Statistics show that an estimated 30,000 teens located in the Las Vegas Valley stand a high chance of drug and alcohol addiction. Out of the 30,000 teens, only 1/3 of them are poised to ever get the help that they so need.
With those emerging statistics, the state has funded a new program intending to help teens who are addicted to alcohol and drugs.
Alternative Peer Group Las Vegas (AGP), a brainchild of Mission High School was formed specifically to aid the students in recovering from the addiction menace.
‘don’t care about school and families’
Khara Greenwell who is one of the teens battling addiction stated that she was a methamphetamine addict at the age of 13, 14. Greg Gonzalez, on the other hand, stated, ‘Towards the end, it was heroin, black tar heroin.’
In their admissions, the teens said that they were fixated on drugs to a point they didn’t care about their families or school.
Gonzalez said that he had hit ‘the lowest of the low.’ Retracing his addiction journey, Gonzalez said that the drug fixation started on his 13th birthday when he started smoking marijuana and as he progressed he started using heroin to a point he could do anything just to get the money that would help him get heroin.
He says he had no knowledge of what damage he had done. He would go on and on without ‘looking back’ to achieve his target which was to take drugs.
On Greenwell’s part, she says that her addiction brought a whole new life by bringing new friends and that it served as a relief from all the troubles that were back home.
For Greenwell, she admits to not planning and thinking ahead. She says, ‘My thing was live in the moment until the moment ends.’
She marked 14 months of sobriety on September 2nd, 2019.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, had a relapse on August and he admits that it was ‘embarrassing’. ‘It tore me apart.’ He said. He, however, says that his biggest surprise was that no one judged him.
Positive peer pressure
The teens say that they are lucky they had a push for treatment from their families which led them to APG.
Greenwell admits never to going for a meeting but he is looking forward to trying. He also admits to losing friends he had made while in the drug world after becoming ‘clean.’
However, for APG, there is an environment of positive peer pressure and Joe Engle says that there is more accountability especially after being surrounded by other teens who do not use drugs. Engle is the founder of the non-profit There’s No Hero in Heroin.
With the center that is normally opened after school or during holidays, the students have 12 step meetings, try activities like dance, art, and yoga, and they also do community service.
Rhonda Fairchild, APG executive director, says that there is now a change in perception. The director says that there is now a light bulb going off in the teens and a switch of mind which has seen them going from a ‘don’t care’ attitude to a mind of, ‘I want to live a life in recovery. I want to graduate from high school. I want to go to college. I want to get a job.’ Rhonda says. For Greenwell and Gonzalez, their focus is now on striving for higher education with Greenwell planning to pursue psychology and join up the forces while Gonzalez strives to become a mechanic.