Two Carson teens continue the recovery process | NevadaAppeal.com

Two Carson teens continue the recovery process

Teri Vance
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Raquel Gonzales, left, and Cyndle Bell, both 18, were featured earlier this year in the Nevada Appeal for their struggle to overcome methamphetamine addiction. Gonzales has been clean and sober for nearly a year-and-a-half and Bell for about a month.
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After finishing production of the short movie she wrote based on her own experiences with drug use, Cyndle Bell felt she’d finally released the demons that held her captive to addiction all of her teenage life.

But it wasn’t that easy.

Cyndle started drinking at 12 and smoked pot for the first time in that same year. At 14, she was offered methamphetamine, and not knowing what it was, smoked it without giving it a second thought.

It wasn’t until, at 16, when her mom had her arrested for incorrigible behavior and Cyndle was court-ordered to stay clean, that she realized she couldn’t quit.

Two back-to-back stints in rehab in Silver Springs, she returned to Carson High School ready to conquer the addiction.

She worked with her class to create the video to be shown around the nation, where she exposed her experiences with the drug.

She was back on track to graduate.

But she missed her old friends. And her old life.

She started talking again to a former boyfriend. And, in May, about two months after finishing her movie, she relapsed.

“I started doing it, and I figured once wasn’t a big deal,” she explained.

But she didn’t stop after the first time.

“You just want more and more,” she said. “It’s like I’m already dirty, I’ve already used, I might as well keep using.”

For a while, she was able to stay in her night classes and courses at WNCC to help her pass the math proficiency.

Then, like before, things started falling apart. She and her boyfriend forged his mother’s checks.

His mother pressed charges, and Cyndle found herself back in the justice system.

She stopped going to school. She couldn’t keep a job.

Cyndle’s mom, Anna, finally had enough. She threw Cyndle’s clothes out the window and kicked her out of the house.

“I told her, ‘If you want to use, I’m not going to be behind you. If you want to get clean, I’ll support you 100 percent.'” Anna recalls. “I wasn’t going to enable her anymore.”

Without her mother’s support, Cyndle began to see what support she did have.

She cries when she recounts her moment of realization. She looked at her boyfriend, who at 23, revolved his life around getting high.

Although she cared about him, she didn’t want to be him.

“I didn’t want to be his age still doing that stuff,” she said.

On Nov. 2, Cyndle checked herself back into rehab.

“I learned that I can make new friends and there are more people out there who don’t use,” she said. And in making new friends, she has to let go of the old.

“They call, but I tell them I can’t hang out,” she said. “My mom hangs up the phone on them. That’s what it takes.”

She got out of rehab Nov. 22 and has nearly a month clean.

• • •

Today marks 494 days since the last time Raquel Gonzales, now 18, used methamphetamine.

At the end of this month, she will graduate from Pioneer High School, and her current grade-point average is 3.3.

“I want to leave with the highest GPA I can, but it’s hard because I’m putting in more hours at work – 37 to 40 hours per week.”

She got her driver’s license and bought her first car, a 1992 Lincoln that “needs a lot of love and care.”

In the year-and-a-half she’s been clean she’s made remarkable progress, but she’s never completely free from her addiction.

“I deal with it every day,” she said. “I don’t think there will ever be a day when something doesn’t remind me of those times, or make me want to go back to using.

“I just have to remind myself every day of my priorities, of what life I want. It’s either that one, or this one.”

She talks of two lives. The one she’s already lived led her from drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana to prostituting herself on the streets of Dallas at 15 for heroin, cocaine, crack or the money to buy them.

After moving to Carson City, she was arrested for selling and using methamphetamine. She was sentenced to the Western Nevada Youth Rehabilitation Center in Silver Springs, where she met Cyndle.

Although she’d been to rehab before, this was the first time Raquel realized she really was an addict.

Aside from one relapse just out of rehab, Raquel has remained clean and sober. She stays away from her old friends, and her old triggers. She doesn’t smoke or drink – she doesn’t want the temptation.

• • •

When Cyndle looks back, she’s happy she shared her experiences on video, but she’s embarrassed with how it ended.

“I’m so ashamed of it now,” she said. “I feel like I let a lot of people down.”

But she doesn’t dwell on her shame.

“I know this was just a setback,” she said. “I’ve just got to keep moving forward. Recovery has to be the No. 1 thing in your life.”

Cyndle’s first goal is to pass the math portion of the Nevada High School Proficiency Exam in order to graduate. She then wants to move to family in California and go to college.

After completing high school at the end of this month, Raquel plans to take next semester off of school to save enough money to enroll in classes at Western Nevada Community College in the fall. She intends to pursue a career as a probation officer.

Although, Raquel says, she will always live with the consequences of the decisions she made, she’s ready to forge ahead with a new life.

“With drugs, you either end up in jail or dead,” she explained. “Without them, I can never see how far I can go. There’s no limit to what I can do.”

Cyndle’s made the same choice. Her only regret is that most of her friends haven’t.

“I wish I could bring them along,” she said.

• Contact reporter Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1272.

Who to call

For help or treatment information, call the Community Counseling Center at (775) 882-3945.

To report meth-related crimes, call the sheriff’s department hotline at (775) 882-2020 ext. 6384 (METH).

To know more about the anti-meth coalition, or to obtain informational materials, call Liz Teixeira at 887-2101 ext. 1204; or stop by City Hall, 201 N. Carson St.

To schedule a presentation on methamphetamine for parents, rental-property owners, hotel/motel owners, employers, schools or neighborhoods, call 887-2201.