Neil – P.E.A.S.E. Academy Junior
Neil moved to Minneapolis from Northwestern Minnesota and started his freshman year at Washburn High School, where he began using alcohol and marijuana because there was easy access and it was easier to make friends by participating.
He was able to maintain his good grades for a while, but started popping bills, resulting in what he described as, “A lot of blank spots in the school day.” And, his memory has been sketchy ever since because the damage has been done.
Neil doesn’t recall how he paid for his habit but thinks he must have robbed people to afford it.
His parents started noticing a change in his behavior. “I was acting different and I was messed up all day,” he says. “Mom and dad made me pee in a cup to test for weed and since they didn’t know I was also drinking and popping pills every day, I stopped the weed, so I passed the test.”
At the start of his sophomore year, his grades began to fail, and his parents brought him to an in-patient treatment program in Mankato, where he spent three months. He says he learned a lot there and is the only person who is still sober from the program.
Neil didn’t want to go to P.E.A.S.E. at first, but his parents forced him to enroll. It took him two months to adjust and begin to like it. He says he liked the fact that all students are friends and you can hang out with everyone after school and he has learned to have fun without drugs and alcohol and having fun keeps him sober. “We don’t judge each other like kids do at other high schools because everyone is the same here.”
Neil likes his teachers and counselors because they’re in recovery and understand what he’s going through. He says that he is able to have deep conversations with the teachers and the principal because he has to be open. “Counselors check into class and ask if we want to talk with them,” he says. “My P.E.A.S.E. counselors actually better than my counselor in treatment. He really picks me apart. He’s like a close old friend or a weird second parent and teacher rolled into one.”
October marks one year of sobriety for Neil. Both his short- and long-term memory is bad from the drugs, but he says, “Without PEASE I would be using again and would not be in a safe place,” he says.” I would probably be homeless because when you’re using a lot, you meet a lot of people like yourself and you do more and more drugs, so I probably would have ended up in jail.”