On my 14th birthday, my parents got divorced and I decided to go and live with my father. Before that, my mother had always kind of tied me down; she was strict, whereas my father was like, “Go ahead and hang out with your friends!” So with less rules one thing led to another and I got really out of hand. I started using cocaine, meth, xanax…everything. On my 16th birthday I was raped by three different guys, and that traumatic experience really made me escalate my drug use. I started off as a dedicated student; I got straight A’s and was on the varsity basketball team. But pretty soon I got kicked off the team and my grades plummeted, all because of the drugs. That’s the thing I regret the most—how I let my drug use get in the way of my education.
I kept running away from home, and eventually I ended up on probation. For some reason my probation officer didn’t believe I was doing drugs, even though I told him I was. He never drug tested me. Things got so bad and I took so many drugs that I completely blacked out for three months of my life. Nobody, including myself, knew where I was or what I was doing or who I was with for three months. My family, my probation officer—nobody could locate me. I’ll never get those three months back. Long story short, I ended up in juvenile hall, with a lot of drugs in my system, and I just fainted. That’s when my probation officer sent me to the Phoenix House Academy in Austin.
I was 16 years old when I arrived at the Academy, and when I got there I didn’t want to work the program or follow the rules. I struggled with authority and I just didn’t want to be sober. I went looking for as many distractions as I could find, until finally my probation officer came and had a talk with me; he told me to get my act together or I’d have to leave. I really didn’t want to leave, so that was it—I got my act together! And as soon as I started acting as if I wanted to be sober and follow the program, that was how I started to feel for real. I started loving the program, the environment, the treatment. At one point an artist came out and worked with us kids to make a mural that goes all the way down the block from the Academy. It’s a beautiful piece of art, and it brought all of us kids together and really inspired us. By making that mural, we all learned that there is a way to stay sober and still have fun.
When I graduated Phoenix House, I knew I couldn’t hang out with my old friends from back home. They were still doing the same old crap, and I knew I had to stay sober—so I found a new group of friends. I got back on my feet, got my own place, started working in hospice and going to school to study nursing. Today I’m in a relationship and I have a two-year-old son, Tommy, who is amazing; he keeps me sober and gives me something to look forward to. The best thing about being sober is that I’m in my right mind now, and I can actually deal with my problems instead of covering them up with drugs. I love being able to remember things, and being able to sleep!
I still go back to the Academy all the time—they still help me and keep me sane. For all you kids who are still struggling with addiction and trying to find recovery: don’t be afraid to come out and ask for help. Don’t be afraid of what the other kids might say when you decide you want to commit yourself to succeeding in treatment and to getting better. Because recovery is worth it.
If you or a loved one needs help for a substance abuse issue, Phoenix House is here for you. Email us or call today at 1 888 671 9392.