I work with adolescents who struggle with substance abuse. For the sake of confidentiality I cannot go into detail about the individuals I work with; however, I did want to talk about my personal experience in just the few short months I have been working in this field.
As many of my friends and family know I am making the move to get my LCSW. (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). I recently graduated with my Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. Saying that has become so causal. I have said it so many times it has almost lost its meaning. Whenever I take the time to think about it — I am seriously in awe that I have a Bachelor’s degree and a diploma to prove it.
I listen to stories of these adolescents that I work with and they come from extremely broken homes. They have lost parents. They have experienced abuse in every form imaginable. They have survived things that most youth fortunately do not have to. At first I pitied them; but they don’t want to pitied. They don’t want to be told what to do. And they certainly don’t want you to tell them drugs are bad — stay in school — and listen to your parents. They have lost faith in authority. So many people have let them down.
I certainly do not want to add to that mistrust. I do everything I can to give them options. My job is to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to while they try to successfully complete the rehabilitative program. My job is not to label them. It is not to hurt them further. It is not to make them feel bad for the mistakes they have made. I am a mentor that can show them by example what life can be like sober.
They can graduate college. I used to believe I wasn’t going to make it. After my mother died I didn’t even know it was an option. But somewhere down the line someone spoke up for me and it made all the difference. These adolescents deserve to be spoken up for. They deserve to have a clean slate. They deserve to see and live a life free of harm. The majority of them turned to drugs because it was a way to numb the shit they had no control over. The abuse. Their parents. Their friends. Their family. The grief. The trauma.
I don’t blame them.
But I’m over here waving my hands big enough so they can see me even if they’re drowning. Because I am here.
That’s basically what I have been trying to emphasize while working with these individuals. They have taught me that they are mostly just regular teens. And they just need someone to believe in them.