Addiction Doesn’t Define Me. Recovery Has Become My New Story.

I started experiencing trauma at a very young age, and it went on into my teenage years. I was physically, emotionally, verbally and sexually abused.

I grew up hating drugs because my bio mom was an addict and left when I was 2 years old. I don’t recall ever hearing the word “addiction” back then let alone everything it entails.

I had my first drink when I was 11 years old, my second at 14 and once I turned 18 I was drunk every night. I was in a serious car wreck a few months after I turned 18. I broke my neck in 2 places and wasn’t supposed to make it through the night. This slowed me down from the drinking, but I started smoking pot shortly after this.

This was my thing for a while. I ended up dating my childhood best friend when I was 20 and got pregnant and had my son at 22. That was the happiest that I had ever been, and my life felt complete. You’d of thought that this is where I’d get my act together, right?

I switched jobs a year and a half later. I took a 2nd shift job because soon as there was tension at home I found myself sneaking to the bar for an hour after work. Eventually an hour turned into all night. There were a lot of days I’d take care of my son on a few hours of sleep. His dad and I split up and I did good with not drinking for quite a while until he started keeping our son overnight. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I went to bars with friends. My marriage was on again off again and he begged me to go to AA but I refused because I didn’t have a problem. See, it’s hard to know how messed up you are when you’re that messed up.

Fast forward a little, I was offered a job at John Deere two hours away and decided a fresh start would be good for me. I picked my son up every Friday after work and spent the weekend with him. I met someone at work, he was an everyday drinker and daily pot smoker, and I dabbed in valium here and there.

I got pregnant and of course I stopped everything, even cigarettes. A year after my daughter was born I was having neck pain and migraines. My doctor prescribed 120 hydrocodone a month. It didn’t take long until I was abusing them and buying them, when I couldn’t find those I turned to stronger opiates. My addiction progressed, and I started missing visits with my son. I can’t remember the lame excuses I gave him anymore on why I wasn’t able to come and get him for the weekend. Truth is I was out of pills and having withdrawal. Finding more pills was my priority. My son was so tired of having his heart broken that he asked me to sign my rights over. I seriously felt like I was dying. I told him that I would always love him and that I’d always be there and that I would do what he asked me to do.

A few weeks later I was suddenly doing Meth. It took the pain away for a short while. It didn’t take long for my world to come crashing down. I was living a nightmare and I had turned into someone that I didn’t recognize.
I sat in the basement sad, dark and soulless. I made the decision to take my daughter and move back to my home town, so I could get clean.

I was clean for 3 weeks when I decided to take my daughter back to see her dad. I was under the impression that he was clean, he was not, and I ended up going to jail that night for domestic assault. That’s a whole other story. I saw the judge in the morning and he informed me that there was a protective order on my daughter.

I stayed clean as my focus was on helping my daughter. I called DHS and they started an investigation, and it was a founded case for substance abuse. This was the best thing that I have done for myself, as this is where my life began to change. My daughter was temporarily placed with family while I was early in recovery. I relapsed four months after being clean and the department suggested residential treatment where I could have my daughter with me.

We weren’t allowed much freedom, but one place we could go was once lost now found at a local church. I remember wanting what these people had. I was clean, but I was still struggling with bondages, obsessions and guilt. After several times of going to the service I finally accepted the invitation to go up front to be prayed over. Three people prayed over the things that I had been struggling with and I can’t describe exactly what I felt that night but for the first time in a long time I felt peace.

After 4.5 of residential I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere and made the decision to leave. I couldn’t take my daughter with me. That was one of the hardest choices I ever had to make. I ended up relapsing again but this one was very short lived.

Something clicked, I finally realized what everyone meant by doing this for myself. I engaged in recovery programs, went to therapy to finally deal with the past trauma that led to my addiction, worked a 12-step program, and continued to grow in my faith.

I got my daughter back 4 months later, was able to get a full-time job and our own home. I am happy to say that today I am 5 years clean. I’m happily married, my daughter is amazingly happy and I’m working as a mentor for recovering addicts.

From An Overdose To A Degree In Social Work At Wright State, Recovery Gave Me Meaning And Purpose

I know what it feels like to wake up in the ICU with tubes down my throat and asking the doctors, “What happened?”

“You overdosed, and almost died. You’re lucky to be alive.” The doctor said.

I know what it feels like to plead guilty to a felony crime in front of a judge that could send me to prison for many years.

