He shoplifted video games from stores and resold them. He broke into cars, pawning anything he could steal along with his mother's jewelry and laptop. He knew he was living dangerously, but that was part of the allure.
"I just felt like I had a lot more excitement in my life when I was a full-blown drug addict," he says. "It was just very dumb."
Lewis, who is 21 but looks younger, is matter-of-fact when describing his addiction. He's quick to offer an unvarnished account of his mistakes and the pain he has caused himself and his family.
Lewis' upbringing was distinctly middle class. He played Little League and skateboarded, growing up in suburbs filled with cul-de-sacs and strip malls carved from farm fields. Dad designed computer networks; Mom now works for a shipping company. As a child, Lewis took regular family vacations to Florida to see his grandparents and visit Disney World.
Still, he traces his problems to a troubled childhood: Constant fights between his parents, who later divorced. The death of a beloved grandmother. And harassment from school bullies. He was a C-student, but his class work started faltering in third grade. A doctor diagnosed attention deficit disorder and prescribed Adderall. A year later, he was put on antidepressants.
At age 12, Lewis started using marijuana. By freshman year, he was smoking weed daily at home or outside school. "It would bring my mood up," he says. "I felt ... like a normal teenager."
Lewis began abusing other drugs, too, scouring the family medicine cabinet for painkillers and anxiety pills. "It made me forget and just not have to deal with real life," he says.
Though his mother tried different approaches — punishment, lectures, praise when he entered rehab — nothing stuck. About a month after his release from a court-ordered, 8½-month residential treatment program, Lewis, then 17, reverted to his old ways.