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Drug and alcohol abuse affect people of all ages, and while many may associate people who have a few more years under their belt with “going to rehab,” the reality is that there are a lot of young people who fortunately make it there before it’s too late.
The experience tends to have a tremendous impact on the lives of young people and helps them dig themselves out of dire situations. Just ask Caitlin, who went to treatment at A Forever Recovery for heroin and crack addiction.
“Things were really bad, and I wanted to do something different,” she said. “When I was younger, I had a really bad pill habit. I got sober for 23 months. I did good for a while, but then I relapsed and tried heroin for the first time, and ever since, I have struggled with being able to stop and stay clean. I was getting in really bad relationships. I was putting myself in really dangerous situations. I was emotionally dead, and I really just didn't want to live anymore. I realized it wasn't really an option to keep using anymore, so I had to do something different.”
Caitlin said her experience in rehab changed her life and her way of thinking.
“I think I've gained a lot of tools in treatment,” she said. “I also built a great relationship with God while I was there. I have a lot more self-worth now. Before, I never felt like I was worth staying sober even when I wanted to be. I didn't feel that I was worth it, so I would just give up easily. Now it's different.”
Another young lady, Cait, said, “When I was 14, I started using benzos and smoking weed, and I got really hooked on the benzos. And my parents sent me away to a therapeutic wilderness camp in Utah. I came home after that. It didn’t seem to work and that’s when I really started getting into harder drugs. And then I started getting into meth, and that was really my downfall.
“I started hanging out with scumbags, started getting into a lot of trouble with the law. Even more after I turned 18, I was in and out of jail and that’s just not how I was raised. I just completely disappointed my family. So then I tried to go to a rehab in Kentucky. I stopped using meth. I was only doing it off and on for a couple of years. And then when it really got bad, my family wouldn’t have anything to do with me. ... I was just in a deep, dark hole and I couldn’t get out. I was just stuck. I was by myself a lot, just isolated away from the world. I didn’t want anyone to see me.
“Then I met this guy. He was a meth cook. I always told myself I could never do that. That’s just risking my life, it could blow up, and I could die. But I did. I went out there with him and I stayed on it consistently for 3 or 4 months. I got down to 96 pounds and that’s when I realized, ‘I’m going to die if I don’t get help.’”
Quite the eye opener, but Cait took it upon herself (with a little parental help) to seek out the treatment she needed.
“I wouldn’t and couldn’t look anybody in the eye,” she said “I was so thin my clothes were falling off of me. I couldn’t even fit into a size zero. I got down to a size 12 in little kids’ sizing. My dad found a website and it had a phone number on it, and I thought, ‘Whatever, I’ll just call it.’ So I called it and this place answered, thank God. When I came in here I was doing my fitness evaluation, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I never thought I would be so out of shape.’”
The revelation brought Cait to tears as she didn’t know what she was going to do to gain back her strength and get her body in shape. Now, after getting the treatment she needed, she’s running two miles a day, doing squats, lifting dumbbells, and has her whole body back in shape.
“My family had completely cut me off before I came here,” Cait said. “My dad is amazing. He is my number one fan. He supports me in everything that I do. Never has let me down. And he talks to me, and we have great conversations now, as well as with my mom. My mom is my best friend in the whole entire world. I’m building back those bridges day by day, and it’s amazing because my family is very oriented. We all do a lot of stuff together. So for me to be left out of all of that, and now I can be part of it again, it feels so good. That’s all I ever wanted back.”
“I kind of had a hard childhood,” said Megan, a recovering addict, who now in her early 20s, has already experienced more hard times than many do their entire lives. “My dad and my mom drank a lot. I took care of my brother. I was sexually and physically abused. And eventually, that led to hanging around people that drank and used drugs. After my later years of high school, I had a son pass away. That was really hard for me. I just grew up so fast. And that’s when I pretty much stopped going to school for the most part. I stopped playing basketball, and I would get to the point where I wouldn’t get out of bed unless I shot up. And one day I woke up and I looked next to me and there was a spoon, and there were used needles.”
That morning provided her some much-needed clarity about her situation.
“I had lost my house, I was living with somebody else, and the way I paid my rent was with drugs,” she continued. “I just woke up and had this overwhelming feeling of, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I can’t.’ So I called [a rehab facility] and three minutes later my intake counselor called me and he was awesome. He just kept encouraging me to come. I would come up with every excuse, but he said, ‘No, you need to come.’ But still, through all of it, I had this overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t do this anymore. And I just didn’t know how to stop.”
Megan said her first impression of the treatment facility she attended was “very positive,” and that she felt very welcome.
“They didn’t look at me any different than somebody else,” she recalled, adding that the experience helped her become self-confident, love herself, and realize what she did wrong.
“But they did it in a way to let me know that that’s not me anymore,” she added. “That wasn’t me when I was doing it, it was the drugs. They also helped me realize that there is a way to fix it. They didn’t just tell me that ‘this and this and this is wrong with you.’ They said, ‘Yeah, you did this, but this is how you fix it.’ So overall it was really positive.”
These stories show that it’s often just a matter of recognizing your problem and seeking out help. That help is indeed out there if you look. If you’re struggling to kick the habits that are dragging your life down, I urge you to find treatment. It only takes a phone call to get started, and as you can see from the stories of these three young women, it can make a world of difference.
Amanda Bartow believes there is only one greater feeling than being recognized for a job well done - the fulfillment that comes from honoring someone’s achievements! Amanda is part of the Recognition Works team, which is passionate about honoring jobs well done.