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Sober, and life has never been better

Sometimes life just really isn't all that fair, and lately I've come to both understand, and accept, that fact.

My household was an interesting place to grow up. My mom always had her struggles with a pretty bad pain pill addiction, and my dad always went out of his way to get me into activities I enjoyed, probably to steer me in a different direction than a lot of my family has gone.

When I was 14, I got drunk for the first time. I'd be a liar if I said I didn't have fun. I got a minor within the first three times drinking, and I pretty instantly learned that lesson. See, the majority of my family has some sort of alcoholic background, and my parents worked really hard to try to give me a good understanding of that, so I could try to be steered clear of that kind of lifestyle.

That minor kind of did the trick with steering my clear of alcohol, but when I was 15, I smoked pot for the first time. I didn't really like it to begin with. I didn't really feel anything other than stupid, but I tried it again.

I smoked weed maybe four times within the first six months after I tried it, but then one day I smoked K2 (aka Spice, a synthetic marijuana that could be bought at the tobacco store), and that was a different story -- I loved it.

It didn't take long for me to progress from an occasional user to an every day user. Within months, my life was taking a total turn downhill. My grades were at steady F's, I stopped caring about sports and family events, and eventually even friends that had been in my life since elementary school.

By the time summer of 2011 came around, I started progressing even worse. It wasn't just marijuana anymore. I was experimenting with hallucinogens and amphetamines pretty frequently. I got through the whole summer without getting in any trouble (miraculously) but when I started 11th grade things became totally different.

It was October of 2011, when my parents finally found out I had been skipping classes, and failing them. They dragged me into my school counselor's office, and within a week and a half I was checked into my first residential treatment center, Keystone Recovery Center, in Canton, S.D.

At first it really affected me, having to be away from home for Thanksgiving and my 17th birthday, and most of all not being able to play hockey.

In December, I got out of treatment with a whole different outlook on life. I wanted to be sober, but the problem was I didn't want to change anything else. Within three days, I was actively using again, and by March, I was admitted to Northland Recovery Center in Grand Rapids, Minn., my second inpatient treatment in three months. I missed both my junior hockey and baseball season.

Northland really had a huge impact on me. I got out in May, and I was as serious as I had ever been, but once again, within three weeks this time, I was actively using again.

In August, I landed myself some legal charges that were finally my true wakeup call. With the exception of one slip, I've been clean for 44 days today, and my life is the best it's ever been since I was 14. Everything has gone better, including my schooling, responsibility, and most of all, relationships with my family.

It's taken me a long time to get over all the shame of seeing my reputation change, as well as everything else. But today, I'm not ashamed to say I'm a drug addict. In fact, I'm a teenage drug addict who is in active recovery and life's never been any better.

Jonah Bowe is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.