What You Can Learn From One Family’s Painful Journey with Drug Addiction

Addiction’s painful effects can destroy the lives of both addicts and family members.  How one family went through the process of addiction and recovery, and lived to share some important lessons.


At 16 years old, Sarah Barden was using OxyContin, cocaine, Ecstasy, heroin, marijuana and still going to Walled Lake Central High School. She lied, stole, cheated and tried to manipulate everybody, but mostly her parents.


“My daughter convinced me that she didn’t have a problem,” said Jeannie Barden, Sarah’s mother. “By the time I thought something was going on, I was already late. When I thought she was drinking and smoking pot, she was already doing cocaine and popping pills.”


Dealing with her daughter’s addiction was like “going through hell,” Barden said. But with help, Sarah is now in recovery. She was treated at Henry Ford Maplegrove Center in West Bloomfield and has been clean for three years.


Barden, 55, of West Bloomfield is now trying to help others avoid the same mistakes that she made in missing the signs of addiction in her daughter.


She volunteers at Maplegrove, sharing her story and offering tips to parents with children who have substance-abuse problems — at a time when the number of young people using drugs is on the rise, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.


Marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year and daily marijuana use is now at a 30-year peak level among high school seniors, according to the 2011 Monitoring the Future report released Wednesday. In 2011, 50% of high school seniors reported having tried an illicit drug at some time, the report stated, and 40% used one or more drugs in the past 12 months.


Few are getting treatment. More than 23 million Americans ages 12 and older needed some sort of treatment for drug or alcohol use problems, according to the national survey. But only 2.6 million people received treatment. Most didn’t get help because they didn’t think they needed it. Barden offers tips for parents, saying these are the things she wished she had known when her daughter was younger:


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