Finally, after robbing an FBI agent’s house, I was sent to jail and then I ended up at Day One Residential. I learned how to talk to people and live without using any substances. I have been sober for 22 months and intend to keep it that way. Day One gave me the structure and support I needed to help me to have a better future.
I first got in trouble for driving under the influence and without a license. I didn’t go to jail – they sent me home with a court date. I went to court and they gave me a slap on the wrist. 35 Hours of community service, my license reinstatement fee, and I could still get my license when I turned 16. I didn’t do my community service or pay my fee because I was too busy getting high.
I got away with way more than I should have. At one point I crashed my grandmother’s truck after I had been drinking, lucky for me she didn’t call the cops. I always fell into peer pressure. I had a lot of opportunities: I applied for jobs and never followed through; I started Drivers Ed and quit, took life guarding courses and failed – all because I was using drugs. I got into fights, had guns pulled on me, got robbed and got raped. All of these unfortunate incidents happened over drugs or when I was high on drugs. You think I would have learned from these hard lessons but it took several years for me to figure out I had problem.
When I was young I was given a lot of chances. I went to Long Creek. I was in and out of the juvenile detention facility 8 times before I finally got committed until age 18. All of my charges were from my anger getting out of hand, me being under the influence or committing crimes while I was under the influence. A few people I knew died due to drugs use and it was all too much for me to handle. I couldn’t take the pain anymore so I decided I had to do something or I’d end up dead or in prison.
So I quit drugs cold turkey, went to AA, dropped my boyfriend, sobered up for 3 months but then relapsed. I relapsed because I kept my old friends who I eventually found out weren’t friends – they were just drug using acquaintances. The first time I relapsed was due to my environment, family issues, stress, and me not having enough support. I was weak and it didn’t take much to take me down. I remember the relapse well. I remember sitting on the floor in my room staring at the bottle and hesitating to drink it and after about 15 minutes I caved and drank. I felt so awful when it was over I started using all over again.
I sobered up again for 6 months this time. I got really impatient and was not seeing any changes. I had forgotten how bad things were before. Anytime things went wrong or I felt stressed I would run right back to drugs and alcohol. I needed serious help. I was really sick. So I tried to pick myself back up and decided to try Outpatient Rehab. The women told me I was a late stage drug addict and if I didn’t stop I would be dead before the age of 21. Ultimately I needed a long term rehab. I didn’t want to go. I wanted instant gratification.
The stuff I have told you isn’t even half of what my life was like. Everything that happened made me feel a lot of different ways. I hated myself, I felt hopeless like I could never change. I was angry at myself and the world. I had zero confidence. I felt guilty for all the bad things I had done and all the people I hurt along the way. That person is not who I wanted to be. I came back to Long Creek as a shock sentence for 2 weeks. If I made it through the 2 weeks the court was going to drop all of my juvenile charges. But I was doing drugs before I came and I didn’t want to be sick and go through withdrawals so I brought pills into the facility with me. I ended up picking up a trafficking in prison contraband charge. I finally realized I needed to change.
I got out of Long Creek and went to rehab. I got kicked out, went back to Long Creek, got out again to go to another treatment program. I stayed sober the whole time but I got kicked out of the program because of my anger issues and poor choices I made while I was there. I got committed to Long Creek. While I’ve been here I have changed a lot and I am not the person I was before. I am still working my way to becoming the person I want to be.
While I have been at Long Creek I have been blessed with many opportunities like: getting my GED, meeting with my psychologist 2 times a week, and Day One substance abuse counseling. I have learned about who I am, relapse and recovery, my personal triggers, and I have completed a relapse prevention plan that fits my needs. I would not have been able to do this with out all of the support and treatment my team at Long Creek provides me.
I’m honestly glad that I got committed to Long Creek because it saved my life. Currently I am level 3 phase 3 which means I can go off grounds on staff outings. I can go on home visits as part of my community reintegration plan and I can finally start to look for a job. For the most part I am confident and happy. I can’t wait to get back into the community and live my life the right way. I have remained sober throughout this time not because I am forced to but because I want to! That makes me feel good about myself and about the program I have completed. I have been sober for 1 year 1 month and 11 days today. My goals are to get out, get into an independent living program, get an apartment, go to AA/NA meetings, continue counseling, graduate with my GED, get a job, give back to the community, get my drivers license, go to college, follow my dreams, most importantly to remain sober, and never give up on myself.
