When You’re Doing the Next Right Thing, the Right Things Happen
Recovery Campus: Where are you in your studies?
Alex: I’m starting my second semester of my first year, with a double major in political science and peace, war, and defense.
RC: What brought you to UNC-CH?
Alex: I’ve lived in North Carolina since I was about two, so I’ve always known how good the school is. When I was in high school, I rooted for UNC. Plus it’s away from home but not too far away to see my family occasionally.
RC: How did you get started on your road to recovery?
Alex: For a while, I really did not want to be sober. At some point, something just clicked. I just stopped fighting it. I got rigorously honest with myself. I used to think my decisions were just hurting me, but that was wrong; I was just ignoring the fact that my choices hurt other people too.
RC: When did you decide you needed help?
Alex: When I was in high school, I started doing a lot of things. I was president of my class, joined the debate club, ranked in the top ten my junior and senior years. Then I started smoking a lot of pot, and everything changed. Debate became a peripheral thing. I was always stressing, but I’d never act on my stress or work toward better grades; I’d just go get high.
I never was much of a drinker. In the second semester of my senior year in high school, I’d try to stop smoking weed and drink instead. But drinking got me into trouble with my friends, stupid things. One of them was pretty bad, and I told my sister about it. She told my parents, and that was that. I was going to rehab.
RC: What was the treatment program like?
Alex: It’s funny—I agreed to go on the assumption that I would be able to go and then leave in a few days. When I left home, I was really tired. I thought I’d just go to chill and didn’t think about what kind of rehab program it was. Then, in the car, my dad said, “I hope you remember your Boy Scout skills.”
I got there, and I was in shock; it was a wilderness program. The first night was one of the hardest; it was like I just woke up one day and was in rehab.
I didn’t ever really enjoy it, but it did get easier.
We hiked all day, cooked our own food and stuff.
RC: Was it difficult to move from rehab to college?
Alex: After the wilderness program, I went to Lubbock, Texas, and stayed at the Collegiate Recovery Community at Texas Tech but didn’t take any classes. Then, when I finally decided a few months into sobriety that I wanted to be serious about it, I contacted UNC. I’d already applied and been accepted but had to delay my enrollment because I went into rehab. That’s when I met Dean Blackburn, the director of Student Wellness.