Intervention: Anything But My Own Skin

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wilderness Treatment Center Memoir

In 2004, I woke up to my parents and an escort team at four in the morning.  Because I was seventeen at the time, the escort team told me I would be going to rehab and that I did not have a choice in the matter.  With this news, my disease of addiction knew better than to protest.  I knew that I needed to wait until I got outside before I attempted my escape.  Needless to say, the escort team was prepared for the run away addict and my escape only landed me in handcuffs.  Less than five hours later I was landing in Montana where a counselor from the Wilderness Treatment Center was meeting me and my escort team.

Now, seven years later, I am sober, happy and have written a memoir about my experience.  My book, titled Intervention: Anything But My Own Skin chronicles my journey of being a teenage addict sent to the Wilderness Treatment Center against my will.  To get an inside look at what a teen experiences in treatment, click below:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beyond Intervention: A memoir of addiction and recovery

Coming Soon!  "Beyond Intervention: A memoir of addiction and recovery" 

Get ready to go for round two as my second book will be picking up where "Intervention: Anything But My Own Skin," left off.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bluebirds are singing... "daydream" by Kellie Coker

I am sitting down in the middle of a small field that has been freshly cut.  A cool breeze from the change of seasons is gently rustling the tallest branches of the trees that line the field.  My dog, Beans is jumping frantically, chasing a bumble bee then switching to chasing another bumble bee.  Beans cannot not choose which bee to chase, so she chases all the bees.  Her brilliantly white fur is blinding underneath the bright sun and the bees are flying from a patch of yellow flowers to a tree of bright purple flowers.  Suddenly, I see a streak of blue fly across my field of vision.  I am not sure what the unnatural blue color could be until the steak of blue lands on  a tree.  Then as suddenly as the first blue streak crossed my vision, another blue streak follows the same path also landing on a tree.  The sight of the two blue streaks landing on a tree is a sight I have been hoping to see for almost a year.  Nine months ago, Kellie (my girlfriend) and I hung a blue-bird house.  We have just discovered the two blue-birds have taken a liking to the house and made the small wooden house their home.  So now I sit in the field, stretching my legs, with the warm sunshine across my face, the gentle breeze in my hair, and the wondering thought of, do the blue birds sing a new song everyday?

Kellie recently published a song on itunes that dreams of having these events occur and I just witnessed this perfect moment she has been singing about in her songs.  To hear her song, "daydream," click song # 3 "daydream" after you click on this link >>   

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Feature Cover Story for "Intervention Anything But My Own Skin"

A Montana newspaper called The Daily Interlake interviewed me for a cover story of their paper.  The article starts with this:

Just five days before his 18th birthday, Chad Hepler had a rude awakening from the comfort of his bed in his parent’s house in Georgia.

“It was 4 a.m. and I was still hazy from drinking,” Hepler recalled in a telephone interview.

A 6-foot, 6-inch, 300-pound man and a strapping woman stood by his bed. They informed him that they were escorting him to a substance abuse treatment center and he had no choice in the matter. Click Below to read the entire article:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Addiction memoirs: Intervention 2 teaser