Now I am almost 18 and I can’t go back and be a kid again – I am almost an adult now. I’m scared to death of life and what the world will bring. But I made it through all of this and I think I’ll be ok as long as I stay sober.
Thank you all very much for listening to my story.
This is when my attitude towards life changed for the worse. I didn’t care about life or death. All I cared about was numbing any pain that I had and making it all go away. At this point having a kid and wanting to continue my drug addiction made me turn to crime to support my addiction and my child.
At 16 I went “car shopping” with some friends one night and we were stealing anything and everything we found in peoples cars. At the end of the night when it was about 5 a.m. we were done and started walking home and two cops passed us and turned right around and stopped to talk to us. I was carrying the backpack with all of the stolen items in it. I picked up 14 charges from that one night for all the different items that were taken. The time came when I was called into court to answer for the crime I had committed. I admitted to my wrongdoings and got sentenced to a 90-day program at the Youth Services Center. Upon completing that program I had to complete a year of Supervised release.
I went through that program and acted like I was changing and saw the road I was going down but I was putting on an act the whole time. I knew right when I got out I was going to go back to using drugs and my life of crime. Needless to say I completed the program and got out and started smoking marijuana again within my first three months of release. I would call my probation officer and tell him I wasn’t going to be able to pass a drug test and as long as I was up front he let me get away with it once every couple of months.
I want to also mention at this time my relationships were all starting to crumble. My relationship with my Fiancée most of all. I would spend all the extra money on drugs and show no sympathy to her. She was a teenage mother going to school and working nights to support her child and all I would do is worry about my money for drugs. This is when we started arguing a lot more and spending less and less time together. I would leave her to take care of my daughter. My relationship with my parents was just a simple Hi and Bye when I would come and go.
In November, I made the decision to go to my friend’s house to party. I ended up running into one of my past girlfriends and hooked up with her and stayed for a couple of days. I was traveling back and forth from Maine to New Hampshire to do cocaine pickups and I would bring my friends with me. I decided to head to my friend’s house to bring him to pick up some cocaine. I had brought two people with me that night and we were all sitting in the front seat and I was the only one wearing a seatbelt. I had just gotten my license about a month before this so I thought I could speed and handle it.
I decided that once I got on the road I was going to speed and “show off” to my friends. I was going about 50mph down a 25mph road. I came up to a hill and I lost control of my vehicle. I locked the breaks up and went head-on into a tree. I remember nothing about the next day and I awoke on November 7th in Maine Medical Center I found out I had broken my left fibula bone, right heel, two ribs, and every bone on the right side of my face. I still remember the first thing I asked when I woke up, I said, “How are my friends?” My mother told me, “She didn’t make it”. All the pain of my injuries couldn’t compare to the pain that I felt when I heard that. I cried for at least 12 hrs and wouldn’t talk to anyone.
I left the hospital 5 days later and immediately started using marijuana constantly. I would smoke at least a quarter ounce to half ounce a day. Soon after I started smoking crack cocaine everyday. I spent $3,000 in one month on crack. I stopped using crack and switched to LSD and Ecstasy everyday. I was supporting my habit by selling drugs and ripping people off. I was trying to kill myself and not think about what happened to my friend. I was on the road to death and if I kept going there’s no doubt in my mind I would’ve been dead within a year.
Which brings me to where I am now. I came to Long Creek Youth Development Center. I decided when I came here I was going to get clean and live my life to pay back for my mistake and do everything right that I can. I have done restorative justice and also substance abuse counseling with my Day One counselor. I have taken a deep look at myself and why I’m here. I can now accept that it is my fault why I’m here and I deserve to be sitting where I’m sitting. If it wasn’t for Day One services I can’t say I would have made as much progress as I’ve made since my stay here. Day One has taught me to take responsibility for my actions and that drugs will lead me to my death. I would like to take this time to thank Day One and Long Creek Youth Development Center for giving me my life back and opening my eyes to the big picture. This truly is a blessing in disguise. Specifically to my Day One counselor I say thank you so much for sticking by my side and fighting for me and not letting me lie to myself or anyone else. You helped me mend my relationship with my Fiancée and made it possible for me to be the father I am today. I ask this of you all please go home and tell family, friends, and loved ones of the story I’ve told you. I want to reach as many people as possible and hope that my story will help other teenagers think about their actions before they act on them.
All names and images have been changed.