Addiction Recovery Stories
Read stories from others about how a drug, alcohol, or behavioral addiction has affected their lives. Also share your own story to inspire and encourage others to do the same. Below we have collected several stories that will help or inspire you.
Back In Good Graces
After I lost my car, my job and the love of my life, I still hadn’t sunk low enough to realize that I had a problem and needed help for drug addiction. In denial, I held to the belief that there was something wrong with the people who didn’t do drugs. If they had a problem with my drug addiction, it was their issue; not mine.
Some of the changes in my life that happened because of drugs were subtle, like not showing up at required social and family functions because I’d rather get high or I was too crashed to get out of bed. Other changes were more obvious, like the foreclosure of my condo and my parents banishing me from their home after I robbed them. One change happily had become the red flag I needed to get myself clean.
My brother and I were very close growing up. He was only sixteen months younger than I was and we had many of the same friends. In one of those increasingly rare moments in my life when I wasn’t high or crashed from my drugs, I heard from a friend that my godchild was having a party for his first communion. I figured me not being invited was an oversight and I got myself into a cab and headed to my brother’s house.
I rang the doorbell and my sister in-law opened it. I could see my brother standing in the background. I tried to enter their house she shouted “No!” Then she continued. You are not welcome here. We don’t want you around our children. If you show up here again, we’ll call the police. Go away, I will not allow my husband’s drug-addicted sister to upset him again.” After she slammed the door in my face, I let loose with a volley of obscenities to embarrass them in front of their neighbors. I did this before with my parents and trying to avoid humiliation they’d grant me entrance to their house.
My brother and his family ignored me. So I did the next best thing. I went to his neighbor and pounded on the door. When a woman came to the door, I told her the people she was living next door to were evil criminals. She didn’t speak a word of English and again a door was slammed in my face. My cunning scheme to gain entry to my nephew’s party didn’t work and I found myself walking to nowhere.
There wasn’t much left to me at this point in my life. If I could get high and had some place to get out of the cold, I was fine… or so I thought. As I continued walking, a tiny remnant of my former self cut at my soul. I was missing my nephew’s communion party not because of something significant, but because I wasn’t wanted.
I needed to do something, but I didn’t know how to get help for drug addiction, because up to that point I didn’t acknowledge I was an addict. After all, people with MAs in communications are not supposed to end up as drug addicts. I don’t remember how, but I got myself to the ER of a local hospital. From there I was able to get the ball rolling and learned that I had a lot of options.
These few years later, I’m ok now. I have re-established my relationship with my brother and his kids and my parents. I also learned my brother had warned his neighbor about me. She deliberately spoke in a foreign language to get rid of me and had she not done that, I never would have taken what I now call my enlightened walk to recovery.
Sophia L.- East Brunswick, NJ
Nightmare in Atlantic City
A large alimony settlement isn’t always to one’s advantage. My husband, a member of a super wealthy family and a major executive at an advertising agency, decided to trade me in for a younger, thinner, blonder and most importantly, an un-addicted model. To make his coke-head wife go away as quickly as possible, he pays me a healthy amount of alimony, in addition to a hefty cash settlement. Adding to this amount was the equity from the sale of several of our joint properties, excluding the Cape May beach house. To keep me from kicking up a fuss, he gave it to me, with the condition I never contact him or his wife directly again.
My marriage didn’t include children and with my new financial freedom, I decided it was time to pursue my art and become a permanent resident of Cape May. After such an acrimonious divorce, the quiet of early autumn in Cape May was soothing. I’d wake up in the early morning and take long walks along the beach with Honey, my rescued greyhound. The afternoons were spent in front of my easel or my sketchpad. Evenings were spent visiting friends or summer residences at one of the great restaurants the small city was so known for. We would of course top that off with several lines of cocaine.
Something I noticed, but didn’t make note of was as winter approached and the restaurants closed up I didn’t take into account how deserted Cape May became. Yes, it had its share of local residents; but like any place in the Mid-Atlantic region, when the temperature dropped, those local residents retreated indoors. Suddenly I found myself isolated in a desolate Cape May. With vacations over, my New York and Philadelphia pals had made themselves scarce. That presented a problem. Where would I get my coke? Finally, after several texts and calls, one of my Philadelphia friends set me up with a connection in Atlantic City.
I had known in the back of my mind my cocaine addiction was going to lead to trouble. Though I refused to acknowledge it, it was the reason my marriage ended. I suspected it was also the reason my art had stagnated. But as long as I could snort, what did I care? Out of product, I had no choice but to make the hour-long drive to Atlantic City, one of the most dangerous places in America.
Unfamiliar with the area, I never found what I was looking for. Instead, I was held at gunpoint, dragged from my Audi, beaten, robbed and left alone on the street. With no coat and terrified, I made my way to one of the casinos where I called the police. I wasn’t high when I hit bottom and finally realized I needed help for my drug addiction. I took the right steps to get help and clean both my life and myself up.
Helene – Cape May, NJ
They Won’t Tell You They Need Help
If you’re waiting for your addicted loved one to send you an engraved invitation to help them, it will be a long and agonizing wait. Not only won’t they let you know they need help; but they’ll fight you tooth and nail when you offer it because they can’t see the problem for themselves. If they are aware that something’s wrong, they will entrench themselves so deeply in denial that any notion that they need help will eventually be extinguished; this is coming from a three-year denier that would have said anything to fool his family into thinking he didn’t need help for drug addiction.
I didn’t grow up under the best of circumstances, but I thought that I had outgrown all that. My father had left us for about three years when I was five and then sort of weaved in and out of my life until he died shortly before I turned 19. I know it’s not an excuse, but it’s helpful for me to put things in context. Although we had plenty of money, parental affection was sort of lacking. I always felt that my mother had resented me because she thought that I screwed up her marriage and drove my father away. I lived with this for my entire life and it nearly destroyed my relationship with the only parent I had left.
I started taking drugs when I was 16, because I genuinely didn’t want to do anything else. There was little that interested me and I wasn’t thinking about anything beyond what was going to happen in the immediate future. I didn’t plan, I didn’t dream and I didn’t aspire; I simply existed and wanted to feel good while I was doing it. Drugs provided a nice escape for me that nothing else could. They transported me to another world, whether it was a joint or an oxy tablet. For two years, there was no other way I would have rather spent my time.
By the time high school graduation rolled around, I said “Ok. Time to stop,” but I couldn’t. I learned to live with the withdrawal and stamp down any possible notion that I might be addicted. “If I’m not dead, I’m fine,” is what I told myself. Meanwhile, I was high all the time, including at my father’s funeral and felt screwed up when I wasn’t on something. It was my mother that actually helped me get into treatment. The night after my dad’s burial, we cleared the air and that gave me the impetus to start my life over again. Eventually I recovered and have been sober for six years.
I didn’t ask for help; thankfully someone was insightful enough to make me see that I needed it. If I didn’t have my mother to intervene, there is no telling where I’d be today, or IF I’d be today.
People are always saying that family is the most important thing there is; that, when everyone else in your life has left you, your family will always be there to pick you up. Until I became addicted to cocaine, I had very little respect for the gravity and truth of this claim. I had always more or less taken my loved ones for granted and assumed that they’d always be there, just as I’d always be there for them if they ever needed me. It didn’t occur to me until I was actually in treatment the unimaginable depths to which they plummeted in an effort to get me help.
When you’re active in your addiction, it’s always about you, right? You’re not thinking about how your actions affect anyone else because there isn’t room for anything else in your life other than feeding your habit. To ask me to consider the feelings of others would have been the equivalent of asking a goldfish to do long division. I had first started abusing cocaine when I was 23 and learned very early on how to hide my habit and get what I want from people. It was a matter of survival if I wanted to keep using and feeling good.
At the height of my addiction, I was a completely different person (if you can call it that) and did everything I could, no matter what the consequences, to score. I robbed from my family, I beat up my brother and I lied at every single turn. Rather than give up on me and watch the inevitable unfold, my family stuck by me and made me see what I had become. They actually videotaped me during one of my fits of rage and played it back to me when I was sober during an intervention. Shortly after my intervention, I got help for drug addiction.
My father and I had a long talk about the expectations of my recovery. We both knew that three years of cocaine addiction weren’t going to be rectified overnight and that my life was forever changed. I took that knowledge with me when I went into treatment and endeavored to build a new life in recovery. It was not easy, I wanted cocaine every day, and still feel as though that I could relapse from time to time, but I was fortunate enough to find a program that treated addiction like the chronic disease that it is. This means that I was set up with relapse prevention tools, because they were certain that I would be tempted again.
Like I said, I had no clue how much my family cared about me until I came to realize what I had done to them when I was doing coke. The whole experience taught me that when you’re completely checked out and there’s nobody else to help you out of the hole that you’re digging for yourself, your family will always be there. At least mine was.
The Year-Round Promise
It seems like every year around this time, people are angling for new beginnings, looking to be reborn and wash themselves clean of their mistakes from the previous year. Something about the New Year gives people the notion that they can just leave it all behind them…and a great many people buy into this notion right alongside them. The problem is that the bigger your mistakes and transgressions are, the harder it is to put them behind you. Sooner or later the hurt feelings, the destroyed relationships and the legal troubles carry over from year to year, no matter how many promises you make to yourself to be a better person.
As someone who has battled alcohol addiction for the better part of a decade, I consider myself more familiar with false starts and failure than your average Joe. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up and told myself I wasn’t going to drink only to order three mimosas (and nothing else)at brunch four hours later. Two divorces, thousands of dollars’ worth of squandered savings and a strained relationship with the rest of my family are all I have to show for the times I tried to quit alcohol for other people. That’s the thing about promises you make to yourself: you have to want to keep them or sooner later they will break.
The last time I entered treatment, I knew I would be saying goodbye to alcohol forever. It wasn’t like my previous attempts, where they were either out of legal obligation or personal obligation to someone else. The whole experience just felt different. I’m not sure if I ever actually hit rock-bottom (I shudder to think what that actually looks like); but I just said enough was enough and it was time to live the rest of my life on my own terms. There were times when I didn’t think could even keep the promise to myself, no matter how bad I wanted to.
After I left treatment, I knew I was (for lack of a better term) a sitting duck. Alcohol was everywhere, just waiting to ensnare me into relapse and send me right back to square one; however, each time I felt vulnerable, I would either contact my sponsor or just remember the lessons that I learned in treatment. I started setting small goals for myself: going an hour, a day, a week without a drink. Eventually whenever I felt the urge to drink, I just told myself that I could do this because I’ve already done it. Once you reconcile that this is a lifelong endeavor and don’t put any unrealistic expectations on yourself, it gets a bit easier.
Three years ago I made my most solemn and profound New Year’s resolution: get addiction help. I’m happy to say that each year’s resolution since has been to maintain my sobriety. I have a built-in resolution and no illusions about the strength it takes to keep it. Happy New Year, everyone. Best of luck to all those people trying to make it in recovery. You can do this.
Hard of Healing
Growing up I had an Idyllic life: a great family, lots of friends, plenty of money, etc. It was almost too good to be true. I suppose someone from the great beyond thought it was too good as well because when I was 16 years old, fate took my brother from me in a car accident. It was two weeks after his 21st birthday and he was killed by a drunk-driver. I never let go of the anger and rather than confront the forces responsible for this tragedy, I let it consume me and send me into a spiral of addiction.
Severe depression soon gave way to substance abuse. I was doing anything I could get my hands on to numb my reality. While my parents were grieving over their lost child, their other child (the only one they had left) was trying everything he could to kill himself. Without my brother, I considered life to be a meaningless joke that I didn’t want to be a part of anymore. I was angry at everyone and everything, including myself. This lasted for about four years, during which I did everything I could to try and destroy myself because I thought it would bring me some peace.
I developed an addiction to Xanax when I was 18. At first, I was taking them to help me sleep through the night. Then I started mixing them with alcohol. My parents tried several times to get me to stop, but I had moved out of the house at this point so there was only so much they could do. I wasn’t thinking about their suffering or their heartache or their anguish; I was only thinking about what I could do to make myself feel better in the short term. I never took the time to properly heal or process these emotions.
Then the inevitable happened. When I was 20 years old, I nearly died from a fatal combination of Xanax and alcohol. The doctor said I had stopped breathing for about three minutes and it was a miracle that I survived. Looking at my parents sobbing in the hospital room, once so full of hope and happiness, now having to battle for the life of their only remaining son, I made the decision right then and there to enter the best rehab in Florida. I needed to get better—for myself and for them. I needed some place to go with all of this anger and frustration.
When I went to rehab, I felt like I had so much work to do; like I was completely broken on the inside. Within a few weeks, I felt myself start to center and come back together. Don’t get me wrong; detox wasn’t exactly a picnic, but once I started thinking clearly and sharing what I was going through, I felt like I was starting to mend. It’s hard to say that I’m “cured”, but I haven’t used drugs or alcohol in over a year and I’m better able to deal with my emotions. My parents and I have reconnected and I’m feeling better about the future every day. There will always be a place in my heart for my brother, but I’ve learned to make one for me as well.
Can I Really Be Saved?
The answer to this question is “yes.” Take it from someone who spend 3 years lying, cheating, stealing and assaulting people to get what he wanted. I didn’t care about anything other than getting my next fix. It was a sickness, but I just embraced it as a lifestyle. I hated myself and I hated everyone around me. None of them offered the exhilaration or thrill that a hit of heroin did. If I was going to die, so be it; just let me die doing what I loved. I wasn’t looking for redemption because, for me, there was nothing to be redeemed for.
I became addicted to heroin when I was 19 years old. My older cousin got me hooked and overdosed a short time later, leaving me with a legacy of addiction and crippling grief. There didn’t seem to be any way out for me, so over time I just embraced my decline. After a while I didn’t even bother trying to hide my true intentions. When I made any sort of progress with my family, it was quickly derailed by my addiction. If I ever managed to meet a girl and start a relationship, my addiction quickly took care of it.
Lying became second nature to me and that wasn’t even the worst of it. There was violence (to myself and others), robbery, car accidents; everything you hear about in a Hollywood movie. When things were at their worst, there was just me and a gun that I got at a pawn shop. I was a one or two bad thoughts away from blowing my brains out, and that’s the truth. I fell asleep that night with the loaded gun in my hand. When I woke up the next morning, I knew it was time to get some help. I entered treatment a few days later.
