How Heroin Made me a Better Person

By a_richer 04/25/19
man rock climbing on cliff

the Story so Far

Writing this is brushing up against my sense of what is right, I’ve struggled to approach this endeavour with as much humility as possible – trying to separate what worked from who it worked for. I’ve only progressed this far on account of encouragement from those around me and people who have been inspired by my story, and it seems at this point some context is lacking.

There are points in our lives when the steps we take carry a weight with them, and if your intuition is tuned right enough you know when you are approaching a crossroads. I spent much of my life completely oblivious to these turning points, choosing the wrong path or simply not acknowledging there was another I could choose. Do this enough times you become resentful at the lot ‘life has given you’ instead of the lot you chose for yourself.

At every twist and turn things became worse and as they did I cursed the world for how my life ended up, I took it out on my friends and those who cared about me. I developed a painfully nihilistic attitude where nothing mattered, and all that mattered to me was getting what I wanted – damn the consequences.

I took this attitude to it’s logical conclusion, suicide. Not the sudden, immediate kind but the slow drip of suffering that the world had to watch. Flirting with death but never committing, coming up to the point of overdose and realising in my anguish that I hadn’t done enough when I woke up the next day. This long, drawn out death by a thousand cuts hardened my soul and tore apart the souls of those foolish enough to love and care for me.

I took advantage of everyone who saw the pain I was in and offered help, after all why would me of all people be worth helping? I was callous, calculated, and spiteful in my actions, I used every bit of my intelligence to manipulate the world around me to give me what I wanted.

These experiences hardened me, and the more I pushed people away the more I became self reliant and had to dispense with fear and shyness to get what I wanted.

The thing about addiction is it refines you in a way, all those little inconsistencies could mean the difference between life and death so when you need to read a room to make it out, you learn quickly.

When the consequence of ignorance or one misstep is death, or withdrawal (which is tantamount to death in a way) you learn to adapt quickly.

When the consequences of losing your job is a loss of a drug supply, you learn to refine your work ethic and squeeze every bit of productivity out of your beaten, broken, strung out self.

This refining of character, sharpening those attributes to get what I wanted and dispensing with those that got in the way gave me a basis for how I would recover without even realising it.

All I needed was a willingness to do different, and the catalyst for this was spending two weeks in the hospital for the 7th arm infection (2nd time hospitalised) and nearly losing my arm. Being sober and having to look my family in the eyes as they saw how nonchalant I was about the whole thing eventually became too much to bear.

I said I would go to rehab.

At this point I had gone through several cycles of addiction then brief recovery, small relapse, shame and then full relapse and I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do it on my own. For me, this was no small feat and was probably the most important moment in my recovery. Admitting I couldn’t do it on my own, and being willing to have someone else help me.

I turns out in the end it was me who had to do it anyway, my obstinate and unserious attitude was not conducive to any kind of recovery. It was only about 3 weeks in to my stay where I had a bout of suicidal depression and in my head, the logical conclusion was to leave the rehab with what little money I could get together and spend my time on the streets until I overdosed and died. That was what my brain went to first. Death by drug abuse.

I was right though, that’s all that comes from it and that’s where this thing was heading. Once I had pulled myself out of the haze and back into a space where I wanted to live it was at that moment I realised that ever doing drugs again was not an option for me. This whole time I had only my toes in the water and never fully dedicated myself to pulling out of the hole I had dug, I only desired to appear as if I wanted change. When everyone would leave me alone I would go right back to what I was doing.

Actually starting to like yourself is a threat to your future highs, and the more real progress you make the more likely you are to stop yourself from doing things that lead you to relapse. If you never climbed that high out of your hole in the first place, the fall doesn’t seem so bad. So once the choice to stop drilling into rock bottom to see just how deep it went was made, how did I climb back out?

Like everything with me, it was complicated. Nothing is simple, and I needed a complex web of reasons and a solid method for myself to get out. It started with what I laid out in my Self-Growth page. Once I had something solid to stand on I started listening to what people had to say, all the comments about my potential that I had ignored so that I didn’t have to face the reality of what I was wasting away I started actualizing.

I was humble about it, I was basically a clean slate at this point so as people would compliment my seriousness and my intellect eventually once it was independently confirmed I would believe it. One person, maybe a fluke – two, a pattern – three, the truth.

The most important part of it was the will to believe I could do it, and the desire to not make things worse for myself. No matter how bad life would get from then on, I had made a decision that I would never do that again. I had spent so many years running to drugs to avoid the problems that life gave me, and in turn causing more pain than I would have ever encountered had I just toughed it out. I was never a coward in addiction, why start now?

I was tested. I spent my last two home visits from the rehab in hospitals visiting people I cared deeply for with no certainty they would ever return home. This would have been a perfect excuse with my old mentality and who would have blamed me, the difference is I wasn’t looking for excuses.

I left rehab and started taking life seriously. As time went on and I started getting some real time with no self-doubt about the direction I’ve been going under my belt, I began to shift into a real solid self confidence. I’ve always been an imposing person in some form or another, whether it was arrogance, narcissism, cockiness, angst, or just plain size (I was about 200lbs when I stayed ‘sober’ for a year) I was always someone who would make room for myself where they may have been none.

The difference is, most of that was based on other people. This new self-worth is from me and is fully realized all the way down to my soul.

When I started this project I was basically forced into it by people who believed in me, people who supported me and when I tentatively sent them the first piece I had written in 10 years “Ad(am) Infinitum” they told me if I didn’t keep going I would be wasting my life, and when they did I believed them. That’s the thing, I know this about myself now. I’m no longer ignoring my talents, I’m embracing them and exploiting myself instead of letting others exploit them.

I know I can do anything I put my mind to, because I’ve proven that I can.

I know that I don’t have to be afraid, because I made it through things other people never would.

I know that when I look in the mirror I see someone who through sheer force of will took myself from the pits of hell and brought new light into my life and to those around me.

I walk around, head held high because I know who I am and I know what I’ve been through.

At the end of the day what it comes down to is this.

The steps never get any lighter, and you don’t get to choose not to make them.

All you can do is make sure you’re sure-footed when you make them



I'm a 24 year old university student from Montreal, Canada. After finally wrestling my life from the clutches of a decade of drug addiction I've been able to put one foot in front of the other and keep using the same fight that didn't let anything get in my way during addiction, and applied it to life. I'm 15 months sober from heroin and 6 months from all other substances.


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