Growing up I had what appeared to be the picture perfect family. I lived in a beautiful home in the suburbs of Detroit with both of my parents and my younger brother Brandon. I was given every opportunity in the world, attended private schools, and was on the honor roll. I was also involved in dance, theatre, and many of the schools sports teams. Being the first of twelve grandchildren I always felt a lot of pressure to be perfect and to be the best at everything I did which gave me terrible anxiety from about the age of five.
When I was 15, the perfect little world I thought I was living in was shattered into a million pieces. My mom told me that her and my dad were getting divorced. Due to a court order, we all lived under the same roof for the next year until the divorce was finalized. During my Junior year of High School I switched to a public school for the first time. I had no idea where I fit into any part of my life or where I belonged. I felt absolutely lost and had no control over anything around me. At the time the only thing I could control in my life was food. I began restricting my eating and, later realized, that this was the beginning of my battle with an eating disorder.
I had always stayed away from using drugs or drinking because I knew it would interfere with school and extracurricular activities. Even though my friends all drank, I was adamant that was not the road I was going to go down. Everything changed New Years Eve when I gave in and had my first drink. I do not remember much from that night except getting violently sick up until the next morning. I absolutely hated the way alcohol tasted, but it took me out of myself and the chaos around me in that moment. My grades began to plummet, I was skipping school and getting in trouble at home. My mom had no idea what to do with me.
Towards the end of that year, I had a final paper due in my English class that I was struggling to finish it in time. A girl in my class offered me one of her Adderall and told me it would help me. I had no idea what Adderall was or what it was used for, I just knew I needed to finish my paper or I would not pass the class… so I took it. I had no idea the impact on my life that one moment, that one decision would make. I stayed up all night writing my paper and went to school the next day without getting any sleep still fueled by the drug I had taken. I felt completely out of my mind. I was talking too much and too fast, I couldn’t sit still, my anxiety was through the roof, and my entire body hurt.
The next day when I woke up I was absolutely exhausted and very depressed so I asked my friend for another Adderall. This became my life and within a couple of weeks I was buying them off of other students and realized how many of my classmates were also abusing these “study pills”. Buying them was getting too expensive at the rate I was taking them so I found a doctor who I convinced I had ADHD and would prescribe them for me. I had convinced myself that because they were a prescription medication it was ok, man was I so incredibly wrong.
At first I thought it solved all of my problems in life. For me though I would take so many I would be up for days at a time trying to get everything “just perfect”, only to completely crash for days after, falling into a deep depression. This cycle continued over and over again for months and it became very clear to everyone around me that I had a problem. I was not sleeping or eating. I was 5’7 and had dropped down to just 95 lbs. I looked sick. My brain was completely fried due to the lack of sleep. Because my assignments no longer made sense, my grades plummeted.
My life was in shambles and I was on the verge of not being able to graduate High School. I knew I needed help, but didn’t know how to ask for it. I had lost all of my friends, and pushed my entire family away. My anxiety and depression were unbearable and I just didn’t want to go on. I was in complete despair, lost in the world, and my addiction.
When I was 17 I attempted to take my own life because I did not see any other way out. I thank God every day that he saved me and showed me a new way of life. I entered a dual diagnosis treatment center that summer where I learned about the disease of addiction and began to heal. Through AA and the support of everyone around me I began to put my life back together as a young person in sobriety. I could not have done this without the strong women of AA who took me in and loved me until I could love myself. I began working with a sponsor who took me through the twelve steps of the program. Through prayer and mediation I found a God of my understanding, and turned my will and my life over to him. Through this my obsession to use, and my anxiety and depression I had been fighting my entire life was lifted. I was happy and healthy in mind, body, and spirit for the first time in my life!
That following school year I was able finish my senior year of high school and was accepted into college. I went on to earn my bachelors in Elementary Education and have been teaching first grade for 6 years now… all in sobriety. I do not want to say any of it was easy, especially getting sober at such a young age, but it was all so worth it! My passion in life is to now help others, especially teens who are struggling, and to tell them there is another way of life. A beautiful, happy, and healthy life in sobriety!
Crystal Hampton, 29 years old, with 5 years sober.
I work for Recovery Local, a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Our company was founded by and staffed with recovering addicts cultivating recovery resources through sharing our own experience, strength, and hope.