My earliest memory of having an inclination toward alcohol was when I was around six years old. My dad let me taste some of his beer. He told me I wouldn’t like it; adults really don’t like it either – it’s just something they drink on occasion. To this day, I remember taking that first sip of alcohol and hating the taste; but for some unidentifiable reason, I found it amazing and I knew I wanted more.
Years passed and I hardly gave alcohol or drugs a second thought. Throughout elementary school I sat in all the D.A.R.E. and Kids and Cops classes. I listened as they told us horror stories about what these substances could do to me. I thought I would never ever do drugs; and if I drank, it wouldn’t be on a regular basis.
While in middle school, my friends and I decided it was time for us to start experimenting with alcohol and drugs. We would go over to one of my friends’ homes, claiming we were just having a sleepover and watching movies. But as soon as the parents left or were asleep, the liquor or drug stash was opened.
By the time I reached seventh grade, I was trying small sips of different kinds of alcohol. I soon progressed to drinking anything I could find. Before I knew it, I was dabbling in drugs with my friends. My parents had no idea I was using drugs and drinking. I came from a good home, did very well in school and was a member of the school’s soccer and track teams.
Unfortunately, my addiction took off quickly. As a freshman in high school, I could barely function without a pill, drink or whatever else I thought would get me through the day. Intoxication was all I thought about. Before long, I partnered my addiction with an eating disorder. Suicidal thoughts were a regular part of my life.
As my addiction reached its peak at the beginning of 2011, I realized something needed to change. If I didn’t act now, I was either going to commit suicide, binge as much as I could until I died or try to stop.
Because I didn’t think I could, I wasn’t ever interested in trying to stop on my own; and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to. So I decided to tell my parents about my addiction problem, and we began searching for inpatient treatment facilities in the Houston area. A few weeks later, on March 8, 2011, I went into treatment; I was 14 years old and at the end of my rope.
I immediately met other young people my age who soon became a major part of my recovery. Treatment was simple. During my stay, I stuck mainly to myself but had a small group of girls with whom I became close.
I was introduced to four Alternative Peer Groups (APGs), which are recovery programs for young people that help them build a support system to use until they are old enough to transition to the adult Twelve Step recovery programs. I also joined a group called Cornerstone Recovery, which consists of about 100 other young addicts and alcoholics between the ages of 13 and 22.
Cornerstone gave me the opportunity to find friends my age with whom I could share my struggles, solutions, recovery, and just hang out. I met people my age who would pick up the phone at all hours of the night to drive to my house to be with me when I was afraid I would relapse. This approach worked better for me than talking to a woman who was twice my age about problems to which she couldn’t relate.
Through Cornerstone, I was given the opportunity to attend Archway Academy, the largest sober high school in the nation. At first I was skeptical; but after returning to public school for half a day, I was positive there was no way I could stay sober there among all my old friends and enemies, as well as the exposure to all the drugs and alcohol that environment offered.
I began attending Archway in the 2011 fall semester. Although I have graduated from the school, my experience there and the personal growth I made while I was there will stay with me for the rest of my life. I literally grew up in the program. I made friends and connections which have powerfully impacted me in a positive way.
Graduating with three years sober, having a group of incredible friends and the opportunity to do whatever I want to do with my future absolutely blows my mind. In the past few years, I’ve gone through a lot of hard times, dealt with a lot of loss and been more fearful than I’ve ever been in my life; but the process and my progress have been amazing.
Today I am grateful for the disease of addiction and all the doors that have opened for me as a result. I have my whole life ahead of me.