It’s never too early to treat addiction. We recently spoke to Lawrence, who is just 19 years old and currently transitioning from residential to intensive outpatient treatment at Wellness Retreat Recovery Center in San Jose, California. This is how he found recovery:
I have been clean from drugs since October 9, 2016.
My childhood had a lot of good qualities. The only downside was my parents’ divorce when I was 12. My mom still did the best she could to make sure I had a great childhood. It wasn’t until my mental health started deteriorating that I had issues in my life. It’s been chaotic from both drug use and mental health issues but at the same time, I did have a lot going for me so it was a weird balance of both.
I started using at 17 but it was very light use. It didn’t qualify as real abuse until I was 18 and had an eight-month period of heavy using. I used pot on and off but it was never my main problem. I did go through two big binge periods with pills—as many Vicodin and Oxycontins as I could in a two-week span and then I got clean off those with sheer will. Then I went to college and got exposed to coke. I went on a week-and-a-half coke binge and that’s when my drug addiction really started to spiral to rock bottom.
There were times I couldn’t sleep without some kind of pill or Nyquil and everything hurt. I wasn’t eating and I wouldn’t shower for several days at a time. I was so suicidal over it, I felt like this isn’t a life worth living. I had been exposed to NA before; I had clean time on and off between February and September but when I went out on coke, I didn’t stop and I knew I couldn’t stop. I had to withdraw from college and move back home. I lost all that I had gained. I knew I had a big problem; I would have kept going until I got caught and was headed toward an overdose. I didn’t care how much I was taking and I didn’t care about my life.
I was born female but I realized last October I identify as a male, though I haven’t been allowed to begin transitioning yet. My use did go up when I realized it; that’s why I took so many pills. I had so much discomfort and depression behind my gender identity. I hadn’t fully accepted it and neither had my family (except for my brother). I was dealing with inner demons. It was a catalyst to drug use.
We didn’t know what to look for in a rehab. This was the first time my family had to deal with drug addiction. According to a reputable source at a detox center, most of the rehabs that took insurance weren’t good—drugs were being smuggled in or they were overcrowded and underfunded. We thought we had no real choice beyond an outpatient program but then my dad was (ironically enough) at a bar talking to his cop friend—who knew a nurse, who knew someone who worked at Wellness Retreat Recovery Center. When we contacted them, it was clear that they had everything we needed.
I came into treatment with a diagnosis of Bipolar II and social anxiety. Wellness Retreat taught me a lot of CBT skills and self-esteem skills. They had me see a psychiatric nurse practitioner and I am going to continue seeing her instead of my former psychiatrist. Wellness Retreat helped me manage my meds. It’s definitely dual diagnosis treatment; they teach you how to deal with mental and substance abuse issues. They checked in with me a lot; asked me a lot of questions and were never judgmental. They are very particular and very caring.
I chose to be involved with NA but I’m on the fence sometimes about it. They helped me explore it a lot more. When I had cravings they took me to a great LBGTQA meeting. They also recommended Smart Recovery. They’ve been supporting my exploration of different options.
I was in inpatient for 30 days and then another week of PHP and then I’m going to three weeks of IOP. Because I’m so young, I didn’t have that much wreckage but they still treated me like someone who deserved treatment despite not having as many “life” problems as those who spent years in their addiction. The staff makes Wellness Retreat such a great place. I have built a good rapport with the nurse, director and other clients. Everyone here has made me feel a part of the family. It’s hard to pick just one thing I liked the most.
They allow you to return free of charge for up to 30 days if you fully commit to their program but do not stay sober. So even if I hit rock bottom again, I can turn my life around again. I know that even though I’m out of treatment, I’m still going to have a place here if I need it. If I do relapse, I can still come to them and we’ll do it again and see what would be different this time. It was the only rehab where we’d found that guarantee.
I am planning on going back to school to study psychology and am working on my application right now. I would definitely recommend Wellness Retreat to a friend; I’ve been telling my therapist to let her other clients know about it. It’s never too early and it’s never too late. You deserve help and you can always get help.
Photo provided by Wellness Retreat Recovery Center; used with permission.