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How I Found Freedom In Jails and Hospitals

“The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.” If you’ve been a slave to a drug, locked in obsession at all times in your mind, locked up in correctional facilities, psych wards, rehabilitation centers, the word freedom carries a huge impact in your life. 

Today, I woke up free of the desire to use to feel comfortable within my own skin. Today, I showered without having to go out and cop some dope first or have to stand on the methadone clinic line first. Today, I didn’t wake up to have to stand by my bunk for count. 

Today, I didn’t have to be waiting for morning meds and my shrink to get in, to dope fiend some more. Today, I was free. 

I spent so many years actively a slave to my disease of addiction.

I knew no other way to live besides the hustle and bustle of the streets. I remember one time when I was being released from the county jail and I was terrified of being free again (cause God only knows what I will do with a little bit of freedom). I remember my heart beating out of my chest as I walked to the car after spending 6 months in lock up (clean) because I knew my friends wouldn’t have picked me up empty handed.

Without a thought in my mind when the blunt was passed back to me I took a hit. I’ve always maintained that sort of ‘fuck it’ attitude because the girl who doesn’t give a fuck about anything, never gets hurt. Now the 6 months of ‘freedom’ I had while locked in the county jail went out the window with the smoke that just came out of my mouth. 

It takes a certain kind of ‘fucked up’ individual to feel free while in jail, but for me I was free. I wasn’t dope sick anymore, I wasn’t robbing anyone, I wasn’t lying, manipulating, running, running, running. In my mind those 6 months I spent in jail were some of the freest moments I experienced in 10 years. I laughed in jail, I was able to sleep, and most importantly I felt like a human again. 

Drugs have a way of making you feel like your soul has been sucked right out of you. You become vacant inside. Spiritually, mentally and emotionally depleted. In those 6 months of abstinence I found myself again, and not the Tara I want everyone to think that I am, I actually found the real Tara, that had been hidden for so long. Maybe this is why I was hesitant to walk out of that jail but if I turned around and begged to stay in jail everyone would think I am crazy. Maybe I am. I spent years going back and forth between the slavery and freedom of my addiction.

 I found what worked for me which was getting involved in a 12 step program and giving my will and my power up to something greater than myself. The problem with that is I am a control freak and I take my will back any time I get the chance and every time I do I am a slave again. I was told before I got clean this last time by my x girlfriend that the only way this program was going to work in my life was if my desire to be clean was stronger than my desire to get high. It wasn’t, and I knew it, I went out and used for one last time because let’s face it, whose not going to do it ‘one last time’. 

That one last time ended me in the hospital, unable to walk properly, unable to talk, and kicking like I have never kicked before. Kicking drugs at 22 is way different than 31. They wrapped me up in a blanket and put me in a wheel chair and I remember every single thing that was going. My awareness was so vivid but I couldn’t tell anyone that I wasn’t aware. My voice was gone. The words were in my head, but only breaths were escaping my mouth. I was incapable of explaining to the nurses exactly what my symptoms were, so I’m not even sure if I was getting properly medicated for the withdrawals that I was going threw. They filled me with pills, IV’s and a big shot in my ass and that’s the last I remember. Being in a vegetable state and being aware, but incapable, in my eyes is far from freedom. 

That experience scared me clean. Death was never enough to scare me I’ve always welcomed it in my daily life, but let’s face it, it’s not my time. That was the last time I used and that experience gave me that dire need for freedom. My desire to stay clean was finally stronger than my desire to use. Today, I had freedom.

Written by: Tara Bowers