My inbox has three new emails – one from Facebook, one from spam, and one from an address I don’t recognize until I read the subject and see it is a reply email from the breeder.  My finger clicks down on the mouse pad and the email pops up.  The writer explains all the males have been sold but they still have two female puppies left.  Attached are four photos and after I click them I nudge Barry, demanding his attention.  “Look, I got pictures.”  His attention diverts from the television – a hard thing for Barry to do.  When the pictures open, I see both puppies side by side and immediately know which one I want.  There is no comparison.  Both puppies’ bodies are perfectly white but one puppy has markings on her face that are look ascetically pleasing.  Her face is symmetrical being completely brown but with a white line running down the center of her head.  Perfect black circles surround her eyes, a pink patch is under her black nose and white accents around her jaw and gums that hang from her cheeks.  One of the floppy ears is white and one is brown.  Her face looks like somebody painted a clown face with excessive makeup. 
Barry is leaning into me, looking at both pictures and without saying anything he points at the one I am looking at, “That one.”
“Yea, that’s the one I thought to.”
Jenny agrees and smiles, “Awww little puppy, sooo cute.”
My mind is made up and I ask Jenny if she cares if I called them because I will need her money.  She reaches for her purse and says “Go ahead.” 
I am thrilled and cannot wait.  The phone is ringing in my ear and I wait hoping the breeder will answer.  A female voice comes on, answering clearly and announcing her name.
“Oh, hey this is Chad, I sent you an email requesting information about the puppies.”
Her voice is eager, “Yes, yes, were you able to see them?”
“I was, thank you.  I’m interested in the puppy with the dark circles around her eyes, the one on the right of the two photos.”
“Right, ok, that’s Beans.”
“Beans, cute, ok, well do you think I could come see her?”
She pauses for a second then says, “Well we prefer to come to where the puppy is living to
make sure the living environment is suitable for the puppy.”
This caught me off guard.  I had no idea she would be wanting to come to my house.
“Sure no problem, I am free today or if you would like to come another day, whatever
            “Hmm, let me think.” 
            I can hear her talking to a male in the background asking if today is a good day for them to show the puppy.  She tells him somebody is asking to see Beans.  The male pauses and I hope he says yes.  I want the puppy today.
            She comes back on the phone and says, “Today can work, how’s five o’clock sound?”
            “Perfect, that works for me.”
            “Ok where do you live?”
            “I live off of Old Gaines School Rd, passed an elementary school.” 
            “Ok, yes I know where that is.  Is it the neighborhood on the right after the school?”
            “Exactly and the house number is 255, it will be on your left.”
            “Well, we will be there at five.”
            “Great!  Thank you.  See you then.”
            I hang up the phone and Jenny smiles.  Barry looks over and Samson and says, “Saummy, you getting a girlfriend.”  Samson is laying down in the chair and his ears perk but he does not move.  The Lazyboy chair has taken control.
            Suddenly I realize that the house needs to look suitable for guests, meaning all the weed paraphernalia, beer bottles, and whatever else could be laying around needs to be put out of sight.  I frantically get to work, hiding pipes behind cabinets, throwing away trash, cleaning off tables and vacuuming the floor.  My new child is coming today and I must not let breeders have any reason not to sell the puppy to me.
            When the house is spick and clean I race to the bank to cash the check Jenny has given me.  There is no doubt in my mind I will be able to pay her back within a couple weeks.  The bar job seems to pay well and even better I don’t have to wait for a paycheck, I get paid cash every night I work.  After the bank I debate about going to the grocery store to purchase puppy food, a water bowl, and a food bowl.  I realize that maybe I should wait and make sure the puppy is healthy and looks the way I want her to look.  My car clock reads four o’clock so instead of going anywhere else I drive home and wait for the puppy to arrive.
            For the next hour, I sit on the couch, unable to fully concentrate on the television show as I anxiously wait for the puppy to arrive.  Growing up with a dog, I have always found comfort in taking care of one and after living away for a semester and now living on my own again I realize the void I have been experiencing not being able to come home to my own dog.  Samson has helped me to get by but Samson is not my dog and Barry has made it very clear that Samson is not my dog.
            Before I hear any noise Samson has jumped off the couch and ran to the window.  He is growing, gearing up to start barking.  Samson is our alarm system and based on his behavior I know the breeders have arrived.  Just to confirm Samson’s message I look back over the couch and out the window to see a pick-up truck parked in the driveway under the hanging pine tree branches that cover our driveway.  Barry and I both stand up and walk out the front door. 
The drive side door of the pick-up truck opens and a young man steps out slamming the door behind him.  Being about twenty yards a way I speak loud enough for him to hear me say, “Hey there.”
            He nods and replies “Hey,” while walking around the front of the truck to help open the passenger door for a female who is sitting patiently holding something in her lap.  As she stands, Barry and I are only about ten feet away and now I can see what she is holding.  A limp baby puppy is cuddled in her arms still asleep.  The sight warms my heart and I can’t help but smile the biggest smile of my life.
            The female introduces herself and then looks down at the puppy and says, “This is Beans, she’s a little tired, she was asleep the whole ride over.  My eyes are glued to the puppy and I reach out my hands asking if I can hold her.  The female responds “Of course,” and hands the tired puppy over to me.  The puppy is no bigger than a small stuffed animal and I take my time grasping the warm soft body.  I cup one hand under her belly and the other hand under her head.  She is so frail I’m afraid if I don’t support her head she won’t be able to hold it on her own.  Once the puppy is in my hands I pull her close to my body and am engulfed by a warm tingling sensation.  The warm little body makes me feel better than any drug or drink ever could.  This is my baby and I will love her unconditionally.
            As I hold the puppy, Barry reaches out, petting her small crowned head and rubbing her soft floppy puppy ears.   Beans looks up at me and licks my mouth – her breath smelling like classic puppy breath.  She is the baby. 
Wanting to see what she looks like walking around, if she is healthy, I set her down on the mixture of pine straw and grass that is our front lawn.  She is barely able to stand much like a newborn fawn.  Unsure of her surroundings and still trying to wake up, she remains still and lets out a big puppy yawn.  Her little tongue stretches far out of her mouth and her eyes squint.  My heart melts.
