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Welcome to the jungle, baby.
As the 1988 hit single from Guns and Rose's debut album so well stated, you are in the jungle for the long haul. You will face the worst enemy and forces beyond your control will attempt to destroy you in every way. Drug addiction is not a simple thing. It starts with the partying and the good lifestyle then winds up taking us down a path of destruction and death, cliche as it sounds, only death, disease, and prison lie in wait to take care of us at the end.
My story is no different. I am every single addicted person who has done my share of mind altering chemicals, and the road is narrow and I have no idea where I am going to be in a few years. I am lucky to be able to tell you this much of the story, in hope that another person facing the same challenge and demons will not feel alone, in the jungle. We don't have to die in our addiction. We can live through them.
I. The Beginning
I was hoping to avoid the problems that my peers were dealing with in their early 20's. Many of them had problems with the law, from simple possession charges to DUI'S that took their ability to drive at an early age. Some had to leave college and a few even tried, and failed, to complete drug rehab ordered by the courts. I wasn't them. I started late in the game, with marijuana experimentation only a little bit of the time wasted in youthful screw ups.
At 23 I started to smoke weed after my parents finally opened up to me about their own casual use of the drug. I was quickly a devoted fan of daily bong hits and spent a good $100 or more each week staying high.
I soon graduated to Ecstasy and mushrooms and LSD, with pharmaceuticals to follow. I landed a Dr. Feelgood and I was able to write out my own prescriptions for a cocktail that would make Elvis Presley proud.
240 Norco, 120 Morphine, 120 Soma, 250 Valium and the list went on. I was soon buying extras when I ran out each month, and it wasn't even shocking to see me down a handful of little round candy like pills at hourly intervals.
My late 20's are a blur. Journal entries are the only memories left in my foggy recollections, only a hint of actual experience to be found in the back of my mind. I was given the answer to this drug induced coma by the introduction of Crystal Methamphetamine, first snorting, then smoking a gram a day to level me out, bringing me back to "normal. "
I was hoping to get a life started somewhere in the midst of the drug war in my life, and it was given hope and motivation by the birth of my daughter, in 2003. I was 27.
It was short lived and I was not slowing down to let her catch up to me, and my parents were there to enable my lack of participation in her early years.
I was on the outside looking in on my own life and I was told that I was right to leave her with the stability of her grandparents rather than drag her through the damage I was doing to myself.
When my primary doctor was forced to surrender his license to practice medicine, I was shuffled from pain management to pain management until each shut the door for good during the escalating Opiate Epidemic of the 2010's.
Statistics were clear about the correlation between prescription opiate abusers and the heroin addiction rise that paved the way for Fentanyl to wreak havoc in the US. Even the elderly and the disabled were forced to street level dealers to get "well" after it became impossible to find a doctor willing to accept any opioid dependent patients.
At age 36, I used Heroin for the first time and it was the worst thing I ever did to my life. I was addicted to the drug almost instantaneously, and went from smoking to the needle in less than a year.
I was arrested at the age of 36 for the first time, too. Possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia. It was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor charge, and after a dozen failure to appear warrants I was sentenced to------. The case is part of the reason that I have been chronically homeless almost a decade, and virtually unemployable the entire time, too.
Drug court, classes, work release, kicking in jail, losing my teeth and the lost of most of my material possessions wasn't able to curb my addiction. I was in a very bad domestic violence situation that was almost the ending of life for me, causing a late term miscarriage and three cases against the man who had been holding me a hostage in my own life, unable to flee with nowhere to go.
His prison term of over five years finally gave way to enough separate that allowed me to pursue a new relationship, although it was damaging in a different way. And the expectations that I have at 45 years old are not the same as my idealism in my younger years.
My only child is now 16, estranged and will not have anything to do with me. I remain on the outside looking in, begging for the time I threw away so easily in her childhood. I will never be able to get that back, and it caused her life more harm than ever intended. My hope for removing myself from the picture was the opposite of harm, but how can she understand that and how can I ask her to?
This is just the beginning of my story. The end is not yet written. The middle is still happening. I stand just at the point of no return. Begging for forgiveness over crimes against the people who I loved most, and against myself.
To addicts and those who are in recovery, know it is a long and difficult road, as lonely as it gets, but you are not alone. We are not alone.