I remember the exact moment when I realized I needed addiction treatment.

I was 21, employed part-time as a delivery driver. It was Christmas day and I was sitting in my old pickup truck outside of my dealer’s house.  I had finally gotten her to answer her phone, and step away long enough from her family to give me several packets of heroin in exchange for the money I got for selling my Christmas gifts.  I sat in the truck and prepared the fix, going through my same rituals that had been a daily routine for some time. When I injected the drugs, the familiar feeling of relief went through my body. However, there was no euphoria anymore…just a temporary relief from the obsession.

I thought about that morning, when I caused a scene at my gracious parent’s home, who had given me my millionth chance to “straighten up”, and stop living out of my car.  I was in such a hurry to get out of there and sell what they had given me to get high.

I thought about a year before, how I believed that joining the army was going to help me get clean.  An opportunity I managed to destroy the weekend before MEPS, when I was arrested for public intoxication and obstruction of justice. I thought about the fight with my younger brother for calling me a “junky”, and the resulting homelessness that followed.

I thought about my friend’s parents who took me in so I could get back on my feet. I thought about how disappointed they were when I was arrested a week later while on a xanax binge.

I thought about when I was arrested in highschool for a DUI, and the cops gave me a lecture for having a lot of paraphernalia in my car. I thought about my dad’s face when he picked up his oldest son at the police station at 4am.

I thought about the last 3 years, which was a whirlwind of jumping city to city, house to house, college to college, job to job and substance to substance.  Each time, all I needed was “one more chance”.  My parents enrolled me in school and helped me move into apartments.  My professors offered to help me pass classes.  My bosses would cut me a break for showing up hungover and late.  I tried to stop using needles.  I tried to stop using powders and pills.  I tried only using on weekends.  I tried just drinking, and I tried just marijuana.  I tried to make a rule where I wouldn’t use two days in a row.  I always ended up with a needle in my arm.  Sometimes months later, sometimes a matter of hours. I detoxed cold turkey in the basement of my parent’s home upwards of 50 times.

Everything I had tried up to that point had failed.  The reality was, I had been offered rehab by my parents and guidance counselors since the age of 15. I had known it was inevitable for some time, but it was scary.  It seemed so permanent. I had one friend I knew was doing well, she had gone to detox and rehab and had been clean the last eight months.

I called her and she happened to be in town for Christmas.  She met me at my parents home and helped them make calls to treatment facilities.

I had to wait 4 days for a detox bed to open. I began physical detox once again in my parent’s basement.  Panic, shakes, chills, sweats, vomiting, diarrhea, anger, anxiety, insomnia…all of them set in.  When the call came that a bed had opened, I did not know if I would make it to the facility about an hour away.

I ended up staying 7 days in detox, my family and counselor encouraged me to go treatment afterwards.

I went to treatment, and once again started to think about going home.  Once again I was encouraged to continue with sober living and IOP. What did I have to go back to? My parent’s basement and part-time Chinese delivery job?

I met a lot of people in treatment and IOP.  I heard people speak from all different backgrounds.  I had individual therapy with a therapist that I could be honest with. I had roommates, cooked for myself, participated in groups, played chess and dominos, and laughed for the first time in a while.  I met staff who had experienced what I had went through, and now were upstanding members of society.  I had other people that I could share my thoughts with, except they understood and did not look at me like I was crazy.  I had friends, that actually liked me.

I followed the suggestions.  I completed treatment, went to sober living and attended IOP.  I obtained employment at a simple job, and got involved in a 12 step program.  I went to meetings, joined a homegroup, worked steps and did service.

Slowly things got better.  I got a car again, as well as a decent job. My family started to look forward to hearing from me, instead of dreading what I would be calling for this time.  My brother and I grew a relationship.  I was able to help other people in my situation work the 12 steps. I moved into an apartment. I started to travel and find out who I was as a person. I found that I had hobbies and interests.  I made amends to people I harmed in my addiction. I went back to school and graduated.  I fixed my criminal background and credit score. I am looking forward to getting married and buying a house in the near future.

This Christmas will be 8 years since I sat in my truck outside my dealer’s house and decided to do something different. Getting clean at home didn’t work, neither did the Army, or under supervision of friend’s or parents, the new job didn’t help me get sober, and none of the three colleges.  It took seeking professional help, and following the suggestions that were given.  Since that day, I have not found a reason sufficient enough to use.

I had to try every possible means of getting clean besides the one thing everyone had suggested I do since the age of 15, rehab.

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