I had always been a social drinker and pot smoker since high school. Even when spending some nights sniffing lines of coke, playing spades or drinking by the fire and taking key bumps all night, it never occurred to me that I had a problem. While I realize now my addiction was present in the early days of my substance abuse, I failed to recognize it. Maybe because I went to work, came home, and cooked my life seemed as normal to me as anybody else. I dabbled with hallucinogenic drugs and pushed the limits with everything as time went on. I would drink all nights and pop percocets, oxys, and more often than not, opanas. This led to me eventually opening up to patches and heroin.
I grew up in the nineties, where it was almost unheard of to mess with heroin. This is ironic because my father and mother fell victim to HIV caused by my father’s drug use in the eighties. Through my teenage years it had all but disappeared, at least in the demographic of the people I dealt with. By 2007, heroin had resurfaced and suddenly was socially acceptable amongst many social users. I again didn’t realize—as I began sticking myself with needles—that I had a serious problem. A problem in fact that was nearly inescapable. I went from working daily to not having a job. From keeping up a very presentable apartment to waking up to an eviction notice on the door. I wouldn’t allow sunlight into my house because I didn’t want to focus on the overflowing ashtrays surrounded by cotton filled spoons and needles flowing from my bedside table across dirty dishes and waste that failed to ever reach a garbage can. I thought I was in great health and seemed to glimmer as I shed weight and smiled and was full of energy when I stepped out of the house. That was only when I had my daily dose of heroin, which ended up costing between two to three hundred dollars a day. The money wasn’t ever easily attained nor legally acquired.
It was the days it didn’t happen that I became aware of the changes. I would look into a mirror and see the circles under my eyes and my uncut hair growing past my shoulders, stains on my shirt and the look to match the feelings of death throughout my body. I had markings following every vein from my chest to my hands and some spiderwebs on my legs as well. I realized I had a big problem about two years in. It was that point I thought about getting clean, but the sickness I was feeling led me a different route.
I found a disposable income in another addict who had money but no clue on where to obtain drugs. I took advantage of this person’s money and my habit increased to nearly one thousand dollars a day. It was back and forth between heroin and crack. There were nights I thought about suicide. I wasn’t going through withdrawal, but I hated mutilating my body. My desire to use continued to defeat my body although my mind didn’t really want to continue. It wouldn’t allow me to stop.
I was arrested and jailed. That’s what got me to stop. The sickness that followed while sitting in the jail cell, then the treatment center I was forced to go to. They were also a part of my stopping. I was mandated for three to six months. I sabotaged myself by acting out and didn’t get released for 22 months.
The negative behavior, combined with the program director not giving up on me is what gave me a fighting chance to be a survivor. It wasn’t until month seven that I found a bit of dignity and decided I wanted to live.
My focus became more about learning and caring for myself, then to get back home. At month ten, my oldest sister overdosed and passed away. I decided at that point—while overwhelmed with emotions—I wasn’t ready to graduate. I continued my treatment for another year.
Stepping out of the treatment’s doors on that June day, I was afraid. I used what I learned to achieve sobriety and focused on obtaining achievable goals. I am four years clean and still active in recovery today. I became certified in the welding field, I am actively involved in my son’s life, and I am now a homeowner.
There is a very rough road from being in active addiction to get to being successful in recovery. I am living proof that this is possible and wish and pray daily for all of the still sick and suffering to understand. You can recover!