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 recent graduate from The Treehouse, Shawn.
Shawn’s story is one of pain and trauma, 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. Shawn is proof. Read on.
What is your background? When did you start using?
I grew up in an extremely abusive household. I was abused mentally, physically, and emotionally by my dad. I started using cocaine to numb the pain. I didn’t use it everyday, but I used it often and I used it on and off for about 20 years.
I was married and had a son, but I when my marriage fell apart, I lost both of them. I moved to Rhode Island and remarried, but with my drug use, things got tough. I fell back into a depression and started using more.
What happened after that?
One day, my wife had enough of what I was doing and tossed me out on the street. My so called “friends” at the time all backed out and were nowhere to be found. I had nowhere to go and no where to stay and so I was homeless.
I’ve been riding a motorcycle for nearly 40 years and never had a wreck, but one day I left the kickstand out and wrecked by bike – breaking 4 ribs in the process. I was without a job, without a home, without my wife and I was in a lot of pain. And that’s when I felt like God said to me that it was time to get my life together.
How did you get into The Treehouse?
I started looking up addiction rehabs on my phone and I just happened to call Vertava Health. I made that phone call instead of torturing myself for all of the things that had happened in my life. When I got through, I talked to Kori and she told me I needed to get out of Rhode Island and everything that was keeping me down there – and that I needed to start fresh somewhere new. I didn’t know how I was going to get to Texas, but she helped me out by getting ahold of family members who all helped me financially to get me down to the Treehouse. Most surprisingly, my son helped to pay for my plane ticket – which made me feel both good and bad about where my addiction had taken me.
What was it like when you got to the Treehouse?
I had 4 broken ribs when I first got there, and coming off of using I was in sheer agony. I was met with love and compassion – it really blew me away. Every single person on the nursing staff was kind and caring. Even the housekeeping staff offered me good advice, love and hugs when I needed them. They’re the ones that made the difference.
While I was there, I went to every class and everything that I could go to because I wanted to be there and I wanted to change.
What is the most important thing you learned about yourself while in treatment?
At the Treehouse, I really learned that I’m human and people make mistakes. I learned to forgive; I forgave my dad and let go of that anger and pain. I forgave myself for all of the hurting that I caused myself and my family. I really had a spiritual awakening at the Treehouse. When I surrendered to God, I felt like I was 1000 pounds lighter – because He took all of that from me.
What would you tell someone who has also been through a trauma?
Have an open mind and try to seek out God because He’s the one that did it for me. Open your heart and try to find your inner spirit, let go and forgive. It might be different for everyone, but my spiritual awakening is really what made the difference this time around.
How is your family healing?
I’m still working to try to patch things up with my wife. I know that the day she put me out of the house is what saved my life. I’m staying in Texas right now trying to get a job and working on a long distance relationship with her. I know everything happened this way for a reason, and I am going to do everything I can to make it work with us. I’m also working towards reconnecting up with my son.
How are you doing now?
I haven’t been this happy since I don’t know when. I care about who I am and I want to enjoy life now. It’s good to feel again.
I sometimes still have a hard time because I can’t take back everything that I’ve done, and it’s hard to forgive myself. But I’m so thankful I have the opportunity to make it right now.
What keeps you sober each day?
What keeps me sober each day is praying; feeling good, not feeling guilty; knowing in my heart and in my soul that I’m doing the right thing. I want to shine light where there’s darkness. My goal is to make amends, and to help someone else out.
There’s nothing that can take me down that dark path again. I’ve been tested hard, and I know I’ll continue to be tested, but I’m not going back down that path.
Anything else you’d like to say?
At the Treehouse, I got to know myself. I forgot who I was. I wasn’t expecting to find God or to really find myself, but I did. I realized everything I did was self-inflicted, but now I have hope for a better life and a better future. I was so used to being put down and was never good enough for my father, but now I truly know that I have a purpose in life: to help others and to enjoy life as it comes – through good and bad. It’s too precious and too short not to.