Recovery, Remission, and Reality – A Mother’s Perspective

I still worry. Just not as much. I have thoughts but let them fly. If the thought gets too rat-wheel, like it might spin all day and night, and all I want is to connect, then I do. I text or call. I leave a message, “I love you.” I forget how lucky I am, if I’m busy worrying. But I am, after all, and forever, a mother.

It was a relief to find out that a speck of their children’s DNA is wedged into a mother’s body, somewhere; our suspicions corroborated. I want to see where he is, and right now it’s a tiny efficiency apartment attached to his girlfriend’s dad’s house. It’s in a nice neighborhood. It used to be a one-man beauty salon long ago. It’s got good driveway space for his vehicles as he always has extras he works on. He has a 40-hour-a-week job, and the job is good. His boss appreciates him.

His teenage son and almost-graduated college-age daughter are slowly letting themselves believe he’s back, that it really is an illness, this substance use disorder. They can love him in three-D again. They can see his burly, tattooed arms, his twinkling eye and happy smile. Oh it’s been what must seem like a life-time to them, missing him. They know he goes to counseling once a week, and that he really likes his therapist. They know he can’t be around booze or, of course, any drugs. That he’s on probation. But they also know, now, that they can find him home; that he’ll answer their calls most of the time, or get back to them. That he talks like he used to. His kids say they want a normal divorced family.

They know the marriage had to end. That this part of life is defined more sharply into an after he got sober and is getting well. Before that the air seemed to be missing vital elements. Their dad was missing. He stopped by getting arrested. A miracle brought about by jail time, rehab, half-way to hell house, a little freedom and now successes.

They can tell him their stories, about the four years he didn’t find them to see them. How Grandma told them he was too sick. Too taken. Too gone, but now he’s back. After more than a year now of his sobriety, they are willing to risk a little time with him, letting him really see them. Who they are. Where they’ve been. What they’ve been doing. And how much they couldn’t do without him.

They know that Grandma is a poet, and she put her grief and fear, anger and tenderness and love and hope into words in poems for the years he was trying to change or something they didn’t understand. They like some of grandma’s poems because she lets everyone know how it feels to have a man-child slipping like water in a desert, through her fingers. They see some of their feelings in her poems. They can’t read the whole book. It’s too hard. It was their pain too, and their stories. But they learn about stuff from Grandma; they trust her not to lie and so someday, they will read more of it. It made Grandma very happy that their dad went into recovery at the same time the book was about to be printed in huge machines, then spit out for the world to look at. Their dad too came into the world again, and he too was being looked at. He approved of her book, said he was proud and glad that his mom stuck with him, cared enough to write their story.

I started Notes on Serenity: An ABC of Addiction when my son came to me homeless, hungry, and admitted to substance use disorder; again (I’d heard about other times from his now ex-wife). I gave him shelter and all I could give. But, of course, I couldn’t give him a way out. It was so painful to not be able to fix things for him, so hard to see him suffer; I was overwhelmed. I diligently and gratefully attended Naranon (after ten years of Alanon and three of Adult Children of Alcoholics), then decided to focus my time on poems and stories regarding my experience. (I’m a poet and writing teacher by trade.) I thought about titles like “Addiction for Dummies,” “Having an Addict Son Made Easy,” but there was no humor to work with in spite of living in Albuquerque, the home of Breaking Bad. I was at stage 4 GRIEF in spite of all the 12-steps. The Abcedarien is a poetic form I’d learned, used, and taught to writing students. I pitched a course on the form at an online writing school where I was on the faculty and told my students I’d be writing with them, a poem a day for three weeks, each consecutive poem starting with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. It was circa 2010, and I told them I’d be focusing on addiction as my theme if they didn’t mind. They didn’t mind. Eight years later I published the book. The alphabet was a tangible tool, both guideline and a tow rope, something to hold onto and see in the dark. Though the theme gets a little obscured in places, and the forward motion is a child-like tool for literacy, my book links each story the same way addiction links everything when one is in the middle of it.

