If, however, circumstances don’t turn out – with friendships formed and acceptance found – seeds can be sown in a child’s heart that can grow and have a major impact on their self-esteem and self-worth.
Ryan O’Hara, from Aberdeen, was like most other young lads growing up; he loved hanging out with friends, getting up to mischief and, ultimately, ‘fitting in’.
In his pursuit of acceptance though, drink and drugs arrived in Ryan’s path and sure enough, peer pressure nudged him towards experimenting at a very young age.
Smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol at just 12, Ryan ‘progressed’ onto ecstasy and speed while still at school, before going on to inject heroin at 16, with crack soon following.
The result of the initial, peer-pressured drug-use can only be described as a messy, chaotic and desperate 15-year battle to break free from addiction.
Stripped of friendships, disowned by close family, with his health wrecked, Ryan plunged into years of darkness.
His journey of destruction culminated one day with him sat in his flat, empty, broken and void of hope.
Emotionally, Ryan had given up. He had money in his pocket for drugs and a methadone prescription to pick up from the chemist but had no energy – for anything. Not even to feed his habit. He was depressed and he says wanted to die.
It was there at that point, sitting on his couch, that Ryan knew he just couldn’t ‘do life’.
He needed help. Big help. So he prayed to God. And things began to change.
Ryan had tried to follow his Christian faith during previous clean spells of sobriety.
He knew this time though that he had to accept his inability to change himself and to seek God’s total help and strength, through prayer and reading the Bible.
It wasn’t easy. Ryan is very honest in saying that on entering the Teen Challenge programme he wanted to run but knew that if he did, he would be running for the rest of his life.
Ryan dug deep and worked on his heart, using his time in Sunnybrae to speak through issues with staff, and in the process he found healing, refreshing and release.
A key breakthrough for Ryan was dealing with the seeds of insecurity that were sown when he was a young boy.
Situations may change, environments may change and people may change but years later our decisions and lifestyle can still be directed by the need for acceptance and approval.
Ryan came to a place where he was secure and confident in who he is and started to truly enjoy the peace and contentment that comes from that.
In a powerful 180-degree turnaround, Ryan now works full-time as a factory operator, lives in his own place, and has recently just passed his driving test.
Through his faith, and the support of friends and family, Ryan continues to go from strength-to-strength.
He enjoys a great relationship with his daughter, as well as with his own Mum.
Ryan is very real and knows that it’s not all going to be plain sailing from here on in, but through his faith, he knows that not only can he ‘do life’ – but he can live it to the full.