I refused to acknowledge I was addicted before I went to Yes We Can Youth Clinics. My problems started when I was about thirteen and entered the second year of middle school. I was insecure and afraid I would not be accepted. As a result, I pretended to be someone I really wasn’t. I acted tough and fearless, so others wouldn’t detect my insecurity.
I joined a group that partly consisted of fellow students, but also of people who didn’t attend school at all. They used drugs and drank alcohol and I thought that was very interesting. It looked cool, I thought, and I wanted to belong. I was happy to join without thinking about the consequences. I noticed that I felt calm and that I did not feel insecure when I smoked weed or drank alcohol. I didn’t feel anything anymore. I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t happy. This is why I kept using.
Drugs allowed me to escape reality. As I spent a longer time with the group, I noticed it grew bigger. People I normally never hang out with joined. They brought different types of drugs: XTC, speed and cocaine. I started to experiment a number of times. I took a pill but got bored after a couple of times. I wanted to try even more.
When I tried coke for the first time, I felt scared. I knew it was considered to be ‘something bad’, but that was also what made it quite cool. After using it a couple of times, I thought I had finally found the perfect medication. It was easier to hide behind my mask with coke than it was with weed or pills. I always said I was doing great. I was happy towards the outside world and pretended as if nothing was wrong. This way I could keep it hidden for a long time. All of that changed the moment I started using more.
At one point, my whole life revolved around using drugs. I went to school because it was easy to score some coke there. Besides, I would attract less attention if I attended class instead of skipping school. I worked every day to get money. I used in order to live and lived to use. I couldn’t stop anymore. I told myself every day: ‘This is the last time, you’re quitting tomorrow.’ It didn’t work and I didn’t know why.
I blamed everyone and everything around me, even though I was the one with the problem. The lying, cheating and manipulation grew worse every day and my parents started to notice. I kept asking for large amounts of money and for every lie three new ones were required. I flipped out if I wasn’t allowed to go out because that meant I couldn’t use. Using wasn’t fun anymore. It had become hell, all because of my own doing. I was completely defenceless against my addiction.
After some time, my parents found out about my addiction. We received help from regular addiction care institutions. One part of me really wanted to stop, but the addiction part in me was stronger. I had to come in for a session once a week and manipulated the hell out of them. At first everyone thought I was doing well again, but after a while I could no longer hide the fact that I was still using every day.
This was the reason my parents proposed clinical treatment at Yes We Can. It was an easy choice, because it was either Yes We Can or leave the house. I left for the clinic thinking I’d be relaxing for ten weeks and I would decide whether I would continue using when I got home. It turned out very differently.
It took me a couple of weeks to get used to the situation, but I quickly noticed I was accepted for who I was. The fellows, counsellors and coaches understood me and I didn’t need to wear that mask. I no longer had to pretend I was someone else and could just be myself.
The problem was I didn’t know who the real Myrthe was anymore. By showing me and having me accept the fact that I was addicted and by confronting me with what had happened to my life as a result of using drugs, I was able to re-discover myself – little by little. The group and the one-on-one sessions were the hardest, exactly because of these confrontations. Thanks to the daily in- & outdoor activities with other fellows and coaches, I also had a really great and fun time.
Yes We Can Youth Clinics makes your recovery fun. You’re not just learning by talking, but you also apply what you have learned. By means of games and activities you conquer your fears, insecurities and other difficult feelings within yourself. The program taught me how to live a structured life, to accept the things I cannot change and to be self-confident again. Moreover, I learned the true nature of my addiction. If I use just once – be it coke, weed or alcohol – I cannot stop and I will lose my life the way it is now.
I am an addict in recovery for the rest of my life. But I don’t have to listen to the addicted voice in my head anymore. I listen to myself every day. In the clinic I was allowed to feel again and learned how to deal with those feelings. I finally was able to feel genuinely happy again, angry, sad and all those other emotions – everything I could not feel while I was using. At first, it was very difficult to combine the world of meetings, recovery and fellows with the real world I live in. I relapsed into my old behaviour quite often, but never used again. I found it hard to accept that I was the one who had changed and not the outside world. The aftercare meetings made me realise I don’t have to do this all by myself. Yet the meetings itself do not keep me clean, it’s just a helpful tool that makes it easier. I stay clean by taking action when facing difficulties in daily life. Then it’s up to me to ask for help and think of a solution rather than ignore my feelings and not deal with them.
I can honestly say I got my life back and it’s better than I had ever hoped it would be. I now live life to truly live and no longer to use. My family and I are doing very well. They trust me again and I dare to be myself. Yes We Can Youth Clinics offered me a big chance and I took it.