“My road to recovery was a rocky one. My wife passed away while I was in the midst of my addiction. At her funeral I was in withdrawal but I asked my mother to attend because I needed her strength. I was ashamed and confused. It was like I was the one that died and was having some kind of spiritual experience. My death experience was very painful. I cried a lot and inside I knew that I wanted to be dead too. Actually I already felt dead because my addiction was killing me every day. I knew I was ready for something big or drastic. Overdose, another trip to prison, or treatment. I’d overdosed before and I had been to prison six times but I wanted to try something new. My mother suggested treatment which I found to be the most terrifying choice of all but I promised her I would do it. I have broken promises to her before but somehow I wasn’t ready to break this one.
Being in prison is a lot like being a heroin addict, you don’t have enough choice but I was determined to be a person who was not incarcerated and not on heroin. A woman came to speak at our treatment program who spent years as a heroin addict and time in prison. She was out now had been clean for 12 years. I made up my mind that I wanted to be like her. She told us when you get out of this program don’t go home and pet your dog or go kiss your girl friend. Go straight to a AA meeting and then keeping going to them. Sometimes I went to three meetings a day just so that my mind would be occupied and I wouldn’t fall back into the old stuff cause I’d been using heroin for 21 years.
Opiate addiction is a living hell you know what I mean. The things you do, the degradation you sink to and it’s just a dank, dark, dirty, dreary place. I spent my first year out of prison constantly going to meetings and reflecting on my life. While I was using I committed felonies to get money to buy heroin and then I would be back in prison. I never really reflected on how severe my problem was. Fortunately for me I had a praying mother who stuck with me through all this and when I did get clean we developed a spiritual bond that got stronger with time. I was the oldest child and my other brothers never got into drugs or crime. I realized later that I should be dead after all the things that I put myself through but I believe that God had another purpose for me.
I have never relapsed and I know that it is rare. I don’t put myself on a pedestal but I always let people in meetings know that if I could get clean than anyone can. I was a back in the alley door way dope fiend with six trips to the pen. I am not better than anyone but I did it!
When I was in prison I dreaded getting out into the world and conforming. I didn’t want to go find a job and settle down. But when I got sober I started seeing things a different way and I found meaning and purpose in life. Now I work two jobs, I go to meetings 4-5 times a week and my son has never seen me drunk or high once. I am just dealing with life on life’s terms and I use my recovery to deal with whatever happens.
I believe that I have changed because of the work that I put into developing a deeper spiritual connection with a higher power. Addiction keeps you from having that relationship. I feel like the foundation that I built to working the steps, doing the work that is outlined in the big book helped save my life. I mean today it is Life 101. I would rather do it sober, I would rather help people. After I was five years clean I lost my father, an uncle, and a child. That would have been the perfect excuse for me to use again but I didn’t.”