By Melissa McMahon and Teresa Johnston
As we move toward the holidays, we are excited about the thought of time spent with family during our breaks from work and school. As you read the following story written by one of our own KSU employees and Parent and Family Programs advocate, think about the conversations you may want to have with your student during this special time at home.
Written and shared by Melissa McMahon:
My son was “that” guy in high school. He was good looking, a star football player, a championship wrestler and popular. He was accepted to his father’s alma matter in Oklahoma upon graduation. He had flown home from college unexpectedly to attend the funeral of a friend of his. His friend at the age of 27 had died from a drug overdose. Twenty-four hours after the funeral, my son was found unconscious in his friend’s basement, still in the suit and tie that he wore to the funeral the day before.
It was in the ER when they finally let me see him. He was so pale and his lips and fingers had a bluish tint. He had tubes everywhere, breathing tubes, IVs…. I didn’t know where to touch him so I cupped his head in my hands and smoothed his hair away from his face. He felt so cold and clammy…his short dirty blond hair was soft and damp.
He was transferred to the ICU. We were told to call our family because we would need the support, and because we should ”prepare” ourselves. The doctors did not know how long he was without an adequate supply of oxygen to his brain. On the fifth day in the ICU he woke up. He wiggled his toes. He knew his name.
Physically recovering from the overdose was the easy part. The process of being a recovering addict is ongoing. He spent 60 days in a recovery program. It was recommended that he continue his recovery in a long-term care facility. My son was adamant that no way in hell was he going to a long-term care program. I had to trust the process and the team of therapists and addiction counselors that were helping him. I had to give one of many ultimatums to my son. Accept your treatment plan or you are on your own…no home, no car, no money.
He chose to go a long-term treatment program on the Georgia Coast for six months and ended up staying a year and a half. The last six months of the program he was a “house leader” who provided leadership and support for the new arrivals. He attests that his recovery and his success is due to this support system, his AA family and his faith. He started classes this fall.
I’m not gonna lie, it is a challenge to stay out of my son’s recovery. I can be consumed with worrying about him missing his AA meetings, or if he is skipping classes or if he is using again. When I start thinking more about his recovery than my own recovery, I know that I need to reach out to my support system. They help me stay in the present, remind me to take care of myself and they remind me to let God take care of the rest…including my son.
Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery, Executive Director, Teresa Johnson, shares her thoughts on her lifework of helping students in recovery on KSU’s campus:
Words like alcohol, drugs, addiction, substance misuse, alcoholism, eating disorders and recovery conjure many different kinds of feelings.
It is often during the college years that alcohol, drugs and unhealthy behaviors begin to occupy a larger part of student lives — socially, and experientially. It is also often the time when those in recovery from addiction weigh the risk of coming to college, a place that can be a hostile environment to recovery.
The Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery is here to help KSU students, faculty, parents and the community at large gain a better understanding of alcohol and other drugs, addiction and recovery at this critical juncture. Our comprehensive approach has proven very effective in helping students and the community.
How do I know if my student has a problem?
Here are some things that can be considered “signals.” If any of these behaviors apply to your student, they might want to look more carefully at their substance use or make an appointment to talk with us.
- If you’ve had a DUI or gotten in trouble with the police for drinking/drug use
- If you’ve ever experienced a blackout (couldn’t remember the night before)
- If your friends or family have expressed concerns about your substance use
- If you find yourself drinking or using privately, or to get “warmed up” for a party
- If you find yourself frustrated that there’s not enough to drink or use at a party
- If you think about drinking or using at odd times of the day – like during a class
- If your family has a history of addiction
- If your behaviors or substance use has you in a cycle of saying “I will never do that again” — and you do that again.
For more questions and answers find us at:
KSU | Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery — FAQs