Mother Is Passionate About Helping Others with ADD Awareness after Losing Her Son

Hi. My name is Jan. I have no initials after my name and I have nothing to sell you. I am simply a parent who has become passionate about helping as many people as I possibly can to achieve a different outcome from ours. I, like you, have researched the internet for information on ADD, ADHD, Addiction and Depression. For me, it was frustrating trying to find a good unbiased resource for ADD awareness.

If you've found your way to this site, you may have a concern about a loved one who may have ADD or ADHD. You may be struggling with your child who has grown into a troubled teen or you may have a teenager who may be abusing alcohol or drugs. I am a mom who lost her teenage son to an addiction that took control of his life in four short months. Unfortunately, most of my research came too late to help Chad. I underestimated the seriousness of the symptoms of ADD. I underestimated the seriousness of prescription and other gateway drugs. I underestimated the undermining factor of low self esteem and depression.

After Chad died, I was angry, guilt ridden and brimming with unanswered questions. Driven to understand how the chain of events that lead to my son’s death could have been prevented, I began asking the hard questions and researching voraciously. As I was able to help people in my local sphere of influence, I was repeatedly told that this ADD awareness would help others if I would write or speak about it. With my personal experiences and resources still at my fingertips, I became inspired as a part of Chad’s Legacy to create this site. I have an abundance of compassion for those who are so misunderstood, as well as for the people that misunderstand them. I once felt the frustration and powerlessness that you may be experiencing.

Even though this site is greatly biased upon my personal experience, research and opinions, I assure you that my heart is in the right place. I'm not going to pretend that I know the answers, particularly as every person may have a different answer. If your current situation isn't effective, however, perhaps I'll be able to point you in a new direction. I strongly urge you to become an advocate for your child, ask lots of questions and do your own research. At the end of the day, everyone is too busy and no one will ever care about your child like you do. Let my 20/20 hindsight become your foresight.

Initially, when my son needed help the most and at the time when the right help could have impacted the entire direction of his life, there were only pieces of information available concerning ADD awareness. Almost twenty years later, I find that there is still a lot of ignorance in mainstream medicine, psychiatry and education when it comes to ADD and its relationship to low self esteem, brain chemistry, addiction and depression.

Bottom line, brain chemistry imbalances result in different learning styles. The lack of different learning resources in our mainstream education result in low self esteem and low self esteem results in poor choices, addictions and depression. These issues are the main causes of heart ache to our parents and society today. Change starts with you!

Prior to Chad’s death, as a parent I had read about ADD for years but only recently discovered the concept of brain chemistry and the possible means for balancing brain neurotransmitters. My research includes extensive reading and conversations with regard to these imbalances causing predictable physical symptoms and repercussions. I learned to balance my own serotonin levels relieving me from a debilitating depression during my grieving process. I have now become a “go to resource” for many of my friends, co-workers and neighbors who are struggling with their own chemistry imbalances.

The topic of Addiction had been introduced to me years before my own son faced the consequences of chemical imbalances. I researched feverishly during the eight months Chad was missing. I spoke with addicts, recovered or using, law enforcement, mental health counselors, and rehabilitation centers. For the most part, I did not receive from the professionals, the information that would help us. I received a lot of valuable information, however, from those who had used - those who had been there and knew, first hand, what it feels like to walk in the shoes of an alcoholic or addict.

If you've read any part of Chad's Story, you may be thinking "ok, so Chad was a decent kid that made a mistake but what does that have to do with me?" If you have ADD and/or addiction in your family, it may have a lot to do with you. See statistics for relationship of ADD to Addiction.

More about us:

I raised my two boys, Chad and Brandon, as a single parent in the Vail Valley. Both of my boys were intelligent, loving and sensitive human beings with very different learning challenges. We had/have a blessed life but not without our struggles. My oldest son, Brandon, became deaf after contracting Meningitis at the age of seventeen months. My youngest son, Chad, was diagnosed with ADD, albeit very late, upon failing Sixth grade. In my two sons, I saw the affects of their self image shaping their lives and beliefs. I spent a lot of time in the schools. I researched special schools, advocated for special testing and the implementation of Individual Educational Programs (IEP), and sought legal counsel when necessary.

Even though so much more is known about ADD today than when Chad was diagnosed, I'm being told that you will be lucky, in deed, to find an educator in a public school program who has the expertise necessary to teach your ADD or ADHD child, let alone the time that it requires. I believe that a child’s self image is the most precious resource that they will acquire. If this is stolen in their formative years, as so often is the case with those facing learning challenges, their low self esteem undermines success and everything that your child faces in life. A good educator will notice and be able to capture your child's strengths, educational gaps and point out the special talents that are so critical in shaping their self esteem.

The following experiences have shaped my opinions and my knowledge:

  1. I have fifteen years of experience advocating for my children’s special educational needs;

  2. I was exposed to addiction and rehabilitation efforts five years, prior to and during the time Chad was missing;

  3. In the wake of the loss of Chad, I’ve continued to research, even more intensely, the ADD - addiction connection and specifically as it relates to neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain that relate to depression, ADD, and Addiction.

  4. Both Chad and I, together and separately, saw counselors on and off for several years. I discovered that while psychological help has its place, it is challenging to mitigate behavioral issues when the underlying physical problem hasn't been addressed;

  5. I interviewed rehab facilities and learned a lot about their treatment programs and success rates. The majority of these treatment centers focus on psychological issues but could use a lot of improvement with the underlying physical imbalances exacerbated further by substance abuse.

  6. During the eight months my son was missing, I became closely connected with our local law enforcement and learned about the serious side affects of the drugs being peddled by pharmaceutical companies and drug dealers alike. I also learned about the lack of drug awareness in our schools, homes, community and the shortcomings of our judicial system;

  7. I became familiar with the spiritual Twelve Step program and chaired an Alanon program for two years;

  8. I was a part of a local advisory committee, initiated by the Eagle County Health Department, which was designed to increase access to local mental health services and substance abuse treatment.

One last thing, don't ever give up! That doesn't mean that you should enable your loved one. Tough love is love too. Pray for spiritual intervention and when the going gets tough, take a moment to look deep into the eyes of your loved one. That is where you will find that beautiful spark of innocence still burning in the heart of a child who only wanted to be loved and to matter.