Thomas – Age 20

Name (or alias): Thomas

Age: 20

What substances are you struggling with?: Heroin/All

How long have you been struggling?:  Since I was 14 years old.

Are you sober? If so how long have you been sober? Yes; one day at a time.

What are your goals for your current treatment?: My goals are to be able to speak up more when I’m feeling like relapsing also to be able to live at home so that my family can say “my son is back.” That’s my goal. I also want to have a future and go to college or have a job something instead of how I’ve been living.

What strengths have you learned since you have been in treatment to help you stay sober?: The biggest strength I’ve learned is to communicate when I’m going downhill. I used to hold it in then isolate myself and eventuality just not care and go on the next run, but now I think and slowdown: do I really want to go back out and use? Is it worth it? hat’s the most helpful strength I’ve learned so far.

Due to your recovery experiences what would you advise young people in Worcester about substance use? That heroin isn’t what you think. It’s very potent now. If anything, it could be krokodil. I know a person who got a bad “bag” and now they’re hooked on that, but there’s also fentanyl too now and it kills you even quicker. I just hope they start controlling perc 30’s because that’s how a lot of young people I know started then eventually [started doing] heroin because its cheaper. I advise people to just speak up and get help if your in a bad space because you will either end up in jail, institutions, or dead that’s how it ends.

What do you attribute your success in recovery to?: The program that I’m in now at CAC Worcester because they focus on the addicts needs and work with them not just follow a book someone wrote. They take there time to learn about how they grew up and analyze there history to find coping skills and tools to better themselves. My mother is also the biggest help in my recovery because she was always there for me no matter what so family is also a great part of my recovery.

How has addiction affected your relationships with friends, family, peers?: It has destroyed a lot of relationships. I left everyone that was a normal clean person to find other addicts and I would go with them and run with them and usually get into trouble.

What are some common pitfalls and place that people in Worcester can avoid to stay substance free?: Out of the main streets were you know there are drugs.

What resources were the most helpful to you in Worcester, MA in achieving sobriety?: SOAP at CAC

What resources would you like to see in Worcester, MA to help decrease substance abuse?: More detoxes or sober houses and programs to help teach people more about addictions and help them.

What do you suggest for preventative measures for young people before they pick up a substance?: Learn the bad consequences instead of the health issues – like learn the real consequences like prison or death or living in cars or in streets or robbing people. It’s not a good life and they need to see it to understand it.

What else could the community do to make it safer?: Make it more known about addiction and that there are people who want to help you and there’s always hope for the sick and suffering.

Do you feel there is adequate treatment for co-occurring disorders? What would be the best treatment for dual diagnosis?: No, I don’t think its adequate. I’ve only seen one in Worcester. The program I’m in now at CAC Worcester is really good at helping understand disorders you might have. They discuss it thoroughly so I can understand it. I feel like they should educate people more and not just diagnose addicts as all bipolar and depressed. Sometimes I would have to say anything in hospitals to get help because there was no beds anywhere.

What motivated you to seek treatment?: I don’t want to be in jail. I want to be able to have my family and friends trust me. It gets tiring spending all time and money on one drug everyday and not caring if your homeless or not.

How difficult or easy was it to seek treatment in Worcester, MA?: Hard because there’s only 2 detoxes in Worcester and you have to call at 7 am everyday to see if a bed was available and if there isn’t I would use to not be sick. Usually that meant I would just continue my run and wouldn’t go and eventually ended up in legal system and getting section 35ed.

Do you feel like a resource like will make it easier for those seeking treatment to find it?: Yes, because you can see other addicts experiences and you can get more resources. It’s nice to know that you are not alone and that there are a lot of people like me. I kept using for so long because I felt like I didn’t matter.