Anyone can win a fight against addiction. Granted, at a first glance, it doesn’t look that way. After all, this vile disease can overtake a person. It can change their world in a seemingly inhuman way. But, where there’s a will – there’s a way. And every addiction treatment center in Florida has dozens of rehab success stories. These aren’t only the proof that addiction can be beaten. They are an amazing motivator for those suffering from addiction to seek help, as well as for their loved ones to never give up hope.
My drug abuse started as a way to escape reality. My brother and I lived in hell, for most of our childhood. Our father was an alcoholic, and an aggressive one, at that. He would often beat us or throw bottles at us in fits of drunken rage. Our mom was working two, sometimes three jobs just to keep us afloat. So, she was almost never around. For the most part, it was just my little bro and me, fending for ourselves however we could.
We tried to spend as little time as possible at home. We were practically living in the street, doing anything we could to survive. In that environment, everything bad and illegal was readily available. We had easy access to alcohol, pot, pills, crack… By the time I was 18, I’d tried practically every street drug that exists. That quest for escape eventually culminated with meth.
A few years in, our father died and both my brother and I moved back in with our mom. She welcomed the company and help around the house. At this point, I was pretty proud of myself. I had a steady job in construction, and I was keeping my addiction in check. I even tried quitting completely a few times but ended up using the second withdrawal started.
But, while I was holding back heavily, my brother was a different story. He spent nearly everything he earned on drugs and booze. His addiction was insatiable and he would often get angry when I tried persuading him to cut back a little. I understood, I mean, who was I to talk? After all, I was an addict, too, although I preferred to think of myself as a “recreational user”. So, I simply dropped the subject, thinking he’ll come to his senses. As it turned out, it was the worst possible thing I could have done.
One day I came home from work, dead tired. I was traipsing around the house, wanting to get my fix and get to bed. That’s when I heard my mother screaming from the cellar. I rushed down the stairs to find her standing over the body of my little brother… He was dead for four, maybe five days. His face was half-eaten by rats…
I just… collapsed. What struck me the most is that he was there for days. And I never, not once, even noticed that he hasn’t come home all that time. That was it, the end of the line. And I couldn’t help but think that it was my fault.
I checked myself into the Boynton Beach Meth rehab program shortly after the funeral. I didn’t think I needed help, but I was terrified out of my mind at a thought of ending up… like that. And even then, I thought I was a lost cause. Even worse, I was convinced that I don’t deserve help. Luckily for me, people at the clinic thought otherwise.
From the moment I stepped foot through the door, they were committed to helping me realize that it wasn’t my fault. Still, it took a lot of therapy for that realization to get into my dense skull. I ended up in an Intensive Outpatient Program because I couldn’t afford to leave my mom alone or lose my job.
But the biggest break I caught was in the 12-step program. There was this guy who kept coming to meetings, even though he was clean for years. He was happy, held himself with pride, and there was this… aura of calm surrounding him. So, after the session, I approached him and asked what was his secret to staying away from drugs. And he just said: “Baking”. I started laughing, but he was dead serious. We got to talking and it turned out he owns a little bakery and he was willing to let me come and see what it’s all about. After I’ve completed rehab, of course. And I decided to take him up on his offer.
One thing led to another and, well… now I’m a baker. And a pretty good one, at that. I’ve been clean for the past six years. I have the most amazing wife, also a recovering addict. We met in one of the group sessions and, now, we’re keeping each other in check. We had a son four years ago and now a baby girl. And honestly, I never thought I would be this happy.
“I thought I do not deserve help.” This statement is commonplace for anyone with an addiction. Addiction not only causes physical and psychological deterioration. It also breaks the spirit of a person under the influence. Addicts know and fear the social stigma their condition carries. And they would often do anything to avoid it. It is why only 10% ever decide to ask for help.
That’s why reputable rehab clinics have various therapies that focus on helping a person reestablish or reinvent various aspects of their lives. Some of the most notable ones are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT);
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT);
- Matrix Model;
- Holistic Therapy.
These are essential for a person not only to push through the rehab and overcome addiction. But, also, to help them regain morale and self-esteem, as well as to give them tools to make reintegrating into the society much easier.
Next, we have a “wake up call”. Out of all rehab success stories here, Jonah’s is the most devastating. It is yet another proof that addiction is not individual but, rather, a family disease. This is why most clinics offer family counseling as a part of the rehab program.
