The following post was written by a Crossroads halfway house client, Missy W.
Recently, I had a unique opportunity to attend a conference at Sanford Community Adult Education. Accompanying me to this meeting was the program manager of Crossroads Back Cove, Nikki Oliver, and a client from Milestone Foundation.
We were there to share our stories of experience, strength and hope with the educators of the community. Our main objective was to provide insight and answers to questions the teachers may have about addiction warning signs and what they could do to help.
At the beginning of the meeting, we all introduced ourselves. Nikki began by speaking about her background as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC). Nikki answered questions asked by the teachers, who inquired about everything from Ala-teen (when and where these meetings are held and if they are still available to teenagers) to what they can do to improve their relationships with students who are currently dealing with substance abuse issues.
The teachers appeared interested in knowing that addiction seems to stop a person from maturing. If a person’s addiction starts in their teens to early 20’s, by the time they are in their 40’s, having abused drugs and alcohol for some many years, they still have the mental thought process of the person they were twenty years before.
There are typically three major barriers that increase the risk of substance abuse. Trauma, cognitive mental health issues (poly-substance abuse) and genetics can all play a part in the beginning stages of substance abuse and can often be very difficult to overcome for anyone.
The client from Milestone provided a lot of guidance to the teachers when he said that it would be helpful to recognize that if a student is using substances and the teacher is aware of it; The teacher should address the student one on one and offer his or her help. He also stated that it is important to realize and understand that when the student is “ready,” then they will seek the help they need. He told his courageous experience to the teachers to help enlighten them on his personal signs and struggles that he encountered in school. Not only was he very encouraging, but he was insightful.
I also shared my experience with the teachers. This was helpful for me, and I hope it was as helpful to them as well. I was able to let them in on my trauma as a child, which I believe began my journey into drug addiction. It also played a large part of several addictions in my life. I had an eating disorder and struggled with many learning curves. I shared with the teachers that I believe that one on one interaction is crucial to students for many reasons, but mostly because it lets the student know that they are there for them and the door is always open.
The day went exceptionally well. We were all praised and thanked for our participation. The teachers were very receptive to the information we provided on our personal experiences. Nikki was not only thorough, but also informative and knowledge on these subjects. I know for me personally, this was truly a gift and a great opportunity to help teachers help students. I hope that what we all shared can make a difference somewhere for someone. This was truly a privilege that has the potential to benefit many… One teacher, One student, One day… at a time.