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January 2017

Growing up in a religious household I was always a fairly good kid, went to church, had decent grades, and had high ambitions. That was until the beginning of freshman year of high school, like most say I just began hanging around the wrong people, the “cool” kids. Freshman year at the age of 15 was when I first tasted alcohol; it was nasty to me and I could hardly finish a beer without cringing, liquor was even worse tasting like hand sanitizer. I hatted alcohol until I finally realized if you can scarf down enough you’ll eventually feel a buzz and then a drunk, this opened up a whole new world to me. After getting drunk for the first time I felt on top of the world, I knew what drinking was like that so many others my age had no clue about. I tried telling people what they were missing out on and unfortunately became that guy that peer pressured some of my friends into drinking with me on the weekends. Freshman year consisted of drinking mainly 4locos, my first time drunk was off a 4loco and it was with some new “cool” friends I had made. Going into Freshman year at Lake Norman there were three different middle schools feeding into the same grade so I was meeting a lot of new people and eager to prove myself as not being a loser to these new people. I was successful with that because before I knew it I had a reputation going around, not a good one either. Hanging out with my new friends I had made got me associated with doing bad things. I still had many friends that didn’t drink though and I was still close with them during this time.

For all of freshman year I would drink about once a month on the weekends, either staying at a friend’s house or during the day while playing football in the neighborhood or fishing on the lake. None of my friends or I had a license so we never had to worry about driving, we would just walk or get rides everywhere. It wasn’t until the summer after freshman year that I first started smoking marijuana. In the years before freshman year I always told myself I would never become a drug user; I knew how easily heroin, cocaine, or prescription pills could ruin someone’s life, but I had read about pot and it seemed completely different than all other drugs. I remember saying to myself at a young age “maybe one day I’ll try smoking pot but I will never go beyond that,” well that day for trying marijuana was finally here. Before smoking weed the only intoxication I had known was from alcohol so that was what I was trying to compare being high was like while first smoking. Wow was I wrong because I was freaking out about 30 minutes after smoking, music just sounded so amazing as I was sitting there in my friend’s room watching him play video games. After that experience everyone around me knew damn well I smoked weed, I was like a changed person. That summer was the only summer in high school that I spent not working so I had too much time to kill with my friends. My group of friends jokingly called ourselves philosophers because most of that summer was spent smoking and then just having very deep conversations with one another.

I loved the thoughts that marijuana could bring out of people, we would talk about everything from God and the creation of us, to if we are even alone in the universe. Later in that summer most of the “cool” friends I made that I mentioned earlier started doing cough syrup, I was lucky because I still had other friends who never drank or smoked. Whenever I was asked to take codeine with those people I would go and hang out with my friends that didn’t drink or smoke. I never wanted to do anything beyond smoking marijuana, I remembered telling myself I would smoke weed but never do anything else. Next thing I know that group of kids that was tripping off cough syrup started tripping off acid, I thought to myself how stupid that was and began distancing myself from them. This was when I started hanging out with my other friends more frequently, the ones that didn’t drink or smoke. The summer came to an end and sophomore year had begun, I had high ambitions in School and started on track for a good year. That was until I remember getting a phone call from a friend that one of my best friends had died the night prior while tripping acid was one of my friends from the group that begin tripping earlier that summer, I was told that the acid he got was actually a research chemical and it managed to stop his heart. I was in shock and got a wakeup call that it was time to mellow my life down a little bit, that promise I had made to myself about never going past smoking weed I turned into a swear and I’ve lived up to it ever since.

Once my parents found out about my friends they questioned me beyond belief wanting to know everything I was up to. On the autopsy it just said he died due to a drug related cardiac arrest, seeing this my parents thought he died from heroine. They knew he was a good friend of mine so they assumed I was doing the same, I tried telling them that he took a synthetic acid but they didn’t believe me. Needless to say I was sober for a while and in a lot of trouble with my parents. Once February roiled around l got my driver’s license and that opened up freedom for me again, I got my first job and began drinking and smoking every weekend then. I went to some parties but I had a curfew of midnight now from my parents so I could never stay for long, I would either not drink and drive home or drink and then get a ride from a sober friend home. I was always against drunk driving and most people in my grade were as well after my friend had died.

