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A Guide for Youth with Substance Struggles: Meet Sam

The isolation of the pandemic made life difficult for everyone, but especially for teens – who  already struggle with finding their way in the world.


Youth substance abuse is on the alarming rise, with participation in recovery programs doubling or tripling over the past two years. Youth are turning to drugs and alcohol to fill a void left by loneliness and disconnection.

Moreover, approximately half of U.S. adults report experiencing loneliness, with some form of the highest rates among young adults, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

On a recent episode of the Nobody’s Perfect Podcast, Sam Wilson shared an inspiring story of his own recovery from teen addiction, and the work he now does to help youth through programs like Full Circle. Once dependent on drugs and alcohol himself, Sam got sober at 17 and found purpose in guiding others down a similar road.

Sam notes teens today are abusing everything from marijuana to dangerously potent synthetics like fentanyl. Well-meaning friends often enable substance abuse by trying to “help” instead of being honest, and parents may be in denial that their child is at risk.

Yet, there is hope. Full Circle-Denver takes a holistic approach focused on human connection and fulfillment over quick fixes. Through support groups, recreational activities, and mentorship, teens build relationships and discover the meaning necessary to break free from addiction’s grip.

Sam’s episode details how we can surround struggling youth with the compassion and understanding they need to start the recovery journey. Sam stresses that nobody is perfect – we all make mistakes, especially when we’re young. What matters most is how we move forward with courage, vulnerability, and care for our shared struggles.

His story offers inspiration along with practical insights for parents, educators and peers wanting to make a difference. While long, the road to recovery starts with a single step towards help and understanding.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, know that you don’t have to walk this path alone. There are people who understand and programs that can help. Healing is possible when we lift each other up.

Listen to our powerful conversation with Sam and Nobody’s Perfect Podcast host Jason Hopcus, here, and be sure to follow Nobody’s Perfect on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok.

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