I started to use drugs because I thought that it would help me fit in with my peers. I felt so uncomfortable with myself and drugs and alcohol initially helped to numb those uncomfortable feelings. As my using progressed, the numbing effects were less pronounced and the unmanageability of my life created a need to use more and more. When I went to Visions adolescent drug rehab, I felt like I was the only person on earth who felt the way I felt. Using drugs and alcohol had created this cosmic loneliness where it felt impossible to connect with people on anything but a superficial level. As I listened to my peers in treatment, I began to hear the same things over and over: We all felt alone, disconnected, and misunderstood. It was no longer possible for me to claim that no one understood what I was going through, because I was surrounded by a house full of other teens struggling with the same feelings.
As I began to identify with my peers and with other recovering addicts and alcoholics that I heard in AA and NA meetings and panels of recovering addicts that visited us, I began to feel safe enough to let others into my life. No longer was I a lonely, misunderstood teen addict. My peers and my treatment team heard me, and suddenly my feelings were valid. When I was using I wanted to be heard. I didn’t want someone to fix me, I just wanted them to hear me. As I began to share my life with others, I began to let them love me. They believed in me and wanted to see me get clean. To them, I wasn’t a lost cause. The treatment staff absolutely believed that I could stay clean, and for that I began to believe it myself. The love and support I found in teen drug and alcohol treatment spilled over into my life when I left. Because they believed in me and gave me the tools I needed to be successful on “the outside,” I continue to be vigilant about my recovery. I know that what I have is a gift, and I will do everything in my power to cherish it. It helps to have people on your side.