The Great Escape...
Christina Aridle* is nineteen years old, working
full-time, and attending college. But this is a huge
change from just a few years ago, when she didn't care
about money or responsibility; all she wanted was to
get high. ShoutOut talked to Christina and asked her
some questions about her battle with drugs. Here is
ShoutOut: How old were you when you first
experimented with drugs? What made you try drugs?
Christina Aridle: I am pretty sure I was around 12
when I smoked weed for the first time. There wasn't
any peer pressure or anything I just saw others do it
so I decided I wanted to try it for myself.
SO: What did you like about experimenting with
drugs? What did you not like? What made you continue
CA: With me I think that my main focus was an escape.
I liked the fact that when I was high, I didn't have
to think about reality every second. I could release
my worry. When I tried heroin for the first time I
will never forget the feeling I got. I felt like an
explosion of relief was washed over my body. I
remember feeling like I wouldn't care if I died in
that moment, all that mattered to me was that I was
I have experienced a lot more in my life that anyone
at 19 should ever have to. There is so much that is
wrapped around drug use. For one thing, the effect it
has on your body. I can barely believe that I came out
of all of this unscathed. I could have had Hepatitis,
AIDS, I could have overdosed, the list could go on.
Every time you snort, smoke, drink, shoot or ingest
some unknown substance, and admit it, unless you
cooked it up yourself, it's unknown, you are testing
your life and its limits.
SO: What effects did your drug use have on your
relationships with family, friends, and other loved
CA: A major impact. At first it started out small, I
lied here and there to my parents and to other people
that cared about me, but it was mostly little things
like where I was, what I had been doing that sort of
thing. But when I got into more serious things like
meth and heroin, it was like a war against everyone in
my life, and later I realized it was a war with
myself. While I was in rehab, I finally understood the
damage I had done to others in the midst of my selfish
SO: Did your drug use go from experimentation to an
everyday occurrence? How old were you when this
transformation took place?
CA: I never really had a prolonged addicted
experience, but when I tried heroin for the first
time, if I wasn't immediately taken out of the
environment I was in I would probably still be using
or dead. I do believe that I had become addicted to
SO: When did you reach the point of knowing that
you needed to get treatment? What made you reach that
CA: For me I had to hit rock bottom in order to even
see where my life had turned. I had used heroin for
the first time in my life and I had liked it. I had
liked it so much that I had cracked open my savings
account, something I had never touched since I had
started it at 10 years old, to buy more. Shortly after
my four day drugged marathon, my mother had found out
and had told my heroin-addicted boyfriend to get lost.
The next day he committed suicide by overdosing
himself on heroin. I spent the next four days in the
hospital hoping that he would come out of his coma, he
never did. I went crazy after that, I became
suicidally insane. My parents checked me into a Psych
ward, I was a mess. But when I was there I realized
that my life was out of control and I needed help.
SO: What was the most difficult part about getting
CA: Sticking with it. When I had finally realized that
I did need treatment, I was quite enthusiastic to jump
in and get started, but that attitude can only get you
so far. I was in rehab for 14 months and it wasn't
like I just went for a weekend vacation, I was
confronted everyday with my issues and I was bombarded
by all the other residents' issues. I don't think
anyone quite understands what it is like to live in
a "therapeutic community" with 24 other people who
have just as much baggage as you, if not much much
more. And it definitely wasn't singing kumbaya and
SO: What did you find most helpful in getting
CA: I think the most important part of being in rehab
is that it's a chance for you to be taken out of
society to deal with yourself. I remember when I got
there, I was under the silly impression that since I
was so willing to be there I was going to get out real
soon. Boy was I wrong.
SO: How did you feel after getting out of
treatment? What changes did you make in your life?
CA: Everything was different, I moved to live with my
father in the beginning, I had a full time job, went
to school, the works. I no longer had free time on my
hands. I kept really busy, it helped me to stay
focused on what was important.
SO: How have your relationships changed with
family, friends, and loved ones since you have
finished treatment? What is your main motivation to
follow through with your treatment goals?
CA: I think rehab helped me to grow up. I was stuck in
rebellious teenager mode, but when I got out I
realized that I was the only one that was going to
take care of me. With that being said, I became much
more respectful with my family. I have a completely
different outlook on life and I think it shows in my
relationships with others.
SO: What has been the most difficult thing to deal
with since you have finished treatment? Why?
CA: That's a good question. For me, I am the more
responsible type so the regular stuff like school and
work is innate to me. But my weakness has been
boyfriends. When I was in rehab I started a
relationship with someone who was not a good guy. When
we got out and started dating, he was the worst
influence on my life. He lied to me all the time about
his drug use and really made every attempt possible to
pull me and my life apart.
SO: What advice do you have for teens that are
experimenting with drugs today?
CA: I think it's become a regular thing these days for
kids to experiment. My best piece of advice is to be
smart about it. Always be sure you have a way out.
Don't get yourself stuck in a situation where you
can't say no, and not just to others, mainly to
yourself. And really look at what drugs you try. If
you're going to try meth or heroin for the first time,
DON'T! There is NO happy ending to that story.
SO: What advice do you have for teens that are
increasingly dependent on drugs?
CA: Take a good look in the mirror and think, is what
I am doing worth losing this? Be smart. You only get
one body, one life, and one chance. And at the end of
the day, you dictate how it is going to happen so make
it a good one.
*name has been changed.