Have you ever wanted to die because you were stuck in the depths of addiction? You wake up in the morning, getting high is the first and only thing on your mind, and you just wished you never woke up- that you died in your sleep. Your a prisoner of this disease and your living a life of hell. All you want to do is die. More then anything. You pray everytime you use that it’ll kill you; so you no longer have to suffer and your family can finally be at ease.
Speaking of family, has your family ever had enough of your lying, stealing, and manipulating? They no longer want you around. They shun you. Tell you to get better- as if it was that easy.
Now your cheating everybody you come in contact with. You tell them your fine but really your looking to see if there’s anything you can steal? Your mind is still controlled by your addiction.
Have you ever wrote checks in your own name and cashed them but it wasn’t your check to begin with? You are fully aware of the consequences but you’re not in control so you do it anyways. Have you ever tried selling your jewelry, your tv, your game box, your cd’s? Your bank account is empty because you used that money years ago. Have you ever sold your car so you could get high? Have you ever sold your body so you could just get off Empty?
Have you ever walked 5 miles- in a blizzard, with somebody else’s money- only for a fix? You don’t answer your phone and days later you make up a story that you were robbed by the dealer.
Have you ever robbed a drug dealer yourself? Even if it was a close friend. You pull out a knife you stole from a restaurant and put it to his balls. Fill a small dunkin donuts cup with gasoline and throw it on the floor of his car. You pull your Zippo out and threaten to burn his car til it’s unrecognizable. Or you fill a needle with blood and threaten to stick him with your AIDS infected blood.
Have you ever held your family hostage with your disease? Harassing your mother at home, at her work, at your Aunts house, at the oncologists office while she was receiving chemotherapy. You tell her you won’t leave until you have money. That your sick. That you’ll rob a bank or a store. That the little old lady who left her pocketbook unattended in the shopping cart is going to be taken. You beg and cry for the money and manipulate until you get your way.
Have you ever felt so lonely that you want to die? You realize you have no friends left or family. They refuse contact. You look in the mirror and hate what you see; yourself. You scroll through your phone and find that none of those people will answer. You become overwhelmed and depressed as you log onto Facebook and see everyone’s pictures of success; owning houses, having careers, getting married, raising children, and you know that you haven’t done a single thing in the last fourteen years except avoid society and be irresponsible. Nothing would please you more then dying but first you need to get high.
Have you ever surrendered, hitting your bottom and not knowing what to do? Your desperate, sad, depressed, angry, confused, and lost.
There are hundreds of thousands- if not millions- of people that can help you, if you only ask. There is a way out of the hell that’s been your life and we can help. Reach out to any one of us. We’re your teachers, your firefighters, your doctor’s and your nurses. We’re you construction workers, and your cooks. We’re even your priests. We’re everywhere, living a life second to none and you can too. You can be saved. You can love yourself; it’s possible. You just have to WANT it and put in the hard work.
Do you WANT it?
As I walk to a meeting tonight, I can’t help but think that this is what my life has become. Not one single thing defines me, but more like a cluster of things, and to which most I’m not proud of.
I wake up and go to work (if there is a job scheduled), and in the evening I work my other job (if I’m scheduled), or I sit in a chair that invisibly has my name written on it and listen to either how great or not so great a fellow addict is doing. The rest of the time I usually do nothing because I can’t afford to do anything. I’ve stopped going to the gym because I can’t afford it or I lack what most people have: a bank account, in which the gym can access and pull my money. I refrain from traveling the city of Boston looking for work because most weeks I can’t afford a transportation pass needed to ride the trains or buses. Because of these minor issues, which mend together as somewhat of a cluster, people’s conception of me turns sour and like a shotguns recoil, I agree.
Little things added together make something of a larger scale. Like the many baseball teams become the MLB or a handful of songs become an album, or because of my nearly homeless income becomes a false portrait of me today, addicts doing well can relapse due to this same scale.
Many people I know have died this month along with many more people I’ve never met but learned about, and the majority of their demise have something in common; they died from the first use in their relapse. Upon hearing their stories from others at meetings, people I live with, from social media, or from the funerals and wakes I have attended, it seems that by following each individuals problems or issues, events or lack-there-of, a cluster had been formed of mediocre catastrophes shaping into one giant one; resulting in their relapse which in return resulted in their death.