Poets must write the truth in a unique way—that’s the challenge of the art. There is healing power in sculpting with words, moments and events of the journey. At 70, I gave myself permission to write my journey and my son’s journey, one day at a time.

Opiates Almost Killed Me. But I Got A Second Chance At Life.

My name is Heather and I’m in long term recovery from major depressive disorder and substance use. I have been in recovery going on 5 years. I need to express how grateful I am for being given another chance at life.

Opiates were my choice and it almost killed me. My use of opiates started out innocently. I had several knee surgeries and other ortho type ailments. I was given opiates. I’m not going to place blame on my physicians. Honestly, my brain liked the flood of dopamine opiates provided. I became addicted to the energy and euphoria it gave me. I became super mom, super nurse, super wife. The euphoria helped me become sociable. I have always struggled with low self esteem. I think I can trace all my troubles back to my childhood. Absent father and emotionally neglected mother is my beginning. My parents didn’t know how to cope with stress. They both suffered from depression. My father was neglectful of his responsibilities and my mom was left to carry the weight. My parents divorced when I was 10. It was devastating. My father left a trail of broken promises. I waited for him many weekends only for him to not show up. I resented him for many years. I was always searching for him in other relationships. His absence left a void. It turned me into a clingy people pleasing person. I didn’t know how to have a relationship. I was searching in all the wrong places. I was neglectful of my needs. I desperately wanted to be and feel loved.

I met my husband in 1994. We have been together almost 24 years. We have 2 beautiful children, Cameron and Deanna. I almost lost all of it in 2013. My addiction was raging like a wildfire. I had lost my job. My depression started taking me to a really dark place. I literally spent the summer of 2013 in bed. That’s where I felt the safest. I closed off from all family and friends. No one really knew what was going on in our home. I started using alcohol to help me cope with withdrawal from narcotics. That’s when my husband put the brakes on my self destruction. I was admitted to a detox facility and then on to a 30 day program. That was the beginning of my recovery journey. During this time I cut off contact with my father. I learned he was a big trigger for me. I stopped communicating with him for almost 3 years. I had to take care of me.

Unfortunately, I was never going to get the chance to speak to him again. I was awakened in the early morning hours of April 18, 2016 to a Wildlife officer standing at my front door to inform me my father was missing in Falls Lake. He had been fishing that day. My dad was going to another cove. He was traveling at a high rate of speed. The boat flipped in the air hitting my dad. He was missing for 5 days before his body was recovered. I was numb for that whole week. I immediately made an appointment to see my therapist. My recovery had to be protected. In the past I would’ve used this excuse to numb the pain. I spent 8 weeks attending grief counseling. Smartest decision I ever made. My recovery really began to take off. I made peace with my father. I have to wonder at times if his death was a gift to me. I was no longer stuck at being 10 years old.

Today I am a certified recovery coach and peer support specialist. I am in the process of starting CSAC training. I also started a peer support group called Still Standing. My life is beautiful today and I couldn’t be more happier. I am person thriving in recovery and loving it.

A Heroin Overdose Took Our Beautiful Boy And Our Family Is Forever Changed

Putting your grief into words is indescribable. Our family’s life was forever changed by an unspeakable tragedy when we lost our beautiful boy, our 21 year old son Cody, to a heroin overdose. This monster stole his dreams, our dreams, and the wreckage left behind is un-navigable. There is no healing, no moving on, your life is now work that you must think about attending each and every day.

What does addiction look like? Surely not my gifted, gregarious, smart, compassionate son? Cody was the athlete that everyone wanted to be. Cody was talented, and smart. He had a beautiful girlfriend a family and friends that loved him beyond words. He loved his little brother, his dog, and He was one of the most caring, compassionate people on this planet. I truly believe that his caring, loving soul was too good for this world. He died in our home, in his bedroom.

