Advice From Our Past Scholarship Recipients

Each year we ask our scholarship recipient a series of questions. To assist students in similar circumstances, we wanted to consolidate our past recipient’s answers to the following question:

What advice would you give to other students who have been through circumstances similar to yours?

2019 Scholarship Recipient, Alexandra Tulowiecki

“My biggest advice for anyone who has lost a loved one to substance abuse is to take that pain, that sadness, and that hurt and use it for something positive. Personally, I find it helpful to volunteer at the hospital and help others going through similar situations. Losing a loved one changes everything. It is crucial to find positive outlets such as exercising, talking to friends and family, or listening to music. Do what you love, and understand that nothing is your fault. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.” 

2018 Scholarship Recipient, Veronica Nation

“The advice I would give to other students who have been through similar circumstances would be to give yourself time to heal. I think time is one of the biggest factors when it comes to acceptance after grieving. It’s important to remember what you can control and what you cannot, and death of a loved one is one of the hardest things to go through. Let yourself grieve and learn to cope in a healthy way, but don’t allow a hardship to overtake your life.”

2017 Scholarship Recipient, Daniele Martino

“I want to stress to others who have experienced the loss of a loved one to substance abuse, that just because this person grappled with addiction does not mean they didn’t care about you. I know that my father loved me and I know that because of his dependency he was not able to be as present in my life as he would have liked to have been, but he would not have wanted me to lose sight of who I am in this process. It is so easy to relinquish control and lose track of your goals in the face of tragedy, especially given the nature of another person’s addiction being so far out of our control. I hope that any young person who has lost a family member in this way is able to find solace in advocating for things that are within their control, and to use this loss to push them in the direction of the person they hope to be.”

2016 Scholarship Recipient, Micole Fuller

“My advice would be to try not to lose sight of who you are in the emotional turmoil of family and life. It can be easy to forget such things when someone you love has lost themselves to substance abuse, as you tend to get caught up in their problems and identity crisis, and from the guilt you may feel when you can’t seem to help them find their way. But you have to remember that you can only help someone who wants to help themselves, and that your identity is just as important as helping others find and maintain their own. Indeed, it is far easier to help others when you have the confidence and sense of self to support your desire to reach out to them. It is far more difficult to help someone (re)gain their identity and find the right path when you’re still questioning your own identity.”

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

The Lisa Michelle Memorial Fund was established to assist students who have lost parent to substance abuse. Our existence is based on a tragedy that can be prevented by more education, training, resources and awareness throughout society.

We want to do our part to bring awareness to addiction by providing information throughout the year which includes National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

“October was first declared as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in 2011. Since then, October has been a time to highlight the vital role of substance abuse prevention in both individual and community health has, to remember those who have lost their lives to substance abuse, to acknowledge those in recovery, as well as children, parents, family, and friends supporting them. Studies show that the earlier an individual starts smoking, drinking or using other drugs, the greater the likelihood of developing addiction. 9 out of 10 people who abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs began using these substances before they were 18. People who began using addictive substances before age 15 are nearly 7 times likelier to develop a substance problem than those who delay first use until age 21 or older. Every year that substance use is delayed during the period of adolescent brain development, the risk of addiction and substance abuse decrease. “ (NCTSN Website)

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network also provided information on the links between a traumatic event in an adolescence’s life with substance abuse. This information was really important for our organization to share because it’s the sexual abuse in Lisa’s early years that was a contributing factor to her addiction. This undoubtedly would be considered a traumatic event.

According to the NCTSN fact sheet, “teens who had experienced physical or sexual abuse/assault were three times more likely to report past or current substance abuse than those without a history of trauma.”