How does the student know this person?
Aside from the fact that Charles was a well-known figure both at school and home, he had garnered overwhelming friends and support. I was and happened to be his cousin and immediate close friend when it came to confinement of his thoughts and feelings. We shared such a close bond that time it was comparable and valued worth more than his with some of her family members. As such, we had a close relationship as age mates that it translated into another mutually merited relationship on the work front between our parents as well. Consequently, as his best friend, I knew, and still know, Charles is a smart witted charismatic "go getter" that looked beyond one's surface traits.
We, as Charles' friends and family, came together to make his rehab stint and recovery aftermaths as comfortable as possible. One of the ways we approached the "Charles' Story, Our Story" strategies was to have questions solicited from various teens and parents sieved and organized for him to address. He was always a friendly and a ‘people person' so he was more than happy to sustain this idea and thus began the interview. This was a group not formed for Charles' cause solely but for all that was going through hard times and contemplating drug or alcohol use. It was to let them know that they were not alone and that there was a listening ear somewhere willing to care, willing to fight with and for them.
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What were some contributing factors that led you to use alcohol, drugs, or behaviours in excess?
"It was an experience I thought I would try out and maybe perhaps seem cooler." "I wanted to live a little, experience life in the wild. That was the primary rationale he gave for his summary, Charles did not have any secret struggles that required doing drugs, well that is according to his revelations choice in trusting the power of the drug to his own family. He confessed that at first, he faced a trying time as he narrates "…at this point I knew I was not going to turn back on the decisions I would have made but on the other hand wondered could this be wrong on another level."
"Perhaps the more compelling reason I found my self-indulging in drugs and sometimes alcohol was Peer Pressure. We often had house parties that were the epitome of crazy; we generally just randomly singled out a day within the week irrespective of whether it was a busy week or not. We would buy liquor and go to a friend's house that was sure his parents were not home. Once there, all hell broke loose; we would celebrate from the lightest and most irrelevant issues to the big milestones. For instance, there was this time we drank to one of our friend's chihuahua having pups. We just needed to get away and get our drink and to do that we did not require a lot because all were catered for as tuition fees were used to buy and supply dope at school."
What were the circumstances that led you to believe that you were not in control ?
"…The moment I looked at my reflection in the mirror at school and observed the white patches on my nose and my size is perhaps when I hit rock bottom." According to him, he was over indulging in the substance one aspect he admitted to having not cared a whole lot about by then. "My new friends thought it to be cool, so I took it partially to look cool as well…" Such statements highlighted the fundamental underlying course as far as the joining procedure and what a drug group entailed. As such, Charles could not put a finger why he did drugs, but somehow he ended up there.
“I first took drugs a while back at a house party though the quantities were not that significant to drive me into addiction. But with time, I quickly grew accustomed to the benefits the drugs came with. I loved the good stuff. I still do. Gadgets, shoes, phones, you name it I have got it. The drugs gave me a sense of control over my life, more specifically my finances from the money I got from distribution.”
"You have to understand that feeling of having no worries of whether you can afford your desire or not. It was pretty impressive what doors I could open with some disposable cash at school, the assignments I bought, term papers and all that. I had it all under lock. I was literally in control of my life; this was the point I realized what drugs gave me that no one could afford, control and dominion over my life's finances and desires."
How did you feel different in the beginning (first three weeks) of your recovery?
"Hell. Hell back and forth. Well, it is not pretty I will tell you that..." From that response, I could tell that it was not one of those moments that drug addicts, and addicts, in general, yearn for. Once asked what he meant by that this is what he had to say, "You reach a point that the drugs are your everything from solace, friend to pain numbing solution you name it. And so, to have that yanked from you and restored back to the boring old life routines as well, like sending you to pain headquarters and that is Hell."
It is because of this and the love we all had for him that as a community we stood with him during his most trying times in the early stages of admission. We formed a support group for him "Charles' Story, Our Story," comprising of his family and close friends, that he would fall back on and use as a ‘cushion' in his recovery (Carnes et al., 2011). Eventually, an idea was birthed; Why not use his example by finding out what drove a seemingly normal and happy A-grade highly talented boy into addiction to inspire others? We consented with his family to have his story act as an inspiration to others and set the precedent of barrier breaking concerning such controversial topics as addiction.
Tell about the process of early (first six months) recovery ?
Perhaps the most trying moments during the recovery process of an addict are the first few weeks of rehab (Dudley, 2015). Understandably, this is justifiable with the fact that drugs or even alcohol are addictive substances and that abrupt ending of their consumption is but a piece of cake. True to this, Charles talked about tough times during his first days at the rehab centre like the times he would immensely crave his favourite fix. Just a little dose of that ‘bad boy' would suffice as enough to take him through the day, put his fears and concerns at rest in the process of ‘chilling' out.
"This was the flush out period, as I preferred to call it, where all the drugs in my system were flushed out using numerous diets and drinks coupled with work out sessions. I thought at first that it was all meant as a distraction tactic to have all of us in rehab indulge in rigorous exercises and wacky meals. However, I began to notice, and feel too, that there was a notable difference in how my internal body systems reacted and accepted these new changes in the form of diets and exercises. It certainly was not the same way my body responded to drugs. Though it was not easy, I made it through the initial diet introductions and found myself to enjoy my new meals and miss them on days there were items on the menu."
What were the relapse triggers? How did you manage relapse risk?
Of course, there was bound to be some risks and chances of relapsing otherwise it would not be an efficient enough rehab center if its programs did not at least evoke such feelings (Haugen & Musser, 2013). Charles said he had moments he felt like he was about to die if he did not get his fix, and fast. Faithful to this, he explains that if an addict realizes there is no chance of getting their ‘drug on' they improvise all necessary means to get access to drugs or alcohol (Gammill, 2014). If all this fails, then frustration sets in and when frustration sets in contemplation sets in, the worst of its kind.
