Body Image Eating Disorders Mental Health

Eating Disorders: They Happen to Boys Too

He was 12 and his social circle was made up primarily of girls. It always had been. Sports weren’t of interest, and neither was the usual competitive atmosphere of boyhood. Frankly, William was a boy who’d rather draw, or ride his bike, or bake with his mom. When his girl-friends began the fat-talk, he thought it was ridiculous, but in truth, he began to silently take it all in. He started to look at himself and wonder if maybe he, too, was fat. William, being on the outskirts of male culture, found himself being seduced by the culture of thinness. While his male friends (yes, he had those too) began bulking up from sports and the like, he began to get thinner and thinner. All of a sudden, he found himself controlled by the demon we all know as ED.

Jonas was 14, a football hero in the making, but not nearly as “built” as some of his pals. Determined to get the much sought after V shape idealized by fitness magazines and late-night televisions ads, he started an exercise regimen which soon became obsessive and excessive. It wasn’t an issue of not being thin enough for Jonas. Instead, the issue was being fit enough. Before he knew it, his focus was entirely spent on attaining this idealized body type–one that didn’t quite fit into his genes: Jonas was a short, stocky kid with short, stocky parents. Still, ED wormed its way into Jonas’ life as well, albeit in a different form.

In Brave Girl Eating, Harriet Brown talks about the eating disorder as a demon. She describes the personality change that occurs when the Eating Disorder (ED) is speaking with its loud ferocity. The provocative noise is terrifying in the mind of the one suffering, but sadly, it’s often drowned out by the disease itself. In truth, ED nullifies ones real sense of self and replaces it with an unrealistic desire for perfection and control. One thing that shows up repeatedly with an eating disorder is this desire for perfection, which shows up in school as good grades, in sports as high-scorers, in Girl Scouts as top sellers. Eating disorders are often about gaining control when something in one’s life feels definitively out of control.

We are used to talking about girls when we talk about eating disorders, as though we assume boys are unaffected. But they are, and those numbers are increasing. Unfortunately, eating disorders can carry the stigma of being something women suffer from–This invites a higher probability of men and boys not asking for help. Recently, MSNBC highlighted three young men whose lives had been heavily impacted by eating disorders. One of the young men lost his life after an 8-year battle with anorexia. He just wanted a six-pack.

More than a million boys and men battle an eating disorder every day and “approximately 10% of eating disordered individuals coming to the attention of mental health professionals are male.” (National Eating Disorder Association).  The culture of “thin” is not only negatively impacting girls and women, but it’s begun to surreptitiously spin its nasty web in male culture. Advertizing aimed at women and girls suggests dieting and weight loss while ads geared toward men encourage fitness, weight-lifting, and muscle toning, so it makes sense that the female population is starving themselves or fat-talking their way out of life. But men and boys are suffering too, and they need a safe place to ask for help. Eating disorders are frightening, and not just for those watching the demise of someone they love. Being in it and listening to that voice of doom is terrifying. Getting help shouldn’t be another hurdle to climb.

For more information on Eating Disorders:

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

National Association for Males with Eating Disorders

International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals

Eating Disorders Coalition

Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders Resource Center

Fact Sheet (NEDA) What’s Going On With Me?

Study: The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication


Anniversary Blogs Service Treatment

Joseph Rogers: Educational Director at Visions Day School

It was January, 2005 when Joseph Rogers joined the Visions crew. He started out as a tech but soon moved on to exercise his teaching and psychology degrees as the Educational Director at our Outpatient Day School. Since then, he has created an environment of trust and care within the classroom. Joseph has also created a wonderful space for nurturing spirituality, as he’s lead a weekly meditation group for the several years. In many ways, Joseph has become the gardener of spirituality and compassion amongst those that are under his tutelage. Many an alumni make efforts to come back for visits and to ask him for advice or direction when they encounter difficulties, and regardless of circumstance, he greets them with an open heart.

Joseph is currently pursuing his Masters in Divinity at the University of the West. He has long been pulled toward teaching the practice of meditation and becoming a chaplain will allow him to reach more people struggling with addiction and mental health from the spiritual perspective. It’s exciting to know that we’ll have a chaplain in our midst.

