“I am proud of life after Shelterwood.”

For Gio Scardino, high school was a time of pain and struggle. After hitting one of his lowest moments, Gio found real redemption at Shelterwood — and he graduated having found the true fulfillment he was searching for all along. Gio shares his story:

 

My priorities were off when entering high school. I was focused on fitting in and living a life for myself. I was desperately trying to fill a void that unbeknownst to me could only be fulfilled through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. In efforts to fill this void, I pursued “the popular life.” Enrolled at a high school where the students were inflicted with affluence, temptation was ever-present. It did not take long before I was headed on a downward and ugly path. Poor decisions of drinking, partying, and smoking (marijuana) quickly transitioned into daily poor habits.

In a year and a half timeframe (sophomore year to second semester of junior year) my life spun out of control. I had successfully filled my life with things that held no true value. Running with the “popular crowd” led me into a life of smoking regularly, heavily dealing marijuana, drinking alcohol/partying, drug-related suspensions, police tickets/arrests, and severe car accidents. As if that wasn’t enough, a three-month drug investigation ensued at my high school. On the very last day of the drug investigation I was escorted out of class by the Dean of Students, rather than Security. This was the ultimate breaking point in my journey of self-destruction. In the Dean’s office I was informed that the school and local municipalities had subpoenaed my phone, dating back one year, obtaining full access to personal phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media. They had discovered an ugly track record of substance abuse, and I was immediately given a ten-day out of school suspension with a recommendation of expulsion.

In desperate need of help, my parents loved me when I did not deserve to be loved. They proceeded to do what few parents would have the courage to do; they sought out a specialized growth opportunity for me to begin making genuine change in my life. God exceedingly answered my parent’s prayer by presenting us with the incredible opportunity of Shelterwood located in Independence, Missouri. God used Shelterwood to transform our story. When entering Shelterwood I could not have been less interested in enrollment, but I was in a place in my life where I needed healthy influences and people to make positive decisions for me. At Shelterwood I faced some of the most difficult hardships ever, but with the help of God, my parents, the Shelterwood community, and through hard work, my life began to change for the better. I reflected on my many wrong doings and began understanding just how serious the pain I had inflicted upon others and myself. I had always believed in God, but it was at Shelterwood where I developed a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. Shelterwood will always be remembered by my family and me, as it was used in such a powerful way to refocus us all on what God had intended for our lives.

 

SW Testimonial Giovanni S. I am proud of life after Shelterwood.

I graduated from Shelterwood on October 25, 2012, and returned to Chicago. Shortly thereafter I graduated from my original high school. My parents and I never thought that me crossing the high school graduation line would have ever been an act of God, but it turned out to be exactly that. Since Shelterwood, God has gifted me with opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. I have been able to serve with mission teams in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Nadi, Fiji. I embarked upon a yearlong discipleship program, known as the Kanakuk Link Year, where I focused on growing in relationship with God and developing meaningful friendships. Following Link Year, I transferred to North Park University. Currently, I am in my senior year and plan to graduate in May 2017 with a B.S. in Business Management. Intermittently throughout Link Year and North Park, I have been actively involved with the National Student Leadership Forum (NSLF) and the National Prayer Breakfast (NPB) in Washington, D.C. where I have had the privilege of leading many friends to be part of such meaningful gatherings. I have pursued the industry of Commercial Real Estate for four years now and have been privileged to work four different internships spanning three major metropolitan cities, Chicago, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. Above all, since Shelterwood, my focus has been learning how to walk with Jesus Christ daily, develop meaningful relationships, and love people well.

 

Students take steps towards sobriety in Shelterwood’s Substance Abuse Program

When a teen is facing substance abuse, it is easy to lose hope. At Shelterwood, our substance abuse treatment program combines educational, counseling and experiential elements to lay the foundation students need for a sober, healthy life.

Teens on the substance abuse treatment track at Shelterwood participate in 16 structured weeks of educational groups. During this time frame, students spend time in educational small groups, processing and counseling groups focused on relapse prevention, one-on-one sessions with their substance abuse counselor and more.

During the education portion of the program, students learn how addiction impacts their bodies, minds and hearts. “Someone who is facing addiction issues needs specific information about addiction — from understanding how addictions are formed to what causes a relapse to what steps to take to get sober,” explains Kenny DeBlock, Substance Abuse Program Supervisor. “Students gain the tools and skills they need for sobriety, so they’re headed in the right direction when they return home from Shelterwood.”

DSC8968 1024x683 Students take steps towards sobriety in Shelterwood’s Substance Abuse Program

Substance abuse counseling at Shelterwood is provided by credentialed, specialized therapists. “Shelterwood students work with their counselors to understand the unhealthy patterns in their lives and to learn how to do life differently,” Kenny adds.

