Substance abuse and chemical dependence
Addicted to pain killers
During the summer of 1996, when I was 11, I became drastically sick with lupus. I was admitted to Boston Children's Hospital and put on high doses of steroids, which made my face puffy and round and made me gain 80 pounds. Despite frequent hospitalizations, the lupus got out of control and my kidneys were a step away from needing dialysis. With no other options, I went on chemotherapy for two and a half years.
I was losing sight of a normal adolescence: Because I looked and felt different than other kids my age, I began having really low self-esteem and crushing anxiety. Since I was never in school, I had a hard time connecting with people. Then, the summer after graduating from high school, I started dating someone who seemed to have the solution for all my problems. He encouraged me to take a pill—OxyContin—that didn't just erase my physical discomfort, it also relieved my anxiety. Finally, I came out of my shell and stopped caring about what people thought of me. My anxiety was gone and I was happy when I was high... Read more.
Breaking the habit
Jermaine Joynes, administrative associate at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Program for Patient Safety & Quality, was 15 when he took his first puff on a cigarette. His brand of choice was Newport Light 100s, the same brand his mother smoked. As a teenager, Joynes smoked sporadically in social situations, and having a cigarette perched between his fingers lent him an air of confidence and helped him feel cool. By 19, Joynes was smoking every day... Read more about how Jermaine kicked the habit.