When teens face trouble, especially with substance or self-abuse, the barriers to help can be especially significant. There might be a natural reluctance to reach out to the “adult world,” or avoidance of issues that seem unsolvable, perhaps because of teen tendencies for thinking in extremes. Many teens get stuck in negative downward spirals, leading to damaging consequences and emotional despair.
Luckily for those who have found it, SMART Recovery has become a growing solution to stopping negative behavior in the teen population. Teens relate to SMART’s stigma free and self-empowering approach.
This is in part due to people like Eboni Jewel Sears, who found the SMART Recovery program and volunteer their time to facilitate mutual support meetings in local communities around the country. Eboni is a facilitator for teens age 14-19 years old at Alternative Peer Group in Las Vegas. Through her efforts, she loves seeing the teens who attend her meetings grow using SMART’s tools focusing on self-esteem, unconditional acceptance of self, others, and life, and making good decisions.
“I think it’s really rewarding to be able to serve this community [and] show teens they’re the master of their own fate, and to empower them with the tools to do that…our main focus is to keep teens in recovery—no matter what we need to do, we do [and] fun things always help; you remember fun things more.“
To make learning the tools fun, Eboni uses activities like card games to bring SMART Recovery tools and content to life. She says it’s about exposing young people to helpful information consistently.
Eboni’s journey to SMART and her current strong affirmation of the principles and practices came after a long and winding road. Her military family moved a lot around the country, and she is a veteran herself, having served as a Navy Seabee. As far as work experience, she’s spent significant time as a long-haul truck driver and builder. For her, the facilitator training was a personal journey as well, providing an opportunity to be introspective, which was life-changing. As she continued to work on recovery, she came to believe that SMART was the best fit for her.
“I kept a lot of things to myself while in Navy, like being part of the LGBT community. In SMART, I was able to be myself, I just got to work on me and that’s exactly what I needed to do in the beginning. It was just very comforting and supportive.“
Her personal journey now includes becoming a minister, a decision about which she didn’t know how people would react.
“I wasn’t sure about how it would be received [but] no one has mentioned it or had a problem with it. For me I feel very accepted in the SMART community and always have.“
Help Us Reach More Teens and Youth In Need
As demonstrated in Eboni’s story, the ripple effect of impacting one life impacts others. It is because of individuals like Eboni, who experience SMART and then decide to use their time, energy, and resources to spread its self-empowering messages, that we are able to reach more and more people who need support.
Unfortunately, there are communities – and teens – across the country who still desperately need increased access to free, self-empowering, science-based mutual help groups. We are working to meet that need.
Your year-end gift to our Growth Fund will be put to work immediately, to help more people like Eboni and the teens in her meetings find the self-empowering recovery tools and peer support they need to overcome addiction and go on to live fulfilling and meaningful lives.
- Eboni Jewel Sears’ Life Beyond Addiction video
- Eboni Jewel Sears’ podcast – I Wasn’t Looking Until I Was Looking
- SMART Recovery Teen & Young Adult information
- Teen & Young Adult online meeting
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If you are interested in addiction recovery support, we encourage you to visit the SMART Recovery website.
If you or someone you love is in great distress and considering self-harm, please call 911 for immediate help, or reach out to The National Suicide Prevention Hotline @ 800-273-8255, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
We look forward to you joining the conversation!
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