Trending More Dangerous
"We are seeing that substance abuse amongst young adults is trending to more dangerous and addictive drugs."
- Stella Wilson Alexian Brothers / Clinicial Supervisor Adolescents - Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital
Trying To Shift Addictions
"Young adults are seeking that feel good high, and we are trying to shift their addictions to more positive activities like exercise and charity work."
- Jackie Michelson Rhew / Assistant Director of School Refusal Program - Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital
When I was growing up I didn’t always feel like I belonged. I had really bad anxiety and didn’t know how to deal with it. I was 15 when I first started drinking. It started with a few drinks here and there alone in my house and progressed quickly. I started to drink more alcohol more often, with and without friends. I said I would never do drugs and the “friends” that I hung around kept trying to pressure me into trying marijuana. Eventually I gave in and tried it, from then on I was hooked. Using allowed me to escape from reality and escape from the feelings of anxiety. Doing drugs also gave me a sense of belonging and an easy way to relate to other people who used drugs.
While in active addiction I was lying, cheating, manipulating, and stealing. I was not the person I wanted to be and I had no control over my addiction. I was putting myself and others in danger with my behaviors during my active addiction. I was powerless in my addiction and I couldn’t find a way out. About two years into my addiction, I was drinking and using anywhere from four to seven days a week. I started to see that I had a problem and that I didn’t want to continue with that way of life. I could not stop drinking and using on my own, I had tried many times. I would come home drunk at night and wake up the next morning, hungover and throwing up. I said to myself I would never drink again. By three o’clock I was drinking again.
After about two and a half years of active addiction my parents became mostly aware of what I was doing. They brought me to an outpatient treatment center called F.A.I.R. (Families and Adolescents In Recovery). While in treatment I admitted that I am an alcoholic and an addict and came to terms with that. After 6 months of outpatient treatment I graduated the program. I continued to volunteer at the treatment center and give back what I had gained from treatment. Eventually I was offered a job as a peer counselor at F.A.I.R.
While in recovery I found many different ways to cope with the emotions that I covered up with drinking. One of them was Ignite Hope which allowed me to work out to relieve stress. When I found out about Ignite Hope approximately 2 years ago I couldn’t believe it was true. I was looking for good deals at local gyms and was very close to getting a membership. While I was at F.A.I.R. I found out about Ignite Hope and what the foundation has to offer. I could get a membership and the possibility of a scholarship! Ignite Hope encouraged me to become more involved in volunteer and service work. Along with volunteering at F.A.I.R., I started volunteering consistently at the Buddy Foundation which is a no-kill animal shelter in Arlington Heights. Overall, Ignite Hope helped me to branch out into making new connections and immersing myself into new and healthy communities. Ignite Hope also gave me new ways to deal with stress and other emotions that in the past caused me to turn to drugs and alcohol. Many opportunities have come my way now that I am clean and sober. One of them includes having the great opportunity to attend Loyola University Chicago this fall. I will be majoring in Criminal Justice/Criminology with a minor in Psychology of Crime and Justice in hopes of joining a law enforcement agency.
My name is Sean, I'm 21 years old, I'm from the Chicagoland area, I go to school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and I have 4 and a half years sober. At the age of 17 I was admitted into a rehabilitation center for adolescents with substance abuse and mental health issues. My admission to the center was made possible by a combination of various drug abuse and dependence diagnoses. Soon after admission I also was diagnosed with a depressive disorder, and later on ADHD. Sitting in rehab for my drug use, I had never thought that my upbringing, heredity, life choices, and downward spiral of legal troubles, aloofness, and apathy toward everything and anyone up till that point would eventually have me labeled as an alcoholic and drug addict. Until then, I had no plans for life, was angry most things, had no plans of going to college and was at an emotional bottom.
Several months later, after plenty of self-discovery and hard lessons, I discovered a better path. Instead of going out every day after school and every night and returning home to fight with my mother, I now enjoy healthier activities, am more social, and have a thriving relationship with my mother. Through different programs and aids, I have a support system to constantly remind me that there is more to life and there is meaning in everything. I am now a Junior in college capable of achieving straight A's instead of ample D's. I still struggle with depression, and it is debilitating at times to say the least. However, with the help of programs such as 12-Step Programs and Ignite Hope, I no longer have an attitude of indifference on if I died tomorrow. Meetings help me to deal with life and my own emotions in a healthy manner through community and support, and Ignite Hope helps me build and maintain my self-esteem as well as stay busy through physical activity and volunteer work. Life is undoubtedly still a struggle, and at points that seems like an understatement, but one thing is for sure; I have discovered my path thanks to the help I have been given, and more need to experience the love that I have received.
As a college student living on my own, I have an extremely tight budget on what I can spend month-to-month and still remain afloat. Having to fend for myself, I’ve made scarifies in my life that included gym memberships, health insurance and other forms of spending like buying takeout or going to a show. But about a year ago, I was given the opportunity to enhance my life as a young sober adult with Ignite Hope. I met Kate Schneider who presented her vision combining service work and fitness health with several options that adhered to different styles of working out. I think it’s really neat what Kate and her team does at Ignite Hope, they gave me a chance to fit working out back into my life in exchange for doing community service every month. Not only do I get to workout at Lifetime, which is a really nice facility, but I GET the chance to give back my time and labor doing community service with places like Feed My Starving Children. It makes me appreciate what I have today; I feel a sense of purpose and motivation in my recovery that I felt was lacking.
Being an addict in recovery, Ignite Hope has empowered me to live a healthier and more well rounded lifestyle. Although I have been sober for three years, I have become happier and healthier since being a part of Ignite Hope. Because of Ignite Hope I am motivated to go to the gym at least twice a week, which is a great outlet for my emotions. Through working out I have been able to cope with emotions, build self esteem, and feel healthier overall! I have also enjoyed volunteering and giving back to the community. The people at ignite hope are awesome! Everyone I have dealt with is extremely responsive, helpful, and understanding. I feel like Ignite Hope really cares about me and my goals!