I strongly believe that through communication, networking, and humility, these people may as well be alive today. I only hope that we as addicts and the people who love us can start seeing the slow and sometimes fairly visible downward spiral that usually arises before the end. Like tremors to an earthquake, we become more aware and sometimes prepared for the apex of this disease.
My heart and prayers go out to everyone we have just lost from addiction and their families.
Like always, the media controls the popularity of what topics we should talk about today. Blasted across headlines on newspapers or breaking news upon your television, the media buries itself inside your head and pulls you towards what they want you to know about. The media only takes what will bring an audience to their door and exploits it for everyone to see. So when a famous person dies of a drug or alcohol related incident, we instantly gravitate towards this realm of someone else’s opinion on the subject of addiction. And sadly, it’s sole purpose is ratings.
We can learn a lot, as addicts, from these headlined actors and musicians- famous people who struggled from this disease and sadly passed on. Whether it’s Whitney Houston, of who we all suspected of battling a drug problem, or the recent departures of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who most of us only knew because of the dozens of movies we loved them acting in, they all shared a common ground, one that I share along with them. Addiction and the endless battle within.
I remember reading an article not too long ago, written by Michael Martinez, Ana Cabrera, and Sara Weisfeldt, all of whom are journalists for CNN, about a mother from Denver who has been battling the drug epidemic of pills and heroin. The article itself was informative and my heart goes out to the mother because I understand what she is going through. I can relate. But headlining in big bold letters the word epidemic attracts readers to the article so they will believe some sort of disease is spreading across the nation and that they must inform themselves about how not to get it. Well, addiction doesn’t spread like the Ebola virus or some other deadly disease. These reporters were capitalizing on such headlines of recent that include these famous people of dying from such an awful habit but with all ignorance had not done their homework, which is as simple as this: the drug epidemic has been going on since the drugs themselves have been put to use.
The whole epidemic about pills, opiates in general like OxyContin or Percocet was happening over fifteen years ago, in the late 90’s. Heroin has been an epidemic long before headlines read that David Crosby (musician) or Keith Richards (musician) were struggling with its use back in the 1970’s. Only when a famous person dies does the topic of a certain drug addiction emerge, solely focusing on the fact that addiction can even happen to a famous, well liked, rich person, in which suddenly the term epidemic comes forth.
We have always had an epidemic of drugs. Good people die each day because of this disease, and it does not care if your famous or not or what color or gender you are. Addiction couldn’t give two shits if your gay or straight or American or Asian. It has no rules other then to be used and to destroy innocent peoples lives. It’s sad and disturbing that it takes well known people for the topic to become something of an interest in society but still nothing will be done about it.
Most people have not changed their minds about how they still look at Robin Williams- one of the funniest comedians ever, or Philip Seymour Hoffman- an Academy Award Winning actor, after learning of their untimely deaths but Whitney Houston got the blunt end of the deal because the world witnessed the downfall of her career and talents through her reality television show and pictures in the tabloids. But the three of them- and the millions of other addicts throughout the planet- are all related and have gone through the similar things.
So remember the next time you hear about that awful robbery because an addict needed money to support his habit, or if you see a couple nodding asleep on the train ride to work, that these famous people you love so much could have easily been living the same life as the less fortunate addicts who don’t have a pot to piss in. This new epidemic isn’t so new at all. In fact, it’s been going on for some time…
The worst thing about being in recovery is watching your friends suffer with their addiction. It’s a tough place to be. Depending on how strong your recovery is, you can try to help them or sometimes you can’t do anything at all. I don’t recommend people in early recovery to get involved with anybody who is using, thinking they may be able to help or save the person. First of all, nobody can save someone who is battling addiction. You can be there for them, you can work endlessly to help them and direct them to professional help but I believe you, or I, can not ever save another addict. Fortunately though, I feel I’m in a place with my own recovery where I can step up to the plate and make myself available to the sick and suffering.