To say I was born with a silver spoon would be a severe understatement. My parents were renowned doctors, as were theirs. We were wealthy and living on a high note. And, since I was the only child, they were giving me everything. I was sheltered and protected and was quite the spoiled brath, to be honest. They viewed me as a “golden boy” and wanted me to follow in their footsteps. I was groomed for doctorhood, so to speak, from very early on.
I, of course, went along with it and enrolled in med school. It was never something that interested me in particular, but I didn’t really see other options at that point. Nor did I have a lot of say in the matter, for that matter.
The first few semesters there was a blast. It felt like I was off the chain. I was going out, dating, making friends, went to parties. I was living life to the fullest and wanted to try everything – drugs included. And, I did. From sniffing glue and lighter fluid to LSD, speed, ecstasy… Fortunately, I never got hooked on any of it. I was smarter than that. Or, so I thought.
The easygoing life started reflecting on my performance. As the finals were quickly approaching, I started to panic. After all, I was doing everything except study. So, I started looking for an easy solution and found one in Adderall. And I was thrilled with it. I functioned at 200%, I nailed exam after exam, and I still had the time to get out and get wild. I honestly thought those pills were a godsend.
And then, it all came crashing down in a few months. I stopped taking Adderall only to study. Now, I couldn’t function without it anymore. I only wanted to get high and feel that energy, that rush. I spent every waking minute looking for a hit or being high. Everything else was secondary to that. My grades started plummeting, I flunked the semester, and I was terrified of telling my parents about it.
So, I called the only person I thought would understand – my uncle. He was the only one in my family that wasn’t a surgeon, neurologist, or some such. He was a free spirit and, while extremely successful as a hotelier, was always regarded as a “black sheep”. I adored him. Anyway, we went on to face my parents, and it wasn’t pretty. But, we all agreed on one thing – I needed help. They made the arrangements and my uncle took it upon himself to get me to the Adderall addiction treatment clinic.
On the way there I was feeling like I was on death row. I always imagined drug rehab clinics as mental institutions from B-production horror movies, with padded rooms and straight jackets. What I was met with was more like a fancy hotel. Seeing that relieved some tension, but the actual “ice-breakers” were the staff there. They didn’t look at me with disgust or contempt or anything. They were super friendly and understanding and so… soothing. By the time I finished the initial assessment, the last ounce of fear was just poof – gone!
As for the rehab, I thought it would be just endless hours of therapy and psycho-babble. Wrong – again! It was educational, interesting, and, above all, enlightening. It helped me learn more about myself than I ever thought possible. Amongst other things, that I really don’t have any interest in medicine. I mean, sure – it was a family tradition at this point. But, it wasn’t my cup of tea.
So, once I got out, I switched from medicine to economy. I got my degree – without any illicit “boosters”, mind you. My uncle gave me an internship job in his company and I advanced quickly under his guidance. And, now, here I am. I’m a general manager of an international hotel chain. I’m married to the woman of my dreams. We have two kids and thinking about the third. We’ve traveled the world and enjoyed life to the fullest.
And, yes, I do realize not many people have this sort of luck and support. But, what rehab thought me is that second chances are real. There are people out there willing to help. There are people out there able to help – in more ways than one. But you mustn’t be afraid to reach out. No matter how deep in the gutter you think you are, there is always, ALWAYS, a way out.
It is a common misconception that addiction is a disease of the impoverished or those with a traumatic past. While there is some truth to that, it is not the whole truth. Addiction does not discriminate. Old, young, wealthy, poor – in the eyes of drugs, everyone is equal. Socio-economic status, trauma, and circumstances can only slow down or speed up the development.
There’s another common misconception mentioned in this story. However, it is not specific to this case. It is a general impression of rehab clinics being mental institutions or penitentiaries. That’s about as furthest from the truth as it can get. Modern rehab clinics and related facilities are designed with a single purpose: healing. They are safe spaces that promote wellness and self-improvement while making a person feel at home. They are places where rehab success stories write themselves.
When I was about 13 I accidentally discovered that my father was a drug dealer. I climbed the attic and was met with rows upon rows of drying cannabis plants, hanging from the beams. It was an “all you can eat” buffet, right there, in my house. I stood there, looking around when my father noticed me. He ran up to me and grabbed me by the shoulders. He was never a violent man, he never hit me or anything. I was scared out of my mind, but then, so was he. He shook me and told me, practically shouted: “You must never tell anyone about this, ever! Do you understand me?”
