Jonathan’s Journey

A Guided Tour to Where Alcohol and Drugs Will Lead You

Before you begin this tour, please have a notebook ready where you can compile all the information you will gather along the way.

Step #1

Let your fingers “do the walking.”Open the yellow pages in your local telephone book or look on the Internet and find all the listings that have anything to do with recovery from alcohol and drugs. There are probably too many listings to write them all down, so just photocopy those pages from the phone book or cut and paste them from the Internet and print them on copy paper and keep them all in your notebook.

Step #2

Spend a whole day and visit as many of these rehabilitation centers as you can. Talk to the residents who are getting treatment and take notes about their stories of despair and hopelessness.

Step #3

Open the white pages in your local telephone book or look on the Internet and write down all the phone numbers and addresses to the following places you will want to visit on your tour. There are thirteen stops you will want to make on this tour.

  1. The Police Station: If you’re involved in underage drinking or doing drugs at any age, you will be meeting the police eventually. You may as well get acquainted now. If your parents or teachers haven’t been able to get you to obey their rules, the police will now step in. You will have no choice except to follow their rules. Your freedom will be gone.

  2. The Local Jail: This is where you will go when you first get arrested. From here you can move on to a state or federal prison, so get those addresses and phone numbers, too. If they are nearby, be sure to visit them. Jail is not a pretty place. A lot of abuse goes on in there. If you’re not pretty tough when you go in, you most definitely will be tough by the time you get out. Family members have to be screened before they can come to visit you. You might get to visit with them behind locked doors in a large room with other inmates, or talking on a telephone behind a thick pane of glass. There is no privacy in jail.

  3. The Courthouse: This is where you go after you are convicted of the crime of possessing or using drugs or any type of alcohol related offense such as a DUI. You will come into the courthouse with your hands in handcuffs. You will have to stand before the judge while your crimes are read out loud and then wait until you get your sentence. Your parents can sit in the courtroom and observe what is happening, but you cannot visit with them there.

  4. The Youth Detention Center: This is where the police will send you if you are under the age of eighteen and your crime is considered a misdemeanor. You’ll have a narrow bed to sleep on, a toilet, and small window to look out onto a small area you can get a little physical exercise each day. You will have assigned chores to do every day and you will eat in a type of mess hall with the other young inmates who are there.

  5. The Parole Agency: This is where you will report to your Probation Officer when you get out of jail. You have to check in on a regular basis with this person, and if you don’t show up or don’t follow all the written rules that are required, you will find yourself back in jail. Once in a while you might get lucky and get a nice probation officer, but most of the time they are pretty cold and unfeeling. Their job is not to be your friend. Their job is to teach you how to be responsible and accountable for your actions.

  6. The Emergency Room: The local hospital will be where your friends will probably drop your body when you have an overdose. The people who work there are usually pretty nice; you’ll like them. But they probably go home and throw up sometimes at the memories of seeing the horrors people go through because of alcohol and drugs.

  7. The Local Psychiatric Hospital: This is where the local hospital will send you if they determine that in addition to your problem with alcohol and drugs that you also have mental health issues. This is a locked facility. You can’t leave until the head psychiatrist signs papers and gives the okay for you to be released.

  8. The State Mental Hospital: This is where your local psychiatric hospital will send you if they can’t treat you themselves with counseling and medication. This is also a locked facility, and your rights and privileges are severely restricted. If you act out, you could be locked in solitary confinement for days on end. You will be completely surrounded by other people who are suffering from mental illnesses and addictions day after day.

  9. The Drug Rehab: There are lots of these around. Some will keep you for a few weeks just to help you sober up. Others will keep you for several months in hopes that they can help you with behavior modification. Sometimes the workers are nice, but some places the workers can be pretty cruel. You have to be careful with which one you choose.

  10. The Half-Way House: This is where you go when you leave a rehab and are trying to get used to being out in the real world once again. You will have a curfew and rules to follow. If you don’t, you’ll be out on the street.  

  11. The Street: Drive around town after midnight and see where the homeless people sleep. Some have a dirty sleeping bag they roll out, others use newspapers or cardboard to try and keep warm. If you drive by trash cans or dumpsters, you may see the local people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol digging through the trash trying to find something to eat. At this point in their lives, they don’t care if the food is dirty. They just care that it’s food.

  12. The Homeless Shelter: This place is where you can go when you can’t stand being on the street—if there’s room. They only have so much capacity to feed and house the destitute. There is no privacy here either, and if you put any of your belongings down, someone will probably steal them. You are expected to leave in the morning and then return in the evening. This not a place you can lounge around in all day.

  13. The Cemetery: This is where you will eventually end up if you choose to keep abusing alcohol or drugs. You might die of a drug overdose. You might get shot doing a drug deal. You might commit suicide. You might become infected with a terrible disease for which there is no known cure. The cemetery is a beautiful, peaceful place—except for all the tears and sorrows of the loved ones you leave behind who now have to pick up the pieces of their lives and go on without you.

Step #4

Go around and visit each of these thirteen places. Bring a camera along and take a lot of pictures. Don’t be in a hurry. This can take several days. Talk to the people at each stop. Take notes. Write down your conversations and put them in your notebook.

Remember, if you’re going to get involved in the alcohol and drug scene, don’t go into it blindly. Get the whole big picture first. Find out the facts. Be well informed. Know when you take that first drink or try that first drug what is really up ahead for you. Sure, you may have fun for a while or enjoy escaping from reality for a short period of time. But, one day the fun is going to stop. One day reality is going to hit you in the face.

Keep your notebook with you and read it often. Whenever you think about going out and drinking or using drugs, first read everything in your notebook once again.

The reason I know as much as I do about this information is because my son Jonathan told me all about it. Jonathan took his first drink of alcohol at age 10. He smoked his first cigarette at age 12. He used his first drugs at age 13. He made it to all the stops. He is now at stop #13. The cemetery. He committed suicide on March 5, 2010 when he was 35 years old. While he was finally able to stay sober the last three years of his life, his mental health had deteriorated, and he was in a state of deep depression. Alcohol and drugs kill.

Step #5

Write a plan for your life. Where do you want to be one year from now? Five years? Ten years? Choose wisely. It’s your life.