I have this friend. I’ve known him for years. He is younger then me, but he’s an adult, and he’s such a wonderful person. I dated his aunt for a little while and that’s when we first met but we also spent lots of time in jail together. I can relate with everything he’s going through right now. He is sick and he is detoxing at home- about a week clean from heroin and coke. I made a point to see him on Friday. This is what I saw:
Pulling up to his mothers house, I nearly recognized him while he stood in the gravel driveway, dressed in baggy pants, a Long sleeve shirt, and Jordan’s on his feet. That’s the normal him. Everything else about him was different. Hearing that his arm developed a painful and infected abcess, he wore the long sleeve shirt so he could cover the bandages on the inside of his arms. He was skinny; not that he was ever fat but when he’s clean and doing the right thing he tends to put on weight like I do. But he was so skinny hie kept having to pull his pants up. He had a look in his eyes and it showed me a million emotions all at once. He was hurting. He was sick. He was sweating but was continuously cold. But his eyes cried for help. They showed desperation and sadness. My god did he look sad! He was in the middle of tearing furniture apart for his step father so he could earn an easy $20 but he couldn’t hide how weak his muscles were. I stepped in and helped finish the job for him.
He told me he is depressed. That he was crying just before I showed up. I explained that his endorphins and serotonin levels are at an all-time low without the use of the drugs sky rocketing them infinitely. I told him it will take a while for those levels to rise back to a plateau state were he will feel normal again. I turned the conversation; focusing on what he is planning to do afterwards. He can’t stay at his mothers forever and I felt that too much time with family may push him to a limit of which he will decide using is a good idea. He doesn’t want to enter a program again, like a halfway house or sober house. He believes he just needs to kick the drugs and he will be fine. I decided not to argue this point with him although i disagreed. I did not want him thinking I was pressuring him to do anything. I wanted to keep the presence . of myself standing next to him with open arms and a listening ear. He vented to me me and I explained what I have done with my recovery.
What bothered me the most was this: the way he acted towards his mother. It is not because he was disrespectful or mean like I was towards mine, because he wasn’t at all. But I saw the sudden strength he possessed when arguing with her. I understood both points of view. He could not believe she wouldn’t allow him to leave the house with this girl he knows, who Appearently isn’t someone who’s related to any drug use. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t just go for a ride. His mother, of course, was against the idea, not wanting to take the chance of her sons mind deciding to hop out of the car at a red light and running to so he could get high. He argued his point with me, so I advised him this; he is 5 days clean at the time and he is detoxing at home. The logical thing to do here is invite the girl over to the house. I told him his family will give them privacy. He can spend time with a friend and his mother doesn’t need to drastically worry about him. And so he did take the advice. She came over and that was about the time I had to leave because I had work.
I received texts from different people in his family, all thanking me for coming up and spending time with him. But in fact I didn’t do anything except in courage him to take this slowly, no matter what, and basically not to jump ahead into the first urge or idea his brain has for him. Think things through and most importantly talk to people who want you to stay clean. He has the most incredible family, all of who take time out of their lives for him, whether it be a quick talk or an invitation to see a movie. He has a family who cares and I could tell by the way he talked to me that he is grateful for everything they have done.
Yesterday I saw his status update on Facebook telling the community that he went to a meeting and received a chip for staying sober for a certain amount of time. That put a smile on my face. I only hope it put a smile on his face too.
Although I was a wise-ass, hard to deal with teenager and an irresponsible young adult, I wasn’t a loser. I was just hard to live with or have in your life. But as soon as OxyContin took hold of my every thought and my every move, I became a guy who was unloveable. I was the devil. An asshole, a loser, a scumbag, a villain, a monster. I was a junkie.
Day in and day out I chased that euphoric feeling Oxy’s once provided. I became a criminal overnight. If I was sick, I would think how I could scam you, rob you, and hurt you, just so I wouldn’t feel sick anymore. And looking back, I can say I knew what I was doing most of the time; I was responsible for my own actions because I was technically aware of what I was doing and my motives behind it. But I didn’t care. I didn’t care about you. I didn’t care about my family. I didn’t care about my friends. I didn’t care about the store owner or the person who left there pocketbook in there unlocked car. I didn’t even care about myself. In fact, all I cared about was the drug dealer and what he had because what he had was the only thing that mattered to me. Towards the end, even the dealer I didn’t care about. I would set them up for a sale only to rob them at knife point as soon as we met up.