When I entered rehab, I felt like I was taking my first positive step in three years. I was more honest with myself than I had ever been and I landed in one of the best inpatient drug rehabs in the state; but that still wasn’t enough. I had to fight tooth and nail to suppress my urges and withdrawal nearly killed me. One night I remember coming within inches of relapse when I was still in rehab. I talked myself into believing that the cure was worse than the disease. If I would have had a ride home or a way to contact my dealer that night, there’s no telling where I’d be.
The next morning, I felt ashamed that I was willing to throw it all away, and I let that feeling dictate my actions going forward. I’ve been clean for little over 19 months. As each person goes through the recovery process, they have that pivotal moment in which they ask themselves if it’s worth it. Take it from someone who spent years crawling through the mud of addiction and came out on the other end: it IS worth it and so are you.
Forgiving without Forgetting
I let fear and shame govern a good portion of my life. At times, fear of losing my dignity or being embarrassed was the only thing that allowed me to stand on my own two feet. For me, the worst thing in the world was to owe somebody or let them see me in a moment of weakness. I was an incredibly proud person, all around, and this made it extremely hard for me to ask for help once I became addicted to pain medication. After a while, however, pride ceased to be an option and addiction turned me into a desperate and manipulative person.
When you’re neck-deep in addiction recovery, you can’t help but relinquish your pride. Each time you try and make amends with someone for something foolish or hurtful you did to them during your addiction; each time you’re reminded that you have to start from the bottom, professionally because of your past mistakes; each time you see that your kids are hesitant to embrace you because they don’t know wish version of their father they’ll be hugging, it takes a little more pride away from you. The good news is, however, that if you commit to recovery, you can get it all back.
The best drug rehab centers heal the individual; not just the addict. I learned this the hard way after “flunking” out of two outpatient and one inpatient rehab program. Slowly but surely, I became the father whose kids didn’t recognize him anymore. What little savings I had, I was spending on pills and toward the end of my addiction, I found myself contemplating heroin use; this is when I knew it was time to get help, once and for all. I knew that the treatment center I chose this time around would be crucial, and was not interested in wasting any more of my time on false starts.
The whole tenor of my third facility was completely different from the ones I went to before. There was a genuine atmosphere of caring. My doctors actually wanted to find out what was wrong with me, as opposed to just temporarily relieving my symptoms and throwing me out on the street. I felt listened to, regarded and not at all pressured to heal within their timeframe. It was refreshing to be able to talk about my addiction and what it cost me without feeling shame or judgment. The fact that I could talk freely about what I had experienced helped to reform my outlook on the recovery process.
As I said at the beginning of this testimonial, it’s been incredibly hard to confront some of my lesser dignified moments of addiction; but treatment gave me the tools I needed to move forward while accepting the past. I don’t know if I will ever be 100% at peace with the things I did when I was addicted-I think the whole point of recovery is to not get to comfortable-but at least I can use those lessons to dictate my recovery and behavior going forward. Phillip G.
Decades of Addiction
At what point do you stop? At what do you finally say enough is enough and get yourself the help you need? If you’re like me, you’ll let alcoholism take you to the brink of self-destruction before finally gathering the strength to fight back—don’t be like me. Alcoholism grows. Make no mistake about it; it’s a living thing and eventually it will become stronger than you if you let it. For me alcohol first presented itself as a casual friend. As time went on, I relied on it more and more to get me through the bad times in my life. After all, what are friends for, right?
By the time I was 30, alcohol had taken over my life. The worst part was, I didn’t even realize it. I would go about my business, live my life and continue to make my way in the world, but I always seemed to want a drink. I guess I was predisposed to alcoholism, but I never saw it coming. As time went on and I tried to start a family, alcohol became an increasingly dominant influence in my life. I started drinking earlier and earlier in the day, all the while telling myself that I was just drinking because I wanted to, not because I needed to.
As everyone who suffers from alcoholism knows, after a while you start to trade little bits of your normality to rationalize your drinking. It starts with telling yourself things like: “I can have the occasional drink at 10am if I’m not doing anything else” then you say things like: “I can have a little drink or two before work” then it’s something outrageous like: “I can drive buzzed because I know what I’m doing.” Eventually my alcoholic compromises nearly killed me; but they also forced me to see that I had a problem and that I needed help in the most urgent sense of the word.
When I got to treatment, I still wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing there. I don’t think anyone is 100% confident that they’re going to make it when they enter a program. The best alcohol rehab centers make you strive toward recovery and eventually help you take ownership of yourself and pride in your sobriety. I was lucky enough to land in a program where my care team really wanted to see me get well and succeed in my recovery. From the horror stories I hear at my AA meetings, it could have just easily gone the other way.
I’m 44 years old now and some days I feel like I was born yesterday. Recovery has proven to be the great equalizer in that it instills a newfound sense of humility. Although I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs, I can honestly see that I’m one of the luckiest people alive…because I’m lucky to be alive. Every morning I wake up, look in the mirror and remember the second chance that treatment afforded me.
At A Crossroads
When I was 23 years old, I was presented with a choice: enter rehab or lose everything. After three years of lies, deception and torment, everyone in my life had had enough. They decided that I had been lost to cocaine and that the only way I was going to come back is if I made the decision to get better—they were completely right. At the time of my intervention, however, I couldn’t see that they were trying to help me, so I looked this gift horse in the mouth and told them what they could do with their “second chance.”
Two weeks later, I was living on the streets with nothing but the clothes on my back. I couldn’t afford food, let alone cocaine, and I started to succumb to really bad withdrawal symptoms. It took about three weeks of crashing on friends’ couches and behind convenience stores for me to realize that this life wasn’t for me. After I promised up and down that I was done with cocaine, my parents agreed to let me back into the house. They were watching me as often as they could, but even they couldn’t be there 24/7. I tried to quit cold-turkey and predictably relapsed.
After my family found out, I was certain that my relationship with them would just disintegrate, but it didn’t. They could see that I could no longer help myself and once again made arrangements for me to enter treatment. I was forced to come to terms with my inability to get clean on my own and accepted help for drug addiction. As skeptical as I was about professional treatment, I knew I had to at least try. I can admit now that when I left for treatment, I was crying like a newborn infant. I was scared to death but also relieved.
Treatment taught me how to not be selfish, but self-aware. It taught me the balance of taking care of myself while still making sure that I was the best I could be to others. This mentality has helped me sustain my recovery and reconnect with my family. It’s no longer a matter of us tolerating each other and anticipating each other’s shortcomings; we genuinely love each other and enjoy each other’s company. There’s no shame in admitting you need help; in fact, it’s the only way you can overcome your drug addiction. It took me years to learn this, but I’m happy I did before it was too late.
Growing Up, Not Giving Up
In my experience, there really is no preparing for addiction treatment. You can pack whatever you think you need and tell yourself whatever you have to in order to stay motivated; but at the end of the day, it’s just you, your resolve and, God willing, a clinical team that actually cares about you. After going to four different treatment centers and failing, I thought I was a lost cause; that there was nothing left for me to do but just accept my fate and use coke until it killed me. My last relapse was the most cripplingly disappointing day of my entire life. Even though I was high out of my mind on Coke, I knew exactly what it ultimately meant for my future.
I was as desperate a person as there could be and I looked for answers anywhere I could find them. I lost my job, my house, my wife and my family all in the span of two years. I went to church and begged God for a cure, but it never came. Then I remembered the saying that God helped those who helped themselves and tried taking my recovery into my own hands. My brain was constantly playing this twisted loop of disturbing images that I can thankfully no longer remember. There would be times when I’d be driving my car and be completely unaware of what I was doing—it was a nightmare.
My last attempt at inpatient drug rehab literally saved my life. I walked into the facility, half expecting to die while I was under their care. I thought if withdrawal didn’t kill me on its own, I’d probably wind up killing myself—I didn’t have much hope for my future. 219 sober days later, I’m here to say that being wrong never felt so good. This particular facility didn’t even seem to do anything special. They just helped me work through my issues and treated me like a person. Before I came here, I considered my addiction to be something that defined me, not something to overcome.
The simple power of self-worth is incredibly under rated. I started leveraging my confidence to push myself further and go without coke for longer and longer. My nightmares got less intense and, as of about six months ago, stopped altogether. I know that I still have a long way to go before I can say that I’ve “beaten” my addiction. I also know that it will always be something that I have to keep an eye on. But for the first time in years, I can see a life that doesn’t include the pain and indignity of coke addiction. This, alone, is enough to keep me going.
Looking Forward To It
I just expected everybody to recognize that I needed help. I wanted to be taken care of and whisked away to get sober without doing any of the work. People always talk about “recognizing the warning signs” of an addicted love; but it took months before I let anyone know that I needed help. My addiction started with an extremely open mind and a disregard for my future. I thought I had all the time in the world to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and, in the meantime, I’d just have a good time. Little by little, as I tried to “figure out my life”, drugs became my life.
With the exception of heroin, I was into everything: weed, oxy, coke and toward the end, I was getting into meth. There was nothing I didn’t like and there was nothing that didn’t like me. I planted myself in the local drug culture of my hometown and was completely comfortable living my life among people who would see me dead if it meant they could line their pockets. Gradually, everything in my life started to collapse around me, but I hid everything really well. By the time my family realized that I was getting into meth, it was basically too late.
When I finally got help for drug addiction, I was flat broke, paranoid and in extremely poor health. The window was closing on how quickly my body could revert back to its normal function. I had become a prisoner of my own brain and would get locked in these spells where I would be constantly second-guessing myself and just running around in psychological circles. I couldn’t concentrate on anything and was always worried that something bad was going to happen. It was a complete nightmare. After a while, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to bounce back.
I entered treatment thinking my life was already over. Although I was constantly diluting myself about how bad my problem was, somewhere in the back of my mind was the notion that it was now or never. To say I was scared would be an understatement; I was petrified of entrusting my care to people who knew nothing about me, where I came from or why I did what I did. I was basically putting my life in their hands, and guess what—it was the best decision I could have possibly made in my life.
I left treatment realizing that I had been given a second chance and that I have a lot to make up for. I basically missed two important years of my late twenties and felt determined to get my life back on track. My therapist cautions me against moving too fast, but to me there is nothing more liberating or refreshing than knowing that my life is once again mine to do what I want with. The minute I got help for drug addiction was the minute the world opened up for me.
The Promise I Had to Keep
Everybody has their own idea about what addiction is supposed to look like. Is it the stupid kid getting in over his head, the stressed out parent who drinks to escape their reality or the criminal that wants to push their addiction onto others? The answer is: all and none of those stereotypes. Drug rehab centers are filled with a diverse range of patients looking for relief and salvation from their addiction. The sooner we, as a culture, dispense with these antiquated notions of who “should” and “shouldn’t” be addicted to drugs or alcohol, the sooner we can get serious about treating those who need it.
I was as regular as they come and heroin destroyed three years of my life. I was in and out of five treatment centers and after a while, I really thought that I was a lost cause. I came from a good home, was an honor student in high school and would have been the first to tell anyone how big of a mistake they were making if I learned that they were doing drugs. When I got to college, I started experimenting with basically every drug I could find: coke, pills, molly and yes, eventually heroin. These drugs were everywhere in my fraternity and taking them just seemed like part of life. It wasn’t a matter of peer pressure; it was a matter of taking my cues from the general culture.
This went on for two years. Our frat house got raided more times than I can remember, but we always managed to score more drugs. My parents never knew a thing until I wanted them to. When I started doing heroin exclusively, it didn’t even cross my mind that I might be addicted. I had never seen any of my friends overdose and I guess I just thought we were all invincible. Well it turns out the first one of us to overdose was me. After that I spent some time in various outpatient rehab centers, all of whom claimed to hold the key to my recovery, but never helped in the long-term.
The day I made the decision to get clean for good, I just told myself that if I kept up this lifestyle, I wouldn’t live to see my 25th birthday. I had relapsed so often and I was so tired, but I had to start fighting back and being honest with myself about what I needed to do to recover. it wouldn’t have done any good to give myself a do-or-die ultimatum, so I just promised myself that I would try as hard as I could to stay off heroin. After 30 days in an amazing inpatient rehab center, I’ve been able to keep my promise and remain sober.
There are two things that I urge addicts and their families to realize: addiction knows no stereotype and it’s ultimately up to the addict to get help. These two lessons have not only helped me stay on track in my recovery, but also allowed me to help others that need it.
The way people look at you when they find out you have an alcohol problem can be one of the hardest things in the world to take, and one of the biggest roadblocks in maintaining your sobriety. I’ve had to put up with skeptics, judgment and isolation ever since my recovery; but the people who truly love me have stuck by me and it’s made all the difference. There will always be people who try and tear you down by spouting hurtful things and dwelling on the past. Part of alcohol recovery involves owning what you did when you were drinking and doing everything you can to be a better person. Some people, however, don’t want to let you move on from your mistakes.
Even at the height of my drinking, I was never what I would consider a mean of spiteful person. If I hurt anyone-which I admit I did-it was never intentional. As I write this, I realize it sounds as though I’m making excuses; but I think that rationalization comes with the recovery territory. I’m just trying to plead my case. The guilt of addiction and knowing that you wronged peopled when you were drinking can act like a weight around your ankle, forever pulling you to the bottom. You can’t come up for air until you shake it off; but you also have to remember what it felt like when it was there.
Thankfully, I never had any children. I was too screwed up at any given point in my life to raise a family. There are, however, other loved ones that I wasn’t so great to. I can remember with remarkable accuracy lying to my sister, driving my nieces and nephews around when I was buzzed and committing a string of other unforgettable trespasses. What are even scarier are the incidents that I don’t remember until people remind me of them years later. It was like I was walking around as someone else for six years and I get sick when I think about what I might have done.
When I entered rehab for alcohol abuse, I was in a complete fog. Nothing made sense, I’d had a headache for about a year and everything was too loud—there was just no clarity. As my treatment progressed, I felt myself start to regain control of my senses; and I don’t just mean my five senses, I also mean my sense of guilt, my sense of responsibility and my sense of right and wrong. It was like someone was taking a blindfold off of me. When I regained my lucidity, I was filled with remorse that almost derailed my recovery; but my therapist told not to dwell, but rather learn from these mistakes.
I wrote this mainly because I know that there are others out there that let the grief and the guild of their past dictate where they go in the future. Take it from me, you can spend your whole life apologizing and dwelling; but the best way to “make it up” to people is to take control of your own life and stand on your own two feet. This is hard to do if you keep wallowing in the past.
