Massachusetts native Tyler was no stranger to substance use in his home. Tyler’s story is one of early drug and alcohol experimentation, coupled with anxiety and self-esteem issues. Read on below to learn about Tyler’s story, and how his path led him to the New England Recovery Center.
I grew up in the suburbs of Boston. My parents split up when I was very young, and my mom was in recovery and becoming sober when I was about a year old. My father was definitely a problem drinker, but I never considered him to be a “full-blown” alcoholic. Introduced to such substance abuse at a young age, I started developing my own dependencies when I began experimenting.
Around 12 years old, I began smoking weed and got into some light drinking. By age 13, I relied heavily on weed as it helped me manage my anxiety and minimize the negative ways in which I viewed myself. I used it as a coping mechanism, I can see that now. But for me, this dependency evolved into the abuse of increasingly more serious substances.
The more I smoked, the more I began to drink, and by 15 it had gotten to a point where I was doing both every day. Then, I was introduced to Xanax. If I thought weed was good at managing my anxiety and self-worth, Xanax really changed everything. It was so effective for me that I began combining Xanax and other drugs with alcohol – I even had a twisted pride about it.
Things got to a point where I couldn’t hide my substance use anymore. My mom was HORRIFIED. I was intoxicated all weekend and during the week, and I started getting in trouble at school. I had always been an athlete, a baseball and basketball player, but everything suddenly took a back seat to my substance use. Drugs became my whole world, my entire identity.
That same year, I turned to Oxycontin. It was the closest thing to a spiritual experience I had ever had. It completely changed my perception of life. I saw Oxy as something I needed forever to be okay. Just a taste of opiates at 15, and two weeks later I was using Oxy daily and doing anything and everything I could to get the money to afford it.
At 16, my mom suggested that I go to 12 Step meetings. I really disliked them and had no desire to be sober at the time, but I was having a hard time funding my addiction. I wouldn’t say it had an impact on me, other than the fact that I met a lot of kids who were struggling like I was but didn’t want to be sober either. Not too long after treatment, I found out that heroin was much more effective and accessible for me.
Heroin became a daily routine – from snorting, to smoking, to becoming an IV user (which was a big thing I said I’d never do). I didn’t understand why I couldn’t control this urge. Around 18, I started going to detox every few months or so and had a huge desire to turn my life around. I went to 15 different detox centers. Each time, I went in with the intention of finally getting sober and staying clean, but I would return home after each stint and found that back in the real world, I just didn’t have the mental tools I needed to stay sober – nothing I could reflect on to stay clean.
On September 4, 2016, I overdosed. Luckily, someone had Narcan and revived me. The very next day, I asked my family to send me to detox. When I arrived, they asked me what I wanted to do as a chronic relapser. I told them that I would do anything to stay the path this time, and I actually meant it.
I had never said those words before, let alone mean them, and this is how New England Recovery Center became an option for me. I went to NERC on September 9, 2016 and stayed as an inpatient resident for two weeks. Part of the problem with other detox facilities was that there was no aftercare plan other than advising me, “don’t drink or get high when you leave.” There were few facilities, in my experience, where the staff had complete control and wouldn’t let me harm myself.
My social worker at NERC was really what was most helpful and effective for me. She acknowledged that I had said I would do anything to stay sober, and she certainly matched me on that promise. Her commitment made me understand that there are people out there who don’t think I’m a scumbag or junkie that will die. What also stood out about NERC was the approachable, relatable and honest staff. They didn’t just give me the runaround. They were always informative and welcoming, as well as stern and professional.
After NERC, I headed to California and stayed in a sober living home for eight months. I got a job at Whole Foods and saved up enough money to get myself an apartment. About two years ago, I started working as a life coach, working with people who are in the early stages of recovery or adolescents who are starting to show behavioral issues. I hope people know that it’s never too late to make a change!
To people struggling with addiction themselves, I would say to listen to the people who have experiences you can relate to. Consider that the answers may not be found within yourself. Ask a lot of questions and understand that no matter how bad things appear, the circumstances aren’t impossible to overcome.
If you’re struggling with addiction and mental health issues, call New England Recovery Center today at 1-877-MyRehab.