Winning Essay for Recovery Month 2010

Congratulations to Afeefa A. the winner of our Student Essay Contest! She and her family were treated to 4 luxury tickets to see the Miami Heat play at American Airlines Arena on November 9th (SEE PICS BELOW!). Afeefa is a very bright high school freshman from Hollywood Florida. Afeefa impressed us with her deep understanding and experience with a friend’s recovery from drug abuse. Here is her essay (unedited!) in its entirety:

“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald. Substance abuse is a growing problem amongst both teenagers and adults. I have had first hand experience of the adverse effects of substance abuse. My best friend was a victim. I helped her through this tough time by educating myself about substance abuse, getting her individual therapy, and getting her family to go see a counselor.

Before I could understand what was happening to her, I had to become informed. It took a while for me to notice the changes in our relationship and her behavior. But when I did, I started to dig deeper to further understand. I began researching the symptoms of substance abuse so I could look for warning signs. I wanted to educate myself in order to save her from this growing epidemic. During my research I uncovered the dangers and consequences that can occur. With this knowledge that I have gained I was more confidant that I can help her. I was better equipped and informed.

This knowledge motivated me to go to the guidance counselor and explain my dilemma and the need to want to help my friend. She informed me that she would set up a meeting. At first, my friend Sarah denied having a problem. I didn’t allow this to stop me. I persistently encouraged her to get help. Finally, one day she agreed to visit the counselor. After she came back from her first session I knew something had changed about her. Sarah religiously went to therapy. Following these sessions, it was time to get her family involved.

I went with Sarah to tell her family what she was going on. They were shocked and also seemed to be in denial. They readily agreed to see a family therapist. Her father included me since I helped them come to the realization that their daughter has a problem. The therapist helped them to deal with their emotions and guilt, since Sarah was using over the counter drugs, which she had access to right at home. The family therapist also told them how to deal with Sarah and her problem. Sarah’s family was encouraged to look out for signs to make sure she did not start again. This knowledge created an awareness amongst all of us.

In conclusion, I was able to help and save Sarah by becoming informed, getting her individual therapy, and getting her family therapy as well. You can help by learning about substance abuse and develop a consciousness among students. Over the Counter Drugs is becoming a growing problem, in South Florida.

-Afeefa A.