I am writing this from inside a rehabilitation facility where I started treatment three weeks ago. I am now on my final week of a 30-day in-patient program for alcohol abuse. My counselor here suggested I use writing as an outlet for some of the emotions I’m experiencing, and as a way to connect with others and hopefully help someone else who might be going through what I went through.
I have always liked writing, and English is my favorite subject in school. I’m 18 years old and a senior in high school. When I leave rehab, I plan to apply for colleges, finish my senior year, graduate, and hopefully begin college in the fall. I can’t wait for a fresh start, away from my hometown and high school, and more importantly my reputation and some of the people that helped me end up here.
Not that I can blame anybody but myself for my actions. That is something we talk a lot about in therapy. Although I am angry with some people in my life, my decisions are my own. Nobody forced me to drink, and I am learning how to handle my emotions in healthy, constructive ways rather than numbing my feelings with alcohol.
You might be surprised to learn that I am so young. After all, the legal drinking age in the US is 21, and I’m still only a teenager. But lots of high school kids drink, and some people I know have even been drinking since middle school. The drinking culture is almost worse amongst teens, I’m learning, because we have to be secretive with alcohol, and we are inexperienced and don’t know how to drink safely and responsibly. Binge drinking is especially common amongst young drinkers. I know it’s what I used to do all the time.
But I’m optimistic that when I get out of here, I will be able to stay sober and turn a new leaf. I don’t have to feel bad about myself and keep drinking away my sorrows, and neither do you. If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, get help right away. If you’re not sure, do your research, or at least talk to the person about it. My therapist believes in the expression “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” meaning if you think there is a problem, there probably is.
I know it won’t be easy. Rehab isn’t a 30-day miracle cure for substance abuse. I will have to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, possibly for the rest of my life, and continue working the 12 steps system to recover. Alcoholism might follow me for the rest of my life, but I plan to be walking in front of it.