At 18 years old, I could not even fathom what the next five years of my life were going to look like. I had grown up in a beautiful suburban town outside of Atlanta, GA and was raised by a very loving family. I had values instilled in me from a young age and was seemingly on my way to success. I had always made great grades and eventually was accepted to my dream school, the University of Georgia. None of this would eventually matter as my addiction would take hold of me. I had been steadily drinking and smoking weed for a few years and although there were red flags here and there, I still “had my shit together” for lack of better words. I went off to college and was quickly sucked into the party scene and gravitated towards the other students who liked to smoke weed and drink too. At some point during my freshman year, I was exposed to some harder drugs such as; cocaine, mushrooms, molly, LSD, Xanax, and various painkillers. I fell in love with these harder drugs and was quickly sucked into a very dark spot where the only thing in life that mattered anymore was when, where, and how I was going to get my drugs so I could check out from life and feel okay. For the next year, I got very addicted to Xanax and cocaine and developed a daily habit. I had been cut off from my parent’s financial support, and as a result, I began selling weed. I had fallen into a dark state of depression and suffered from crippling anxiety, and the only solution I had was to isolate from the world in my room and take copious amounts of Xanax all day every day. Around April of 2015, I had finally reached my first bottom and asked my parents for help.
I agreed to enter a 90-day in-patient treatment center in Atlanta, GA. I never thought I would end up in “rehab.” It always had left such a bad taste in my mouth thinking about that word. I thought for so long I could get myself out of any situation I ended up in and for a long time I could, but finally, I needed help from someone or something else. I humbled myself to try this whole sobriety thing out, and although I questioned whether or not I was an alcoholic the whole time through this program and was convinced that Xanax was the problem and that I could still smoke weed, I wore a good mask and graduated the program with flying colors. I had worked a few steps and had learned a lot about addiction and AA as a whole and was willing to try to stay sober but none of this was enough. Less than a month after graduating, I relapsed in sober living on kratom, a synthetic opiate undetectable by the drug tests I was taking. I began getting high every day and spending so much money on this habit. I convinced my parents to let me move out of sober living and get an apartment by myself, and I packed up all my things and moved out without telling a soul. The first night in my apartment I was back to smoking weed, a week later I had progressed to taking dabs of extremely potent marijuana extractions, a couple of weeks later I was back to doing cocaine and days after that I began taking Xanax again. Fast forward six months down the road, I had quit doing my online classes at UGA, I lost my job as a server and was doing Xanax and smoking weed all day while laying on my couch having my girlfriend at the time nurse me to health. Somewhere in this time frame I even started dabbling with heroin. Eventually, I yet again hit another bottom.
I entered a detox center on March 31, 2016, to be assisted in getting off of Xanax for a ten-day stay. My fifth day in this detox center I received the news that one of my closest friends had overdosed on heroin and Xanax and passed away. I was beside myself, and for the first time, I really wanted to be sober. I got out of detox and went into a 90-day outpatient close to my apartment. I had convinced my parents that inpatient was unnecessary as I already had learned everything I needed to and now just needed to apply it. Again, I put on a great show throughout this program and fooled a lot of people including myself into thinking I was getting what this program had to offer; that I was recovering. I graduated the program, and two weeks later I was loaded. I didn’t know how or why this kept happening, all I knew was I felt miserable even while sober and I knew how to make that go away with drugs and alcohol. I went on another run for around four months, and by the end of it I was strung out on Xanax and heroin around the clock, had lost another job, dropped out of school and was suffering from extreme withdrawals every morning. On Christmas, I admitted I had hit bottom yet again, and told my parents I was willing to try something different.
On January 1, 2017, I entered the same detox center I had been in just months before. I stayed for a little over a week to get off of the heroin and Xanax and gain a little bit of physical sobriety. On January 9, I flew out from Atlanta to Los Angeles and walked through the front door of New Life House. I had no clue what I was getting into; I also had no evidence that this was the place that was going to work for me, that this was the place that would save my life. And this was the case. New Life worked for me, and it has given me a life. I am happy today, I have a very nice job, I have so many friends and share such a deep bond with them, I was able to buy a car that I worked for, I can support myself, I continuously walk through challenges life puts in front of me and I get through it, sober. The importance of the long-term program at New Life in my eyes is I learned real recovery here. I underwent a character and perception change in the latter part of my stay. Months 9-12 is where I believe I recovered here. Every other treatment center I went through, and every detox gave me “physical sobriety.” I learned the tools there, but at New Life, I gained “emotional sobriety” as well as freedom. I learned how to pick these tools up and apply them to my life. Through taking a look at myself in the 12 steps and with the help of my peers I truly changed as a person, and I believe I am a real candidate for long-term sobriety. Today, I have just over sixteen months sober and am a New Life graduate enjoying my life without drugs and alcohol. I am eternally grateful for everything New Life has done for me as well as my family for the constant support. For anyone struggling with substance abuse or any family members directly affected by it, there is a solution out there, and I found it through a long-term structure and the love here at New Life House.