Menu Close

2018 College Scholarship Winner – Anthony V

2018 Ashwood Recovery Scholarship Winner

by Anthony V.

Monday, June 26th, 2012.

This is the day I decided enough was enough. Of course, I've told myself this several times before with countless disingenuous promises. So, what made this occasion different? In the years prior, I lost two childhood friends as a result of opioid addiction. We grew up together, played together, used together, and now it seemed as if many of us were dying together. It was difficult to say goodbye to two people who I knew most of my life but what was harder was seeing the pain it caused their families. I did not want to inflict that kind of pain on my family.

But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. I should explain how I got to this point in the first place...

Growing up, drug abuse was not something that was unfamiliar to me. Seeing what it did to people I love at such a young age should have been deterrent enough. It wasn't. Throughout my school years I was unpopular and socially awkward. But in middle school, when I started smoking weed, it seemed like my popularity grew. I had friends and people knew who I was (for all the wrong reasons, of course). Before I even started high school I began to experiment with other drugs, namely cocaine and methamphetamine. The DARE program taught us to "just say no" but it was all a joke to me.

Things began to take a dark turn as the meth took hold of me. I had gotten to a point where it was all I cared about - I woke up in the morning, if I had slept at all, and my first thought was how I was going get high. In school I became an outcast, the kid that other kids got in trouble for hanging out with, and eventually dropped out. I missed so much - school dances, sports, high school sweethearts, a regular childhood. But I didn't really care about life anymore... I accepted the possibility of an early death.

Years later, many of the people I was using with were getting thrown in jail, I began to contemplate getting clean. It was a process that took several attempts. The withdrawals were unbearable. When I couldn't take it anymore, I started using again. I didn't have much support either. I was too ashamed to reach out for help. But eventually I quit meth for good in 2002.

However, this was not the first addiction I would have to overcome.

About three years later I began DJing at a night club where drugs were easy to come by. And despite all my progress, I gave in. I didn't go back to my former drug of choice but rather oxycontin - thinking it would be a safer bet. Almost immediately I was hooked. I had a feeling of euphoria I had not felt in a long time. It was an expensive habit. at one point was spending at least $200 a day on pills - sometimes getting them fronted and racking up a costly dept to my dealer. Once again, the drugs had taken hold.

Soon after I became homeless. Even though I was working I spent all my money on pills. When the pills became too expensive I resorted to heroin. The dark thoughts I had years before had returned. I remember many nights, in the fields where many of the homeless set up camp, getting high and thinking this may be the night I overdose. But I didn't care. I had come to a realization that I had gone too far. There was no coming back, no redemption for me. I often fantasized of suicide. During my years as an addict I had earned myself a criminal record. Although I had been under the radar since 2002, it was still a major setback anytime I tried to get ahead.

On September 28th, 2010 I received news that one of my closet childhood friends had killed himself. He was robbing banks and pharmacies to support his opioid addiction. When the law finally caught up with him he barricaded himself in his bathroom and made one last call to his mother before ending his life. You would think this would be enough to get me in check. It wasn't. To cope with the pain, I went on a binge nearly overdosing.

The next two years were a blur. I tried to get clean but without motivation or support I was lost. I thought about checking into a rehab and getting help but I just couldn't bring myself to go through with it. I guess I thought it would be declaring defeat. Although I was being defeated - I just didn't want to admit it.

On June 19th 2012 another close childhood friend passed away. This time from an opioid overdose. What followed was a drug fueled pity party. A week later I decided I had to change. With the help of the few friends I had left I began my journey into withdrawal and recovery. The former being much harder than I had anticipated. I don't think I need to go into details, as I suspect you know what I am talking about. There were many times I wanted to give up. I realized that the last several years I wasn't using to get high, I was using to not get sick.

Eventually it began to get easier but there are still days in which I feel I will never be the same. Sometimes, my past comes back to haunt me but I would like to believe, in the six years since I have gotten clean, that I have accomplished a lot. I earned my GED, an Associate's Degree, made the Dean's List, the President's List, and am currently beginning my Bachelor's.

I only wish to serve as a beacon of hope to those battling addiction and feeling like redemption is out of their reach. To show those walking the dark path I once tread that it's possible.