Your health, our mission: Chad's story
Chad Gibson remembers “always feeling different.” His parents’ divorce at age 9 left him feeling insecure and afraid. As he continued into adolescence, he struggled with acceptance and low self-esteem. He tried to overcompensate for what he viewed as shortcomings. Eventually, praise from his academic achievements is where he derived his worth. He was a model student, making straight A’s and staying out of trouble. He graduated high school as class president, salutatorian, captain of the soccer team and he was voted “Mr. Halls High School” by his classmates. He earned a full academic scholarship to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he started in 2006, and he earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology in 2010. He then moved to Memphis to begin dental school.
However, below the surface, experimenting with alcohol and drugs during high school and college led him down a road that he never imagined he would encounter. He first experimented with alcohol and marijuana at age 15, and it instantly made him lose touch with all the negative feelings he carried inside himself. It helped him relate to his peers better, and he quickly became obsessed with the feeling that chemicals provided. For the next 10 years, he rarely went a day without using substances. As the years passed, his addiction escalated. In 2010, he became addicted to prescription opioids, and his life began to unravel more quickly. In 2013, he checked into rehab for the first time after barely finishing his first year of dental school. At this point, heroin dominated his life.
He went to treatment twice and experienced relapses because he says he was not ready to accept help. In July 2014, he reached a low and needed rehabilitation, but he didn’t have health insurance. This is when he reached out to the Helen Ross McNabb Center substance abuse services. Chad says his friend dropped him off at CenterPointe at the lowest moment of his life, but he was ready to accept help and make changes.
CenterPointe, adult addiction services of the McNabb Center, provided him with medical detoxification. After, he received long-term residential treatment at another facility in East Tennessee where he continued to address the physical, emotional and social aspects of his substance abuse. He got a sponsor, went to meetings, made friends with others in recovery, became involved with community service and followed all the directions given to him by staff. Slowly but surely, things started to turn around. He says today his life is better than he ever could have dreamed, and it’s all because of CenterPointe and other resources that helped him along the way. Now, he enjoys working at the Metro Drug Coalition as lifeline regional director where he helps people in recovery on a daily basis and helps reduce the stigma around the disease of addiction. He also helped found krēd, a lifestyle brand that fosters healthy communities by supporting recovery-related efforts and aiding those in need. He is thankful for his community of support when facing the challenges of life. He continues to take recovery one day at a time and makes a difference by spreading awareness regarding prevention, treatment and recovery for addiction.
To read more stories from the 2016 Annual Services Report, please click here.