Ben’s Story: Better Days in Recovery

_MG_9309Ben had a great life growing up in Indianapolis. He had loving parents and an older brother he admired. He enjoyed playing sports and spending time with his friends.

However, during Ben’s eighth grade year, things changed. Many kids his age were starting to experiment with drugs and alcohol. He began to drink and smoke marijuana.

“That’s when I started my deceptive behavior and lying to my parents,” Ben said.

By his sophomore year, his weekend habits had worsened. During his junior year, Ben hesitantly tried cocaine for the first time.

“I went from drinking occasionally to drinking all the time and blacking out,” Ben said. “My life and activities were all planned around drinking and getting high.”

Ben’s home life was affected by his substance use and his relationship with his parents was strained by arguments about him skipping school.

“I was out of control,” Ben said. “My parents thought it was just a behavior issue, but they definitely didn’t think it was addiction.”

Ben maintained good grades and graduated from high school in 2009. He attended Indiana University and was able to manage his life and academics until a shoulder surgery during his senior year.

Ben was prescribed opioid medication for the pain. He was unable to put the pills down and the abuse escalated quickly. When his pills were gone, he turned to heroin.

“I had always told myself I would never try heroin, because I had so many friends who were addicted to it,” Ben said. “I tried to stop. I kept thinking I could wean myself off, but it didn’t work.”

After six months of trying to end his addiction alone, Ben went to his parents for help.

“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, because the shame kept me from telling people and getting help,” Ben said.

On April 22, 2014, Ben went to Fairbanks. After completing inpatient and outpatient treatment at Fairbanks, he went to La Verna Lodge for Men for four months.

“We heard about La Verna Lodge and from the beginning that was my plan,” Ben said. “I bonded really well with the guys and look back on the time I spent there fondly.”

Ben, 25, just completed an internship that will help him complete his management degree from Indiana University. This fall, he began graduate school at IUPUI to study social work.

Ben also volunteers at Fairbanks in the gift shop and shares his story with young men in the Odyssey Program. He describes this as the best part of recovery—being a functioning member of society.

“For so long, I felt like I kept taking and taking from others, but being able to serve others is an awesome feeling.”

With recovery, all aspects of his life, including his relationship with his family, have improved.

“I won’t say I got my life back, because my life is better now,” Ben said. “Bad days aren’t as bad anymore and good days are even better.”