Substance abuse

A Christmas Story

It was a week before Christmas in 2014 and I was so dope sick that I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the next hour of my life. My nose was running, my eyes were watering, my skin was crawling, my legs were restless, and I needed to find a way to get high. All my bridges were burned, and my family’s patience was wearing thin. I took a “personal day” from my dead-end job and made my way back to my parents’ house. My dad came home and went directly upstairs with some cash he had taken out of his bank account for Christmas gifts. I stood perfectly still downstairs listening to the creaky wooden floor while counting his footsteps as he entered his bedroom. At this point he was hiding anything from me that had any real value. I found the envelop and stole most of the money that he was going to use for Christmas that year. I was forced out of their house and into a treatment center just four days later. It took me nearly a decade of situations exactly like this until I finally got sober. It wasn’t an overnight process and it surely wasn’t something I ever thought I would be able to accomplish. But instead of counting footsteps, I followed in the footsteps of the people that came before me. Recovery works – so please reach out if you need to follow in someone’s footsteps that was once where you are.

A Letter to My Brother

I wrote this letter after getting news of the death of my best friend. A man that I looked up to in more ways than I could ever express. I have been thinking about him a lot recently and I wanted to share this so his memory would live on. I wrote this letter and spoke these words at his memorial services this past July. 

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Recovery – The Change Stage (#9)

Around the three month mark of my sobriety things started to change. The days were more manageable, and the nights were no longer cold, dark and lonely. The tough times I came face to face with in the beginning turned out to be the foundation on which I built my recovery. They say that success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out, and I couldn’t agree more. The problem was, I forgot what it meant to put in effort everyday to accomplish a long term goal. Drug addiction is all about instant gratification. My days spent in agonizing withdrawal were washed away once the drug dealer showed up at my house. The pain of the previous hours were an afterthought because I knew I would be okay, if only for a few hours. Thoughts of hard work were non existent and I lived my life for the next high. Years of my life had passed me by while I was just a lingering onlooker. This time I was actively participating, and this time things were progressing differently.  (more…)

Early Recovery – The Pain Stage (#8)

I was released from my inpatient treatment center in December of 2015 and was transported to a local halfway house. I lived there for a few months during my last attempt at sobriety, and it was truly the only place in Florida that felt like home. When I arrived I was immediately greeted by the manager who strongly suggested that I commit to a year in the structured sober living environment. By suggest, I mean he told me that if I didn’t commit to at least a year, he wouldn’t let me stay at all. At the end of the day I know he wanted what was best for me and it was suggested by my support system that I let other people make my decisions for a while. I was apprehensive, but I agreed. (more…)

We Do Recover (#7)

A drug addict’s life is very similar to a haunted house, and the saddest part is, it always leads you back to the same desperate place – the very beginning. There are three possible scenarios for people suffering from the disease of addiction, and they are jails, institutions and death. The worst part is, drug addiction tends to keep you around just long enough so you can watch yourself – almost as a spectator – destroy all the relationships you have built throughout your life. But it doesn’t have to end that way. I believe all of us are faced with a choice during the course of our lifetimes that could be looked at as that proverbial fork in the road. Which path will you take? Are you comfortable enough with yourself to make a decision and stand by it with love and conviction in your heart? If it were all to end today, what would you want your legacy to be?  (more…)

Rock Bottom (#6)

There is something to be said for being completely removed from society for a month and a half with no means of communication to the outside world. The only dialogue I had was with people just like me, and they all had their own reasons for being in a treatment center. I think it is fair to say that nobody struggling with addiction or alcoholism grew up hoping their life would turn out that way. After all, this disease does not discriminate by age, race, gender, ethnicity or economic status; it simply destroys all families and homes equally. Who would have thought that my life would have come full circle and I would end up right back where it all began.  (more…)

Halfway There (#5)

I can vividly remember stepping off the plane in Florida and thinking to myself, “what did I just get myself into?” Before I could even let my imagination run wild, I was greeted by someone who worked at the halfway house I was going to be living at. I stepped in his vehicle with all my worldly possessions and we talked about 90s era hip-hop as we drove to what would become my new home. When I pulled up, all I can remember seeing was some girl braiding a white guy’s hair on a picnic table outside of the property’s main office. My level of uneasiness went from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON 3 in a matter of seconds. I did my intake, took a drug test and got a quick rundown on all the rules. Then I was sent on my way like a tumbleweed blowing through a vast and barren desert. (more…)