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[ Personal Narratives ]

At That Moment I Instantly Felt Better

I truly and thoroughly believe that self-centeredness is the root of my disease. At some point in my active addiction my conscience, ethics, morality, dignity, and concern for others became reduced to zero. 

It is like a math problem, dope sickness is greater than … everything. There was no situation that seemed unreasonable when it came to “getting off sick”. I became a scam artist, a liar, a thief, a manipulator, and self-centered to the degree that friends and family didn’t matter to me. 

In my mind I knew I loved and cared about these people, but when the sickness sets in, that switch is turned off. I hurt people I cared about and I was continually in legal trouble. I was a college student who was hearing voices and stealing and returning books to shoot heroin and smoke crack in a burnt out hotel in the dangerous Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit. I awoke to my best friend, dead of a heroin overdose and emptied his pockets before the ambulance came. None of these things were enough to get me to stop.

It must have been a culmination of circumstances that brought me to the point where “enough was enough”. Being locked in active addiction breeds a hopelessness and despair quite unimaginable, so I continued using and things continued to get worse. I was evicted from my apartment, was let go from my job, awoke in my car by the police after overdosing and sent to jail, stole from my family, and nearly killed myself trying to detox on my own with prescription drugs.

After seeing that I really couldn’t do it on my own, I became willing to check myself into treatment for the sixth, seemingly shameful and humiliating time. Previously, I almost hated to go because I couldn’t stand the disappointment of failure. I couldn’t bear to hear, “We’re pulling for you Gabe”, “You can do it Gabe”. I was at such a point of humiliation and shame that I had no other options. I needed the addiction to stop. I’ve told this story before and I’ll tell it again. I was lying in bed at Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center, I removed my mattress because it was so uncomfortable, I started lying on the wooden bunk. I hadn’t slept in about a week; I was sick, miserable, and filled with guilt, shame, and remorse. The past decade of active addiction was running through my head, my girlfriend committing suicide, finding my best friend Matt dead, the scams, the scary situations, the abandoned houses, the sickness, the pain and concern on my parents’ faces, and I realized, “I never have to do this again.” At that point I surrendered to my addiction, and at that moment I instantly felt better, and started living in the solution. The solution that was presented was to get involved in a 12 Step Program and pursue my recovery like I pursued my addiction. The pursuit of my recovery has been one thousand times more fruitful!

I now have over 14 months of quality sobriety from all mind and mood altering substances. I am a new person today. I did not get back my old self, I discovered a new and better person that had been locked up inside of me. The freedom from addiction has given me so many things, including the freedom to find myself. Today I am a warm, caring, productive member of society. I am trusted by my family and I am trusted at work. I have been able to clear my head and soon I will meet the requirement of clean time to obtain a Recovery Coach Certification. I have found that I really care about people and enjoy volunteering at the soup kitchen and giving back to the community. I pay my own way through life including any car repairs, insurance, or unexpected costs in life. 

I have money for activities that I always talked about doing, but could never afford; like concerts, vacations, and sporting events. I used to jiggle a cup outside of CoAmerica Park begging for change and now I’m watching the Tiger’s game. Recovery has given me an open mindedness to try new things, different foods, coffees, music, yoga, to go outside and enjoy nature, and to explore my feelings and creativity. In my recovery I can now savor all of my senses, instead of shutting them all down. Recovery gives me the opportunity everyday to grow as a person, to build myself and my surroundings, and to improve myself every day. Today I have the opportunity to be a better person and find the true authentic me.

-Gabriel Rheaume