I also know what it feels like to want to stop using drugs in my heart so bad, but I’m my mind I didn’t know how.

This isn’t just my story, this is the story of hundreds of thousands of addicts in our community and others across the country.

It’s no surprise to hear the sad stories about the opioid crisis and the overdose deaths and the morgues so crowded they have to send bodies to other counties.

What I want to share with you is this, it is possible for an addict like me, or an addict you see walking down the street panhandling, to find a new way to live.

The judge that could have sent me to prison, sent me to drug treatment. Not once, but twice. My first attempt at inpatient treatment I used within an hour after completing the 30 day program. But the second time, is when the miracle happened. I lost the desire to use drugs after seeing a man who I had went to treatment with, 6 months prior, and he was still clean. By seeing him stay clean, I felt hopeful for the first time that I could stay clean too.

After completing treatment, I was a convicted felon, high school dropout, and not one person in the world that would give me an employment reference. The transitional house I was living in after completing treatment required that I have a job and pay rent within 30 days, or find somewhere else to live- which meant back to a using environment for me.

I applied everywhere and followed up on my applications sometimes daily. There was a Little Ceasers down the street that I really wanted to work at. I saw a man standing outside holding a sign and dancing around, I said to myself, I wish I could get that job, that looks like fun. They wouldn’t give me an interview, in fact, they wouldn’t even call me back.

It was hard to stay clean, I felt like the world was against me. When I finally got a job with a temp service. My great-grandma died. I had to choose between going to work, or going to her funeral. I went to work. I felt like that was the right thing to do. If I didn’t, I would’ve had to leave the housing program I was in. I had to stay clean, my life was on the line.

A few months later I realized I wanted more out of life than a minimum wage job, and I got connected to a community based program and a man sat down with me and said, “Eric, what are your goals?” Nobody had ever asked me that before.

I said I want to get my GED, a bank account, and health insurance. He taught me how to set goals, make a plan, and to take action.

Fast forward to today. I have been clean for over 8 years, I recently graduated from Wright State University with a Bachelor in Social Work, I am a husband, father, a homeowner, and a life coach making an impact in my community.

My challenge for you is this, how can you create opportunities for individuals battling an addiction, for those who need a second chance, for those who are desperately trying to find a new way to live?
The picture is of me and Mark Zuckerberg. I talked with him for over two hours about my experience with addiction and recovery. He went on to quote me in his Harvard commencement speech about helping addicts find their purpose. I have been truly blessed in my life and I am grateful everyday to wake up and not have a desire to use drugs. After years battling a heroin and meth addiction, freedom from active addiction is all I’ve ever wanted. We do recover!

I Love My Program Of Recovery And The Life It Has Built For Me

My name is Lauren and I’m an alcoholic whose been sober since June 18, 2010.

Growing up, I always felt nervous and uncomfortable and not because I wasn’t loved, I know I was. I just always felt the need to escape. I took my first drink the night I graduated from high school and right out the gate i was a black out drunk, and I loved it. In the beginning, my consequences were mostly having my parents yelling at me but nothing more then that. As the years went on, things gradually started to get worse: car crashes, inpatient stays, reckless decisions on my part that would effect me emotionally down the road.

I found my way into AA when I was 20, got a sponsor, did my first step (not rigorously) and eventually relapsed. At that point, things were far beyond my control and I was broken but not ready to change. In 2008, I was arrested and charged with a DUI and required to enter an outpatient program for 14 weeks as a stipulation of my plea deal. This program required me to attend AA and in June 2010 I started my journey in this program once again, but this time with the mindset of working the program as it’s laid out.

Life has been good to me in recovery, I definitely hit many bumps but none that the program, my higher power, the steps and the people in my network have not been able to carry me through. In 2016, I sat beside my mother as she took her last breaths and in that moment, the drink was the farthest thing from my mind. Instead, I used my feelings to push my life forward to pursue a life long dream of mine: starting a career in the medical field and I am ridiculously happy with that decision.

I love this program and the life it has built for me. I know I shouldn’t be here today but I’m so grateful that AA was there. I love you all. Thank you!

Medication Assisted Treatment And Positive Peer Support Saved My Life

My names is Derek Langdon I am 41 years old.

I took my first drink at the age of 8….at 13 I tried marijuana for the first time. I used crack for the first time at age 15 and as you can see, my disease at the time is in a progression and it continued to get worse. By 18, I had been arrested 3 times to support my habit. I became a 3 time felon by the age of 25.

