Addiction does not discriminate.
Growing up, when I heard about people addicted to drugs I thought of the homeless-type person, living in a box under a bridge. Not the mom with three kids and two jobs, not the hard-working pre-med student, not the high school teacher… you get the idea.
So, surely for me, a (mostly) happy young man who grew up in a beautiful suburb with loving parents and plenty of potential, it was quite the shock once I admitted to myself I was a drug addict at the age of 20. I hadn't touched a drug until I was 18, my first week of college. Somebody offered me some pot outside my dorm while we were drinking, and I accepted. Before that, during high school, I was terrified to try any kind of drug. I suppose the fact that I was no longer under the watch of mom and dad is why I so easily accepted the offer. Maybe it was because I was feeling a little buzzed from a few beers, but all I know is as soon as I felt the effect of pot for the first time, I loved it.
Very soon after my first experience with pot, I became enamored with it. It made me feel happy, took away any anxiety I was having, and made me laugh a whole lot more. Naturally, I wanted to feel like that all the time. I didn’t see a single issue with that. I lasted in college for two years, I didn’t attend class much and I lied a lot to my professors about why I couldn’t make class. I must have had four or five family members ‘die’ those two years (if you catch my drift). I just wanted to get stoned and do nothing; that’s basically what happened.
After those two years I moved back home in my mother’s basement. I felt like I took a huge step backwards and the biggest difference from the last time I lived at home was that I had a new habit, one I had to hide from mom. I wasn’t exactly the best kid growing up, but mom never had to worry about me drinking or doing drugs while living with her—I rarely even drank growing up. One night a friend of a friend had some Percocet (pain killers) and after saying no the first couple times, I caved.
Pot was getting boring and no longer doing the job. I would smoke and overthink and get major anxiety, so it was very counterproductive. I took the pills and realized I had found the true answer I was always looking for. My problems melted away and I became more social/funny. This was the answer! Not surprisingly, I instantly wanted that high all the time as well.
Pain pill habits are a very expensive habit. In no time it all, I became desperate for money to afford my habit and took desperate measures, which included stealing from my own mother. One day she saw money missing from her bank account and confronted me. This was approximately a year and a half after my first pill. When I told her what my problem was, she was floored. She had suspected I was smoking pot but nothing like this. I was in treatment two days later.
It would be my first of many.
I wish I could say that after going to treatment my first time it was a happy story thereafter, but it wasn’t. Not in the slightest. I dealt with five more years of pain, misery and the ugly cycle that people refer to as a ‘chronic relapser.’ In 2015, I took a job my father surprisingly offered me with his company. I was thrilled to work with him, as we hadn’t seen each other much after my parents divorced about 10 years prior. Within a year of being hired, I was fired for stealing from his company. I broke his heart, I was broken. I fled from New Jersey down to Florida having destroyed everything in my path, especially my family.
I rented a room in Florida for a few months and was completely isolated from everyone and everything. I would stay holed up in my room, being up days at a time getting high and avoiding life to the most extreme degree. On March 17th, 2015 my mom called me and informed me my dad had died of a heart attack. It broke me completely. After attending his service back at home, I spent two months crying myself to sleep every night, tangibly feeling the hell I was living in. I had the opportunity to go to treatment once again in May and was so grateful for the opportunity.
This was not my first treatment center. I knew I had to do things differently this time. To put it simply, I stopped doing what I wanted to do and just did what I was told. I can really say that was the difference maker this time. I was so broken and beaten down I was tired of thinking I knew what was best for me when the evidence shows I absolutely do not. I also was motivated to make my father, who was no longer with us, proud. He tried his best to teach me, and I let him down while he was alive. I certainly was not going to let his time he spent with me be a complete waste. It has been nearly four years of recovery and it still amazes me after coming from such a complete hopeless state.