My sobriety Date: August 2016
How many years did you use and how did you start using?
I started using as a teen. For me it was a way of escape. Years of abuse and heartbreak had left me unable to cope with reality. Marijuana and alcohol were my initiates into the world of drug use. I found solace in the oblivion, but my addiction escalated quickly and I would soon turn to heavier drugs that would lead me down a path of destruction and loss.
Did you go to treatment or do it on your own?
I attended rehabs, meetings, classes and the list goes on. I was in and out of jail and prison. I gained much knowledge during these times, but still ended up repeating the same cycle. I was unable to face myself and the harsh reality of my past. No amount of knowledge could save me until I was willing to put what I had learned onto practice. Searching the soul is not a journey for the faint hearted and I was forced to face my greatest fears.
If you went to treatment, what treatment center did you go to?
I attended a facility in the heart of Richmond City. I was ordered here by the courts. I found myself surrounded by violence, alcohol, and any drug one might desire. This is where I would meet my ultimate drug of choice, heroin.
If you went to treatment, what was your experience like?
Treatment is a place for me where seeds of knowledge were planted. I was given a successful completion and remained clean, but my heart was not fully committed. I believe you get what you put in and I choose to fly under the radar so to speak. However, the knowledge I gained remained with me and eventually the statements I considered cliché would begin to soak in.
What did you learn about yourself when you started getting into recovery?
I have learned a great many things. I have learned it’s ok to be weak, to be afraid, to be vulnerable. I have learned to set boundaries, to trust, to laugh, and love without expectations. I have learned to accept who I am and that each day is a journey. We face choices. Sometimes we fall, and then we get back up. Addiction doesn’t define who we are. It is a long dark path that if and when we become willing, can lead us to a place of self-discovery and purpose. It is our story!
What did your bottom look like and what was the pivotal moment you knew you wanted to get sober/clean?
There were many dark moments. I lost a great many people I loved and cared about. I lost my purpose, my self-respect and my joy. I ended up going to a methadone clinic for 6 years. I did well in the beginning years, but yet still was masking some hidden issues that needed to be addressed. I eventually turned to benzos, combining the two in a search for the euphoria I so desperately sought. I had a deep desire to be free. I had attempted cold turkey and failed leaving me in a deeper state of despair. Finally through a series of events, I was placed on a ten day detox. The withdrawals were terrible, and the pain excruciating. I prayed for instant deliverance, but in my heart I knew I must walk through this fiery experience. An easy out would mean an easy return for me.
Did you have any consequences in your using days?
There were a great many consequences during active use. I lost my children. I spent many years, on and off, in jails and prisons. I lost the things that mattered most. I became isolated and lonely.
List some things that help keep you on the path of recovery:
Each day presents us with a choice. There are days when I feel on top of the mountain and recovery comes easy. There are days when I feel depression, loneliness and despair. It is on these days I must choose. Will I risk all I have gained and return to a false sense of serenity (drugs) or will I press on and face these tidal waves of emotion. I find solace and strength in community, in prayer and meditation, and in service. Without purpose I become lost and hopeless. I have to search my heart, go back in time and remember the dreams I once had as a child. It is there I find direction and hope.
What is it life like today?
Today I feel hope. I feel a light breaking through the darkness. I realize I’m not perfect and there will be days I struggle, but I have a courage I didn’t have before. I choose to remain in the present and look for the blessings. I have my family, my children and friends. I see possibility where I once saw none and I know I am the dreamer of great things. With faith and perseverance, these beautiful, outrageous dreams become my reality.
What words of hope/advice can you give the person who is still struggling?
Keep pressing on! Know there is hope and a better way! There is a Higher Power who seeks to guide and direct your path. There are people who want to see you succeed. Hold on to the seeds of Hope, and watch them grow into gardens of destiny! You are here for a purpose and your story has the potential to touch lives you never dreamed!