            Suddenly she leaps into a puppy sprint.  Her legs are too long for her body and her paws are too big for her legs.  I watch like a loving parent as she runs through the pine straw, each one of her leg fling in a different direction.  Although she is running with all her might, she does not get very far.  I am able to keep pace with her by simply walking in a normal stride.  Seeing that she is healthy, I am satisfied and quickly grasp her up with one hand.  I pull her close to my chest and laugh while she sporadically licks my face – her breath warm, soft, and loving.  Both the male and female breeders stand watching with a bit of a smile.  I can tell the female breeder cares the most about this puppy.  She explains that Beans is the runt and how her full name is Jumping Beans because she springs off all four legs when she gets too excited.  When I picture this goofy puppy springing in the air with no direction, I can’t help but chuckle. 
            Remembering that the breeders wanted to check out the puppy’s living environment, I invite them inside to look around.  Samson is standing with both paws pressed against the small window next to the front door.  His face is full of curiosity and I know the second we enter the door, he his overly excited 90 lb body will be difficult to handle.  I look at Barry and instruct, “Get Samson.”  Barry nods, walks quickly to get in front of me and bends over ready to grab Samson when he pushes the front door open.  Samson is snorting, breathing, wagging, and focused on the puppy in my arms.  The last thing I want is for Samson to be jumping on the breeders so I tell Barry to take him out back.  Barry grabs Samson by the next, rushing him through the house and out the sliding glass door to the fenced in back yard.  I can tell the breeders are a bit awkward standing in our house but still they look around assessing if the home is suitable for their precious baby that I now hold in my arms.  After they look for a few seconds, I realize they will probably be interested in the backyard so explain to them we should check out the back yard.  They follow behind me walking toward the glass doors, across the newly purchase carpet by the landlord.  Samson is standing, waiting for us and breathing heavily into the glass.  His nose is smushed and his breath creates small circles of fog.  Barry opens the sliding door and grabs Samson while the breeders and I step out onto the concrete patio.  Barry can’t hold Samson anymore so he lets go and Samson springs both paws into my stomach in order to sniff the puppy.  The puppy hardly even notices but I knee Samson, forcing him to fall back to all four feet.
            The breeders look around the giant fenced in yard that is a dog’s dream.  There is no doubt in my mind they approve of where their puppy will be living.  Full of confidence, I ask them, “So what do you think?”
            Both the male and female breeder respond to my question.  The male says, “Looks great” and the female says, “It’s perfect, Beans will be happy here.”
            I smile knowing that they are happy to see their puppy go to a good home.  I reach into my pocket and pull out the $300 dollars in cash.  He accepts the money without counting it which makes me nervous so ask him to count the money real quick.  He flips through the twenty dollar bills, nods is head and says “Thank you.”
            “Thank you,” I tell him with a smile.
            The female walks over to me to pet and Beans one more time.  I can tell she is going to greatly miss her baby but she is happy to see her go.  As she pets the puppy, the male breeder explains that they live on a farm with six grown boxers and every so often one of the female’s gets pregenant and they sell the babies for a little extra cash but the money means nothing compared to the puppies they are able to enjoy for eight weeks.  Suddenly, I think about Samson, Beans, and a herd of puppies around our backyard like a happy little family.  The thought is warm and comforting and I cannot wait for the day.
            When the male is done talking he looks at his girlfriend who is still petting the puppy and says in a country accent, “Well baby, it’s that time.”
            She responds also in a country accent, “Yea I know.”  She rubs Beans head one last time and after she lets go I reach out my hand to shake hers and thank her for the puppy.  The male breeder also shakes my hand and I thank him as well.  While still holding the puppy, I walk them back through the house with Samson follow at my heels with his nose pressed in the air close to the puppy.  Barry grabs Samson as I open the front door and tell the breeders one time thank you and before I know it I am standing in my house holding my new puppy. 
            On the inside I am ecstatic, full of a new life, holding my new baby.  Just like everything in my life when something exciting happens I do not react the way you would think most people would react to a happy situation.  My outward appearance always remains calm but my inside is raging with excitement, I simply just don’t show my feelings that much. 
            Barry and I walk into the living room and plop down on the couch with the puppy still in my arms.  I flip her on her back with her head supported on my chest and I rub her big soft puppy belly.  She licks the air, trying to lick my face, so I lean down enough for her warm tongue to lick the bottom of my chin.  Although, I have just met the puppy for the first time only a few moments ago, I already feel like she is my baby and will be my best companion.  Images of us, playing in the yard, snuggling on my bed, and thoughts of her always excited when I walk through the front door are flashing through my mind.
            Realizing that I will need puppy food for her, I ask Barry to ride with us to the store so that he can hold her while I walk into the store.  Normally, it is a chore to get Barry off the couch but because he knows he will be able to hold the puppy while they wait, he immediately turns off the television, stands up and says, “Let’s go.”
            We step into my Jeep and using two hands, I pass the puppy over into Barry’s lap.  Suddenly I feel cold and lonely without the puppy’s war, frail body pressed against my side.  Barry is smiling from ear to ear and talking to the puppy in a baby voice causing the puppy to sporadically lick his face.  I smile watching like a proud father. 
            On the way to the store, we talk about different names to name her.  Her markings make her look like a bandit, like Zorro or something so I start playing with names like Bandit.  Although we both throw around many different names, nothing really seems suitable.  Barry holds the puppy so that she can stick her head out the window to get fresh air and I laugh watching as she yanks her head back inside when the wind gets to her causing her to sneeze.  She never learns the wind is causing her to sneeze so she continues to stick her head back and forth in and out of the window. 
            When I get to the grocery store, I run, leaving the windows and sunroof open for Barry and the puppy.  The warm summer air and the sunshine bouncing of the asphalt of the parking lot heighten my feeling of high.  Life feels good.  I buy the same brand of puppy food that Barry buys for Samson although it is not the cheapest.
            Barry has his legs held out the passenger window with the puppy in his lap.  His sunglasses are on and a smile is on his face.  The puppy is looking toward me.  I jump into the driver side and reach out for the puppy.  I want to hold her for a few minutes before I am driving again.  As I hold the puppy, Barry looks at me and says, “Let’s go to the pool.”
            I look at him with angry, “Dude I just got the puppy, I’m not leaving here.”
            His voice stays calm, “I never said anything about leaving the puppy, let’s take her with us.”
            “Oh, hmm, yea I like that, let’s go.”
            Barry is excited and lets out a “CHAZZ!”
            Now that I have got my puppy fix, I hand her back to Barry and drive home so that we can change into our swimsuits. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Addiction Memoir: Addiction Certification