A Taste of Victory
When I was in treatment I had a lot of time to thinking about exactly how I wanted to live my life. At first, I lamented the fact that, at 36, my best years seemed to be way behind me; but then I realized that I couldn’t spend the second part of my life wishing I had the first to live over again. I think living in the past is an incredibly dangerous mistake and the cause of relapse for a lot of people. You can go mad thinking about the damage you caused when you were addicted or you can accept the reality that the person who did those things wasn’t really you and move on. In other words, learn; don’t wallow.
I was lucky that I got help for drug addiction before the cocaine I’d been abusing did any real damage to my mind or body. I had a lot of friends that weren’t so lucky. I was 34 when I realized I needed help; but I kept falling down until I got residential treatment. I tried every “alternative” you can think of, including cold-turkey, and just kept relapsing. I felt like a patient who thought he could outrun a bad prognosis if he just kept telling himself that everything was ok. Eventually, however, it was impossible to deny that I was addicted.
I waited a long time to get treatment because I was afraid that if it didn’t work, I would have nothing left to try. My worst nightmare-worse than anything I experienced during addiction-was realizing that I was completely out of options and that recovery was hopeless. Even though I know now that a lot of people relapse even under the best of circumstances, I couldn’t live with another failure at that point. I entered treatment, unsure of my future or what would happen if I relapsed one more time.
The first night of detox was a pivotal night, not only in my addiction recovery; but in my life in general. I was experiencing particularly fierce cravings and was actually getting ready to leave to go get more coke when a nurse convinced to just stay the night and see if I could get through it. I hardly slept a wink; but when the sun came up, I was still alive. This meant a lot…in fact it meant everything. It was the first measure of freedom I’d been able to experience for a long time. I thought to myself that if the rest of my life could be like that one night, things would work out.
Since leaving treatment, life has come to be like that one night more than I ever thought possible; a journey more rewarding with each passing day. It’s been a little less than two cocaine-free years and I’ve learned to regard life as a series of small victories. This makes withdrawal a lot more palatable and helps keep me focused on my staying in the moment.
Too Young to Give Up
I was 17 years old when I tried heroin for the first time and 23 when it almost killed me. You can’t possibly understand the nightmare of heroin until you actually go through it; this was never knowledge that I wanted to experience on my own, but we get what we ask for. For about a year I was able to keep heroin at arm’s length, which is a lot longer than most people. Eventually it got the better of me and made me little more than a servant to my cravings. It was like someone else was in control of my body and doing things that I would have to live with for the rest of my life.
I didn’t graduate to the needle until I was about 21. I can remember the first time I shot up and thinking that this was a pivotal point in my life—there was no going back. At that point, I was convinced I was going to die young, so a few less years didn’t bother me. The only thing that seemed to bother was not getting enough heroin. When I ran out, my body and mind let me know it. Withdrawal was pure agony; agony that I went through on a regular basis. When I was 23, I overdosed and nearly died; that’s when I made the decision to seek professional help.
I thought I knew all about heroin rehab; that it was just a place to get clean, talk about your feelings and move on down the road—if you make it, you make it and if you don’t, you don’t. I had also heard horror stories about people who had just gone completely insane from withdrawal and never quite managed to bounce back. It took me a week warm up to the idea of treatment, but I kept pushing myself and thinking of the life that I could have if I just got clean again. I started thinking more positively and that helped me a lot.
I could tell after a while that my heroin rehab facility was special; and that I was lucky enough to be among doctors and nurses that truly cared about me; when you’re addicted heroin, you need everything working in your favor during recovery, especially during the first year. When I left treatment, life was still an uphill battle, but after recently celebrating my first year of sobriety this fall, I can honestly say that I’m more committed than ever to my recovery.
I couldn’t have been more misguided if I would have tried. A few stupid decisions almost landed me in a casket. At the age of 17, I could have been talked into anything unfortunately “anything” just happened to be heroin. When I first encountered heroin, I had been drinking and taking pills for about a year. When the opportunity to snort heroin presented itself, I took it and ran. I guess the main reason why I started doing drugs at all because I was bored out of my mind with my life and wanted to test my tolerance and mortality. This turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life.
My parents were always determined to see the best in me and, as a result turned a blind eye to what I was doing. I kept my pill abuse a secret from them out of what, I guess was a matter of courtesy, but they knew all about the drinking and just told me to do it at the house, where they could keep an eye on me. As time went on, I cared less and less about sparing their feelings and started coming home from parties high and collapsing on the floor—several times they thought I was dead. To their credit, they just never knew how to handle anything like this and were devastated when they found I started doing heroin.
The first time my father found a needle in my room, he lost it. It was a week before my 18th birthday and he gave me the old “give-up-or-get-out” ultimatum. So when I opted for the latter, I became homeless for about eight months. I stayed on friends’ couches worked part-time whenever I could and stole money whenever I couldn’t. Phone calls from my mother went unanswered and it wasn’t until my intervention that I even saw my parents again. Although my intervention was a complete disaster, I reached out to my parents about three weeks later when I almost died from an overdose, finally realizing that I needed to get help.
I was completely broke, but they said if I was serious, they would get me the help I needed. In an effort to save my life, I entered heroin drug rehab about three days later. People often paint rehab programs as junkie farms where cold and unfeeling doctors and nurses herd you through the process until you’re just clean enough to know where to score again; this was not my experience at all. My doctors and nurses were some of the most supportive people I’d ever met; and although was the most uncomfortable thing I had ever experienced, they helped me get through it.
After treatment, I stuck around Florida for school so I could keep in touch with my therapist. I’ve been clean for eight years, and have my parents to thank for saving my life. I’ve spent every day of my recovery trying to make them proud of me. I can only hope that it’s working.
It’s All about Who You Know (and What You Take)
When you suffer from drug addiction like I did, you never really stop paying for your actions and the behavior you exhibited when you were high. The good news is that with the right guidance and support and the proper level of strength, you learn how to pay for it without having it hurt so much. If you’re as lucky as I am, you learn to embrace recovery and the people that helped you get there. For those of you who are laboring over the choice of entering treatment, let me just tell you two things: 1. It does get easier 2. After a while it becomes a simple matter of life and death.
What truly opened my eyes was not even addiction itself, but rather the people that I was associating with while getting high. They say the company you keep says a lot about you; in my case, it my case it turned out to represent my willingness to throw my life away. I practically grew up in nightclubs and everything that went with them. From as far back as when I was 17, I was sneaking into clubs, bribing bouncers and bartenders with MDMA to let me in and “apply my trade”, as they say. This continued all through college, until I was about 25 and made the near fatal mistake of trusting my dealer.
I guess you can say I’d been an addict ever since I first started sampling my own supply, something I swore I’d never do. The ironic thing is that I didn’t run into serious trouble until I ran out of my own stuff and took some ecstasy that was laced with meth. I took way more than I should have and wound up in the hospital. This was the wake-up call that caused me to enter treatment. There’s nothing quite like staring death in the face to let you know that your drug addiction is out of control. A week after I left the hospital, I made arrangments to enter a treatment program in South Florida.
Detox was the hardest part, I had a hard time with withdrawal, but since leaving treatment, I’ve done my best to swear off all the things (and people) that brought to the point of near death. The problem is, I’d been doing and selling drugs for so long, it became my whole life and my identity. On the first anniversary of my sobriety, I made the decision to move across country and sort of start my life over. It’s been overwhelming and liberating all at once. I still keep in regular contact with my therapist and am more aware than ever of the value of life and how quickly it can be taken away.
Losing My Early Twenties to Crystal Meth
I don’t want to sound like I’m teaching health class, but the choices you make in your twenties really do lay the foundation for the rest of your life; and believe me when I tell you that the more extreme the choices , the more extreme the consequences. I started smoking pot when I was sixteen, and should have stopped there. People still say that pot is a gateway drug, but my theory is that if someone is morbidly curious enough to try weed, they’re kind of predisposed to try harder drugs like pills or meth—this was certainly the case for me. There was no special chemical reaction in my brain that made me want to push the drug abuse envelope; just a general curiosity that had always been there.
It was the stupidest thing I had ever done, but I first tried crystal meth in pill form about two months shy of my 21st birthday. I wanted to feel something that I’d never felt before and this drug certainly allowed for that. I started taking it on a regular basis after I moved out of my parents’ house. I can scarcely describe the intense happiness I felt after taking meth for the first time. Words fail to do it justice. Unfortunately this love affair was all too brief, and meth began taking more out of me than I ever thought possible.
Although I’ve been clean for a little over four years, you can still see the toll that meth took on my face from when I was actively using: my broken teeth, the marks on my skin, the sunken eyes, etc. These are both sad reminders of my past and motivators for my future. When you’re forced to confront the results of your behavior first thing every morning, it can be incredibly illuminating. Most drug rehab centers won’t tell you how to get your good looks back once you’re in recovery. Luckily my face is slowly starting to clear up and doesn’t look as nearly as bad as it once did.
My addiction to meth lasted for two years before a blackout forced me into treatment. I don’t know if it was fate or the cosmos stepping in at this point in my life, but something kept from dying and scared me enough to get clean. Initially when I was looking for drug rehab centers, I was looking for a place that guaranteed a pain-free detox—these don’t exist, despite any promises they may make. I’m just grateful for the treatment center that I actually did choose for making me as comfortable as possible during my detox and rehab. Not once did I feel like I was in incapable or malicious hands.
I finished treatment and slowly started repairing my life. It’s been a long and ultimately rewarding journey on which I’m grateful for the opportunity to embark. My goal is to one day have the mistakes of my past far behind me, but close enough to stay on the right track.
The Part of Yourself You Never Want to Know
It’s not that trying to explain my addiction is a waste of time; it’s just that it would be very hard to understand, unless you went through it yourself. Literally everything in your life changes, and not for the better: your free will, your ability to make logical decisions, any dream you ever had about improving your future…gone. The luckiest an active drug abuser can hope to be is to not have anybody in their lives to destroy or hurt with their behavior. I viewed my family as both a curse and a blessing during my addiction; but they stopped being a “curse” after I was able to see more clearly, and realize that it was them who ultimately pulled me from the brink.
I abused cocaine for three years, one of which included crack. It started off as a line or two to have some fun, then it literally became a question of how much I could abuse my body and take life for granted. In the middle of my addiction, I became extremely depressed, which I later found out was a symptom. I contemplated how meaningless life was, and how the only moments worth living on this planet were moments where you can make yourself happy. Cocaine was the only thing that could make me happy, so I never even thought about quitting.
I went back and forth between wanting to just slowly drift into oblivion and wanting to keep fighting for my life. I even started seeing a therapist, but all she wanted to do was talk to me about inpatient drug treatment centers, and I wasn’t interested in a solution that didn’t include cocaine. I was so far gone, that I didn’t recognize the two were related. At this point, I was living two lives: one cloaked in regularity to keep up appearances and my real life as a borderline suicidal coke addict. I started to think that I could actually get better when, to my astonishment, I found out there were some things I wanted to live for.
When I was sober, it hurt, but that only meant that I could still feel, so I began to embrace that. One day it just I clicked that I could change and there was nothing that was going to stop me. I began exploring inpatient drug treatment centers that also specialized in depression—it was the only way I was going to be able to beat this. The humility and self-awareness that I gained during rehab is not something I could have gotten anywhere else. Five years after I completed treatment, I still experience difficult days, but the longer I go, the better I feel. I’m not willing to mortgage my future by chasing an unattainable feeling.
At the end of the day, I was just able to hold on to the notion that there were things that made life worth living, and that the time we had on this planet should be spent cherishing it; not wishing it away.
When I first got help for drug addiction, one of the first things I learned is to accept the past, learn from it and move on. Even though I know this, I still tense up and cringe whenever I think about the person I was when I was high; a dishonest, manipulative and mean-spirited monster who was concerned only with feeding my habit. I traded in my sense of right and wrong for a bottle of pills and almost lost everything good in my life as a result. Now, in my sixth consecutive year of sobriety, I’m sort of scared of losing that shameful feeling, because it has been so helpful in keeping me from relapsing.
When I was 16 years old, I started drinking. A year later I started taking painkillers, first getting them from friends at parties then taking them from anywhere I could find them. I can’t really explain of justify why I started doing this other than to say I was bored, curious and cloaked in a feeling of invincibility. I wasn’t really making it in school and sort of new that I’d wind up working for my father in lieu of going to college. Drinking and pills were basically a fun little stop-gap on my way to a boring, yet stable life.
Predictably enough, drug and alcohol abuse became less of a “pastime” and more of a compulsion as time went on. There were legal scrapes, parental admonition and idle threats…but not enough to break the increasingly strong hold that pills were gaining over me. My pride and self-respect became less and less important, and I would soon think nothing about stealing pills or money to buy them from friends’ parents or complete strangers. It took an overdose to get me to see that I needed bona fide professional help for drug addiction or I was going to die, if not tomorrow then a few months from now.
I checked into rehab shortly after getting out of the hospital. I remember thinking that I couldn’t feel any weaker or more depleted; however the first day of detox proved me wrong. Gradually I got my strength back, and it was like someone had moved a truck off my body, a truck that would have killed with just a few more ounces of weight. The best and most accurate thing I can say about rehab is that it made learn how to be a person again. It taught me humility, accountability and and the value of perspective.
On my first sober anniversary, I decided there was more to life than my self-imposed path, and decided to go to college. I’ve been working diligently toward publishing a novel. Each day poses its own set of obstacles, but also its own rewards. There is an extraordinary amount of power in holding on to the good things in your life. If you don’t believe me, just give it a shot.
It’s Better to Ask for Help than to Ask for Forgiveness
I was headed toward an early grave, and I seemed to be the only one that didn’t know it. The fact that I could die or lose everything just ceased to phase me. During my darkest period, the only reassurance I craved was that there would be more Xanax when I reached out for it. After encountering several ugly withdrawal periods, I came to terms with the fact that I needed it to properly function. After years of anxiety, the thought that I might run out was the only worry I had. Everything and everyone else came second. That’s the way it was for almost two years until I entered addiction treatment.
I just wanted to relax, that’s all. After I gave birth to my son, I started to have panic attacks practically every other day. I was worried that I wasn’t doing my job as a mother and began to have really bad thoughts about “worst-case scenarios” and what might happen if I wasn’t careful enough. I also developed serious postpartum depression and couldn’t sleep. I needed an advantage; something that could relax me and let me sleep and breathe like a normal person. My doctor prescribed Xanax. If I could have predicted the nightmare that was to follow, I never would have even looked at the bottle.
