I’m from Smithville, Tennessee. I am now 18 years old. My drugs of choice are cocaine and uppers. This is my story.

While growing up, I was the youngest of three. My brother and sister were very close in age and I always felt like an outsider, even in the comfort of my own home. I can’t recall most of my childhood because I blocked it out.

The only memories I do have come to me in flashbacks.

My father was an alcoholic.

My parents divorced when I was seven.

Two years later, I moved in with my mom in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Cookeville seemed like a safe place for me. I loved going to school there and I made friends immediately. However, I still felt like there was something missing, like there was this big secret everybody knew but me.

My mom met my first step-dad when I was in fifth grade. They got married right away and I loved him, at first. He was funny and very nice to me. He had two boys named Nick and Alex and they were only a few years older than me. Everything seemed to be “peachy” in my world until the day I saw my step-dad hitting my mom.

My mom was my best friend. She was fragile and I had always protected her. At that moment, I realized I couldn’t protect her anymore.

I went down stairs with my step brothers. I had heard my mom say they were “juvenile delinquents” over and over, but I had no clue what she meant. Alex could tell I was upset at what was happening upstairs, so he handed me a pipe and said, “This will make it better.”

I didn’t even know what was in the pipe, but I believed him and I took a hit. I smoked marijuana everyday with my brothers from fifth grade up until my freshman year of high school.

When I was in fifth grade, I started getting bullied by kids at school. I was pushed down the stairs, people wrote nasty notes about me in class, and girls would make fun of my basketball shorts and try to pull them down in front of the boys.

One day, some girl came up to me and told me I should just go and cut myself and solve everyone’s problems. So, without even thinking, I went home that night and did what she said to do.

I sat on my bed and I saw a pencil sharpener. So I took the blade out and began a long lasting self-harming addiction. I kept it hidden for years before anyone noticed. Cutting was my first and worst addiction. The drugs came second.

Eventually my mom and step-dad divorced. Mom and I had to move back to Smithville. We moved right in the middle of my freshman year, right as I was really starting to “fit in”. I hated Dekalb County and I felt like I didn’t belong there. My old friends had all forgotten about me and they treated me like dirt because I wasn’t wealthy like them.

That’s when I started buying pills from this one kid in my gym class. I took the pills so I could forget where I was for a few hours. I’d buy anything he had because I was desperate.

During my junior year, my mom was finally able to move us back to Cookeville. That’s when I met my new best friend. She became my partner in crime and my worst nightmare. We hit it off from the start. We had algebra together and we both sat in the back of the room and HATED it.

We started hanging out and I realized she smoked weed, so we smoked together. My mom came home and caught us so we swore it was our first time and she believed us. Of course, this was the first time she ever noticed anything.

My mom and I started fighting more and more. She questioned me about everything and things were getting bad. My mom saw the scars on my wrist and realized I was cutting, although she tried to tell herself the scars weren’t from that.

Eventually my mom banned me from seeing my best friend and that summer was miserable. I started taking Adderall and smoking weed every day. Then I started stealing OxyContin out of the cabinets.

I started senior year looking like your stereotypical “druggie” – my hair was dark brown and I painted my nails all black. I came to school high every day. Adderall was my best friend my first semester of senior year. I would stay up all night and do my homework. Then I would get stoned in the morning, go to school, and just sleep.

Eventually I wanted more and more. That’s when I found cocaine. I was introduced to it by an older friend (my dealer) and I was instantly in love.

After I got addicted to cocaine, everything started spiraling downhill pretty quickly. I was able to somehow keep my grades up, so my mom thought I was doing well. In reality, I was still using drugs. I would just do them before hanging out with my friends.

One night, I got into a big fight with my mom and I decided to run away. My best friend came and picked me up. I felt free for about 20 hours until my mom and the police found me at another friend’s house.

I sat at the police station listening to my mom saying she wasn’t ready to have me home yet. I knew this meant I would be automatically sent to a group home. I had hit rock bottom.

However, my dad found Inspirations for Youth and Families and I was off to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

I wasn’t happy to be there, but I grateful for another chance. Inspirations teen rehab changed my life. My therapists helped me find myself again and learn to cope with life. I learned that respect is earned, not given. The girls I met at Inspirations taught me the meaning of true friendship. They are my true best friends – even though we’re miles apart.

I’m sad to say that I did relapse when I went home, but I recovered. I’m still going to meetings and staying clean. I start college on August 26. I finally see that I can have a good life again. There is life after drugs and I don’t have to use, just for today.

Inspirations for Youth and Families is a small, private teen rehab clinic for children ages 12 to 17 years old. We’re located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We offer short and long-term treatment programs for teens with drug, alcohol, and behavioral addictions. Call (888) 757-6237 to learn more about our many treatment programs.