Clean Date: October 4, 2017
From: Long Island, NY
In the beginning, it was fun. It was partying, it was a lot of drinking, smoking, always having a good time. When all my friends were able to stop, I always kept going. And then I met a guy who was a drug dealer and he introduced me to my drug of choice. Then I started to spiral out of control. Within maybe a year, I had a needle in my arm and it was just anything and everything I could ever do just to get the next one.
Being in addiction was hell. It was like my soul was just taken. I didn’t know who I was, what I was, what I wanted to do with my life. All I cared about was using and finding the means to get more. My relationships with my family… I didn’t have relationships. The only relationship I had was my relationship with the drugs. It was horrible.
I came down to Florida for treatment in 2012. I thought I was only doing a week in detox in New Jersey, and then my parents shipped me to Florida when I was 19 and I’ve been here ever since. After countless arrests, countless overdoses, countless rehabs and detoxes, I really just continued to spiral. I would get little spurts of clean time and I would go and get really involved with my recovery, but as soon as I wanted to use, I just couldn’t pick up the phone and call the right people. I always just turned back to what I thought I knew best; which was to use. Every situation that gave me even the slightest excuse to get high, I just ran with it.
The last time that I used, I only used for a week. In that week, I wound up in ICU. I overdosed three times that week. When I woke up in the hospital after that, I just knew deep down that I was going to die. It was this overwhelming feeling that I was either going to get clean, or I was going to die. And I couldn’t bear to think of my family burying me. I couldn’t. I made that decision on that day that I didn’t want to do this anymore.
My mom would always say that she had eulogies written, she had my funeral planned, and she was just waiting for that phone call. For me to use again, I might as well just put a gun in my mouth because that’s what’s going to happen. To me, that was God’s way of telling me ‘You can’t use anymore. I just spared your life three times in a week! You’re not going to make it again.’
My life now is beautiful. It really is. I think about it all the time, I just wish I did it sooner. There were so many times where I couldn’t stop using, and I didn’t believe that there was a way out. I really didn’t buy into it. This time around, when I got clean and I actually decided to stick around, and stay. They say ‘don’t quit before the miracle happens,’ miracles happen in my life every single day. I have a beautiful daughter who’s healthy and smart, and if I wasn’t clean, I would’ve never had that. I have a beautiful wife and a happy relationship. If I wasn’t clean, I would never have that. I have an amazing relationship with my mom, with my dad, with my sisters, they all come to me for guidance. I have a great job, I get to help other addicts on a daily basis. I have money in my savings account, I have a beautiful place to live, I have a car, but all of those things that are monetary, you can put a price tag on that. But the feeling I have internally, of just being free and not having to wake up a slave to a drug, is priceless.
Now, I am a Senior Alumni Coordinator at Recovery Unplugged. For me that means being able to connect with other addicts and other people’s parents that are struggling. I say ‘hey, I was your child and I put my parents through this exact same thing and the best thing my parents did for me was to just back away and let me hit my bottom. And not enable me anymore.’
To see the magic that can happen when clients that a year ago were coming in, and now are picking up their year medallions, and for them to say that something I said is what they hold on to, that’s amazing. Or somebody saying ‘thank you for never giving up on me, and calling me over and over again, even when I didn’t want to hear from you, and you just didn’t give up on me.’ I’ve been cursed out, I’ve been called names, and I don’t take it personally. I had a woman fall on her knees before and cry, after she told me to screw myself 10 times, and I just said ’I love you, keeping coming back, don’t give up on yourself, you’re worth it.’ Sometimes we need to hear those things. I know I did!
And I know I was that person that ignored the alumni coordinators and wanted them to leave me alone, but I truly care about our clients. On a personal level. That might be good or bad, but I care. And yeah, this is how I earn a living but it’s more than a living to me. This place has saved my life. Recovery Unplugged isn’t my recovery, but it is where I came in broken, disgusted, I was a shell of a human being when I came to Recovery Unplugged and now I work here and I see other clients come in who were me and I can say hey I went through that. And I can relate to them.