I started doing drugs when I was twelve. I was basically raised in A.A. – my father is an alcoholic. I always went to Sunday breakfast at a diner in town. I met a bunch of good men. I knew I would be an addict if I started picking up, but I told myself, “I’ll never be like my father”. In reality, I am a spitting image.
When I was twelve, I was hanging out with the neighborhood kids and we ended up throwing down for a bag of weed. I didn’t get high the first time but I kept smoking because it was something to do. I ended up loving weed. Weed was my thing for a long time.
They prescribed me Adderall when I was in second grade, and I hated the way it made me feel. When I came home from school, I smoked weed to come down. I started questioning if I had depression. Mental illness really came into play. I started to hate the person I was.
The liquor cabinet in my house was always in the back of my mind. I knew my dad was an alcoholic, but at the same time I didn’t care. My mother and father divorced, and I had the option of going to my mother’s house or my father’s house. To get my driver’s license, I had to stop smoking pot because my mother was drug testing me once a week. I cut down on the pot and started drinking every night. That’s when it really started to build into an addiction. In the first week, the first two lines of liquor in a Poland Spring water bottle would get me hammered. Then it was a half a bottle. Then it was a whole bottle. It started to progress within a month. My tolerance was crazy.
One night, I got hammered and my dealer hit me up. I ran out the back door. The back door makes this crazy noise. It shakes the whole house. My mother knew I left. She started calling and texting: “Where are you? It’s about to be dinner. Why wouldn’t you go out the front door?” I grabbed the bag, got it in my sock, and came back. My mother was yelling at me, “You smell like pot, you smell like booze, what’s going on?” My little sister hated that I used, too. I pushed her out of my way and ran. On my way out I fell and smashed the phone in my pocket. So I went to the neighbor’s house and asked to use the phone. I called my girlfriend. She was at a sleepover with her friends. Five minutes later she called me back and said, “Your mother just called me. The cops are there. They’re at your house waiting for you”.
They wrote me a ticket and I ended up having to go to court. A month before court, my mother showed me a voucher for a military school. It was my first time in court, I was scared, and I told them I was going to military school. I left halfway through Junior year. I almost got kicked out for getting drunk with my roommate and leaving him in the woods, because of the “no man left behind” thing. They wanted to expel me – but they suspended me and made me walk around school for a week scraping gum off the marching quads.
I went back to Exeter when I finished Junior year. When I got back to military school Senior year, I started smoking weed and selling. Some kid took a joint and smoked it in one of the bathrooms. It smelled up all three floors of the building. The kid wrote statements on everyone. I had to go in front of the president of the school. I wrote a letter – trying to look good – saying if I went back to Exeter I was going to rot. They said, “Either way you’re expelled”.
It was parent’s weekend two weeks after I got expelled. They let me slum around for two weeks. I was still going out to the football field and getting high. When my parents came, I was the only kid from the school dressed in civilian clothing. The Commandant of Cadets – this big Marine – came in and said, “Bring yourself and your mother to my office at 1:00 p.m.”. I was thinking he was going to let me come back, but he said, “You have two options: Go back to Exeter and rot like you said in your letter, or go to a wilderness program to graduate on time with your class”. I said, “I’m going to go rot”. He said, “That’s not an option”. I was texting my girlfriend, telling her I was going to come home. My phone was literally dying in the office when he told me I was going to the wilderness program. I told her, “I can’t talk for awhile. I love you”. My phone was on one percent. I sent the text and it died. She didn’t hear from me for 3 months.
They shipped me up to the Blue Ridge Mountains. I spent 3 months in the woods, learning a few survival skills. I got out and went right back to it. They flew me home, I got drunk, and the next day they shipped me back out to military school. Since I wasn’t using as much, my grades were good. In Senior year, I tutored physics, chemistry, and math. I applied to nice colleges, like the Savannah College of Art and Design. I love art. In military school, they had us carving stone. Then, one night, my buddy hit me up. I was just about to graduate. He said, “You should come up to Keene State. It’s going to be a ton of fun and a huge party school”. I applied and got in the next day. They gave me a scholarship just for being in military school. My first semester of Keene was the Pumpkin Fest riots. My illness progressed to the point that I was passing out in random people’s beds, at parties on couches, and in the middle of the street. They kicked me out because of a DUI that I didn’t inform them about when I applied, and I ended up going home to live with my mother. I started cooking in a kitchen at the Abenaqui Country Club. It was a good job. I had a ton of fun and I met these kids who were doing drugs harder than I ever experienced. I ended up partying with one of the kids and he turned me on to Xanax. I took one and I loved it. I thought it was the coolest thing. I could take it, not drink, and still feel drunk. I ended up finding more Xanax. I supplied him and myself.
