Real addiction stories (8th edition)


This is the eighth edition of an ongoing series of real stories about addiction from ClickOnDetroit's readers. 

Check back for more stories.

Hello, my name is James and I am a person in recovery.  What that means to me is that I haven't touched a mind or mood altering chemical since March 12, 2015. Yes, that does include alcohol and marijuana.

While most people can "claim" to have a drug of choice, my drug of choice was "MORE" -- more of anything: alcohol, crack, heroin, pills, cocaine. I even abused psych medicine if it would get me numb enough not to feel life.

My story isn't a whole lot different than any other addict that is living with an active addiction. I was a thief and a liar. I manipulated people to get my way and to get more drugs. I stole from family, friends and strangers. I hurt the ones closest to me and ones that didn't even know me. I spent days in crack houses without a worry about my children at home with their mother or their worries about if I was still alive.

But it wasn't always this way for me.  

I came from a great family with two parents who were married until the day they passed away. I had never seen drugs or alcohol in my house. I wasn't abused. I was shown love by my parents. My parents were professional people and I reaped the benefits by getting an education and having good jobs. But this disease of addiction doesn't discriminate.  As soon as I tried that first one, my life began to change ... and not for the better.

Before I knew it I was a full blown addict, just like the ones I used to look down upon. I lost my family, wife, children, house and vehicle. I became homeless, bouncing from place to place until I was kicked out of those places. Jails and mental institutions became a very common place for me to go stay for a while. I became unemployable. I became a complete monster who nobody wanted around.

I didn't want to live. I couldn't look myself in the mirror. I self-mutilated and I became completely insane.

I overdosed twice in a matter of a month, the second one in March of 2015. That's when I decided I wanted to change and I was going to do something proactive about it. Even though I was beaten and felt like my life wasn't worth living, I did have a little bit of hope remaining. I remember the father I used to be. I remember speaking in church and teaching the youth in Sunday school. I remember what it was like before this disease of addiction took over.

So, I ended in up in a psych hospital, which placed me in a 21-day drug rehabilitation program. This is when I first heard of the 12-step programs and when I first saw recovery was possible. When I got out of treatment I went to a 3/4 house and attended 12-step meetings on a regularly basis. I found myself a strong mutual support group of other people in recovery who weren't just trying to get clean, but were living clean and staying clean. They became a source of strength for me and people I could rely on and go to.

About 21 months later, I can say recovery has brought many gifts my way. I now work in a drug treatment center as a behavioral health technician, getting ready to start the recovery coach program and about to enroll back in school to further my education in this field of addiction. I have a beautiful home, fiancée and a couple of vehicles. It's all nice stuff, but recovery has brought much more to me than just those materialistic things. Today I have a relationship with my family -- the same family who I have lied to, stole from and who have had the police called on me to remove me from their house. But now, because I am in recovery, they invite me over for holidays, trust me in the house alone, they even helped me get my first vehicle.

Recovery also has given me back my relationship with my children. I have four beautiful children, and I am an active part of their lives today. I see them on a regular basis and they call me to see how I am doing. They also attend recovery events and some meetings with me as well. My two oldest, who are 9 and 8, are well aware of my drug problem and I show them how their dad fights this disease by talking openly to them about it and bringing them to functions.

Last Christmas was the first time in 5 years that I could afford to buy my kids anything. It was a process getting them back in my life and trust had to be earned by my ex-wife. Today, we have a good, open cooperative relationship. She has told me she is proud of me. I came out of rehab $10,000 behind in child support, and today I am fully caught up -- that is because of recovery. 

Recovery has given me a purpose in life to help others who are struggling with addiction. It has giving me self-worth. Today I want to live and I love life because of recovery.

When I first walked through the doors of the 12-step program I attend -- which I am not ashamed to say is Narcotics Anonymous -- none of this stuff was promised to me. The only thing that was promised to me was the freedom from active addiction and that has been the greatest gift recovery has given me. Thank you Narcotics Anonymous and God for this new life you have blessed me with. Just For Today I choose Life -- I choose Recovery!

-- James L.




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