The next 15 years is literally a revolving door in the Department of Corrections (3 times) and I would be introduced to heroin. That’s when I begin to experience homelessness and I contracted Hep C. And this is when I got help for the 9th time.

Ive been institutionalized 5 times and I’ve tried many different pathways….. medications and many self help groups… I was referred to a treatment facility specializing in medication assisted treatment in Bloomington, Indiana and have been clean for 6 months.

Suboxone has saved my life and today I’m a working and productive member of society. I’m responsible for the first time in my life. Thank God for sobriety and it’s truly a gift and a blessing.

I’m 17 Months In Recovery Today And That’s A Miracle

Hello everyone! I am Victoria and my friends call me Tori. I am a grateful recovering addict.

Right now, I am 17 month clean and it is a miracle! I drank heavily for 26 years and wanted to die with a drink in my hand. I would call myself a closet drinker because I did everything in my power to hide it. That only worked for so long. …. The day my granddaughter asked, “Is there yuckies in your cup Grandma?”

This is the day I realized Enough is Enough! I gave my 18 year old my stash to trash and asked her to find me a bed. And she worked hard for about 24 hours. Off to rehab for the first time at 47 years old. After 25 successful and grueling days, I did it! I quit!

Went to IOP right away and had a recovery specialist visit once a week and was determined to stay clean. My 3 kids are so happy to have a full time mommy now and so are my 2 granddaughters, who all live with, just me. My kids were my motivation and my God made it possible. I hope I Never go back to that horrible lifestyle.

I believe recovery works if and when you Reallllllllly Want it! I wanted it so bad and now that I have it I am at peace with life. Inner peace is so important and amazing to have. Thanks for taking the time to care to read this and love to you all. If you are struggling with addiction, get help, reach out, surrender. You will be so relieved and happy! Peace, Tori Lee

I Hate Heroin. Lord: Save My Son, Because I Can’t.

I Hate Heroin.

You go to bed thinking about it, you wake up thinking about it…all day long in the back of your head you are thinking about…I don’t use heroin, in fact I’ve never used any drugs but my son is an addict. Sometimes in the middle of the night when he is out on the streets I jolt awake because I hear him screaming “Mom, help me.” I wake up with my heart pounding with a cold sweat on my body just knowing that my son just died and I couldn’t help him. It sounds like he was outside my bedroom window yelling. I get out of bed and go to his Facebook pleading with his friends to tell me if they have seen him recently and if he was okay…because he no longer has that $200 phone it was sold for that last hit, gram, push (I have no idea how you describe it) of heroin. I have even at certain times threatened his drug friends that I was coming for them. I had to blame someone..right?

He is on his sixth, seventh or eighth rehab…I can’t remember but each time I think this is “the one.” If I could keep him in Phase One of rehab the rest of his life, I would because he excels at it…it’s when he gets five minutes to himself in the next phase that it falls apart.

Driving through town with all of those silly signs “kids before addicts” I have to wonder if I am in Alice in Wonderland and fell down the rabbit hole. In 2013 61% of the drug addicts were kids…who do they think they are saving the kids from? Themselves?

My son overdosed in a “trap house” once, they surely were not calling 911, they dumped him on the street in a puddle and a passerby called 911. He was DOA but they got him breathing again but he was in a coma and on a respirator for a week…he went to his first rehab when they discharged him. I was in seventh heaven…finally (I had been trying for several months to get him in a program) he will be saved; I truly was clueless to the power of heroin.

One thing I have learned through all of cannot save someone from themselves. If only I had a magic wand. I have also decided after many “family weeks” in rehab that I really don’t believe in co-dependency although no one in the rehab world will agree with me. I believe as a mother we do what we can live with when they die. I don’t give him money, I will take him to dinner and I will buy him insulin…yes on top of being a heroin addict he is Type 1 diabetic (since he was 16 years old, he is now 22).

I have either gone or sent my 28-year old daughter as she lives in Puyallup where he hangs out to many trap houses to deliver insulin to him so doesn’t die…I decided if he was going to die it wasn’t going to be from lack of insulin. Yes, I have left messages for the police about drug houses but they are so overwhelmed with drug houses they don’t even return the call.

