Tony from Bakersfield, CA continued...
When I was 16, I ended up in a protective custody facility. While there, I met a girl named Jennifer. She was from Louisiana and wanted to move back. There was nothing keeping me here so I went with her. I was drinking heavily and selling marijuana to friends and neighbors. Selling marijuana eventually led me to sell other drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and prescription pills such as Oxycontin. At this point, I started using my own stash instead of selling it. I was in a lot of debt with the dealers and one even put a gun to my head. So instead of killing me he beat me up and robbed me. I didn’t stop selling drugs or using them. It felt like I was invincible.
About a week later, after being robbed, I took two methadone pills, a half bottle of Jagermeister, a couple of ecstasy pills, a couple of Xanax bars, and smoked about a half ounce of marijuana all at once. Soon after, my neighbors were banging on the door of my upstairs condo because my music was too loud but I was unconscious and could not answer. When my girlfriend came home from her shift she found me blue-faced and unresponsive. I died for a few seconds. The paramedics used a defibrillator and brought me back to life. Next thing I knew I was looking at bright white lights and thought I was in heaven but it was only the ceiling lights of the hospital hallway.
Between being in the Louisiana Memorial Hospital and a California Hospital I was in a coma for six months. The state of Louisiana wanted to pull the plug and put my organs in a donor list. But being a California resident they had no control over what happened to my body. When I woke up I was scared and didn’t know where I was. I soon found out I was not able to walk because I received a brain stem injury which is loss of oxygen to the brain caused by the drug overdose.
I remained in the hospital for about three more years. I even had my 18th birthday in the hospital. I was relieved to finally leave the hospital and move to an adult residential facility, in Bakersfield, CA, where I’ve lived since 2006.
If you can take anything away from my experiences the one thing I hope you all learn is that although drugs appears to be fun and helps you cope with whatever you are going through, the truth is, drugs will ultimately destroy you, your family, loved ones, and great opportunities and some of you have probably experienced what I’ve gone through.
Although I’m all alone as far as family is concerned, I have some staff at home that are good friends with me. They take me out to play at video arcades and to the movies. I also work at an agency called Business Builders that helps those like me in areas of self- improvement skills, public speaking so I can share my story to help others in hopes of changing their lives. I just want all of you to know that drugs are very controlling and once you get to a certain point it’s very hard to let go. Take it from a guy who has used and abused most drugs. Drugs aren’t prejudiced they don’t care what race, religion, age, or gender you are they will take over and destroy what you love. I lost my father, grandfather, brother, best friend and his father all because of drugs and drinking. I wish you readers all the best in your recovery. Thank you for reading, Tony Patton.
Mother's Perspective from Cleveland, OH
I wish I never had to say the words “heroin addiction” again. Now that my daughter is on the path to sobriety, I would like to put behind me the experience of watching her battle heroin addictions and all the feelings of fear, confusion, shock, hopelessness, anger, sadness and anxiety that go with it.
I still haven’t completely lost the vague feeling of dread that comes every time the phone rings, but there is peace in our lives again. No more visits to treatment facilities or jails or courtrooms or probation officers. It would so easy to never have to think about it again. But, I cannot do that. Every week, I hear about another death from heroin or prescription opiate overdose.
This past weekend, it hit close to home, the mother of one of my daughter’s friends made the tragic and sorrowful decision to pull the plug for her son; he was in a heroin-induced coma for five days, but there was no brain activity and she said she was ready to hand his soul to God. That could have been me having to say good bye to my own child – that was a possibility every time my daughter put a needle somewhere in her body, and yet it wasn’t. There by the grade of God go I.
So I cannot in good conscience put the experience behind me when I know there are moms who do get the horrible phone calls and do have to make those gut-wrenching decisions and do walk in a room and find their child’s lifeless body. And there is also the grieving and loss experienced by dads, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sons, daughters, fiancés and spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends, teachers and classmates, friends too young to have to attend funerals for so many of their contemporaries. It is important not to deny that this issue exists in places where such things did not exist before.
It is important to train professionals that are tasked with managing this addict population – police, jail staff, Judges, attorneys, probation officers, assessment specialists, drug counselors, case managers, nurses, doctors, ER personnel. It is important to share information and collaborate- our time is not well spent in duplicating efforts and reinventing the wheel. It is important to train the professionals that educate and guide our young people- school administrators, principals, teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, school nurses. It is important to have a well-informed community. It is essential to make sure that our legislators, local, state and federal, know the scope of this epidemic. The must know about our urgent need for more resources for law enforcement, for treatment, for community control supervision, for prevention.
And it is important that the overworked and overwhelmed individuals that work with the addict population have a chance to voice their concerns, to share information, to receive relevant training, to brainstorm possible solutions, to receive timely feedback on the impact of our current strategies and protocols and the opportunity to revise and adjust those strategies and protocols when they do not produce the desired effect, to have access to necessary resources and to be given support and guidance to process the increased experience of loss that has become so characteristic of this epidemic.
Bob, from Columbus Ohio
Hi, they call me Boomer. I’m a 26 year old dude, and waiting to see the judge. Man, I am so sick of waiting. I have wasted so much of my life waiting- like time waiting for my dealers. Some come fast, like, in two or three minutes. Others keep you waiting for like, an hour or two. I can’t believe how much time I wasted chasing drugs.
