Sometimes when you have a member of the family dealing with a substance use issue, you have to set boundaries to ensure you and your home are safe. This also helps ensure that you are not in any way enabling your loved one with the issue. It may feel difficult and upsetting to enact a boundary, but it is ultimately a kindness.
Family Peer Recovery Coach, Dr. Eric Daxon, RSPS has created a helpful fact sheet around boundaries. Check it out below to learn about the types of boundaries, when and why a boundary may be needed, and how to enforce your boundary. Most of all, remember that setting a boundary isn’t turning your back on your loved one with substance use issues. It’s a kindness for both of you.
Here at Rise, we have a place for everyone and it includes our New Generations program, or as we call them, New Gens. But what is it about New Gens that makes them so unique and such a necessary component of the work we do? We stopped by to chat with Sarah Waltz, our New Gens Coordinator, to speak on the importance of the New Gens youth program, and why breaking the cycle can be a breakthrough for their future.
So, tell me about yourself and what you do at Rise Recovery.
My name is Sarah, I’m an LCSW or Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I work with the New Gens at Rise Recovery. New Gens are a group of kids 9-17 that have a loved one that use substances. So, my group is kids that don’t use, but have a loved one that do.
How does New Gens relate to you, and what is the importance of New Gens?
Both of my parents are addicts. I grew up in a household before I met my dad with my mom who was cooking meth in our apartment and selling drugs. It was not a good situation. And it was challenging going to school every day and not being able to talk about the things going on at home because it was so taboo. I didn’t have a safe space to talk about things, and that’s what New Gen is for. For kids to have a safe space to talk about things at home, and not feel judged and feel heard. We have kids that can be like “oh, been there!”
What do you believe is the importance of the New Gen when it comes to Rise Recovery?
So, we talk a lot about addiction being a family disease at Rise. Often times the New Gens are, if you look at dynamics, the lost kids; the lost children in the family. Because New Gens are generally going to be the kids that see their sibling or their parents struggling and they’re going to be the perfect little angel; “I will cause no waves, I will make sure that I do nothing bad so that all the attention can go on the person that’s using. I am going to make sure that there’s some homeostasis in my home.”
And when that happens, we as new gens, we’re pushing our feelings down, we’re masking our feelings a lot, it’s one of those things where I’m going to make sure everyone else is okay before I make sure that I am okay. And for our group, we try to encourage advocating for ourselves, although it’s challenging and we have a funny little saying of #newgens (hashtag new gens.) That’s how we call each other out. We try to make sure it’s a place where they can share their feelings and feel open and vulnerable to put themselves first.
So, you’re not just Rise Recovery’s New Gen Coordinator you’re also a licensed social worker. Can you talk a little bit about that, and how you apply what you learned to your work here?
Of course. I really like the fact that I’m not only able to work with the New Gens, but also I am able to go into the schools. I go into Harlandale and Alamo Heights high schools as well, to conduct groups similar to how the APG (alternative peer group) does for youth. I think that’s really cool that I can float and provide services for different groups. Something that I would like to do that I haven’t been able to do that will utilize my social work background is family counseling; so, getting all parties together. I think that would just be so cool and something that I learned I’m really good at is getting all parties together and on the same page. I’m able to work on the Youth Systems of Care Task Force with the Kronkosky Foundation along with other leaders in the community. And basically, in that task force we’re trying to put together strategies on how to make it more of like a one-stop shop for youth who need service. Making it to where if youth A is coming to Rise Recovery, but then they also need to go to CHCS (Center for Healthcare Services) for example, then they don’t need to retell their whole story to CHCS. How can we make it where it’s more fluid and easier and less traumatic for youth seeking multiple services?
I know we touched on what we want for you in the future. What type of legacy do you want to leave here at Rise when it comes to the New Gens program?
What I would want to happen with New Gens is to see that program really grow and flourish which we have done. I started back in November of 2021, and we had two maybe three kids coming regularly, and now we’re back up to a total of 15 with 10-12 regularly coming. And I think what I would like to see for New Gens is a big group like the youth has where there are 40 regular kids, and we can have a steering committee; the youth call it a PAC peer advisory council, but that’s what I would like to see for New Gens where they are really taking the lead and ownership while the staff is just there to govern and guide as needed. I would really like to see our older youth taking some leadership roles and being able to help plan and maybe run group meetings like how youth bring topics for their meetings. I think a really good goal would be at Families in Recovery next year for us to have as many New Gens present as the youth APG… I want them to be there and represent; like “we’re here too, guys!”
What type of advice would you give someone who’s starting out in New Gens?
I would tell them you don’t have to follow the same path as their loved ones. Breaking stigma and breaking cycles are challenging, but it’s doable. I have firsthand experience. Nobody in my whole entire family went to college before me and both sides of my parents’ families-grandparents- are alcoholics or addicts. Everybody in my family has dealt with substance use, and here I am, not an addict. How I did that was by seeing what happened and how their lives turned out and knowing that I didn’t want my life to be that way. So, just really encouraging them that you know you can make different decisions. You can make changes, and you can be the person that breaks the cycle in your family.
What is your favorite thing about working with New Gens?
