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[ Personal Narratives ]

Keep keep your eyes on your compass

I’m only going to share hear about my life as it pertains to addiction.  I want to warn you this is going to be full of typos and most likely miss spelled words I am not a writer.  I’m 63 years old, First time I drink alcohol I got drunk I was about eight years old. I can describe it to her today as Ken most of it’s the first time. My first experience with drugs was when I was about 12, they were my mothers. My family entire family went on to die one way or another from some sort of addiction. Mother, father, brother, and two sisters. I became addicted very quickly, by the time I was 16 years old I turned to IV drug use, I used for a solid 14 years. I did everything that I could to not feel the way that I felt that was indescribable inside. I really didn’t care for many years whether I was doing methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin I would take handfuls  of uppers downers, LSD, mescaline or any other drug that I could get my hands on. I began to sell drugs and found that I was very good at it. I lived the life of fast money cars, women and penthouses I took up residence in places like Aspen Colorado, where at one time I had so much money I had it in shoe boxes in my closet and the nice home that I shared with two young women who moved to Aspen from  New York. I took advantage of their limited knowledge of the drug trade just so I could have them get me in touch with one person in New York who they knew did drugs and yet still held it together. After talking to him on the phone for sometime with the help of my two girlfriends he was comfortable enough to introduce his dealer to me who called me and I flew the two of them to Aspen for days of partying, skiing, and the life they hadn’t seen before. The dealer really didn’t sell heroin he sold cocaine and I knew that when I brought him down and I knew that the cocaine that I had was probably better than his. My goal was to get to his heroin dealer. And then to get to his heroin dealers, dealer. The story goes on and on. A good number of flights paid for a lot of 2, 3 days flights to Aspen. Finally my China white connection. The purest dope around, the best cocaine around. The most Beautiful party women hanging at my door. Heroin being flown to me on a regular basis from New York where my dealer would come and visit to ski in the winter and fish in the summer. But really my story is much like anybody else’s, I got strung out bad it doesn’t matter how much money you make doing it and it doesn’t matter how clever you are. The reality is at the end of the day the disease of addiction if you have it will kick your ass. The people who were dealing drugs for me in Denver, Nevada and Arizona really never knew who I was or where the drugs came from. I had a handful of people who knew who I was they all knew that I knew that only they knew and that if the law got to me it had to be one of them that brought them to my front door. I would never threaten them or say what I would do I just told them don’t bring heat home it won’t work out for you. You get busted keep your mouth shut I had a lawyer they could call and they would be taking care of. They also did not know one another and they really didn’t know me they knew my two girls who are very loyal to me.They didn’t party with anybody else unless I asked them to. So as you can see I was about as clever as you could be. What you can’t see is how addicted and unhappy I was and I was dying I was doing massive quantities of heroin and cocaine mixed together to party, I did heroin to stay well I did pills to go to sleep I did pills to wake up I did drugs to pass out and drugs to come to. I finally got to the place I just could not function anymore and was making mistakes so I pulled out of Aspen and went back to my home town in Denver. My friends were dying all around me they were strung out, they would tell me stories about the great China white that they were getting it now they can’t the awesome cocaine that was flowing into their circle but something happened the guy Musta got busted. I can give you details of weekly events and what it looked like every month how my friends were hanging themselves in city jail. Putting guns in their mouths, overdosing left and right and yes getting busted and getting sent to prison. During this time I was trying to get clean I didn’t want to shoot dope anymore I wanted to stop.i wanted to stop for a young girl that I was dating but I couldn’t, so I pushed her away in a manner that she would leave me. I would disappear often I went from a big-time dope dealer to a guy who would set people up and rip them off. At one point when I ripped off the wrong people for a lot of marijuana they got a little pissed and pulled up in front of my house and started emptying shotguns semi and automatic rounds through the front of my house. the police counted nearly 200 empty casings on the ground all totally clean of any fingerprints these were not amateurs. That’s when I knew she had to go because it was just dangerous to be with me. The heat was on me on a daily basis every time I turn around there be a cop my life was miserable I went back to a level of dealing but I hated it. I wanted to get out of the circle but I did not know how this was 1982. I was at a bar one night with three  guys they were all brothers that I would hang out with and sling my dope in bars with. I was strong and fast and could fight like a ninja. One night at a bar my friends made a bet to me that a table were four women were sitting and turned away everybody that came to the table that I couldn’t get one of them to come up to the bar with me. I said make it worth my while. So the bet was on hundred dollars get her to the bar and buy her a drink. Didn’t matter which one, so I went over drop my lines joked around with the girls found the dumbest one at the table and although she did turn down every guy there I asked her to dance. Her reply was I would if I knew how. I ask the other girls if they knew how they all said not really it was a country bar. I said I’ll be right back. I went up to the DJ who I knew and told him why the prettiest girls without dates in this bar were not dancing I said let’s do something like a line dance that easy and i’ll get them all on the floor. He thought it was an awesome idea and did so the next dance. Well I got all four of them out there I had two on one side and two on the other they were laughing and having the time of their life as was I. At the end of the dance I said ladies let’s go up to the bar and celebrate with a shot of tequila. So we all walked up there and had a shot and I returned to the table with them. I proceeded to tell them the story about the three idiots standing up there at the bar and they bet me $100 that I could get One of you to the bar to have a drink with me well obviously I won the bet but it’s not the money it’s the company I have to thank you so very much for a great time. I was so full of shit it was unreal. I took $100 out of my pocket I put it on the table I said so for the rest of the night this is going to buy your drinks and I so apologize that I started out with the