How I Overcame Substance Abuse as a Teen

This is a guest blog post written by Hunter Dollar, a passionate writer who is eager to share his personal story of addiction and recovery.

This life is rarely easy, but the paths we choose, and the decisions we make, can lead to happiness if we simply let it.

My struggle with addiction began shortly after I graduated high school. It was an eventful first summer in Jacksonville, Florida. I am typically ridden with social anxiety, but I had never really attended parties before. There was rarely such an opportunity in the small town I came from, and despite my aversion to people and social gatherings, I decided to try something new.

My Struggles Started at a House Party

The most memorable of these gatherings took place at a friend’s house. At first, I hung back in the corner, only talking to the two people I actually knew well. After several failed attempts to coerce me into playing the game with them, someone finally brought me a beer. I had consumed alcohol before, alone, but had never been drunk. I wasn’t completely ignorant of the feeling of being “buzzed” and this was my first social outing where large amounts of alcohol were involved.

I accepted the drink. A few hours and some dozen drinks later, I was wasted. And I felt as free as I had ever felt in my life.

I remember thinking, I understand why alcoholics want to feel this way. I don’t have a care in the world.

My first ever hangover the following morning did nothing to stop me from wanting to feel wasted again.

Cut to two months later and I was in Tulsa, playing with my brother’s band and trying new sorts of drugs that flooded the Oklahoma music scene. Angeldust was a bad trip, but I didn’t care. I needed more.

I had a backpack stored in the depths of my closet that became a miniature illicit pharmacy. I was on several different pills constantly, a revolving stock of hydrocodone, oxy’s, Adderall, Klonopin, Valium, Xanax, and morphine. I most commonly sought out the Xanax and morphine and coupled with the high amounts of amphetamine in my system from the Adderall, I rarely slept.

My dreams, my goals, my ambitions, they all slowly became second to my next fix. Social reclusion kicked in; depression followed. My bills came due, but all my money was going to substance. My life was spiraling downwards until I finally hit rock bottom. It was then that I realized something needed to change. I needed to break the addiction.

I locked myself in the room I was borrowing in the basement of my friend’s house. I was determined to detox. It was not a pleasant experience, detoxing from alcohol and opioids. I’m still surprised I made it through. I was stuck in bed for days, vomiting, shaking, my muscles were sore, my head throbbed worse than it ever had before. I couldn’t eat. I was sweating. Smoking was the only moment of solace. And through it all, I heard that constant voice in the back of my head, judging me, “This is your fault. You did this to yourself.”

But I made it through. I emerged ready to pick up the pieces of my life.

Choosing Sobriety in My Early Twenties

I live in Arkansas now. I’m sober, at least from hard drugs and alcohol. I still have a penchant of my morning coffee and my cigarettes. And I use CBD oil to regulate epileptic symptoms. But I’m sober. I overcame my addiction. It takes a genuine desire to change your life for the better, and the vision and courage to see it through.

If you are reading this today and dealing with your own struggle with addiction, be it alcohol or drugs (or both), please know you are not alone. Your struggle is real, and you are valid. You matter, and there are people that will listen to you and hear your story. You, like me, can take back the control over your life.

You aren’t defined by your addiction. Make the decision today to change your life for the better and you, like me, can find your true path in life.

Additional Reading: The Aftermath of Experiencing Tragedy

Image Source: iStock

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