I have a family history of drug addiction, and my dad is still currently struggling with it. He and my mom got divorced when I was young, so I was around addiction, but not for very long. Mostly I blame my personality; I was always obsessive about everything I did, always wanted more. I was never satisfied. So when I started using drugs I was just so consumed by it, even from the very first time I smoked weed. I’ve heard some people say that it took them a while before they became addicted, but not me. I was obsessed.
That was when I was about 12, and after that it was drinking and then my drug of choice, which was Percocet. I was never put off by the knowledge of how bad a drug was for me, so I kept trying harder drugs even though people said they could kill me. Once I got into Percocet I pretty much stopped doing everything else and my life just fell apart. I was 14. I got arrested a couple of times, and I couldn’t remember some things I did or said while high. One time my mom was crying, and she said I’d told her I couldn’t stop using even though I wanted to—and I had no memory of ever telling her that.
When I was arrested for the third time, my mom had had enough. She talked to my drug counselor and they referred me to the Phoenix House Academy of Dublin, New Hampshire. I went in for an interview was admitted a week later. I didn’t even have to wait. I was pretty defiant in the beginning, and on my 30–day update I had my bags packed; I was convinced I’d get my mom to let me out. But my family and counselors were like, “Nope, you’re not ready.” I thought, “Oh crap.”
So for two months I was pretty badly behaved but then something clicked – I don’t know what it was – and I started to open myself up and give treatment a chance. It was slow going, mostly because a lot of my behaviors were pretty impulsive. I tended to do whatever I wanted and say whatever I wanted, and I needed to take a closer look at that tendency. In the end, I’m really glad I was there for six months because that’s what I needed to work on my behaviors. For me, my family was a big motivation—making sure I made things OK with them.
I met some of my best friends at the Academy, and I loved all the counselors. I still go up there once every two weeks to visit them, volunteer, and talk to the kids. When I completed treatment I took all the advice they gave me. I stopped hanging out with the kids I used to do drugs with, made new group of friends, got a job, and got my driver’s license. I used to play soccer before I started doing drugs and now that I’m sober I’m able to do that again. I’m still in high school and looking forward to graduating early in January of next year. I’m planning to go to college in Florida to become a psychologist or a counselor.
I live with my mom, my stepdad, my younger brother and younger sister—my other sister lives with my dad. I’ve gained my family’s trust again, and they all enjoy having me around now much more than they used to! I’ll never forget graduating Phoenix House and having my whole family there, my cousins and aunts and everyone telling me they’re proud of me. I mean, my mom didn’t know what to do with me back when I was using, it was really hard on her and it still is when she thinks back on it.
I hope that other kids who are in the position I was in will realize that nobody can make you get sober—you’re the only one who can do that. You’re the only one who can change your life. But believe me, when you do change your life, it will just keep getting better.
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