I Thought I Had a Choice Every Day Between Doing Drugs or Not

Strength + Courage

Q: At which facility did you receive treatment?

A: I went to Hazelden for young adults in Plymouth, Minnesota at the age of 21. Following inpatient treatment, I entered Hazelden's Tribeca 12 sober living housing in New York City with an Intensive Outpatient Program for eight weeks. I stayed in the sober house for 15 months.

Q: What is your sobriety date?

A: April 10, 2014.

Q: What was it like, what happened, and what is it like now?

A: I thought life was good on drugs while I had money, which was only about three months. Once I depleted my bank account, money was only for one thing, and one thing only. I wouldn't even think about buying food unless I knew I had enough to buy drugs. Cash was not used for anything besides drugs. I was a well-rounded person, turned into an isolated human. I went from a "I will help in any way" person, to a "how can you help me" person. What happened was, my best friend told my parents what I was doing. She lived 2500 miles away from me, but she was one of the only people who knew about my drug abuse. I was very good at hiding it. My parents then sent me to addiction treatment. I acted the way anyone was expected to act while being forced into treatment; defiant, noncompliant and difficult. After three or four weeks, I really integrated myself into my new lifestyle. I was in drug treatment for 67 days. I still thought I was going home, but was gradually transitioned to a sober house in NYC. Being sober is uncomfortable at times, and very frustrating. I will slip back into old behaviors if I let my own self-will run riot. I need to keep myself in check every day.

Q: When did you realize you needed help – what led you to treatment?

A: I realized I needed help only after I was already at my inpatient rehabilitation center. To be frank, the only thing that led me to addiction treatment was that I was broke. I had no money, and my parents had recently found out that I was abusing drugs. They asked me to go, but I definitely did not go willing and ready.

Q: What was the toughest aspect of quitting for you?

A: The toughest aspect for me was gaining knowledge of addiction and recovery. I was being taught brand new things and learning phrases I had never heard in my life. Every day I was exposed to more and more knowledge about addiction. It was a relief to know but also very frustrating that this was now my life. I couldn't run anymore because the knowledge was staring me in the face. Once the seed of knowledge was planted, I couldn't 'uproot' it. Addiction wasn't something I was taught about in school. I thought I had a choice every day between doing drugs or not. I had the stigmatized notion that a drug addict was a failure, someone that I could judge and look down upon. My life was superior to that of a drug addict, because I was ignorant.

Q: Do you have advice for the still-suffering addict?

A: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. If I'm not ready to completely change my way of living, then I will not become nor remain sober.

Q: What is the best thing about being sober?

A: I don't have a different agenda. I'm the same person every day. I don't need to lie in order to hide my actions.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to include?

A: Knowledge is power.

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