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									   MANN STUDENT RECALLS ADDICTION BATTLE
   By Emily Green

 pencer Sherman should have died.
    Driving at 110 miles per hour, he lost control of his car. The vehicle spun around multiple times, hit another
car, flipped, and barely missed a tree.
    The J.L. Mann senior should have died. All because he was high. All because he was addicted.

    ‘I got high once, and I couldn’t stop.’
    Sherman’s first experience with addiction was his family’s own drug battles. In medical school, Sherman’s
father started doing drugs with his friends. The problem continued and he almost died four different times
because of an overdose, Sherman said. He later became an anesthesiologist and started stealing drugs from the
hospital, Sherman said. Eventually, he was arrested for stealing, Sherman said. Sherman’s father was put in
rehab where he started to get his life straight, Sherman said. Sherman shared his dad’s explanation of being
addicted.
    “He would always tell me not to start, and I always just thought that wouldn’t happen to me,” said Sherman.
    The summer after his freshman year, however, Sherman started to have some problems with depression. His
brother hung out with some people who smoked marijuana once in a while. They smoked behind his brother’s
back because his brother was so against drugs, but Sherman knew. He eventually asked if he could smoke with
them.
    “I was thinking I would just do it once. I just wanted to know what it’s like, and I did it once,” Sherman
said. “I got high once, and I couldn’t stop.”

    ‘You just don’t feel happy or right.’
    Sherman’s drug problems escalated after that encounter, and he used primarily during his sophomore year
and the summer after. During a typical summer day, Sherman would wake up and smoke marijuana, sit around
or watch TV, and then continue to smoke throughout the day. He also used cough medicine and drank alcohol
most of the time. He avoided hallucinogens because of their many risks, and he did not want a higher chance of
overdosing.
    Sherman described his addiction as a disease. A person can be an addict, Sherman said, but never have the
addiction problems surface. Sherman said once the addiction starts, it doesn’t stop.
    “You pretty much always have a craving for it or a need for it,” Sherman said. “It just doesn’t feel right
unless you do it. You just don’t feel happy or right.”
    Sherman’s addiction came to a frightening head that day he climbed into his car and sped down the road. It
was the summer before his junior year, and he was on his way to his family’s lake house. He had been smoking
marijuana with his friends before he left, and he had to hurry to get to the lake house without his parents
knowing. When he lost control of his car, Sherman’s addiction should have ended his life.
    “That pretty much put most things in perspective for me,” Sherman said.
    Sherman was miraculously not hurt in the wreck, but because the car flipped, he was taken to the hospital on
a backboard to check his spine. When his dad went back to get his belongings from the wrecked car, he found
Sherman’s marijuana. His parents made him stop smoking and tested him for drugs.

    ‘You can’t do it for anyone but yourself.’
    Sherman’s problems did not stop with the wreck. Soon after, he received his grades back from school and
because of his addiction, his academic performance had been poor. His parents decided to send him to boarding
school to get more help.
    Sherman went to Ridge Creek in Dahlonega, Ga., for almost six months. Ridge Creek is a therapeutic
boarding school where Sherman worked on both his addiction and depression. Ridge Creek is also a wilderness-
based camp based on the belief that being in the outdoors is therapeutic.
    “[I] hated it. It wasn’t like camping with your friends. It was small tents, freezing temperatures, and stuff
like that,” Sherman said.
    Sherman also recalled that many of the other kids at the camp didn’t really want to change or stop doing
drugs. He talked and hung out with them to make the time pass, but Sherman had his own reasons for being
there. Sherman said that the boarding school changed him for the better, but ultimately he had to make the
decision to cure his addiction.
    “The thing with addiction is you can’t do it for anyone but yourself because it won’t work unless it’s for
you,” Sherman said. “I wasn’t going to go anywhere if I kept doing what I was doing, so I decided I needed to
stop so I could do something with my life.”

    ‘There’s always somebody who’s going to understand.’
    Sherman said he did not regret the whole experience of becoming addicted because of the lessons learned.
He said he wouldn’t be who he is today without that experience.
    “The drug addict never can get enough,” Sherman said. “Everyone does it and when it wears off they go to
bed, but the drug addict is going to want to keep doing it, get more and just keep going.”
    Sherman said an addict should find somebody in recovery who has the same problems as him or her for
support. Sherman recalled his own friends and family as being supportive. Some people didn’t understand what
he was going through, but he remembers most as being helpful. His dad was his biggest support, Sherman said.
     “The biggest problem is admitting you have the problem,” Sherman said. “Once you do that, it’s hard to
talk to people because you don’t think anyone would understand, but there’s always somebody who’s going to
understand.”

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