Philadelphia Medicine, Fall 2017 - 17

p h i l a m e d s o c  .o rg

Three Faces of Addiction

Live.

ADHD. When he was 10 he set his house on fire while playing with
matches. In eighth grade, he started smoking marijuana. In high school,
he turned to prescription drugs, crack and heroin.
Mark always gravitated to teens who seemed to have similar problems.
Counselors said he sought negative attention. Michael Ogden has seen
a lot of Marks during his career. He is director of The Bridge, a mental
health and substance abuse program for teens in Philadelphia, and director of Children Treatment Services for the Public Health Management
Corporation.

Work.

"It's pretty clear there was a lot of drug activity at home. There was
exposure to those kinds of things. It became a social norm for him. That's
what he saw, so when you're that young and you're seeing those kinds of
things, you just assume that that's normal behavior."

Balance.

Ogden said Mark probably became addicted to drugs and alcohol
because he wasn't able to develop healthy coping strategies to deal with
the traumas in his life.
"It's just not spontaneous that people become addicted. There are a
number of factors that play into it. The three largest are genetics, environment and developmental factors. This young person had a family history
of addiction. Then the environment, there was a lot of drug activity at
home. It's not a great recipe for him to lay off substances."
Mark spent six months in prison, then was given a choice to do more
jail time or spend 11 months at a facility which is now called Pennsylvania
Adult and Teen Challenge. He chose the get-out-of-jail card. When he
arrived at the Teen Challenge facility, Mark had been sober for six months
- only because he had spent that time in prison.
In prison, Mark said that he couldn't look in a mirror because he hated
what he saw. "Every time I looked in that mirror I saw a piece of s_ _ t."
Ogden said that's not surprising. "Young people who have faced a
lot of challenges and have a lot of adversity in their lives might not see
themselves as worthy, or someone who deserves recovery."
But he said there is hope for Mark and people like him. "Sometimes
when they get to a place like Teen Challenge or The Bridge, they start to
understand who they are, and how other people perceive them, and that
gives them that little push to start heading in that direction."

Where They Are Now
Mark remains at the Teen Challenge facility where it's far too early
to assess how he's doing.
Kris has turned his life around since his court-imposed stint at Teen
Challenge. He has been sober for 11 years. During that time he has earned
undergraduate and graduate degrees, married and has four children, and
is now president and CEO of Pennsylvania Adult and Teen Challenge.
Theo is also doing well and devoting himself to helping others who
have become addicted. He has been sober for four years. He is co-founder
of Healthy Habitats, three recovery living communities in Delaware County,
that are dedicated to helping men and women find a clean, safe and sober
place to live while learning the tools they need to maintain their recovery.
In the following pages, we'll examine how Theo and Kris stumbled
onto the road to long-term recovery. *

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