Perhaps you've met a girl like Claudia. At 11, she was constantly worried about what others thought of her. The teasing at school left her feeling insecure and volatile. She was desperate to hang on to whatever friends she had. So when she and her friends were playing truth or dare in her friend's garage, Claudia didn't think twice about taking the dare: to steal three beers and a cigarette from inside the house.
For the first time in a long time, Claudia felt normal, carefree, and downright happy. She didn't even mind that the beer she drank left her retching and dazed. In fact, she kept consuming more. And more. Drugs and alcohol came to define the next 18 years of Claudia's life.
Living a double life
Claudia's first attempt at recovery happened at 14. A concerned friend had alerted her parents to Claudia's using and dealing marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol at her high school, so they sent her to a military boarding school for 2 years. Every indication was that Claudia thrived in this context. She was sober the whole time, she was getting therapy for her anger, and she accepted the Lord as her Savior. Unfortunately, more than anything, this experience taught her how to mask her issues and live a double life. Claudia didn't want to change yet.
Within months of returning home from boarding school, Claudia was back to drinking and smoking pot. At the same time, she became involved in her church youth group, held down steady jobs, and even got accepted to a Christian college. "I had masks for all of the different areas of my life—for the jobs I had, the people I partied with, the people at church, the people at school," she explains. "I had to wear a different mask for each one." By leading this convincing double life, Claudia felt like she could keep her dependencies and still lead a relatively normal life.1