their stories


I have two brothers and a sister and we grew up in a Christian home. My dad used to be a pastor, so we went to church quite often. My dad was also a district manager for Wendy's so we moved a lot.

My parents weren't getting along very well and split up when I was 11. The dynamic of the family changed dramatically. My sister and my older brother moved out. My older brother stayed in Knoxville to go to a university. My sister moved out and went to a community college. After my parents slit up, it was just me and my brother.

My mom was very unhealthy for about a year, drinking and maybe using a little bit of drugs. My father secluded himself in his work. I don't really remember a lot from when I was 11 and 12 years old. Psychologists say you'll block out things that are traumatic to you.

I believe I was 12 the first time I tried marijuana. The first time was with my brother and he regrets it to this day. By the time I was 13, I was drinking on the weekends and smoking marijuana every once in a while. I was a very anxious and nervous person growing up. Depression started to overwhelm me at age 13.

When I didn't have painkillers, I would behave like I wanted to kill myself. It had me chained and wouldn't let go.

By 14, I was smoking weed every day. I was in high school and drinking quite heavily on the weekends. The summer between ninth and tenth grade was when I really started takin' off. I got introduced to Vicodin and fell in love with it. It took my anxiety away completely. I had been prescribed Paxil and other various antidepressants and they didn't work for me.

I was later introduced to OxyContin. The feeling was amazing. I felt like I was on top of the world and could do anything. It made me very social and I liked being that way.

By 16, I was using OxyContin, lots of other pills and smoking weed. It got to the point where my mom drug tested me. She finally said, "You have to tell me what's going on." She knew I was smoking pot before this and I told her that I had been using OxyContin and that I was addicted. I was sent to a methadone detox center.

I went there and detoxed with methadone for four days. My clean time lasted about a month. I met a girl whose mom had OxyContin and I fell back into the same thing. I soon became very unhappy and depressed and I was prescribed several different medications. I was using those drugs as well as OxyContin.

When I didn't have painkillers, I would behave like I wanted to kill myself. It had me chained and wouldn't let go. When you become addicted and don't have them, you start to feel terrible. You have to get higher and higher doses because your tolerance level keeps rising and you begin doing it just to feel normal. You realize that it's a lifelong thing you're gonna have to live with. Detoxification from OxyContin and painkillers is horrible. You're in pain, you sweat, have diarrhea, vomit and your anxious and depressed.

If someone was about to do drugs and they said, "You did it and led this lifestyle." I would tell them, "But I don't anymore and it destroyed my life. I'm trying to warn you of the effects of drugs and alcohol. You may not understand the seriousness of it now, but down the road you will regret what you're doing. It could possibly alter the entire course of your life."

I felt that by the age of 20, I'd either be dead or in prison.

The first time you do OxyContin, or any drug, you may think, "Wow, that's amazing." The rest of the time you're just chasing that first high, that dragon that you'll never get again. The high that you get becomes less and less and what you're looking for fades away. No matter how strong you think you are, drugs can grab you, take your life and flush it down the toilet before you even know what happened.

When I was 17, I called my mom from school and told her that I was tired and wanted to come home. My mom came to pick me up and said, "You're always tired. We're going to get a blood test. I also want your keys because I'm going to search your car."

I realized that I had hurt everyone around me.

I jumped in my car and started driving. I was crying and spun out right outside the high school. My mom was following me and saw what happen. She called the cops and they found Somas and pot in my car. They charged me with driving under the influence and reckless driving. From that point, I was on drug court. My addiction slowly turned into alcoholism because I was being drug tested twice a week.

Drug court was miserable. Every time I was dirty, I would have to go to juvenile hall for 15 days and somewhere else for 10. I went to juvenile hall several times. I'd been kicked out of school for the incident that happened in front of the school. I was going to adult education, drinking every day, and trying to hide it. Drinking made me depressed with all the meds I was taking.

I was allowed to go to Spain because I was passing my drug tests. When I was in Spain, I used various drugs. I was drug tested when I came back and sent to juvenile hall for the third time.

I hit rock bottom in juvenile hall. I realized that the life I was living had gotten me absolutely nowhere. I felt that there was no way out. I couldn't use OxyContin while on probation and alcohol was giving me migraines and making me severely depressed. I felt that by the age of 20, I'd either be dead or in prison. It made me realize that I needed to change. As I was becoming sober, I realized that I had hurt everyone around me.

Teen Challenge is the beginning.

The day before court, I got on my knees in my cell and cried out to God. I said, "Not my will, but your will be done." I didn't want to do God's will, but I knew that my will had gotten me absolutely nowhere.

I went to court and they said, "You're gonna be here a while. We don't know where you're going to go. Programs cost an extraordinary amount of money." At that point, I didn't think I would ever change so I didn't want my parents to pay for it. I said, "You can put me through a program, but I'll use again." That was my mindset.

Teen Challenge is freedom.

Ten days later, the court said, "We have a program for you - Teen Challenge. God opened that door for me. That was my way out of my rock bottom."

After Teen Challenge, I plan on living with my brother in Santa Cruz. I might have a construction job set up for me, possibly go to the community college and hopefully transfer to a Christian or Bible college.

Teen Challenge is peace with God.

To keep me out of a life of drugs and crime when I leave Teen Challenge will mean not going back to my old friends and the old places I use to hang out at. I will need to avoid the college party scene and get involved with positive things like church, ministry, sports, and getting a job.

Teen Challenge is the beginning. Teen Challenge is freedom. Teen Challenge is peace with God.