There are no guarantees in life…just love them while they are here. Things could be worse, he could be a rapist, murderer, pedophile, pregnant, he isn’t missing (most of the time), he isn’t on death row nor does he blame me for his issues…. he is simply a drug addict. My prayer is that he never harms another soul in his walk with drugs. If you met my son when he is sober you would like him, the little kids adore him. He is sweet, kind and loving with a great sense of humor.

This last go round (a month ago) he called and said I need a detox but it’s in Olympia I have no way of getting there, I went and picked him up and drove him there. He was so sick I wasn’t sure he would be alive when we got there. Once they are addicted they don’t use to get high…they use to not be sick. All I could say to him was “God has a plan for you because your ass should be dead by now you better start listening to what he is telling you”.

The real heroes in this world to me are not the police, firemen or soldiers (although they are awesome) it is the Matt’s, Levi’s, John’s, Sean’s and Mike’s who have lived through this addiction and do everything they can to help gather him (and many others) back in and try to help them. I can call anyone of them day or night and they drop everything to try to help my son. I have known about ten boys to die from this…these guys have buried many more friends yet they don’t quit trying..they are true heroes. Perhaps my son will be one of them someday.

No one wakes up and decides to be a junkie and as hard as it is too watch it..imagine what it is like to live it. There are many days that I pray “Lord you know how this is going to end….if he is going to die from it please take him sooner rather than later as I can’t keep doing this”.

If you have not read the poem “Mr. And Mrs. Heroin” google it…it ends with “just come take my hand and I will lead you to hell”…

Yes…I hate heroin…
……please Lord save him because I can’t…

Blessings to all who are struggling with this as I know there are many but not very many who will share it. Interestingly enough this started soon after my older son killed himself…the aftermath of suicide perhaps?

– Carri Litowitz

My Sober Life Just Keeps Getting Better

My childhood was pretty good. As a teenager I drank smoked a little weed and cigarettes. By the time I was 19 I had a 1 yr old daughter and a newborn premature. I remember having to leave her in the hospital in Galveston and being very depressed. I had been home a few days and I was cleaning and hurting real bad. My boyfriend said, take one of my pain pills. About an half an hour later not only was my pain gone but so was my sadness and I had all this energy. That’s where it began.

A few months later after my daughter was home . I had an accident and cut my hand real bad. The plastic surgeon prescribed me lorcet, the happy pills. He refilled them every two weeks for a yr. By that time I was going to drs and getting tusionex and hydroclear. When I could no longer get Medicaid. I started calling in scripts. Which led me to prison for 22 months.

My girls were being raised by grandparents. I did try to get off the opiates by going to a methadone clinic. Made things worse. I tried really hard when I got of prison. I went to a Dr. To get diet pills to lose the weight I had gained. It wasn’t long before I manipulated him into giving me vicoden. I took a friend to Houston and was introduced to the pain clinics.

Over the next 10yrs, I spiraled out of control. On 5-13-13 Two felony Dwi, and a prescription fraud charge sent me back to prison Looking at 25-life.

On 5-31-13 I decided that no matter what the outcome was I was not going to live like I had been living any longer. I gave my will and my over to Jesus. I haven’t been the same since. He transformed me from the inside out. I got 8 yrs and was released 8-22-16. My life has been a true miracle.

My sober life just keeps getting better. The relationships with my daughters has been restored. I share my story to give hope for those still struggling. I am living proof that we do recover. I give God all the glory. Without him I wouldn’t be who I am today.

I Went To Rehab For The Last Time In 2014. This Time, I Followed My Peers Advice.

My name is Chris, a recovering alcoholic. I have been sober 5 years. Sometimes when I say, “I am an alcoholic” that does not feel true anymore. I mean, I have been sober long enough to be “cured”, right? Well, I feel strong enough nowadays to feel that way, but I know it is not the truth.

I do remember the days that I drank socially with friends. Looking back on it, I was always a quiet, reserved person and I quickly grew fond of the way that alcohol made me feel like I could break out of my shell. I could converse lively with anyone. Whenever drinking was an option, I would always oblige. I also consider myself a generally private person. That is a perfect storm for someone fond of drinking.

I think my alcoholic career really took off when I moved out on my own for the first time. I no longer had to sneak what I was doing. I stepped from enjoying beers, bourbons and whiskeys to settling for the cheapest, biggest bottles of vodka I could find. After all, it’s clear and odorless, right? I would buy the half-gallon bottles often, two at a time so I knew I had plenty. I would always have it stocked in the house. Drinking had quickly escalated to a couple times a week to a daily, hourly…half-hourly habit.