The Visions team genuinely adores Joseph. This really became apparent to me when I began to receive comments about him from some of his colleagues. What I received was amazing and heartfelt. We are truly lucky to have Joseph Rogers in our midst:

Fiona A. Ray, our Director of Outpatient and Aftercare Services had this to say, “Joseph’s approach to instilling academic esteem with his students is unparalleled and refreshing.  He brings creative innovation to the learning process and continues to develop new methods to address various learning styles.  It is an honor and a privilege to work in tandem with someone who inspires both his students and co-workers.

Daniel Dewey, our Teacher/Residential Director of Education, aptly quotes the Buddha when he thinks of Joseph, “His work is to discover his work and then with all of his heart give himself to it.”

John Lieberman, our Director of Operations, says, “I believe that Joseph is the perfect man to teach out kids. Joseph is a combination of edge, gentle, fun and calm. I would want Joseph to be my teacher.”

And Amanda Shumow, our fearless leader and one of our Founders really says it all: “Joseph truly exemplifies what it is Visions sets out to do as a company. He takes care of the students with compassion and efficiency and shows them they can be successes in this world with the right support. As an educator, Joseph finds the best way for a child to learn and then meets their needs as opposed to teaching with a “one size fits all” approach. Joseph is also a trained meditation instructor and helps to bring mindfulness to all of us. He is without a doubt, one of Visions’ best!”

Hear what Joseph had to say when we asked him a few, erm, pointed questions:

1.  What is the name of your favorite book?

“Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller

2.  What would you prefer to vacation next to … River, Ocean or Lake?

Definitely the ocean, fewer bugs that way. And I’ve never been to a tropical   island.

3.  Favorite food as a kid?

Escargot. True story.

4.  You can only bring 3 items with you to an island for 5 years…what are your 3 items?

A boat. A tent. My wife.

5.  Who’s a better Super Hero…Superman or Batman?

Spiderman: He’s the “everyman,” the superhero with problems. I don’t like            nationalism or revenge as motives.

6.  Have you ever been Skydiving?

Yes, I like to jump out of high places. My dad took me for my 21st birthday. He is    afraid of heights.

7.  Favorite dish your wife makes?

Apple cobbler on the 4th of July with fresh apples from our tree.

8.  If Kermit the Frog came to you for advice about what to buy Miss Piggy for her     Birthday what would you tell him?

I miss Jim Henson.

9.  Ice Cream or Pinkberry?

Life is short. Ice cream.

10.  Why do you choose to work for Visions?

The free trip to a tropical island for seven years of service. It helps that I love what I do, too.

Mental Health Recovery Self-Care

Beware: Ridiculousness May Lead to ROFLMAO

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Osho said, “You cannot live without laughter.” He has a wonderful point! When I got sober, it wasn’t the war stories that hooked me but the echoes of laughter in those dungy, smoky meeting halls. For one thing, there were others there who could relate to the mistakes I made and my subsequent suffering. It was there that I discovered my ability to laugh, not at others, but at situations and circumstances otherwise too dark to face. Ultimately, this is what initially gave me permission to begin the letting-go process regarding my shame and fear.

So, a funny thing happens when we introduce something like a laughing practice or laughing meditation in a recovery setting. Initially, it might be awkward for some of us to laugh for no real reason, but then a transformation happens: the laughter becomes genuine laughter, and the tension held within our bodies begins to unravel. Try it: laugh. You can laugh about the ridiculousness of laughing. At some point, the inevitable will occur: the guise of false perception will melt down, and along with the side cramp, you might find you are able to let go of what you think you “should be” and come to find solace in who you are.

According to Osho, there are three kinds of laughter: the first is laughing at others. This type of laughter is inherently unkind and unhelpful, yet also the most common in human behavior. The second is when laughing at ourselves; this type of laughter is definitely something to strive for. It’s not only beneficial but it really helps us lighten up a bit. The third type of laughter is when we laugh–not at others or ourselves, as outlined in the first and second types–but just to laugh. I imagine this type of laughter to be the most freeing of all. I have always been guilty of two things: seriousness and ironically, spontaneous and unfettered bursts of laughter. I rather prefer the latter: it’s proof that laughter allows us to soften and simultaneously open up enough to finally begin to take the world less personally.

