Health Day News reported on April 21, 2009 that teen binge drinking damages white matter in the brain, which helps to relay information. The MRI study showed that the effects of binge drinking impair memory and the negatively affect performance in school. With the current rate of adolescent binge drinking in the US, at least one in four teens are at risk for this type of damage. I know that my alcohol abuse negatively affected my performance in school, and the effects reached far beyond my memory and ability to concentrate. The disease of addiction consumed all areas of my life. The constant obsession of when I was going to get my next pill, fix, or drink kept me completely preoccupied. My obsession with getting drunk and high made me put aside the things I really cared about, like my family. I damaged a lot more than my white brain matter. I didn’t think I could ever repair the damage I had done to my family, and didn’t think I would ever get their trust back. I pretty much resigned myself to living with my parents in Los Angeles and just squeaking by. Fortunately, my parents weren’t in on this plan.
As my life at school and at home deteriorated, I was forced to make some tough decisions: flunk out of school and hit the mean streets of the LA, or take the help that was offered to me and try to find another way to live. I decided to go with the latter and give recovery a shot. I didn’t have much to lose. At Visions, I had an opportunity to participate in family sessions. In multi-family groups, all of the families got a chance to share in each other’s challenges and celebrations. I got to hear not only from my own family, but from other families, to see how much our addictions hurt and scared them, and how much our little successes made them happy. In individual family sessions at the treatment center, my family and I began the process of healing some of the damage done. I started to see how much my actions affected my family, and they got to see me growing and changing. Visions also offered guidance to my family on how to best help me and deal with me. I am so grateful for the help that Visions gave my family and me. We have our challenges, as every family does, but now we all have new tools to help love and understand each other.