Mending the Mind: Fighting Substance Abuse

By KBJR News 1

May 11, 2011 Updated May 11, 2011 at 1:49 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Tierney Garver, 20, has come along way in just the last few years. She will soon begin classes at UMD. But, the path to success- was a rocky one.

"Starting in seventh grade, I suffered a lot of depression and anxiety and started going to therapy for that," Tierney said.

Tierney says the depression got worse and she turned to drugs, such as Meth to help her cope.

"That was my daily routine until I was 16, 17. I would be getting up in the morning, using, going to school using, going home using."

She says if it wasn't Meth, it was pills, alcohol or weed.

"A good day would be being high all day, bad day would be going through withdrawal."

Tierney eventually gathered enough courage to seek out help at the Teen Partial Center at Miller Dwan. Experts say the path to recovery begins with making a connection.

"You try to make it a personal atmosphere." said Lori Kulas, an adolescent chemical dependency tech with Essentia Health.

Kulas works with Tierney.

"We're not going in there to do the shaming, blaming, kind of game with them," Kulas said. "We want them to begin to trust us."

Kulas says the key is to uncover the pieces lost when someone starts using chemicals.

Tierney says she was lucky it all clicked for her.

"I had to face the reality of what I was doing with my life. If I hadn't gotten the help I asked for, I probably would have been dead."

The help also came in the form of her parents.

"This stuff is out there, you don't know for sure, even if you stay connected to your kids, Tierney's father, Rod Garver said. "You need to be available for them."

"It's sad that I missed out on a lot of high school experiences and didn't have a relationship with my parents, like I wanted to, but I wouldn't change it for anything," Tierney added.

She says the choices she made in her teens made her a stronger person today.

Tierney is wrapping up classes at Lake Superior College and will begin at UMD next semester.

Wednesday night (5/11) as we continue our "Mending the Mind" reports, we'll meet a high school athlete struggling to win his battle with depression.

Written for the web by Kevin Jacobsen