MINNEAPOLIS – There are many reasons why this day of the year is special. But there’s also a lesser-known reason why it’s a dangerous holiday for teens.
He’s only 16, but Dominic has a lot to think about: “I’m just looking back at my history, what I’ve done before, and what I can do to change it.”
He grew up with his mother and sisters in the Twin Cities: “I never had a father. I kind of went out, tried to find that brotherhood, because I’ve always wanted a brother too.”
He says he found him with a group of friends who introduced him to drugs. It started when he was about 13 years old, with weed: “It was weed, and then with a bunch of people that I was hanging around with, everything immediately switched to fentanyl.”
He says this is the time of year when it was easiest to use: “Summer is like there is no school, so there is no place where you can have problems. In summer, there are a lot more people, events, more things on the street. on, parties.”
At the age of 15, drugs nearly killed Dom. Took two benefits – fentanyl pills: “I sat on the floor in the dark and took a pill. I don’t remember anything else after that. As friends say … they turned on the light and I was lying face down on the wet ground and my face was purple, my arms, my arms, my legs, my face was all pale and someone said it even looked like my hair had turned blonde. They woke me up by giving me 4 milligrams of narcan. Then I woke up and there was about ten flashlights, saying that you are lucky that you are alive … “
As startling as his story is, it is far from unique. Especially at this time of the year.
Sadie Brown is Associate Director of the Minnesota Prevention and Recovery Alliance.
“Statistically, twice as many teenage boys are admitted to the emergency room on July 4 for drug or alcohol use than any other weekend in the summer,” Brown said. She says it’s because of the freedom of the summer, fewer schools, less structure, and lots of parties that revolve around alcohol.
She says a good way to get through long drug-free summer days is to talk to teenagers and ask them to come up with a punishment before anything goes wrong. you break a rule, I’m not imposing consequences on you, but a family conversation about what the risks are and how dangerous it is.”
She says teens with alarm flags are struggling just like Dom — isolation, increased spending, and anything that just feels OFF.
As for Dom, he says he feels like he got a second chance at life: “Every person I know has said damn Dom, you look different, you went from a zombified person to a supermodel, you’re just crazy, bro.”
He is working to maintain this new look and feel during his treatment at the MN Adult and Teen Challenge, where he learned to weld – a new profession – and a new perspective. He says his future looks bright: “I can’t explain it, but there’s been a big change.”
This summer, Teen Challenge has a virtual Zoom program where anyone can learn more about substance abuse and find resources.
Groups take place virtually on Tuesdays at 12:00 and Thursdays at 14:00. More information can be found here. here.
General resources for parents and teens can be found here.