It started in school. It’s your friends, ya know? If they do shit, you
kinda go along. We started with beer and pot. I really got a good buzz,
Then, it didn’t work that good, so I tried pain killers. At first, I got them for free by taking old prescription drugs from my family and friend’s medicine cabinets. The high was so much better! Vicodin and Percocet- it’s all good. Oxy was the best, when it was cheap. I used to be able to get like 40 milligrams for $25. Then the price went up. It was like $30, and sometimes even $35. That’s really a lot of money for a high that didn’t last very long..
So I switched to Fentanyl patches. Dude, that was a great high for a
c-note! It lasted a lot longer. But, that was getting expensive, and I
didn’t really feel good most of the time. It was getting really hard to
pay for it.
After a while, I didn’t even get high on the patches, and it was so expensive- I couldn’t find the money anymore. So, yeah, I sold a little to friends, and added on a little extra. After all, I was the one facing a felony if I get caught carrying, or buying them from my dealer.
I switched to heroin about three years ago, cuz it was cheaper. One bag was about $10. When I could afford it, I bought like, 8 bags at once. That way, if I got caught, I only had to swallow one bag instead of eight.
My Mom was cool. She didn’t really figure out how often I was using. When I couldn’t hide it, I just told her we drank a little too much and I was hung over. She didn’t have much money or good stuff, so I couldn’t really take anything from home to sell. Dealers would sometimes take stuff like electronics they could use. But we just didn’t have anything they wanted. So, I ended up stealing stuff from new girlfriends or out of cars.
Well, then I started getting in trouble. I was arrested, like, four times for stupid stuff because I couldn’t think right when I was high. The one time was really lame.
Like, I was driving out in the sticks, lots of hills and no traffic. All of a sudden, this asshole comes out of nowhere and was right on my butt, so I speed up to lose him. Next thing I know, I see the blue lights flashing. The cop says I was speeding. It was only a 35 mph zone, so it was a set up. They searched the car and found a bowl. Thank god my friend threw the bag out the window before they stopped us. I was lucky. I got off with community control and had to go see a drug counselor. She (TJ) didn’t really stop me. She would tell me to do stuff, and I told her I did. It was all good for a while, and then it got really bad.
Since high school, I have spent all of my time hustling cash and waiting for drug dealers. It didn’t even feel good anymore. You just really need it all the time, or you get really sick.
Man, I must have $12,000 in these two mainers. What a waste. I tried rehab, like three times. Outpatient just doesn’t work for me, and I couldn’t find a treatment center with an available bed.
I’m on Suboxone now. It is really, really great! It keeps you from getting high. I could have, like an $800 pile of heroin, and it wouldn’t matter, you can’t get high. I gotta do detox again before I go in. Too bad I gotta go to Franklin county jail. It’s a really bad jail. You’re trying to get clean, and the only thing you got to look forward to is eating, and they serve this rotten prison food. It’s hard. Last time, I got caught was lucky, cause it was in Dublin. Dublin jail serves much better food, kind of like a hospital, you know, where you get to pick stuff, and they have a spot for me in the rehab clinic next week.
Drugs really suck, man. You lose all the friends that don’t use. It’s all about friends. If your friends are using, believe me, someday you will, too.
Rachel from Cleveland, Ohio
Hi, my name is Rachel, and I’m an alcoholic and an addict. Today, 7-23-10, I have 11 months of sobriety, and life has gotten so much better since I got sober! But before that happened…I obsessed about substances, which led me to drinking alcohol and using drugs, which started the phenomenon of craving, which led to an insatiable appetite for more of whatever substance(s) I was putting in my body. The whole process made me irritable, restless, and discontent.
My partying began in middle school, when I started to feel awkward, out of place, and extremely nervous. It wouldn’t be until years later that I found out that the nervousness was actually panic attacks. I remember having a few friends over for a sleep over and sneaking beer and wine coolers out of my parents’ basement fridge out for us to pass around and enjoy. I don’t consider this as my “first drunk.”
My first drunk was the summer before high school started. I had been dating a boy, who lived about 45 minutes away from my house, but my mom would drive me out there, and he would take me home sometimes. He was older than me, and I thought I was “in love.” When he broke up with me, I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do to get rid of the feelings I was feeling, to stop the tears from rushing out of my eyes. So, I decided to get drunk. I chugged down about 5-6 beers and wine coolers, plus some cooking sherry (here’s a recommendation: don’t try that at home, or ever) within maybe an hour, an hour and a half, and I was hammered. I thought I had learned a valuable lesson though, alcohol fixed my problems; it was my best friend, my shoulder to cry on, and would carry me through my rough patches.
I became addicted to multiple substances; clinically I was diagnosed as being addicted to cocaine and heroin, but I know that alcohol is what started it all, and I am definitely an alcoholic. I knew I had a problem with drinking when I had to lie to parents about what I was doing and where I was going. Also, when I had to sneak out to go get wasted. Also, when I had several blackouts and didn’t remember anything that happened the night before. Also, when I would drink until I passed out. Also, I would do things that I regretted the next day and was embarrassed about. I could go on and on, but those are some reasons why I know I’m an alcoholic.
