Jamie’s story

Embracing a bright future

Growing up in a broken family and dealing with depression, anxiety and abuse from various sources, I found solace in drugs and the lifestyle that came with it, including sex and partying.

It wasn’t until I reached the age of 28 that I finally became sober and began to realise the impact of my past actions. I noticed how my academic performance suffered, and I became increasingly disengaged, often skipping school to get high. This behaviour led to run-ins with the law, fights and unnecessary conflicts with family and friends.

Despite the gradual decline, I didn’t fully comprehend the extent of the damage until later on. Throughout the years, I continued to use drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain and negativity in my life, all while experiencing the challenges of growing up, finding employment and navigating relationships.

These substances seemed to significantly impact my teenage mind, affecting my learning and understanding of certain things. I had experienced many ups and downs, struggling to comprehend and learn from my experiences instead of resorting to smoking and drinking to cope. At around 20 years old, a breakup had a profound effect on me, leading to a deep depression. I withdrew and fell into a serious slump.

I continued with my life, feeling like a different person to my childhood self. We all go through tough times and learn to cope in our own ways. For me, it meant putting on a mask and pretending to be okay when I went to work, even if I wasn’t. I struggled to maintain employment and often turned to drugs.
When I saw my friends, I didn’t feel comfortable confiding in them.

I realised that not talking about my struggles might have been part of the problem, but I continued to act like everything was fine.

Life had its ups and downs. I made money, had jobs and acquired possessions, only to lose them and end up back at my mum’s house. I continued to use drugs and engage in risky behaviour, which eventually led to my arrest and incarceration.

Upon the recommendation of my lawyer, I decided to enrol in the Teen Challenge Living Free Program, which was approved by the magistrate for a 12-month completion. Following my release from prison, I was taken to the premises at Strathalbyn, where I received a warm welcome.

Having grown up surrounded by drug use and its associated activities, I found it challenging to shift my mindset and embrace positive change. However, I was committed to making the most of this chance to avoid returning to prison and rectify my mistakes. My experience in the program has been transformative, as I have embraced Christianity, learned about the sacrifice of Christ and gained a deeper understanding of community and the support it offers.

The program has enabled me to grow physically and mentally and foster wholesome and healthy friendships. I am optimistic about the future and making plans to pursue a meaningful career that will allow me to positively impact the lives of others.

I have rekindled old friendships and relationships with my family, and I am looking forward to more good times with them. I’m a much happier person now and thriving on the positive things life has to offer. Thanks to the staff and volunteers at Teen Challenge SA and everyone who has tried to help me make a difference and turn my life around for the better.