While working with a demographic heavily populated by underserved sections of society, such as Latinos, Native Americans and people suffering from addiction, I came to the realization that I may have a very unique set of skills that I can use to assist the clients with the issues that they are facing. In my freshman year of undergrad, I began using opiates and benzos recreationally. At a point towards the end of this first year, it got to the point where it was not recreational anymore, and was becoming a hamper to my life. During the summer, I found a stash of Xanax and OxyContin, which I started abusing heavily. At one point, I overdosed and blacked out for 36 hours. Due to this, I had to go to the emergency room, where it was stated that I would be fine and that I was just a college kid who had made a mistake experimenting. When I was told this, I latched onto it and used it to tell myself that I really did not have an issue, that it was just a mistake and nothing more. I stopped using pills after this, which allowed me to lie to myself for quite a while that I did not have an issue with addiction. Since then, however, I have come to realize that I stopped using not because I didn’t have a real issue, but because my family was incredibly supportive, and provided me the strength that I needed in order to conquer my addiction. In the last few months, however, I have come to realize that it was much more than a mistake, and that it would have been far more accurate if I had been told that I had an addiction problem. This realization has come to me because of the interactions that I have been blessed enough to have with some of my clients. If I had not had the support of my family, which has been the case for more than a few of my clients, I truly believe that I would not have realized that I was circling the drain of addiction, until I was too far down to make an effective change. I wish that I did not have this addiction in my life, that when I get hurt, I could be given the same medication as everyone else and not have to deal with the pain, that I did not have to worry about how I will respond the next time a situation arises where I have the choice between using and staying strong.
At the same time, however, I believe that being given the opportunity to conquer addiction, and actually doing so, has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. It showed me that I could stand up to addiction and prevail. In addition to a blessing in disguise, I also believe that it is a life experience that I can use to help clients now, as well as far into the future, showing them, just by my mere presence, that addiction is not an unstoppable monster. Before having this issue in my life, I had many aspirations in which direction I wanted to take my psychology degree, all of which are still present. Working with the elderly is something that I would be great at, and is also a demographic that is distressingly underserved. Studying the connections between physical and mental activity, and how physical activity can be good for mental processes is also something that I have a strong interest in. In the midst of all these desires, being given the opportunity to serve an indigenous population and to serve those with addiction and at the same time learning more about myself along the way has opened my aspirations much further. I wish to continue working with populations that are regularly shunned by society at large, whether that be the elderly, indigenous peoples, people struggling with chemical dependencies or those who are suffering from severe and persistent mental illness. This work is something that is not only necessary, but also something that is closely tied to who I am.