I developed my addiction mainly because I expected Xanax to be a permanent solution; something that would cure me and make me an energetic, confident and attentive mother. My doctor said from day one that these pills were just a temporary solution to help me relax, calm down and get some sleep; but they made me feel way too good for me to stop all at once. So I fooled myself into thinking I could stop when I wanted to. As my addiction grew, so did my anxiety and sleeplessness, until I eventually overdosed on a combination of Xanax and alcohol.
My husband pleaded with me to enter addiction treatment for my Xanax abuse, and said the only way we could remain a family is if I started to help myself to get better. I was tired, broken and skeptical; but I agreed to try inpatient treatment. At first I was worried that I’d miss important moments in my baby’s life, but was certain that I’d miss more if I didn’t get help. I came to my program in need of a complete psychological and emotional overhaul, and that’s exactly what I got.
The care and support I received from my doctors, my therapists and my family has literally changed my life, and is written all over my face. It hasn’t been a perfect comeback, but it’s been better than I could have ever imagined. My son and I have connected in a way that I never thought possible (for me) and I get to live every day knowing that I have the greatest family in the world. After two years of sobriety, I’ve learned that the only way anybody is going to know you’re hurting is if you tell them and let them try to help you.
Taking Back My Life
I had to stop to cry several times while I was writing this; but hopefully it will help others who are having a hard time getting help for alcohol addiction see that there is hope. They say now, that relapse is part of recovery. If that’s the case, then I was in recovery for about eight years. I was the kid who never wanted to stop partying, until one day I turned into the man who couldn’t. My twenties were spent getting and losing dead-end jobs, taking advantage of my parents’ generosity and ill-advised faith, and fooling myself into thinking the next day was going to be different.
By the time I was thirty, everyone had had it with me: my parents, my friends, my girlfriends…everybody who had ever known me drunk, no longer wanted to know me at all. As I saw everyone I knew grow up and start their own lives, I got fiercely bitter and jealous. Deep down, I wanted the benefits of sobriety, but was nowhere near ready to put the effort into going after it. AA was definitely not for me, and there was no way I was going to therapy for this, so I tired multiple times to stop drinking on my own, each time hitting a wall and relapsing.
I would last about three days before someone would say something I didn’t like or the wind blew a certain way, then I would be right back on the bottle and ready to fight anyone who tried to get in my way, including my own father. After a while, I became like a piece of furniture in our nice house here in NJ. Everyone learned to ignore me, and with good reason, until they couldn’t ignore me anymore. I was drunk and got behind the wheel of my mother’s luxury car and luckily never made it off the property. I did manage to take out the garage door and completely destroying my parents car in the process.
After that, my parents told me either I get help for alcohol addiction at a rehab they found for me in southern Florida or get out of their house and live on my own. With no way of supporting myself I went to the rehab and decided to make the most of it because the thought of living on the street seriously scared me. I found that the longer I was in my program, the longer I started to see I could live a life without alcohol. The therapy that I thought so little of in the past had become an opportunity for me to grow and become a better version of myself. There were a few near slip-ups, particularly when I first got back home, But my parents were very supportive and very proud of me for successfully completing the program and I was also able to call my therapist for help and advice too whenever I needed it.
I’m not going to sugar-coat this for you; sometimes it’s hard as hell trying to stay clean and live straight. But somewhere along the line, you have to decide whether or not your life is worth saving, and act accordingly. If you don’t value yourself, nobody can help you. If you think you’re worth saving, you will be able to save yourself. I know it sounds simplistic, but it’s honestly the main thing that has kept me going through my 547 days of continued sobriety.
Help For Drug Addiction Led To My Salvation
That I am able to sit here and tell my story is nothing short of a miracle. I spent two years putting my body through hellish torture, forcing it to adjust to my addition and desperately operate on survival mode in order to stay alive. They say meth never leaves you; that it stays in everything it touches, including your body forever. Luckily for me, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Only by the grace of God, the wisdom and compassion of family who got me help for drug addiction and the amazing skill of my treatment doctors and therapists was I able to find that out.
When I was 19 years old I started doing meth. Pills were getting too expensive and I wanted to keep getting high. I had a friend who operated a lab in a detached garage at his stepfather’s house when he was out of town for work. Eventually we became partners, and for a while we were making more money than we knew what to do with. I lived in Georgia at the time and we were the only game in town for miles. After about a year and a half, the lab got raided and my friend was sent to jail for three years.
At the time I was so relieved that he didn’t implicate me that I didn’t worry about where I was going to get my supply from going forward. Eventually my body reminded that I had indeed become an addict, and once my reserves ran out, I started going through crazy withdrawal. I can remember hitching (my car didn’t work) to Atlanta one night to see a dealer I had met a few months prior. I could by the look he gave me that even he was surprised by what the meth had done to my face.
I spent that weekend in Atlanta and the next night I went to a bar high out of my mind. I only remember bits and pieces from the time I was there but I’m told that I got really crazy and started breaking glasses left and right. I woke up a few hours later outside the bar, which had closed. I rode the train thinking two things: 1.That I broke at least three ribs and 2. That it was time to get help for drug addiction. That week I went down to Florida to my uncle’s house who said he would pay for me to get treatment.
I didn’t think I was ready for the commitment that rehab took. Detox alone almost caused me to give up. But every day I was getting stronger and stronger, which I found remarkable based on what I’d been through. I was amazed that my body and my mind could sharpen despite what I’d done to it. The 30 days I spent in drug treatment have enabled to stay clean of my drug addiction now for one year and counting.
First Steps toward a New Life . . . Figuratively and Literally!
If you’re going to better, you can’t be afraid. Fear will weaken you right out of the gate and you will need all of your strength to defeat such a strong adversary as alcohol addiction. I spent six years running from a better life because I was afraid of what I had to do to get there. Drinking was easy; drinking was safe; drinking was familiar. If nobody liked me when I was drunk, what did I care. There was no reasoning with me. If I was going to stop it would have to be through divine intervention or much more likely profound tragedy. I had to go right to the brink of madness before I finally agreed to get help.
I was 38 years old when I “discovered” that I needed help. I’d lived life in the fast lane, until I eventually crashed…and crashed hard. This is not a metaphor; I was in a car crash that left me temporarily paralyzed from the neck, down. I couldn’t do anything for myself; this meant I couldn’t get alcohol.
For a long time, my car accident seemed like a huge tragedy; but as I started to heal (both from addiction and my accident injuries) I realized that something beyond my understanding was stopping me from totaling destroying myself. I start to connect the dots and ponder how nobody else was hurt in the accident; how I did not gain full mobility in the future until I had completed treatment and developed the strength to survive in recovery.
I was very scared to enter any alcohol detox centers because I feared the withdrawal symptoms. But everything turned out to be not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I attribute this to the professional medical staff and on-site doctors that monitored me 24/7 throughout the withdrawal process. After I completed my alcohol detox I started the treatment phase of the recovery process at the same south Florida alcohol rehab where I detoxed. It was about four months later after I returned home from successfully completing my alcohol treatment that I took my first step and eventually learned to walk again.
I was inspired to write this now because June 8 is my first anniversary taking that first figurative step of entering an alcohol detox & rehab, that led to my taking the first literal step again and the ability to walk. To me they represent more than just healing muscle; they represent God’s willingness to let me stand on my own two feet and walk toward a new life. I go to my meetings religiously twice a week and I remain incredibly committed to the process; but at the end of the day, my faith has become my ultimate weapon against ever relapsing.
If I Could Turn Back Time
Invincibility is a funny thing; just when you start to really need it, it fails you. I let my alcohol addiction rule my life for years, and never imagined the amount of damage it was would one day be responsible for in my life. The minute I let my drinking get out of control, I let alcohol win…and it kept winning; from college throughout the start of my career through the course of marriage and even through my relationship with my son, it just kept winning.
I’d like to say it was impossible for me not to put my family and my career ahead of my alcoholism, but it wasn’t. I put alcohol first and then everything else second. I demonstrated this through a series of bad choices including drinking our savings away and slowly withdrawing from my family. I somehow managed to make enough money to keep a roof over our heads, but that’s where my husband and father duties stopped. I was emotionally unavailable and missed practically every important milestone in my son’s life because I was drinking so much and couldn’t be bothered to even act as though I cared. This went on for about seven years, probably the most important seven years of his life.
My wife had always warned me that one day I would wind up killing someone from driving drunk. But life had a much better punishment in store for me one week after I turned 30. On the way home from the supermarket one night my wife was killed by a drunk driver. Her sudden loss, coupled with my being thrust into the position of being the sole parent to our son had a sobering effect on me. I checked myself into an alcohol rehab facility while my son stayed with my parents (my wife had no other family) and attempted to turn my life around for the sake of my son and the memory of my wife. I learned later during my alcoholism treatment therapy and counseling sessions that my wife’s death could have easily pushed me over the point of no return too.
During my treatment I had a lot of time to think about what kind of person I had been to my wife and son. I easily got though the initial alcohol detox period driven by the guilt I felt over losing my wife to someone who was just like me. I carried this new found humility and conviction of purpose throughout my treatment until I successfully finished their program.
It’s been one year since I’ve had a drink. For the first time in my life I have a loving relationship with my son, and I just want to be the best father that I can be for him. I can’t allow myself to believe that my wife could ever forgive me for the man I use to be to her and my son. I can only hope and pray every day that she approves of the man I have become and the changes that I have made in her memory.
Oxycodone or my family . . . I made the right choice in the end
I had almost given up. After two years of trying to fight, it felt like I had nothing left. It seemed like the only thing to do was declare defeat and relinquish my life to painkillers. The whole thing just seemed completely unfair and unexpected—I had struggled my whole life to build something for myself and it was taken away from me by a car accident. During the last days leading up to my treatment, I literally spent all day racked with pain, and sick with the fear of having to ultimately face the prospect of losing everything that was important to me in my life.
I don’t believe there is anything special about me. I wasn’t any stronger or weaker than anyone else when I started taking oxycodone. One of the things that I took away from this addiction was that it could happen to anyone, and thus, these pills ought to be illegal. It started with a few pills for chronic back pain. And eventually it seemed like the better I felt, the more I took. In just eight short months I went from being a respected business owner with my life together to being someone with a “connection” to illegal prescriptions—if you don’t think it can happen to you, you’re sorely mistaken.
My family stood by and watched my systematic deterioration until it became unbearable for them to witness. My wife and I separated and she took the kids. For about two weeks after we separated, I sat on the couch feeling sorry for myself and missing family so much that it was difficult to even blink. I had two options: death or treatment. Thankfully I chose the latter and checked myself into a drug rehab in Florida that I found from researching on the internet.
At first, I found it really hard to believe that any treatment program could help me, but after I had completed the initial detox, I slowly began to start to think differently. So much of my self-pity had been wrapped up in immediate physical pain, and that had basically subsided very quickly after I got clean. I felt, in a sense, reborn and focused my aims on completing rehab and getting my family back. I spent the full 30 days in their program and after returning home, I wrote my family a 4600-word email apologizing for the person I allowed drugs to turn me into.
My wife made me a deal that if I could stay off of pills for six months, she would consider moving back in with the kids again. I didn’t squander my second chance that my wife offered me and have been clean for about two years now.
I Didn’t Grow Up, I Just Grew More Addicted
When you’re young, you can afford to make bad decisions. Screwing up and getting into trouble is a rite of passage for every adolescent, right? Otherwise how else are they going learn what’s good and what’s bad for them? Yeah, I had all the lines: in my teens, twenties and eventually my thirty years. Unfortunately, as I got older, I never learned what was bad for me, and remained the same person-with the same habits-that I’d been since I started abusing drugs and alcohol. I never met a substance that I didn’t like—or one that liked me back.
It started off, like pretty much every other cautionary tale, with weed and drinking. I’d learned to integrate drug and alcohol abuse into my regular routine without ever really having it affect my grades or my attitude. Most importantly, I was able to keep it from my parents. Shortly after graduating from high school, I graduated from weed to speed. I was looking for something new in my life, and speed seemed to fill that void. I had a regular supply of Adderall and continued to drink more than ever. Life was a party, and I was the guest of honor.
I left college early to start working with my friend’s father, at which point I hurt my back and started abusing OxyContin. This is where the nightmare started. I’d always managed to have some perspective about drugs and alcohol, but painkillers were a whole different animal. They quickly took control of me. THEY decided when I was going to use, THEY decided how much pain I was going to be in and THEY decided when I’d be able to sleep and attempt to live a normal life. I was hooked inside of three months and it was three years before anything changed. I worked just to buy more Oxy, while bouncing around on friends’ and dealers’ couches—it was without a doubt the lowest point of my life.
My parents eventually had an intervention for me and I agreed to to go a local rehab that turned out to be a big waste of time and money (my time and my parents money). I never realized at the time that the local rehab didn’t work for me because it was too close to all the bad influences from my neighborhood and friends. I was back to using almost the second I left the rehab and felt that rehab is a big joke. Lucky for me my parents never gave up on me. They kept after me to try again but this time at an out of state rehab. My parents convinced to try an alcohol and drug rehab in Florida that they had researched after seeing a TV commercial for the place.
They turned out to be right and being out of state did make all the difference between success and failure for me. I’ve been clean and sober for almost a year. I still live every day with the temptation to use again. But the tools and resources I gained in the behavioral health treatment during my therapy sessions at my rehab help me to resist these urges so I can stay on the straight and narrow path for a lasting recovery.
I Almost Struck Out
Call it a miracle, call it a long-overdue revelation, call it desperation, but I was able to break free from alcoholism only after two unsuccessful stints in rehab, a failed marriage and three estranged children. The difference between the my other two failed attempts to stop drinking and my third attempt (being the charm), was I finally went to the right alcohol rehab.
For as much as I loved drinking, I knew I was in a hopeless situation during my more lucid moments. I would curse God for plaguing me with addiction, never bothering to turn the blame inward. Throughout my 10 years of alcohol abuse, it rarely crossed my mind that what I was doing was my fault, and that is what ultimately led to my alienation from both my wife and my three daughters. I missed it all: birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, funerals, you name it. Nothing was more important to me than drinking and I made sure everyone knew it. I did what I had to do as husband and father, and nothing more. I didn’t provide a loving environment or even take an interest in what my family did. I worked, and provided them a fairly comfortable lifestyle. So it shouldn’t have come as a big shock to me when my kids hardly ever contacted me after they got out of school and moved away from our home in Hamilton, NJ.
