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?
The sign read, ‘Sober and Homeless’, and grabbed my attention quicker then a bikini clad woman would in the month of January. As I approached the young couple I had my doubts. Not because the two of them were homeless; they grew more and more filthy the closer I walked, stained pants and worn shoes, neither looking like they’ve seen a bath in quite some time. It went more like this in my head: if they were really sober like their cardboard sign told me, if, then how come they are homeless. I’m not being nieve. I mean, to automatically put them in a category, or stereotype them as being addicts- which in turn explained their manipulative lying sign- is unfair, not to mention I’d be taking someone else’s inventory although I know better then to do such. But I was homeless for months once; sleeping at Logan airport by night and conning strangers with signs like theirs by day, but I was shooting heroin, boosting clothes, and robbing Flacco.
Sitting on a fire proof blanket, courtesy of one of the few homeless shelters in Boston, beside Macy’s in downtown crossing and holding a sign which read, ‘ Sober and Homeless ‘, I had to approach them in wide wonder.
Jay is 22 years old. Lisa is 19. Jay sacrifices his old grey wool beret as his change cup, placing it on the brick sidewalk just beyond the blanket. Lisa rests her head on Jays shoulder, her eyes open, and greats me by saying ‘Thank You!’ As I place a dollar and my change into the hat.
She just opened the door for me to come in. I asked bluntly, ” How are you sober and homeless? ” Jay smiled and quietly repeated my question under his breath. ” My parents are addicts and we had our house forclosed when I was 15. I bounced around and lived with different family members and when the school found out they had me put in a program for kids. I was 18 when they told me i had to leave and I didn’t have anywhere to go. ” I asked what drugs he did and he told me of an adventure, that he wound up in Atlanta after following a group of transients. He started peddling crack and dope for some guy and due to pure curiosity, Jay began his drug story. Page by page, I could relate and as he talked I knew he knew what he was talking about. He said he’s embarrassed to go to an AA meeting because of how he looks and his smell from not showering. One time, here in Boston, him and Lisa walked into a meeting and they were asked to leave because the people attending believed the two of them only wanted to warm up and get free coffee. This made me aggrivated.
Lisa lived down the street and she grew up with the biggest crush on Jay. She looked up to him in awe and being raised with great morals from two successful interracial foster parents, she always dreamed of leaving home and exploring what else life offered. She bumped into Jay in passing one early morning near the Park St. subway and almost like they had never stopped, began hanging out daily again. She was enrolled as a freshman at Emerson College and no sooner then Xmas break, she was kicked out because she refused to let her drug addict homeless boyfriend freeze to death underneath the howling winds of a late New England fall night.
I offered them both Wendy’s, as it was getting late and the dull ache in my stomach reminded me i haven’t had anything to eat all day except for the coffee I had drank earlier. Lisa shook her head at my offer as Jay said, Yes, aloud. They looked at each other and I told them I’d be right back. I walked a few steps away and realizing my idea, I turned around and tossed them a pack of the rest of my cigarettes. I returned 15 minutes later with 4 Jr cheeseburgers, 2 small Cokes, 2 fries, and 2 frosty’s. I’ve never seen gratitude run rampage across anyone’s face like I had that moment.
We talked recovery and music for the next hour. Jay carried an AA Big Book in one of their bags but admitted he doesn’t read it as often as he should. “I carry it around more as a good luck charm then anything it should be used for.”, he told me between bites of his burger. I told him as long as he’s sober then that’s all that matters. He grinned at me with a mouth full of food as Lisa chimed in. “I tell him everyday how proud I am of him. I mean, everybody who’s homeless down here is doing something and Jay stays away from it all. Even alcohol. Ever since we found out I was pregnant he’s been cleaning up and going to job fairs and on interviews.” I didn’t know Lisa was pregnant. I asked them both what they were gonna do now that Lisa is expecting. “Pray”, she said as she wiped her mouth with the overwhelming amount of napkins I shoved in the bag. “Its in God’s hands now.”
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.
I am a drug addict. Although I don’t enjoy lots of drugs- benzos, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, uppers, and alcohol- doesn’t mean I don’t fit nice and snug in the category of an addict. There are many kinds of drug addicts. Some like to do all the drugs on the market while others have only battled addiction towards a single substance. I, myself, along with plenty of others sustain from every drug that is out there, although we know that we wouldn’t use them if we had to. This is because, a drug is a drug is a drug! If I have a binge eating disorder and I have lived a life of consuming chocolate cake all day-everyday to the point that I have developed diabetes or became extremely unhealthy, this does not mean that as long as I stay away from the cake that I will do just fine. Substituting candy bars for cake will not do a single thing for my diabetes or weight problems. It goes the same with drugs.
