Cache Valley not immune to substance
abuse, mother learns the hard way
By Stephanie Hebert
May 12, 2008 | "I thought, 'I can stay three
steps ahead of him, there's no wiggle room here. I know
what he is up to.' My knowledge about what my son was
doing barely scratched the surface. Barely scratched
the surface," a Cache Valley mother, whom we will
call Jane, said about her teenage son's substance abuse
"I'm pretty educated I would say about drug abuse,
and substance abuse, and alcoholism. I thought I was
on top of it," said Jane.
"Cache Valley is not sheltered. It's only sheltered
in the minds of those that aren't antisocial personality
disorder, the ones that don't know how to party, the
ones that are upstanding citizens and go to church every
weekend and there are many of those," said Jane.
Acid and marijuana were Cache Valley's drugs of choice
in the '70s, and then cocaine became very popular in
the '80s with the disco, explained Jane, "Cache
Valley has always had a drug culture."
This Cache Valley teenager, whom we will call Dan,
was lucky. After having some trouble with the law he
was sentenced to a rehabilitation program, and he has
been sober for seven months.
"The times I want to use the most is when I'm
bored, just sitting here. It's a lot easier to stay
clean when you have things to do," said Dan.
The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health
of the Utah Department of Human Services estimates that
4.7 percent or about 82,000 people in Utah over 18,
are in need of treatment for some addiction. Unfortunately
only 15,198 get the treatment that they need.
The number of people who are estimated to be in need
of treatment for an addiction under the age of 18 is
5.1 percent or 12,391 children and teenagers in Utah.
However, there are only 1,271 available beds for underage
addicts in treatment facilities in Utah. That means
that roughly only 10 percent of those that need treatment,
According to the National Center on Addiction and
Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), one-third
of teens attend parties in which adults are present
and teens are drinking, smoking marijuana, using cocaine,
Ecstasy or prescription drugs. By the time teenagers
reach 17, 70 percent will have been offered illegal
drugs reports CASA.
Addiction as defined by the National Institute on
Drug Abuse(NIDA) is a chronic, often relapsing brain
disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use
despite harmful consequences to the individual who is
addicted and to those around him/her.
Dan describes addition as a series of thinking error-
for example, thinking that you have your addiction under
control, can stop anytime you want or glorifying drug
Some of the risk factors of addiction, according to
a documentary that HBO put together with some of the
leading scientists studying in the field of addiction,
* Genes-more than 60 percent of alcoholics have family
histories with alcohol
* Mental illness-especially anxiety disorders, depression
or mood illnesses
* Early use of drugs-the earlier a person first uses
a substance the more likely they are to have a problem
with that substance in the future
* Social Environment-people who are exposed to substance
abuse in their daily settings are more likely to abuse
* Childhood Trauma-abuse or neglect of a child, persistent
conflict within the home, sexual abuse or other traumatic
childhood experience can leave a person vulnerable to
addiction later in life
Dan had a few of those risk factors stacked against
him. He has a history of family addiction problems.
His mother, uncle, and grandfather have all had addiction
problems. However, like her son, Jane, has been sober
following a relapse seven months ago.
Relapse is part of addiction, explains Dr. Anna Rosa
Childress on the HBO Web site about addiction. There
are some common factors in relapse such as drug-related
reminders cues, negative moods and states, positive
moods or celebrations, and sampling the substance itself.
"Once an addict, always and addict," said
Jane. "Addiction is a disease."
Addiction is something that a person has to deal with
every day, Jane explained, while her son agreed by nodding
his head yes. During the rough times of her addiction
Jane attended Alcoholic's Anonymous (AA) meeting three
times a week. She explained that a good support system
is essential to recovering addicts.
When asked if he had any lasting effects from his
drug use Dan said he did, "Legal issues, I'm 18
years old, I don't have a car, I'm living at home still,
I lost my license for a year, and everyone else is out
there having fun and driving around and doing all that
stuff and I'm stuck at home."
Dan did graduate from high school while in rehabilitation
and is hoping to attend Utah State University in the
fall to study forestry.
For more information about addiction, HBO put all
its information on a Web site that is very informative
www.hbo.com/addiction. Addiction is not just a disease
that an effects only one person, it affects anyone close
to the addicted individual. If you know someone who
has an addiction problem and would like to get them
help a good place to start is the local AA chapter.
The phone number of the local AA chapter is 435-755-7772.