By Valery Jorgensen, ’15
Editor’s note: Zack Adams is a pseudonym to protect the identity of the story’s primary subject.
Local college first-year student, Zack Adams, rose above the odds and became one of 10 percent to recover from heroin addiction without a relapse during high school and enter college with a fresh slate.
You wake up, breathe in the brisk morning air, and think “today is going to be a good day”. But what if it isn’t, then what? Life happens. Everyone has good and bad days, but it is how you deal with life that shapes who you are. Good decisions or bad decisions, who’s to say. The fact that you make it through is what matters.
Zack Adams was 12 years old when he had a bad day. The day started as any other day would have; going to middle school in Shoreline, Washington. Middle school can be rough. Kids bully, tease, rumors fly around, and kids do whatever they can to be cool. As people grow up, they learn that it was just middle school, a phase people go through. But what does the view look like to those who are not on the “cool” side of the totem pole.
Rumors can have lasting effects. “You had sex with a cat” is the rumor that changed Zack Adams’s life on his bad day. Zack went home from school with a friend. Having a bad day, his friend told him his mom had “things to make the day better”. This was the first time Zack tried a drug. A little white pill, vicodin can become very addictive.
Zack and his friend soon realized these pills did make their days better. It soon progressed from once in a while, to once a week, to every day. By the time Zack was 13 1/2 he was addicted. “One day we didn’t hang out and I felt like I needed it, I was addicted.”
“One day we didn’t hang out and I felt like I needed it, I was addicted.” ~ Zack Adams
As days and weeks passed by, drugs came and went. Zack progressed from vicodin to oxicotton, to smoking oxi, to smoking heroin, and finally injecting heroin. The total progression took about two years. After these two years, Zack was addicted to Heroin for about two years.
“it (shooting up heroin) starts with the whole experience when you tie your arm. High in itself because you know it’s coming. When you stick the needle in your arm, it feels really good. You push it in and it’s a great feeling. Then you just push the stopper down. You can’t do it too fast but you rush through it. You feel it move through your entire vein. Feel it move over your entire body. It’s a warm feeling. All your muscles relax right away. It always makes you feel good; body and mind.”
One day changed everything, it was just regular day, but it changed his life.
“Some days you just want to get extra high” Zack can’t pick out days from this period in his life, they all blur together. On this day he got high multiple times by shooting up Heroin, smoking Oxi, and taking Ritalin.
Zack woke up from an overdose 14 hours later with foam in his mouth. He knew needed help. While his parents had no idea what was going on, he confessed his addiction and voluntarily went to rehab.
Seattle Children’s Hospital was “McDonald’s play place from hell” according to Zack. His mom thought it would be a good idea to go to a children’s hospital, however, he would disagree and still resents her for it. Zack went to rehab September 2, 2010. The hardest part of rehab was withdrawals.
In rehab you are given a choice: drugs or no drugs. Drugs make withdrawals less severe. However, it takes longer to get over and you will be in rehab longer. Zack chose no drugs. This meant that his withdrawals would be worse but over sooner. Withdrawals is an overarching term used to describe what happens when something your body is used to having suddenly is not in your system anymore. Each part of a withdrawal is called episode. During Zack’s withdrawals he had episodes indescribable. At one point he ripped out his own hair, tore off his skin, attacked one of the coaches in the rehab center, and dry heaved. Worst of all were convulsions. None of this he could control. It was “the most terrifying thing in the world”. What he remembers is that he survived. By the time he got out the worst was over.
A “second birthday” is what they call the day you get out of rehab. Zack’s is on the September 30, 2010. It is called a second birthday because it is the day you get your life back. Zack was let out of rehab on his older sister’s birthday. Now they share a birthday. It’s “an experience that you hold with you forever. It is the end of something that destroys your life.”
Where this part of Zack’s life is in the past, it will never be completely over. He worries “everyday” that he could relapse, even knowing that he won’t let himself. Cravings come every day. “Mentally your body tells yourself that you want the drug. Your veins pulse and you simply crave the high. It’s something that will probably never go away.”
Where to some this may seem unreal, frightening, and astonishing, Zack made it through. Looking back, that decision when he was 12 years old will stay with him for the rest of his life. Good decision or bad decision, no one can say. The decision did shape him into who he is today.
Now as a college freshman, walking into a college party, Zack acts differently. He is aware of his settings and what goes on. Pacific Lutheran University appears to be a safe environment where friends can hang out off campus together and have a good time, but no one fully can understand the dark parts that they are blissfully unaware of.