“I was an extremely curious kid,” says Zach E., Beit T’Shuvah resident. ”One of my first memories as a kid is of me going into my mother’s medicine cabinet and taking one of every single pill that was in there. Blue ones, red ones, round ones, oval ones, every single color and shape I could find. I ended up getting my stomach pumped. I was only seven years old at the time.”

Unbeknownst to Zach, this unfortunate event was to set the stage for further drug use later on in his life. “I’ve always had an addictive personality”, said Zach.“ I developed a food addiction by the time I was ten, which in turn led to a video game and online gambling addiction. It ultimately came back full circle to prescription drug use by the time I was seventeen.”

Zach’s parents are successful professionals, but they were suffering with their own personal issues. “I remember going into my father’s gym bag and finding bottles of Vicodin and Xanax,” Zach says. “My father had an endless supply of drugs. He would go overseas and get massive amounts of prescription drugs. I had access to drugs whenever I wanted them.”

Zach was sinking quickly into a deep addiction. “I got to college and started using quite a bit more. I was drinking a lot and using a lot of cocaine as well.” Zach was able to finish his freshman year of college but went straight to rehab that summer. ”I was very resistant to recovery,” he says. Nonetheless, he was put on Suboxone maintenance, and while that was helpful, it wasn’t long before he was taken off it and he had to find other ways to feed his addiction. “When I got back to school I spent far too much of my time trying to get well enough to make it to class. I eventually found the local clinic and got put on methadone, but it wasn’t sustainable. I still couldn’t make it to class,” he says. Zach was eventually asked to leave.

“I went back home to live with my parents, but things got worse, and I started stealing. I stole upwards of twenty thousand dollars before my mother even caught on to it. By this time, I had become dangerous. I was violent and would go right into a psychosis when I was using. Eventually, they told me I couldn’t stay with them anymore, and I was sent to California to a rehab, but that didn’t workout very well. I would come up dirty every month or so. I think they were lenient because they were more concerned with getting paid than the welfare of their clients. After eight months I left, but I kept on using,” says Zach. Facing the reality of living on the streets, he would use his wits and charm to find women to support him until he was too much to handle. The drugs always came first. In between girlfriends, he would end up in detoxes, treatment facilities, and occasionally, on the streets.

Things got really out of hand when he started using crack cocaine and fentanyl. “I started getting really paranoid, thinking people were following me, going into a psychosis all the time. I overdosed twice and ended up in the hospital for four days with pneumonia—all of this during the pandemic. I had somehow survived that, but I had lost my faith, and I no longer had the will to live. I would go to any AA meeting I could find. I ended up near the Marina Center [a meeting hall on the West Side of Los Angeles] and would go to all the meetings I could. Eventually, I met someone with a key to the Center. I would go in at night and leave at six in the morning every day. I was in a really bad way when I met some people that had successfully gone through the program here at Beit T’Shuvah, and they recommended that I go. I managed to get into a detox in Tarzana and started calling Beit T’Shuvah every day. I was desperate, but eventually Beit T’Shuvah answered the call. I knew I was in the right place as soon as I got here. This is the first time that I’ve really felt like I do matter. I’ve never felt as connected as I do now and I’m as happy as I’ve ever been,” says Zach. “Ninety days is the longest I’ve been able to stay sober in the past—and I’ve finally broken that ninety day curse. I’ve been clean now for 120 days, and I have Beit T’Shuvah to thank for it.”

Spotlight on Zach E. by Daniel K.

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