Highlights of the Presentation
On August 6, 2016, 51 teenagers representing all 15 Arizona counties gathered in Phoenix for the 2016 Arizona Governor’s Youth Commission Orientation. There, they were separated into four committees, each headed by a chairman: distracted driving, bullying, teen dating violence, civics education, and substance abuse. I was appointed as the chairman of the substance abuse committee, through which I, along with eight other teens, will be promoting awareness of youth substance abuse in order to aid in its prevention throughout Arizona.
At the orientation, we had the privilege of hearing from a guest speaker- Carrie, from notMYkid, an organization that is dedicated to preventing negative youth behavior, including but not limited to youth substance abuse. Carrie highlighted her experiences with three youth-related issues: substance abuse, bullying, and teen dating violence. Here are some of the brief highlights of her presentation on substance abuse:
“Hold your breath for as long as you can,” Carrie began, “and don’t let it out until you absolutely have to.” We all inhaled, each of us glancing around the room anticipatorily, waiting to see who would exhale first. I was one of the first.
“That is what drug addicts feel like when they don’t use,” she explained thirty seconds later, asking us to let out our breath if we hadn’t already. “It’s like holding your breath but not being able to exhale- you feel the need to use so badly that you can’t think about anything else or do anything else.” Exhausted from holding our breaths for so long, we nodded our heads in agreement.
Carrie began using marijuana at 10 years old. “I thought it was natural and wouldn’t harm me,” she explained. “Soon enough, my marijuana use escalated into using other drugs.”
At age twelve, she began using crystal meth.
Five years later, Carrie learned that she was pregnant with a baby boy. But her addiction to crystal meth made her lose sight of her goals- college, a career, and raising a child. “Soon enough, I lost my son, my mind, and my freedom,” she said.
At 21, she was processed into prison.
“After I got out, I lived on a street corner. I had no home, no family, and no friends.” But fortunately, Carrie found resources.
She began to attend anonymous self-help groups and piece her life back together. Today, she works as a counselor at notMYkid, where she goes out into the community and shares her experiences as a victim of youth substance abuse in hopes that she can prevent others from falling into the same plight.
“With addiction comes shame, and shame is what chains you to a drug,” she concluded, encouraging us to spread the word about helpful community resources for addicts that will help them overcome their shame and break free from their addiction, including 1-800 numbers. Heeding to her words, here are some helpful links and resources below. You can also visit the Resources page under the "Get Involved" tab on this website for many more resources.
1-800-662-HELP (4357) - National Substance Abuse Hotline, open 24/7, 365 days a year
Click here to view a site that provides a list of resources for victims of substance abuse and their families.
Visit the Resources page under the "Get Involved" tab for more resources.
Who: A speaker from notMYkid shares her personal experiences and words of wisdom concerning youth substance abuse.
When: August 6th, 2016
Where: The Arizona Governor's Youth Commission Orientation in Phoenix, AZ
Note: The speaker's name has been changed to maintain anonymity.