I wish I could say that something terrible happened to me as a kid, because that would give me an excuse for the path I went down and the choices I made. But that’s not what happened. I had a pretty good childhood. I had a few rough patches, of course, but who didn’t? My parent’s divorce, getting teased in school. But overall, I had a good, maybe even privileged, life as a kid. I never had some terrible injury that I was prescribed painkillers for, either. I can’t point the finger at doctors or pharmaceutical companies for my choices. I still became an opioid addict.
Like a lot of people, I first tried drinking and smoking weed as a teenager. Unlike most people, I loved the feeling more than anything. As soon as I got those first few tastes, I knew I wanted to feel like that as much as I possibly could. As I got older, these feelings and desires influenced the choices I made. I started spending my time with the “drug” and “party” crowds. It wasn’t long before daily substance use became the norm, and weekends were spent completely obliterated.
It wasn’t long before I started branching out into other types of drugs as well. At the time, I saw it as experimentation and being open-minded. If you can think of a drug, chances are I’ve tried it at least once. My personal favorite? The absolute relaxation and euphoria that came with taking a few Vicodin or Percocet. Nothing could match that feeling, like my brain was dipped in gold and taken on a cruise through paradise.
At that point, I was still only using opioids occasionally. One day, some friends came over, looking flushed and happy. They put something on the table in front of me, and said it was mine for ten dollars. It was heroin. I didn’t hesitate.
That was the beginning of the end for me. After less than a year, I knew I was an addict, spending all my money on heroin and getting sick when I ran out. I started shooting up, too. It goes with the territory. That was when I made my first attempts at recovery.
Just like drugs, if you name a pathway to recovery, chances are I’ve tried it. At first I wasn’t ready to fully commit. I wanted to stop using heroin, but keep using everything else. Or maybe just use heroin on the weekends and get a Suboxone prescription for the rest of the time. I definitely wanted to keep smoking weed and taking Xanax. You can guess how well that turned out.
Then I started attempting treatment. Outpatient did nothing for me. I managed to stay clean because I was completely broke. As soon as I got a job and got paid, it was back off to the races. I spend the next two years in and out of treatment, getting sober only to relapse.
Eventually, I developed a true desire to change—and that’s what I did. I got rid of my old friend group. I learned to keep a clean living space. I attended meetings and worked a program of recovery. I started helping others. I became part of a recovery community. I lost weight and learned to live a healthy lifestyle. And the shocker—I started feeling happy again, like I hadn’t been in years. I’ve been sober ever since.