I had a pretty normal childhood, growing up. I’d never really get in trouble, I was a straight-A student, and had really good parents. I did feel a little socially awkward but had a small group of friends in school. In my junior year of high school, I started smoking weed. Weed led me to start drinking and I got into that pretty quickly. I actually took my first drink by myself while I was waiting for the school bus in the morning one day. There wasn’t really any peer-pressure, either, I just wanted to try it and wound up falling in love.
Drinking and smoking weed didn’t have a big effect on school. I was still a good student and wound up being accepted into all of the colleges I applied for. I wound up going to a college that my best friend was at and that I always heard was a big weed-smoking school. When I went off to college, though, that’s when I went off the deep end. I wound up failing out because I never went to class. I tried going to a different school but failed out of that one for the same reasons. I would always tell myself that I was going to go to class, but then I would just get drunk. Sometimes I did go to class sober, but as soon as I would get into the class, I would be so anxious that I would turn around and leave to go get drunk.
After failing out of college for the second time, I started doing opiates a lot and wound up getting strung out on heroin. When I tried heroin for the first time, again, there was no real peer pressure; I just generally wanted to try it. I liked pills and had a friend who went to a different college that told me he could get heroin. So I convinced another friend of mine to him to drive over with me to try it out. Then after I failed out of college and moved back to the Raleigh-area, I started doing heroin all the time.
I was 19 years old when I went to rehab for the first time. I asked to go, nobody forced me to, and my parents helped me find a place to get treatment. I had heard of Healing Transitions because I would get high with a kid who had been there before, so at first, I told my parents that I’d just go there. But when they saw it was a homeless shelter, they realized that I didn’t qualify for their services at that time. We wound up finding a 30-day rehab that I went to instead.
I went to rehab intending to get off of heroin but didn’t really intend to give up drinking or smoking weed. By this time, I wasn’t even doing that stuff anymore and was only doing heroin, so I didn’t think I would actually need to give up drinking and smoking. Four weeks after I got out of rehab, I overdosed.
After my OD, I tried medical-assisted treatment for a while but found myself in this cycle where I would drink every single night. Then on payday, I would skip my Suboxone or Methadone dose and go buy heroin and get high. Then I’d go back to drinking every day until payday – and that is how it was for a while.
I wound up going back to treatment, and my parents had told me that if I messed up again, that I would be on my own. But the same thing happened and four weeks later, I OD’d. This time, when I got out of the hospital, they told me that I couldn’t come back home. They said they would drop me off at Healing Transitions and I agreed to go.
The interesting thing is – my entire life, I had always voluntarily made the choices that led me down the path of addiction: I drank for the first time because I decided to, not due to peer-pressure. I started doing heroin because I wanted to try it. And every time I went to rehab, it was voluntary. But when I went to Healing Transitions, it was the first time something like this wasn’t voluntary. I had nowhere else to go.
HT and My Last Drink
When I got to HT, I couldn’t stay sober at first. I would run off and get high whenever I could, and wound up getting found out. I was put on the Ineligible for Services list until I proved that I was ready for the program again. They let me sleep there, but I couldn’t take any of the classes or anything for a little while. During this time, my grandfather had passed away and my parents took me up to go to his funeral, which is where I was separated from drugs for the last time. When I came back, I started talking to a mentor of mine who had gone through the program, and realized that he and I had very similar life paths. This moment of clarity was a key point in my recovery and something that would help me for the remainder of the program.
When I went to rehab before, I always thought that if I physically separated myself from drugs and alcohol for 30 days or whatever period of time it was, I would be able to quit and simply continue to not drink when I got out. But then when I would drink again, I would tell myself “okay you screwed up this time, but next time will be different”.
The last drink I ever took happened the same way I took my first drink – in the morning, by myself. I was utilizing HT’s overnight services at the time, and I had just gone to a meeting downtown. At the meeting, I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to drink that day. But within 15 minutes of leaving the meeting – I was drinking. However, this time I didn’t think I was going to be okay. I didn’t tell myself that next time will be different. I knew I was screwed because I no longer believed that I would be able to stop on my own. That realization was another game-changer for me and helped me realize that I needed to work the recovery program and get the help from others that I needed.
Life in Recovery
Life since HT has been amazing. I always thought sobriety would be limiting, but honestly, it has been incredibly rewarding. After leaving Healing Transitions, I moved into a place that housed other sober folks like me. I found a job and went back to school, studying Hospitality Management. That eventually led to me helping run my dad’s business with him, which is what I do today. One of my favorite hobbies is to go to Phish concerts – I’ll follow them on tour with a group of some sober friends and go to all of their shows (94 as of today).
I’ve always had a good relationship with my parents, but I believe my journey to recovery has strengthened that. Just a couple of months ago, I married my amazing fiancée (now wife). When I got engaged, I moved back in with my parents to save money for the wedding and honeymoon, before moving with my wife. That was a cool experience because when they dropped me off at HT all those years ago, they told me that I couldn’t come back to their property. And now I had five years of sobriety, and they were letting come back me stay with them for a while. It really is amazing the things recovery has given back to my life.
Join Healing Transitions as we try to raise $235,000 in December to fund the 3,179 additional beds of shelter and detox we’ve provided this year! Find out how you can help out HERE!