Just one time

Advice to young people from a drug addict behind bars

BRATTLEBORO — What can parents do to prevent kids from doing drugs?

I don't think there could have been much more my folks could have done.

Growing up, I was a very active kid. I played sports passionately. I was even more passionate about skateboarding and snowboarding.

I had two loving parents who brought me to my sporting events and cheered me on and even coached my teams, took me on snowboarding trips and even let me bring friends.

I had the ideal childhood. I couldn't have asked for any more. So did anyone ever think I would grow up and be a heroin addict and go to prison?

Definitely not.

* * *

When I was in high school, I smoked a little pot and drank at parties and stuff like that. Then, when I was 19, I tried Oxycontin and loved it. But I didn't know too much about it.

I didn't know it was basically synthetic heroin. I didn't know it was physically and mentally addictive, and I definitely didn't know it would directly lead me to injecting heroin.

Ever since that day 10 years ago when I snorted that pill, I've been struggling with drug addiction. Now the only thing I can think of that might have made a difference was if I was more educated about and exposed to the long-term effects of hard-core drugs.

Growing up in the suburbs, you didn't really see much of that stuff. If I had known opiates would lead me to or could lead me to the pain and desperation of a junkie, maybe I would never have touched them.

In the end, everybody is going to make their own choices and do what they want. Personally, I think the best thing is for kids to be aware of the substances that are out there and the places they take people.

If all kids know is what a substance is and how it will make them feel, they might be more inclined to try it. But if they also know how addictive these substances are and how much pain and sorrow, loneliness, and self-loathing an addict goes through, they might think twice about doing that drug.

Because sometimes that first time is all it takes to convert an honor-roll student into a drug addict and a state-prison inmate.

Just one time.

* * *

Now, I'm writing these words from a cell in a county jail, waiting for a state prison. I'm here due to my actions that resulted directly from my need to fuel my drug habit.

Before I was locked in my cell for the night, I had a conversation with a guy who has never smoked a joint. He grew up in Puerto Rico and was around drugs his whole life. His parents used.

He said to me, “Listen, man, I saw the progression of the disease in my folks. I saw it in my friends. I saw my father go to prison. I said to myself, I will never be like that. So I never picked up a drug. Ever!”

He is only one man, and things are different for everyone, but I definitely think awareness and exposure to the dangers of drug abuse are very important.

I hope my story helps others.

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