Don’t forget,  Rule #62 in the 12×12 says, “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.”

Mental Health Recovery Self-Care

Pursuing Happiness: Is Your Glass Half Full?

Sometimes I think attitude really is everything. I mean, if we walk into a room with a sour face and a negative attitude, then we are bound to gather the attention of our fellow sourpusses and their pals. These sorts of things act much like Velcro, fastening together similar minds and ensuring an acidic atmosphere remains intact. This trait, in its sheer nature, is not beneficial–to anyone. Yet, despite the knowledge that a change in attitude can purportedly change the outcome of a situation, it’s not always easy to do.

Enter the burgeoning practice of Positive Psychology: According to the University of Pennsylvania, “Positive psychology has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future.” At the core of positive psychology is a desire to encourage individuals to enhance their strengths in order to be their best selves. This differs from the psychology we are most familiar with, which aims to discover and treat dysfunction. In contrast, this relatively new field of positive psychology places its focus on helping people lead happier, more fulfilling lives. Both of these pathologies are important: when there’s dysfunction, we need to learn how to care for it, which leads to healing. At the same time, we must also learn to acknowledge our strengths so we can expand on them and live more joyfully. Lest we forget, our reactions to pleasant and unpleasant things are a direct result of our experiences; therefore, it’s not uncommon to get lost in the past, disabling one’s ability to thrive in the present.

This is where positive psychology gives us the opportunity to expand on our optimism in a potentially pessimistic, emotional environment. Part of gaining a positive mental attitude is realizing we are not our circumstances. Instead, we soon discover that we can hold those very predicaments with care and intention without getting lost in our feelings about them. Wayne Dyer says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” What a wonderful opportunity to begin to skillfully govern our difficulties! At the same time, this doesn’t mean we should be positive by being insincere or pretending to be happy about something we actually find disdainful or troubling. In other words, you don’t have to eat a crap sandwich and pretend you like it. If anything, this is a chance to garnish it with something you do like, including not having that sandwich at all.


Inspired by this: Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Interesting articles and info about Positive Psychology:

Claremont Graduate University

Mental Health News

Pursuit of Happiness

Mental Health Recovery Self-Care

Self-Care = Kindness

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“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Isn’t that how the saying goes? Well, what if you suffer from alcoholism or addiction, or a mental illness, and the thought of self-care never even enters your mind? What if a bowl full of lemons merely represents the puckered, sour taste of your life?

While performing acts of self-care is a learned trait, it’s invaluable once you integrate the practice into your life. I think of the instructions you’re given in an airplane in case of an emergency: “Secure your own mask first before helping others.” Because we can’t always control our environments or the stressors that come and go in our lives, it’s important to have a means of caring for ourselves so we don’t get “knocked over” by life itself. Essentially, if we don’t learn to care for ourselves and ensure our well-being, we become bereft in our abilities to care for others.

You can start small, but I encourage you to start. Pick one or maybe two of these and see how it makes you feel!

  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation has a slew of negative side effects, including: irritability, reduction in alertness, memory problems, daytime drowsiness, stress and anxiety.
  • Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals adds stress to the body and increases irritability and moodiness.
  • Exercise. Go for a hike, take a walk, do some yoga, go surfing, et cetera. Moving your body raises endorphins and lifts your mood!
  • Read a book or watch a funny movie.  Sometimes taking a mental break and doing something purely entertaining is a great way to take care of ourselves.
  • Do one thing at a time. Yes, this might mean putting the kibosh on multi-tasking! The irony is, you’ll probably get more done.
  • Find a way to “do nothing” for 10 minutes…everyday. It’s a recharge for the brain. Seriously. Yes, that may mean logging off of Facebook for 10 min so you can take some deep breaths. I promise, you won’t actually miss anything.
  • Ask for help if you need it. I honestly think this is the hardest and yet most valuable component of self care. We can’t recover on our own, not from addiction, alcoholism, or mental illness.

As we begin to invest time in ourselves and create space for nurturing and self care, we fortify our hearts. Being able to recognize our needs is paramount in recovery. It’s not selfish to take care of ourselves; it’s an act of kindness.

