I knew I had a drug problem the first time I put a mood altering substance in my body.
When I first started getting high it was casual— just a kid smoking pot with her friends after school. It was just weed right? How could it be a problem? From the beginning I couldn’t use substances like other people even when it was just weed. I started to smoke every chance I got. I couldn’t understand why my friends would turn down a chance to smoke. Why wouldn’t you want to be high all the time?
During my senior year of high school my parents realized I had a problem and put me into an intensive outpatient program for teens with substance abuse problems. They drug tested every week so I quit smoking weed in order to pass the tests. Instead of smoking I started drinking and popping pills making sure they would be out of my system by the time I’d have to take a test.
College was when my addiction really took off.
I didn’t have to go to class or be home at a certain time so I started partying and took any substance I could get my hands on. I was always trying to escape my problems or just alter the world around me. If I was happy, I got high. If I was sad, I got high. No matter what it was or what I was feeling, drugs were the solution.
I soon began to experience the consequences of my actions— I got kicked out of college, I was arrested numerous times and eventually I served time in jail wondering how I had got there. I still failed to realize it was because of how powerless I was over drugs and alcohol. When I got out of jail I went to court-ordered rehab for the first time and became friends with a girl in the program. Once we got out of rehab (my charges were dismissed) she offered me crack and heroin for the first time and I fell in love instantly.
After that my life was a constant storm of chaos.
I floated in and out of jail, lost friends and alienated my family. I wasn’t able to keep a job but I didn’t care as long as I could get high. It was like I was trying to alter my universe all the time but when I came back down to reality, I had bulldozed everything on Earth to touch one star in space.
My addiction got to the point where I was living on the the street homeless and eating in soup kitchens because I didn’t want to spend the money I had on food. That was the point when I realized maybe I should stop getting high. I checked myself into rehab and started to listen to the suggestions from the people around me. I learned about my disease and realized that what I was going through was just as serious as any other illness. I learned there was a way to recover. I started talking about my feelings and what made it so hard to handle life without the use of substances. When I got out of rehab I started going to support groups for addicts like me and found support in other people in recovery. I saw people who were like me who hadn’t used drugs in years and I realized if they could do it, I could do it too.
I started to use coping skills like exercise and writing. I self published a poetry book about my experience battling depression, trauma and addiction and how I started to love myself again. I reached out to other people and asked for help when I felt like using and they helped me get through it. My life slowly got better. I started to rebuild a relationship with my family, got a good full time job I actually enjoyed and I registered for classes. Getting clean and sober wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it.
I found a better way of life. I wasn’t living before and now I have a future I didn’t think was possible.
I turned 21 in sobriety and that was one of the best days I have had sober. I spent my 21st with all of my sober friends and family eating good food and just spent quality time together — I actually remembered it the next day! I’m so grateful I made the choice to get sober and learned recovery is available to anyone who wants it. I just have to make the choice to stay clean, one day at a time. I never thought I’d be so young and in recovery, but there are many people my age who are like me and have recovered. I never thought my life could be this fulfilling but being sober has helped me reclaim my life and learn how to enjoy every moment and be present.