Planting the Seed for Youth with Alcohol/Drug Disorders

Nicole* is a teenager who faced serious issues including addiction, suicidal thoughts, and emotions that had a destructive impact on her life. She is one of many youth who find sobriety and healthier coping methods through Choices, an inpatient residential program for youth (ages 12-17) struggling with alcohol/substance use disorders.

The path to sobriety can be intense. "I surrender," Nicole said to Aleisha Cole, Choices Unit Supervisor. "Tell me what to do, and I'll do it. I don't want to live like this anymore."

"We help clients deal with their baggage," Cole said. "Often they come in with family or relationship issues, and we help them work through things—to actually feel rather than to rely on drugs."

Choices provides schooling as well as 25 hours per week of counseling, and group therapy that address topics such as anger management, coping skills, and relapse prevention. Choices also helps many youth to improve their academic performance, as students who were struggling academically have taken GED courses and graduated.

In the past, many of the youth came into the program with the same addictions, frequently alcohol or marijuana, but recent years have seen a dramatic increase in varied other drugs that cause youth to seek help. All the while, successful stories of healing continue to unfold.

Cole shared that former clients often call her, saying things like, "It's been a year and I’m still sober," "Remember when you taught me to pray to my Higher Power every morning? I still do that," and even, "You made me make my bed every day—I still make it the same way." The calls are an incredible testament to young people who are being positively impacted by the program.

"We plant the seed," Cole said. "Watching a client walk in the doors and knowing nothing about them, but not being judgmental...then watching them walk out with the tools they need to water that seed and watch it grow—that's the most meaningful part of my job."

*Name changed to protect confidentiality

Veronica Campbell, a 2019 Valparaiso University Calling and Purpose in Society (CAPS) Fellow, wrote this and several articles in this issue of Inspired.