Looking back that is probably what it took to have me really stop and think that I really did need to stop drinking. As I thought about my life I finally could see the nightmare my life had become. It was at that moment of clarity that I decided to get professional help to try and stop drinking and hopefully turn my life around.
My initial attempts to stop drinking with professional help didn’t go so well. I wound up immediately relapsing after leaving the facilities of the first two alcohol rehab centers I tried, even though they had assured me that they were the best and had the highest success rates. I told myself I will give it one more try and than I am throwing in the towel. I had the old three strikes and your out mentality.
That is when I saw a TV commercial and contacted the alcohol rehab from the TV commercial they are located in Florida. I told them my story I asked if they could get me to really stop drinking, even after I left their facility. True to their word I have not touched a drop of liquor since I graduated from their alcohol rehab program over a year ago.
Their treatment got to the root of the problem and provided me with insight to why I always turned to alcohol for comfort. I never thought I could benefit from talking to a stranger, but it turns out that’s exactly who I had to talk to before trying to mend fences with my family.
Each day of sobriety that I celebrate gives me the chance to feel a little prouder of myself. I’ve worked hard to bring my family back together, and am on more than amicable terms with all of my daughters. It seemed like I was destined to let alcoholism win, but with a little faith, self-realization and expert alcohol treatment, I was able to reverse my destiny.
Re-Discovering My Will to Live Again
I was practically dead already. When you spend your life stealing from the people you care about to buy coke, and coming close to a heart attack almost every day, that’s not a life…it’s a cry for help. Nevertheless, I was 19 and apparently determined to end my life before it began. My father had died when I was 14 and I used that as an excuse to treat myself and everyone around me like dirt. My mother gave me early access to half of my inheritance when I entered college, hoping I’d be able to grow up, but it really just fueled a drug problem that I’d developed when I was sixteen.
I was never able to relate to anyone when I was sober. People made me anxious, uncomfortable and downright angry. In middle school, I’d met a few friends who were into drugs and stuck with them until they all faded away during various points of my childhood—some grew up and some never got the chance to. Eventually I went to college nearby, but never really traveled too far from home. I call my first attempt at college “the great money-waste of 2010” because I did nothing but take up space. I did, however, manage to establish some newer and cheaper coke connections.
I was quickly placed on academic probation and eventually expelled when I’d failed a drug test. My school had offered to place me into one of the local drug rehab centers that they partnered with. But I knew a couple of people at my school who went there and they were all still using, so I was like what is the point. I was back home at this point and only returned to campus to score drugs. My depression deepened, and so did my cocaine abuse. By the time I was 19, I was fixing practically every day. I kept stringing my mom along with these false promises of enrolling back in school once I figured things out, but knew I was going to die before that happened, so it didn’t matter.
On the day before my 20th birthday, I really thought I was done for. I woke up from a nap and realized I was having a heart attack. It was during these first few minutes, I realized that I didn’t want to die and that I could still do a lot with my life. I called my mom and we rushed over to the hospital. I miraculously stabilized after a while. I told myself that if I made it out of this, I’d never touch drugs again. True to my word, I spent about three hours sobbing and telling my mom how sorry I was. She found your website and got your recommendation for a drug rehab center in Florida and I was on a plane going there the following morning.
I was not looking forward to having to go through detox. I got through it by telling myself that once it was over I be on my way to defeating my addiction, when I started the actual rehab phase of my treatment. My first two days in detox weren’t easy, but their professional medical staff did everything they could to make me as comfortable as possible. After I finished my detoxification, I began the mental health part of the treatment process and started having sessions with an excellent doctor who really help me with my depression. I liked the doctor so much that I continued seeing her after my rehab was successfully completed 30 days later. I’ve been going to her for almost 2 years now and my old worldview has changed dramatically for the better. In addition to remaining clean and sober all this time, I can now really get close to people again for the first time since my father died.
In the End, It’s Up To You To Accept That You Need Help
As someone who spent four years battling alcoholism, I can tell you that your family and friends can only do so much to help you. You have to do the bulk of the work, and want to get clean for yourself. Having said that, I can also say that certain facilities are better at motivating patients than others and provide a more supportive environment. Patients who enter rehab because they feel they’re being “forced” to get clean are entering for the wrong reasons, and will very often wind up fighting a losing battle as soon as they walk through that proverbial revolving door.
It took several years and as many attempts at treatment before I finally realized what I was doing wrong. I was just going through the motions to appease the people in my life and avoid guilt, but I wasn’t feeling any of it I was never going to stop drinking, but I couldn’t admit that to anyone but myself. After leaving my last program, I relapsed too weeks later and was convinced that was that–the next step would probably be jail, divorce and other unknown possible bad consequences caused by my drinking problem.
I live by the Jersey shore area and one night I was driving home drunk from a local bar and lost control of my car, and nearly took out a group of kids walking on the side of the road. I somehow made it home without hitting anything, and most importantly, not hitting anyone. It really was the first time I realized that I could have legitimately killed someone and they were just children on top of everything. I couldn’t stop thinking to myself that maybe I wouldn’t be so lucky the next time I was driving home drunk. Right then something clicked inside of me and I knew that I had to try to get help for my drinking.
I researched online and found a website that referred me to what sounded like a good alcohol rehab. It turned out to be an excellent alcohol rehab in my opinion because I have not touched a drop of liquor since I went there two and half years ago. This alcohol rehab center used an holistic treatment which I guess was the right type of treatment to help me. I had to work through many underlying psychological issues from my childhood that I never resolved growing up. I guess I never realized how they had led me to use alcohol as a crutch whenever I felt stressed out or wanting to avoid conflict.
I’ve had the good fortune of my wife’s forgiveness and the chance to wake up next to her every day after 15 years of marriage. Recovery really is something you have to want for yourself. Don’t wait until something catastrophic happens as a result of your drinking that you have to live with for the rest of your life.
It turns out it is true that you get what you pay for after all!
I learned the hard way that the old saying you get what you pay for is true . . . at least when it comes to drug rehab centers. As someone who knows the perils of addiction first-hand, I can tell you that the only way to swing the odds of lasting recovery in your favor, is to stay positive, stay strong and most importantly, and most importantly choose a quality rehab program. I found out through experience that even if a rehab has the best of intentions, not every treatment center is equipped properly or has the right staff to handle every type of addiction problem. Between the facilities who lacks the funds to provide quality treatment for their patients or the ones that really just don’t care about their patients, you can easily waste your money and wind up having to start over and go try another rehab in the future again.
After a yearlong battle with crystal meth, my family demanded I get treatment or else basically find a whole new life. Rather than spend time researching and trying to find the best drug rehab centers, I choose whoever was the cheapest and closest drug rehab center. My withdrawal was an absolute nightmare and I couldn’t take the symptoms beyond the first few days -believe me I tried. When I checked myself out, my family tried to get me to go back, but I didn’t want to hear it. I had tried, I had failed and that was that. I didn’t want to hear anything else about rehab. As far as I was concerned, the cure was worse than the disease.
With the exception of my brother, my entire family had cut me off. I had two weeks to get my things out of my parents’ house and find somewhere else to live. Right as I was getting ready to leave, my brother begged me to reconsider treatment, he said he’d spent the week researching other rehab options and found one that specialized in chronic meth addiction. At first, I just blew him off, but when I saw his face and the tears welling up in his eyes, I knew I owed it to him to give rehab one more try. My parents agreed to pay for me to enter the program, and I entered a few days later.
Within one week, I was a believer. I went in with a huge chip on my shoulder, but my doctors and nurses did everything they could to remove it. My detox process was made easier with medication, something the doctors at the last center didn’t even bother to tell me was available, and my therapists spent a lot of time with me, making sure I was getting all I could out of the program and achieving the self-awareness that was critical to my continued recovery. They even put together a plan for me after I left rehab to make sure that I stayed sober, which I’ve managed to do for three years.
It’s amazing what a difference the right program could make. Although my success in recovery was ultimately up to me, it really helped to have the support of warm and capable people. I honestly don’t know how I would have fared anywhere else. They not only helped get back to a place of positive physical and mental health, but they’ve also helped to me strengthen my strained relationship with my parents and the rest of family.
Love, Loss, Addiction and Recovery…
The only thing that saved me from cocaine addiction was the quality of my treatment program. I can say with no hyperbole, that I would not be here writing this were it not for the doctors and therapists at my facility. When I was 26 years, my wife, the love of my life and the girl that I’d been with since middle school, died of ovarian cancer. For months, I felt dead too, and was simply going through the motions of life. I’d come home from work, crawl into bed and question how a god that had blessed us with so much: money, family, etc. could do this to us without warning. I mourned for about a year and a half and just as I was ready to meet people again, I went to a party that changed my life forever.
I almost didn’t go, but was determined to get out there and interact with people. About an hour into the festivities, I noticed that the friend who had dragged me there was doing coke off the coffee table with about four other people. He noticed I was standing there and told the girl sitting next to him to set me up a line. Wanting to feel anything other than what I’d been feeling for the past 18 months, I readily partook. The next three years are a blur and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The withdrawal periods were a nightmare, but I always kept coke on hand to make them as brief as possible. I quit my job, sold my house and was living off of my savings in a one-bedroom apartment. I was high all the time, burning through my money and starting to experience long-term heart problems, but at least I wasn’t thinking about reality.
I was so out of it, that when I had a heart attack in my car at thirty years old, I barely even realized it. What finally forced me to think about my situation was when my wife’s parents, who had been like parents to me also, came to visit me in the hospital. Despite my promises to keep in touch after the funeral, I’d let coke put distance between myself, them and just about everybody else. When I woke to see them in the hospital room, it was like a magician taking me out of hypnosis and back to reality. I didn’t want to face it, and just started sobbing as they held me in their arms. I realized then that I needed to deal with this in a healthier way, and use my wife as a source of strength, not sorrow.
I wasn’t quite convinced that rehab would work for me but my father-in-law got me into one of the best drug rehab centers and it made all the difference. The detox wasn’t any picnic, but my doctors were there with me every step of the way to make sure I didn’t have any complications or in any severe pain. After I got out of detox I started getting the in-depth clinical help to deal with my bereavement and depression. The specialists who helped me truly understood what I was going through.
I realize looking back how lucky I was to go to a quality rehab and not one of these treat-em’-and-street-em’ program and be using again as soon as I left rehab.
I just finished my first year being clean. I no longer curse God anymore for taking my wife from me so young. Instead I wake up each morning and thank God for even the short time I had on this earth with her. I still stay in contact with some of the other alumni I met in rehab and try to go to meetings whenever I can. Recovery is a life-long commitment, but I’m determined to honor it every day.
Long-Term Alcohol Rehab Kept Me From Striking Out for the 3rd Time
I’m here to say that even though you may relapse once or twice, you should never get discouraged from getting clean and bettering yourself. For many years, I drank completely ignorant of the damage I was doing to my family, my friends and myself. I had been court-ordered to undergo alcohol rehab once before, but never paid it much attention. I just breezed through my program and started drinking again after I finished. You have to want to stop drinking for yourself, not because a judge tells you to. So about six days after I served my sentence, I started drinking more than ever.
My first attempt at rehab was an outpatient program that allowed me to go back to my life after a few, frankly flimsy counseling sessions. I can’t blame anybody at my program for my lack of progress. The fact of the matter is I was way too far into my alcohol addiction to benefit from outpatient treatment. I would go to group sessions and individual therapy sessions, knowing full well that in about three hours I’d be drinking again. I really don’t even know why I wasted my time. It took me years to figure out what kind of help I needed and finally get my life together.
I drank for about ten years before I got serious and realized that I was killing myself. Something inside of me snapped, and I realized that I wanted my wellness and my self-respect back. I was tired to going to jail, waking up in weird places and constantly worrying about losing my money. Realizing that my pursuit of recovery would require an “all-or-nothing” attitude, I started researching inpatient programs. I needed an environment where my pursuit of wellness would be nurtured and taken seriously by those around me.
I found a facility where they wouldn’t allowed me to continue my self-destructive behavior at the end of each day of treatment. This place actually helped my addiction and the underlying emotional problems that were causing my addiction. I’m not writing this to knock outpatient places they can be a good choice for those who can’t go to inpatient rehab because of any number of possible reasons. Speaking for myself I know that residential treatment is the only thing that would have ever worked. Since completing my program 6 months ago, I’ve been heavily involved with my facility’s alumni newsletter, social networking site and educational seminars. My alcohol recovery has left me a very changed and much better man.
The journey toward recovery from any addiction requires a combination of energy, strength and humility. Although I say I tried three times to quit drinking, it wasn’t until I went to a out of state treatment center that I finally succeeded and stop relapsing. I learned that I had to be honest with myself about what I needed to do to turn my life around. I knew I was coming up to bat for the third time with rehab, but this time I was going to try and find the best rehab, and not just the closest rehab. My experience taught me that it’s never too late to turn your life around, no matter who you are or what you’ve done.
My 47th Birthday Present Being Clean & Sober
I’ve always placed a high importance on discretion and privacy. Even during the lowest point of my pill dependency, I knew that I didn’t want to go through my addiction or my recovery in public. I thought that since I was only using pills and not a more “dangerous” drug like cocaine or heroin or methamphetamine, that I could beat my problem by myself. But eventually I started drinking too and finally one day I got the nerve up to attempt using one of these at home detox kits I saw on the internet. After just 2 days of trying to detoxify myself in the “comfort” of my home, I gave up and immediately started using again. I’d been abusing prescription drugs and alcohol for about three years, and if this was the only way to get clean, I simply didn’t want to. I was up round-the-clock, sweating profusely, coughing every minute of the day and had screaming headaches: “So this is what it felt like to feel better,” I sarcastically quipped to myself. After almost four days of trying to weather this on my own, I relapsed and immediately fell back into my old routine.
I’d originally attempted to cease my prescription drug addiction and alcohol abuse to make my husband happy. While my drug use had taken its toll on my marriage, I was personally content maintaining my habit. When I relapsed I tried to convince both him and myself that my sheer attempt to get clean was enough to represent my commitment to our marriage. I refused to take my problems to a stranger who I thought would do little but lecture me, overcharge me and provide no real help. Up to this point, my husband had never walked out on me or spent the night anywhere but home, unless I was with him. So when he insisted we separate for a few months, I knew he was serious about me getting help.
