Autumn -P.E.A.S.E. Academy Senior

Autumn started using at 13. She was in 8th grade when her parents separated, partially due to her dad’s long-time drug addiction. Sad and full of anxiety from the breakup, Autumn started smoking marijuana with her boyfriend because it made her feel good and less sad. She couldn’t attend school because of her anxiety, so she went to an alternative learning center (ALC), where she was introduced to Acid. “I did acid every day and spent a lot of money on it,” said Autumn. “I stole money from my parents and kids at school to pay for it.”

At 14, Autumn was hospitalized for suicide attempts and self-harm. She says, “I didn’t care about anything, but drugs and drugs made me suicidal.” Marijuana and Acid were her repeat drugs, while also trying Adderall, Cocaine, Xanax, and alcohol. She hung out with friends who did drugs and landed in her first outpatient treatment program in 2015. The first week, she ran away with a boy from the program and used again. He wanted to go back, so she followed him into the inpatient center. She finished the program, and went back to using.

Autumn says before she got sober, she was always drunk or high. At one point, she ran away from home for five days, leading to her mom bringing her back to treatment in another outpatient and aftercare program, but Autumn kept using. The next step was a long-term inpatient facility in St. Cloud, and that’s where she reached a turning point. Assigned to write and send letters of apology to her family for her behavior, she got letters back that described how her drug use negatively impacted her family. “I wanted to change at that point, but I relapsed when I was almost done with the program. That’s when I learned about P.E.A.S.E. Academy.”

At first, Autumn hated P.E.A.S.E. because she missed her old school. It took a couple of weeks to adjust, but she finally realized she could be open and honest with her story there and get support. “I relapsed over the summer, came back to school, and relapsed again. I told everyone, and they have continued to support me.”

Back at P.E.A.S.E., sober and clean from self-harm, Autumn says she’s taking things one day at a time. Her relationship is good with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend, who is loving and supportive, and she’s happy to have a new baby sister. “It’s hard because my life is better than ever now, but I want my real family back,” she says. Part of that real family is Autumn’s dad, who has been in jail. She describes her relationship with him as “in progress.”

Autumn says she now has a lot to be happy about and to live for. She wants to attend college online or go to Minneapolis Community Technical college to get a veterinary degree. “For so long, I didn’t care about myself or my life.” It’s easier to stay sober at P.E.A.S.E. Academy. Weekends are hard, so I try to just think about what it would be like if I were still using. It helps me stay sober.” Autumn wants people to know that there is hope. “You have to work hard, surround yourself with positive people, and always talk if you’re having problems. Keeping it in doesn’t help. And, if you don’t want to talk, write your thoughts in a journal.”