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​​Mark Wetherby Had Finally Lost Enough and Sought Help for his Addiction

iStock 687810810After more than a decade peppered with arrests, overdoses, legal troubles, and even being beaten and stabbed, Mark Wetherby is focused on staying drug-free but still struggles every day.

“It’s not easy even when you get clean,” he said. “In fact, it sucks... just not as bad as being a junkie.”

Wetherby, 27, first experimented with opioids in his teens, and the addiction to painkillers and heroin he developed stayed with him, even during periods when he wasn’t using. After a number of relapses, he thought he was finally on the right track. 

He was sober and attending automotive school to become and foreign car specialist. He was even back with his girlfriend, who loved him when he was clean but refused to stay with him when he was using drugs. Then, he learned they were going to have a son.

“I wasn’t prepared at all to be a father,” he said. “I wasn’t prepared for that news at all, and the whole idea of it freaked me out completely.”

He relapsed once again and found that the latest wave of drugs was far stronger and more dangerous than anything he’d had before. The result was more disastrous: an extended period of multiple overdoses at gas stations, in bathrooms, or wherever he happened to be. He even overdosed in the bathroom of the Audi dealership where he worked and had to be taken away by ambulance. He racked up two felonies and a DWI within two weeks and hit a parked car two blocks away from his drug dealer’s house. And his girlfriend would not allow him contact with his infant son.

Ending up in jail was an unexpected blessing, forcing Wetherby to detox and decide to turn his life around for good.

“I knew I had to get help,” he said. “Almost everybody I knew was in jail or dead.”

Wetherby ended up at Monarch and now works with therapist Judith Chappell and the Stanly Behavioral Health team. Although he takes antidepressants and several other medications, he is free of illegal drugs and alcohol.

“I still have the craving,” he said. “But I am focused. I have a good job and an apartment, and my girlfriend and son and I are really happy. I didn’t see my son for the first year of his life because I was using, and he is the greatest thing about my life now.”

Sobriety is anything but easy, said Wetherby, who lives in Albemarle and works as an auto technician at 740 Motors.

“The survivors are the ones who adapt,” he added. “I lost my license, but I walked to work, two miles each way. I had to cut out my old friends. I am still very much an addict, but I’ve had to find different addictions. I drink way too much coffee and tea. I read everything I can about cars. I love nerdy video games.”

To anyone trying to kick an addiction, Wetherby doesn’t sugar-coat the truth: “It’s impossible to get an addict to change unless they’ve lost enough to want to get clean. And there’s no right way to do it.”

For him, it’s the small steps every day that add up to overall accountability. He subjects himself to drug tests regularly, and he has his paycheck deposited into his girlfriend’s bank account so he won’t have immediate access to it. He attends AA meetings for support but doesn’t count his “clean time” by days as the others do.

“I find it more stressful to count every day, so I don’t,” he said, although he does know it’s been approximately a year since he touched drugs. “Recovery is very personal and emotional, and we all have to do it the way that works for us.”

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