Teenagers are normally withdrawn. But once you see some shifts in behavior or probably a liquor missing from the liquor cabinet, these could be red flags that your young adult is struggling with addiction.

On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane speaks with Maks Ezrin, certified recovery coach and co-founder of Youth Prevention Mentors, and shares what they’re currently doing to help mentor young adults so they don’t fall into the trap of addiction – striking addiction before addiction strikes.

Maks had his own experience with early addiction. Born and raised in New York City, Maks was living with his loving parents and pretty much had everything life had to offer. But wanting to be perceived as the cool kid in the bunch, Maks pretty much began partying and experimenting with drugs and alcohol at 13 years old. And by the age he was 15, he tried cocaine and ecstasy. 

Maks did all that because he felt he wasn’t enough. Instead of being grateful for all of the things he had or could do, he found his release through drugs and alcohol. Throughout his life, his theme was to appear okay on the outside, but chaotic on the inside. 

By college, Maks was doubling down on substance abuse. His four years of college involved daily use of marijuana and Xanax then all of the other maladaptive behaviors came with it. Maks was practically living a double life because his parents knew nothing about it. He was compartmentalizing all these different pieces in his life that were giving him tremendous anxiety and angst, feeding into his addiction. Until one day, he woke up in the back of an ambulance and was still in denial that it was caused by an overdose. 

Eventually, Maks came across Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) through his friend who introduced him to it. Over the course of three months, he was using substances and going to meetings until it wasn’t fun anymore. He was tired of lying to himself and the people around him who truly wanted him to get better. So on September 24, 2016, he made the full leap into the program.

In this episode, you will hear:

  • Maks’ story of addiction and recovery
  • A feeling of being not enough
  • Developing maladaptive behaviors along with the addiction
  • Getting introduced to AA
  • The birth of Youth Prevention Mentors 
  • How YPM provides support to young adults
  • Signs your kids might be struggling
  • The inverse cult of adolescence
  • Breaking the stigma around mental health

Key Quotes:

[05:17] – “That’s a big part of my story being perceived a certain way to kind of fill the void of not being enough.”

[10:42] – “I didn’t have the foresight or the ability to look inward and kind of focus on, you know, what’s really making me feel this way and how is this affecting my actions.”

[21:30] – “This disease takes people and it does not discriminate.”

[26:03] – “I didn’t get the support that I needed and it led to an existence of chaos and overdose and substance misuse – and that doesn’t need to be you. Let me give you some education.” 

[28:03] – “When working with young adults, you have to take on the family.”

[29:26] – “We create a life team around the family so that they feel support from all angles, and that there’s that united approach of – we all know what direction we’re going and we’re all being held accountable by our separate parties.”

[38:43] – “There’s nothing wrong with meeting someone to get some help for your mental health or struggle with addiction.”

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Supporting Resources:

Youth Prevention Mentors

Instagram: @youthpreventionmentors