While the opioid epidemic is on the rise, there is hope for recovery. WBFO’s Cheryl Hagen has more on one former addict’s road home.
“I just remember sitting in my father’s truck, who was passed away at the time, saying to myself, this isn’t fun anymore. This is something I have to do. It was scary because I thought I could just stop whenever I wanted. We’ve heard from a lot of people, I’ll stop when I want to and I knew that I couldn’t stop.”
Peter was 16-years-old -- and addicted to drugs and alcohol.
“I had the mom. I had the dad. We had the all-American chocolate lab. I had a sister growing up. Everything was great except my father was an alcoholic.”
“It was Mother’s Day, 2007, I believe and her and I had just got into an argument. It kind of reached the climax of just what was going on. I ended up moving out and in with my father on the west side, above one of his bars. Our relationship went from playing catch and boating and Frisbee and football and baseball to me having to drink with him to spend time with him.”
Peter’s new home, meant a new school, new friends, and a new life.
“With everything that was going on, with my father’s drinking really getting out of hand, I got attached to the kids at school that liked to use.”
Alcohol lead to drugs, from marijuana to whatever was available.
“By me drinking with these people, they would say hey would you want to smoke some weed. I’m like wow, I’ve never done that before… So, I met people that had done that. Then I met people that had used prescription pills. This was all just within in a year. I had got into that toward the bitter end. Some people would have pills and I would try them, I was curious. I would go to parties and try whatever was there. This was all just within a year when I was 16.”
Peter’s addiction grew after his father passed away suddenly.
“At that time, my head just wasn’t in the right place. I had a lot of things going on. My dad was dead, my mother had issues, I had issues, I was using, I didn’t have a positive role model. I was 16 years old. I made some mistakes.”
“So it came to a point where I had enough and I tried hurting myself just because of what was going on in my life. I thought that nothing in this world could help me. I thought I was going to die like this and I probably would have if I didn’t get help.”
An overdose landed him in the hospital and a doctor saved his life in more ways than one.
“The doctor’s like, so I hear you have a drug problem… I was like yes, a little bit, yeah. You know, I was still in denial. Yes. He ends up saying, have you ever heard of Renaissance House?”
“So my mom and I ended up coming here and immediately I wanted to leave. My mom just looked at me. She said, this is it, this is it, we have nothing else, we have nowhere to go. I ended up staying here.”
Peter says his first days at Renaissance Addiction Services were eye opening.
“Brutal, very strange, very foreign. I still wanted to do things my way. I thought drinking was still ok and that aspiration was crushed very quickly.”
Peter was able to conquer what may be his greatest life challenge, learning how to live again without drugs and alcohol.
“It’s like you’re being reborn again. You have to learn how to be nice and talk to people nicely, not get so mad about things. There’s a lot of character defects, things that you work on here. When you graduate it doesn’t stop, people think it stops. No, you graduated and this is a really good start and you need to keep going.”
Peter completed the program and has moved on to live a substance free life, graduating not only high school but college, with hopes for a career in criminal justice.
Fishing now takes up his spare time.
“You know when you get clean, you got to have a hobby, something that you can do. I love fishing… I would go before school, afterschool, days off from school, days off from work. That’s just what I love to do. That’s my time for me. That’s where the light switch finally gets shut off and I don’t have to think about everything. I’m in my element, it’s nice.”