Former drug addict shares stories, advice

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”Jacob Schwartz” align=”alignleft” width=”283″][/media-credit]
Glendale Hall, a former drug addict and a speaker for Freedom From Chemical Dependency, talks to students about drug abuse.

by Douglas Abrams, Malini Gandhi and Samantha Libraty

Glendale Hall, a former drug addict and a speaker for Freedom From Chemical Dependency, a nonprofit substance abuse prevention organization, gave presentations during B-, C- and D-blocks yesterday in the auditorium.

B-block

In effort to spread awareness about the dangers and effects of drug addiction, Hall discussed his experiences with drug addiction during B-block.

Growing up on the streets of Cambridge, Hall began using drugs when he was 13. “I first started using marijuana,” he said.

Hall explained the first time in which he used drugs. He said he was sitting on a bench when his friend offered him marijuana. “He did not warn me about what it would do. He did not even ask permission. I felt scared,” said Hall.

Initially, Hall said he was addicted solely to marijuana, but eventually, he became addicted to alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroin.

After talking about how he began using drugs, he discussed the effects of his drug usage on his life. “Marijuana had the worst affects on my life,” said Hall, “I smoked it everyday as a teen.”

Upon reflection, Hall said his addiction to marijuana prevented him from growing up. “Although I was aging, I was stuck in my teenage years mentally, emotionally and intellectually,” he said.

Next, Hall debunked the myths associated with marijuana.“Many people think that marijuana is not as bad as other drugs because it can not kill you, but it can really jack you up.”

Hall ended the presentation with the story of how he conquered his addiction. He ended up in rehabilitation after he nearly died of a heroin overdose.

Now, Hall has been free from addiction for 18 years. “Basically, I have spent the past 18 years growing up. When I look in the mirror, I like what I see.”

C-block

During C-block, Hall described his 22-year experience with drugs, the process of rehabilitation and the opportunities a sober life has provided him.

Hall described his outlook and personality at 13-years-old, when he first started using drugs.

Coming from a large family full of alcoholics and drug addicts, Hall said that as a teenager he “didn’t see anything wrong with my family or with me.”

“I remember thinking that the real drug addict, the one who has the problem, was that homeless guy with the five coats who drank out of a paper bag. That’s the guy who has an issue–not me, not my family.”

But, Hall soon learned that the disease of addiction did not play by society’s stereotypes. It is “sneaky and cunning and didn’t pick favorites.”

While one of Hall’s uncles was the typical homeless alcoholic and the other two were well-off alcoholics with nice houses, the end result was the same—all three drank themselves to death, according to Hall.

After 20 years of drug abuse, Hall said he found his way to rehabilitation.

“The one thing I will never forget about entering rehabilitation was a small coin they gave me with the words ‘to thine own self be true.’ They told me it meant to take care of yourself even when no one is watching you, when you are completely alone. Those words have stuck with me.”

To conclude the presentation, Hall discussed tactics to help a friend who addicted to drugs. He said that this topic is particularly important because “so many teens prefer to do nothing and just sweep the situation under the carpet. What they don’t realize is that by saying nothing, they are actually reinforcing their friend’s behavior because it creates the message that they are fine with what their friend is doing. Silence is loud.”

According to Hall, when talking to a friend, “Always lead off with ‘I’ not ‘you’: say ‘I’m worried about you’ rather than ‘You really shouldn’t be doing that.’ The ‘you’ approach puts them on the defensive, while the ‘I’ approach tugs on their heartstrings.”

D-block

During his final presentation, which was D-block, Hall discussed the transition to college and misconceptions about drug use.

“College is very different. No one will be checking on you and asking you what you have been doing like teachers and parents do in high school,” he said. “When you get to college, it is your one shot to take care of yourself and to make sure you do the right thing.”
There are many misconceptions surrounding college and the amount of kids who use drugs and consume alcohol, Hall said.
“Most of you have never been to college, and you only hear things from the media and other kids. But, until you actually experience it, you won’t know how many kids actually drink alcohol and use drugs,” he said.
Most teenagers think more college students drink regularly than the statistics show, Hall said.
“Thirty to 40 percent of college students drink and/or use drugs. The other 60 to 70 percent are doing well and studying hard,” he said. “College is not all about drinking and partying. It is about doing well and growing up.”
“Don’t be like the statistics. Do the right thing and balance your life well. Then, you will succeed,” he concluded.