I started having what I know now to be withdrawal symptoms, but I had no idea what they were at the time. I knew whatever that feeling was, alcohol made it go away…so of course, I kept drinking. I was trapped. That, to me, is addiction – feeling trapped by your vice to avoid putting your body in more danger. The alcohol that was literally ready to kill me was what I turned to, to feel better.

Through this time, I went through a great career. It went downhill fast. It was obvious why, but I didn’t care. Drinking made that better, too. I didn’t have to feel bad about it if I drank. I had fallen in and out of love in relationships. My relationships started out in bliss and deteriorated. For these, too, the reason was obvious. I did not have to care about it because alcohol made it better. I drove drunk without a care in the world – with a mixed drink in a water bottle in the cup holder and probably one or two under my seat. For whatever reason though, DUIs or accidents were not in my cards. I did not have to truly deal with anything – pain, sadness, consequences, fear – nothing.

At the peak of my 10 years drinking, there was one night I was alone staying at my then, girlfriend’s apartment. I was “happy” to be alone. No one knew the address, no one around except the cheap half gallon of vodka. This weekend though, sharp pain was growing in my abdomen. I was trying to drink my way through it. My stomach was starting to swell. I had no idea what was going on. I ended up calling my mom who insisted we rush to the ER.

I was taken in for vitals. They admitted me immediately to a room bypassing the long wait as a critical patient. I remember doctors rushing quickly and repeatedly checking vitals telling me to stay awake. The frequency of drinking (probably an understated amount…because we do that) came up as a topic. They brought me back for a CAT scan.
Many heavy drinkers experience Pancreatitis and can testify to how unbearable it is. What the scan revealed for me is that my Pancreas had exploded– the swelling a result of fluids filling my abdomen. The room filled quickly with doctors and nurses rushing around, hooking me up to machines, sticking me with needles and IVs. I do remember coincidently, that one of the ER nurses was one of my ex-girlfriends. She later told me that I had coded a couple of times during that rush.

I remember waking up in a dark room after that. I did not know it at the time, but I was in intensive care, near death, waiting on a doctor who was paged for emergency surgery.

My next memory after that night was waking up confused and unable to speak. Tubes and machines everywhere I looked. I also learned that nearly two months had passed. I had been in a coma after multiple surgeries. The doctors later told me that, when I had come in, my chance of surviving was estimated at 10%. My mom later told me she was called multiple times suggesting she rush in because I wasn’t expected to make it.

I spent another month in the hospital after that for rehabilitation. Three months in a hospital bed, I had to regain strength to breathe, swallow and walk again on my own.

That experience scared me so much, I never drank again.

…Yeah right…

I went back to drinking not long after recouping. I finally attended my first rehab…and went back to drinking shortly after.

After many tries, short spirts of sobriety, and multiple trips to hospitals, I went to my last rehab in 2014. I was so tired of being sick, tired, weak and trapped. I followed what everyone asked me to do and stuck to meetings, sponsors and family. I opened up and was honest with others what I was going through. I was hearing others in sobriety flying the pink cloud and saying how great things were. Things are great, but great means something different to me. It means that I have real world experiences – good and bad. I deal with them as me, not through alcohol. Am I cured? No. I am still an alcoholic. After 5 years sober, can I pick up just one, well-deserved beer and drink it like a normal person? Absolutely not. I know who and what I am now and I am much better for that.

Opioids Killed My Friends. And I’ve Decided To Find My Path To Recovery.

I was born in Charlotte NC January 27th 1982. My parents are amazing people and so is my sister. I was so blessed in that department. I couldn’t ask for a better family.

Somewhere around age 12 I started to feel like I was different from everyone. Also that I didn’t wanna be like other people. I started using about this time . Smoking and drinking. Smoking pot became an everyday thing .

There was a close circle of friends and we all used together. Everything was all fun and games. Life was pretty good. I became very close with a guy named David and a girl named Barbara. They got me. We used heavily. By 16 I was an IV drug user. I also already knew people who had been murdered for the lifestyle they lived. We kept using.

In the 9th grade I was kicked out of school. Which opened up the floodgates too keep living the lifestyle I had chosen. At 17 my close friend Barbara was sent to live in another state because her father had found her needles. While it was super hard it was good for her I guess. She went to college. Got married and had beautiful kids.

