Most kids in high school attend football games, hang out with friends and participate in recreational activities. That wasn’t the case for Andrew, who lives in Greater Dallas. Now 20, he became addicted to drugs during his freshman year in high school at the age of 15. From dealing with turmoil at home to self-medicating because of a knee injury, his addiction worsened until he sought treatment at Enterhealth in April of last year. His family intervened after his sister found him lying on the ground unable to speak due to an overdose while at college.
When he woke up from the near-death episode, the damage to his brain was so severe that he had to learn how to read again. He spent more than 60 days at Enterhealth Ranch residential facility where he detoxed off marijuana, alcohol, opiates and Xanax. He took classes on the anatomy of the brain, learning that addiction is a complex, yet treatable brain disease and coming to the understanding that his knee pain and family issues contributed to his addiction.
Now he continues his continuum of care by attending group and family sessions at Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence. These components of recovery – detox, education and therapy – are the things Andrew needs to achieve lifelong sobriety.
“I am proud to say I have never relapsed,” said Andrew. “Going through treatment was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but I came out a stronger person. I realized my body was shutting down, and if I were to relapse I would die. A basic 12-step program is something that wouldn’t work for me. The evidence-based approach at Enterhealth helped me understand my addiction. I reestablished a positive self by being able to forgive myself for what I did and what I put people through. I thought I was the biggest piece of garbage for what I did, but through treatment I’ve been able to stay sober for almost a year. Now it’s like night and day. I feel like a whole new person. My knee feels better now that I’m off drugs. I thought drugs were the only things that would take my pain away, but I was wrong.”
“Andrew’s journey is a prime example of how addiction treatment must be multifaceted to achieve effective recovery,” said Cara McLeod, therapist at Enterhealth. “In most cases, addicts can’t just decide to be sober and stop on their own. If it was that easy, we wouldn’t have the epidemic that’s impacting our country today. It is a challenge that takes professional help and a commitment to recovery. Each stage of an individual’s sobriety includes various forms of treatment, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), neurofeedback, telehealth and others. We continuously modify our program to fit each person’s needs at any given time. Recovery is a process, and we are here to provide support. Our approach revolves around each individual’s specific needs and situation. By going to therapy and attending group and family sessions, Andrew is utilizing the different tools we offer to sustain recovery.”
Andrew was born in a suburb of Dallas, Texas but moved to Denver, Co. when he was six years old. He was into the outdoors and hit the slopes as much as he could. He even tried to obtain sponsorships for snowboarding. In seventh grade, he and his family moved back to Texas. He was still involved in sports, but knee pain he developed while snowboarding stopped him from pursuing activities in high school. Instead, he began to experiment with marijuana his freshman year. He says the medicinal effect of the marijuana was calming and helped him deal with his knee pain and family issues at home.
“I got a job at a local restaurant, but it just strengthened my addiction,” said Andrew. “My boss was a dealer. I used a ‘dome’ (hydrocodone) for the first time, and I was hooked on opiates after that. Fast forward to my senior year and my addiction continued. I started using Xanax and wasn’t showing up to class or doing homework. I was able to graduate because I attended Saturday school, but I didn’t want to do anything after high school. My family told me I needed to go to college, so I decided to go to the University of Arkansas because my sister was already going there. When I was moving into my dorm the first thing I noticed was my roommate rolling a joint. He ended up being a dealer, and things spiraled out of control from there.”
Andrew says his addiction was at an all-time high once he went off to college, and on top of drugs he was drinking too. He never planned on graduating and wanted to drop out, party and do drugs instead. His wake-up call came in April of 2017. He went out for another drunken evening and dropped his phone, shattering it, and that’s the last thing he remembers. He somehow called his sister around 3 a.m. and she answered, which he says she never did. All she heard on the other line was gurgling noises. She rushed to his dorm, but as she was driving there she came across a body in the road. She stopped to see if the person needed help but was surprised to see it was her own brother when she turned the body over. Andrew was overdosing. His sister scooped him up and got him help. He woke up 36 hours later and doesn’t remember anything that happened. His mother came to get him and told him he was going to Enterhealth for treatment. At that moment, Andrew let out a sigh of relief because it was all ending. He didn’t fight going to rehab, he knew it was time.
“I don’t think I could have had the night I did if there wasn’t a God,” Andrew said. “My God loves me and gave me a second chance at life. When my mom picked me up to drive me to Enterhealth Ranch I realized I couldn’t read anymore. I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up I asked my mom where we were, and she pointed at the sign, but I couldn’t read it. She had to tell me it said Oklahoma. When I was overdosing I must have hit my head hard, and I had to relearn how to read while I was in rehab.”
When he got to Enterhealth Ranch he had to detox off all the drugs he was addicted to, and he says it wasn’t easy. He engaged in different programs and therapies which helped him get on the road to recovery. After 67 days he left the ranch and went to a sober living home. The first one didn’t work out, but he eventually found one that did. Between the sober living house and attending Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence for therapy sessions, Andrew has maintained his sobriety. Now, he wants to help those who struggle with addiction.
“When I was done at the ranch and at my sober living house I had to ask myself, ‘What do I do now?’ Before I became an addict, I wanted to be a chef, so I am now pursuing that dream,” Andrew said. “I leave next month for culinary school, and once I graduate I will have an associate degree and I will be almost three years sober. I want to eventually become a sober coach and work with people in early recovery to teach them how to eat better and help them in their recovery. I want them to know it does get better. No one forced me to get sober, I wanted to do this for myself. I also want to talk to students in schools. There is a major drug problem among kids, and I want to let them know it’s not the path they should go down. I was lucky enough to get the help I needed. That’s not always the case for everyone.”
Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Enterhealth offers a holistic, evidence-based alcohol and drug addiction treatment program that revolves around each individual’s specific needs and situation. A dedicated team of addiction experts uses comprehensive neuropsychological and psychological assessments to develop customized treatment plans for each client’s stage of recovery. Based on the latest National Institutes of Health research identifying addiction as a chronic brain disease, the highly trained clinical team approaches addiction as a complex and treatable brain disease.
Enterhealth provides a full continuum of care, including a residential treatment facility, outpatient treatment center, telehealth and continuous support for clients and their families. The 43-acre Enterhealth Ranch is just 30 minutes north of Dallas/Fort Worth. The secluded and therapeutic setting features 38 private rooms and bathrooms, chef-prepared meals, housekeeping service, fitness center, pool and 24-hour care from a dedicated team of addiction professionals. The Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence is located in the Park Cities and offers a broad range of therapeutic services for ongoing addiction management, including Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Supportive Outpatient Program (SOP). For more information, visit www.enterhealth.com.