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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and this year's theme is Where to Start: Mental Health in a Changing World. Thanks to MHA and NAMI for many of these resources. And remember, if you're in crisis, please contact the 988 Lifeline immediately.

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North Texas Giving Day: It's Personal For Me

I'm not choosing to give to Drug Prevention Resources on North Texas Giving Day because I'm the CEO of this phenomenal organization. I'm giving because I believe with all of my heart that drug prevention is the most important strategy for keeping our youth from becoming addicted.

I was one of those kids who was never exposed to a drug prevention program. I began using alcohol and other drugs when I was 13 because I wanted to be one of the "cool" kids. My parents never talked to me about the dangers of alcohol or other drugs - probably because my mother was an alcoholic. She was also one of those parents who thought drugs were a "rite of passage" and if she could just teach me how to drink "safely" she could minimize the risks. Although her heart was in the right place, the outcome was still tragic. By the time I entered college, I was a full blown alcoholic and before graduation I had also become addicted to drugs. The next few years were just a blur.

After 16 years of using and abusing drugs and alcohol, I began to realize that my life was headed nowhere. I didn't care about anything except getting drunk or high. On the outside my life looked fairly normal and even exciting to some but on the inside my soul was slowly dying.

With a lot of encouragement from a very close friend, I finally made the decision to get help. Even though I was terrified about what others would think and couldn't imagine my life without alcohol or drugs, I took a leap of faith and entered recovery at age 29. Through the grace of God, I have been sober ever since. My recovery has allowed me to become a better partner, sister, grandmother, friend and community member. It also allows me to give back by helping others every single day.

I sometimes try to imagine how my life might have been had I never picked up that first drink or drug. What if I had been taught as a child how to make healthy choices instead of those that nearly destroyed me?

I am so grateful to be one of the lucky ones. Many of those other "cool kids" weren't so lucky. Some have died while others are still living the nightmare of addiction. My only nephew, Scott, died from addiction in 2005. He was only 36. Kids are still dying but you can help!

Now I hope you understand why I'm choosing to give to Drug Prevention Resources. Ninety percent of addiction starts in the teen years but it can be prevented. With your help, we can teach more kids how to make healthy choices, so they never have to take the risk of getting addicted like me.

Steering kids away from drugs and showing them how to make better, healthier choices for themselves is our greatest reward. You CAN make a difference on this ONE DAY of giving! Get up and head to to make your gift.

Kids and families throughout North Texas thank you.

God Bless You!