I know I’m addicted to cocaine, because I did things to get it that I never thought I would do. Also, my nose would bleed day after day, but I would blow my nose, and continue to snort it, not caring about what I was doing to my body. Also, I weighed 90 lbs. Also, I flunked out of college because I was doing too much blow. Again, I could go on and on, but I know I’m addicted to cocaine.
I know I’m addicted to heroin, because again, I did things to get it that I never thought I would do, and I hung out with people that I never thought I would. Also, I started shooting up. Also, I went through all of my money in my bank account to get it. Also, because I constantly lied to my parents about where I was going, and what I was doing when I was going to go get it; and also I lied to them about what I was doing with my money. Also, I got really sick when I didn’t have it. Also, I put myself in dangerous situations to get it. There are more reasons, but I know I’m a heroin addict.
Addiction gave me those constant mental obsessions when I didn’t have those substances in my body and those cravings when I did have them in my body. Either way, I was irritable, restless, and discontent. I was constantly wanting more of whatever substance I was doing at the time-sometimes 2 at a time, sometimes all 3! When I was in throes of addiction, I felt like God had abandoned me, like it was His entire fault for everything that went wrong in my life. I said the “Oh Shit Prayers” quite often, too, but none of them seemed to work (“Oh Shit Prayers” are when you’re in a bind and you pray that God will help you out just this once, or you bargain that if God helps you out this time, you won’t do drugs/alcohol again, stuff like that), which just made me even more pissed off at God, because I didn’t think he even listened or gave a shit about me. I also wasn’t there for my family and my real good friends. I hurt them. Addiction did these things to me, but so much more -- I could go on for hours…
I funded my addiction through various ways. Often times, I hung out with people who had certain substances, because they would share them with me. So I basically used them. That was usually when I ran out of my own drugs/alcohol. Since I got sober before I was old enough to legally drink, and because it seems like older people have better connections to drugs, I usually hung out with people who were older than myself; again I was basically using them for their connections.
Last summer, 2009, I had become resigned to the fact that I was going to die. Because I kept passing out when I shot up, I became used to the idea that I would shoot up one time soon and just pass out and never wake up again. But then one day, I just looked at my mom and saw the look of concern and love on her face and really noticed it for the first time in a long time, and for some reason it broke through the shell of icy, hard, unloving, uncaring, cruelness the drugs and alcohol had created around me. I wanted to live. After that, we called UH in Cleveland. I signed up for rehab. It wasn’t long until I was in rehab and in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Treatment was hard. They took me off of my anxiety meds and that withdrawal, on top of the heroin withdrawal and everything else, was really hard. It took me a long time until I started feeling good. But I did everything they asked of me. Treatment wasn’t fun, but I completed it successfully.
Now that I’m in recovery, life has blossomed for me, into something so beautiful that I could have never seen it coming. Not only am I healthy and content in life and sobriety, but I’m also helping other young girls. It’s such an amazing feeling to be able to give back to another drunk/druggie like me. My relationships with my family have gotten better. I even made the Dean’s List in school last semester. I’m involved in some different young peoples’ A.A. groups which are a lot of fun! They are called YPAA. The one in Ohio is called OYPAA. Now that I have found a group of young people in A.A., I feel like I belong. It’s like having a second family. I have a sense of inner peace and a relationship with a Higher Power, One that I call God. It’s an honor to be asked to be of service in any possible way, such as being asked to write my story, and I thank you for this opportunity, and I thank you for taking the time to read my story.
Wanna Get High (Is it worth it?) Dylan from Reno, Nevada
The rush, the intensity, the wave of emoting so overwhelming and so amazing, it makes you want more and more just to feel the same way, like you never want to come down from the cloud. Pain pills, ecstasy, cocaine, acid cough syrup, Xanax, bath salts, and triple C’s the most amazing drugs known to man. Easy to access, easy take, easy to feel nothing and everything at the same time.
I am not only talking about the good things about drugs, but also the come down: the agonizing pain, nausea, sickness, and heartache. Drugs we take for fun at a party or with just some friends. Oh no, it may start like that, but it does not end like that. At least not for me it didn’t.
The first drug I ever did for a recreation was pain pills, but I had been doing them two years prior for a back injury. I started do them after graduating high school. I hung out with friends who were snorting them, and they always talked about how great it made them feel, and how they didn't have a care in the world while being high. I refused every time they asked if I wanted a line or two
Until one day, I was just so pissed at the world, so mad about life, that I just didn’t care anymore. Between the fights with my mom, the pain of always dealing with her self-loathing BS about how her life sucks, and how she is always miserable. Dealing with the pain of never seeing my daughter, it was starting to wear me down, so I caved that night.
We were sitting in an apartment a few buddies lived in at the time in Sun Valley; we were sitting on tiers in the living room because they were moving we had just bought a bunch of pain pills just before going over there. We grabbed the big round glass table top and crushed the pills, used a card to make the lines. We made the lines. My buddy is the first to take his lines, he looks at me “Hey Dyla,n want to finally take a line?” I was so pissed my judgement was bad I said “Hell yeah, pass that s*&%.” I grab the table top, sniff and the powder goes from the table into the tooter, into my nose, and to the back of my throat. It’s a bitter not so appealing taste so I take a swig of power aid the bitter taste is gone. I start to feel it about a minute or two later. It feels nice... no pain and my mind is no longer going a million miles an hour... life was good. I snorted about 7-10 lines that night and my buddy told me to slow down or I would get sick. I get home and throw up because I did snort a little more then I should have.
