A drug-addicted teenager who started drinking as a teenager and was addicted to meth by 15 called for more support for young users as she struggles to stay clean.
Cheyenne Gillon-Gibson, 16, has been fighting her inner demons for as long as she can remember and turned to hard drugs and alcohol after being brutally bullied at school.
As a youngster who saw her family – from Timaru near Christchurch, New Zealand – fight hard drugs, she told herself she wouldn’t go the same way.
But when her relatives told her not to visit a good friend in the hospital for her 12th birthday, she saw two cans of beer in the fridge.
After taking them both down, she felt her grief, anger, fear, and depression disappear.
Cheyenne told Daily Mail Australia what started when sneaking alcohol out of the fridge quickly battled substance abuse and addiction.
Cheyenne Gillon-Gibson, (pictured at age 12) turned to hard drugs and drinking after being mercilessly bullied at school
“I started self-harm around age 12, just after I started drinking, and was a heavy drinker by the time I was 14,” she said.
“When I drank, I was drunk and confused and didn’t know where I was.”
The teen swallowed up to 18 cans of beer, delivered by older friends, every weekend to ease her increasing mental health problems.
Cheyenne has long suffered from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and drank to mask her pain.
“It worked first, but the feelings always came back and she soon started to crave something stronger,” she explained.
When a friend offered her marijuana in year 9, she accepted because “it was normal in our lives.” By then her life was crumbling.
The teenager asked her headmaster if she could sit alone in a classroom to calmly finish her work every day – away from the intimidation and humiliation she suffered from her peers because of her weight and learning difficulties.
Cheyenne (pictured under the influence of ice) has been suffering from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for a long time and uses medicines to mask her pain
The teen’s family was also a drug user, and she became addicted to meth at the age of 14
While he accepted her request, she couldn’t deal with the brutal bullying in the schoolyard and dropped out at 3pm.
She started drinking more and smoking large amounts of cannabis – and first tried crystal meth just after New Year’s Eve – three months after quitting school.
“It was brought to me by someone who wanted to be friends with my family,” said Cheyenne.
“She filled my head with lies to get me to try because she knew my family wanted me to live a better life than they did, and they didn’t want me to try.”
Exhausted by the pressure to test the highly addictive drug, Cheyenne admitted.
“I thought it would be okay if I only did it once, but it wasn’t. I got addicted very quickly and really got confused, ”she said.
The teen became suicidal as the drug declined and she knew she needed more.
“I thought I needed it and my tolerance became very high,” she said.
Cheyenne moved into her mother’s house and started dating a 24-year-old ice addict when she was just 15.
“We’d use it together, and then it got worse with Mommy because I knew everyone in town and could get drugs easily,” she admitted.
While Cheyenne’s mom didn’t want her daughter to use ice, she had to accept it because “she knew I would.”
Cheyenne is pictured with sister Destiny
“I’d try to use as much as possible in a day – sometimes it was a little bit, sometimes it was a lot,” she said.
One night when she was partying, she was offered Gabapenton – a muscle relaxant prescribed by doctors to treat seizures.
The recommended dose is one 300 mg tablet for adults between 18 and 64 years of age and is not prescribed to minors.
The 15-year-old took 14 tablets overnight, leaving her completely paralyzed until she was gone.
“I swear the crystal meth in my system was the only thing that made my heart beat that night,” she said.
Her life continued to get out of hand until just before her 16th birthday when she was hospitalized after deliberately overdosing on ice for the second time.
“The health workers sent me to a place for mental health and drug addiction. I clearly failed the drug test and they brought in a drug and alcohol professional, ”she said.
Cheyenne initially declined the addiction expert’s first suggestion of rehabilitation – she didn’t want to leave her mother and said the couple had problems with dependence.
While everyone around her advised against rehabilitation, the teen said no one else could see how bad her addiction really was.
She accepted the treatment and was sober for the first time in years on December 10, 2019.
On December 10, 2019, the teenager was sober for the first time in years
Cheyenne excelled at rehabilitation and agreed to continue her education through online courses.
Although she managed to participate in outreach programs, such as anonymous narcotics, she has also been knocked out of the care facilities because of her age.
“There are many educational programs for people under the age of 18, but if you already have addiction problems, you don’t need to – you are already trained for drugs,” she said.
She also had access to counseling services, but received extensive counseling and life skills training in rehabilitation and needed long-term service.
Two facilities refused to allow her due to age restrictions – recovering addicts had to be 18 to go to one center and 20 to another.
“Young people always need a place to go for help – I want there to be more variety and age restrictions to go down,” she said.
Cheyenne now lives with her father and said that her entire family, including her mother, has greatly supported her rehabilitation.
“My whole family uses drugs, but they are really supportive and they don’t try to put it around me,” she said, adding, “I don’t mind if they do because I know I never will use more, but it means a lot to their support. ‘
Her goal is to become a mental health worker to help teens like herself.
‘I want to work in the rehabilitation clinic to help young people who have been where I have been. I don’t want anyone to go through what I’ve been through. If I can do it, so can they. ‘
Her goal now is to work in mental health to help others who are struggling with problems she has experienced