When in doubt, remember this: “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” (Buddha)

Mental Health Recovery

Facing Our Fears & Meeting Our Grief

It takes more strength to feel your feelings than it does to hide them. As counterintuitive as it may seem, I’ve found this to be true. Because we encounter so much anxiety and depression in our lives and in our recovery, it ‘s appropriate to also notice the element of grief which often acts as the undercurrent and silent driving force. If there’s a history of abuse or abandonment, neglect, or bullying, there is grief. If a parent suffers from a mental illness and/or addiction, there is grief. If there’s social anxiety, there is grief. It’s a pervasive feeling, and one which we often ignore or pass off as a phase, something that happens in passing. But in recovery, be it from addiction or mental illness or both, we need to address it.

How do we face our fears—especially when they are paralyzing? How do we defy this part of being human which urges us to avoid pain at all costs? We eat to feel better, drink and smoke to feel better, have sex to feel better, live on our phones to feel better, surf the Internet to feel better, ad infinitum. We do whatever it takes to go as far as possible from that nagging pain in our guts. With the addictive personality, this behavior is even more pronounced. If there’s a mental illness co-occurring but not acknowledged, the desire to resist the fear and feelings might be even greater. It can get pretty darn lonely, especially when one’s ego and fear kick in, coupled with a refusal to ask for help.

Certainly, there is an imperative to face these fears and the grief associated with them, but we can’t do it all at once. Since it requires us to look deeply within, I have found it far more beneficial to do in pieces. Even in a therapeutic environment, one doesn’t address every single issue at once. The trouble is, addicts and alcoholics don’t like to do anything in pieces. It’s usually all or nothing. It takes a new outlook and a commitment to slowing down to start to change that perspective. But it is possible.  Keep in mind, alcoholism and addiction are oftentimes symptoms of a much greater problem. The question is, are we brave enough to determine what that problem is?  If it’s a mental illness, do we have the courage to take care of it appropriately?

Instead of attempting to lift a tree to see its roots, try lifting one leaf at a time. Eventually, when it’s time to lift the tree, it may not be as heavy.


Communication Stress

Rest Your Thumbs: Communication Without Texting

Oh, technology, how far you’ve come.

When I was a teen, a computer was something only geeks or millionaires had; cell phones were something futuristic and reminiscent of the 80’s show Hart to Hart

and their “fancy” car phones. So when the first phones came on the scene back in 1983, coined The Brick, and weighing in at two pounds with a mere half-hour of talk time, the collective response was amazement. The price tag was hefty, which raised its status, making it all the more desirable and of course, cool. There were even rap songs about the Brick! Realistically, if you had one at that time, they served no other purpose than for social status and of course, “emergency” phone calls. The Brick couldn’t do much more than make a phone call anyway.

In 2012, we now have miniature tools of technological genius, which allow for us to communicate via text messaging, voice, email, and various social-media outlets via a host of apps. What we’ve ended up with are varying forms of non-confrontational and non-contiguous means of communication. This type of communication works for many people, especially when one considers the amount of multi-tasking we do these days. Unfortunately, texting has evolved and become the primary form of communication for many, particularly teens, whose need to stay connected socially is often a key component to their social survival. Let’s face it, it’s far less scary to test the waters of a burgeoning relationship via text than it is in person. The trouble with this is two-fold:  texting lacks sincerity, and it lacks accountability – two things which are crucial in building the bedrock meaningful friendships and relationships are based upon. The non-contiguous factor also has its positives and negatives: you can share a nugget of information that’s not time sensitive, therefore not requiring immediate response. But you can also say things you’d never say in a million years to someone’s face and “walk” away.

This comment, “Words are bullets,” which I once heard in a meeting seems to really ring true in the case of text messages and digital communication. In this sense, a text can be like a virtual Uzi. I’ve experienced this phenomenon myself, where I’ve received a nasty message via text but upon direct confrontation, I was met with sheer nervousness, darting eyes, and denial. What’s concerning is the deterioration of our communication skills, particularly amongst adolescents. As a culture, we’ve gotten lazy when it comes to expressing ourselves, though our thumbs might disagree.