"I got my hands on some drugs that seeped their way through to the patients' quarters from outside. However, four and a half hours later I made my way to the toilet and emptied the powder down the drain. It was the most painful sight I had seen in a while and trust me when I say it took all the strength in me to pull that knob and not dive in the right after my drugs."
Following the addiction effects coupled with the alarming rates at which community folk, especially the youth in our area were indulging in the act I was forced to do an interview and research of sorts. Charles Williams was a prevalent figure in the neighborhood, someone most people attached a bright future too. He had good grades at school, was the model athlete in his gym class, hanged out at the coolest spots in his group; generally, he was most boys' envy.
What did people, places, things, and activities/do you turn to for your stability ?
After he painfully got over his first urge and temptation, because he got his hands on a fix but flushed it down the toilet, he got the urge to get over the second. The second transition into the third, fourth and so on, and before he knew it, he was well into the rehabilitation program (In Kelly & In White, 2011). Once asked what motivated him to resist that temptation, his answer was pretty much immediate. "The family that I was doing this for, and myself of course, as well as all the right things I realized I had to get back to at home. All this in mind plus my family and friends that loved me got me through this experience. These were my drugs. These were my painkillers that pushed me through even my worst trying times."
“I now reflect upon the wrong decisions I made in my life, and that is when it hits me that if it were not for my family and friends, I would not be where I am today. I feel more confident in myself, I now know my worth and that nothing but me can determine the heights I reach. I, therefore, treasure my support system in the form of my immediate friends and family. These are my compass I constantly use to update my life's journey. One thing I am certain for sure is that I am a long way from going back to who I was then, an addict with no sense of direction in life. I now have purpose, drive, determination, reason and most importantly, I have a second chance in life to make something of myself, and I have my support system-family and friends to thank for that."
How did you know that your life was taking a turn for the better?
"Well, it is pretty much essential stuff. Our program coordinator once told me that the moment I feel like giving up that was the real test of who I was. Once I fully understood what he meant I anxiously dreaded that moment and when it came I was not prepared for it but how I handled it surprised myself. I turned it into something positive, something to smile about and even joke to others about. Once I passed through my first encounter and eventually helped others do the same, I realized I was well on my way to recovery."
"I will not lie recovery is not a piece of cake once I now look at my journey at rehab and even the period before I accepted that I had a problem. It is not easy at all, but that does not mean it is unachievable. If I did it then anyone can do it; I intend to see to it that no other young person goes through what I went through by using ‘Charles' story our story' to reach out to teens in our community."
How is your life different now?
"It is awesome; I am at a much better place in my life, I am happier, and I am actually in numerous addict support groups. I feel I have a purpose; I got a family that loves and supported me, I have friends so loving and there for me that I feel I don't deserve. That episode of my life helped me see me for who I was and capable of, and that is greatness."
"I have gone back to my hobby and first love that was sport. I have signed up for across something I did not see as a favourite sport back at high school but because I need challenges in life as my life coach at rehab said. He said that life was not a straight road; it was painted with ups and downs that it did not matter how hard we fell, but how we rose up, dusted ourselves and tried again. That got to me; I realized that giving up was the easiest route one could take out of a difficult situation. Another catch phrase he told me that perhaps made a whole lot of sense was that once life or tough times came as lemons, I had the choice to ignore the bitterness. I had the choice of overlooking the pain they came with and made something positive out of them, all I had to do was make lemonade."
What do you most appreciate about your recovery?
"Well, I would be lying if I said my experience at the rehab center was without trying moments albeit so were the fruitful ones. For instance, my rehab supervisor often made me head of numerous activity routines at the center something that upped my inner confidence and self-belief as well. I felt I would be letting my new friends down if I slipped into a relapse, something that helped me quite some trying times. The thought of letting my friends and family at home down really helped me transition from the old me to the butterfly I have blossomed into today.
Consequently, the Charles' focus stood not in the addiction but in the fact that there was a need to take action against his observed trait that manifested itself under periods of stress. As such, treating this form of addiction necessarily requires a complete comprehension of how the addiction works psychologically (Carnes et al., 2011). When analyzing Charles' addiction, it is imperative to understand that its causal factor is not mere pleasure or does it have anything to do with his character strength or morality. Indeed, his drug problem he fought to recover from emanated from his social life aspects in the form of his friends.
What were the most helpful or least useful things people did for you during your recovery?
"First and foremost, the overwhelming love and support that my family and friends continue to show me through my recovery transition is the foundation and reason for my current health. Secondly, the "Charles' Story, Our Story" support group that may family and friends initiated did wonders for my recovery for it was my fall back during times I felt like giving up often a time reminding me of the purpose of my recovery and what was at stake; family. This was the ‘medicine' that got me through that traumatic experience otherwise I would not have been able to make it on my own, and for that, I owe my life to my family and close friends.”
"The decisions we make end up defining who we turn out to be in the end. This is something I have been a testimony to throughout my recovery journey. I took a vow of commitment before I left the rehab center that I would never let anything or anyone put me or anyone I can help down. Not on my watch, not in my community, not like my past actions did me."
Carnes, P., Carnes, S., & Bailey, J. (2011). Facing addiction: Starting recovery from alcohol and drugs . Carefree, AZ: Gentle Path Press.
Dudley, W. (2015). Synthetic drug addiction .
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2005). EMCDDA online: European .
Gammill, J. (2014). Painkillers, heroin, and the road to sanity: Real solutions for long-term recovery from Opiate addiction .
Haugen, D. M., & Musser, S. (2013). Addiction . Detroit: Greenhaven Press.
In Kelly, J. F., & In White, W. L. (2011). Addiction recovery management: Theory, research, and practice.