What most people did not know about Cody is that he suffered from severe anxiety and depression. Like so many, his decent into addiction began with prescription drugs resulting from several sports injuries. After his one and only stint in treatment, he was clean and we had our boy back. Then, at a job he loved…..the worst scenario for someone in recovery, a horrible near death accident. Seven surgeries and daily doses of the strongest opioids available, for nearly 12 months. He struggled with the pain and tried to manage the medication. He knew he was in trouble, I knew he was in trouble.

The day my boy left us, I walked out of my body and never went back. I remember hovering over my body, seeing myself sitting on the floor, seeing those around me talking-but not hearing a word. I thought to myself, “thank god, I’ve died too.” Then, I remembered my other son, my only other child, he would be getting out of school, I had to get to him before he saw all the commotion at our home. Just then, as if he knew, he called. “Mom, I’m done with practice, can you bring me a sub.” I told him he needed to come home. He said “why, is it my brother?” Before I could get a word out, the phone went dead. I will never forget the look on his face as he ran from his car to sit beside me, he took my hand, cried, and I knew at that moment, he was no longer 16, he was thrown into a nightmare that will haunt him forever.

I am now unrecognizable to myself and those who knew the ‘old me’. My soul is so intertwined with my sweet boy’s soul, I can’t get my feet on the ground. I still can’t imagine my life without him.

After 3 months in bed and a family intervention, I knew I had to be Cody’s voice. I refuse to let my beautiful boy become just a statistic. I became an advocate in our state. Meeting with our lawmakers, creating a foundation in his name to help those who cannot afford the gift of recovery. And most importantly, educate anyone and everyone who is convinced this could never happen to them.

I am a bereaved mother, forever broken, struggling to find meaning in all this pain. I’m angry, frustrated, and most days, hopeless. Addiction is so cruel. The guilt consumes me. I want to tell him “I’m sorry I couldn’t get to you.” Until I see my Cody again, I will continue to live between life and death.

The Opioids Lost, And Recovery Won!

My story…. I’ve had a few spinal surgeries and when the pills ended is where my story really starts. I went through the nasty withdrawals and found myself on the other side. Until I started smoking pot to help my pain (physically and emotionally) You see I’ve been through a pretty crappy life… my father was/is an alcoholic. My mother battles with severe depression and anxiety, more so now as my childhood home burned to the ground last year. It was tough… they lost everything… so naturally they changed. I don’t speak to or see my mother really ever. That’s do to my 44 year old addict sister living there. I’ve been raped twice, one of those times I was beaten and stabbed. That really messed me up,I went to go to treatment but it was pointless. So, I did the ONE thing I said I would NEVER do… I picked up a needle( with who I thought was my friend) Since that day I couldn’t Stop. I lied to my friends and family, I stole money from people ,I pawned my grandmother’s wedding ring that she left me when she died(29 years ago)and did anything else I can do just to get money for heroin…I just ran with it I guess…. I told myself ONE time and that “first” one time I was gone for days… up for days just trying to find money to get more. Heroin grabbed my soul and had no intention of letting me go until I was in a body bag. I’ve OD once..and that still wasn’t a wake up call! A few weeks after I overdosed… Make daughter told me she was pregnant, I was so excited to be a grandma but I was so messed up I couldn’t be a grandma. Then she found out at her 12 week visit that my grandson was going to have down syndrome and a major heart defect, that’s when I said to myself I have to be here for my daughter and for my grandson and I went that night to treatment. It was one of the hardest things I had to do in my life. But I knew that I had to do it for my daughter and my grandson that they needed me more than heroin needed me. Fast forward to May 15, 2018, I have been clean from every evil drug especially heroin for one year!!! I am so incredibly proud of myself, I’m not gonna say there are days I don’t think about it are there are days I don’t want to do it because there are. I just work through it and the night go to bed and wake up and it’s one more day sober. I’m connected to many groups that help support me positively, and of course my grandson who is now nine months old who is my heart. I’ve been connected to many groups that help support me positively, and my precious family who has forgiven me. So heroin YOU LOST, I WON!