wrong intentions. Please don’t be angry with me this is been one of the brightest moments that I have had in my life and many years later ladies and tears flow from my eyes for some reason. All of a sudden I started feeling something something inside that I wanted, to be open and honest with someone to be able to do something right, I knew there had to be something more in life than shooting drugs. So the story goes, there was a woman there by the name of Debra we continued to talk and I found out that she was the other three girls boss. I convinced her to take me home with her that night she told me there was no way that she was going to sleep with me I said it didn’t matter just take me home with you. I just want to be near you tonight. She looked at me and she goes you know I don’t like long hair something about you that tells me that you’re a bad boy but there’s also something inside you that tells me there’s A nice guy in there someplace. We went to her house and I found that she was actually living in a very nice place with no furniture whatsoever that’s another story. She had a box spring and mattress on the floor. We slept in the same bed and I didn’t try anything with her that night the next morning she woke up before I did. I could hear the shower running she came out in a robe and said do you want to take a shower and I’ll make us some breakfast. So I took a shower and when I got out she was waiting for me it was one of the most intimate romantic times of my life and I’ve been with a lot of women. Long story short she was the one that helped me get into treatment that was October 1982 that woman saved my life. We were married for 29 years. I became a very active member of twelve-step programs and entered the field of addiction. I was able to build a good reputation and my name became very well known as one of the best businessman in the industry. I ran top-notch treatment centers, I was blessed with in a small way of helping thousands of people access treatment and give them an opportunity to continue their journey in recovery. I was Dr. Phil’s addiction treatment advisor, I was the president of the well known Treatment Corporation, I was an administrator of a large treatment center for nearly 20 years again a very well-known one. I I had and still have the ability to take a treatment center that is struggling to the level of thriving it is innate, a True God given talent that I have to give him the praise for. My story goes on I lost my focus I took my eyes off what I was supposed to be doing and after 29 my world crashed out on me when my first chemical relapse was that of sticking a needle in my arm and crashing to the floor in an overdose. Note that I say chemical relapse because the reality is in my relapse started far before the chemical use. I stop doing what people do in recovery. I begin to put my focus on being the bigshot flying back-and-forth to LA to do the Dr. Phil show. I put my time into making a half million dollars a year plus bonuses there was never enough of anything I had to have houses cars motorcycles boats started refilling the hole inside of me with external pleasures and that hole only increased in size there was never enough. When I overdosed you could say it was the shot heard around the industry. I was at a hospital in critical care for A very long time.  they gave me no chance to get out alive everything had failed my liver, kidneys, pancreas and I done enormous damage to my heart and that the chemical was so weighted into my tissue from the collapse of that from me laying still for 23 hours that the naltrexone shots that they were giving me to revive me sent me into such a massive seizure that I had heart attack after heart attack. I was on a ventilator I didn’t know how bad of shape I was in.  I knew that everybody they came to see me was crying. I thought they were crying because I relapsed I didn’t know they were crying because I was going to die. Then a doctor friend of mine came up to see me and he explained to me that I had zero chance of leaving the hospital and then I needed to make myself right with God. He also said that he thought that it was a good idea that I cleaned out the wreckage that I’ve caused. I only have a very short time to do it because I would be going into a coma and I would never come out of it. Hey explained it was time to write the DNR because I didn’t want to be sustained on a ventilator for weeks upon weeks my daughter was there and said no daddy you never stop fighting you never have and don’t stop now holding my granddaughter in her arms. I’ll never forget these words she said I could live without you but I’m not ready to please daddy fight. As I write this piece right now tears flow down my face. My little girl with my little grand girl never left my side. We all agreed that we would give it’s seven days that’s 168 hours. Well I went into coma about three days later. they were doing dialysis on me every day and sometimes twice a day my body blew up to 240 pounds I normally weighed @ 170 but then started to deteriorate and it went down to 120. During my time in, coma I had another heart attack. Obviously I survived it as I did the coma. I remember my daughter when I was fading out told me that daddy when you open your eyes again you’re going to see one of two things me and Jasmine my granddaughter or our heavenly father either way you’re going to be a great hands. She told me over and over again how much you loved me and stuck with me and few people would come to visit. Here I was the big shot in the Treatment industry thinking and believing the position, power, money and being the guy was what I wanted. I’d forgotten my role as a husband, father, a grandfather a man of integrity and of Christ. My daughters words resonated deep into my soul because of the last words that I remember. Well 153 hours into my coma I opened my eyes with 11 hours left before they would pull the ventilator. I tried to move my arms legs or something because I could hear people but I couldn’t respond I could not move it was so surreal. (Is this heaven or hell brought new meaning to me).  Why could I not move?  It’s dark, I began to panic and I guess everything  went up, BP, pulse something was going on. My granddaughter who was laying next to me in my bed sensed something and woke up and turned the light on and yelled, mommy wake up papa’s home Papa’s here papa,  she was grabbing my face kissing me she just kept yelling papa is here. I really couldn’t grasp what was going on. My sweet angels both kissing me, my daughter yelling for the nurse to come. I knew who they were I didn’t know where I’ve been and why was my granddaughter yelling papa’s here my papa’s back. Pretty soon the room filled up with people nurses doctors and specialist were called in a neurologist. They asked me questions asked me to please my eyes for the answers one for yes two for no. Do I know where I was no, did I know how I got there no, do I know my name yes is it Roy Rogers no is it Bob Smith know where the house give me my real name? Finally is it Rich Whitman yes if that lady standing right there your daughter yes tears began to flow from my eyes. I remember like yesterday and I haven’t recalled these moments for years now. 

