Atlas is excited to share this story about addiction anonymously from a friend of Atlas!
All across the country people are suffering from a disease. This disease is incurable and fatal but recovery is possible. This piece is based purely on my own experiences with addiction. All I can say is that if you think you might have a problem with drugs then you probably do and if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired then it might be time to do something different. You may want to see out a good treatment center or sober living (like Atlas!).
When I was 8 years old my parents divorced. I didn’t realize it at the time but they were both alcoholics. There were too many nights of my father breaking things and getting physical with my mom. One night, my mother called the police and me and my two brothers, one younger and one older, were taken with my mom to a women and children’s shelter. We stayed there for about a year and my mother finally rented a house not too far from my dad’s house.
During that year, my parents battled out their divorce and settled on 50/50 custody of us kids. Also during that time, both of my parents drinking had gotten worse and my mother began to use crack cocaine. Everything around me seemed to remain manageable for a while. We switched schools and this is when it seemed my trouble started. I began to act out in school. It was fourth grade and I just quit trying in school. I was very angry and rebellious toward everyone and everything. I started to get suspended from school and this continued through out my educational career as an adolescent. I picked up my first drink of alcohol on December 31st 1996. Nothing really special about that day. It was New Year’s Eve and I was at one of my older brother’s friend’s house and just got really drunk. I went home the next day with a hangover and really should have learned my lesson. But….. A few weeks later, my brother’s girlfriends came to my house after school and said, ” I am going to get you stoned today!”. I really didn’t know what that meant. I had already been smoking cigarettes for a couple years by then so I was up for trying something different.
A clan of the high school kids took me up to the playground in the schoolyard and we smoked 5-6 blunts of marijuana. I was stoned out of my mind. For a while we had all laughed about the first time I smoked but looking back it was insane. From that first day I was addicted to that escape that I had found. I had found a way to escape from the chaos in my family and at school. Things just spiraled out of control at this point. I began drinking larger amounts and more often. I had to have weed every single day or I would go crazy. I began to hang out across the street at our neighbor’s house where I met an older gay man who would ultimately help speed the progression of my disease. I would leave from that neighborhood and go a couple of counties over where I would stay weeks at a time. I am not sure why I stayed. From the very first night that I was there, I was drugged and raped by this man. But he introduced me to pills. I began abusing whatever pills I could find. I did whatever I had to do to keep a steady supply of alcohol, marijuana and pills, even if that meant subjecting myself to this abuse. No one else knew until years later. I was too ashamed and scared of what might happen. I also tried to keep up the front that I was in control even though I knew different. I eventually escaped that cycle when I was in my sophomore year of high school. I started hanging out with some friends from school and partying. My drug use just got worse, I just tried changing my surroundings thinking that it would somehow be different… but it wasn’t.
So time keeps going as does the pattern of progression of my addiction. At the age of 16, I eventually hit a bottom. A few years before I had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and had started taking medications for it. As an addict it was not possible for me to take my meds as prescribed. I took my meds, and other people’s meds and drank alcohol. This was definitely a deadly mix for me. On December 23, 2003, I called the local Mobile Crisis Unit and told them some crazy stuff. They came and took me away to the hospital where I was released a few hours later. Only three days later I was drinking a whole fifth of my favorite brandy all by myself and was taking excessive amounts of my psych meds. I drove myself back to the hospital and threw a fit. I became very belligerent and they tied me down to a bed and gave me a needle of something. I woke up in the adolescent unit of a mental hospital. I stayed there for about 4 days. In this time I made my first admission to the anyone that I was gay. I told the therapist and she forced me into telling my parents. It was not that big of a deal just a little uncomfortable.
I left that hospital on January 1st, 2004 saying that I was going to be clean and stay clean only to go straight home to the aftermath of a neighborhood party and begin smoking marijuana again. I began my intensive outpatient therapy a few weeks later where I was drug tested weekly so I was held accountable there and that made it a little easier to stay clean. I graduated that program with 63 days clean and managed to stay clean for a week longer. I began hanging out with the same old friends and they convinced me that alcohol was my only problem. I began smoking marijuana again. It only took three days from then to hit my other bottom seemingly the last one I had. I went to the hospital again to be released a few hours later. I was referred back to my psychiatrist and released.
I called my friends mom who had been clean for 16 years. I really truly had enough and wanted something different. My friend had told me that her mom went to this meeting every Monday and Friday that was at a local church. She said that it was not a religious program but a spiritual program that people went to for their addictions. I called her mom and asked if I could go and she said she would come get me that night. I went to my first Narcotics Anonymous meeting nervous and scared. I was much younger than most of the people there. I have always felt like I was intellectually older than my real age so I had no problem with age. I just felt so art home. The moment I stepped in that room, I was filled a warm feeling that just made me feel at peace inside. After hearing the other people share, I knew I was in the right place. It was one of the first times in my life that I knew a power greater than myself existed.
From that day on. I continued to stay clean and go to meetings. I got involved. Even after getting in a relationship with 1 ½ years clean, leaving recovery behind and relapsing with 3 ½ clean, I took the suggestion of my predecessors. I kept coming back! No matter what I kept coming back. The last time I used almost 15 months ago, I tried to overdose on my psych meds because of my relationship that was obviously not meant to be. I have been clean since Dec 10th 2007. Ever since then it has been all about learning to live life on life’s terms, not my own. So the fact is, I cannot do this alone. I have to reach out for others. I have to be willing to try something different. The most wonderful gift I have ever been given is that of choice. Once I cleared my mind, body, and spirit of drugs and quit acting out on my disease, recovery became possible. I owe my life to the fellowship of NA. Without NA I would have not found God. I doubt that I would even be alive today.
If you think that you may have a problem with drugs, then get yourself to a local NA meeting. You will thank me later. The Third Tradition of NA states, “The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using.” I could have never imagined my life would be so full of good. Thanks to my Higher Power who I choose to call God, and the fellowship of recovering addicts in NA, I have found a life worth living.