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Former heroin addict: 'I took the wrong path'

Standard-Speaker - 12/18/2017

Dec. 18--Raven Zola knows he would be dead if he didn't get help for heroin addiction and undiagnosed mental health problems.

The Hazleton man suffered severe depression after losing his girlfriend and fell in with a bad crowd when he began dating again years later. They introduced him to drugs and turned his life upside down, he said.

"I took the wrong path," Zola said. "I didn't know I was doing something wrong. They were having the best time."

His new friends lied to him, stole from him and destroyed his home, as they kept the party going, he said.

"They turned it into a party house," Zola said. "I never lived like that before."

Prior to the depression and drug addiction, he held good jobs and lived a normal life.

His own resources exhausted, he then began lying and manipulating his own family and friends to get money for drugs.

Zola knew he needed help, but felt helpless to change and became more depressed. He tried taking his own life.

"I couldn't cope with it," he said.

His mother suggested counseling and Zola started down that long, sometimes-rocky path.

"I went to 22 hospitals in one year," he said.

Zola repeatedly tried one inpatient facility for detox and counseling, but said he didn't get results. He then went to a rehab facility in Philadelphia, where he felt the counselors cared about getting him well.

But he relapsed and returned to the facility two more times.

Zola then tried another inpatient facility, where patients who left or took off, couldn't come back, he said. He stayed there two months, which was the maximum time, he said.

"I wanted the help," Zola said. "I wanted to be back to where I was. Drugs are not a real state of mind. It's a false life."

This was his last time in rehab, he said.

Zola continues to receive counseling here in Hazleton at Northeast Counseling, he said. He admits he's a work in progress, but continues to seek the counselors' guidance and tries to balance the positives and negatives in his life. He volunteers in the community, formed quality friendships and wants to share what he has learned with others.

"They didn't perform a miracle," he said. "If you want something, you have to work at it."

Zola believes there is help out there for people who need it, and encourages people to reach out and call one of these facilities, whether it's Northeast Counseling, Pathways to Recovery or Helpline: 211.

"If it wasn't for a facility, like Northeast Counseling, I'd be dead," he said. "They were there for me."

Contact the writer: kmonitz@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3589.

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(c)2017 the Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, Pa.)

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