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Substance Abuse Prevention: Life’s struggles


The picture to the left was a part of our Hoops4Life Basketball Tournament held in November 2014. This was our fourth year hosting the event, and the sticky wall on the left was part of our prevention awareness presentation.

I have spoken often about the importance and need to be able to differentiate between symptoms associated with substance abuse and the root cause, but this does not apply to just substance abuse it applies to all of us across the board whether it be anger problems, anxiety, mental health, issues at school with behaviors, schoolwork etc… It is easy to look at someone who is acting out and label them with anger management issues, a bad kid etc… but it takes time, patience and perseverance to get to know the person, so that you get to know the real problem.

We all have baggage some of us have dealt with our baggage and left it behind, but a lot of people still hold onto it. Even if it is painful and keeps us from moving forward to our full potential, it is familiar and in an odd way comforting. Facing the unknown can be paralyzing for a lot of people whom have had too many hard knocks along the way, so the question is how can we help ourselves and others to put down their baggage?

First, we have to be brave and open that suitcase of painful memories, disappoints, fears…, we need to feel safe enough to grieve, and realize that these things that have happened to us are in the past. This won’t happen overnight, nor should it wounds take time to heal, and everyone once in awhile something may happen that will trigger those old wounds, but we can deal with that we just need to allow ourselves to feel, and really identify what we are feeling, and why we are feeling it and still move forward.

The problem that often occurs for adults is that some of those painful moments in life happened when we were very young, or were so traumatic that we buried them so long ago without dealing with them we don’t even remember them. The past is only the past when we have faced it’s demons and moved beyond them, but often without having been taught the right skills to recognize those events that have impacted our lives and how to process them we bury them and hope that they will go away.

So secondly, we need to start teaching our youth to recognize those things in their lives that are hurting them, and help them to process what is happening and successfully deal with it. We can’t protect our children from everything, but we can give them the tools to be resilient and resourceful.

The wall at our Hoops4Life was one small piece of that. We asked everyone to write about those events that were risk factors in their lives, and/or protective factors. Because we are not alone in our pain, but neither do we need to carry it with us. We can help each other to recognize, identify and deal with whatever happens to us. These moments in our lives will not only pass, but they will also make us stronger.

Happy Holidays


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