So, naturally, the first thing I did the next day is to tell my friends J and D what I saw. I mean, how couldn’t I? They were like my second family, and I trusted each one of them with my life. Of course, one of the first questions was: “Did you try some?”, followed by: “Dude, we should totally try some!” And, at that time, I thought it was an awesome idea. I mean, we heard how great it is, it wasn’t like a taboo topic or anything. At that point, we already experimented with cigarettes and alcohol. In our mind, this was an “upgrade”. A way to score some more “cool points”. So, the plan was born. I would wait for my parents to go out, rush to the attic, pick a few leaves, and none would be the wiser.
Unfortunately, I hit a bit of a snag. The attic was locked. I should have taken that as a sign. But, no – I didn’t want to let my friends down. So, I decided on the next “best” thing. I grabbed a few bucks, hit the street, and just bought a joint. When I whipped it out in front of my friends, I was met as a hero. We hid and smoked it and we were thrilled.
Fast forward a few years, and my family fell on hard times. My dad was in jail, my mom started working around the clock to make ends meet. As for me, I dropped out of high school and got a job at a local restaurant. I always loved making food, but working on the line made me even more passionate about it. Now, I knew what I wanted to be and I dedicated myself fully to becoming a chef.
Despite it all, I kept doing drugs with my crew. Only now, we needed something with a bit more “oomph.” We were swallowing and snorting anything we could get our hands on. Benzos and Trammies were among the easiest to get from local “suppliers.” We often mixed them with alcohol to get even more kick out of it. And it still wasn’t enough. So, the next “logical” step was heroin. And that was it, we were hopelessly hooked.
That morning a phone woke me up. It was Saturday, I had a day off. It was J and he just said: “D is dead.” He kept on mumbling about the funeral and such, and I… I couldn’t care less. That’s how numb I was. So out of it, I only wanted to go out and get my next fix. I agreed to go to the funeral, just to get him off my back. I didn’t. Not that I didn’t want to, it’s just that I had better things to do.
It wasn’t but a few months later, that I got another call. It was J’s sister this time. J was dead, too. She found him in a bathroom, needle still in his arm. And she said something I would never ever forget. She said: “He would have wanted you to come [to his funeral]. Don’t. We don’t want you here. It should have been you.” She just hung up.
My head was ringing. I was just sitting there, replaying those words, over and over. “It should have been me.” It could have… And, as a realization struck, I was overcome with terror. It will be me – and soon. And that was it. A slap across the face, a cold shower, a wake-up call. I started running around my apartment, digging out my stash, and flushing it all down the toilet in a sudden burst of clarity. I was quitting or it will be me. But it wasn’t easy as I thought it would be.
When withdrawal started I wished it was me. I was shaking, my body was aching all over, I felt like my head is gonna blow. My stomach felt like something was trying to claw its way out. I found myself on the street, looking for something to end this agony. It didn’t take me long to find the fix. It gave me a short reprieve. But, the very next day, as soon as I woke up, those words were replaying in my head. I realized I can’t do this on my own.
And, so, I found the number of a Florida drug rehab clinic. But I couldn’t just call. I was just sitting there, mortified at the very thought of telling someone “Hey, I’m an addict”. Somehow, doing that would mean acknowledging that I’m a failure…
I don’t know how long it took me to get the courage to dial. An hour? Two? But, eventually, I did. And, to be honest, I kinda expected judgment, reprimand, or disgust. Instead, a guy that answered simply asked: “How may we help you?” I just started crying. That’s it, I couldn’t say “Hello”, I just wept. And I swear, the patience of this man…
He kept saying how everything is going to be ok, that I’m not alone, that there was nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of. I was on the phone with him for a full hour and he never once raised his voice or lost his cool. He showed nothing but understanding and all the way talked to me as if I were his equal. When I calmed down a bit, I managed to explain the situation. He helped me make travel arrangements and get the paperwork from work in order. After a few days, I was at the clinic.
And, let me tell you, rehab wasn’t a walk in the park. My addiction was so deep that every day was a struggle. But I had all the help I needed to push through. And I did! Little by little, they helped me get my dignity and will to live back.
I went back to work, took a few (well, more than a few) cooking classes, and went from line-cook to sous-chef, to head chef, all in the span of several years. I even started dating again. Of course, I still attend meetings once a week and keep in touch with friends I made at the clinic. Today, I’m 6 years clean and pushing for 7th. And, let me tell you if I could do it – anyone can!
