Lance is a tough, fiercely independent 15-year-old who faced far too many hardships growing up. His parents, both drug addicts with long rap sheets, were never around and incapable of providing emotional support.

Without love, guidance and the nurturing he needed, Lance was forced to grow up fast.

Lance shares, “I had a lot of anger issues and struggled with severe separation anxiety. I had to find a way to deal with it. When I was 11, I started smoking weed every day just to try to get by and stay calm. I don’t remember much of my childhood.”

With his father and brother in jail and his mother deep in the throws of an IV drug addiction, he spent a lot of time on his own. He stopped going to school and started selling drugs to provide for himself.

Out of curiosity as to why they were his top sellers, he began using and quickly got hooked on prescription drugs. Pain killers, xanax, synthetic marijuana…he tried them all. The school system and the court system, tried to get him the help he needed, but he didn’t want it and continued to defiantly fail drug test after drug test. He ran away and got kicked out of several treatment programs, before settling into eight months of residential care.

Thankfully, Lance moved in with his great aunt, who provided the structure and security he needed. After a brief relapse, in order to remain in her house, she insisted he attend the David Lawrence Centers Breaking the Chains program which is an intensive substance use group therapy program for adolescents who struggle with coexisting substance dependence and mental health and behavioral issues. He’s been sober ever since.

When Lance looks back on his journey, he realizes how far he’s come and is focused on making sure he never goes back. He shares, “You can’t help an addict until they want help. Once I realized that everyone was there to help me and they really cared, I started to listen.”

Today, Lance is back in school and hopes to become a marine after graduation. In order to give back, he is bravely volunteering to share his experiences publicly in order to prevent others from following in his footsteps.

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