After that night it was a downhill slope. The use went up. I had to take more to get the same high. Little did I know I would always be chasing that first high, but I would never have it again. Any time DGAF (what we called our self) would get together that’s what we would do: someone would buy the pills and we all would participate in the use. It was never just one person buying them, every one would pitch in at one point or another.
We would snort some lines then go down town Reno and walk around Circus Circus. After we when and did our pointless walk we would go somewhere and drink, play beer pong or a card game. Waking up was the worst, because when you wake up after drinking and snorting pills the hangover is a little too intense or you wake up still drunk and high it all depends on when you wake up.
As the use went up, people got selfish with what they had because if they share with anyone else, the less they will have for themselves. It was not just one person, it was everyone. No one wanted to kick it anymore because no one had anything. We were all using each other. People fell out of the group and people became shut off and flaky. No one would show up anymore, or they say they would and just not show up.
I was up to about 80 pain killers ranging from 5mg’s up to 30mg’s. It didn’t matter, anything to make the pain go away. I would steal them from my mom or step-dad any chance I got, or I would take a few here and there from the amount I was selling for people who I will not name.
I got married and said I will stop taking
the pills when I get back to Washington, but I didn’t I let myself
become dependent on the pain pills like how am I going to get through
the day without a pain pill my back will hurt so bad. I started to mix
different pain pills together to make them last longer, but yet it was
never enough. Pain pills were not my only problem, a big one yes, but
not the only one.
We would do our drugs [Xanax, Ecstasy, cocaine, Triple C's] and pretty much whatever drink, do more dugs, go downtown. Anything goes when you’re in the world of drugs: lying, stealing, and cheating, but what you never do, EVER is stab your drug family in the back. There are serious consequences for doing so. When you're high on coke or pills or anything, you don’t give two s&%#’s who it is, if they stab you in the back, they better watch their own back, because their world is about to be rocked in ways you don’t want.
Cough syrup (Triple Cs) has the same effect because it actually has alcohol in it, but kids these days cant stand the taste of cough syrup alone, so we mix it with 7up to make the taste a bit bearable, but it still taster like crap. This is what we call getting slithered. It’s a saying used in a lot of rap music these days that almost every teen listen’s to so if the stars are doing it why shouldn’t we? They can say it nationally that getting slithered is okay to do and we listen.
I can sit and talk and talk about how great drugs are and how much better they make life, but the truth is no matter how high you get, the problems are still there wether you want them to be or not. The drugs also have long term damage they do.
Pain killer are really addictive that is no lie, no matter how much you feel like you have your use under control you’re wrong. The drug takes over your life before you know it soon your stealing from friends family your becoming distant from the world you’re not the person you use to be.
You think you won’t get addicted because of how strong you are when in reality it’s not a strength or moral thing that can stop the addiction... only you can. I will be honest I always wanted to die from a pill overdose because at least I died doing something I enjoyed, but in reality I am far too young to even think about dying. I have been there I have done that yes being high is fun as hell it does not get better than that, but no one ever thinks about what happens if you run out? “Well I’ll just go get more, Okay and if you can’t find any more? Um…. I am not sure, but it does not matter I am not addicted I can stop whenever I want.” Those last words are all too common “I can quit whenever I want” true, but it’s that big part no one ever sees. You have to want to stop or you can go ahead and lie to yourself and others if you don’t want to quit you’re not going to and that’s final no matter how much rehab and support you have if YOU don’t want to quit it won’t happen.
Say you finally decide to quit well good on you, but you have a rough road ahead of you. Easier said than done. That’s a fact, the first two weeks of detoxing on my own without rehab were awful. I was in constant pain, bad diarrhea, panic attack after panic attack, runny nose, fever, hot sweats, cold chills, and mentally screwed. I knew if I took a pain killer all of that would go away, but I had also not taken any for two weeks so I could over dose very easy. It was the fear of being dead that has kept me away from them. I cut off everyone I ever did them with, or bought them from. I was never worried about disappointing anyone because the people who I should have been the most afraid of disappointing were supplying me with the pills so why care It was the fear of how easily I could be dead that made me truly want to stop. I had a great support system between my wife who knows almost nothing about drugs, her family, and a childhood friend and his mom they really helped me pull threw on the detoxing letting me know that when the detox was done it was recovery and with a good support system you can stay off pills no matter how bad you want them. So is it worth it?
Pills such as Xanax are too easy to come by kids
steal them from their parents, grandparents, and even friends so if you
have to hurt the ones you love you have to ask yourself “is it worth
I have talked about drugs I have personally done, and the consequences they have. I know there are a lot more drugs out there I could talk about, but I didn’t do them so I am not going to even try and pretend I know how they feel, but with all these amazing drugs out there and hearing what they can and ultimately will do to you, the only question I have to ask
Is it worth it?