I finally agreed to hear him out, and asked him to help me research some of the drug rehab centers in our area. I didn’t want to be too far from our home. The problem was there were only two rehabs in our area and one of my close friends had already been to both of them and was still using. My husband convinced me that going to one of the best drug rehab centers was much more important than staying local and going to our local rehabs. I reluctantly agreed to go out of state to a place we saw a TV commercial for in that was in Florida and we had researched on the web.
Once I made it through the detoxification period, I knew I was more or less going to be OK. I’d gotten it into my head that detox was supposed to be the painful nightmare like I had experienced in my home. But the staff there was amazing and made the process as comfortable as possible by giving me medication and round-the-clock professional medical care. I completed my treatment program one week before my 47th birthday and I felt ten years younger blowing ou the candles on my cake when I got back home with my husband by my side again. I’ve been able to stay sober for the past 9 months and by the grace of my husband’s love and the quality of my treatment experience.
What I didn’t Know About Drug Treatment Centers Actually Helped Me
When I finally decided to get help for my Valium addiction, I thought I would have a hard time finding drug treatment centers that specialized in prescription drug abuse. I didn’t want to go to a place that didn’t know how to handle my problem. I knew that most facilities treated cocaine, heroin and meth abuse, but I didn’t realize how many were familiar with pharmaceuticals until I did some research. I found out that prescription addiction now kills more people each year in America than any other drugs. In all my years of abusing Valium, I never actually knew it was that big of a problem for anyone else as much as it was for me.
It took a virtual miracle for me to even consider inpatient drug treatment as a means of getting help, but once I did, I was all in. I was 28 years old and had my whole life in front of me. I knew that if I chose the wrong program, I’d just wind up relapsing and starting the cycle all over again. Whatever drug treatment option I chose would be a referendum on the rest of my recovery, and possibly my life. I asked my sister to help me find a place, and we were successful in finding a program that not only treated prescription drug abuse, but they actually specialized in the treatment of diazepam (Valium) dependency.
The professionals at my drug treatment facility were amazing. I was made comfortable through my detox process, and was treated as a person, not simply the vessel for a drug problem. They worked very hard to address my whole dependency problem, and not just the symptoms. After I completed detox, I underwent psychiatric analysis, which was extremely helpful. I continued to see a mental health professional even after I completed my treatment. I’ve found that it’s a great way to keep myself in check with regard to my recovery and to talk about some of the other problems in my life. It’s also made me more aware of my strengths and weaknesses, which is something a recovering addict needs.
My reluctance toward clinical drug treatment vanished after my detox was completed. When I saw that the staff at my facility could successfully manage such a delicate process, I knew I was in capable hands. I was actively abusing Valium for about six years; this November, I’ll be celebrating my fifth year of sobriety from what once seemed like an insurmountable hurdle. I owe this milestone exclusively to my drug treatment program, and strongly urge people who are suffering from an addiction to pursue professional help.
Helping Others Find The Right Alcoholism Treatment Centers
Alcoholism caused me to miss about a third of my life. I’m 76 years old and I feel like I’m just getting started. The only positive about my alcohol addiction was that it gave me the experience and perspective to counsel people who’ve started drinking, so I can try and get them into alcoholism treatment centers. My dependency lasted for about twenty-five years, during which I destroyed two marriages, filed for bankruptcy, lost three businesses and lost my license twice; not to mention all the damage I did to my body and my family. I’d always drank, but I never started actually abusing alcohol to cope with stress until I was thirty-five. I was going through my first divorce and things were piling up at work. My wife and I were separated and I’d moved into a condo a few miles from my office. I’d done very well as a real estate developer, and worked about 17 hours every day. This is one of the many reasons why my first wife and I split. Miraculously we became best friends years later, and she even helped me research alcoholism treatment centers.
After my divorce was finalized, I threw myself even further into my work. There were days when I wouldn’t even leave my office. I remembered thinking that there was absolutely nothing for me at home, and now that I’d lost just about half of everything I owned, I wanted to work to get some of it back. There was a four-month period where I was in the middle of three major deals, and was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but I pretty much had my whole business riding on them. During the day I worked; at night I starting turning to alcohol. It started with a few bad hangovers. Soon I was missing meetings, regularly driving drunk, and having withdrawal symptoms. If I were as smart as I’d given myself credit for being, I would have recognized that I needed help and went away to an alcoholism treatment center. Instead I let two decades go by without seeking adequate help, and lost almost everything.
I’m deliberately not going to mention everything that happened during my darker days when I was drinking heavily; however I will say that I made just about every stupid mistake a person can make. A few that come to mind were getting into fights, some car accidents, evictions, debt, infidelity…and the list goes on. Looking back on everything now I guess I spent the bulk of my life hurting and disappointing people. I had a problem with accepting the consequences of my actions for a very long time. I later would learn that this contributed to my many relapses. It was only when I finally found the right alcoholism treatment center that I got sober (and more importantly stayed sober). It took me three stints at different alcoholism treatment centers for me to find the right alcoholism treatment center for me.
It was after my third stint at alcohol rehab and I was driving down the freeway after a night with a bottle of Grey Goose. Not surprisingly, I lost control of my car and wound up ramming into a family of four. Now…there are a few things for which I thank God every day: the strength to live sober, a second chance at life, and that the only damage I did to that family was to their car. These people reminded me of how my family used to be–to think that my behavior could have hurt, or even killed them, was just too much.
Because of your website I went to the alcoholism treatment center that was right for me and they saved my life. Today I draw strength from God and the work that I do with alcoholics who were in the same position I was in. I know I don’t have a lot of time left on this planet and Lord knows that I have a lot to repent for, so I’d like my remaining days to really count.
Inpatient Alcohol Rehab Gave Me A Reason To Live
I was 19 years old and suicidal when I entered inpatient alcohol rehab. I had dropped out of high school, been working in an exhausting, dead-end manual labor job (until I got laid off) and really only felt happy when I was drunk. I was one of the lucky ones whose parents got me into an inpatient alcohol rehab program before I wound up wrapping my car around a tree like one of my friends did and became a paraplegic. This residential alcohol rehab did more than just help me overcome my drinking dependency; they also helped me to take steps to live a fuller and more productive life.
I started to experiment with alcohol when I was fifteen. I had just started high school and was terrified of becoming a social outcast. Drinking would become a means of fitting in as well as a means of calming my nerves. By the time I was seventeen, it had become part of my regular weekend-and sometimes weeknight-routine. I would meet up with a group of friends, whom I didn’t even particularly like, and work toward getting loaded right away. Eventually I’d become intolerable to those around me when I was sober and my friends preferred my drunk self to the real me. Eventually I became so depressed and felt like a total loser that I started to think of ways of killing myself and putting an end to my pointless life. Fortunately my parents started to recognize this, but the first time they suggested I get some help, I freaked out, and left home for three weeks.
When I was drinking I never figured out that my depression and drinking were feeding off one another. I can remember a day shortly after my nineteenth birthday where I just sat on the floor of my parents’ dining room, thinking about what a joke my life was. I thought to myself that I was just a waste of space and just couldn’t see any way to change anything. All of this “reflection” led me to one conclusion; what was the point of living anymore. I went into my parents’ kitchen drawer, got a straight-edged knife and went to work on my wrists. The last thing I remember before passing out was breaking skin.
I woke up in the hospital with my parents standing over me. My parents pleaded with me to get help. I decided that I had nothing to lose at this point by so I agreed to go. I checked myself out of the hospital, packed a bag, and entered a thirty-day inpatient alcohol rehab facility that my doctor had recommended after my psychiatric consultation. The rewards I reaped from this experience are beyond measure.
I literally entered residential alcohol treatment a different person than when I left. Their amazing rehab program awakened something in me that I never knew was even there. The counselors there gave me a whole new outlook about my life. They showed how to embrace life and take pride in myself as a person.
They strongly encouraged me to finish my schooling after I successfully completed their inpatient alcohol rehab program and to go on to college afterwards in the future. I eventually did all that and graduated from my local community college last year and today I am working and making a decent living for myself.
The Importance of Proactive Cocaine Rehab
I’d been abusing cocaine for six months before I finally decided to get help. Without cocaine rehab, the pain, illness and indignity that I suffered would have defined my entire life. After it became clear that I couldn’t function around normal people anymore, I would only hang out with people who did cocaine too. It was the perfect plan: we’d get together, do a few lines, and not have to talk about anything-I hope you realize that “perfect plan” part of that was sarcasm. Thanks to the benefit of thoughtful reflection, as well as the lessons I learned while in cocaine rehab, I can see that I started actually doing coke because of an inherent lack of self-worth, which was perpetuated as my addiction got worse.
I started using coke right after I graduated high school. I had no plans to go to college, and it seemed like my life ended after my senior year. Most of my friends were gone, and that did make matters any easier. I started hanging out around a local bar that I frankly used to think was disgusting. My friends and I would always make fun of the people who went in there: the drunken low-lives, the skanky girls…and the coke-heads. When you don’t have anyone to hang out with except for your single mother who works nights, anybody starts to look good. So one night I went to this bar, and didn’t stop going until I went away to cocaine rehab.
I never bothered to get my license so I had no ID, but nobody in the place seemed to care. They just kept feeding me drinks while men twice my age were hitting on me. When I walked in for the first time, it was like they’d never seen a girl before-and from the way they talked to me, I’m not entirely sure they had. Despite the fact that the place was more or less occupied by Neanderthals, this bar became my nightly hang-out. There were nights in cocaine rehab when I actually wondered what was going on there while I was away.
For about a year and a half, I would drink myself to the point of near-collapse, and either have someone drop me off at home while my mom was working, or just wait for her to get off. My mother always kind of let me be me, so it was a pretty big deal when she started yelling at me for hanging out there every night. If I had listened to her, and stayed away, I never would have needed cocaine rehab, and would likely be a lot further in life. Nevertheless, I brushed her off and continued to just do my thing, which brings me to how I developed my coke habit.
One night when I was particularly hammered, a bunch of guys who I’d gotten to know from the bar disappeared into the parking lot. I asked the bartender where they, and he just nodded his head in the direction of the lot, and laughed-he must have known what they were doing. I went out there to find them doing lines on the hood of a Honda Civic. I wish I could say I put up more of a fight when they asked me to join them, but I didn’t. My first line felt like paradise; like I didn’t have a care in the world. I knew I couldn’t have my mom pick me up, so I just waited for one of my friends to get off work, and in the interim did about four more lines. As good as it felt, I never thought I’d make it a regular habit, or that I’d ever need cocaine rehab.
A few nights later, the exact same thing happened, except I did two more lines than I had done the last time. By the end of the night, I was convinced this was the life for me. Drinking had gotten stale, and coke just seemed like the next logical step; like being drunk with a little something extra. I had a sense of belonging, a great means of escape, and a place to go every night. After about a month, I was completely hooked. I should have checked myself into cocaine rehab right then and there, but instead I fell deeper into a dependency that could have easily killed me.
For the first four months I was abusing coke, I had always managed to score for free. I was the only girl among a group of guys, and I suppose this was there sick and disgusting definition of chivalry. Shortly before I entered cocaine rehab, some of the guys started charging me. I had no job and very little savings so after I spent all money, I had no way to pay them. One night, I tried to negotiate to at least score a bit with the money I had. The guy who had it said he wasn’t interested in money, and gave me a look that made me sick. I’ll spare you the details, except to say that he tried to force himself on me, and I was disgusted with myself for even momentarily considering it. I bolted out of his car, caught a bus home, and told my mom about everything that had happened. The next day, I was headed to cocaine rehab.
Detox wasn’t that bad, but I expect it would have been far worse had I been addicted for a longer period. The hardest part of cocaine rehab was hearing the truth about myself. The whole experience taught me to be an active participant in my own life, and to want more things for myself. Shortly after completing my cocaine rehab, I got a job and started classes at a local community college. I could have very easily gone the other way, but something inside of me told me I was headed down a horrible road. Thank god I thought that part of me was worth listening to.
All Drug Treatment Centers are Not Created Equal
Aside from getting into drugs in the first place, the stupidest choice I ever made was entering my first rehab facility. When you’re coming down from a three-year-long cocaine-induced stupor, you tend to miss a lot of things-like the differing quality of drug treatment centers. I thought they were all the same, and was devastated when I found out how the place I had chosen conducted their treatment. I know it’s a terrible idea, but there were times when I was in there, that I was sure that trying to quit by myself was a better option. I’d come to these people for help, and they offered little but judgment, duress, and an unprofessional approach to clinical practice. I spent two weeks in there, and after getting fed up with being treated like a criminal junkie, I left. Two days later I was back to the crack, and convinced that drug treatment centers weren’t for me.
It’s funny how things work out. About six months after my failed first rehab endeavor, I was at a party that got busted up, and I got busted up right along with it. The charges were possession, intent to distribute, and driving while under the influence. Part of the “deal” my attorney worked out was community service and a 30-day stay in one of the drug treatment centers in the area. I immediately tensed up when I heard this, and told my lawyer to take me to jail. After a while, he calmed me down, and I just resigned myself to the fact that if I wanted to, I could just escape. I packed my bags and braced myself for another miserable experience.
I was sentenced on a Thursday, and checked in the following Saturday to one of the three drug treatment centers that were offered to me. Although I was glad to see I didn’t have to go back to the first place at which sought help, I was still embittered, close-minded, and hostile toward everyone my first few night there. The check-in and registration period was a one-sided display of cynicism, and quite frankly cruelty on my part. Despite my obvious distaste for the situation, the people at this new facility remained cordial and endearing. This actually scared me even more, because it made me wonder what they were planning on doing behind closed doors. When I was all checked in, I went to my room, where I spent the first three days waiting for the other shoe to drop.
A week went by, and I was surprised, albeit reluctant, to see that I was being treated quite well, like a person of value who happened to have a cocaine addiction. I got my first indication that not all drug treatment centers are created equal during detox, when trained professionals bent over backwards to make me as comfortable as possible, and checked up on me round the clock to make sure I was handling the withdrawal process alright. After a surprisingly manageable detox process, I worked hard with counselors, who seemed really invested in my recovery, to explore the roots of my addiction and how my self-devaluation brought me to this point. By the second week, I knew my attitude toward drug treatment centers was forever changed, and enthusiastically completed the rest of my program.
