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 Turning Point, Ryle.
Ryle’s story is one of pain and consequences 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. Ryle is proof. Read on.
What is your background? When did you start smoking marijuana?
In high school I hung out with older friends. My closest friend was a senior who lived on my street. The first time I smoked weed with her, I was 16. I knew my mom and dad might smoke, too – but I didn’t really know what it was all about.
After the first time I smoked weed, I wanted to do it all the time.
On the weekends, my friends would have bonfires and we would have alcohol. But as soon as weed came into the picture, I didn’t care about drinking anymore. When my mom and dad found out about me smoking, they were ok with it – as long it was the only thing that I was doing.
What happened after that?
A couple of months after I started – one night after smoking weed with some of my friends, I felt really weird. I ended up quitting for a few months, but once I went back to it – I went back harder than ever. I was smoking every day, all the time.
I moved schools in high school, but because of how my credits transferred, instead of going into 10th grade, I was put back in 9th. Around that time, I started smoking weed with my mom, and when I visited my dad – I’d smoke with him.
My mom worked two jobs while I was in school so that we could have a nice car, a nice home and really everything we needed or wanted. Because she was gone so often for work, she would ask me to clean the house. In exchange for cleaning, she’d leave me a little weed.
Before I got sober, I was smoking all day everyday for at least 5 or 6 years straight.
Everyone in my family knew that I smoked weed. I would ride down the street smoking. I never got in trouble – and never thought that I would. I really got away with everything.
How did your smoking progress?
A met a guy around the end of 2013 and dated for a little while. I knew he was into dealing marijuana, so I thought I wouldn’t have to pay for weed. I liked him – but I really liked the fact that he had weed.
This guy ended up moving to Montana, and we started doing the back and forth thing for about a year.
I was working at a bank at the time, doing some of the behind-the-scenes work and on a computer all day. I felt like I couldn’t work unless I was high. I was frustrated because I felt like everyone else was moving up but me. So when my boyfriend asked me to move to Montana to be with him, I got up and quit my job and left. I really just wanted to get out of my home state of Mississippi and try to make it on my own.
In Montana, my boyfriend had a medical marijuana business. I tried to find a regular job, but I also helped him water and trim the plants, and he would pay me. All I did was get high all the time. He would get mad at me – it wasn’t exactly a healthy relationship.
What happened after that?
We started to get a lot of weed accumulating, so my boyfriend had the idea to drive it back to Mississippi. By that time, I was really homesick and I didn’t care how we got back – I just wanted to go. I missed my family so badly. So I offered to drive.
We got back to Mississippi just fine, and he paid me in product. I had a couple thousand dollars worth of marijuana, and since everyone I knew smoked, I sold.
After we got back to Montana, the weed started accumulating again – so I decided to do another drive back to Mississippi. It worked the first time. Plus, I really wanted to go home and see my Papa who had just had a heart attack. So it was the perfect opportunity to go for an entire month and not have to worry about work – since I would make enough money from the drive.
I made it to Missouri before I saw a check-point. I hopped off the highway, but it turned out to be a set up, and I was pulled over.I was hoping and praying the entire time I was talking to the officer, thinking, “I’ll never do this again if I can just get out of here.”
The officer asked to search the vehicle and I asked him if he had a search warrant – he didn’t, but he said my story wasn’t adding up and he had probable cause. Of course, he found marijuana – and I was arrested.
It was the worst experience of my life. I had an orange jumpsuit and was in a holding cell for 36 hours. My boyfriend (now my ex-boyfriend) wouldn’t pick up. I called and called and called. Finally I called my family.
My mom drove up from Mississippi to come and get me. My bond was set at $15,000 and my boyfriend put up the $1500 to get me out. I should have been more than that – but by the grace of God, I was bailed out.
How did you get into Turning Point?
After we got back to Mississippi, my mom told me that I needed to go to rehab. Dealing with all of the legal issues, my anxiety and emotions were out of control. Everyone I knew smoked weed, and I knew I needed to be away from that in a controlled environment.
I was able to get in touch with Karen from Vertava Health and she helped make it possible to get me into Turning Point.
I was so scared. I had never gotten into trouble before – never thought that I would need to go to rehab. I was so used to doing whatever I wanted, and I was terrified of the change.
What was your experience once you got to Turning Point?
When I got to Turning Point, I looked really bad. Everyone thought that I had been on pills because of how thin I was. I had dropped down to 80 pounds. It took about a week before I really started feeling like myself again. I always thought I couldn’t go without weed; that I couldn’t function without it – but after a while, I really realized it was nice being sober.
Everyday, I made more friends and learned new skills. I was proud of myself at 10 days sober, 20 days, and 30 days. It was such a big accomplishment. When I was a little girl – because 16 is still a little girl – I hadn’t been sober. It had been so long.
They also put me on an appetite medication and I was able to gain 10 pounds while I was there. I really began feeling more confident about myself.
I earned weekend passes and my family was able to come see me. I got really close to Nikki, my therapist, through my sessions. The friends that I made at Turning Point, we still care for each other, love each other and talk to each other all the time.
If I hadn’t gone to Turning Point, I don’t know how I could have ever gotten clean. It was the best learning experience.
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself while in treatment?
You don’t have to have drugs or alcohol to have fun. Everybody has a struggle, and I just have a different struggle. Even if we’re all different on the outside, we’re all the same on the inside.
What would you tell someone who is maybe walking a similar path that you did?
Going to rehab the hardest decision you’ll ever make – but it’s one of the best. Once you get sober, you’ll have a clear mindset, and you’ll be able to see the world from a whole different perspective. And it’s beautiful.
What would you tell someone about Turning Point?
They really do care about you at Turning Point. They want you to succeed. Alcohol, drugs and depression put you in a rut, and sometimes you just have to get some help in order to get out. They do that at Turning Point. I’m so glad I found Turning Point.
They have some of the best caretakers there. I still keep in contact with my therapist, and Renne – the lady who gives out the medication. They still check in on me. And that has made it easier to stay on track since I’ve been home. Once you get back into the real world, it hits you in the face. Those skills that I learned and the connections that I made help me to stay focused.
I know that I can live without weed now. I am smarter and more productive without it.
What would you say to someone who may argue that marijuana is not addictive?
Marijuana is a brain altering drug. For me, I was addicted. I couldn’t start my day without it. I couldn’t go without it on my lunch break. I couldn’t even go to sleep without it. Every dollar that I had went to my dealer to get my next high. Some people may not view it as addictive, but for me it was – it controlled my life for many years. I’m glad that it’s not controlling me any more.
What are you looking forward to in your new life of recovery?
I’m looking forward to moving forward. I’m planning to finish school – and I’ll be able to because I won’t be getting high, or thinking about getting high. I want to find someone who wants to marry me one day. And I want to start my own business sewing and selling baby clothes.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Everyone makes mistakes and has a past – but it’s up to you to pull yourself out of the past, and to find your willpower.