Sam – P.E.A.S.E. Academy, Class of 2019

Sam was in 6th grade when a bus ride to school changed his life. Drawn in by the attention and snap chats of that an older girl, he accepted her invitation to smoke weed. Hidden from his parents’ view, under the seats of the boat in his backyard, he went in and out of consciousness, with a goal to build a tolerance and reach the kind of relaxation, that he had found in the drug.

After a brief hiatus in 7th grade, he wanted more. On a quest, he stole money from his parents to pay for weed, smoked it alone, and hid it from them and his friends.

In 9th grade, Sam accepted an invitation to a cocktail party at a friend’s house, with alcohol from the liquor cabinet that led to four months of drinking to the point of blacking out. Sam says, “It felt amazing and gave me confidence to say what was on my mind, until I threw up and blacked out.” At this point, Sam was now addicted to marijuana and alcohol.

Drinking and weed gave Sam the confidence to try other drugs, including Adderall, offered to him by a classmate. Teachers had pointed out Attention Deficit Disorder to Sam’s parents in the past, so getting a prescription for Adderall was easy, and Sam loved it because he could feel the effects of being drunk, without being physically impaired. “The problem was my tolerance kept going up,” says Sam. “I went from 50mg a day to 200mg, at a cost of $70-$80 a day. I could feel when it was leaving my system, and it felt awful. It made me depressed and suicidal, and my mom asked me why my hands were shaking.” When money got tight for buying drugs, Sam found a box of money in his Dad’s closet that supported his habit for several months.

Adderall led to Oxycodone, Xanax, Acid and psychedelics and at the start of Sam’s junior year, his parents took him to Hazelden for an assessment because he was failing school. “I didn’t think I belonged there with the meth heads,” says Sam. “But then, I realized that everyone was my age and looked like me.” Encouraged by his peers, Sam completed the Hazelden program one month later and returned to his high school, where he remained sober for 10-months before relapsing. Asking for help from the school counselor, he enrolled in P.E.A.S.E. Academy and started classes two days later. “P.E.A.S.E. gave me friends I could relate to and an automatic support system,” says Sam. “People’s personalities come through when they’re not messed up, and we have fun together in sobriety.”