It started when he was sixteen. JR's friends changed. His grades started to drop. He started pushing all authority in his life to the limit. He was born into a well-educated, intact, middle class family. JR is the oldest of three children, ranging in age from twelve to sixteen.
In middle school, JR was active in sports and other extra curricular activities. He had a wholesome group of friends. He was a better than average academic student.
As he made the transition from middle school to high school, his world changed. His once small, eighth grade circle was combined with three other eighth grades that he did not even know.
Now, as freshmen, their grades were mixed. For the first time since kindergarten, some had to make social adjustments that were rather intimidating. They were in class with new faces and new personalities.
Ninth and tenth grades were relatively uneventful. Sophomore summer was when JR began spreading his wings. His parents became very anxious. He was asking to stay out later and was doing things he had never done before.
Different kids were coming by the house to pick him up, especially on the weekends. His Mom noted that they never came in and had a different look. Whenever she confronted JR about that, he would quickly change the subject.
As sophomore year was ending, JR's parents received a series of letters from school indicating that JR was in serious academic trouble. They met with JR's guidance counselor, who began the conversation by affirming what a great kid JR was, but that many of his teachers had noticed a radical decline in his school work ethic and overall attitude.
In general, for most of the second half of the year, he did no real work and did nothing more than take up a seat in class. If he did not make a serious attempt at making up his work, he would have to return for a fifth year of high school. His district did not offer summer school or endorse students taking summer classes elsewhere.
When confronted, JR said all the right things, or at least everything everyone wanted to hear. He did make more of an effort to attend classes and catch up on his missing schoolwork.
Unfortunately, he was not as attentive to his social behavior. He continued to push his behavior to the limit. His parents suspected that he was drinking on the weekends, although they never caught him outright.
He finished his sophomore year by the skin of his teeth. Since he was well like by all of his teachers, they did everything in their power to pull him through.
Sophomore summer, JR got a learners' permit. In August of that summer, he turned seventeen and talked his parents into taking him for his road test and his senior license.
To show good faith and be supportive, JR's parents got him and "old junker" that ran well. They let him register it in their name, but he had to insure it. He was thrilled. He already had the money saved, hoping for the opportunity to put a car on the road.
He took his "junker" everywhere. Everybody knew him. Unfortunately, the car quickly became a bone of contention between him and his parents.
He was never home. He continued to violate his curfew, always using the excuse that he had to drive friends home.
The curfew violations on the weekends evolved into staying out all night. His parents started to panic. JR became very difficult to reach. His parents tried to arrange times for a family meeting. He would say yes and then not show up.
His siblings were telling their parents that JR's drinking had expanded to other undesirable chemicals. When JR was confronted, he made light of things and said everyone was overreacting.
One warm summer night, JR was driving home in the early hours of the morning, having partied all night. He was driving at a high speed on a rather narrow road. He lost control of his "junker," went off the road, flipped over and smashed into an embankment. JR was not wearing his seatbelt and went through the windshield. The fact that he is alive is a miracle.
His injuries were serious - a broken arm and leg and a number of facial lacerations. He was in the hospital for an extended period of time. During that time, he did a lot of soul searching. He was petrified. He realized that he had escaped death by the skin of his teeth.
The trauma of that experience caused JR to confess to his parents that he had developed a serious drug problem. He acknowledged that he was afraid because he could not stop. He asked for their assistance.
His parents were relieved. JR was finally admitting that he had a problem that was out of control. Then the real family nightmare began.
JR's parents have excellent insurance, at least that is what they have been told as they pay exceptionally high premiums. However, like most insurance policies, theirs contained the fine print that most of us do not read, listing all the exclusions and exceptions.
Their particular policy would not authorize any kind of rehab treatment until the patient failed at an outpatient treatment program twice. Now that is reckless endangerment.
It is unconscionable that so many insurance companies have such power and control in areas of health and well-being, and they are obviously clueless.
JR had developed a hardcore addiction problem at age sixteen. Initially, he was just smoking weed and drinking on the weekends. His drug use has been progressing daily, dangerously and has become potentially lethal.
By the end of his sophomore year, JR was smoking weed daily and doing ecstasy at least three times a week. Once school was out, a few older friends had introduced him to the "white powder" that he began snorting on the weekends. To make money to snort, he started to deal.
The night of the accident, he had graduated to heroin. He snorted heroin right before he drove home. While he was in the hospital, he was craving it.
In the midst of his tears, JR acknowledged that he had no control over his addiction and did not know what to do.
Outpatient treatment for a sixteen year old would only set most sixteen year olds up for failure. If his parents waited for his two failed attempts at outpatient care, they would probably be burying him before they would be visiting him in rehab.
JR's parents did their homework. They decided to refinance their home in order to pay for their son's treatment.
JR successfully completed a twenty-eight day program. He came home with the tools to help him with his recovery. He remained abstinent for twenty days and then he relapsed.
It has been a real struggle. JR is seventeen now. He takes it one day at a time, but admits there are few supports out there for teenagers who want to do the right thing.
There are a lot of JRs out there that need our support. They may even be sitting at our dinner tables and we don't even realize it!