I Could Be 6 Feet Under, Instead, I Get to Live Life
I was born in 1984 and raised in Saint Joseph, Missouri. I had everything growing up: a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, many friends, and many people I looked up to. Everything was at my fingertips. I played baseball and basketball. I had a bike, a three-wheeler—just everything.
Growing up, I had many memorable moments. I started playing basketball when I was 5 years old, and by the time I was 8, my friends and I were playing at the same level as 12-year-olds in 3rd grade. We were pretty good. Another fond memory is when I would go on vacation with my parents in Missouri. We had a boat and spent a lot of time in the water. I would jump off cliffs and I even learned how to water ski when I was 7 or 8 years old. I could go on and on about my life before drugs. I had an incredible childhood, and I could not have asked for anything better.
In my early teenage years, I started drinking and smoking marijuana. In 8th grade, when I turned 14, I would hang out with my friends at a buddy’s house. We had another friend who was 22 years old and started selling alcohol. On Saturday nights we would buy alcohol, with our 10-dollar-a-week allowance, and then we started buying marijuana. We started drinking alcohol at age 14, and the rest went downhill from there.
On December 31st, 2001, when I was 17 years old, my brother gave me cocaine. I don’t know why he did it. We were getting ready to go to a high school party and he made me try it. I got offered cocaine 4 or 5 times before that and never tried it, but this time my brother offered it to me insisting it would be okay. As a child, you always look up to your older siblings, so my thought was that if my brother, someone I love dearly, says it is okay then it must be okay. That’s when I got hooked to cocaine.
This is also why today I teach my son that just because a loved one says it is okay it might not necessarily be okay.
I started using drugs thinking it was not hurting anybody. I lost jobs in the middle of that. I grew up in a Christian family and I went to church all the time, but when I started drugs, I lost my way. I was lying to my parents, and I was selling personal items to get high. In high school, I lost my way in sports, I went downhill from there.
“My uncle Chris and the Narconon program saved my life. I could be 6 feet under. Instead, I get to live life and see my son grow up. I am just amazed every day and I thank God I am here because I could be dead.”
I tried to get off of drugs for years going to clinics but they would feed me pills and basically trade drugs with other drugs. Meth speeds up your heart so they prescribed me pills to calm me down.
Finally, I called my uncle Chris as he lived a few hours away and I was hoping he would take me in. Instead, he came to me the next day and said he was going to take me somewhere else. He took me to Narconon. I was worried about being able to finance the program, but then I thought it would save my life.
And it did, Narconon literally saved my life. Now I fight every day to repay my uncle. I made the decision that by the time I retire I want to go and stay at Narconon and help people. I want to share my story and tell them everything is going to be alright. I need to pay this debt back. My uncle Chris and the Narconon program saved my life. I could be 6 feet under. Instead, I get to live life and see my son grow up. I am just amazed every day and I thank God I am here because I could be dead.
When you get to Narconon you get the feeling that these people want you to succeed. Whenever I went to a clinic in Saint Joseph I did not feel the same level of love and comfort as I did at Narconon. It was amazing that they were always there no matter what. I appreciated they were there because they wanted to be there, not for any other reason.
When I did the work in the course room after I finished the sauna portion of the program, I turned to the Supervisor in tears and I said, “You know what? I am going to be strong enough to say no.” After I got back from Narconon, a guy offered me meth and I said “hell no.” That’s what Narconon did, it gave me the strength to say no.
I believe it was this program that did it, the way you clean the person. After 14 days in the sauna, I already felt my body was clean. It took me a total of 26 days to complete the sauna detox. By the end of it, I felt like I had never taken a drug in my life. I felt like I was 16 and never took drugs. I feel that even if you don’t do drugs you should get in that sauna and cleanse your body. It cleared my body and blood of all drugs I have ever done. It gave me a new body and a new mind to go back into society with. I thank God every day for this program. Everybody needs to do this program. It is insanely fantastic.
At graduation I felt great, it was amazing. My parents thought I was going to stay with my uncle Chris after I finished the program. I felt like they did not want me there because they were not sure about me being 100% done and stable. However, they seemed to gradually see that I was done with drugs for real this time. I have the best relationship with my parents now.
I am proud of myself because I have done what needed to be done and I keep making it happen. I keep getting up every day thanking the lord and everyone that’s been around me. God gave me a beautiful fiancé with a daughter and I will also be a step-grandfather soon. God put me in this situation. I am supposed to be someone that my kids can look up to, I am supposed to be their mentor, so they can look up to me and say “I want to be like you when I grow up.”
My advice for those active in addiction is to look at where you are in life, do you really want a life like this? I realized I was killing my body inside. I was an addict for 15 years and if you don’t think someone can change after 15 years, I am a real example of that. You need to find the right help for you, the right people and the environment for you. My advice would be, look at what you really want in life. Reflect on wanting to get help and act on it. If you want to get help, you need to get in action and get it done. Don’t wait as it might be too late, it was almost too late for me. I could be dead. Every day it brings tears to my eyes as I am so thankful for who I have become ever since I stepped out of the Narconon building. I could not be more thankful.
—Luke Nathaniel Wertin