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GIVING BACK

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One young man gives back to his hometown.

My story began like so many others, with smoking pot and drinking to excess. I found that getting stoned was easier to do and the smell easier to hide on my breath. By the age of 14, I began to experiment with other drugs. I used ecstasy for the first time and was soon using it as often as I could. I also found other hallucinogens, inhalants, and cocaine to be something that I would partake in as frequently as I could. I think that year I tried more drugs than any other year of my using career and was determined to look for anything to make me feel different. I’m not sure why the DARE message didn’t resonate but instead intrigued me to see what all the fuss was about. By the time I entered high school, I was getting high every morning and several times throughout the day. It had become more than something I did; it was my entire identity.

Soon my parents began to notice and took it upon themselves to take action, and I was sent to treatment at a therapeutic boarding school. It would be the first of several attempts to find the help I needed but didn’t want at the time. I was too young for all this getting sober business, or so I thought anyhow.

By the age of 16, I was using heroin and cocaine on a regular basis. I was selling drugs and stealing to support my habit. I was associating only with people who were using drugs like I was, which consisted of either high-school dropouts or people much older than myself. I was lucky to somehow finish high school and shortly after ended up in yet another treatment center.

Eight treatment centers, three ODs, and several brushes with the law later (including a two-month stay in the county jail), I arrived in Statesboro, Georgia. I was four months shy of turning 21 and felt like I was decades older and totally exhausted from living a life of active addiction. I finally got to a point of being “sick and tired of being sick and tired” and turned my will and care over to something greater than myself. I stayed in Louies House (a residential recovery house) for 18 months.

It was at Louies House that I attended AA meetings twice a day, got a sponsor, and worked the steps. I got a job and woke up at 7 every morning and made my bed. I learned how to go about living life without drugs or alcohol, though I’ll admit it took me a while to adjust. I struggled the first year but developed relationships with other young men my age who had stories similar to mine. That really helped me get through the tough times.

After a year and a half, I had the privilege of going back to school. Lucky for me, The Center for Addiction Recovery (CAR) had just opened its doors at Georgia Southern University, which was located five minutes from the place I got sober. I attended college with 30 or so kids my age and was able to participate in groups, seminars, and social outings that made sobriety in college attractive. I watched others further along in school than me graduate and go on to pursue degrees in nursing, law, and medicine. The connections I made at CAR made going back to school an easy environment in which to maintain my sobriety, and I hardly felt “left out” of the typical college experience.

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