Here we go again with another new year and the hope that we can change some things. It makes it hard to change because we are all so imperfect. Change does not always feel good or easy but change is a necessary part of living. When an addict works on their recovery, they know they have to change but the motivation and the knowledge of how to change can be lacking. People in recovery need to change people, places and things. You can't hang with people who choose to just go to bars and drink or shoot heroin. But how do you make new friends?
Young people in high school probably have the hardest time. They are unlikely to change where they are living or the school they are attending. The other students know they are users and usually do not change their attitude towards them. I had a client at a high school who got into recovery and was accepted into a very good college. But in his yearbook, a fellow student wrote” good luck junkie” . This young person in recovery dropped out of the band and any other club he was in due to this lack of respect for his change. He told me he just had to suck up the stigma and graduate.
Most high schools have students who volunteer to be buddies for special needs students and I am grateful for these Best Buddies as I have a son with Down Syndrome But do any high schools have students who volunteer to befriend students in recovery? These students may have degraded academics due to their drug use. They may not have got their drivers license or have lost it due to substance abuse. They may not have taken their SAT tests or have lots of good things to put down in their second portfolio for their college application. Are their parents supportive or fed up after years of their kids drug use? Are there colleges that will give them a second chance?
Recovery is very hard work. People in recovery deserve to be supported and applauded. Hard work, being responsible and motivated are factors that colleges, parents, other students and employers should recognize. As counselors we suggest: get a flexible or part time job, take remedial English or math classes if that is your placement, attend a community college before you take a full academic load,gain confidence, volunteer, go to the gym instead of a party where there is likely to be drug use, work the steps and make amends to the people you have hurt. Change, become the new you and live up to your potential. It is a new year. And the rest of us imperfect people need to change our attitude towards addictions. It is a disease and we should be supportive of people in recovery.