Drug addiction is a problem that affects millions of people, many of them very young people. One individual affected by this epidemic was Greyson R., a North Carolina native. This young man is just 20 years old but has experienced a lifetime of drug addiction that he finally conquered after a visit to Pillars Recovery.

Now, Greyson is dedicated to becoming a psychiatrist working with substance abuse victims, like those he met at Pillars, and helping others down the steep road of recovery. His story is a remarkable example of the reality of drug addiction happening across the nation every day. Thankfully, his once-tragic tale has a happy ending that deftly showcases the power of the rehab process.

What was your family situation like growing up? In what kind of family were you raised?
I was raised in a good family, but every family has its flaws. My mom raised me after dad left us when I was around 13. I don’t remember much, but we got kicked out of our house and living conditions became a huge struggle. Mom always called me a latchkey kid because I had a key to the house, and I was always in and out.

What was your school experience like growing up?
I’m going to be brutally honest with you: it was bad. Throughout that time, I was so messed up on the inside. Everybody knew that I had an anger problem, and by the time I was in middle school, I was full-grown and six foot two. So, I was big and that helped me get respect from other people. But what I really wanted was someone to be there for me. I can’t say I ever had that.

When were you introduced to alcohol/drugs?
I tried out beer and alcohol fairly young but didn’t like either. Then, at a young age I got my wisdom teeth pulled and the doctors prescribed me Oxycodone. When I took the pill that day, the effects were huge. I felt energized. I felt my mind open up. I thought “this is what life should be like”.


When did things start getting out of control?
For some reason it seemed a lot of kids I knew were having their wisdom teeth pulled and things like that, so it was super easy for me to just buy their pills, but most of the time they would just give them to me. It was that easy. Then one day I came across the game changer: Oxycontin. Things escalated quickly and by the time I knew it I was 15 and kicked out of the house.

When did things start getting out of control?
At one point, I robbed somebody’s house and found a huge bottle of Xanax which I had never taken before. Right away I was mixing Oxys and Xanax. I fell completely numb to all the things in my life that were going on. I was so messed up that when I found out my dad had died, I felt as if I couldn’t care less. I hadn’t seen him in years and I had no care in the world. I was high, and that was it.

What was the turning point?
By the time I was a senior in high school, I was out of control and doing whatever I wanted to do. I was couch surfing, working random jobs, and dealing drugs. I was high 24/7. One night at a party, I was involved in a fight that lead to a gun being fired. I fled the scene in my car and ended up crashing into a ditch. Thankfully I woke up– in jail. After that, I was sober for a little while. Then, while at my grandmother’s birthday party, I found a bottle of Xanax in the medicine cabinet.

I thought “you know what, I’ve been sober this long, I’ll take one and that’s it.”


How did you end up in Pillars Recovery?
I don’t know how I managed to stay in school, but I was studying Criminal Justice at the time. One day my teacher offers extra credit for attending a seminar to listen to people talk about drug addiction. It was there that I met one of the speakers, Todd Zalkins.
I connected with him through his story.

Long story short, after the talk I approached Todd who introduced me to Benji from Pillars Recovery. I got to hang with Benji for the rest of the day, sharing my story and talking about getting sober. Benji somehow gave me hope, and the program sounded amazing. I didn’t have insurance or money for rehab, but somehow and not long after meeting with Benji, I was on a plane to California.

What impact did Pillars have on your life?
What I realized and what I started learning about myself during sessions was that I had the experience necessary to help people in my situation. A lot of the staff in the program who were helping me had been where I had been; they had been addicted to drugs and were now clean and sober and helping others. I always had a problem with counselors before that because they hadn’t had the similar experiences as me, so this was so important.

I worked that program until the rails fell off. I woke up early every morning, drank my coffee, and went to every session I could. The staff there were so kind and helpful. They treated me with compassion. They understood where I was coming from and helped me understand a lot of things about myself that I never realized.

While I was there I was able to work so much with my therapist that I made peace with my dad. After so many years of anger and resentment, I was at peace. I had the courage to call and speak with my mom about him and our lives. At first I could only remember negative things. She was able to share things that I didn’t know; good things he’d done and the positive side of his personality.

I can now accept him, and accept myself as a person. It was a life-changing moment, and it would never have happened without Pillars.

How is life for you today?
After I got home from Pillars I dedicated myself entirely to school and finding a job. What I’d say that Pillars gave me, that I didn’t have before, was a sense of purpose; a feeling of my destiny.

Before Pillars, my plans were basically to work enough to have money to do the things I wanted to do. There was no purpose or direction in my life, which is probably why I fell back on drugs so often. But after learning what I learned at Pillars, I now know what I want to do and why I was put on this Earth. There’s no better feeling than that and I can’t thank them enough for helping me find myself.