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Youth Stories



Samantha
samantha

I started smoking cigarettes in sixth grade.  In seventh grade, I started drinking and smoking weed.  When I was fourteen, I started using meth.

I hated the way I was.  Three was no me.  I was a horrible person who was mean to everyone.  I cheated, I lied, and I stole from people. I even stole from drug dealers.  Everyone thought I was so sweet and innocent.  People just couldn’t believe I would do drugs.

I want so much to be sober.  I can’t say I’ll make it for the rest of my life but right now I’m confident in today.  I never want to go back to the way I was on drugs.

SAMANTHA & HER SON BAILEY

February 2011

 
Eric

If You Could Only See Inside Me

Eric, 18, wears baggy pants and shuffles when he walks, hands in his pockets.  His eyes – narrowed, challenging – are dark brown, almost black.  He shaves his head and wears a goatee.  His arms, legs, back and chest are decorated with more than a dozen tattoos.

Drugs have been part of Eric’s life since he started drinking at age 12.  He smokes weed and has experimented with cocaine and methamphetamine, but his favorite drug – the drug he just can’t seem to give up – is alcohol.

I don’t like those other drugs,” he explains, “too nasty, too much trouble.  But beer – oh man, what can I say? – I love beer.  It’s hard to stay away from it.”

Even though his drinking invariably gets him into trouble – fights, drunk driving, “killer” hangovers, blackouts – he can’t stop.  At least not for very long.  He tried to quit a few months ago and stayed sober for 10 days before he started drinking again.

“It’s hard to stay away from it,” he says.  “I try but I just can’t seem to stop.”

A “tatted” gang member, a convicted felon, a drug user, and in the judge’s words, “a risk to the community – to many people, Eric is the epitome of a “bad kid.”

At least on the outside.  But what about the inside?

Eric has these words tattooed on his chest:  “If you could only see inside me.”

Why those words?  “Because people don’t see the real me – they only see the outside,” he explains.  “You got to know me from the inside, too.  You know what I mean?”

 
Lucy

lucyLucy was in inpatient treatment for two weeks before she was able to admit that she had a problem.  “I thought I could stop if I wanted to,” she says.  “I just didn’t want to.”

Then, in group one day, her peers confronted her.    

“Have drugs completely taken all the shame from you?” they asked her.  “You talk about your mother’s feelings, and you act like you could care less.  Where’s your emotion?  Do you even care about what you’ve done to the people who love you?”

That was the epiphany, the moment of enlightenment when Lucy finally saw what drugs were doing to her life.

“It was as if God came crashing into my hopeless life,” she remembers. “I broke down and started crying.  And I promised myself that I would never us drugs again.”

Lucy has been clean for almost 11 years.  “I’m a good person, she says simply, humbly.  “I make mistakes, but I have a good heart and I know the Number 1 thing I have to do every day is stay clean.  Then everything else will happen for me – work, school, life.  I just need to stay clean.”

 
Ben

Ben-2009Some four years ago, during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I sat on a bench on campus and watched the morning sun rise and filter through the leaves of the trees.  This was beauty, and I was in the thick of it. But there was a profound disconnection between what I was seeing and what I was feeling.  I was in the depths of self-pity, wracking my mind for a reason why I had stayed up the whole night binge drinking and using drugs.

I had an epiphany that morning on the bench. I realized for the first time that I was lost in a dark maze that had been created by my addiction to alcohol and drugs. But the world wasn’t ready to let me fall away completely. The sun came up that morning, as it always does.  But I noticed it in a way I never had before. It meant something, even though I was incapable of comprehending the meaning just then. Life seemed to be reaching out to me.

I started using drugs and alcohol in high school.   During those years I became increasingly depressed; I quit trying in school and stopped participating in sports and other extracurricular activities that made me happy in the past. I was even arrested.  But I was highly functional in that I continued to get decent grades and “have fun” with my friends on the weekends.My mother is an addiction specialist and my father is a recovering alcoholic of twenty-five years.  I had been taught about addiction.  On a daily basis my parents asked about my drug and alcohol use—“Ben, have you been drinking?”; “You smell like smoke.”; “You came home after curfew—what were you doing?”—but eventually the words began to lose their meaning.   I thought that I didn’t really have a problem.  After all, I was not living on the streets.

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Johnny G.
johnnyLife is what you make of it.
-- Johnny G.

WHEN I STARTED USING DRUGS I stopped caring about school and my grades.  I met other kids who I can relate to and I found that they were using so they can relieve the stress, so I started to use. Later on I started to see the world in a wicked way.  This got me into gangs.  I really liked how this gang does its thing with no fear of regrets so I joined it. Now I see myself as a soldier on a mission and every day I never look back.  I don’t regret what I done in the past, just try to build on what I have done.  Maybe one day I will settle down with the love of my life and have kids but ‘til then ain’t no looking back.

WHAT I HOPE FOR IN THE FUTURE:  I’d like to have a house, a normal size house.  I’d like two little Johnnies running around.  I liked the way I was as a kid.  I was happy when I was a little kid.  I want my kids to be happy, too.  I will be there for them.  No matter how much … I think it’s really important for kids to have two parents.  I see myself as a welder.  I like the way you run the machines and see sparks flying everywhere, to me it feels like the 4th of July every time.  It’s exciting.  I want to make a lot of time for my wife.  Drop off the kids, at my mom’s house and go out to eat.  Loyal is my word.  Loyal means listening to me.  I need to be there …to always be there for my friends, to my wife, to my mom.

 


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