Two Phoenix House Academy clients shared their stories of drug abuse and recovery to observe Red Ribbon Week and encourage 700 California high school students to stay drug-free.
At an assembly on Thursday, Jackie, 17, told Corona del Mar High School students that she began drinking at the age of 8 when her mom dosed her with alcohol to make her sleep. Jackie became the target of her family’s physical abuse and was introduced to marijuana by a sister. Arrested for felony theft and robbery at age 11, Jackie was homeless and addicted to methamphetamine by the age of 13. She fell into depression after she was raped, and found herself turning to robbery, violence and drug-dealing to support her ongoing drug abuse.
In 2011, she was taken into custody in San Diego and ended up at the Phoenix House Academy of Orange County. Jackie said she has been sober since November. “It’s really amazing what you have,” she told students. “There are so many little things in life you have to be grateful for.”
Rudy, 16, told the students he was also involved with drugs and gangs from a young age. The adults in his life didn’t guide him in the right direction, he said: “They just gave me a lighter and a pipe.” Arrested eight times, he overdosed and came to Phoenix House in July. He has been clean for four months and plans to become a U.S. Marine one day.
High school senior Emelie Frojen told Corona Del Mar Today that students were listening to the Red Ribbon Week message: “People are talking about it. It seems to move kids a lot. It’s effective.” Schools and youth organizations across the country are observing Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31) to raise awareness about alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention. We at Phoenix House are so proud of Jackie and Rudy for sharing their stories!