They’re all just so funny, and the best thing is they love being in New Gens. Last week I was talking to a parent after group and their kids had only been here one time before and that evening, they had tickets for a Missions baseball game and the kids said, “I don’t want to go to the baseball game. I want to go to Rise Recovery. I want to go to group.” The reason they gave was that they felt safe to share, and number two, it’s so fun. So that’s the most amazing thing, and I love that they want to be here, that they want to come hangs out, that this is a safe space because so many kids don’t have that, and to be able to have that, not only with trusted adults, but with peers experiencing similar situations? *Chef’s kiss!*
What is your favorite part of working at Rise Recovery?
I just love being here. So many people on staff are not just coworkers; they’re friends and some even I consider family. I just think that every day I want to come to work, because if it’s not the kids I’m interacting with, then it’s my coworkers that I love. When I’m here I’m always laughing, and having a good time; it doesn’t even really feel like work. It’s amazing.
Each month, Recovery Uncovered brings great information as well as moving stories to the forefront of the conversation around recovery. September’s episode features Adam Cavazos of Rise Recovery’s telehealth team discussing virtual recovery options.
On September 30, 2022 Rise Recovery launched our first-ever speaker series with author, Candice Curry. In her book, Ms. Curry speaks candidly about her childhood experience living with a parent with substance use issues. Relatable and charming, Ms. Curry was a compelling speaker with so much heart.
See our next speaker, Dr. Heather Holder, on Friday, October 28 at 7 PM for a conversation about Dual Diagnosis: a situation in which a patient has both a mental health disorder as well as a substance use issue.
Rise Recovery is grateful for our Friends of Rise Recovery: a group of donors making monthly donations that sustain our mission. Finally, we are able to offer a special perk when you become a monthly donor: our new quarterly magazine, The Knot.
Read our first ever issue here: Volume 1 Issue 1
Monthly donors will recevie a physical copy of the magazine in their mailboxes soon. If you would like to become a Friend of Rise Recovery with a monthly donation, please follow this link below to sign up!
The Harlandale Care Center sounds like a pretty ordinary name for a school building, but this is actually a place of healing, hope, and recovery beyond the scope of any regular school day. The people who make their offices inside these unassuming walls are actually part of a grand experiment to better serve the students of Harlandale ISD. The San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative was founded in 2019 by a group of nonprofits wanting to provide a holistic approach to mental wellness by breaking barriers and bringing services into the schools.
Jessica Alcala, a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, represents Rise Recovery as a Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative member. Rather than make her office on the Rise Recovery
Charlie Naylor Campus, Jessica drives to the Harlandale Alternative School every day and drinks her first cup of coffee in her office at the Harlandale Care Center. We caught up with Jessica this week to learn more about her work.
What’s your favorite thing about working with youth?
There are a lot of things: One, they’re fun. I love working with them. They’re honest, they share what they feel. I feel like the big need for a lot of teenagers is that they need someone to talk to. Growing up as a teenager, I didn’t know who to talk to, but because of the community and how Rise is, I think it gets the students to really open up without being judged. They’re so creative too.
What advice would you give a youth member starting their sobriety?
One of the biggest I would suggest is that you know there are going to be challenges throughout your early sobriety and life and general. Don’t quit before a miracle happens. Keep going and ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to share whatever it is you’re going through. Being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak, it makes you stronger. That’s what I would’ve wanted for someone to tell me.
Can you explain the Youth Leadership Program?
The YLP program is a pilot program that started last year. We started it at the STEM Academy in Harlandale ISD. It’s a leadership program to teach the students to be advocates for mental health and substance abuse. There are two phases: the first phase is them learning about what the program is. Then there’s education on mental health, leadership styles, communication and how they can communicate assertively, and teaching how to inspire others. After they finish that in the very last session before they graduate on their first phase, we ask them: “what is something that you feel passionate about that you would want to present?”
This past year, the students taught the faculty about coping skills, and a lot of the information that was provided to them through one of our partners in the collaborative: the Children’s Bereavement Center. Now our goal for this year is to have our peer leaders from the program last year teach our new recruits this year so that it keeps growing. That is our hope for the program.
What is something that I hope the students will get out of it?
I hope we can break the stigma of mental health and substance abuse. I hope the students are able to see their mental health as not a disability, but a strength. Same for substance abuse, I believe they go hand in hand.
Can you explain what you do hear at the Harlandale Care Center?
With the Care Center, not only do I do the youth leadership program, but I also provide group sessions to the alternative school. The students that are caught using substances are automatically referred to us. We meet them on campus and provide them with individual sessions as well as group sessions. Once they complete their time at the alternative they have the choice to continue with us or end services. So, if they decide to continue services, we will follow them. We go into Leal Middle School, Kingsborough Middle, Harlandale Middle, STEM Academy, Frank Tejeda campus, Harlandale High School, and McCollum High School. We’ve also received elementary referrals.
That’s one of the great things about Rise Recovery is that we don’t just help out the people struggling with substances, but the whole family. So we will get referrals from family members that need support because their loved ones are using substances. We get referrals from Rise Recovery’s Young Adult Program and New Gens. We’re pretty much all around in Harlandale.
What is your favorite thing about working at Rise Recovery?
The people. The people that I work with. I know Roy probably hears it all the time, but he’s the best boss I’ve ever had. Not only him, but everyone at work is so kind, loving, and nonjudgmental. It doesn’t even feel like work to me. It’s something that I’m grateful to wake up and be like “Omg yes! I’m going to work!” It’s like a second family, and that is what I love.