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’s not lost. There is hope. There is healing. Today we are sharing with you a story of one of our friends, a graduate of Vertava Health, formerly The Treehouse, Kip.
Kip’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. Kip is proof. Read on.
What is your background? When did you start drinking?
I never thought any of this would ever happen to me.
I grew up in an affluent town and had a very open relationship with both of my parents. My dad was in law enforcement, but he didn’t mind if I had a few drinks while I was at home – so long as I didn’t drive anywhere. My friends’ parents were close with my parents, and they were all okay with us having a few beers at my parent’s house.
When I was 18 years old, I was a senior quarterback in high school, dating the head cheerleader and driving a new Mustang. Life was good.
However, I started drinking more and more.
Because I looked older than I actually was, I started buying alcohol for other kids. It became my summer job to buy alcohol and sell it to other kids who couldn’t buy it themselves.
My senior year, I would buy a bottle of Nyquil and dump out enough to keep the color in the bottle, and add in vodka to the rest of it. I kept that bottle in my locker, and I’d hit it between classes. I was drinking every day at school, Friday nights after football games, and every weekend.
I technically could’ve been termed an alcoholic by the age of 18.
What happened after that?
After high school, going to college made drinking even easier and more fun. From then on, I drank almost daily. My DOC [drug of choice] was beer. No drugs, and besides my year of vodka with Nyquil – no hard liquor. I thought beer was the healthiest way to go: it was 78% water. I loved the taste – in fact, I still do.
I drank daily for about 30 years straight.
How did you get into the Treehouse?
My daughter started showing signs of depression, so my wife took her to a therapist. While she was there, she admitted to the therapist that she had been cutting herself and that her dad drank too much.
Even though there had never been any sort of physical or emotional abuse in our house – I never yelled or got violent or anything – the therapist called DHS [Department of Human Services]. When DHS came out to the house, they asked my wife if I’d be able to seek help for drinking.
I had my last two beers at the airport before flying down to Texas.
From that day, my life changed forever.
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself while in treatment?
I learned that I’m stronger than I ever thought.
I thought that the beer controlled me – that I enjoyed it too much. I thought that because there was some history of addiction in my family, that I came from a long line of addicts and I just had to live with it. I learned that that was wrong.
I learned to talk to God about it; I prayed many times per day.
I’ve got a message to tell. I learned about my inner strength; I’m stronger than I ever imagined. That chapter in my life is now closed. In fact, the whole book is closed.
What was your biggest fear going to treatment?
Giving up beer.
Beer was my security blanket. I was afraid I wouldn’t be fun at parties, or that I wouldn’t be funny or sexy. People always laughed at my jokes at parties, or told me how good I looked. And I was drinking when those things happened – so it had to be the beer, right?
It was all a lie. I’m much more confident now, and I feel better now than I ever did with a beer.
What would you tell someone about The Treehouse?
The curriculum at The Treehouse worked for me. My life changed there, and I’m forever grateful.
You can either do it – or you don’t. I never missed a class. I was there for my own benefit – what did I have to lose? If you go there, you have to embrace it. You have a better chance if you embrace it.
Give it a chance. Before you go to an AA meeting – give a program a shot, especially if you can get into inpatient. Inpatient treatment is where they delve into it. They talk to you like you’re human, because many of them have been there. If you’re not willing to give it a chance, you’re chances are slim.
To me, The Treehouse was like a 32 day vacation: ziplining, playing horseshoes. You will have a great time without realizing they’re helping you rid that demon within. And if you do what you’re supposed to do while you’re there, you will learn.
What keeps you sober each day?
The love of my wife and kids. Two of my kids are still in school and at home, and my third lives close by. My wife… there hasn’t been a day that has gone by she hasn’t told me how proud she is of me. And it melts me every time.
And to hear my daughter say she’s proud of me is incredible. She wants to spend time with me like she never did before – and having that father/daughter time gives me so much.
There’s nothing better than the support of my parents, my wife, and my kids.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Christmas Eve will make 8 months sober for me. And I can’t think of any better Christmas gift for me, my wife and my kids.
Kip’s daughter, Caroline, has since began the Caroline Watson Library Fund – an initiative to bring a library to each of Vertava Health’ locations across the country.