By the time summer had rolled around I began living my life like clockwork, I would go to work about 4 times a week and on the off day’s drink and smoke on the lake or while golfing. My life was a complete party on the days I had work off, never the nights though because of my midnight curfew. I day drank and smoked 3 or 4 times a week that entire summer, I knew the limits though and never showed up to work intoxicated. I respected my job and never wanted to lose it. Junior year was the same thing, I had a schedule for everyday of the week down to an hour. Go to school, go to track practice, work, smoke, homework, sleep, and then drink on the weekends. I never let drinking or smoking prevent things that I wanted to do though, I still managed to do well in track, had a respectable job for a high schooler, and graduated with a 3.7 gpa, and had many hobbies such as golfing, biking, and working out. When senior year came my life had plateaued, 1 was done experimenting with drugs and was set at just drinking and smoking. I had a solid small group of friends that all ended up going to different very respectable schools such as Rockey River,Park View,Langtree Charter and Pine Lake, l also had a good job that I could come back to during summers. 1 continued on with my normal school year routine, eventually getting accepting into 6 different schools and then committing to the University of North Carolina Everything was great I graduated high school with no problems, continued working and partying through the summer, and was looking forward to going to a great school that next year. I think I was just three weeks away from going to college when my bubble of reality burst.

It was just like another summer night, I had gotten off work and was getting picked up by a friend to go about a mile down the road to another friend’s house for the night. I was going to be drinking so that’s why I got a ride instead of just driving myself, I got picked up with a 12 pack of beer and a backpack with a small bong and just under a gram of weed in it. I always put all illegal things I have in a car in the trunk, but because we were literally just going a mile down the road I decided to put everything at my feet in the passenger side of the car. That was a fatal mistake. Right before we were about to get to the house down the road, our car gets pulled over for speeding. Cops see the beer by my feet and since were underage begin searching our car, I knew that I was doomed. I end up getting a possession and paraphernalia ticket and my friend gets away with nothing, he doesn’t even get a speeding ticket that the cops pulled him over for and they decided not to charge us with possession of alcohol. After four years in high school of drinking and smoking it was just three weeks before I left Mooresville that I got in trouble with the police, you can imagine how angry I was. Angry at the cops, angry at my friend, and angry at myself. I couldn’t sleep for days, I knew that charge was going to drain me of every penny I had saved up and in the end it did. I was also scared (and I still am) that this charge was going to prevent me from getting my student loans, which it will if I can’t get everything dropped,my fafsa loans are currently on hold because of this charge.

Going to college with this on my record has mellowed me down quite a bit,I still drank during the first semester but I only smoked a handful of times and I doubt I will ever smoke again.it’s the time to move on and grow up,I have more important things to do in my life than smoke pot and drink every day.Right now all I want is for my charge to be dropped and then expunged so I can move on and continue to start my new beginning in Virgina.

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

We are writing as Americans who, regardless of political affiliation, are deeply concerned by the addiction crisis ravaging our country. You shared openly how alcoholism devastated your brother Fred’s life. In fact, addiction to alcohol and other drugs impacts 45 million Americans and their families. As you heard during the campaign, 21 million families today are being torn apart by substance use disorders, thousands more bury their children each year- at ever-younger ages, and drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in America.

Please click here : www.facingaddiction.org/sign-our-letter-to-the-president-elect

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Facing Addiction

It began on 10-4-15, with tens of thousands of you joining us on the National Mall in Washington DC to end the silence and begin facing addiction together. Our work is continuing, and we are approaching our goal of 10,415 signatures thanking the President for his recent request of $1.1 billion in new funding to expand treatment access.

With 22 million Americans suffering from addiction, it is more important than ever that we show our elected leaders in Washington DC that we are organized and ready to speak out in numbers they’ve never seen before.  In making our case, the facts are undoubtedly on our side:

  •     90% of those in need of treatment do not receive it
  •     Deaths from drug overdoses have increased 137% since 2000
  •     90% of those addicted began using before the age of 18
  •     Untreated addiction costs our communities more than $400 billion every year

Please, help us reach the symbolic goal of 10,415 signatures by signing our letter today!

The time is now to demand that we dramatically increase investment in prevention, treatment and recovery options, and scientific research across our country.

Together, in stronger numbers than ever before, we will continue Facing Addiction.

Regards,

The Facing Addiction Team

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