Merry from Fairport Harbor, Ohio
I never really fit in. I never cared about it until I transferred schools in sixth grade. I was a major tom boy, and I had only two friends that went to that school and they were just like me. But all the other kids in my class looked at me the first day I walked in, kind-of like shock on their faces because, I felt, I wasn’t what they were expecting. It was a small school and never had that many new students. That’s when I realized that I didn’t fit in. No one talked to me, except for the two friends I had, and I made one friend throughout that year, which was the first person I smoked with.
I grew out of the tom boy style and gained new friends, but I didn’t grow out of the attitude and everyone kind-of looked at me as a bad influence, except for parents, because they didn’t know how I was. I never had the attitude of caring about how people felt after what I did, only on how they felt about me.
The reason I started using was not out of curiosity. I didn’t know a thing about drugs. It’s actually ironic; about a month before I started using, I came upon a large amount of weed. I took the bag to ask my friend if it was drugs, and I was not the least bit curious on what it could do to me. I was more afraid. Then one day, when I was eleven, my friend and I were bored. She asked if I wanted to smoke some of her dad’s weed. We made a poorly made homemade bong and smoked that night. I felt it was the best night of my life. So many crazy things happened, and we slept outside on her next door neighbors’ picnic table.
I don’t think that’s when I became addicted, I mean, I did smoke all the
time, but I didn’t put that first. I put family stuff first, and my
other friends. I just didn’t mind doing it. I got in trouble and stopped
because it was making my life very chaotic, and because of the pills I
was taking for my bipolar disorder, I stopped using for two years
afterwards. My parents had found it in my room and I was on probation.
It didn’t cross my mind once to use. I had a great life with all the
friends I had that didn’t do drugs or drink.
Then I went back to Fairport, my hometown, after two years, and my old friend asked if I wanted to smoke with him and his friends. There began my addiction. I didn’t notice until my mom found out again, and I went to a small IOP [Intensive Outpatient Program] Program. I couldn’t control my life; everything revolved around partying, and my mom was the only one out of all my friends’ parents that didn’t accept it. I couldn’t party as I wanted to, and I couldn’t just ask for money to get it or just say “Hey, I’m going over here,” and my mom accept it.
So I lied about everything I did, and where I went. Afterwards, she took all of those resources away. I had to find other ways to get money, and I needed to get the money to show my friends that I could supply as well to gain the acceptance of them. I had a great amount of respect from all of my friends, and I felt that was the best feeling. But my family couldn’t stand me and I didn’t realize it.
I tried multiple times to quit because I was tired of lying and hiding it. But finally, I stayed sober for about 7 months. I relapsed after 7 months of sobriety, because I felt nothing was worth it if I wasn’t getting better like my counselor had promised. I got clean again, but the withdrawal for me was mood swings, and I got out of control and punched a hole in the wall. My mom and my sister told me a few days later that I was going to get an assessment for residential treatment. My life felt uncontrollable again. I thought everything was fine. I didn’t think I had a problem. My only problem was them not letting me live the life I wanted, to just be left alone.
When I went to rehab, I was pissed, but I wasn’t sad. I was happy to be away from my family that I felt betrayed me. Then it all hit me--I never heard of A.A. [Alcoholics Anonymous] and N.A. [Narcotics Anonymous] before. I did all of this treatment work that taught me so much. I only thought about all the good times I had, but never the bad, and I had so much more badly than bad. I realized how much I hurt everyone around me, including my friends not just family. It was the best and worst thing I had come to see because it made me want to be sober and do things that help myself in a positive way, that helps my family trust me and want to be around me.
I’m still the life of the party with my sober friends. I’m still the person that makes everyone laugh, and now I can make my mom laugh. I can talk with her about things, and not feel she’s going to punish me because we have a better bond. My sister, who I never thought I would talk to and have a good relationship with, is what we’re working towards. We spend at least a day together a week. And most of all, I’m happy with who I’ve become, I’m more assertive, I’m more open minded and I can accept people and their choices. I don’t judge as much as I used to, and I care, most of all I care about people, myself and things. I can’t be happier with the freedom I have.
But I still know I can have my ball and chain back any day. It all depends on the choices I make.
Sonia from the Bronx, New York
I couldn’t believe my ears! I
had made up my mind that it was time to get clean. As a first-time
offender, I qualified for the city Drug Court program. I could avoid a
criminal record, jail time, and get clean.
And here was this Drug Court judge saying, “We don’t take your kind.”
How did I end up like this? I never touched drugs or alcohol growing up. My father was a member of the Cuban Bautista military, and worked very hard under communist Cuba for our family’s passage to the United States. We moved to The Bronx. My three siblings and I were expected to follow the rules. Only Spanish was spoken in our home.
I am not your typical-looking Cuban Latina woman, and I had a tough time at school. I was just trying to fit in. So, when my friends tried alcohol and drugs, I did too. It led me to my favorite drug: crack cocaine. Later in life, I married a man who was also an addict. I don’t know how we stayed together for over 24yrs. and raised three wonderful children. I never used in front of the kids. I always did drugs in the bathroom. They could never quite understand how I was so different when I would come back out I went from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. It was a rough marriage. I kicked my husband out many times. Every time he lost his job, because of the drug using, and couldn’t help pay the bills, he was out!!
