Addiction Epidemic in Young Adults

February 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Addiction among 20-somethings is not just a Hollywood problem; it's an epidemic, all over America including here in the Valley.Any night, anywhere in the Valley, young people are partying. Some drinking alcohol, some smoking pot, but many are getting their kicks from pills or meth.

Tiffany Dedmon grew up in a conservative Christian home in Fresno. She went to Christian school and was at the top of her class. But when she graduated from high school, she left her old life behind.

Tiffany recounts, "Actually it started with a relationship with this guy who was no good for me. He smoked pot, so I kind of started in that."

It wasn't long before Tiffany's drug adventures led to methamphetamine. After one hit she was hooked. "It's amazing. The high is.... It's very easy to get hooked on it because you feel... Well you don't feel, but you feel so good at the same time. Almost like you're invincible," said Tiffany.

Tiffany's mom Ladonna Dedmon said, "Tiffany and I have always had a very open relationship and I knew that when she stopped talking to me something was up."

Tiffany's mother Ladonna watched in horror as her adult-daughter changed before her eyes. "You question yourself when your children turn out completely contrary to what you have asked them, what you have taught them, what you have modeled for them. You always stop and ask yourself 'What could I have done? What can I do?'"

Addiction Specialist Dr. Richard Guzzetta said, "Stop enabling would be the first thing I would recommend."

Dr. Richard Guzzetta is an Addiction Specialist in Fresno. Most of his private practice is 20-somethings. "I got a phone call the other day from a parent whose kid kept stealing their automobile. They did not press charges the first time. So the second time they pressed charges. Now the son is in jail therefore he may think 'If I stole a car to buy drugs then maybe my drug addiction is really a problem.'"

Addiction experts agree, you can offer to send your adult son or daughter to drug or alcohol rehab, but until they're ready, you're wasting your money. "Programs work. It's addicts that don't work. When addicts, alcoholics relapse, it's because they didn't follow the recommendations outlined in treatment," said Dr. Guzzetta.

Fresno's Dr. Marc Lasher is the Clinic Physician at Aegis, a treatment program for opiate addicts. He said 20-somethings have no idea how addictive today's prescription drugs can be; especially Oxycontin. "Like all opiates, it causes euphoria. It gives you that high. At the same time at the very end of that little pill is that Pandora's Box of a dragon that has a tail that can knock you across the wall," said Dr. Lasher

Many Oxy addicted young adults come to see Dr. Lasher for Methadone treatment. Methadone treats the physical addiction of opiates, without the euphoria or the out of control behavior. But Dr. Lasher and Dr. Guzzetta say young addicts need counseling to learn how to live a sober life.

For Tiffany, it took nine years of addiction before she finally hit bottom. "She just laid her head over on me and started to cry. She said, 'Mom, I need help,'" said Ladonna Dedmon.

Tiffany said, "God deals with people in different ways. But for me he did a miracle. He took away the entire addiction. He took away the cravings. He took away the withdrawals. I didn't have any of that."

Tiffany has been clean and sober for three years. She had to quit her job to get away from the drugs, and she had to enlist her mom and some new friends as a support system. She got another job, is going to school and is now engaged to be married.

Addiction experts recommend parents get help for themselves in the midst of the chaos. Joining a support group is key to maintaining peace of mind.


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