Growing up in a North New Jersey suburb, I was somebody who completely avoided the drug crowd. I didn’t even want to associate with people who smoked cigarettes! Needless to say, when I look back at my life I can not believe I walked the path as someone who got addicted to drugs. It all started when someone offered me a harmless joint my first week of college outside my freshman dorm. Mom and Dad were no longer around to patrol me and while I did feel a little pressured to say yes, it was almost effortless to accept it. I was incredibly curious about what getting high felt like after hearing so much about being stoned. As soon as the feeling hit me, I wanted to feel like that 24/7, and that is what I aimed for directly after that first time.
My earliest memories of battling with the cravings were those first few months in my freshman dorm, my roommate knew the guy who had weed and I didn’t so I had to go through him to get it. He didn’t want to smoke every night and there were plenty of nights where I wanted to ask him if he wanted to but didn’t want to sound like a drug addict! The battle and obsession in my mind about it was strong from the get go, the most powerful thing I have ever dealt with in my life. I lasted in college for 2 years, the whole time my life revolved around weed and how I was going to afford it/make it last. I’d work on weekends primarily just to be able to afford weed and didn’t care about anything else. I moved back home after 2 years and I felt like a complete loser that was moving backwards, my self esteem had vanquished.
One night in my hometown, somebody had some percocets for sale, I was told to be careful because I would like them too much, this of course made this decision for me. I bought several and within an hour took them, smoked a cigarette and threw up. I loved every moment of it. Weed was great but this, this was the answer to life I had always been looking for. It made me warm, happy, social, ‘cool’ and many other things. Little did I know about the steep cliff I was about to dive off of. Within a year of using I had been caught stealing from my mother’s bank account. She couldn’t believe her ears when I told her I was hooked on opiates but she had me in detox within a day of telling her, I happily complied. She had been seeing the signs of living with an addict the past few months before that but we know how strong denial can be.
Unfortunately, I did not get sober after my first treatment center. Entering recovery involves a whole lot more than just acknowledging the fact that I am an addict and can’t use drugs anymore. It involves admitting that I am powerless and that I am unable to stay clean on my own volition and at 21 years old I was not willing to admit any of that yet. The next 5 years were easily the worst of my life, walking the line of barely sober and actively using. I reached that loneliness that only us recovering addicts know about. On March 17th, 2015 I received a call from my mom telling me my father had died of a heart attack. It was and still is the worst day of my life for the sheer fact of how close I was to him and because we had not left off on good terms for the most part.
After his service I was completely hopeless, my life had been terrible for the 3 years prior and now my biggest supporter was gone. I had forgotten about my other biggest supporter however, my mom, who had been through more with me than anyone else. She told me dad left money behind and that I would be able to go to treatment with that money if I wanted to. It took me only a few seconds to oblige. Going into treatment this time was so different than any other time, my hopelessness was my greatest asset because I finally was ready to listen, something that had not been my strong suit previously. Not only did I listen to others that had my best interest in mind, I did what they told me to do. I really like to put it that simply, recovery and spirituality can be a really deep topic that is overwhelming to a lot of us early on. I like to tell those in early recovery to simply shut up, listen and most importantly take action. With those simple principles constantly in my head my first year in recovery, I now have a life I can be proud of. I can look the world in the eye and most of all I can help anyone else in need.