I Will No Longer Be Silent. It’s Now My Mission To Share My Story To Save Lives.

I want to share a story here, not to bring light upon myself, but to something that I have struggled with for many years. These are my words, not something that I copied and pasted. I hope that this will bring awareness and hope for who ever reads this:

I joined a group on Facebook today that consists of people that have some sort of addiction. I am an alcoholic and began my second journey of battling this disease 34 days ago. My first journey began about the same time last year. I had become a high functioning alcoholic and I knew that I needed to get this under control and eliminated from my life. I started attending AA and thought I had “it” under control and even made a statement once saying, “I got this”. I did not understand the meaning nor the concept of what Alcoholism is or consisted of, I just thought I was a guy with a high tolerance and needed help to control and stop drinking all together.

Well, little did I know that I suffer from the disease of Alcoholism. A very Powerful, Baffling and Cunning Disease. I have spent the last 30 days in Out Patient Rehab and now have the knowledge and education of what Alcoholism is, and the effects and control it can have on me if I continue to use alcohol. I am thankful and Blessed beyond means that I have figured this out, I can now have order restored back in my life.

I used to think my story was not so tragic, but I now realize, that all of our stories, who suffer from some sort of addiction, has left a tragic trail behind us, hurting not only ourself but those close to us and especially those that we love.

I hope that in the days, months and years to come, I can share my story with others and raise awareness to addiction and Alcoholism to others, so that they can seek help before they too, will have to look back and see the tragic story/path that they may leave behind before seeking help.

Knowledge, Information and Education is only as powerful as you use and apply it to your daily life. My Platform is small now, but I hope that it grows each day, as I grow and improve each day.

If you have read this, thank you for taking the time. I hope that those of you who think you may have an addiction that you will reach out and seek help. And for those of you who may know someone that may suffer, be a friend, and let them see what others are seeing. One who has an addiction does not see what others see, and sometimes sees their addiction when it has become to late

I wish and hope for all to have a Happy and Blessed Day….

As A Mother, I Know My Family’s Recovery Is Just As Important As My Daughter’s Recovery

I am the mother of a daughter with a substance use disorder (SUD). I am also a wife, sister, friend, dog owner, New Orleans Saints fan, a lover of all things chocolate, a blogger, a speaker, a family peer support specialist, and an educator/advocate for family members who are navigating the landscape of AUD and SUD. These other facets of me are important to share because for the first five years of my daughter’s addiction, I lost the ability to identify as anything other than the mother of an addict. I was as lost in my daughter’s disorder as she was. She was obsessed with the drug and the drink and I was obsessed with her.

As my journey into wholeness and healing has developed over these last eight years, I have chosen to write recovery into my story. Part of my recovery story is accepting that I am powerless over my daughter’s disease and that my life, my story, my daughter’s story and our family’s story cannot be managed, manipulated or forced back into its original script. I, like so many others I encounter, had written a script for my family and in no way did it include SUD. In fact, it didn’t include any sickness, heartbreak, disappointment, isolation, shame, or devastation. In my script we all lived happy, carefree, successful lives, filled with joy, laughter, and wonder. No sickness, no failures, no disenchantment. No reality!

Today, SUD is an ever-present theme in our family’s narrative. My beautiful daughter’s heroin use has left an undeniable imprint on our story and in my brain, heart, mind and soul. I can never erase this imprint, but I can reshape it. It can be a part of my story without being my story. Today, I work hard to stay present to the present. It is a comfort to know that I am not alone on this path; that my story is not unique. Rather, it is a story that millions of parents, children, partners and friends of people who suffer from SUD share. Our stories differ in detail but share common themes such as pain, fear, isolation, shame, anger, betrayal, and confusion to name just a few.