My habits and actions got worse. Me and my friend David used IV drugs everyday by this point. In the middle of the original OC craze. It had consumed our life. You couldn’t trust us. We would lie, cheat and steal  I also did lots of amazing things like traveled around the country and went to Woodstock 99. By 20 I had driven across the country a few times. I had been to something like 40 states. I loved to see and go. Just go!

I never had a problem making friends. I knew people everywhere. I wonder how many of them knew I had become a junkie.

Oct 31st 2002 a good friend of mine was murdered over one OC 80. His son was one. For whatever reason I didn’t read the warning signs loud enough.

April 4th 2004 I went to detox. An old friend who I used to use with took me to a meeting. I stayed clean. I picked up a year clean and thought I would never use again. I moved to California. Life was good.

October 18th 2008 my childhood best friend David was found dead. He was 27. I was heartbroken. Five days later my roommate shot himself . Me and his daughter found his body. That week changed my life forever. I was a mess. A doctor put me on benzos. Emotionally distraught I took them. Relapse crept in slow. After some years clean I was smoking pot again. Taking nerve pills again.

Eventually I moved back home to South Carolina  Things weren’t bad. I had my first and only child. Then I got busted for selling pot and things spiraled out of control from there. Pain pills I was prescribed became a habit.

Slowly I started buying stronger stuff on the street. Eventually I went back to IV use. It didn’t take long before I sold everything I had. Life was a mess once again. This time I found myself in the middle of the fentanyl craze.

I must say I’ve never seen things as bad as they are today. It’s completely out of control. Heroin has never been so available.

Anyway. My close friend Barbara had always remained in my life. No matter how far apart. She came home to South Carolina. It was so good to have her around but at the same time I was in the middle of an awful run. She had her problems too.

June 2017. I hadn’t seen my dear friend in a few days . Her use was out of control too and I wasn’t going to co sign that I thought it was ok. I was gonna go see her though. We were having a text conversation and I left out to go see her. She stopped responding to text  I realized I hadn’t asked her where she was. I had no way to find her. I turned around and went home.

My friend left this world that night from an overdose. She left behind 3 kids. I know what you are thinking but she was a great mom. A great person. The best person I’ve ever known. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. She was too good to leave this world that way. But she did. I couldn’t save her.

I got clean not long after. Kicking a long Benzo habit and Fentanyl habit. 10 days clean and after leaving detox I was in the hospital delusional from not sleeping those ten days. It was rough.

But I didn’t use.

I went to treatment. I focused on myself.

I moved into an Oxford house out of treatment with some guys I was in treatment with. My brothers. Warriors.

In a few days I will have 9 months clean again  Life isn’t perfect …but it’s a lot better today. I have hope. I can offer someone else hope. I don’t wanna use. I lost more friends than I can count and it’s only getting worse

My name’s Matt and I’m a grateful recovering addict .

My Recovery Journey Proved To Me That One Size Doesn’t Fit All

So, I’m not even sure how to tell my tale in a concise, easy to read version, but I’ll try. My parents were wonderful, no addiction, no alcohol, and extremely loving. I excelled in school, I had good friends. I was the youngest of 6 children and was definitely spoiled. I learned very young how to please people to get what I wanted, when I wanted it. I learned how to manipulate the different people in my life and play mom against dad or sister against brother to get my way. These patterns continued into my friendships and relationships later in life. I never felt accepted, good enough, or like I thought others were feeling. I always wanted more of anything I deemed good. I got bored easily and anything I did I thought I had to be perfect at. I was molested at 7 years old as well but never thought I could or even should tell anyone, as it went with my people pleasing mentality. I just wanted to be accepted and loved by everyone I knew. Anytime I didn’t do something to my own perception of perfect, I thought of myself as an utter failure. In some relationships throughout my childhood and even into adulthood I played the victim, unintentionally, but I learned that if I were a victim some people would love me more, spend more time with me and ultimately give me what I desired if only I did what they wanted in return. In other relationships I found that if I guided them, if I was their rock, if I provided for them, then they would love me, be there for me and ultimately give me the feeling of being needed. Little did I know at the time, that these behaviors would only get worse as I got older. My need to play the victim or my need to feel powerful, which I believed would lead me to feel loved, desired, safe, and happy. Many times through no perceived fault of my own, I would have the relationship end, thus feeling empty, powerless, abandoned, and rejected. My dad passed away when I was 19, thus leaving only my mom and even that left me feeling abandoned. My best friend at 23 died and again added to my emotional pain.
Now, I talk about my emotional struggles because that is at the core of my using.