My own goal this year is to minimize the use of texting as a primary form of communication. I’ve been successful thus far, and have experienced more meaningful conversations with people. Try this: put your phone away for a prescribed period of time. If you need to tell someone something, pick up the phone!  You might be amazed how the quality of your ensuing conversations increases. I know I did, and I multi-task with the best of them.

Recovery Service Treatment

Visions Hits Double-Digits: Celebrating a Decade of Adolescent Treatment

This past decade, Visions has set a mission to provide a treatment plan that truly caters to youth and their families. We’ve coexisted alongside a myriad of recovery centers, working hand in hand with them to bring a sense of healing to the entirety of the family dynamic. As we celebrate 10 years of providing treatment, our professional growth, and the program development we’re embarking on, it behooves us to acknowledge and celebrate our treatment team and the culture they have built at Visions.

There is something that lies within every single person at Visions, something which connects all of us in a very unique way. As I’ve sat and pondered what that “thing” is, I‘ve realized it’s the sense of being of service which we all embody. The thing that drives us to get up and “do it again” isn’t the promise of a paycheck or the gratification of completing a task on time; instead, it’s the desire to put forth the effort in watering the seeds of recovery planted at the very beginning of treatment. It’s a continuum, this process, one which starts at intake and continues on to supporting healthy living. There is no “end” to the dedication and perseverance of our team. Selflessness is what I continue to notice about those who’ve been here since the beginning and in those just planting their feet. There is an element of altruism within the team, not forced, just naturally there and engaged beyond any expectations placed upon us by simply being an employee.

Amidst all of the selflessness and service, however, runs an underlying tone of never taking ourselves too seriously.  The team wears their hearts on their sleeves and carries laughter in their hearts. Frankly, we can’t see any other way to show our clients our authenticity.  As we know, adolescence is strife with the mistrust of adults and a deep need for autonomy; having adults who care for them and are willing to share their ability to be themselves while maintaining positive boundaries is crucial. There’s nothing forced about this, and the organic factor allows us to be consistent in our care and treatment. Remember, teens can suss out a fake in two seconds flat…especially when it comes to adults.

The treatment world understands a language all its own.  It feels the pain of the mentally ill, the addict, the depressed, the eating disordered, the anxious, and the suicidal. From our perspective, there’s no judgment, just the sincere effort to help someone heal. There comes a point where the need to “just” be of service ceases to solely focus on recovery and begins to seep into paving the path to living better lives. At Visions, we shoot for the families’ new beginning and aim to be the best examples of recovery, compassion and fun. As Dr. Seuss liked to say, “Fun is good.”

Addiction Alcoholism Anxiety Mental Health PTSD Recovery

Addressing Recovery and Trauma

Image by Southworth Sailor via Flickr

A history of sexual violence can create an ideal environment for a variety of mental-health issues, addiction, and alcoholism. Often, the triggering event or events are hidden in the annals of one’s mind and perceived as shameful, deep, dark secrets too horrible to share…with anyone. As a result, drugs, alcohol, and risk-taking behaviors are often seen as the primary issue when one enters treatment. Time and again, we see that this isn’t always the case; That becomes clear when we look at it in terms of statistics:

  • One out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape)[1];
  • 29% are age 12-17;
  • 44% are under age 18;
  • 80% are under age 30.; 12-34 are the highest risk years.
  • Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault;
  • 7% if girls in grades 5-8 (approx. ages 10-13) and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 (approx. ages 14-17) said they had been sexually abused;
  • 3% of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they have been sexually abused[2].

As I frequently tweet Intervention, one of the things I notice on a regular basis is the consistency in which the women on the show are frequently struggling with a history of sexual violence, and are using drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity as their  primary coping skill. From the outside looking in, it’s clear that the goal is to try to desensitize and anesthetize feelings of shame and guilt, et cetera; in other words, do anything and everything NOT to feel, remember, re-experience, or suffer from the emotional attachment to the event itself.