A common misconception in other treatment programs is that resolving an underlying issue — like depression or family struggles, for example — can remedy addiction. “Given the intense counseling work done in other areas, it can be easy to allow the addiction work to fall to the side. However, research shows us that addiction needs to be addressed specifically,” Kenny explains. This is why Shelterwood students participate in their addiction counseling in conjunction with their other therapy work.

Students in the substance abuse treatment program at Shelterwood have the opportunity to practice what they are learning in an experiential, hands-on way. “Shelterwood as a whole is extremely relational in the therapy we do here, and relationships are at our core,” Kenny says. “Our program offers that critical experiential piece, so students are able to explore what it looks like to live free of substance abuse and experience the idea that a sober life is not only possible, but can be rewarding.”

With their mentors and their peers, students practice building healthy relationships that do not rely on drugs or drinking. Furthermore, teens experience having fun sober and relaxing sober. “We encourage our counselors to spend time with their teens having a fun evening, like going bowling or getting ice cream for example, as a teachable moment,” Kenny says. “Teens learn that they don’t need to take drugs or drink to enjoy time with their peers.”

Particularly during the teen years, there can be a fine line between experimenting with substances and substance abuse, Kenny explains. This is why addressing substance abuse early creates the best chance for success. “Research supports that the earlier we can intervene in a young person’s life, the higher the chance of remedying that addiction,” he says. “At Shelterwood, we focus on catching addiction early, doing the intense work and then helping the student find some healthy habits and healthy thinking to steer their life in a positive direction.”

Kenny also points to the changed peer culture at Shelterwood as framework for success. “Students often come to Shelterwood ambivalent about sobriety, not sure if that is the path they want for their life,” he says, “So that positive peer culture helps students quickly come to the conclusion that they want to be sober and they are able to be successful in that. Many students who were on the fence have seen the value in this.”

Integral in the Shelterwood substance abuse program is laying groundwork for sober living after Shelterwood. “Our addiction counselors help students build that plan, both behaviorally and emotionally, and then build a support network around them,” Kenny says, even going so far as helping students engage in a peer support group back home.

“Students leave the Shelterwood substance abuse program with everything they need educationally to begin a life of sobriety when they arrive home,” Kenny says. “They are ready with a strong foundation for a healthy life.”

Drug Testing

Drug testing can be a critical implement in a parents’ toolbox.  Some parents are resistant to request urine from their child and feel that it violates some sacred trust that they have established with their teen.  Other parents would rather not know the truth of their child’s behavior.  Having objective proof may be overwhelming for a parent and require the parent to actually create a response.  Parents may also doubt the validity and reliability of the test and be talked out of the obvious result by their teen.

Certainly, drug testing takes the relationship to another level.  It is saying to the teen that you no longer trust what they are saying to you and you need proof of their innocence.  Strangely, this type of supervision is what the teen often needs in order to fight the urge to use or to assist them in their efforts to reduce their use.  Knowing that they may be tested randomly tells them that you care about their use and expect them to stop.  It is critical that they do not see you turn a blind eye to their behavior.  Ignoring the behavior of your teen, hoping that they will grow out of it, will often only lead to greater frequency and depth of use.  The consequences of continued use are often long lasting even if they do eventually quit.

Once a teen knows that he or she will be tested it is critical that you make the tests random and watch the teen fill the cup with urine.  Teens share methods to avoid detection and I have seen them attempt some pretty silly things.  Typically they drink lots of water or sneak in some clean urine to avoid detection.  So pay attention to the warmth of the cup and listen to the stream of the pee if you are uncomfortable with watching the actual urination.  The THC in Cannabis is detectable in urine for 48-72 hours after a single use.  Habitual or chronic use can be detected in urine for up to 12 weeks depending on quantity, duration, and frequency of use.

In an attempt to give a clean sample, teens will try not to give their first urination of the day.  The first urination is the dirtiest and can be filled with metabolites.  They will be trying to urinate a couple of times before giving their test sample.  Substances like Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, or Excedrin), Naproxen (Aleve), and Riboflavin (B2 or Hempseed oil) can also cause false positives.  In order to achieve more accurate results some parents have begun to have the hair of their teen tested.  It can provide a very accurate picture of their drug use over a longer period of time.  Testing hair does require sending it in to a drug-testing lab but typically the process is quick and easy.

SUBSTANCE

BLOOD

URINE

HAIR

Alcohol

unknown

12-24 hrs

n/a

Amphetamine

unknown

1-4 days

up to 90 days

Barbiturates

unknown

1-21 days

unknown

Benzodiazepines

unknown

1-42 days

unknown

Cannabis (single use)

2-3 days

2-3 days

up to 90 days

Cannabis (habitual use)

2 weeks

up to 12 wks

up to 90 days

Cocaine

unknown

4-5 days

up to 90 days

Codeine/Morphine

unknown

2-4 days

up to 90 days

Heroin

unknown

2-4 days

up to 90 days

Methamphetamine

1-3 days

3-5 days

up to 90 days

PCP

1-3 days

3-7 days

up to 90 days