When I was 16, I started smoking weed, using cocaine, drinking alcohol, tripping on acid and Shrooms. I completely loved the way it all made me feel. I felt larger than life, like I was complete and whole, like I thought others felt. Drugs became my connection to feeling what I perceived as normal or better yet just not the way I normally felt. I used socially, recreationally, and by myself. I started lying, and hiding my use to please those that didn’t like it, and I surrounded myself with other like minded people so I could use comfortably. Using was the only thing that made me feel happy, and I needed more of it regularly.

I graduated high school top of my class, I went to college, I had many unsuccessful relationships, I’ve had more friendships than I can count but only a few really close friends that I was either dependent on or telling them how they should live their lives. All of these friendships and relationships ended poorly, and that left me abandoned, rejected, feeling worthless, and empty inside, but my trusty drugs were always there to save me until my next friend/lover/(victim) came along. I’ve been very successful in my career as well, being a phenomenal manager and manipulator, I have managed Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Office Max, Office Depot, HHGregg, and been an international sales manager at Air Technical. I’ve had apartments, houses, cars, money, and success by any measure but my own. Nothing has ever been good enough. During one of my saving missions of a friend, I got introduced to heroin and crack…..I found the King and Queen of my emotional stability. Heroin made me perceive that my feelings were finally under control. I had found my Lord and savior. I’d have sold my soul for the way heroin made me feel. It blotted out my hurt, my regret, my sadness, my abandonment, my rejection, I no longer cared about other people needing me, being successful, eventually I didn’t even care about myself. Once my buried emotional pain surfaced through my heroin use, when my so called Lord of emotional control wasn’t enough, I was left with a bag of remorse, guilt, shame, abandonment, rejection, jealousy, anger, grief, and pain….it was so bad I didn’t care if I lived or died, I prayed for death so I wouldn’t have to feel the overwhelming emotions I couldn’t even name or begin to describe at the time, I just wanted to not feel them, I wanted to be rescued, I wanted to be loved, but my definition of love had become so jacked up over the years of playing the chameleon, I needed a new way, I new definition, but it was all so scary. I had lost my jobs, most of my family, all my possessions, my home, my car, my freedom (jail and prison), my self confidence, and finally my only source of peace (heroin).

I have been in recovery since July 2013, I have tried AA, NA, rehab, Suboxone, Vivitrol, counseling, learning, reading, church, support groups, talking to family, psychiatric care, and I relapsed every single time I tried any one approach. This time I have been sober for 11 months, I have no desire for use, I don’t lie anymore or rarely, I don’t manipulate anymore, I avoid toxic relationships, I’ve learned about codependence and how to spot it in my self and others, I have found my Zen or spirituality, I go to counseling and see a psychiatrist. I utilize support groups and people who’ve been there before me. I’ve learned that I tell my mom how I feel, but I don’t expect her to have the fix anymore. I know it’s up to me to build up as many defenses against relapse as I can for me. I tell on myself now, I care for others genuinely and not for what I can get out of it. I feel natural happiness. I am grateful in everything. I now feel ok. Life is still a struggle, it gets easier every day. I know now addiction was never the issue, nor were the circumstances of my childhood, nor the people in my life (they did the best the knew how), I stopped playing the victim of my past, I learned to love, I stopped trying to control everyone and everything, I learned to cherish what I do have. I know now the past is something I can’t change, that I have to learn from it, and become a better version of myself everyday I have another chance. There are good things in life and bad, but I can only address my response and thoughts about them. I’ve learned to accept people and life for who and what it is. Man was it scary as Hell, it still is at times. It’s been a long hard road. It’s not over. I learned my problem was my emotional self, my duality of codependent roles playing out in my unconscious, and my inability to express myself. I now work on those issues daily. It’s my life’s work to be better than I was yesterday and to help any one I can to do the same, without become codependent with them, either being the needy dependent or the controlling savior. Life is worth living, I believe in my self now, I no longer blame others for who I am or what I did, I am free to be me.

Love and prayers to all. I hope my story can help someone struggling with addiction, codependence, or any one touched by either. I highly recommend you get a bible, get a big book, go to meetings, go to counseling, get your mental health checked, get Codependent No More, get The Addicts Loop, find anything that works for you, this isn’t a one size fits all magical cure, if my struggle has shown me anything, it’s that I had to find my own cocktail that works for me. Much love and prayer.