Story corps interview with Nate Morell

Recorded November 27, 2017 Archived November 27, 2017 09:14 minutes
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Id: APP412454


Tess: My name is Theresa DiMona and I am 18 years old and today is November 9th and I’m speaking with Nate Morell who is my social club advisor and we are recording this interview in Galloway, NJ. So, Nate what has been beneficial that you’ve tried to help to try to combat addiction?
Nate: For me the thing that’s most helpful is figuring out what is going on underneath addiction. So, I haven’t worked with anybody who’s struggled and now were trying to say a person with substance use disorder because it’s nicer than calling somebody an addict and that seems like kind of a mean thing. People have the right to call themselves addicts is they want but for me in my experience working for people and knowing people in my life is that people in pain. That is anxiety, it’s depression, it’s trauma, there’s something that was going on and people turn to substances in order to cope. In order to survive and stay alive and to feel ok. I think the bad thing is after you self-medicate long enough then you can become dependent on a substance so that anxiety or depression or the ADHD or whatever it was or the emotional pain that led to you doing substance it’s still there but then now you also have a substance use disorder so, to me the most effective thing is to catch it early.
So, if you have a friend, a family member or someone you love or someone you know that will notice that you’ve been drinking more, or you hear that they’re partying more the quicker you get somebody to help the better. So, Intervene early and then it’s not about the drugs and alcohol it’s about the pain the human being who’s suffering underneath it, can you get that person to talk about that, can you say hey why don’t you go out and try to talk to them when they are not drinking or under the influence of drugs because obviously those conversations don’t go well usually but hey why don’t we go out and get coffee and talk about what you noticed that you haven’t been at Quidditch practice lately and I’ve noticed that you haven’t been at social club, I’ve noticed that when you come into class a lot of times you’ve been coming in late and you seem sick so is everything ok not from a mean way like you’re an alcoholic you need to stop doing this but hey I’ve noticed these things and I care about and I’m concerned and then I want you to know that I’m a person that’ll listen to you and I’ll get you connected to services.
I don’t have to treat you or cure you but I can understand that you’re a human being doing the best that you can and then look it’s ok not to be ok we all struggle were all really a mess underneath the surface you know and some people deal with that by working too much and some people deal with it by drinking too much and some people deal with it by videogaming too much or all of these things but let’s just keep mind people are doing the best that they can and they’re just trying to cope they’re just trying to survive. So, if you can get to what’s underneath the substance use that’s always been the best for me. People aren’t always ready to do that you know they might be really scared to go to those places so we can’t force people to get help, but we can let people know that we’re here and we care.
Tess: So, what was the hardest battle for college students you saw while they were addicted?
Nate: Well I think the hardest battle is staying in school you know I mean if you’re really, we have people who are functional who can binge drink and who can use substances but still do enough work to pass at the same school but challenges once I see someone for counseling but they fail their classes and they drop out of school all that goes away, the counseling, the psychiatry, the nutritionist, you know the Quidditch club, the social club, of all these fun cool things and all of the support and it all disappears so, the students who drop out lose access to all of this and that’s kind of the most challenging thing for me anyway because once you do that I can’t really reach out to them anymore.
Tess: So, what strategies did the college students use to try to break out of their addiction?
Nate: There’s a lot of new things one of them is smart recovery so the classic treatment model would be narcotic anonymous or alcoholics anonymous so once your identified as an addict or alcoholic you have to say your powerless you get a sponsor the first step is your powerless, so you turn your life over to god. That was a system that came up in 1935 so like that’s what they knew back then psychiatry wasn’t really anywhere then, there wasn’t a lot of met management you know it wasn’t the best time so since then there’s been new things, there’s been cognitive behavioral therapy, there’s smart recovery which you don’t have to say you’re an addict for your whole life you can learn concrete skills to manage impulses so I think the first thing is figuring out what’s going on underneath work it back into balance. Let’s say the only instance since I was thirteen when I got stressed I smoked pot and that’s the only coping skill I have. Maybe I’m 25 now but I’m really like a 13-year-old because I never learned to deal with life you know so giving a person extra coping skill, alright when I’m stressed what am I going to do to manage these triggers and these impulses to use and what other coping skills am I going to use.
So, instead of getting drunk tomorrow when I wake up, so I don’t face my anxiety and the pain of life I’m going to go to a hot yoga class and then after that I’m going to read some books and daily meditation books and then I’m going to go for a walk around the lake and get some sunshine, water and then I’m going to go to my support group you know it’s like basically even bad coping skills, so itself are drinking or drugs allows people to cope, to stay alive you know so we can take that away from somebody like the drinking and the drugs but it’s not going to last unless you give them another outlet to that emotional pain so, I think that’s part of what works best give people other outlets you know so then they don’t need the drugs and alcohol so much.
Tess: So, do you know what the relapse rate is for college students and alcohol or drugs?
Nate: I don’t know offhand typically with drugs and alcohol it’s high. It’s hard yeah, I mean I think that’s the longer you wait probably the higher it is. With certain drugs it’s probably even higher say heroin as opposed to marijuana if something has a really intense affect, a really strong withdrawal that’s going to have a higher addiction rate.
Tess: So, can you personally like can you personally relate to addiction yourself or is anyone in your family addicted?
Nate: I think addiction is everywhere. Definitely friends I think it’s really tempting when your struggling to turn towards drugs and alcohol. People I know who I believe have qualified for substance use disorder have a high diagnosis rate. They may not have been diagnosed and I don’t know that they have been diagnosed but there definitely are people my whole life all around me who abuse drugs and alcohol they’re everywhere you know it’s not an uncommon thing it’s millions and millions of people every year so we may not talk about it but it’s everywhere and I noticed certainly with me maybe I never reached a diagnosis for drugs and alcohol but you know the temptation if I’ve come home and if I’ve been doing therapy all day and if I’m stressed out and sitting with people who are anxious and depressed and thinking about suicide, to go have a glass of wine and have that turn into two or three glasses of wine is really tempting you know so yeah I think it’s really understandable and I think it’s everywhere. It would be impossible to find one person in this country who hasn’t been impacted on some level.
Tess: Thank you for meeting with me.
Nate: Oh, Tess yeah I’m so happy that it was you and I’m a big Tess fan.


  • Nate Morell
  • Theresa DiMona
  • JTAC

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