AIDS Awareness And Substance Abuse
Ginni Correa ❘
December is AIDS Awareness Month. Tragically, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS are closely related, but integrated treatment for both is available.
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Take the first step towards recovery
by Jeffrey Juergens | ❘
Being a teenager is hard enough when you have a strong support system; not everyone does, and lacking that support can make things especially difficult for those dealing with teenage addiction. When the people in your life have let you down, hurt you, destroyed you, and knocked you down, where else is there for you to go? Do you turn to your parents, friends, other family members, teachers, coaches, or someone else? Instead of a person, do you turn to destructive and risky behaviors? When you’re struggling with extreme conflict at home, what you desire most is to fit in and feel loved and taken care of. Some of the thrill of addiction and drug use is the feeling that you belong, that someone else “gets” what you are going through. Even better, it’s someone who won’t kick you when you are down but rather someone who boosts you up and makes your life better.
It’s important to remember that no matter how lonely you feel, you are never alone. Find a friend who will walk alongside you through all of your failures and mistakes, a friend that holds you accountable for your next step when you fall short of greatness. Have a friend who will keep all of your secrets, hug you while you cry, and hold your hand through it all. Someone out there is willing to listen to you and show you that hope is around the corner. Whether they are a professional, a friend, or just someone you encounter at a coffee shop, someone is willing and ready to listen.
What happens when you fall through cracks, and the people who were supposed to support you fell through the cracks themselves? As a teenager, it’s almost impossible to see the bridge over these troubled waters. This bridge leads to hundreds of paths, paths to success and paths to failure. Remember, it is always easier to fall than it is to climb back up. It’s easier to fall into the curse of addiction. With addiction, all we feel is anger, hate, frustration, and shame. This is the teenage definition of love and what it means to be loved. As love grows through these relationships, so does the anger, hate, frustration, and shame. These feelings eventually become reality until the addiction becomes so strong that it is all-consuming. Despite all of this, there is always hope somewhere inside.
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As a former struggling teenager, I promise you that there is hope on the other side. After growing up with the albatross of addiction hanging around my neck (amongst many others), it was only natural that the curses would come to fruition. As feelings of love were disguised by words of anger, hate, frustration, and shame, a different kind of love was sought out. The simple route to discover what love truly meant was to fall into the curse of addiction with friends and intimate relationships that encouraged negative behavior.
The more the enemy had a grip on my heart, the more I became worthless and defeated; I was dying to myself from the inside out. With feelings of abandonment from my mother’s pursuit of drugs and promiscuity, this rotten self-worth was all I knew. At some point, I decided that the grass had to be greener somewhere else and that it was time to crawl up the bridge to success and out of teenage addiction. I knew that life was more than smoking Marijuana, drinking heavily, skipping school, and having sex. I wasn’t sure what else was out there, but I knew that there was more. As I discovered more and left behind my obsession with drugs and alcohol, an entirely new world revealed itself. This world was filled with love, not anger and hatred. I was crowned with grace, honor, purity, and integrity.
Any behavior you have learned, whether it is violence or substance abuse, you learned somewhere. This behavior has become normal and comfortable for you. Chances are, if you’re reading this, the damage has been done or close to it. Take a moment to think about your home life; was there arguing, fighting, and violence? Did your parents drink just a little too much wine at every dinner? Did they come home stumbling and slurring their words, causing fights and violence? You are not alone; you have learned this behavior from someone. You’re not alone in your thoughts, your desire to be high or drunk, or your desire to hurt yourself. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Be strong enough to reach out to someone before you hurt yourself.
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
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