As it came time to leave, I was starting to feel anxious. On my second-to-last day there, my counselor outfitted me with a post-treatment support package, which included the contact information for support groups and helpful advice on how to avoid relapse. Since graduating from rehab 19 months ago, I’ve been clean & sober because I choose a quality drug treatment center. I became a volunteer youth counselor, and am pursuing a Bachelor’s in substance abuse and addiction counseling. I was the biggest skeptic of all, now I’m one of the biggest believers. I doubt I’d be alive today if it weren’t for my court-ordered tenure in a drug treatment center.
Even if You Don’t Think You Need Alcoholism Treatment...
I was never supposed to succumb to alcoholism. The period in life when you “experiment” with drugs and alcohol passed me by while I was making sure I had everything ready for college. I was a psych major, and if you’d have told me that I’d be seeing the inside of an alcoholism treatment center for anything other than observation, I would’ve said you were crazy–no pun intended. To begin with, there was the pressure of my freshman year. I was a pretty big academic fish in my high school, but I didn’t realize how small my pond was until the first week of classes. Things started to pile up, and before I knew it, I was way behind. It wasn’t long before alcoholism treatment became a necessity for me, although I didn’t see it right away.
One night, in the midst of my academic breakdown, I decided to forget everything and go to a party at a neighboring sorority-house. I was with a guy who by this time was a seasoned drinker and a likely future candidate for alcoholism treatment. He had started to pre-game before the party, and was strongly encouraging me to do the same. I’m not going to lie, and say I’d never touched a drop of liquor up to this point, nor will I say that this guy was responsible for my downward spiral, however my drinking escalated greatly during and after our relationship.
After a pretty scary twenty-minute car-ride-he insisted on driving even though he was buzzed-we were at the party. Looking around the room, it seemed as though red plastic SOLO cup was part of the uniform for all attendees. Some guy who I can only assume was the host made sure I had a drink glued to my hand the entire night-I liked it. I liked how it made me feel, and how it made me not feel. There was no turning back–alcohol took away all the pressure of classes, expectations, and social awkwardness. It also lowered my inhibitions, which led to a streak of promiscuity, the details of which I’ll leave out here. Despite my placement on academic probation, and my descent into everything I swore I’d never become, I was still oblivious to the fact that I needed alcoholism treatment.
Fast-forward three years. I had been kicked out of school for performing poorly in the classes I actually attended, and was living with a friend of mine who needed alcoholism treatment as much, if not more, than I did. I was working at a video store, the only job I could walk to from my house because I didn’t have a car, and trying to fool myself into thinking I could take community college courses and still continue to drink. I missed my family to the point of physical illness. They never assumed that this would happen to me, and by the time they tried to help, I was to deep into my own head to see they meant well. This led to a fight with my mother, and me changing my cell phone number, which was only on half the time because I could barely afford my rent, much less my phone bill.
One day I was walking home from work and I saw my sister standing in front of my apartment building. I just broke down and started crying, she rushed to me, held me tight, and said “You’re getting help, no questions asked.” I packed some things and went with her. This was the last time I was to see my old apartment. I stayed with her before and after I checked myself into residential alcoholism treatment.
This was four years ago and I haven’t had a drink since. I remember every detail of my recovery like it was yesterday-there were, and are still some incredibly rough patches. Today I enjoy a great relationship with my family, and went back to school for English Literature. I was lucky enough to have a strong support system around me during my alcoholism treatment. I still have intense cravings, but have found strength in a fresh start. The most valuable lesson I learned from my alcohol abuse was that even if you don’t think you need help, if others say that you do, you should hear them out. I finally listened to my sister, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
Drug Rehab and My Daughter
Heroin stole my daughter from me; drug rehab brought her back home.
My daughter was 17 when she first met her first boyfriend. I knew that I did not like him when I first met him but I had no idea, at the time, that he was a heroin addict. I thought that it was simply the beginnings of empty-nest syndrome being that my youngest daughter was suddenly, seemingly, a woman. Later, when she left home to go live with him, after less than 3 months of dating him, I knew something was wrong. This was not the sensible, smart behavior that my daughter had always exercised. This was a rash, ill-advised decision and there was no denying it. But, she was 18, and even though I did not want her to leave home, I could no longer keep her in my home against her will. Little did I know that letting her leave home would eventually lead to her finding not a new apartment to live in, but a drug rehab.
I did not find out that my daughter was using until I stumbled across some paraphernalia when I was cleaning her bedroom. I was shocked. My first thought was that the needles could not be hers. Maybe she was holding them for someone, I mused. If she was really using, she would have taken the needles with her wouldn’t she? Or, maybe, she is using so much that she didn’t realize that she left these particular needles here. Visions of driving my daughter to a drug rehab came to the forefront of my imagination. No, no, no! I told myself.
Then, I mentally starting sorting through a lot of the uncharacteristic behaviors I’d observed. I confronted her. She did what every addict does: she lied. At first, my mind could not go anywhere except to relief. I breathed a huge sigh of relief that she was not using. I was completely naive. I didn’t want to believe it so when she told me otherwise, I jumped at the opportunity for that reality. While I was busy not believing my daughter was an addict, her addiction was silently spiraling out of control.
Eventually, I learned that my daughter and her boyfriend were both heroin addicts. I begged her to go to a drug rehab. I promised her that I would be there for her in every step of the process. She refused. She didn’t want to leave her boyfriend and he was against any type of treatment. They both enjoyed using too much.
It wasn’t until they both hit rock bottom that they reluctantly agreed to go to two different drug rehabs. While I never wanted to see my daughter get carted off in handcuffs, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to her. The thought of burying my daughter was terrifying and it was becoming too close to reality towards the final days leading up to their arrest.
For much of her stay at drug rehab, I had some anger and guilt that I needed to work through. I worked with my own counselors to realize the steps that I needed to take myself in my own unique recovery. I learned about the consequences of chronic heroin use kidney disease, liver disease, respiratory failure and death and tried to count my blessings that she was still alive.
I do still get upset at the thought of her addiction; I do still feel like heroin stole my daughter from me. She will never be the perfect daughter that I remember her as. But these days, I recognize that it is progress, not perfection, for which I need to hope. She is sober today. Hopefully, she will find the strength and serenity to stay sober tomorrow.
Whatever comes our way, I will be forever thankful for drug rehab because it brought my daughter home.
Drug Rehab Lessons
When I was in drug rehab, I learned a lot about my addiction. I learned the reasons why I was acting the way I was acting and why those unhealthy habits had formed. Maybe I always knew the reason why but without drug rehab, I would have never been able to face the addictions nor the habits. They explained to me that taking crushed OxyContin tablets leads to rapid absorption and a potentially fatal dose of Oxycodone. This I knew, I think. I think I knew this on a logical level but my addiction made me feel invincible. I never thought that the drugs would kill me. Because of my injuries, I had convinced myself that I needed the medicines. The doctors would not be writing me prescriptions for my injuries and my arthritis if I didn’t need them, right?
Well, the doctors also didn’t write me the prescriptions so that I would crush them and snort them, either.
In addition to my Percocet and OxyContin, I also had prescriptions for Xanax and Valium for my anxiety. Only, I didn’t always feel like I needed the anxiety medicine if I took enough OxyContin that day. So, eventually, when I realized my prescriptions were running out faster than they should, I figured that I could sell the Xanax and Valium in order to pay for more Oxys.
When I was in drug rehab, I felt comfortable there because I felt like I was no longer alone. That was a feeling that I never expected to experience. Having chronic pain for nearly a decade was something that nobody close to me could understand or even begin to relate with. More importantly, they made me feel empowered enough to overcome my addiction. They made me feel like I could out down the pills and still live a life without pain and anguish and depression.
Pill addiction is so real and so rapid. Before you know it, you’re spiraling out and taking more pills than what was prescribed. You get to the point where you realize that if you just take one more pill, you’ll be able to relax, the pain will go away. But before you know it, you have to take another pill and another pill, just to keep up with the withdrawal pains. That’s what happened to me. That’s what has happened to millions of Americans. The best advice I could give to an addict suffering from chronic pains and/or injuries is to get help and get help now! Drug addiction is a very serious matter and your best chance of overcoming it is to get help at a reputable and recommended drug rehab center. I hope you will follow my advice and find out for yourself that it is possible to live life without painkillers. And, it is a better life than you have ever known. I promise.
Recovery Post Alcohol Intervention: Still Learning
I have been in recovery now for fifteen years; after nearly a decade of heavy drinking, my family had organized an alcohol intervention for me. Today, I still rely on a few things to calm my nerves from time to time. Since I can’t pick up a drink and be responsible about it, my self-medication is my yoga practice. I have known about yoga for a long time, discovering it shortly after my alcohol intervention, but I have only been serious about my practice for the last three years.
I was extremely lucky to discover my particular yoga class as my instructor is in recovery herself. Someone in my AA meetings recommended her class and I have not missed one session since my first class. My instructor and I have become very close over the last couple of years; her guidance and serenity have been inspirational to say the least. We both share the same ACOA (adult child of an alcoholic) mindset and outlook on life. We lean on each other and can understand each other without words. Our language is meditation.
I will never forget her explanation when I first committed myself to yoga practice. She said, “with practice, meditation changes the brain’s chemistry. It short-circuits our knee-jerk reactions and then little defects we believe about ourselves.” That is when it clicked for me. I just had to remember how to access my calming coping mechanisms and I could stay away from the alcohol. There was suddenly still so much hope left for my recovery and less worry about a possible, impending relapse.
Without her and without my meditation, I don’t know that I would be able to celebrate this many years of recovery. I was dangerously close to relapse when fate intervened and our paths crossed. It just goes to show that no matter how many years of recovery you might be celebrating, you are still vulnerable for a relapse. Moreover, no matter how many years of recovery you celebrate, you may still stand to learn a few tricks to help you stay away from that drug of choice. Today I not only express gratitude for that first alcohol intervention all those years ago but also I am grateful for fate’s intervention that brought Theresa into my life.
My Drug Addiction Treatment & My Diabetes
Before my drug addiction treatment, I was addicted to crack cocaine. Also, a type 1 diabetic, my addiction was taking a very large toll on my body. My wife could tell that I had become careless about checking my blood sugar and maintaining my health the way that diabetes demands. I was more than fortunate that she cared enough about me that she gave up much of her own personal life, just to check my blood sugar for me and take care of me when I got sick. I think she suspected that I was using some type of drugs. It was many years of using before she said anything to me about it. She encouraged me to get some drug addiction treatment but I was scared. I didn’t want to admit that I had a problem. But I had a real problem. I can’t believe I let it get to the point that it did, the point at which I did not take of myself, the point at which I got so careless that I did not even check my blood sugar.
I spent three days in a coma.
It was a direct result of not paying attention to my blood sugar levels. The nurses told me that my wife never left my side. I owe my life to my wife. She could have left my side at any time. She could have left my side when she found out that me and my son (her stepson) were drug buddies. She could have left my side when I refused to go to drug addiction treatment. Any time would have been socially acceptable for her to move on. She could have left me. And a lot of days it blows my mind that she decided to stay. She stayed true to our vows and never gave up on me.
Since leaving my drug addiction treatment, we have retaken our vows. I vowed never to put my wife through that kind of he’ll again. I vowed to be a better partner. I vowed to take care of myself so that we could live a long, healthy life together. I vowed to never use again and mo importantly to never use with or enable my son to use again.
We were drug buddies instead of father and son. We would use together, swap drugs, take turns buying drugs for one another. We did not have a healthy relationship. My therapists during my drug addiction treatment explained that we were codependent. After leaving drug addiction treatment, I encouraged my son to get help at the same facility that I had just graduated from. He agreed to go and is currently involved. I can’t wait to see what our relationship can be now that we will both be sober. I am so lucky to be alive today.
Alcohol Rehab and Healthy Relationships
Before I went into alcohol rehab, it seemed like I could never hold down a solid group of friends. I would cycle through different groups — all throughout high school, all throughout college and all the years thereafter. I took a “woe is me” kind of perspective on it. I thought maybe I was just not meant to hold down a solid, life-long friend. Before alcohol rehab, I didn’t consider be possibility that there was something I was doing –or not doing– and the result(s) was the loss of friendships.
Finally something clicked, right before I decided to go to alcohol rehab, and probably the reason that I ultimately agreed to go to alcohol rehab, was when my one friend explained, “you are a different person when you’re drunk.” I countered with, “well isn’t everyone a different version of themselves when they are drunk?!” She considered this and got a little more honest with her next comment: “I don’t like who you are when you’re drunk. You’re angry. You’re violent. You’re a liability. I don’t want to babysit you anymore. I don’t need people like that in my life. I don’t need you in my life when you’re messed up like that.”
It hit me: maybe that is what everyone else has been thinking all along. Maybe that is why I always had to find new friends after a certain amount of time. She changed my life that day. Post alcohol rehab, I have been able to develop more friendships and sustain them. My relationships are healthier than they were in the past because I am not the self-destructive person that I was back then. Alcohol rehab taught me healthier ways to deal with my anger other than drinking until I couldn’t drink anymore. I have been sober for 183 days. I take it one day at a time. I take what I learned at alcohol rehab everywhere I go and I have never been more thankful in my life.
My Heroin Detox(s) and My Relapse(s)
More than 50 percent of addicts relapse, or at least that is what they say. I guess that means I’m not alone in this. I know that addiction is a disease but I hate myself even more every time I relapse. I have gone through heroin detox seven times and I have relapsed seven times all at the same detox center. The detox center never told me I should be going to a inpatient treatment center after I finished my detoxification. I guess they never mentioned this to me because they didn’t have a treatment center as part of their detox facility. They would lose me as a paying customer if I didn’t keep relapsing and needing to go back to them every time to detox over and over again in the future.
Fortunately I found this site and one of the first things your help representative told me was that detox should always be followed with treatment. They also explained to me that the best treatment centers have their own detox right there too, so I wouldn’t have to go to two different facilities to beat my heroin addiction.
Looking back on it all I try to recall exactly how it all began. The first time I shot up, I fell in love with it. I started experimenting with heroin by snorting it. But a drug buddy of mine was a shooter and he told me about how the high would be different if I was a shooter too. He was right. The high is indescribably more intense. I would shoot more than I ever snorted and much, much more often.
Years and years of shooting heroin destroyed my veins. That is such an obvious statement to make but when you’re an addict, you’re in denial about any destruction that you’re imposing on your body because all you’re doing is chasing is that first euphoric high. What your drug buddies and dealer never tell you is that there is a reason that they call it the first high. It is not the first, second, third, fourth, forty-fifth high. You will never have that first high again. But it takes a long period of sobriety to come to that realization.
