Success found in treatment of drug abuse | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Success found in treatment of drug abuse

After almost 30 years of hardcore drug use, “Roy” is living proof that through endurance, addicts can achieve successful recovery.

Roy started drinking at the age of eight. By sixth grade he was using marijuana, mescaline and LSD. At 15, he began using cocaine and speed, intravenously- addictions which enslaved him for more than half of his life.

Roy ran away at age 11 and lived on the streets of Los Angeles, where drugs sucked him in deeper than ever.



“I was a gang member for almost 20 years,” said Roy, now 41. “I dealt drugs, robbed, just the regular street madness down in L.A. Drugs and alcohol were just what we did. Basically, that’s what my whole life was.”

n The Need To Start Again




Roy first realized his addiction was controlling him about 14 years ago.

Walking down a Los Angeles street, drugs in hand, he stumbled into a phone booth.

“I saw the phone booth and I went in and flipped the phone book open to Drug Rehabilitation and I made that first call. Well, I was in and out of recovery, six months here, six months there.”

The pendulum stopped swinging when Roy was sent to jail. It wasn’t his first visit.

“When you’re sitting in a jail cell and that keeps happening over and over again, it finally dawns on you that you have to do something or you’re going to die.”

After serving his time, Roy spent a year in a rehabilitation center and stayed clean for a little more than 38 months.

“Then one day I felt the need to start again,” he said. “I was really sick and I thought I was dying and I just needed something to change the way I felt. I picked up a joint and the cycle started again. I’d use anything I could get my hands on. That lasted for eight months until I landed in a jail cell again.”

n When The Lie Dies

When he was released from jail, a little more than two years ago, Roy turned to the Sierra Recovery Center.

“My life was a lie and the lie died,” Roy said. “When the lie dies, you stop. You learn that if you wake up tomorrow and do the same things you did today, you’re going to die. The Sierra Recovery Center is where I quit running, but I’ve come a long way to get here.”

Roy has been clean and sober now for more than two years, but said every day is a struggle.

“I have a reality that I live in constant fear of that voice telling me it’s OK to do (drugs) again. I have to challenge my thoughts constantly,” he said. “How do I stay clean? I pray like hell.”

n Another Day Without the Insanity

Since his stay at the Sierra Recovery Center, Roy has gone back to school and is pursuing an education through a vocational rehabilitation program.

“I went back to school and that is one of the biggest things in my life,” he said. “I wanted to go back and get an education, because I have that desire to have the rocking chair and the porch, a normal life.”

He is involved in support groups, and said for the first time in a long time, he has future ambitions- some more simple than others.

“I just want to feel comfortable in my own skin,” Roy said. “I want to be self-sufficient. I want to be able to take care of myself and earn my own way through life.”

Roy pointed out the best thing about sobriety.

“The best part of sobriety is when you lay your head down on the pillow and you know you’ve got another day behind you, without the insanity of addiction,” he said, crediting Sierra Recovery Center for its role in his recovery. “Recovery is like this multi-faceted thing and Sierra Recovery Center opened my eyes to each facet of recovery, from nutrition to discipline. They introduced me to a way to talk about myself. They helped me straighten my life out with the court system and the DMV. They helped me to trust people. They didn’t ask for anything from me. They just gave freely.”

For information about the Sierra Recovery Center, call (530) 541-5190.

breakout box:

A 1998 study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration confirmed that drug abuse is reduced following inpatient, outpatient and residential treatment for drug abuse.

The following statistics are nationally representative of 1,779 people, five years after their treatment.

n 267 people, or 15 percent, stopped using alcohol.

n 534 people, or 30 percent, stopped using marijuana.

n 801 people, or 45 percent, stopped using cocaine.

n 320 people, or 18 percent, stopped using crack.

n 214 people, or 12 percent, stopped using heroin.

n 409 people, or 23 percent, stopped all illicit use.


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