Somehow, I worked the entire time I was addicted. I always paid for my own drugs. I switched to heroin when I couldn’t afford crack. I have tried to get clean before. In fact, I used Methadone to try to get off heroin. At that time, I still used other drugs, though. That Friday, I was out trying to score dope. When you are an addict, you spend all your time trying to score drugs. Coming down is very bad. You do anything to avoid the pain of withdraw.
Anyway, I couldn’t afford crack, so I had some heroin. I was driving along the street when I heard sirens. I looked up in the rear view mirror, and saw flashing lights. I was shocked. I got stopped. I tried to hide the dope, but it slipped off my lap, and I couldn’t find it.
The police officer found it, though. He found heroin and methadone. He arrested me! I was taken to jail. After all these years of using, I finally got caught! I had never been in jail before. I cried my eyes out, locked in that cell for the entire weekend. Don’t ask, just take my advice: Never cry when you go to jail. I was scared and going through withdrawal. I thank God that a very kind county jailer decided to let me get medicated over the week-end jail stay.
Monday morning, a wonderful public defender was standing beside me before the Drug Court judge. That’s when he said it. The judge said he wouldn’t take me. I was shocked! Drug Court had never before taken a person on methadone. After much pleading by the public defender, the judge gave me a chance. I had to go to detox immediately to get off the methadone.
I spent seven days in a hospital detox unit in absolute agony. In those days, you went cold turkey. They gave you sugar pills and told you it was methadone. I can’t even tell you how bad it was. The minute I got out, I went and bought some heroin to ease the pain. I was so afraid the judge would send me to jail, when I told him what I did.
Maybe he liked my honesty. I think he understood that the disease of addiction was helping me make bad choices. Anyway, the judge let me stay in the program, and wean off of the methadone much more slowly. Don’t get on methadone. It is a very bad drug. One of my assignments at Drug Court was to do research on it. That’s where I learned that this drug was invented by Adolf Hitler. Need I say any more?
My husband has been clean for nine years. I have been clean for six. My children have turned out great. It’s hard to believe, because the entire family suffers along with the addict. The good news is that the entire family gets to recover, too. We have three children: one son in college majoring in account, a daughter with a degree who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy, and the oldest girl, a nurse in ICU.
There is physical, long term damage from using drugs. My stomach is never very good, I have acid reflux, and my bones ache. Sometimes, I have a hard time remembering things and I lost all my teeth. My older sister died an alcoholic at the age of 45. Believe me, addiction kills!!
Here is my advice to judges, police, family and bosses: Tough love is the only answer. No one stops, until they face real consequences for using drugs. You aren’t helping anyone by letting it slide.
I credit my recovery to God and Drug Court. Working the program at NA (Narcotics Anonymous) led me back to sobriety and God. The twelve step program saved my life. God really did have a plan the day He sent that policeman to arrest me.
I hope you learn from my story, and understand that the drugs will never make you fit in. They will never make you happy. I am a Christian who attends church regularly. God bless you!
Tiffany from Lake County, Ohio
As a child and teenager, I never touched alcohol or drugs. I was a very
serious athlete and more concerned about my soccer career than fitting
in with others. I earned a scholarship to play soccer at Tiffin
That's when the partying began. It was mostly a lot of weekend drinking, and usually off-season is when it got really out of control. It was in college where I began to indulge in marijuana.
Once I graduated, I fell in love with this young man who introduced me to cocaine. After about a year and a half of that, he felt like he needed to go back to Toronto, where he originated and where his family was. He left me, and I felt alone and heartbroken so I continued to numb my pain with cocaine and other drugs here and there, such as Meth, pills, and pot.
At age 23 I landed myself in my very first drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. It was in Lake County at Oak House, which is part of Lake Geauga Center for Drug and Alcohol addictions. I went to AA, CA, and NA meetings and was sober for a year and a half until I relapsed on a drug that I had never done before - heroin.
I shot heroin for 6 months and knew that I needed to go back to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. I went to Turning Point in Ashtabula and had maintained sobriety until this past May.
In May I met people, who I befriended and that lived upstairs from me, who smoked crack-cocaine. I didn't want to use crack, but since I hadn't been going to meetings or praying or anything else they teach you in AA to continue to do I slipped. And soon found myself sliding down that slippery slope. It only took two months until my life was in shambles.
By the end of July I had gotten beat, robbed, taken advantage of, raped, and facing felony charges due to possession of illegal substances. I spent 4 days in Cleveland City Jail - totally outside of my element and not a person who had ever been to jail. I was so scared…of many things.
The judge sentenced me to drug court and I was given a blessing, an opportunity to start over. At this time I am staying at a home for individuals who are homeless and mentally ill. They are doing many thing s to help me get my life back on track. I go to a meeting everyday - most of the time - and have a sponsor and many other people in my support group.
I love my new life and am blessed that I no longer have the craving to do drugs.
Dale, from Chardon, Ohio
When I was growing up, there was always alcohol around. It was accepted to have alcohol at every function; from parties to every night at the dinner table. But that’s not why I drank. I drank because of the feeling it gave me. It was early in my high school days, and people were starting to experiment with alcohol and drugs. It was more likely peer pressure and wanting to fit in that lead me to do it, than my self-consciously wanting to try it.