My daughter is my only child and I love her deeply. She is writing her story, and I and writing mine. The subplots within my daughter’s story, sobriety, medical management, or active using does not negate my relationship, my love and my status as her mother. These subplots, nor any one, or any disease, can rob me of that. I am her mother and she is my daughter and I love her more than life itself.

However, to love her the way she deserves to be loved has taken a lot of time, effort, and energy on my part. Loving someone with a chronic, progressive, and deadly disease is difficult at best and utterly depleting at worst.

As my only child, my daughter was of utmost importance to me. So, everything about her and related to her was treated with extreme vigilance. My opinion about her life and how she lived it mattered because I felt she was a reflection of me. I raised her as a single parent so, I assumed the responsibility for all the good and the bad. As a result, I justified my behavior of telling her what to do, how to do it, when to do it, where to do it, and why it was important to do it my way. There was nothing in her life or about her that I was indifferent about. Everything mattered! All the time. In essence, I held her hostage to the storyline I was writing, for her, for me, for our family.

What I have learned over these past eight years is that my need for recovery is no less than my daughters. Alcohol and drugs do not make my life unmanageable. Rather, it is the compulsion I feel to control other people, places, or things. My attitudes and behaviors are direct evidence of this. The unmanageability I feel compels me to try and force solutions for others without invitation or consent. This need to control the uncontrollable is “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” To stop it, I have found it necessary to examine my myself, my attitudes, and my actions. To take the focus off the script I am trying to enforce on others and become aware of the edits that are being written in real time; in the present; in reality. The truth is that my daughter chases a needle with the same abandon that I chase her. All that differs between she and I is the object which we chase, not the compulsion or intensity with we chase it.

Addiction causes us to live in the shadowlands of our lives. The shadow it casts is sweeping, dark, depressing and depleting. My catalyst out of this shadowland was my desire to find a cure for my daughter and her SUD. On the journey to find her healing I have found healing and restoration for myself. I will never have enough emotionally, financially, mentally, physically, or spiritually to “cure“ my daughter, because those things do not cure diseases. Nor does love. Accepting that and refusing to believe that if I could just muster up enough of one, a combination of, or all of these things combined, helps me to edit my story and stick to the primary plot, which is this: I love someone who has a chronic, progressive, and deadly disease. I am not her solution, her cure, or her scapegoat. I am simply her mother, a mother who loves her one and only child without measure. Therefore, my role is simple: to spend what time I have with her loving her, not fixing, scolding, shaming, or abandoning her. Love is a price I am willing to pay because while it cannot cure her, it can’t hurt her.

From Homeless and Crack Cocaine, I Found Recovery And Graduated Magna Cum Laude.

My name is Jamie Wilson. I have been living in long term recovery for over nine years.

My journey through addiction was one I would not wish on anyone. It all started after my husband of 13 years decided to cheat on me with my best friend which was in 2001. I was living in Tennessee with him and our children and packed up and we came home to Atlanta. I tried my best to put on a brave face for my daughters but I was devastated.

I found a roommate and started working and trying to get my life back together learning how to live without my husband. My ex-mother in law lived in Georgia and pretended to help me with my daughters by watching them on the weekends while I worked. All of the sudden she and my children disappeared, and I lost my mind. Every time I called her she wouldn’t answer my calls. I would go by her house and she wouldn’t be home. I would go by her job and she wouldn’t be there. I could not find my children.

Then I get a phone call that she had taken them to their father in Tennessee without my permission saying I had abandoned and neglected them which was untrue. I went to Tennessee in the middle of the night, took the sheriff to his house and because we were still legally married at the time he had just as much right to them as I did so they would not give me my daughters back until the divorce was finalized. I completely lost my mind when I he took my daughters.