 My new journey began I had to neurologically regain how to talk how to walk I have a long way to go. I was still getting dialysis several times a week many times every day. I only weighed 120 pounds when I left the hospital. I had to go back and forth to get dialysis. I was far from being out of the woods. Then came being sent to a treatment center that was supposed to take care of me physically.  They lied to us. I begin to have heart issues there they discounted on a few occasions. Finally sent me to the hospital, got sent back with some sort of medication after a few days. I’m not a easy patient to treat in a traditional manor if you will.  Been in this business for over 30 years. My counselor was ready to quit if you had to work with me. As it turned out I need up getting kicked out I have my own thoughts and theories behind now but I’ll just leave that out of the story.

Going back home I was having trouble breathing and getting around is having trouble eating when I stood up I would get extremely dizzy. Then the day came that I just really couldn’t breathe so I was said to a cardiologist they did some examinations treadmills they tried to Put some stints in me but quit the procedure and woke me up telling me they had to do a quad triple bypass emergency. I was still under the effects of the drugs that they put me to sleep with but I couldn’t make a decision so I let my family make it for me they were all there. So off I went, them cracking my just open. 

The story could go on and on, and mostly the story is for those of you in the industry of trading addicts and alcoholics for you executives, program directors, CEOs, owners, doctors, nurses this list could go on and on most likely it should because your name is in on it you’ll think it doesn’t apply to you but we all know that’s bullshit. If you think for one minute that we build up single day of spiritual Currensy because we’ve been dry or sober for a while you’re wrong. “We have a daily reprieve based upon our spiritual condition”. Spiritually eyes on my ass, I fell so hard from a one time use that it sent me into a two-year tailspin. I was able to regain 18 months of sobriety only to lose it because I was holding on by my fingertips. You can’t hold on you have to get in.  Good money was not on me I didn’t have a friend out of the thought that I would really make it back I struggle and continued to shoot drugs for about a year after my relapse of 18 months. Treatment doesn’t work for me anymore it will separate me but it will not give me the message that is necessary to truly put me into a place of been fully recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body. I believe in treatment I believe the people should go to treatment I’m talking about me I know what works for me and that staying connected into the 12 step program carrying the message and look up to my God for all the answers that I need each and every day and as I go throughout it. I continue to make mistakes I don’t always do things right, I say things sometimes I wish I didn’t I do things I wished I wouldn’t but there is one thing that I have not failed to do and that’s a take my father every morning for waking up and for taking my father for me being able to go to bed I ask him to put someone in my life each and every day that I can help. I still work in this industry and I’m very good at it. 

I praise God for every day that I have now I thank you for reading this long discombobulated article and please if you’re in the industry of working with other Alex and alcoholics and you’re in recovery do not forget how you got there get to the basics and stay with them God bless you all