Jim’s Story

I was addicted to heroin and had been shooting it for the best part of 35 years.   I was in a place where I had no way out.   I had no direction in life, life meant nothing to me.  I burned everyone I knew because that had become a way of life but God intervened.  He arrested me or got me arrested.  I was given a public defender to represent me and she asked me if I wanted help with my addiction.  I never had anyone offer me help before, my parents were addicts and they never did and I really had no family support system because everyone else knew to stay away. I didn’t trust anyone especially myself but  the public defender asked me if I had the courage to stand up and do something good for myself because I had a lot of important information trapped inside of me  that would allow me to help other people.  I wasn’t sure if I believed it but she told me to do my job and she would do hers.  That was the very first day that I thought I had a chance at a new life, a life that didn’t including using heroin.

I had a lot of doubt and fear that I was going to prison for the rest of my life.  I had the habitual criminal act filed against me and the public defender went to the judge and told him that she thought that I was worth saving and the judge agreed that if I was to get a veterans organization to get me into long-term treatment that he would go ahead with the recommendations.

It was very scary and uncomfortable but given the opportunity to go into a treatment program I had to learn a whole new way of life.   I have accountability now which I never did before.  My word had to be impeccable instead of just manipulation.  It was a total life change.

I had a lot of help.  I was introduced to a drug and alcohol treatment program that could also help me with my PTSD and other mental issues.  At an early age I was diagnosed with ADHD and was living with my father who was a biker outlaw who was selling heroin.  I went to see him and told him I forgot my Ritalin he said, I have something for you and he gave me my first shot of heroin at 12 years old.  It relieved me of all the pain, suffering and turmoil in my life and replaced it with the feeling of warmth and belonging.  Over time I learned to love it and wanted it every day and was willing to do anything to get it.

When I finally quit using it I had to have something to replace that sense of belong I got from dope, gratefully I found peace and comfort in the 12 step program.  I found a network of sober friends who have embraced and supported me and that has given me the strength and courage to carry on.

When I started seeking professional help to identify my feelings and then embrace them whether those feelings were fear, doubt or love.  I had to learn to identify those feelings before I could accept them. And this program has helped me with that.  I now know that the opposite of fear is faith and this is the place I go to get my inner peace so I can be a giver of hope to people who suffer from addiction and suffer from hopelessness.  I have compassion for people who are trapped there  and I want to provide some service to them  I know now that people don’t have to live that life anymore if they are able to take a few suggestions then they can grow past their limitations.

I always had negative thoughts about myself and considered myself to be useless, worthless and no good.  I had nothing to live for and I was nothing on earth, just a useless barnacle on the bottom of the ship and that is what I saw myself as.  Flipping the script helped me take these experiences and be a good example for others.  That is my whole motivation for living today.  When I see that addict shooting dope in a doorway I know how that feels so I come up to them and engage them.  They offer me some of their heroin I thank them, tell them a little about myself and hand them my card and ask them to call me when they are ready to put the needle down so they too can move forward and get hope back in their life.  My favorite slogan is you may be but one in the world but to one you may be the world.

For me recovery was one step at a time as my life was so unmanageable that one step at a time made sense to me.  My life was so stressful that I had to put my faith in a higher power to restore me to sanity but that required turning my life and my will over to the power of God.  This required me to do a moral inventory and then share it with God and other individuals as a means of cleansing my soul.  Through this I was able to find my soul and have a conscience which I never really had before.  I went through all the things that I had done in the past and confessed and that put me in a new place where I could start with a clean slate.  So now I do a daily personal inventory and keep working on having a person relationship with God through prayer and meditation.  My life’s work is to give back to others what God so generously gave me.  I know it was God who saved me because no one in the universe could have saved me.

On the sentencing day the judge looked at me and said, you are a career criminal, you have 39 felony convictions, what can you tell me that will make me think you have changed?  I said, your honor, I am no longer the person I was.  I believe that I have a relationship with God and he has set me on a path to help others.  I think that it blew him way- I demonstrated a sense of humility and clarity that I had never before possessed.  Ok, I am going to give you a chance to remain in treatment but you are going to have to report to me personally and I want to see a progress report every 30 days. And I you fail this program I will bury you so deep into a prison cell that they will have to pump daylight in.  I agreed with the knowledge that this would be the first day of my new life.

Humility was not something I knew before.  I was so grandiose plus I had a death wish everyday and it didn’t matter to me if it was by someone else’s hand or if I with overdose but look what happened, I didn’t get my way.  It was all God, I am not my own man anymore, I am God’s man.



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