Community Impact Project by Pearl from Highland Park

The Counterintuitive Way to Help Addicts

When the "Thrill" Fades...

Did you know that more than 90% of people who have an addiction started to drink alcohol or use drugs before they were 18 years old (Addiction Center)?

Drug and substance abuse has always been prevalent in my community, particularly amongst youth starting middle school and onto high school. From my own observations and conversations with peers who have used drugs, they’ve all expressed that they initially just wanted to try it out. Over time however, as their drug use became more frequent, I’ve seen that these activities no longer served as a way to create “thrilling” experiences for my peers, but it slowly became their predominant coping mechanism for their ongoing traumas and their feelings of stress, helplessness, despair, and/or loneliness.

It was these experiences that served as to why I never agreed with the negative preconceived notions against youth and their substance addictions. My peers who were struggling with this issue were perceived as “weak”, “incompetent”, or mere “troublemakers” when I saw them as human beings with great potential who just needed help and understanding.

Three Goals

With all these personal experiences I’ve had and starking statistics in mind, I wanted to use my platform in Mentor For Change to accomplish three main goals:
To seek and understand, dismantle harmful and inaccurate stereotypes against, and bridge efficient, accessible, and intentional resources to teens struggling with drug and substance abuse.

The Method

Step 1 - Survey Community
Surveyed 100+ residents of Highland Park and was featured on the Highland Park Community social media page (via Instagram and Twitter)

Details of survey questions and responses:

Step 2 - Build Website to Drive Awareness
Used insight from the survey and created a website called “Help Us Help You” to share awareness, inspiring and relatable testimonies, education, and resources (e.g. crisis hotlines, nearby mental health facilities) on Teen Drug and Substance Abuse
Step 3 - Educate
Held an Educational Webinar with Lenny Ginn for Franklin HS students and faculty staff; Spoke about the preconceived notions against addicts, the mental and physical challenges of addiction, and the resources to resolve it (compiled in my website).

Personal and Community Impact

Throughout the course of the months, I’ve been able to significantly amplify my leadership and interpersonal skills, using compassion and empathy as the driving force of my project. I’ve also been able to encourage others to take a different approach to resolving this issue so that Instead of judging people with addiction, we understand them to get better. Instead of scaring people with addiction, we inspire them to get better. Instead of kicking people down with addiction, we empower them to get better.
Pearl when she was a senior in high school with her MFC Mentor Diane, Fall 2019

In My Own Words

Help is not for the weak; help is for those who want to remain strong.
Everyone starts with a dream, having something to believe in, but sometimes things go wrong.
Leaving one feeling stressed, distressed, depressed, or anxious, one CRAVES for an escape.
People in situations like this don't know that they throw their lives away as they make their first mistake.

Using drugs as their release for at least a while, or… at least it should
So many teenagers don't realize that the longer they use these drugs, the harder it is going to be to genuinely “feel-good.”

He or she or rather,...we all need empathy, empowerment, and inspiration
Engagement in conversations of education in desperation of fighting for this generation - that's the best medication
Look at me: people see me as nothing more than an average woman.
People look at them: they judge, demoralize, and condemn them.

You can change the world's opinion, choose the path of persevering,
Only you can own your story, in doing so you will help society's way of seeing
Underneath all the booze, the smoke, the falls, and the hurt, there is a human being.

Pearl receives her MFC Scholarship Check, Fall 2020
Pearl now a sophomore at CSUF and MFC’s Program Coordinator, Apr 2021

Give Today to Impact the Future

With the help of your 100% tax-deductible donation, we can equip the next generation of youths with the relationships, knowledge, tools, and support to fund and implement their dreams. 

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