Before I got sober this time around, I was injecting heroin into my veins and inhaling crack into my lungs on a day to day basis. I had not smoked weed for maybe 6 or 7 years and although crack is a form of cocaine, I preferred smoking over snorting or shooting it. I had not taken ecstasy since high school or any benzos since The evening I took one too many Xanax and wound up pulling a steak knife out on 4 police officers at my parents house and threatening I’d gut them like a fish. I do, in fact, love crystal meth but my connections to the gay underground world disappeared when a good friend of mine committed suicide due to drug psychosis. But heroin and crack… Now that’s my cup of tea!
I do not fear drugs. I respect them. Although I’ve had dozens and dozens of friends die from the disease of addiction (myself included) I still don’t find them scary. And though I was never raised to respect anything so bad or negative, I’ve come to realize that if I don’t look at my disease the way I do now, then I have a better chance of slipping up and traveling down this destructive path again. One of my many character defects is I’m stubborn. Millions if not billions of people are stubborn in this world but mixing addiction and a stubborn attitude has never quite worked for me or others. A personal defensive mechanism I have is when I’m scared of something, or in this case fear something, I tend to not take it serious enough and sometimes even laugh it off as it was just a joke, which I found isn’t the smartest way to go about addiction. Meanwhile, if I respect something- like if I respected a person- then I make sure to notice what it is I respect, learn from this person or what not, and take for granted the experiences I have with it. I respect drugs and I respect alcohol. I know what it can do to me and I know all to well what it can do to others. I keep it more then an arms length away but never further then where I can see it because, as of right now in my recovery, I need to know that if I let up or become complacent for only 1 second that it could be the beginning of the end for me and for everyone who loves and cares about me.
“This is just the beginning”, someone told me my first time at an AA meeting. And that is exactly what I am saying here. “This is just the beginning”.
I have dreamt millions and millions of things throughout my 32 years on this planet. Anywhere from what I wanted to be when I grew up to how I want to ask this pretty girl I’ve only just met out on a date. This here, thewakeupjournals, is one of those dreams, one of the only dreams that has happen thus far. Now, at the age of- let’s say eight- I wasn’t imagining that I’d one day be both happy and nervous about setting forth an idea I have based solely upon how awful and unmanageable my life has been, but a lot can change in time, especially when you only live your life, One Day at a Time.
Since getting clean, or sober as some of us call it, I have wanted to help other people like me. Other addicts and alcoholics. But bouts of self doubt and insecurities have always stopped me from completely opening up and talking about who I REALLY AM to someone other than a man or woman sitting in a chair with a cup of coffee or an energy drink in their hand and introducing themselves as… “Hi! My name is_____ and I’m an addict.” But like my dreams and the world around us, I have changed and now feel quite comfortable talking about whatever it is I feel like sharing about my life and either who I was or who I am. Let’s call it humility. Or just being humble. Whatever name we may give it, it is an act that for generations has helped one addict or alcoholic help another. And by doing this, people have saved countless peoples lives, families, jobs, relationships, and in the process have saved themselves. So in hindsight; I’m just returning the favor someone did for me.
So, without an education, without any professional certificate or degree, I am going to completely, honestly, and most importantly…humbly, open my life and all it’s losses and it’s wins, it’s feats and it’s failures, to you, the reader, the interested, and hopefully reach out in the process and help at least one human being away from continuing on a path of self destruction and imprisonment to the confines of addiction so they can simply wake up one day smiling. This I plan on doing as follows: sharing the stories from myself and other addicts/alcoholics in recovery of our experience, strength, and hope.
I can promise this; the stories are not going to be perceived always nicely. They will be horrifying, terrible, sometimes grotesque and illegal, but they happened. Some will be sad, some may make you mad, and some may be painfully close to the heart. See, addiction is everywhere around us though it only comes out into the limelight when something horrible goes on, and deservingly so because it’s a horrible disease. But it’s a factuality in everyday life to millions of people and if your reading this now, chances are you know someone who wakes up and fights this battle day on and day off. I know people who will read will respect me for my honesty and some won’t. Actually, some people will hate it so much that I will somehow get blamed as being a “type of person” who causes this or causes that, and that’s just fine with me. A large part of humanity ignoring this disease is plain and simple: ignorance. Most people are not raised to commit crimes and hurt others so obviously we were raised that anyone who does so is a “bad” person. And, a lot of times when your already convinced someone is bad then you think it’s best that you stay away from that person. So if you decide to stay away from somebody you don’t care much for then why on earth would u ever take time out of your own day to learn about why they are bad? And I don’t blame you cause I am ignorant towards a lot of stuff in life as well. But not with this, with addiction, and to those of you who are considering reading along or stopping by this site- I applaud you and ask one question: what took you so fucking long?
This is less of a post but more like a bio about what we are trying to accomplish here on thewakeupjournals but as the days, the months, hopefully even as the years go bye, this blog can get the attention of enough people who want to help another suffering person in this world, and even if it can aid the recovery of a single individual…well, then we’ve succeeded.
Because how can you consider yourself a part of humanity if you don’t have the decency to help it in every way it needs it?