Zach’s Recovery Story
At 25 years old, Zach is familiar with the addiction recovery process. Like many others in the recovery community, his journey has been anything but linear. In just two years, he has sought treatment from five separate facilities in an attempt to overcome opioid addiction and IV drug use. A return client to Discovery Point Retreat, Zach reflects on his past and lessons learned along the way.
“I came back and I just wasn’t in it. I didn’t want to be here,” he explains, “I was angry that I was here to the point where I didn’t go to groups, I didn’t talk to my therapist, and didn’t talk to my case manager. I literally just laid in bed and went to all three meals and watched TV. I was angry– and I wasn’t angry at anybody but myself. So having to go through the process again of surrendering, admitting that I’m powerless over my disease, it’s not easy, especially when you just spent so long here and you came back a week later. It’s not easy, especially because when I left everyone had such high expectations for me and they had such faith in me. I messed up and I think that’s what I had to finally tell myself and understand. Like ‘okay, I messed up, it’s not the end of the world.’ You know, the key here is that I came back– a lot of people aren’t willing to do that. So I had to accept that fact and then I was ready for the therapy side of it.”
Zach’s story begins like many others: lonely and bullied for his size and sexuality, his initial coping mechanism was food. Then following weight loss surgery that reduced his ability to binge eat, he began seeking affirmation and validation through his relationships. It was here that he met a former lover who was in recovery for opiate abuse. Zach recalls creating boundaries with him, stating that if he relapsed, their relationship would be over. However, when his boyfriend did return to drug use, Zach said he was “in too deep” and indulged with him instead.
From there, Zach’s life spiralled out of control rapidly: in just two weeks’ time he lost his job, car, and home. He recalls quickly moving from prescription medications to IV heroin use. As the years continued, he also used methamphetamines and cocaine, always seeking a new high and competing with others to see who could consume the most. Within a couple of years, he went from having a well-paying job as a flight attendant to sex work for money to get more drugs.
With two older brothers who also struggle with drug addiction, Zach understood he had a problem and tried his best to hide it from his family. He went months without visiting, knowing his mother would immediately spot the signs.
Just a few months into active addiction Zach experienced his first overdose, which scared him into action. His relationship was in shambles, with their love now focused on the substances rather than each other, and he was destitute. Finally, after months of hiding he turned to his family for help. Two years and five treatment attempts later, Zach looks back on his journey with hope and newfound wisdom.
“If I’m not inside changing myself, then nothing’s going to change… you have to completely surrender and realize either you want recovery or you don’t want recovery. And I think that’s a really big dilemma for a lot of people. We know that the things we do are wrong, but it’s so much easier to make a bad decision than it is to work for recovery.”Even so, returning to Discovery Point Retreat so soon after completing treatment was a difficult decision for him.
“The shame and embarrassment is all self-induced. No one is looking at you any type of way, and so I think it was just that [question of] ‘what happened?’” Recalling his resentment, Zach acknowledges, “It was what I needed to hear. I knew that I’d messed up, but I didn’t know where, and with the therapy that I’ve gotten this time, it’s been a lot more processing. I’ve processed a lot more with Shae Harp because he pried. Some therapists don’t really pry, you just tell them what you want to tell them, but sometimes you need that therapy that keeps it going, keeps asking questions.”
“I feel leaps and bounds further along than I did last time. I feel much stronger this time compared to last time because of the therapy that I’ve been getting.”
Eventually, Zach was able to let go of his self-imposed shame and begin working through the issues and traumas he hadn’t previously addressed. As part of our residential treatment program, he notes that the genuine care and family-like community at Discovery Point Retreat is unlike anything he experienced previously.
“The staff is very receptive, they understand our mood swings are back and forth. So if you want the space, they’ll definitely give you the space. But if you’re in a place where you’re angry and you’re willing to talk about it, there’s not one staff member here that won’t sit down and listen to you. I highly appreciate that aspect.”
Reflecting on his own development and growth over the past two years:
“I hold on to hope. I tell myself that I’m not alone in this. And I find myself a lot of times comparing myself to other people–not just physically or personality-wise, but also drug addiction wise. I’m like ‘at least I never did that’ or ‘at least I wasn’t that bad’ but the fact of the matter is that we’re all sick. No matter if you sell yourself to get drugs or if you go to 25 different doctors to get your drugs, we all suffer from the disease of addiction. That’s the main message I have to tell myself: just because I never got to that point or just because they never got to my point doesn’t we’re any less or any better than the other. We’re all in the same boat.”
Recovery from opiate addiction is possible, and together we can make it happen for you or someone you love. Call now to learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help.
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