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Prevention. Recovery. Stigma Reduction.

There is hope.

Jamie Daniels Foundation is committed to empowering people with the valuable knowledge and information they need to navigate the Substance Use Disorder and recovery process.

The information below was designed as a starting point for understanding the challenges of addiction, as well as for people seeking information that can support a family member or close friend in receiving treatment.

Frequently asked questions

Teen substance use.

Understanding what’s happening socially and developmentally — and how it can intersect with substance use — is fundamental to setting the stage for healthier outcomes.

What is "normal?"

We immunize. We require seat belts in the car and helmets while biking. We insist on sunscreen. We do just about everything we can to ensure that our kids are healthy, safe and primed for success. But when it comes to drinking alcohol or even smoking marijuana, why does it seem so easy to shrug it off as “a rite of passage” or “just experimenting”?

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Brain development & behavior

As the parent of a teen, have you found yourself looking at your child, wondering “Why would you do that?” From mood swings to risk taking, “normal” teenage behavior can be confusing and exasperating.

Research reveals that patterns of adolescent brain development play a significant role in shaping teens’ behavior. In other words, there’s a biological reason why teens often act the way they do.

The science of brain development reveals why adolescents are responsive to new experiences and influences, both positive and negative. This makes the teen years a period of great promise, but also of potential risk, especially for addiction. That’s why preventing and delaying substance use during this time is so important to their long-term health.

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Is your child at risk? Find out with our new risk assessment tool

This risk assessment is designed to help you better understand the risks your child may face related to mental health, well-being, personality, family history, and their environment.

You can take actions to reduce the chances your child will use substances or experience problems with them based on your results.

Complete the assessment

Learn More in the Partnership to End Addiction Playbook for Parents of Tweens

What is this playbook about? This book seeks to help parents of preteens (primarily ages 7-12) take actions to help protect their children’s health and well-being, now and in the future.


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Learn More in the Partnership to End Addiction Playbook for Parents of Teens

We know you want to protect your teenager’s health and well-being and respond to the difficulties they may face.


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Recognize warning signs
with early prevention.

Many of these resources are shared through the Partnership to End Addiction. Jamie Daniels Foundation is a proud community partner.

Talking with kids about drugs & alcohol: How/When/Why/What.

What is addiction? How it impacts the brain. (A disease and not a moral failure)

Addiction, clinically referred to as a substance use disorder, is a complex disease of the brain and body that involves compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences. Addiction disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory.

The disease model of addiction

Addiction is defined as a disease by most medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, addiction is caused by a combination of behavioral, psychological, environmental and biological factors. Genetic risk factors account for about half of the likelihood that an individual will develop addiction.

Addiction involves changes in the functioning of the brain and body due to persistent use of nicotine, alcohol and/or other substances.

The consequences of untreated addiction often include other physical and mental health disorders that require medical attention. If left untreated over time, addiction becomes more severe, disabling and life-threatening.

How substance use changes the brain

People feel pleasure when basic needs such as hunger, thirst and sex are satisfied. In most cases, these feelings of pleasure are caused by the release of certain chemicals in the brain, which reinforce these life-sustaining functions by incentivizing the individual to repeat the behaviors that produce those rewarding feelings (eating, drinking and procreating). Most addictive substances cause the brain to release high levels of these same chemicals that are associated with natural pleasure or reward.


Over time, continued release of these chemicals causes changes in the brain systems involved in reward, motivation and memory. The brain tries to get back to a balanced state by minimizing its reaction to those rewarding chemicals or releasing stress hormones. As a result, a person may need to use increasing amounts of the substance just to feel closer to normal. The individual may experience intense desires or cravings for the substance and will continue to use it despite harmful or dangerous consequences. The person may also prefer the substance to other healthy pleasures and may lose interest in normal life activities. In the most chronic form of the disease, a severe substance use disorder can cause a person to stop caring about their own or others’ well-being or survival.


These changes in the brain can remain for a long time, even after the person stops using substances. It is believed that these changes may leave those with addiction vulnerable to physical and environmental cues that they associate with substance use, also known as triggers, which can increase their risk of relapse.

Why is will power not enough?

The initial and early decisions to use substances are based in large part on a person’s free or conscious choice, often influenced by their culture and environment. Certain factors, such as a family history of addiction, trauma or inadequately treated mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, may make some people more susceptible to substance use disorders than others. Once the brain has been changed by addiction, that choice or willpower becomes impaired. Perhaps the most defining symptom of addiction is a loss of control over substance use.

Are people with addiction responsible for their actions?

People do not choose how their brain and body respond to substances, which is why people with addiction cannot control their use while others can. People with addiction can still stop using substances — it’s just much harder than it is for someone who has not become addicted. People with addiction should not be blamed for having a disease, but rather be able to get quality, evidence-based care to address it.


With the help and support of family, friends and peers to stay in treatment, they increase their chances of recovery and survival.

