Emmet is 21 and has been using since he was 15. Growing up transgender in a Christian household, he used substances as an outlet for the negative feelings that resulted. Using was a way for him to feel less alone, a way to fit in and to avoid who he was. “I never understood how other people could drink normally, while I couldn’t stop once I started.”

He has been through various treatment programs since he was 17, and it’s been helpful for him to hear others share their experiences. “Addiction is a disease throughout life. Everyone has their story. When you think you have it bad, someone else has it 10 times worse. Everyone hits different rock bottoms.”

Emmet now attends a weekly group session through Young Adult Services called Passage 2 Recovery. Through the program, he was invited—with other youth from his program and Challenge by Choice— to attend day camps funded by the Mental Health Foundation.

Emmet thinks that the youth day camps were an important complement to group therapy, and a more genuine setting to relate to other youth who have a past of addiction in common. The trips were also helpful in another way: planning leisure time in a safe way.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding around treatment. Most people think treatment is just while you’re there, but recovery is actually a process. I used to have this idea that once I was out of treatment, I would just lose the will to use, so I just tried to white-knuckle my way through.”

Understanding that recovery is ongoing, Emmet appreciates the support of a structured environment like the one provided by the youth day camps. The youth in his support group are friends, but planning recreational activities to do together on their own can be challenging. “You think you’re going to have harmless fun, but then someone might suggest getting a bottle.”

The youth day camps provide a safe option for enjoying spare time together. On top of that, providing opportunities to do something they wouldn’t normally do helps the youth realize what it’s like to have fun again, which can be hard when coming out of active addiction. Emmet found the trips very helpful, and is grateful for the opportunity he had to attend.

Recreation and leisure programming is an important part of the treatment process for youth who cope with addiction or mental illness. Your donation helps us connect more youth with constructive activities.

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