“Following my last time in the hospital for alcohol-induced pancreatitis, my parents found out I was still drinking and gave me an ultimatum – move out or go to rehab,” Nick C. shares leaning back on the couch in the BTS Teen lounge. This was not the life trajectory Nick envisioned growing up in Southern California. Born in Agoura in 1992, Nick moved to Moorpark at age six, then North Hollywood before landing in the sleepy Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley for the balance of his childhood. “I had an amazing childhood growing up in a Christian family,” Nick recounts. Homeschooled up until fifth grade, Nick attended public school until ninth grade, when he transferred to a Christian private school to play football there. Around this time, he also began smoking weed, stealing prescription meds from his mother, and selling both to his classmates. This behavior did not go unnoticed by school officials, and he was kicked out for the remainder of his freshman year.
However, he was allowed back in at the start of his sophomore year and returned to smoking weed. By eleventh grade, he had moved back into the public school system and, “that’s when I first got drunk and started to party,” he says. By his senior year, he was smoking weed every day and had returned to selling it again. He managed to graduate on time, but three months after graduation, he was arrested for felony marijuana distribution. To avoid serious jail time, he went to Impact Outpatient treatment for three months to gain favor with the courts. And as he remembers, “When I was nineteen, I went to jail for two months as opposed to the eighteen months I was facing.” On Christmas Day 2011, he was released and immediately resumed his drinking, drugging, and partying. He had added cocaine, mushrooms, and ecstasy to his narcotic inventory by this time.
Next, after getting injured at work and collecting a workman’s compensation settlement, Nick moved to Colorado and took a job working the ski lifts in Aspen. And from 2012-2013, he took his partying to the next level living in an “Animal House”-like collegial environment. Following that “Mile High” period in his life, Nick moved back to Simi and eventually landed work in the Vape Industry. This job involved attending many conventions, which led to even more drinking, drugging, and partying. At one of these conventions in 2016, he met a new friend from Colorado and moved back there and took a job at another Vape shop. That job led to employment at the third-largest marijuana dispensary in Colorado, and then a year and a half later, “I transitioned over to working at the biggest outdoor (marijuana) growing company in Colorado,” he explains.
Not long after working at that company, however, he once again returned home to Simi in 2019. This time it wasn’t for a job but rather his desire to spend more time with his grandparents. But upon his return, as he tells it, “I shattered my heel, couldn’t work, and my drinking worsened as a result.” Eventually, he did land a job at The Home Depot, but he was still drinking heavily off and on the job. It got so bad that “Near the end of my employment, I began to be hospitalized for alcohol-induced pancreatitis,” he remembers. His illness had progressed so badly following his fourth hospitalization that he had to have his gallbladder removed in November 2020.
Despite removing his gallbladder and being hospitalized each month over a six-month period, Nick continued to drink heavily. It was at this point, however, that two pivotal events occurred in his life that finally provided the much-needed clarity he so desperately needed with respect to his drinking and drug addiction.
During one of his last times in the hospital, Nick learned that his great uncle Joe passed away, and within a couple of days of that devastating news, he also found out his aunt had been diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. This, along with the ultimatum his parents had laid down following his last visit to the hospital, as mentioned earlier, finally made it clear to Nick that, “I had to get sober so I could spend more time on this planet with my family,” he shares. His mother had already been researching Beit T’Shuvah, and fortunately, a former resident, Jeff Lester, was working for Nick’s cousin at the golf course he managed. Jeff gave a resounding endorsement, which eventually led to Nick’s admittance to BTS in July of 2021.
“This place honestly saved my life. Without it, I know I would’ve died from pancreatitis,” Nick says. And he gives the lion’s share of the credit to his treatment team. “Asher has played a massive role in my recovery. This is the first time I’ve ever had a therapist in my life, and Analia has helped me immeasurably. And my spiritual adviser Jill has guided my journey to spiritual healing,“ he shares. They’ve also helped Nick heal his bond with his parents, and “Now I have an amazing relationship with my family,” Nick recounts with that infectious smile. He also has a newfound purpose in his life. “I now work in the kitchen, and I’m part of the Youth Outreach Program,” he relays. With a dire health prognosis just one year removed, Nick looks forward to returning to work, spending time with his family, and pursuing a future free of addiction and filled with the love and beauty of life.