Is it a chronic disease?

A chronic disease is a long-lasting condition that can be controlled but not cured.


Most people who engage in substance use do not develop addiction. And many people who do so to a problematic extent, such as young people during their high school or college years, tend to reduce their use once they take on more adult responsibilities. Still, about 25-50% of people with a substance use problem develop a severe, chronic disorder. For them, addiction is a progressive, relapsing disease that requires intensive treatments and continuing aftercare, monitoring and family or peer support to manage their recovery.


The good news is that even the most severe, chronic form of the disorder can be manageable, usually with long-term treatment and continued monitoring and support for recovery.

Why some people say addiction is not a disease

Some people think addiction cannot be a disease because it is caused by the individual’s choice to use substances. While the first use (or early stage use) may be by choice, once the brain has been changed by addiction, most experts believe that the person loses control of their behavior.


Choice does not determine whether something is a disease. Heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer involve personal choices like diet, exercise, sun exposure, etc. A disease is what happens in the body as a result of those choices.


Others argue that addiction is not a disease because some people with addiction get better without treatment. People with a mild substance use disorder may recover with little or no treatment. People with the most serious form of addiction usually need intensive treatment followed by lifelong management of the disease. However, some people with severe addiction stop drinking or using other substances without treatment, usually after experiencing a serious family, social, occupational, physical or spiritual crisis. Others achieve recovery by attending self-help (12-step or AA) meetings without receiving much, if any, professional treatment. In all cases, professional treatment and a range of recovery supports should be available and accessible to anybody who develops a substance use disorder. Addiction is a treatable disease.

Find support or treatment for you or your loved one by using this comprehensive tool to identify the best resource for your unique situation and needs.

Helping a loved one dealing with Substance Use Disorder.

What types of treatment are available?

For most people, “treatment” conjures images of detox or a residential rehab facility. In reality, detox (detoxification) is not treatment — it only addresses the physical symptoms of withdrawal — and a residential program is just one of a variety of options.


Treatment for substance use disorder can take place in different settings (inpatient or outpatient) and at different degrees of intensity. Typically, one’s treatment plan is designed to address their physical, psychological, emotional and social issues, in addition to their substance use. It addresses the type of substance too, as in the case of medications for opioid use disorders.


Before you make any decisions, take time to understand what treatment is, what it isn’t, and the options available.


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Realizing that your teen or young adult child needs help for their substance use or addiction can be scary and overwhelming, and you are not alone have no idea where to begin. There is no one-size-fits-all answer so it can take a fair amount of research to figure out what type of help your child needs, and how to get it. No matter where you are emotionally, mentally or physically, we’re here to help.


Download Your Child’s Treatment Roadmap, our concise guide to the key steps in making the right choices for your child and family, and a helpful companion to the information below.


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Paying for treatment

When your top priority is helping a sick loved one get well, it’s overwhelming to add financial hurdles to the mix. We know that making treatment more accessible and affordable requires advocacy and work at the policy level. So what can you do when your child needs treatment now?


Paying for treatment — whether it’s covered by insurance or not — can loom large in making treatment decisions. But to the greatest extent possible, your child’s treatment plan should be based on their individual needs. Effective treatment is provided in different settings (inpatient or outpatient) and at different levels of care, and may incorporate medication. Understanding the types of treatment available will be important as you navigate this portion of the journey.

Precautions & warnings

Unfortunately, addiction treatment can be a profitable opportunity for those preying upon vulnerable families. Some parents have children who have become victims of the ‘patient brokering’ system. This a network of kickback schemes in which brokers receive payment for referring patients to specific treatment facilities. Often, these facilities do not provide quality treatment at all.


Even well-meaning health care professionals may unintentionally point you in the wrong direction simply because addiction treatment is not their area of expertise. Learning how to navigate the treatment system can be a difficult process. However, if you do your research, ask for help, network, and ask the right questions, you can be your child’s best advocate.

It’s recommended that you start with a trusted addictions counselor and not with an online search. Use the following as a reference guide to help form what questions to ask. Then, you can quickly eliminate any questionable providers from your list.


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Preparing for life following treatment

The end of substance use treatment is just the beginning of the road to recovery. Your child will need your help and support to get there.


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What to expect with treatment: types, costs, and more.

Finding treatment.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Getting the right treatment for your child or loved one is a process, and navigating the current system requires determination and careful review.

only one in ten

However, as explained by the Drug Task Force, we
had no recourse with either doctor. We could take
them to court, but without a well-recognized standard
of care for substance abuse therapy, it would be our
expert witnesses against theirs. So, Jamie’s cause
of death remains accidental death by overdose.

In April 2018, we were invited to share Jamie’s story
in front of Congress in Washington. Congress then
began an investigation into patient brokering. In
October 2018, the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery
Act was signed into law. Unfortunately, this hasn’t
stopped the practice of patient brokering around the


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