middle class family that supports and loves him. He comes to me and tells me that he really wants to get sober and wants to be happy. He continues to tell me that he feels isolated and sad. He also feels like nobody understands him, including his friends and family. When I attempt to connect with him by expressing empathy on a deeper level, I notice his profound sadness and the tears begin to roll down his face. It had taken him over a year to finally let his guard down and shed a tear. He tells me he uses drugs to escape the feelings of sadness. But, in this session, where he finally felt something, I told him that I now feel more connected to him than I ever had. In that moment, I felt something, I felt his pain. I allowed my guard to be lowered to show him that I too was sad. He noticed tears building in my eyes, and he said it was the first time someone could connect and understand him. I told him that the emotions he is feeling are real and are what most people feel. We explored how the emotions he was feeling were positive emotions, meaning that he was able to express them in a healthy and functional way and in the company of someone who truly cares and wants to help him. This young man began a new journey to discover his core self and to learn what it is like to feel again.

With the trend of young adults in recovery, I have found that there are many programs out there treating folks like they are just a number or an “addict”. So, I have decided to create a program within my practice that will accept anyone for any length of time. We are going to accommodate young adults in recovery anywhere from one week to 90 days, if not more. The vision is to meet our young adults wherever they are at and to treat them like ordinary people, because they are unique and wonderful. It is a unique and individualistic program that will work from a holistic and humanistic approach. In our young adult recovery program, we share our deepest concern and compassion with every individual. One thing is for certain, you will not be disappointed with our efforts to help, teach, and guide our young adults towards self-actualization, where one becomes more aware of what he or she is capable of. I truly believe that our species is not aware of what we can achieve or what we are capable of, so I work diligently to help young adults in recovery to find their life’s purpose and meaning in their life’s experiences. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, allow us to help you. 

Published in Our Town Magazine (July 2012)

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