But I hated myself. I wanted to die. I’d sometimes wake up in the middle of the night because my body needed more OxyContin in order to feel stable again and I can not recall all those times I stared at the powder I was about to put up my nostril and ask out loud why I had to wake up for another day. I didn’t want to live. I wasn’t suicidle in the sense of attempting to kill myself but I would wish I would never wake up again. I would wish that my heart would just stop or that somebody else would put me out of my misery. I don’t know if it was lack of balls or stupidity that prevented me from ending my life but I could never do it on my own. I wanted it to just happen, suddenly, in a way I wouldn’t have seen coming. But it wasn’t just my years of depression or my actual repetitive mornings of being dope sick that caused me to feel this way. It was mainly because I could not stop hurting my mother.
As I’ve said, I’m a mamas boy. She wasn’t my best friend in the sense that we always hung out. In fact, she wanted nothing to do with me. But she was the closest person in my entire life and through everything I was doing illegal or not, evil or not, she never abandoned or disowned me. She didn’t agree with my decisions or my lifestyle but she tried her hardest to look out for me, her eldest of three boys, her first born, her baby.
Other then being a full blown addict, I was also a master manipulator. And my mother was victim number one. I went to her everyday, called her, texted her, and would first ask and later demand money from her. Sometimes I would just show up at her work (a school mind you) and other times I would be waiting for her to return to her house. I learned later that she avoided coming home for hours at a time just because she didn’t want to deal with me and my is sickenly lying ways. Almost every time I’d get money from her; resulting in either her or myself crying. The end of these ordeals were always the same though; I would get my fix and come off “E” and she would be broke. I held her prisoner of her own life. I held her hostage to where she could not be available to anyone else in the family except to me because if she didn’t continue enabling me then I’d threaten to rob a store like I already had at this point or I’d tell her I’d rob some poor stranger on the street which I had never done and thankfully never did.
i couldn’t help these thoughts or these actions. A part of me knew it was wrong but the part of me that didn’t care easily talked the other part away from doing the right thing. I hated myself so much that I no longer felt remorse for myself or others. I lived to get high and prayed I would die. That was my conscious every single day during my using. I was numb to feelings that normal people feel. At one point, I recall, I convinced myself that the greatest gift I could ever give my mother was me dying. And I did just that: died. Three times during my drug use that called for administering Narcan or/and difibulators. Flatlined. Out. But still, I’d wind up waking out of it in a hospital, angry and mean because of how sick I felt, and I’d go about blaming the whole God-damn world for my problems and never once take ownership that I am causing myself and everyone else who shared my last name this misery and suffering. To this day I believe that as horrible as I felt being the addict, my mother felt 100 times worse. She found me overdosed before. She always saw me in my worst condition, beard growth and an odor from not showering. Still, she pretended nothing was wrong and tried carrying normal conversations with me. I was mostly unresponsive; looking only for a quick handout and some groceries.
OxyContin as I knew it was pulled from the shelves in every pharmacy across the country and replaced instead with a newer time release pill which upon breaking up into a fine powder would instead turn into a gooy gel-like clump that was unsnortable. I played around with 30mg Percocet afterwards but eventually turned my will, or lack there of, to heroin. The high wasn’t as consistent as the synthetic opiate that Oxy’s were but none-the-less it did the trick. Bruises and pock marks, dead purple veins replaced my once thick and scarless arms. Others noticed but I was usually oblivious to the way I now looked. There was still a tiny light that shined in me that I must have mistakened as a life in which nothing was wrong because I hadn’t had enough of this horrific lifestyle yet and I was just becoming progressively worse.
January 13,2011 I had enough. Sadly, my end did not come because of an apifoney or realization that my life was unmanageable or out of control. It’s sick to admitt but I would have continued using and getting high, although I woke up that day in a Beverly hospital because the hotel I was getting high in found me dead and sprawled across the bathroom floor. I didn’t stop because I was tired or didn’t want to use any longer. The reason was simple: I stopped because when the hospital contacted my mother to inform her I had overdosed and was found dead, she asked them to relay a message to me after the phone call. She asked the doctor to tell me to never try contacting her again. She wanted nothing to do with me, a statement she has never said to anyone, especially me. My best friend who’s life I made into a living hell had finally cut me clear out of her life.