Three years ago, I decided to switch my major from business to psychology.  My plan was to go to grad school, earn a masters and then finally start working in the field of addiction.  After, turning three years of school into two years by loading down my semesters with psych class after psych class, I was burnt out on school.  During a psych class, I discovered a way of becoming an addiction counselor that required two years of work experience while counseling under supervision.  Originally, I planned to graduate college and start working a paid position where I could get the needed experience.  Boy was I wrong.  Not only did I discover I probably wasn't going to be getting paid, I found out I would actually have to be paying a professional to learn from him or her.  Yikes!  What did I get myself into...

Well I managed to find a place called Safety Net Recovery, where I could gain the experience I needed without paying someone.  It was perfect.  Now, as a recent college grad, I had to figure out how to make money while working a job in the field I went to school for.  A fellow counselor of where I am currently working at Safety Net offered to help me get a job at a treatment center called Ridgeview Institute. 

As of today, I am going to officially be a paid employee assisting in the counseling of addiction and be getting credited with the hours I need to become a Certified Addiction Counselor.  My perfect plan has arrived.  I am working where I want to be working, I am changing lives, and I am getting paid.  This perfect plan has fallen into place for one reason and one reason only.  I decided to do God's will for my life and not my own.  I have arrived where I am meant to be.  It's happening... It's happening right before my very eyes. My future is here today.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Drug and Alcohol Memoir: Preventing Addiction in Teens

How do you prevent drug use in teens? It's the ultimate question. Millions of dollars, hours of research, and tons of trial and error strategies have been used to decipher what is the best way to prevent drug use in teens. Sure, talking to your teen will help and so will the drug and alcohol awareness classes at school, but isn't there more we can do? Haven't we been doing these things for years? What else is there?

When it comes to drug use in teens, one of the most common reasons I've seen for teen usage is a low self-esteem. It's important to get your teen involved in groups that will boost his or her self-esteem though activities that are incompatible with drug use. However! Do not force your teen into the sport, group, or activity you enjoyed while you were in high school. Just because you were the star quarterback does not mean your teen wants to play a sport. Take the time to really find out what he or she enjoys, not what he or she thinks mom and dad will approve of.