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Breaking free from addiction; Kenmore West grad tells how he turned his life around with the help of Renaissance House

Some teens become addicted to drugs in high school and spend their whole lives dependent on them. However, through intense rehabilitation programs such as those provided through Kids Escaping Drugs, teens suffering from addiction can receive treatment and eventually overcome it. This is what happened to 19-year-old Will Trimper of Tonawanda.

Trimper was a high school sophomore when he used marijuana for the first time. He was asked by a close friend to try it, and Will agreed. It was a decision that ended up changing his life forever.

Will was attending St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute when he became addicted to "weed." Because of the drugs, his grades dropped from 90s to 50s. He ended up leaving St. Joe's and attended Kenmore West High School, but his grades continued to spiral as the addiction took its toll.

As Will became more addicted to drugs, he began taking risky trips to buy drugs in the city. He would do whatever it took to get the money to pay for his drugs, even robbing houses.

Throughout his sophomore year of high school, Will's attendance was abysmal. At first, when he didn't show up at school, the school called his house every day looking for him. However, they eventually stopped calling because they realized he wasn't coming.

Will said he would "stay away from home for weeks on end," sleeping at friends' houses. Not only did he rely on his friends for lodging, but, because he didn't have a car, he also relied on them for transportation.

His mom first discovered his addiction when she found marijuana in his pocket. However, she didn't turn him in. But Will did end up in court as the result of an incident that involved throwing beer cans at cars as they drove by. He was granted an ACD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal), a six-month probation period in which charges can be dropped if the offender doesn't get into trouble.

When he failed to show up for PINS, a program for people who are in need of supervision because they're dangerous and disobedient, the PINS officer put out an arrest warrant for him. He came home to find police there, and turned himself in.

Will spent two weeks in juvenile detention, and, upon his release, was put on probation. He had a curfew and had to undergo drug testing. He broke the curfew, and, although he got away with it for a while, his mom eventually found out.

He ended up back in juvenile detention in September 2009 for three weeks. He was given the option of going to Gateway (a group home for troubled kids) until he turned 18 or going to Renaissance House. He chose Renaissance House.

Renaissance House is a long-term residential rehabilitation facility in West Seneca for boys between the ages of 12 and 17. It is a key component of Renaissance Campus, which gives teens the opportunity to regain control of their lives.

Will is grateful for that. Although he didn't make a good first impression on the interviewer, he was still accepted into Renaissance House, where he learned to live again without using drugs. He was released the summer before his senior year, after nine long months of rehab.

Will says learning to "have fun without drugs" was one of the hardest things he's ever had to do. He met his best friend there, who ironically had pulled a gun on him the previous year, and they were released around the same time; they provided motivation to each other throughout the rehab process.

He returned to Kenmore West for his senior year and graduated. He attended prom, and, although he hadn't played hockey since before his addiction, he made the school team and won an award for most improved varsity player.

Will says before he became addicted, he did not appreciate school, but that his favorite memory of high school was "all of senior year." He enjoyed seeing all of his friends and showing his teachers how much he had changed.

Will is passionate about history and politics, and says when he was young he wanted to be president. He works for the Town of Tonawanda Highway Department and plans to attend college to study history.

His relationships with his friends are not the only ones that improved by being clean. Instead of calling his mom names and talking back to her, he said he and his mom now have a great relationship and he tells her almost everything.

Will has been clean for more than two years, and he plans to keep it that way. He is most proud of "becoming the person I am today."

His advice for teens who are being pressured to do drugs is simple: "Be who you are -- don't be the person people want you to be." He tells his story at high schools throughout Western New York to reinforce that message.


The 19th annual Walk for Kids will be held May 20 with all proceeds benefiting Kids Escaping Drugs. The walk will be held at Bowen Road Grove at Como Lake Park in Lancaster. The three-mile walk will begin at noon and be followed by a post-party. For more information, call 827-9462, Ext. 314.

Kelsey Auman is a sophomore at Orchard Park High School.