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Rewired: Changing brains to beat addiction

Studies show that half of teens have used drugs at least once, and kids who start drinking before the age of 15 are seven times more likely to develop alcohol-use disorder as adults.
Studies show that half of teens have used drugs at least once, and kids who start drinking before the age of 15 are seven times more likely to develop alcohol-use disorder as adults.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Fifty percent of teens have used drugs at least once. Among college students, 43% report frequently abusing drugs and alcohol. These teens who experiment early could be setting the groundwork for decades of abuse.

In fact, kids who start drinking before the age of 15 are seven times more likely to develop alcohol use disorders as adults than those who wait until after age 18.

One woman is using her own experience to help young people rewire their brains and break the habit.

“It was first beer and alcohol, drifted onto marijuana,” said Jacob Lara, a recovering teen addict.

Jacob Lara, 29, has battled substance abuse for half his life. Soon that addiction would get him kicked off of his football team and kicked out of his private high school.

“It got to the point where I was on cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth,” Lara explained.

Lara is not alone. Almost 20 million Americans struggle with substance use disorder. Many of their addictions begin as teens and young adults.

“I’ve been sober 14 years.” Erica Spiegelman said.

Spiegelman uses her own experiences to help others beat their addiction. Spiegelman teaches people to rewire their brains. Overwriting old patterns with new habits. The first step: accept it.

“I completely accepted that abstinence and just putting it to death is what I call it for my clients to saying goodbye, grieving it,” Spiegelman states.

Practice being kind to yourself.

“It’s about creating positive self-talk, replacing negative language in your own mind, in your own head,” Spiegelman said.

Recognize your triggers.

“Don’t let yourself be hungry, angry, lonely or tired around five o’clock,” Spiegelman advises.

Lara states that for him, “Skateboarding gets my mind off of things.”

There is no quick fix, but change is possible.

“It really is around like two months that you see people create new identities,” Spiegelman said.

Jacob believes these steps and one-on-one counseling with Spiegelman changed his life. He’s been sober for almost a year now and is determined to continue drug free.

Spiegelman believes the steps used for recovering addicts can also be used to change other aspects of your life. She now has two books. The second book -- The Rewired Life -- is designed to help anyone, not just addicts, change their lives and adopt healthier habits. Both books can be found on Amazon.