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Education Director Denise Achee: Hello! So today is your last day?

Ashton C: Yeah!

DA: Excited?

AC: Yes, oh my God. It’s like, crazy how excited I am. I cannot wait to see my mom and my sister tomorrow.

DA: How long have you been here?

AC: I’ve been here for 80 days.

DA: 80 days.

AC: I know! It’s crazy like I never would have imagined that this would be my life now. I’m so excited, like you know like whenever I say ‘my life now’ like a sober life. I don’t know.

DA: A sober life.

AC: Yeah! Like I’m so happy now, like it’s crazy.

DA: So it feels like a big weight has been lifted off your back?

AC: Yeah like you have no idea. Before I came here I was like all lying and like manipulating and conniving and like just… there’s no way to describe what I was doing.

DA: So you came here for substance abuse?

AC: Yeah I came here for opiate, you know like pills and pills and pills and pills you know and I always thought it was like “oh hey, like it’s okay the doctors are prescribing it for me…”

DA: Oh let’s talk about that because you actually… your addiction was actually created because of a health problem.

AC: Yeah, like you know I have Crohn’s Disease, and so for me constantly whenever I was younger like I’ve always just had pills just  thrown at me like I just…and my mom’s a nurse and so it’s like oh like you know you just learn like hey a pill can fix it. Like, hey you know you got depression? Take this! Like you got anxiety? Oh here’s Xanax. Like oh, you know, everything happens with a pill. Like, ah!

DA: When did you recognize that it had gotten out of control, or that you were actually addicted to the medicine?

AC: I actually was having an affair with a very older man and it was like…

DA: Unhealthy?

AC: Yeah. Oh God it was crazy. What happened was I just… I got to where I was taking…I could take Percocet 30s, you know Roxies? I could snort one 30 in one nose and one 30 in the other and be able to shoot Dilaudid in my thigh and I could still want to drink and smoke weed all at the same time.

DA: So we’re luck you’re alive.

AC: Very lucky. I was like going overboard and I was all like…because of the fact of like me being, you know having the luxury of having a mom for a nurse and reading her textbooks as a child like I know what I can and cannot do as far as like, you know, acetaminophen, like overdoses and stuff I was like oh like I got this. I know what I’m doing. I’m a mini doctor like I can…you know…it’s not how things are like no. I could have easily died out there doing these crazy things and like I thought because I was like all out there selling these drugs like I knew better than everybody else and obviously I didn’t because I didn’t have control over it.

DA: So tell me when you got to Inspirations how was your journey here?

AC: It was rocky in the beginning because obviously my addiction, like my habits were still happening, you know, still lying still cheating the system, still like, you know, I wasn’t honest at all and I didn’t get honest until like a month like once I hit that 30 days I was just like so…again that weight was lifted because I broke down and I just cried to my therapist and I was just so happy to open and tell her about all the, you know, that affair and the secret life I was living and everything and then after that the girls and I, we got a lot closer. It was like a…

DA: A bonding?

AC: Yeah. It really was.

DA: Well the truth will set you free.

AC: Yeah and so it’s like, we just have this huge, one big family and now that I’m leaving it really like, it makes you emotional, you know like oh my gosh these girls…

DA: You did a lot of work on yourself here; you do a lot of group work. You exposed yourself so you were sharing a side of you that you never shared with anyone.

AC: Exactly. Like I’ve not been this sober since I was like 13…14 and I’m 17 now so it’s like, gosh, years.

DA: You’re free.

AC: I know! It’s a whole new me! I’m like God I don’t even remember this.

DA: What are your plans for when you go home? What do you plan to do?

AC: I’m going to finish up my GED and I’m working under a hair stylist and so in Georgia I get my license in six months by working under her license so then I’ll have my cosmetology license and like I said I’ll finish up my GED and go to Gordon State and I start the med program.

DA: Wow so you got goals, you have dreams.

AC: I have so many and I’m just so excited like I want to be neonatal intensivist. I’m going to have a big job and I’m going to take care of people because that’s what I want to do like, you know I’ve taken care of myself now, but now it’s time to give back.

DA: Well we’re going to miss you. I’ll miss making you your peppermint tea.

AC: I know [laughs]. Every day.

DA: So we’ll keep in touch and keep us posted and let us know how you’re doing. Alright?

AC: Yes, alright.

DA: Thank you for sharing. Thank you.

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