Age: 19, relapsed after previous treatment programs
Drugs of Abuse: Opiates, Benzos and Marijuana
Length of time in treatment: Outpatient 7 months
What led me to seek treatment?
My parents gave me an ultimatum and I agreed to get help. I had been struggling for seven years. I came from Massachusetts to California to go to art school, but I don’t even remember the couple weeks I was there — I was on so many opiates, benzos and weed.
I was constantly falling asleep. People would tell me things I had no recollection of. I was sick from when I woke up till I went to sleep from withdrawal. On a scale of 1 to 10, my cravings were a 15. If I hadn’t gotten into this program I can pretty confidently say I wouldn’t be alive right now.
What was most helpful about treatment?
The other clients and staff. Everybody is so kind and supportive. It’s a really safe environment. I’ve been in groups before where I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t feel comfortable. The psychiatrist is great. He’s very smart and has me on medication that is actually working.
How did treatment affect my life?
I’ve gotten my identity back. They pulled me back into reality and made me deal with things that were holding me back that I didn’t even know were holding me back.
I actually have feelings again. I can let feelings come up and they aren’t as scary as they used to be. It’s almost harder to feel things, but it gives me the power to make things better. Even if I’m having a day when I feel negative, every time I leave group or therapy I feel positive again.
One of the amazing things that has come out of all this is I got a job and am hoping to go into substance abuse counseling. School is difficult for me so I had given up on that dream but now I can go after that goal.
For my first week of treatment my mom wouldn’t even speak to me because she was so upset over everything I put them through. It’s been great to gain their respect back and make amends. Now I send my mom mother’s day gifts when I didn’t even say happy birthday one year because I didn’t know what day it was. It’s nice to treat them the way I should’ve been treating them all along and nice to have them be proud of me.
What is my advice to others struggling with addiction?
When you’re ready to work hard and want sobriety and happiness for yourself, this program is absolutely magical the way they can get you to a better place. I never thought I would be where I am now.
Once you go into treatment and start making progress, it’s not a picnic from then on. You have ups and downs. But when I’m in a bad place I know it’ll get better again. I just have to keep at it and know it’s not permanent.