Education Director Denise Achee: Hi! How are you doing?
Alec C: I’m doing good, how are you?
DA: So is today your last day?
AC: Yes it is.
DA: Tell me about your journey. What brought you to Inspirations [teen rehab]?
AC: I was having a lot of family problems and I was using a lot of hardcore drugs which I shouldn’t have been using. Stealing…doing a lot of things that most 17 year-old teenagers don’t do…
DA: Or shouldn’t do, maybe?
AC: Yeah, shouldn’t do. You know I knew I had a drug addiction that I needed to, you know, fix what was going on so I came to Inspirations.
DA: Let me ask you, when was the first time you tried drugs? Or what was the first drug you tried?
AC: Marijuana and I was eleven years old.
DA: Eleven years old and what was the next time? Did you continue from eleven or did you…?
AC: You know, I smoked a couple times around that but then you know once I hit like twelve/thirteen that’s when I really started smoking a lot.
DA: Alright, so you started smoking weed heavily, like daily, two or three…
DA: Thirteen. Once or twice a day?
DA: Everyday, whenever you could?
DA: When did you escalate because your drug of choice was…?
DA: Opiates. Now that you’ve had this journey, you’ve been able to look at yourself and your addiction, what led you into the opiates? Can you pinpoint that?
AC: Actually I have the perfect pinpoint. I was smoking with my sister’s boyfriend actually and he sells some drugs to make money. He’s not my sister’s boyfriend anymore, it was an older boyfriend. He showed me a Percocet and I’ve never seen it before. It was a Perc 30 and I popped it, he told me to pop it, and I loved it so it went from that, that day on I was using opiates. I was doing percs and oxys [OxyContin] every day. And then ended up sniffing heroin and then I ended up here.
DA: Have you ever shot up?
AC: No I never shot up because of a family issue because I never met my grandfather before and he’s a heroin addict, so you know, I think it would really hurt my mother to, you know, see me using but if I go back out that’s my last option.
DA: Interesting, so you have addiction in your family? You’ve had… how many [addicts]?
AC: My dad. He was addicted to crack cocaine. He’s been clean for eleven years and my grandfather who I’ve never met before, we don’t know if he’s alive or if he’s dead but if he’s alive he’s still shooting up because he’s not doing anything else.
DA: Do you think that their addiction had any influence on you?
AC: I’m not really sure because you know I wasn’t really around my dad like through the whole…when he was using like his hardcore drugs I wasn’t really around him so you know, maybe like through genes it might be something like that but I never really saw my dad use before.
DA: But your mother did talk about his use and that he was an addict?
DA: That must have been very frightful for her.
AC: I found out he was an addict actually when I started using and they brought it up and they said you’re going to turn into your dad if you keep doing stuff like this and I just blew it away. It went in one ear and out the other.
DA: Let me ask you, have you been in rehab before?
AC: This is my nineteenth treatment center.
DA: How many?
DA: Nineteen. Wow.
AC: Nineteen. I’ve been in programs since I was thirteen years old.
DA: So you have quite a story to tell. Okay you’ve been to several different treatment centers. What made this one different or the same?
AC: Every time I’ve always gone home, I’m from Boston, Massachusetts, and it’s not the place to be if you know a lot of people using drugs. I was using a lot and it, you know, I was always in programs in the Boston area and I’d always go straight home from the treatment centers and I never changed my surroundings. I’d always be hanging out with the same friends who were using and I had relapsed right when I go back. This time, you know, I came down to Florida where I don’t know anybody and I’ve changed my whole surroundings and now I’m going to a halfway house and I’m going to get treatment and I’m going to be down here and I’m going to try to change my life down here.
DA: Smart move, you’ve learned that it didn’t work the other way. Right?
AC: It doesn’t work.
DA: Let me ask, what would you say to anybody that was struggling with an addiction? Are people able to get over it on their own? Or you think…I mean you’ve been to a lot of treatments with people using different things, besides opiates.
AC: Yeah. You have to, you know there’s an easy way in and there’s an easy way out. You can either go the easy way or you can go the hard way. If you live your life not doing drugs I guarantee you’re going to live a life, live a good life. If you go back to using drugs then it’s just going to get worse and worse, I’ve noticed the past couple of years and if you stop using, your life’s just gonna…you gotta also go through the AA and NA principles, you gotta go through the steps, you gotta get a sponsor, you gotta go to meeting because that’s what’s gonna, you know, that’s what’s gonna keep you clean.
DA: Yeah. Support your recovery.
AC: Yeah you need support. You can’t do it alone.
DA: And what happened meanwhile to your school when all this was happening? Did you drop out?
AC: Yeah I dropped out when I was 15 and you know, opiates you know, opiate and school don’t really go well, you know, you can’t be nodding off in school. People usually don’t notice because, you know, everyone knows there’s some kids in school that just sleep through classes and that’s what I was. I used to just sleep through all my classes but nobody used to know I was high. I knew I was high but no one else did. And, you know, it’s very hard just thinking about, you know, yeah I dropped out but I can change my life.
DA: And what are you doing? So are you on track to get your GED, is that your goal?
AC: Yeah. At this halfway house I’m going to there’s a GED program and I’m going to have a job and I’m gonna get my GED. I’m going to take it.
DA: How is your relationship with your mom now? How’s that working?
AC: It’s unbelievable. She’s like so excited for this new experience for both of us, you know. You’re an addict, but your family also goes through a lot when you’re an addict you know they start… you know your parents can’t change you, you have to change yourself. That’s pretty much it.
DA: Now did you have an intervention when you came here or did you come here willingly?
AC: No, I came here willingly. Like I came here myself because I knew I had a problem.
DA: Well we’re very proud of you. You’ve done a really good job and we’re real excited and of course I’m excited to hear that you’re getting your GED, you’ve been working, you know, a lot trying to prep yourself for that and you’ve realized, by yourself, that going home didn’t work for you.
DA: We’re excited to hear how it goes from here after. Please keep in contact.
AC: I definitely will.
DA: Let us kind of know how things are going. It’s very important, your message to other people as yourself that have fallen into, you know, I would say the grips of addiction.
DA: It’s hard letting go, right? It doesn’t let go of you.
AC: So hard.
DA: So you did it and you look great.
DA: Big difference from when you came in.
DA: I think you’re going to be successful this time.
AC: Thank you. Thank you very much.
DA: I think you’ve freed yourself from it, right?
AC: Yeah. Me too.
DA: Alright, well we’re going to be praying and rooting for you and we’d like for you to keep in contact with us so we know what’s happening with you and we’d love for you to come back and speak at one of the family workshops because it’s very important that parents hear your story and kids your same age. It can really impact them and maybe make them realize that there is hope after nineteen rehabs.
AC: Yeah. There’s hope.
DA: There is hope still and you didn’t give up.
DA: You know? And they say try, try again.
AC: Yep, that’s exactly right.
DA: And you did it and you’re making it this time and I think we all feel that you’re very serious about your recovery now and you’re on the path to a new life. Congratulations!
AC: Thank you.
DA: Thank you.