I have always stayed through until the end of each of my heroin detox(s). Some people can only last a few days or a few hours and because of that, they do not get to feel the relief that comes with a fresh sobriety as I experienced each time I finished detox. Even less people, it seems, get to know what it feels like for that sobriety to age and grow up and live on its own to be an age older than your longest of year-long binges.
So how did I get there, you ask? How did I get to the point where I wanted to go to heroin detox for that seventh time? I woke up one day, fixing my morning hit and I couldn’t hit a vein. I tried and tired and tried. I tried to hit a vein, any vein for a day and a half. I couldn’t get that heroin into my system; I couldn’t get that medicine into my system. I had involuntarily begun my own detox. I could feel the pain surging through my body. I was feeling nauseous. My hands and arms were shaking. My mom had walked into my apartment and found me keeled over in pain, tourniquet around my arm and a full needle between my fingers. I was sobbing just hysterically sobbing. So she drove me to my last heroin detox. There is a time and a place for everything. I truly believe that. I had given up trying to get a vein and I was exhausted with what my addiction was doing to me, let alone my poor mother.
Each day now I am grateful to your site that you opened my eyes and found me the right treatment center that successfully helped stop using heroin. Everyday now I work my steps and watch out for my triggers if they appear. I think what helps me the most personally is the harsh reminder that the heroin detox is more painful than the purest strain of chyna white heroin’s most euphoric high.
Detox, Heroin, Detox, Heroin, Detox, Heroin Detox... Life, Lived
It has been 146 days since my heroin detox. That’s the longest number I have ever been able to honestly report about my sobriety. See, this is not my first time being sober. However, since it is my longest time being sober so far, I’m feeling hopeful. After my last heroin detox, I did a lot of things differently than my other attempts at getting clean. In the past, I’d declined going to rehab. I even declined working the 12 steps. I didn’t need a sponsor. I could do it on my own.
Right, I could do it on my own. Which is why I went back to detox 9 times after my first try. A mere 10 detox trips in 11 years and now I am 146 days clean and sober. I honestly never get sick of saying that. After finally agreeing to 30 day program, I have stayed clean and sober. My recovery is undoubtedly more successful than ever before. I’m certain it is because I agreed to go to rehab and then followed up rehab with an intensive outpatient program. Sure, I still think about heroin every day. It is less often, though. It is hard not to think about it. It is hard to think about the people I lost due to my addiction: my friends who knew me before I met heroin, not to mention all my shooting up buddies who have lost their lives fighting those cravings.
When I finally did agree to get a sponsor, 3 years ago, it did seem to work for a while. He came to be my best friend. I could tell him anything and he would not judge me. He’d help me get to my next heroin detox and he would let me know that he would be there waiting for me when I got out.
He died three days ago from an overdose. My rock, my foundation, my solid ground, my safety net, he was using. That’s beyond difficult to imagine. I wish I could’ve been there for him. I wish I could have helped him the same way he helped me. I wish I could have saved his life.
This will be my hardest feat yet. All I want to do right now is find a needle. But I will try my damndest to live out this life in honor of David. He would not want me to quit. So if not for myself, I will do it for David. Maybe one day I can be someone’s sponsor. Maybe one day I will be there to recommend heroin detox. Maybe one day I will be the reason somebody lives, not the reason somebody dies.
Mental Illness Alcohol Intervention
So for the last two years now my family and I have been trying our best to figure out what to do with my little brother Michael. While he may not be so little anymore, he still displays the personality and maturity of a 12 year old due to his Autism disorder. It all started on his 21st birthday when we took him out for his first beer. Unfortunately this proved to be the next and beginning of one of his many repetitive behavior models. As with the many other obsessions and fixations that autistic individuals display, we originally hoped that his interest and use of alcohol would soon dissipate and move onto something else. It is a difficult thing to watch someone becoming an alcoholic without having the ability to comprehend the effects; and an even more difficult thing to educate him about after his fondness of drinking had set in.
Two years later, our many pleads and attempts to talk to him have continued to prove futile. The severity of his addiction is obvious and only seems to be increasing. A couple months ago he was fired after walking out of his job at the supermarket saying that he wanted a drink, and my family and I are growing increasingly worried with all the free time now on his hands. We realize we have to enable his addiction to some degree because his disorder prevents him from living an independent life on his own, so we can’t just kick him out of the house. With his walks to the bar down the street and violent behavior on the rise, my family is growing desperate to get Michael help. Knowing that he could not survive at a normal rehabilitation center, we began combing the internet for alternative types of intervention and alcohol treatment.
My mom found AddictionCareOptions.com and their page regarding many different types of intervention. The staff there was most helpful and we all were truly relieved after explaining our family member’s situation and being told that specialized treatment does exist. Within a few days we are expecting an interventionist with experience working with the mentally challenged to help us lovingly confront him and make him see the damage he is unintentionally causing. We are all a little nervous about how Michael might respond to it all, but also very optimistic after speaking time and again to such a caring and proactive group of people.
My Son’s Heroin Treatment
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Finding Solace with Cocaine Treatment
I think the most valuable lesson that I have learned — via family therapy — since my sister was admitted to a rehab for her cocaine treatment is that the only way to help an addict is to allow them to feel the pain they have created. I used to give my sister sole credit for her manipulation tactics but then I learned that it is not only a trait that my sister possesses, but a trait that many addicts possess: the ability to divide and conquer. She divided and conquered my family for many years prior to her cocaine treatment. She pitted us all against each other as we wrestled with different ways to get her to accept cocaine treatment.
All of my family members were concerned with keeping her alive but all of us did not agree on the ways to go about doing that. We all knew that she desperately needed cocaine treatment but some of us gave up on the possibility of her ever admitting herself into a rehab while others of us never gave up hoping that she would eventually check herself in. Some of us were trying to get her to hit rock-bottom, homeless and penniless. Some of us were trying to do everything we could to get her the money she needed for whatever she needed including cocaine. The different theories and strategies for keeping my sister alive were slowly but surely, ironically, killing my family unit. Everything that we came to know about being a family and being together had changed. I look back and I remember that for a long time, there was no together time or family time during those years no matter the day or holiday. We never spent any time together during the height of my sister’s addiction because most of us could not stand to be in the same room with each other that was how big the divide was between our opinions. The divide and conquer was so successful that my sister was still able to get the things she needed from us on an individual basis, no matter whether we were interacting with one another or not. In this way, my sister had maximized her drug money income. It was not until we could come together as a unit and agree to stop enabling her addiction. We allowed her to feel the pain that she created; specifically, to feel the pain of financial strain, of homelessness, of poverty. She no longer had any financial means to fuel her addiction so she agreed to begin cocaine treatment.
Recalling all of this, and explaining here in this blog, does still make me upset. However, I do know that this is all in the past. It must stay in the past. We can bookmark it, dog-ear it like the corner of a page in a favored book but we must not dwell on it any longer. We should not forget what we have learned on our own, nor forget what we’ve learned as a family, regarding our past but we must focus on being a family unit again; for, when my sister returns from her cocaine treatment she will need all the support we have to offer. Of course, we have more support to offer as a unit than as a group of individuals which is why so many years went by before we could successfully get my sister admitted to a rehab for cocaine treatment.
I have connected with other people who have family members also seeking cocaine treatment. My family and I have been able to reach a solace about the situation; I have hope for the healing that I know our family can attain now that my sister has admitted her powerlessness over her addiction and her desperate need for cocaine treatment.
My Freshmen Part-time Job: Selling Pet Meds (Doggie Dope) to Fellow Students
Before I began recovery at my drug treatment center, I started a part-time job working as a tech at the local veterinarian office. I didn’t think much more of it than as a way simple way to make some money while putting myself through college here in the northeast. Looking back on it I would say I started out as a bit of a partier, but never the out of control inebriated college kid that I saw many of my freshmen friends quickly becoming. One day when I was at work, I remember looking at the massive quantity of pet meds, tranquilizers, and other controlled substances in the storage room. I innocently began pondering about how much money this stuff must cost, and there was just so much of it, just sitting there with easy access to me.
Eventually as the semester progressed my money started getting tight, I was at school on a scholarship, unlike most of the students I knew came from families with money. I started to think when I was at work each day I could easily steal some of the pet meds and sell them to kids at school. At the time it seemed like such a simple and effortless way to make money. I had a built in set of customers with all the students I knew who liked to party almost every single night. I tried my plan out with some ketamine and other miscellaneous animal tranquilizers that I had smuggled out of the office and sold everything within just a few days. I thought to myself wow that was easy! I had made the easiest cash I had ever put in my purse, and since I was stealing everything, it was all pure profit. Almost immediately I had created a following of pill hungry freshman. Everyone seemed to more than willing to spend both their text book money and mommy & daddy’s spending money on whatever pet meds I could put in front of them. What had started out as just a planned onetime theft of some animal drugs from work, became a twice a week theft in order to keep up with the ever increasing demand I had created at my school. I remember thinking that my broke college student days of struggling were a thing of the past. The End.
Of course as everyone knows stories like this never end just like that. At least I am not aware of happy endings to stories like this, not in the long run anyway. So what happened to me is probably all too predictable to anyone reading this. It wasn’t long before I tried sampling some of the merchandise myself, so to speak. I had tried a couple of the new cat tranquilizers one night and wound up completely blacking out. I woke up the next day (luckily) feeling like I had just ingested poison (which I guess I basically did), and had all these bruises and scrapes all over me from God knows what. But even with that scare, I ignored the obvious wakeup call I got and just continued on my downward spiral from drug abuse to drug addiction. I quickly joined all of my customers and began spending all of my drug income on every kind of drug that I could get my hands on. Since I needed to keep stealing more and more pills to satisfy both my customers (and now my own habit too) I lost my job for what they called suspicious behavior. Having no money or desire to do anything except to get high all the time I also lost my scholarship and eventually my education all together. I started dipping to all-time lows to get my fix and crashing with whoever I could each night. I was infuriated and hated myself for allowing myself to become a bigger user than my customers. But still I continued to indulge my drug addiction rather than try and seek any professional help at a drug treatment center.
I now consider the day when my family held a professional intervention for me and I agreed to go to a drug treatment center the day that saved my life. I wasn’t the least bit confident in myself on the way to my forced vacation in Florida, mainly since I sold doggie dope to kids who had already been to rehab. My parents assured me they had an excellent recommendation for one of the best drug treatment centers in the country and they were going to help me get clean, and stay clean too.
Just a few days after finishing the sobering detox phase at my drug treatment center I suddenly felt like I was reintroduced to an old friend, my former drug free self. It was actually the first clear minded substance free thought I had in over a year, and I really started believing in my chances for recovery. I can only say that every day since then has been a self-educational experience and a real blessing that I’m so grateful for. I’ve been savoring this 2nd chance at life, through the ups and downs of everyday life, with every passing moment. I have learned how to identify and effectively deal with the potential triggers that often sabotage people in recovery and cause them to relapse.
Now one year later I am sober and have resumed my education (at a different college). Every day I become more confident that I can live my life clean and sober.
Speedballing right into Alcohol and Drug Treatment
My struggles with addiction actually began later in life than some would expect. Before I ultimately landed myself into the detox ward of a alcohol and drug treatment center, I found myself in the midst of a sudden and unexpected hopeless depression. I have always considered myself to be a bit of a mover and shaker in life, especially throughout my career in the business world. After my carefree college days, it’s since been 20 years of systematically climbing the company ladder and fighting for economic survival in today’s cubical jungle, in essence allowing me little time to have ever stopped n smelled the roses. The total lack of any significant personal life indeed slowly manifested into that sudden and shocking midlife crisis that I had never previously believed in. The realization hit me a few years ago one morning while catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
The lack of control I had and recurring thought of all my wasted yesteryears exploded upon me all at once, kicking on some primal drive switch to go out and live before it is too late! However, due to my schedule and time constraints, the decision to start knocking back a few J&B whiskeys every night proved somberly adequate. My motivation shifted from working to thrive, to just doing the bare minimum in order to get the hell out and find a new bar in which I could drown my anxieties. One night while in an alcohol hazed depression, I actually met up with a few old friends out at a club who seemed to be going through their own trials of middle life pondering. I still do not clearly remember what possessed me, but when I tried cocaine for the first time of my life that night, I felt that I found the missing companion for my friend liquor.
Over the next couple of years I continued to swing back and for between alcohol and cocaine. At the time, I validated my decisions as the only escape for a man in his forties with no family to raise and nothing to offer outside of the conglomerate world. My depression-fed addiction was compounded by the fact that I had not even had a distinctly different memory since I was 20! My realization that there was nothing I could do to get back all those wasted years of my youth sent me further into depression. I had lost my self-worth and self-respect completely; everything in my world began to crumble around me. I was incessantly miserable, my job was on now the line, my colleagues stayed clear of me, and even after my DUI my coke and booze addiction was still the only activity I have that gave me any consolation.
My self-grief was interrupted one day by an intervention from a few estranged friends I thought I had long since pushed away, telling me that I wasn’t the only one. I remember feeling somewhat empathetic since they admitted their own personal issues with getting over the hill. They knew I had no close family to vent my feelings with and implored me to get help for my substance abuse and talk to someone professionally about the underlying depression. My friends had contacted the Addiction Care Options website on my behalf. Addiction Care Options gave them the names of some highly recommended behavioral health focused drug rehab centers for me to consider going to for my alcohol and drug treatment. For the first time in years, I felt that maybe it was not too late for me and I might be able to kick this ball and chain of alcohol and drug addiction.
Since I have finished my alcohol and drug treatment, I have been sober for 71 days! I cannot even begin to tell everyone how grateful I am to be here in such a good place both mentally and physically. I have not actually felt this good since I was a teenager and have benefitted tremendously from both the group and personal spiritual coaching sessions. Addiction recovery aside, the transformation of my nonstop mind, wound tight as a banjo string from stressing over obstacles of tomorrow has now been quieted enough to start living in the present moment enjoyment of today. Trust me; I know about doubt and skepticism of everything that is not tangible, since that is what predominantly used to fill my head. However, I can only promise you that I have not felt this much optimism, freshness, and daily moment-to-moment enjoyment since I was a teenager. Whatever your substance problem and underlying demons may be, there is hope in learning from others who have been there themselves and the help that they can offer.
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