Two friends and I thought it would be a good idea to get a couple of 40’s [beer] and get drunk. So we proceeded to do so. We lied about where we were going and what we were doing, met up at night at a softball field, opened the bottles, and started drinking; a few minutes later something happened. I started to get drunk. A feeling like I have never felt before came over me. I was finally comfortable in my own skin. I loved the feeling and lived for it.
Very shortly afterwards, my grades dropped, I quit sports, and started hanging out with different people; people who liked drinking and doing drugs like me. I became heavily addicted to alcohol very soon. At age 14, right before I turned 15, I was drinking a bottle of vodka a day or whatever alcohol I could get a hold of. I thought about alcohol constantly, where I was going to get my next drink, how I was going to get it, and where the next party was.
Alcohol was readily available to me at my house and I became friends with older people so that they would buy it for me. I’d sell drugs to pay for my alcohol, steal money from parents, family, and friends, or just simply steal booze from my parents if I needed to. Sometimes I’d drink by myself at my house. I was noticing how it was changing my attitude and I didn’t care about anything. Family and friends started to notice and tried to get me help, but I didn’t want to hear it. I thought I was fine. Mom tried getting me into rehab, but I wouldn’t go. Friends didn’t want me around when I was drunk.
That lasted for a while, then it was homecoming night of my sophomore year, and a friend was having a party and needed alcohol, so of course I had to get it, because I’m a people pleaser. I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I had an older kid drive me to a convenient store. I had all the intent to just steal the booze, but I didn’t tell him that. I had him drive me there; I walked in and ran out with 2 cases of beer. I went back to the party and was very happy, opened a beer and started to drink, and then 3 police cars came down the driveway and arrested me.
I went to jail and then shortly after to court. I was 15 and my mom was to decide my punishment: either DH or rehab; and she chose rehab. I knew I had a serious problem. So I wanted to quit. I was in an IOP [Intensive Out-Patient] program and a requirement was to attend AA meetings. At this same time, I got kicked out of my high school and had to go to an alternative school. I got sober and started to get my life together. I attended meetings and stayed sober.
That lasted a year and a half, but I stopped doing the things they suggested to me. I wasn’t working steps and started slacking on meetings and eventually I got drunk again. The next 5 years were literal hell of drinking and extreme heavy drug abuse. Every day was a mess of liquor, cocaine, and heroin addiction. Thank God for my family, because I could have cared less if I lived or died, but they did. My family and co-workers had an intervention on me. They cared more about me than I did.
They suggested I went to rehab and so I did. That was a little over 3 ½ years ago now and my life has never been so great. I have a sponsor, attend meetings regularly, and work the 12 steps. I’ve become responsible and accountable in life. I’m finally a happy person and I am comfortable with myself. I don’t have to worry about going to jail or worry about the crazy life I was living. I wish I had listened a little better and done as A.A. was suggested to me when I was 15. But long story short, A.A. has saved my life and has made me a decent person; not the selfish person I used to be. And I’ve never been as happy before as I am today.
Terry from Cleveland, Ohio
I believe I had all the characteristics of an alcoholic long before I ever picked up a drink or a drug. As a child I always felt out of place; I felt like I just didn’t fit in. I was never comfortable in my own skin and was full of insecurities and fear.
I was 15 when I first got high/drunk and all those bad feelings went away. I found the answer I had been looking for. For the first time in my life I felt satisfied, I felt free. Alcohol and drugs were my new found solution. I believe I was an alcoholic waiting to happen.
At first I was just smoking weed daily and drinking on the weekends but my disease quickly progressed. One day I stumbled across a bottle of painkillers and decided I’d try one to see what it felt like. I loved the buzz. The weed and the alcohol were alright but painkillers really made me feel good. I was 16 when I first tried painkillers. I liked the buzz so much it scared me. I told myself I was going to wait at a month before I did them again. The next day I was going back for more.
What started out as a mental obsession soon became a physical necessity. If I didn’t have painkillers I would be sick and couldn’t function. This is where my addiction really took off. Eventually the Vicodin and Percocet weren’t really doing the trick anymore. I had heard of this drug called Oxycontin and I knew a friend that had some but I was afraid to try it because of its highly addictive nature. It didn’t take much convincing on my friends part before I decided to try Oxycontin. WOW! What a buzz. I wanted more and I chased that feeling for the next 9 years.
My disease rapidly progressed and by the time I was 18, I was shooting heroin. I had told myself that I would never touch heroin or needles, but as I continued to get worse my morals and values went out the window. I would do anything for a fix. I began to lie, cheat, and steal to get drugs. I would take advantage of everyone in my life. I hated myself and the person I was becoming but I couldn’t stop. I tried and tried to get sober but I could never make it more than a couple days. Eventually the crippling depression, mental obsession, and physical sickness became too overwhelming and I would succumb to my addiction.
Words can’t even explain the helplessness that I felt. I knew I had to get sober but I just couldn’t do it. I decided to head down to Florida for a couple weeks in the hopes of kicking my addiction. I figured if I got out of town and away from my connections long enough to beat the withdrawal I might have a fighting chance at staying sober. I felt like this was my last chance.
I managed to stay sober for two weeks when I returned home. Eventually the cravings got to me and I gave in. I couldn’t believe I was doing this again. I had told myself that I was done and I meant it. I didn’t realize how powerful my addiction was and that I couldn’t fight it alone.
