Resident Of the Month
When Dakota, now 21, suffered a MRSA infection four years ago, he had no idea a prescription for Hydrocodone would change his life. “I crossed that invisible line once I started taking these pills,” he said. “They made me feel really good and so I started to abuse them. I began taking them just for the effects and not for what they were prescribed for.”
From 17 to 19 years old Dakota went on a pill-popping rampage – frequently finishing his prescription ahead of time and then turning to the family’s medicine cabinet for a taste of what was prescribed to his parents. “Once my refills expired, I stole pills for my parents to keep my habit going,” he said. “This was where I realized I may have a problem… but I had no intention of addressing that possibility.”
While enrolled at Scottsdale Community College, the Health Science major was able to function and maintain an A average – but not his sobriety. During his last semester at SCC his addiction gathered momentum. He was introduced to Oxycotton. “My tolerance level had grown high enough for me not to feel the effects of the pills I was taking prior,” he said. Then with a few weeks to go in the semester a friend introduced me to Oxys and my addiction took off. I fell in love with these pills and couldn’t get enough of them… I wanted more all the time.”
Dakota’s growing appetite for Oxycotton led him to clean out his savings account – spending more than $1,000 on these pills over a six-month period. The progression of his disease hit its climax September 2013 when his dealer got out of the business of selling Oxys. “He said selling the pills had become too expensive for him to handle,” Dakota said. “He told me he had a new alternative that was similar to Oxys but much cheaper and better – heroin.”
After seeing the reaction of a few friends who had used heroin, Dakota said he decided to try the opiate. “I saw the way they reacted after taking a hit and I decided that I also wanted to experience that feeling,” he said. “I started off smoking heroin but went to the needle in less than three weeks. It was the best high I had ever experienced.”
With aspirations to achieve his Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Dakota enrolled at Arizona State University January 2014; from this point on things got worse. “I started using daily and at times went to my classes dope sick, he said. “My grades dropped from A’s to C’s. I became physically and mentally dependent on heroin.”
Desperate to stop his free-fall, and afraid to tell his parents about his problem directly, Dakota took another route. He left paraphernalia in areas where he knew he parents would find them – and they did. “Once they confronted me I told them everything… I told them I needed help. My mother acted quickly and took me to the hospital to get tested for all diseases associated with using drugs intravenously and possibly sharing a needle; I came back negative on all counts at which point my doctor recommended rehab,” he recalled.
A 30-day visit to The River Source in Casa Grande launched Dakota onto a path to regaining himself. “I had a physic change during the course of my treatment… I discovered that there was much more to life than getting high… I learned that I had a purpose in life,” Dakota said.
Upon completing treatment, Dakota balked at the idea of checking into sober living but knew it was the next best thing for him. Through his rehab counselor’s suggestion, he entered Carla Vista Sober Living. “At first I was worried about entering this environment and fitting in… but then I came to the realization that this was what I really needed to do,” he said. “After seeing that I had a lot in common with the residents there, I opened my mind up to the Fellowship of Recovery. I attended my first meeting at Saturday Night Live (SNL) and found a sponsor later that evening. This was the best thing I did for my recovery. Through my sponsor I have worked a strong recovery program and have put myself in a position to return to ASU to complete my degree.”
With more than 90 days of continuous sobriety, Dakota also attributes his recovery growth to the structure of his Carla Vista Sober Living house, which he says has helped him to become more responsible, accountable, and service-oriented. “Carla Vista motivated me in my recovery and helped me understand that recovery is not a game – it’s a life or death matter. My experience here has been invaluable.”