“I needed to be drunk. I couldn’t sit with myself for more than an hour. if I wasn’t sleeping I was intoxicated in one way or another,” Mackenzie shares, reflecting back on how hopeless she felt before arriving at Beit T’Shuvah.

Raised in Los Angeles, California, Mackenzie describes herself as a bit of a “weird kid,” who, despite being fairly nervous and anxious, didn’t have much trouble making friends.

Prescribed Adderall in elementary school and Xanax not long after that, Mackenzie was inadvertently introduced to drugs at a young age. “I was taught that if I have a problem, a pill will fix it. Can’t focus? Take some Adderall. Need to calm down? Take some Xanax,” she states matter-of-factly.

In high school, Mackenzie used a familiar remedy for the new problems she was facing. Feeling insecure? Lonely? Want more friends? Alcohol will fix it all. She started stealing alcohol from her mother’s liquor cabinet and using it to entertain her friends. “Everyone needed to like me,” she explains. Plus, she loved the feeling of not being in control. Mackenzie worked hard in school, keeping her grades up and climbing the social ladder, but when she heard the bell ring, she knew that alcohol would help her to cut loose.

Mackenzie’s alcoholism took off during her senior year of high school, when the pandemic required that she quarantine. Confined to her house and attending all of her classes online, she felt trapped and alone. “Alcohol became my new best friend,” she says. “It replaced the social life I no longer had.”

It didn’t take long for her to start seeing more serious consequences than the constant hangovers and blackouts she was experiencing. A week after her 18th birthday, she got in a car accident and was charged with a DUI. Despite the negative consequences piling up, Mackenzie’s drinking persisted, “I couldn’t even stop after the accident. I mean, I stopped driving, but that didn’t mean I had to stop drinking,” she says. Mackenzie knew she had a problem, but convinced herself that she could regain control when the time was right.

While attending college to become a nurse, Mackenzie’s drinking continued. She knew she wanted to help people but was struggling to help herself. Living in the dorms, she was always able to find a drinking buddy. Still, she felt lonely and depressed no matter how many people she was around or how many drinks she’d had. Mackenzie was constantly playing with fire, mixing alcohol with her prescription of Xanax. She was starting to fear the person she was turning into.

Mackenzie tempted fate one last time, drinking a bottle of rubbing alcohol and earning herself a trip to the hospital. She knew she needed help. She was desperate, and she needed a higher level of care than just attending the occasional AA meeting. With the help of her therapist Doug Rosen and her mother, she was able to find the care she needed here at Beit T’Shuvah.

Mackenzie had always been an avid student and is now learning to cope with life on life’s terms, without the help of drugs and alcohol. “I went from being this self centered, self pitying, depressed person to someone who looks forward to what the day has to offer, and what I can offer to the people around me,” she says with a genuine smile.

Mackenzie spends her days working at the BTS Thrift store and interning with Doug Rosen and Jessica Fischel, sharing her story with today’s youth, hoping to prevent them from ending up in the same situation that she, and many others at Beit T’Shuvah, have found themselves in. Her hope is that her message will teach the next generation that drugs and alcohol will not solve their problems and to never be afraid to seek help if they are struggling. She feels that she has a lot to offer, and has never had something that’s been so spiritually fulfilling.

Mackenzie says that she wants to make it to a year sober before she makes any huge life changes. She plans on seeing the world and making memories that don’t begin with a drink and end with a hangover.

Spotlight on Mackenzie S. by Jake Schw.

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