I went back to school for carbon fiber manufacturing in Rochester. I graduated but the whole time I was taking Xanax and progressively getting worse. I remember going from 4 a day – to 10 – to 15 at a time. My money was nowhere to be found. I had nothing to my name. So my buddy hit me up one night and said, “Hey, you want to make some extra cash?” I said, “Yeah, absolutely,” and I didn’t ask any questions. He said, “Okay, we gotta go scare some kid”. At the time, I was up to 300 lbs. I was a big kid. With a ski mask on, I looked scary. We were waiting with bats behind a tree. We jumped out, my buddy swung, and the kid took off. I was standing around the car, high on at least 20 Xanax. My buddy chased him down, ran back, and said, “Are you going to do anything?” I smashed the windshield and ran back to my car. I didn’t care. I thought, “I just came up with $400. Nothing’s going to happen”. The next morning, the cops were at my buddy’s house. I caught a charge and got arrested October 4th, 2017.
Withdrawing from Xanax is hell. I was watching TV through my cell window and I had a seizure. I broke my nose and a few ribs. When I left county – I was there for 17 days – I was 50 pounds lighter. I wasn’t eating – I was withdrawing. I didn’t tell my mother when I got arrested. I thought I could get away with her not finding out, but it was the big news article in Exeter. I ended up calling her. That weekend I was supposed to watch my grandma. She fell and broke her hip. I felt so guilty because I was supposed to be there taking care of her.
I got out of county on the 20th of October. I spent two weeks at my father’s house getting drunk and feeling sorry for myself. My mother knew someone who came through The Process Recovery Center. She said, “Listen, there’s this program in Nashua you can go to. It’s a good program”. All I was thinking about was manipulating the court so I agreed.
I white-knuckled it for the first month. Then I convinced Eddie that I could drive from home. I would buy a bottle of Jameson every night and smash that with a few brews on the side. There were a few kids who thought it was pretty funny and I like to entertain. So I kept it up. Eddie pulled me into his office one day and said, “Listen, we know you’re drinking, it comes back in your UA tests”. I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about”. He said, “You have two options: You can go and never come back, or you can live in the house again”. I came back to live in the house. I was on an ankle bracelet so I thought that would be a better choice, especially for court.
I can’t remember too much but, in March of 2018, I was depressed, so I went and bought some dust-off. I was driving back from Staples on DW Highway. I was in front of Hayward’s Ice Cream and I passed out. I woke up with this kid in my window and he was on the phone with the cops. I said, “Hang up the phone! What are you doing?” I thought I was still in the Staples parking lot. I looked over and the roof of my car was smashed and my bumper was gone. I thought my nose was running because of the duster, but I looked down and there was blood everywhere. I started questioning if there was a God because the cops came that day and said, “We’re not going to charge you with anything just because you’re lucky you’re not dead. Take that as a lesson”. I was lucky because I was on an ankle bracelet. I would have sat in county until I had to go to prison.
I got kicked out of the Process Recovery Center but I went to this place called Balance Recovery Center. The Process and Balance were my two biggest supporters. At Balance, I had this counselor named Denise. She was what I was looking for in a counselor: a straight-shooter. She made me go to this family meeting with my mother. I came into recovery for my mother. My mother has supported me my whole life – financially and emotionally. I didn’t love myself enough to get into recovery for myself. The family meeting changed my whole perspective. There was this one couple who had kids before they got married. The children were all pretty well connected – just like my family. My parents got married in 2008. I call my brother and sister “brother and sister” – not step brother and step sister. We are a super close family. One of the kids in the family at the meeting died. He was a brother/son just like myself, and I saw his sister and father crying. It broke me down. I couldn’t handle doing that to my sister or brother. My sister is one of my best friends. I looked at it like a reality check and got serious about what I was doing. I still go to that meeting today.
After sixteen months on the ankle bracelet, I finally went to court. I showed them I was sober. The judge said something along the lines of: “That’s great for you but that’s not going to help your case. You did what you did. I don’t think I’m ever going to see you again, but you still did what you did and I have to charge you”. The prosecutor wanted me to go to prison for 2 to 4 years. My co-defendant – who actually hit the kid with a bat – got 2 to 5 with a year suspended. He ended up doing a year in prison. They sentenced me in February of this year. I just got out.
In prison, I tried helping a few people get into programs and I kept in contact with a huge support network on the street. I came out and the house manager where I’m managing now had passed away from a heart attack. I knew the owner of the house and he said, “I’ve got a place for you,” which was amazing. I’m grateful for what I’ve got: a good house and a lot of support from friends and family. I burnt a lot of bridges on Xanax, but it’s nice to come out and rekindle relationships. I lost a lot of good friends. Now they’re all very supportive. I’m grateful to be here and I’m grateful to be clean.