Our country is experiencing a drug epidemic. 100 people die a day from drug overdoses. Heroin is taking out entire cities. People are becoming hopelessly addicted to painkillers. Meth labs are everywhere.
But all is not lost. There is hope. There is healing. Today we are sharing with you a story of one of our friends, a graduate from Vertava Health of Tennessee and now a campus manager – Keith.
Keith’s story is one of pain and destruction, but also hope and inspiration. This may mirror your life. This may mirror the life of your loved one. We want you to know that addiction can be treated and a fulfilling life can be had. Keith is proof. Read on.
How long have you been sober?
I’ve been sober about 2 years.
What is your background? How did you start drinking or doing drugs?
When I was growing up, I was pretty rebellious, I didn’t want to listen. I was really influenced by my older family members. I thought I needed to be like someone else in order to fit in. I remember my older cousin would smoke weed and I thought it looked like fun – it looked attractive.
So, when I was about 11 or 12 years old, I told my cousin I wanted to try something and he asked me, “do you want to get high?” And I did, I wanted to try smoking weed.
After that, I hit the ground running.
How did things progress?
Once I started smoking weed, I really felt like I fit in. I started hanging around people that did the same things as me. There was no judgement for what I was doing, just people behind me encouraging me to do drugs.
I was really young, but I became kind of a punk. I started making a lifestyle of it – I was drinking and smoking pot on the weekends. I started trying pills – and that’s when things really took off.
I started doing drinking and doing drugs on my own, and influencing others to do it, too. I’d justify it to myself and others, saying, “We’re young – we’re just trying to have some fun.”
I was selling drugs to finance my habits. I’d screw people over just to get what I wanted. I kept getting into more and more trouble.
How did it affect your friends, your family, or your life at school?
People started noticing what I was doing. When you’re in that atmosphere of addiction, you kind of stick out in school. You know, it’s kind of cool to be the kid that’s known for standing up to the teacher and going to all the parties on the weekends.
By the time I was in high school, other activities started getting in the way of my drug use. I was getting bad grades, I dropped out of sports and swimming. It was one or the other – drugs or all the other things, and I chose drugs.
When did you realize you were addicted?
In high school, I started using every single night. I kept getting into more trouble and was accused of bigger and bigger crimes.
I began having thoughts that I wasn’t going to be successful. I was seeing some of my old friends really starting to go places and accomplish things. And for me, the only future I could really see was ending up in jail or even dead.
I was feeling like a lowlife and depressed – which just led to more drug use. I didn’t want to swallow my pride yet, so I kept justifying it all.
How did you finally get into Vertava Health of Tennessee?
Something finally changed when I got arrested and went to jail. You know how bad things can sometimes lead to really good things? That’s what happened. For the first time in a long time, I felt some sort of peace when I was arrested.
While I was there, Erik Hines came to talk to me. He did an assessment and told me about the program. Even though deep down I knew it was probably the right thing – I really didn’t want to go. I still wanted the money, the cars, the clothes and the lifestyle that I had been living.
But something really tugged at my heart, and I so followed it.
What changed in you when you got to treatment?
It took about two weeks at the Lodge for me to really get comfortable. And that’s when It really sparked something in me, and I knew I was ready for a change. It felt like a new door opened up in my life and everything in me changed. I now have a new perspective and new priorities.
What is the greatest thing you learned about yourself while at Vertava Health of Tennessee?
Before I came to Vertava Health, I was oblivious to my purpose and my potential. Faith based recovery really changed my desires.
I didn’t just learn how to recover, but I learned how to really live with purpose.
What is the biggest thing you took away from treatment?
Freedom. When you get a taste of freedom, after coming from addiction and being in that bondange, there’s no turning back.
What would you tell someone who is in denial about their addiction?
They need to know the reality of the consequences of drug addiction. The Devil minimizes the consequences and maximizes the pleasures. But the consequences are huge. If they hear my story, they know it’s possible to get help and to live a life worth living.
What would you tell someone about treatment to inspire them to go to Vertava Health of Tennessee?
Vertava Health of Tennessee taught me so much – and not just the classes. I learned a lot from the classes, but I learned so much from the people there. There’s a friendship – a brotherhood. These guys let you know that they’re there for you, they love you, they speak positive things into your life, and they know what it’s like to go through addiction.
If you ever wonder what life is like on the other side, I know that Vertava Health can show you.
What keeps you sober each day?
Love keeps me sober. I now work for Vertava Health of Tennessee and work next to the guys who helped me. They love me, and God loves me. Having that love and sharing it is what keeps me sober. I know my purpose and I know my potential.