Well, ok. My story probably isn’t that unique. I wasn’t raised in a bad environment with parental abuse. I never had my mugshot taken. I didn’t steal cars, get in major fights, or rob the local liquor store in order to pay for my habit. I was just a heroin addict. An unfortunate, devastated, everyday, run-of-the-mill heroin addict.
And it really is unfortunate today that heroin addiction can even be described as everyday, run-of-the-mill. But it has become almost…normal.
For me personally it started in high school. The worst broken foot of my life.
Not because it hurt, I mean of course it hurt, and not because it sucked for a few months and had to heal, it did. But it sucked for my overall life because that was the first time I can remember taking prescription medication.
I always wonder if I did something different that day would I be different. If I had faked sick and not gone to school. If I had just skipped basketball practice. If the weather had been one degree hotter. If any number of things would have been different that day would my entire life have been different.
Maybe I wouldn’t have ever had to take the pain pills.
For some reason in my life at that time it was a perfect storm. At first, I just took the medication because I was actually in pain. But, probably around a few weeks in, I just kinda kept taking them.
And I probably wouldn’t have become an addict had I stopped there, but growing up in the midwest it was just really easy to get pills so, once my prescription ran out, I asked a few friends at school and that was that.
I was actually very surprised at how many people in my school were taking pills. It’s kinda one of those things you don’t really see until you are in it. But, once I was in it, I was all the way in.
That lasted until I was out of high school.
After high school, I went to college and started working towards something I thought would be meaningful in life. I was on and off of pills. I actually did pretty good a few times at getting off for months at a time.
Then, I met heroin.
I had known a lot of people that were into heroin. However, for me, it wasn’t something I was keen on trying.
But, eventually, with enough time my barriers were broken down.
I started smoking heroin and then, I took the plunge into shooting heroin.
That was when things started getting really bad.
I was still able to keep a job. I still went to class. But my interest in life was almost completely absorbed into the blackness. My grades were never great so and I had been doing pills for so long that I was probably temperamental, so I didn’t think anyone around me really noticed the change.
But my life was getting much worse.
On Aug 21st, 2014 I was rushed to the ER. I had overdosed.
That was the day it all changed. I thought I was going to die. My family thought I was going to die. And I kinda wanted to.
By this point my life was a nightmare. All I could think about was doing heroin. If I didn’t do heroin, I felt awful. If I did, then I felt almost normal. There was no good, I couldn’t get through my day without heroin.
I went immediately to a drug treatment center where I spent the next months.
This was my first time in group meetings, little did I know this would become a major part of my life in the future.
Those next 30 days were really good for me. I learned a lot about myself, drug addiction, and I got to know many of the people around me. So many of their stories were similar to mine, and it was surprising how many of these addicts got hooked basically by accident and often as prescribed by a doctor.
Military vets, adults, athletes, musicians–it was such a diverse list it almost didn’t make sense. How could all of these different types of people have the same problem.
I was clean and sober for life, right.
Unfortunately, no. Within 2 months I was back at it. The 30 day program was really good but, for some reason, after being out of there for about a month I thought I could take a few pills–I had it planned out, I wasn’t going back to heroin.
But I did. It didn’t take long after I first relapsed to go all the way back down.
I felt awful but this time I was going to do something about it.
I heard about this drug called Ibogaine from one of my friends. Actually, he had been clean for about two months when he told me about it. As a student of psychedelic drugs I thought that would be something fun to try, but I blew off the addiction interruption part of it.
However, once I started really wanting to change my life the idea of Ibogaine started to settle on my mind.
I started doing some significant research.
Ibogaine is a drug that, for some reason, is able to heal the brain from heroin addiction. It puts the addict in a dream-state while it works in the brain.
When the dream is over, the body and brain are no longer heroin dependent.
For me, it seemed like the only solution.
After getting the money together and convincing my parents that this was the right path for me. I took a trip down to San Diego where I was picked up from the airport and taken across the Mexico border into Rosarito.
I was a little scared to be honest.
At first I was just scared to go to Mexico with people I didn’t know. However, once I settled into the house I started getting a little freaked out of this 8 hour Ibogaine trip.
8 hours seems like a long time.
That first night, the doctors gave me some medical tests, gave me a test dose of Ibogaine, and got me prepared for the next day when I would take the full flood dose.
The next morning I woke up, and within a few hours I had taken the Ibogaine.
My experience was intense on a mental level. I remember thinking about being the god of my own life, feeling a deep connection with people around the world. I thought about humanity, how people in India and China on the other side of the world are so much like me. How all humanity had the same basic needs to feel accepted and loved.
I thought about the things I had done. How I had been hurting myself and my family. It really showed me some deep insights into my own life. It was an amazing but difficult experience and one that I wouldn’t want to do again–but I am very glad that I did.
After the Ibogaine wore off I took some sleeping medication and I was out for about 16 hours.
When I woke up I was thinking this was it. Did the Ibogaine actually work or was it just a hoax that I fell for.
I walked around my room for about 30 minutes trying to figure out if I felt any withdrawal.
I didn’t feel excellent. I was still tired, drained, and my brain felt like mush. But, I didn’t feel depressed. I didn’t feel shaky. I felt stable.
As time passed I started to become pretty excited. I really didn’t have any withdrawals.
If you have been through withdrawals then you know how bad they can be. Cold sweats, hot sweats, body aches, general discomfort and even pain. Depression. All the bad things. But, I didn’t feel any of those. I felt ok.
I think people want bigger miracles in their life. It’s not enough to find a drug that just gets you through withdrawal, they want something or someone to tell them what to do and make them feel good while they do things that are easy. But for me, personally, I believe that you have to challenge yourself in life and see the good in the little things.
Sure, I was still a normal human. I had to deal with a lot of things after I took the Ibogaine. Boredom, dismay, sadness, work, distrust, all the normal feeling of life. A lot of these feeling are completely covered up when you are on heroin and it can be tough for many people to deal with these feelings. They think this is part of withdrawal and that only a heroin addict goes through them, but the reality is, this is life–this is what everyone goes through on a day to day basis.
And it’s no wonder we turn to pills and alcohol. For the most part, our society tells us to be something we are not, and this leads many to taking drugs so they can cover it up.
I know that was me. Sure, I can blame it on the injury, blame it on my family, or whatever but, the reality is, it’s my fault. I was running away from reality and I thought it would be a good time. It was, for about a week. But you can’t run forever.
I sincerely hope that all addicts find the path that is right for them so they can get off drugs forever. My story probably isn’t flashy, and it’s probably not unusual. But, it’s my story. What worked for me may not work for someone else. But, at least you know that something out there will work for you, you just have to want it bad enough to find it.