I informed the nurse I wanted help and she found me a detox, which I then went to a holding until a bed was available at a halfway house. Finally, this vicious run I’ve been on for over a decade was over, and now the real work must begin.
Throughout my story, my family plays a major role. I believe most families play major roles in addicts lives but all families contributions to the addicts stories are different. My family stood on two total different sides of the spectrum: all the way to the left( growing up) and all the way to the right(during and at the end of my using). So growing up, my family was perfect. No arguing or fighting. No drama that I recall. My father never hit me and my mother was my best friend. And neither my parents nor any other family members brought drugs or alcohol into or around the house. We never even had beer in the refrigerator or alcohol stuffed in a cabinet. Nothing.
My parents never divorced, still going on dates until my mothers last days. They worked endlessly to provide for me and my brothers and by doing so we just made status as a middle class family. I was never spoiled but my parents never allowed us to grow up without having a great childhood, whether it be big birthdays and Christmas’ or annual vacations to Cape Cod and New Hampshire.
I grew up in the town of Wakefield, Ma. To this day I still think of it as the model town. Main St being a strip of stores that cover every basic need. Good schools. A giant lake that we can walk around or relax by, watching fireworks or enjoying the 4th of July Parade. Parks and playgrounds in every neighborhood. Woods to build forts in and hills to go sledding down. I loved growing up here.
I was always a wise ass, sarcastic, and angry. I’ve searched for answers to these defects and none have arisen. I was raised with unbelievable morals from unbelievable parents so that can’t be my excuse, nor can the place I grew up in. I was never a bully but I did at times pick on people but looking back I know it wasn’t because I had unresolved issues or anything. I just did it and at times thought it was fun. I did suffer from depression though. A lot of it. I was angry, sad, quiet. I remember most of it starting after a friend of mine who I grew up with was killed on the first day of summer vacation. I won’t say anything more than that experience of death was my first and it left an untreated wound in my heart and in my conscious that I didn’t accept or get over until almost a decade later.
My first time doing a drug was marijuana and I was excited to see what would happen. Everyone my age just graduated the D.A.R.E. Program and in all honesty, I liked what I heard of the effects weed produced. It just seemed interesting. So one Friday night at the age of fourteen, I hid behind these huge electric power breakers near my high school and smoked a joint for the first time with 3 other friends of mine. And it did nothing.
But the time after that it did. I loved everything about it. My vision seemed more 3D than usual. I couldn’t stop laughing. And music sounded better… So I thought.
For the next 4 yrs of high school I smoked weed on a daily basis. If you saw me inside or outside of school, I was stoned. But that isn’t the only thing I did. I also began hanging out with kids a grade or two older than me. The had cars so I found myself attending parties every weekend. Alcohol was the structure these parties seemed to build upon but after experiencing my first hangover, I told myself I’d never drink again. And so be it, to this day I’ve probably only been drunk 20 times. But other things were at these parties:ecstasy, cocaine, acid and mushrooms. And at times I would throw pills I didn’t even know about in my stomach like Valium, Klonopin, Xanax, Vicodin, and Percocet. Next thing I knew, my weekends disappeared friends telling me what we did because I didn’t remember. The Benzos weren’t exactly my favorite but I still couldn’t tell myself not to take them if the opportunity arose. But the psychedelics were my favorite by far. I had two groups of friends: the Jocks & the non-Jocks which a lot of people labeled us as “The Crew”. The Crew became my family. The Crew became my best friends. We were punks. Young teenage punks. All we wanted to do was have fun; party, get high, get drunk, fuck girls, sell drugs, get in fights, but most of all we were loyal and we set out to conquer the world. Or at least that’s what it seemed like at that time.
From the time I was 14 years old to 19 years old, that’s what my life consisted of. I barely passed high school although I knew I was one of the smarter people. I went to college but never took it serious, only attending because I wanted to continue playing baseball. Nothing in the world mattered except for having a fun time and getting high with my friends. Any money I earned went straight to drugs and concerts. I couldn’t hold a job and I begun this downward spiral in life from having my head on straight to becoming an irresponsible oxygen waster. But what did I care… I would tell myself I have the rest of my life to get serious but right now it’s time to have fun.
Well, fun I was having and fun is part of what led my heart to go into cardiac arrest on the baseball diamond at the age of 19.