I entered rehab and learned about this thing called A.A. I felt hope for the first time. I saw people who were actually staying sober and they said it was because of A.A. I decided to give it a try. I started going to meetings when I got out of rehab but I wouldn’t take any suggestions. Within a short time I was getting high and drinking again. I continued to use for two years and when I was 20 I entered rehab again. This time I was more willing to follow suggestions. I managed to stay sober for a year, but I slowly stopped going to meetings and working steps. I thought I had a handle on things now and I had myself convinced that I could go out and party one night and that would be it. One night turned into four years of hell.
For someone like me, there is no such thing as one time. The minute I pick up a drink or a drug I set the wheels in motion and I can’t stop. Over the course of the next four years things got really bad. I was trying to balance my addiction and college at the same time and my addiction was winning.
Eventually I dropped out of college and moved back home with my mom. She put up with me for a couple months and couldn’t take it anymore. I woke up one morning and she told me I had to leave. I had nowhere to go. No one wanted anything to do with me anymore. I heard about a halfway house in Cleveland that was free and had helped a lot of people get sober so I decided to go. It was the last thing I wanted to do but I didn’t have many options. It was either there or under a bridge. I am happy to say I have been sober ever since.
I am 25 and have been sober a little over a year. The fog is just starting to clear and I am beginning to realize the miracle of my sobriety. The obsession to use has been removed from me and I am reasonably happy today. I have my family back, I have some amazing friends, and I have freedom for the first time in my life. I am no longer a slave to alcohol and drugs and that is only because of A.A. and a God of my understanding.
Brett from Cleveland, Ohio
A Kid That Just Couldn’t Accept it
I felt like I didn’t fit in. I felt less than, and I felt that I was always by myself as a kid. To me I was the black sheep of all my friends. I was always in trouble; a liar, cheat and a thief from the start. My childhood was one big mess of emotions that I didn’t know how to deal with, fears that I didn’t know I had. Then things changed, and I found my solutions to life and all the other things I didn’t understand.
I started drinking, and smoking marijuana at the age of twelve years old. The first time I drank, a few friends and I took some beer and liquor from a friend’s parent’s house, and went out to the woods behind his house and split it all up. My first drunk was a black out, but before I blacked out I remember that alcohol did for me what I couldn’t do for myself, it made me feel like I fit in, I was part of. I remember feeling that warm feeling going down my throat, and I came alive. I could talk to people. I wasn’t the kid that didn’t fit in any more. I was the kid that was the life of the party and I loved it. I found my solution to life, and it was in alcohol and drugs.
I didn’t become an everyday drinker until fourteen. If I wasn’t drinking I was doing some kind of drugs. Alcohol and drugs went hand in hand. The alcohol started my night, and ended my night, but anything in between was fair game. Really quickly I will give you a run-down of the progression of my disease. I started with drinking, went into smoking marijuana, then started snorting Percocet, Vicodin, Valiums, drinking, smoking pills, and then it went into Oxycontin. The whole time things were getting worse. Instead of a 12 pack, I would drink a case to myself. Instead of a few pills, I’d be blowing 15- 20 at a time. Then the pills turned into cocaine, and the cocaine turned into crack. Then I’m doing whatever I can get my hands on. The progression was fast and serious. I’ve done everything besides stick a needle in my arm, and that’s a yet for me if I don’t work a 12 step program as it’s laid out for me to do.
My last drunk was March 17th, of 2009. It was just like all the drunks before then, but this time I was finally sick of having to do everything I was doing; having to have something in my body before I could fall asleep, waking up in the morning saying I’m not doing this today, and having to do it to even be able to get up in the morning after saying I’m not doing this today, and then keeping something in my body all day long just to be able to function. My best friend “alcohol” took over my life. The thing that I thought was the best thing to happen to my life, the thing that made me feel okay, and gave me the ability to talk to people, the solution to all of my problems, turned into the thing that was killing me, and made me want to kill myself. I wanted to be like the rest of the people I drank and used with. I wanted to be able to drink and have fun like all the rest of my so called friends, but I didn’t know that I was allergic to alcohol, and that I had to drink even when I didn’t want to. I didn’t understand that I had to drink to be able to live.
Since I have been sober, I haven’t found the need to pick up a drink or a drug. Today I don’t have to hide in a bottle and drink my emotions and life away. The 12 steps have given me a life, and have given me a higher power which I choose to call “GOD”. Today I have true friends. I gave up all my old friends, and that life. I didn’t think that you could have fun sober, because for me drinking and drugging was fun, even though I was blacked out a lot, I still thought that was fun. Today I get to have true fun, with sober people.
One thing that I really have to be grateful for everyday is the fact that my higher power, and the 12 steps, has given me the ability to have relationships. My mother has been sober for 14 years and she gave a lead for me when I was six months sober and said “the only time I ever knew he was alive was when he called me and asked for money.” Coming from my mother that really made me realize how much I didn’t care about other peoples’ feelings. Today I can be there for people. I’m not perfect. I still mess up on a daily basis, but I know today that as long as I don’t drink or drug, I can work on my mess ups, and make amends, and do the next right thing, which for me makes me the happiest I have ever been. Thanks for reading.
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