I was using crack cocaine on the weekends and gradually it became an everyday thing until it took over my life. When my divorce was finalized I was in full blown addiction. I let my mother have temporary guardianship of my daughters because I was unable to care for them in my state of mind and condition. I was so addicted to crack that I could not function without it. I was living in abandoned buildings, sleeping under bridges, for 9 months I slept in the woods in a tent and running back and forth to my dealer’s hotel rooms to score. I have sold my body for drugs to strange men and women. I have sold drugs for dealers. I have even seen someone beat nearly to death with a crowbar. I have had guns held to my head over drugs and sex. I have several criminal trespassing convictions on my record for going back to hotels I have been legally told to stay off the property of, but my dealers where there and I had to get high, so I would go back. I have been raped, beaten, stranded places where I didn’t know where I was, all due to prostitution so that I could get high.

I tried rehab three different times and until the Judge court mandated me to a state funded program in 2009 nothing worked. During my stay at the state funded rehab is where I found my passion for helping others battling addiction.

I have been sober since February 13, 2009 and started my life over without drugs. I had one instance where I almost relapsed with a friend. We were literally in the car driving down the highway to the hotels and all the sudden I decided no this is not what I want to do so I got off at the next exit and went back home. August 2011, I started at community college in my area and earned my Associates Degree in Social Work in December 2013.

Once I received my Associates I decided I wanted to continue until I finished, and I transferred to Georgia State University and in May 2016 I graduated with my bachelor’s in social work, Magna Cum Laude. Due to my criminal background I was still having trouble finding employment in the field of Social Work. I had numerous offers and when background check would come back they would rescind the offer. So, it was at that point that I decided I would continue my education and currently I am enrolled at Grand Canyon University in their Master of Science in Addiction Counseling program. I am expected to graduate with my master’s degree in January 2019.

I am currently employed full-time, I have my own car, have my own place to live and I have been drug free since 2009. I have rebuilt my relationship with my daughters and now I have 5 grandchildren who will know their grandmother and know that I will never leave them! My story is not over yet, and I know my God did not allow me to go through all the pain and struggles of addiction without a reason and if my story can help change the life of one person then I know it was worth it. I just want everyone to know that we can recover and have a life without drugs!!! You are worth it, and I am praying for all the addicts still sick and suffering. I have been where you are and I am here if anyone needs someone to talk too!!

My Son Served Our Country With Honor. But His War With Opioids Took His Life.

On November 4, 2017, we lost our only son, John Ryan, to a fentanyl overdose. He was an Army Veteran who was injured while stationed at Ft. Wainwright, AK. John was in chronic pain for the last year and a half of his military service. By the time he was honorably discharged, he had lost his hope in ever being pain free again. He was disappointed that his military career was cut short, depressed, and when he came home he quickly became addicted to opioids. It was a battle that took his life, but it doesn’t have to take yours. You are not alone in your struggle.

I remember John saying “Mom, don’t you think I hate this even more than you do? Do you think I want to be an addict?” He was so filled with shame and guilt. What he couldn’t wrap his mind around was the fact that we are our worst enemies, and the courage it would take to walk away, to admit he needed help, and to ask for it, would be the bravest thing he could ever do. Braver even than his willingness to give his life for his country. The most LIFE GIVING thing he could possibly do. He needed to ignore the voices he heard that said he wasn’t enough, and to listen to the one who created him, his Heavenly Father, who says, “You are enough. You’ve always been enough. You are deeply loved.”
As this epidemic is sweeping across the nation, it’s including people from all walks of life at an alarming pace. My plea to you today is that you be brave. Be brave enough to share your struggle. Be brave enough to ask for help. Know that you can have a happy life and a successful story just as so many others on this site have proven. The decision is yours, please chose life. I cannot tell you how devastating this loss has been on our family. We miss our son every minute of every day, and we’ d give anything to have him back. Don’t be a statistic. Don’t let the drugs win. Don’t let evil win. God will give you the strength to beat it – but you have to want it. Do it for your yourself, do it for your family, do it for your future, do it for John.

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!