Humans in Recovery

Ryan O’Connor's
Humans in Recovery Story

Clean Date:November 7, 2015


From:Cedar Grove, NJ

I believe I was born with the disease of addiction. I first started using drugs at a Grateful Dead festival. It was a drug culture where it was ok to get high. Most people stopped when the festival ended, but I kept going.

For me, active addiction had two or three parts. In the beginning, it was tons of fun using. I enjoyed it, I loved it. Life was like a constant party. Then, it became like a full time job where I still enjoyed getting high, but I had to work so hard and I started to violate my morals and ethics. I started stealing from people and started doing things I didn’t like, but then I started justifying those behaviors. Finally by the end, it was like living the worst nightmare you’ve ever had, where my life was absolutely miserable whether I was high or not. I didn’t even want to be alive and I felt like I couldn’t exist this way anymore.

What brought me to recovery and treatment was that I knew I wanted to change the way I was living because I was miserable, but I was so addicted I couldn’t make that decision for myself. I had caught a bunch of legal charges and I was court mandated to go to treatment instead of doing jail time. When I was in treatment at Recovery Unplugged, I realized for the first time that I might want to be clean for me, not for the courts or for my parents. I thought, “This is actually something I can get on board with and this seems like it can work for me”.

My life in recovery is amazing. I rarely, if ever, think about using drugs and if I do, I don’t become obsessed with it. I live with my girlfriend and two cats, I have a full time job, I have a car and I’ve started a retirement fund. My life is really happy. In active addiction, every day that I woke up, I was upset. Today, I wake up and I’m grateful for life.

My biggest take away from going to treatment and being in recovery is that I can choose the life I want to live. I can choose to be happy or choose to be sad. For a long time I thought there was no way for me to live but to be a heroin addict, but now I know that I can have a life beyond my wildest dreams if I do the work.

Today, I like my sense of humor, that I’ve been clean for over 3 ½ years, and that I have the ability to help people everyday.

My advice for someone struggling with whether they should come to treatment or not is that tomorrow never comes. I always said I would get better tomorrow. What matters is taking action now because all we have is today. We never realize it, but it’s often the best decision that starts off the rest of our lives and makes life worth living.

My advice to families and friends that are struggling with a loved one is that it’s not something to be ashamed about, it doesn’t have to be a secret. Addiction is everywhere and you’re not alone. Reach out to other people with experience with addiction and recovery, and seek help, whether it’s professionals or another mom or dad whose son went through addiction. You know, reach out and find other people, and share solutions because we can’t do this alone.

I’d like to thank Recovery Unplugged and Narcotics Anonymous for giving me my life back.