The first time I got high I was 12 and I thought it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. My addiction progressed quickly and I started selling drugs in eighth grade to support my habit. I was at a special school to get help for my dyslexia but was eventually kicked out for drugs.
That was just the beginning. When weed and booze weren’t enough, I moved on to hash, opium, ecstasy, cocaine, mushrooms and pills. I was doing so many kinds of pills, I declared myself a pharmacist. I really got into selling drugs the summer of ninth grade when I would walk around town with thousands of dollars and loads of drugs.
One major turning point for me was when I ran away to a Phish festival because I’d heard about all the drugs that would be there. Well, the rumors were true and I went on a five-day binge, though the festival only lasted two. My mom had had enough by then and I came home to discover she had placed a CHINS (Child In Need of Services) order on me. I took it as a joke and violated it every day, and every day she called my probation officer and social worker.
I rebelled even more and became more arrogant. I grew 40 plants of weed and started robbing people, taking hundreds of dollars. Due to this, I was jumped. One kid came at me with a pair of scissors. At 15, I got a girl pregnant, but she had a miscarriage.
During my using I saw kids die. One time I was at a club and rolling on ecstasy in the techno room. My boys and I went outside and I sparked up a blunt. It went around several times. Next thing I know I see this kid on the ground convulsing. I was pissed that this kid ruined my high. We called an ambulance and booked it. The next time I went there I found out he died.
I’ve had six friends die. One burned to death in a car crash; he was driving drunk. Another was anorexic, bulimic, and a coke addict; she choked to death on her own blood. Another committed suicide. One overdosed from taking too many oxycontins. The other two died with a needle in their arms.
Drugs took me to places I never wanted to go. I always said, “Oh, I won’t get caught.” I saw a sign at a Boston police station that said, “Control yourself or we will,” and I just laughed. Then I was arrested four times within two months for weed, booze, domestic violence and intent to distribute. I was put on probation but even that didn’t change me. I sold drugs to pay for my drug test, failed drug tests, didn’t come home for days, got kicked out of programs, and did a lot of other things.
I was sent to rehab but was kicked out on day 13 because I was smoking weed every day. Then, I went to a detox place for five days. When I got out, I was still using and because of that my court date was pulled a month ahead. That was the last day I got high. I went into court high and drunk as usual, only this time I wasn’t allowed to go home. I was sent to a shelter for 45 days.
The day I got out I was sent to a rehab place called The Road Back for 302 days. There, I learned how to live without drugs or alcohol. I went there full of hate, resentment, anger and fear. I would even try to justify my actions. I tried to mask it all, but everyone saw through me. Eventually I got honest with myself and started working with the people who were trying to help me.
I started feeling better physically, mentally and spiritually. I was introduced to Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous. We went to meeting every night. There were groups daily. We even did commitments at local high schools. I got a sponsor and joined a group. They provided me with everything. The most important thing I found was myself. That’s where my foundation started. I graduated from the program last January 20 at 5:18 p.m. I knew the only thing I could do to stay sober was to apply the knowledge, so I go to meetings every day. Most importantly, I still keep in touch with my higher power which I choose to call the solar system. I can live life on life’s terms.
Growing up in my family was interesting; my mother was an alcoholic and there was no communication between us. There still isn’t. I talk to my father once a year and have only seen him twice - when I was born and when I was five. I have 26 half-brothers and sisters on my father’s side.
I used to have a lawn-mowing business and a music career going for me, I was really talented. But I gave it all up for drugs. I won’t graduate with my class because of all the school I missed. Trying to stay sober is hard but I’m focused on getting my diploma. I will be homeless on my eighteenth birthday but I’m not worried. My life is good today. I keep things simple and take it one day at a time.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.