Twelve-step programs were written with specific goals in mind: to stop the alcoholic/addict from drinking and using. The steps work well in that regard, mostly because they are based on the disease model, addressing issues of alcoholism and addiction accordingly. However, the same tools provided to address addiction issues don’t always work in concert with mental-health issues, particularly those attached to sexual violence. We know the steps adequately provide an alcoholic/addict with the necessary skills needed to learn to take responsibility for and subsequently change their negative behaviors. They do so by asking the addict/alcoholic to take responsibility for their actions, face their fears, and acknowledge that they took part in creating their own demise. However, being sexually abused or raped isn’t a negative behavior to be changed but rather a causative, biting factor in things like:

  • Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Eating Disorders

What then, do we do from a recovery standpoint when the predominant disease model isn’t geared to address issues of this caliber? The Big Book, the 12-step primer, was written by men addressing men’s issues, in a time when women were typically viewed as the ones affected by their spouse’s alcoholism and not as the alcoholics themselves. As more women began to come forward as alcoholics and addicts, the tools didn’t always adapt to the new issues that arose because of gender disparity, but rather, they stayed the same, assuming a one-size-fits-all mentality.  In the cases of women dealing with sexual violence, being asked to take responsibility for an abuse event has the potentiality to create more or actually deepen the existing trauma, particularly if the innate issues of shame and guilt associated with it are ignored. The reality is, being victimized by sexual violence is not the fault of the victim. What does need to be addressed, however, is the anger, self-victimization, and negative behavioral byproducts occurring as a result.

We clearly have a multi-layered healing process on our hands, so first, the negative coping skills must be eliminated: Sobriety is an obvious first step and necessary component to support the healing process. Additionally, working with meditation and mind-body awareness techniques are also useful in helping one manage their anxiety, negative feelings toward oneself, and in re-building self-esteem. A therapist skilled in treating PTSD and this sort of trauma is also important, particularly since this is often a lifelong process.

It is in forgiving ourselves that we have the ability to become free.

[1] National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998.
[2] 1998 Commonwealth Fund Survey of the Health of Adolescent Girls. 1998

Sources and support:
One in Four
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Addiction Alcoholism Recovery

Becoming a Stag-A-Holic in Recovery

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Recovery needs to be safe. It needs to be a place where we can shed our layers of fear and self-loathing and learn to be good enough as we are. It needs not to be the predatory place it’s become, where young girls learning to navigate a sober path to recovery end up falling prey to older men acting out their rescue fantasies (or worse). The notion of the 13th step (the unwritten yet prevalent practice of someone with longer sobriety praying on the vulnerability of the newcomer of the opposite sex) is alive and well, making for high levels of emotional risk for those coming in, particularly when one shares something deeply personal from the podium at a mixed meeting.

When I got sober, I was a 21-year-old maniac. The concept of boundaries were foreign to me, and I was often known to place myself in unsafe situations—an unfortunate by-product of my previously self-depleting, self-deprecating life prior to recovery. But I got lucky. I had an Eskimo, who acted as my big brother, scooping me up under his wing and holding the predators at bay. I wasn’t protected forever, though. I still managed to get myself into incredible trouble, acting out left and right, because I hadn’t yet learned how to use to the tools of recovery. I hadn’t learned how to create and maintain boundaries. I hadn’t learned that emotional and physical safety was necessary for me to heal and get sober. It didn’t take long for me to discovery that these were the things that I needed to learn from the women in the rooms. Big brother or not, some things just don’t go over well.

It takes time to learn the value of sharing in a general way. New, we’re raw and often unedited. Add adolescence to the mix, and being unedited is par for the course especially with the innate desire to fit in, the need to individuate, and the added weight of navigating a path in recovery. Yes, there are a bevy of young people’s meetings, where the majority of the attendees are more relatable. What seems to be missing, however, is a wide variety of young people’s stag meetings. It’s too bad, because those are the meetings where you can share more candidly and without invariably placing yourself at risk.

So, what does one do when your world is crumbling and you need to drop down to your emotional bare bones? You can start by sharing the deeply personal, vulnerable, emotionally dangerous shares for those who have your best interests in mind: your sponsor, your therapist, or a friend close to you that has a solid foundation in recovery. Lean into the gendered sails of those who’ve walked the path before you. Trust me on this: getting sober is the easy part. It’s staying sober and safe that takes work. That’s what stags are there for.