The influence of the environment is one of the most common causes people develop an addiction. In this case, we can see three factors:
- Peer pressure: scoring cool points; being encouraged by friends to try drugs;
- Inquisitiveness: It is the very nature of a person to try new things. Even more so in youth, when the image of the world still isn’t fully crystallized;
- Family history or attitude toward drugs: Here we have a prime example of an environment that promotes drug use. An “all you can eat buffet” in the attic, along with a lack of knowledge on the topic of drugs and addiction, can twist the image of it, making it look not only acceptable – but normal to use.
Next, we have Ben’s rehab not being a walk in the park. Addiction is a disease that alters the brain in more ways than one. However, traumatic experiences often deepen the addiction which can reflect on the length of the recovery. That’s why Trauma Therapy is an integral part of every drug rehab program.
Lastly, we must address the issue of asking for help. It should not be an issue, in the first place. However, the social stigma addiction carries often makes it difficult for a person to reach out. They fear the repercussions of their condition. The truth is – there’s no need for that kind of attitude. As Ben quickly found out, the rehab clinic staff is not there to judge. They are there to help them write their own rehab success stories. Therefore, if you notice the signs of addiction in yourself or a loved one, never hesitate to ask for help.
I am a military child. Both my parents worked for Uncle Sam, with all the “perks” that go with it. In our house, it was all about discipline, discipline, discipline. Aside from that, we moved often, which made it hard to establish lasting relationships. For the most part, my PC was my best friend. Which wasn’t that bad, to be honest. By the time I was sixteen I was already a solid programmer.
When I reached that “rebellious age”, naturally, I started rebelling. I would often butt horns with my parents, which would always end up the same. With me in my room, cut off from the internet and the world. Around that time, we moved again, and I switched schools – again. And that meant, I had to find new friends – again. It’s not like it was hard for me to do that, mind you. I was geeky but smart. But, I was also gullible and didn’t really know how to filter a bad crowd from a good one.
And, my new friends at that time were awesome. We would go out, hit parties, get drunk – the whole deal. And of course, we would get high. First, it was pot, but it soon progressed to harder drugs, and it culminated with meth.
It wasn’t long before my parents found out about my drug abuse. But, at that point, my rebellion grew into an addiction. And, needless to say, my father was furious. So, he decided to solve the problem the only way he knew how – by cutting it in its roots. He dragged me to the car and drove me to the rehab clinic. And, sure – it helped. But it was short-lived because I was never fully committed to getting better.
When I got out of rehab, my father helped me find a job. It was a good gig, and I loved every minute of it. But, it was also a high-pressure one, with a lot of responsibilities. To make it easier, I started using it again. You know, just a little pick-me-up, here and there. Something to take the edge off. And just like that, I was back on meth.
I started ignoring my job. I would often be late, fail to finish projects… And, of course, I got fired. Only, this time, I had no one to blame but myself. Now I knew I had a problem. I enrolled in rehab again, determined to push through to the very end.
It was a pain, but I knew it was necessary. And it paid off. I got better, I got my life in order, I have a beautiful wife and we’re expecting. I got back to programming, working full-time. I’m doing good. More than good, actually. I still feel the urge, from time to time. But, I learned to control it, suppress it. Because now, the stakes are higher than ever and rehab gave me the tools and knowledge I need to persevere and make the best of life for me and my family.
Out of all the rehab success stories here, this one points out one major issue. It is the way Mark’s father tried to defuse the situation. In most cases, such a forceful approach simply does not work. Even more so, considering how his addiction was a result of a rebellion. Such action would most often result in a person going back to using at an even higher intensity, as they will see it as a sort of punishment or betrayal.
Addiction should never be faced with force. It is not a choice – it is a disease. An addict can’t control it. It is the other way around. Therefore, if your loved one is having a problem, it is imperative to show compassion and understanding. It is more effective to get the person to acknowledge a problem. And then, help them find the solution, rather than trying to force it onto them.
Rehab success stories write themselves – but it often takes a bit of help
At a glance, these stories all look and sound similar. So much so, in fact, that you can easily classify them as “cliche” or a “carbon copy” of one another. And, that is true. Addiction may start differently. Details may vary a bit. But, in essence, they are the same. However, they do not have to end in a tragedy. And that is the main takeaway of these rehab success stories. Second chances exist. Full recovery is possible. A happy, healthy, fulfilled life is possible. With the right help, anyone can break the chains of addiction. So, whether it is you or your loved one who’s struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to drug and alcohol treatment centers in Florida. Help is never far and a brighter future is closer than you may think.