This blog is part of a series in which All Kinds of Therapy interviews different young adults who have had treatment as a teen or young adult. Chris* is from Canada and shares his truth about his own road and where he will be as he continues his journey through recovery and feelings. His strength, truth, connection to self, and vulnerability are very real and powerful. Enjoy.
Where were you a year ago?
A year ago I was living in isolation from most of society and from my own family. My days consisted of waking up early in the morning to get stoned, getting stoned before work, then getting stoned after work and pretty much all day after that. I isolated myself from friends that I used to have because they were not as into getting high as I was. I ended up spending most of my summer in the gym or at the baseball field where my team played.
I have always played high level baseball and have always been one of the best players on whatever team I was on. This year was a little different as I had been struggling with depression and anxiety and thought my solution was to smoke weed all of the time to numb it out and make myself feel better. I did not really have many goals other than getting enough money to smoke weed and making suret I had weed to smoke.
I was stuck in life and full of fear. I unexpectedly quit my job without notifying anyone and began to smoke more and more weed while wasting my money without having any form of income. This continued on until late November. Though I had tried quitting a few times between the beginning of school and the summer, I could not do it on my own and gave up trying to quit. Eventually I was not able to keep good grades and I got charged with possession of marijuana which my parents eventually found out about and told me to stop smoking. I used my willpower to quit for a month but couldn’t do it any longer than that. My parents eventually found out and I agreed to go to Wingate Wilderness Therapy (UT) and then to Red Mountain Sedona (AZ) to work on [treat] my depression, anxiety, and substance issues.
Thank you for your full transparency. What has been the largest change in your life?
The largest change in my life that I notice now is that I am capable of accomplishing much more than I was able to a year ago. There are things that I have accomplished here in a few months that I was never able to do at my lowest point. I feel more focused on what I want to accomplish and I have a clearer idea of the person that I want to be. Another big change that I noticed within myself was I was now okay with uncomfortable feelings that I would have normally numbed out with my preferred substance.
I attribute these changes to the time I have spent being sober and the hard times that I have gone through in my recovery experience. The wilderness provided me with an environment that took me away from drugs and alcohol and forced me to deal with the feelings that I didn't want to experience.
I am impressed with the clarity about your own recovery and how you have found it in a relatively short time. Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I see myself as a confident young man who understands mindfulness and the fact that I need to be sober. I will have accomplished my personal fitness and finance goals while also continuing to focus on spiritual growth.
My hardest struggle was giving up the thought that I was going to continue using drugs when I got out of treatment. It took a long time to understand that I need to sit with my emotions rather than try to escape them. I still struggle with letting myself experience certain emotions and have been working on it for months now and am starting to make slow progress.
Your incremental growth and rigorous honesty is powerful to hear. Thank you for sharing your path. What would you tell an 18+ year old?
I would tell a young person that it would be a waste of time and money to go to treatment. I feel that the client should be committed to making a change in their life and should not go to please anyone other than themselves. I would also say that it takes a lot of work and the results are slow, but worth it in the long run.
Chris Matthews* is currently a client at Red Mountain located in Sedona, Arizona. He turned 18 in June of 2016 which means that attending Wingate Wilderness Therapy and Red Mountain Sedona were his decisions. He now lives in Sedona on Red Mountain campus.
*Name is changed for confidentiality.