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  • Chabad Lifeline


When I was 14, I started to become severely depressed. In fact, I was barely functional. Over the summer, I ended up spending a few weeks at a clinic. They put me on an antidepressant. I couldn’t say for sure how much of an effect it was having, but they seemed happy with my progress and discharged me. In the fall, I went back to school and didn’t tell anyone where I’d been.

Then the depression came back. It felt a little different (probably because of the medication), but the result was the same. I kept my complaints to myself: I didn’t want to go back to the psych ward, especially during the semester. I was convinced that everyone would label me a “psycho" when they found out. So I spent my days just sort of hating life. It was like I didn’t care what happened to me. And when a friend offered me some Adderall one night at her house, I said yes. We crushed up a few pills she had gotten to study for a test.

I don’t want to glorify what it felt like — it wasn’t like I was suddenly having the time of my life. But I felt a jolt of energy, and more importantly, I felt different. Later that week, I got a few more pills off the classmate who had sold them to my friend. This went on for a few months.

After a while, the novelty of the Adderall wore off, and my depression had become even worse. I was now constantly agitated and anxious in addition to feeling miserable. My “connection” had dried up and I had no idea where to get more pills. I did, however, know where to get cocaine.

A friend of a friend of my older brother’s had a reputation as a big party guy, so I approached him. He put me in touch with his dealer, a pretty creepy guy in his late-20s. I bought what I could afford and got out of his apartment as fast as I could.

While the cocaine "scratched the itch,” it obviously did not do wonders for my mental state. I became paranoid to the point of irrationality. My parents didn’t assume the worst, I think partly because they thought the medication had solved everything, and partly because they didn’t really know what to look for.

My low point came when I ran out of money. My meagre savings had been wiped out relatively quickly, so in a panic I just showed up at the dealer’s apartment with the intention of asking if he could give me some sort of advance and I would pay him back. He buzzed me into his building, but as I walked up to his door, something inside me told me I had to get out of there. Once I was a few blocks away, I called my mom in tears. My secret was out.

My mom called 211 and asked for recommendations for help. This is where my journey with Lifeline began. I was embarrassed and defensive at first, but my counsellor showed a real interest in me and life. We explored the depression beneath my addiction, and even the issues beneath my depression. My parents were mortified by the fact that this went on without them noticing. They signed up for parent coaching at Lifeline, and our communication (usually a bit closed off) has started to improve.

Once I got over the shame, I started to realize how lucky I’d been, and how much worse things could have turned out. I wish I’d known there was help available before I turned to drugs, but I’m really grateful to have it now, for as long as I need it.

*Names and details have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved, as the story was adapted after being told to a Lifeline staff member, who was given permission to share. Additionally, we would note that the reason we were able to attend to Amy immediately is because we are regularly expanding our staff in order to meet the growing demand for our services. As Chabad Lifeline is sustained through private donations, this entails significant fundraising efforts. Making a donation can help ensure that we can continue to provide timely care that can ultimately save a life or set a family on a better course, creating a positive ripple effect on future generations.

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