Mental health: overcoming substance abuse and addiction (Opinion)

Welcome to The Mav’s mental health editorial series: The Patchwork Project

Anonymous, Writer

All opinions are those of the writers themselves and do not promote any official view or stance of Mead High School or St. Vrain Valley Schools. 

This article contains sensitive discussion surrounding substance abuse, specifically with vaping products. Reader discretion is advised. If you or someone you know is experiencing substance abuse or addiction, please refer to the professional resources found at the bottom of this page.

I’ve struggled since elementary school, and everyday there was a new challenge. I never had the resources to get help before things got bad. I was trapped in this cycle day in and out. And the only way I knew how to reach out was cries for help on social media — nobody seemed to care about these. I was just a desperate person who didn’t understand.

I’ve always been super outgoing but felt misunderstood and unseen at the same time. I’ve learned to grow with it, but when struggling, I never understood why nobody could see something right in front of their face.

Finally, I started reaching out for help — real help. Maybe it’s because I got help that everyone thought I would be better suddenly, or maybe it’s because I’m a nice kid; “things couldn’t possibly be this bad for someone like me” they said. But as time went on, things got worse. No matter who I reached out to or how much help I got, it only ever got worse. I invalidated my problems because they “weren’t as bad” as other people around me. I wasn’t heard in the way I should’ve been.

I eventually turned to vaping, which rapidly became an addiction. Vaping was the only thing that seemed to be on my side, though it was ruining my life in the middle of it all.

Before I knew it, all the basic daily tasks became impossible in a way I couldn’t understand. I always felt bare and just wanted something to make me feel content and safe, even if it was just for a little bit. I was so sick and nobody could look at me and tell, because it didn’t look like I was struggling.

Suddenly, everything I was doing to help myself I was now doing to harm myself.

All the sleepless nights and endless days were exhausting. It never got better and I was still alone. I thought the answer to all of my problems would be finding someone (or something) to validate my problems. If I found anything that was on my side, I’d take advantage of it, whether it was someone who loved me or vaping.

Though I was still young, I was a big abuser of vaping products. I put my wellbeing last; my number one priority was finding something to make me feel.

I searched for answers everywhere. It took a while, but I eventually started to take care of myself. I reached out to my teachers for help.

Though things never really got better, where to go and what to live for became increasingly clear. Even if things are hard now, this isn’t my forever.

Instead of looking for the answers and solutions I’d been chasing, I looked for motivation: what am I living for? Who are the people I love? And most importantly, what is my purpose?

My biggest source of help during my lowest times was The Crisis Textline. Mental health and substance abuse professionals helped too. I got better about reaching out to those around me even if it was just to say I wasn’t doing well. My friends have helped me discover what I love and how to express it. They’ve always given me the reassurance I needed and deserved. My parents have also been by my side through it all, making sure to take care of me.

You are important as an individual person, and everything you’re feeling is valid. The thing I’ve taken most to heart throughout my journey is that even when you’re silent, you’re heard by someone.

Everyone is going through something that they also think is neverending. You’re never alone, even when you feel lonely. I’ve learned that whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve, whether that’s stability or something else.


If you or someone you know is seriously struggling negatively with substance abuse or addiction, please reach out for help.

In case of an emergency in personal health and safety, call 911.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) national hotline can be reached at 1-800-662-4357.

The Weld County crisis walk-in service, North Range Behavioral Health, can be found on 928 12th St., Greeley, CO 80631. For Boulder County, Boulder Crisis Services can be reached at (844) 493-8255.

Other mental health resources include the North Colorado Medical Center/Banner Health — you can call (970) 810-4121 or visit 1801 16th St., Greeley, CO 80631 — as well as the UCHealth Greeley Hospital. The hospital can be reached at (970) 652-2000. Their address is 6767 W. 29th St., Greeley, CO 80634.

Boulder County addiction treatment centers and detox assistance services and information can be found here. To speak to a substance abuse professional after hours call (303) 441-1198.

Mental Health Partners Addiction Recovery Center detox facility, open 24/7, can be found at 3180 Airport Road in Boulder.