I’m a young person in recovery. For me, that means it’s been over four years since I’ve taken a drink or a drug. I grew up in a very small town by the name of Long Eddy in Sullivan …
I’m a young person in recovery. For me, that means it’s been over four years since I’ve taken a drink or a drug. I grew up in a very small town by the name of Long Eddy in Sullivan County. Sullivan County felt like a very small place, lacking in things for young people to do. So, most people ended up just partying and getting high to have fun.
My drug use began in the eigth grade, and it started off with just marijuana and alcohol. Initially, it was just at parties or on the weekends, then it changed to getting high every day before, after and, sometimes, even during school. My use quickly progressed to pills and hallucinogens. I didn’t realize how fast my substance use disorder was progressing because I was still going to school and getting good grades. I had friends and a job, so I didn’t think it was that bad.
In my senior year, I began to use heroin. Heroin became the new love of my life, and it quickly took over everything. I ended up graduating high school and I still had a job, so I didn’t think that anything was wrong with what I was doing. It got to the point that I wasn’t even using to get high, I was using so that I didn’t get sick and have to go through withdrawals. Eventually my use caused me to lose my job. And when I lost my job, I decided to drop out of college. I needed to devote all of my time to get high.
January 15, 2015 was the day that changed my life forever. As I was picking up drugs with one of my friends, I crashed my car into a fence. Shortly after, the police were called, and the next thing I knew, I was handcuffed in the back of a cop car. Even as I sat in the back, on the way to the police station, all I was thinking about was the fact that I didn’t get to get high that day.
Being in jail made me realize all of the things that I took for granted in my life. I knew that if I was given the opportunity to get out, I had to try to change. Thankfully, I was given Drug Court instead of jail time, and I was off to the next part of my journey. I moved to the Capital District, went to rehab and began to actively work on myself so that I could have the opportunity to live a better life.
I was very reluctant to change in the beginning. One of the things that helped me was, when we would go to meetings (AA, NA, etc), I saw these people who were in recovery and who were so happy. It made me realize that I wanted to be happy more than anything in the world. I decided to put in all of the time and effort necessary to make a change in my life and establish my recovery.
I learned a lot about myself in recovery. I thought that I used substances solely because I was bored and there was nothing else to do, but I later realized that there was a lot of trauma and issues from my past that I was afraid to deal with. The drugs allowed me to stuff those things away.
Recovery has been a rocky journey, but one that is worth it. Recovery isn’t easy, but I have the support of so many great people, including my family, to help me push forward every day.
At age 23, I have the opportunity to live a life beyond my wildest dreams. I’m back in school now and pursuing my Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) degree. I got to be a part of the NYS documentary “Reversing the Stigma,” which was just nominated for an Emmy. I work for a great program called the Living Room, which allows me to work with and inspire hope within individuals with substance-use disorder. I get to run two recovery groups here in my community to help educate and advocate for recovery. I have my own beautiful apartment and so many other things. All of the work that I’ve put in the past four years has been paying off, and I know that it’s just the beginning of a wonderful life for me.
Recovery is real. Recovery is possible. Recovery is so worth it. It’s the greatest gift that I have ever received in my life.