I started getting into bars and drinking at 14. By 15 I was smoking pot, at 16 I had left home and was dropping acid. At 17 I snorted speed and coke and by the time I was 18 I was having 20 panic attacks and extreme anxiety every day.
I just about made it through school, my grades were in the toilet. I couldn’t wait to leave and get a job because I wanted to make money so I could party even more.
This was a long time ago (OK, back in the 80′s, you do the math) and I had never heard of sobriety let alone rehab or a sober high school. I can’t imagine what a difference they would have made to my life.
I remember being 17 years old and suicidal. I would stand at the side of the road and look at the bus coming towards me and try to rustle up the courage to step in front of it. I knew something was very, very wrong with me.
I really didn’t want to die, I just didn’t know how live and I had no idea where to get help.
After 12 years of hell I finally got sober. It was a close thing, I nearly died either by putting myself in dangerous situations or because I was often suicidal. I have no idea why I’m not dead or wasn’t raped or attacked. I thought I’d permanently impaired my mental health but I managed to escape that hole as well.
I was one of the lucky ones but so many are not.
I’ve spent a lot of my professional life working with teenagers and they really are the most incredible group to work with. With the right help they still have a real shot at turning their lives around and overcoming their problems to lead happy and successful lives.
I know, I’ve seen it.
We have to invest in our children.
Sober High Schools can make that difference, they can take a life destined for destruction and put it back on track.
Addiction isn’t a behavioural problem or even a choice. It’s a response to an internal condition.
It’s a cry for help.
And we MUST respond to it.
Which is why I want to support Kristen Johnston’s efforts in bringing a sober high school to New York City. Instead of explaining why this is so important, I’m going to ask you to watch this brief video. And then if you want to help by owning a very cool ‘Gut’s T-shirt (and who wouldn’t want a stoned Kristen Johnston across their chest) to support SLAM (Sober Learning and Motivation). You can buy one here. Today there are 30 Sober High Schools flourishing across the United States and yet not one of them is in New York City. After Kristen gets her way (and she will) and starts one in New York, I’m going to ask her to campaign for one in London. In the UK the last rehab dedicated for teenagers closed a few years ago. It really doesn’t matter where these kids are, they need our help. If you have been touched by addiction, please think about what you can do to support them.