To the wonderful staff at Fresh Start,

Although I have been clean for over 7 years, I can still vividly remember the pain of being addicted to drugs. I grew up in the most loving and caring home one could ever hope for. However, all the love in the world wasnt enough to keep me from experimenting with drugs. I started smoking cigarettes at 15 and eventually moved on to smoking marijuana too. When I attended college in the fall of 1998, I fell in with the wrong crowd and began using all sorts of other drugs. I experimented with LSD, mushrooms, ecstasy, nitrous oxide, opium, and prescription drugs.

At that point, I was recreationally using drugs on the weekends. Then one night I tried cocaine. From that night on, my entire life centered around getting and using cocaine. I went from having a lot of friends to only a select few who used as much coke as I did. When it came to my appearance, I looked like a different person. Im 55, and by the time I attended Fresh Start I had wasted away to 90 lbs! When I look back at pictures, it makes me ill to see how thin and sickly I had become. However, at the time I didnt see it that way. None of those things mattered to me. I was completely obsessed with using.

After using cocaine every single day and night for almost a year I had become someone I didnt like. I had lost my job, I was lying to everyone including myself, and I was high all the time. One morning I woke up with a realization, I was addicted to cocaine. I knew there was no way I would be able to stop using on my own, I had already tried and failed to many times to count. I decided to tell my parents the truth and ask for their help. Not only did they welcome me with open arms, but they had found me a drug rehab program. They had suspected that I had a serious drug problem and had started to take action to find out how to help. Within 24 hours of telling my parents that I needed help, we were driving from Tucson, Arizona to Orange County, California to enroll me in the Fresh Start program.

I was so scared to leave my life in Tucson, even though it was full of pain. The unknown is sometimes scarier. When we pulled up to the Fresh Start program the panic really set in, I was so far from everyone I knew. Once my parents and I walked through the door I was overcome by how friendly and welcoming everyone was. Even though there is no physical withdrawal from cocaine, the emotional withdrawal I went through was extremely hard for me. During that time, the staff and students were so supportive and caring. It was amazing how fast I went from feeling all alone and overwhelmed to the outgoing and social person I had been before my addiction.

While in the Fresh Start program I learned so much about how to be a better person and remain drug-free. Basic life skills that had fallen by the wayside during my years of using were re-instilled in me. I also found that after completing the sauna portion of the program I felt clear headed and cleaner physically in a way that I never thought possible after taking so many drugs. As the months passed I became the person I had once been before I started using drugs. I was able to look people in the eye and not feel ashamed of who I was and what I was doing with my life.

The day I graduated from the Fresh Start program means more to me than even my college graduation. It is because of the lessons I learned while in the program that I am alive today. Since completing Narconon Californias drug rehab program I have been sober for over 7 years. During that time I went back to college and graduated in 2004. I was also able to quit smoking cigarettes, which was almost as hard as quitting cocaine. A couple years later I married the most wonderful man. He knows my history and helps me stay strong when times get tough. The most wonderful accomplishment is that six months ago my husband and I welcomed into the world our first child, Gavin. My life is everything I wanted it to be now that I have my sobriety. I know it is because of what I learned while at the Fresh Start program that I have become who I am today, a woman who is happy with her life and loves sobriety.

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