“If you can quit for a day, you can quit for a lifetime.” – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Addiction is never something that a person wants in life, it kind of just happens in the blink of an eye. Many Americans struggle from the same addiction for years, and can never seem to get into recovery. I was one of these Americans that got caught into the addiction of drugs, alcohol, and sex. Before my addiction years, I was known as a very respectable young teenager who played sports, joined boy scouts, went to church, did my best in school, and treated my parents with all the respect I could offer them.
At age 12, I had my first hit of marijuana, and after I took two hits I went directly home and told my parents because I didn’t like the way I felt and just didn’t want to feel the high I was feeling! After I experienced that horrible encounter with marijuana, I vowed to never touch drugs again in my life! I lived up to this vow until sophomore year in high school when I had a sport ending knee injury in basketball ... which I only played to stay in shape for soccer because my life dream was to become a professional soccer player and travel the world and one day hopefully play in another country! High hopes for a teenager, but my mind was set, and I wasn’t giving up on my only dream in life. I come from a huge family where it was always a struggle, so soccer was my only outlet until I got hurt and no longer could play sport for the rest of my life!
Due to this injury I had to have two knee surgeries; one in 2004 and the other in 2005. Post-surgery introduced me to my first taste of opiates and I loved it! I was in such a depressed state of mind because I couldn’t play soccer anymore that I lost sight of what was real in life. I felt like life didn’t have a meaning anymore so I continued to take opiates! I also started to sell cocaine to support all the other habits I already had.
Then in 2007, I moved to Louisville, Kentucky with my mother to get away from the drugs and people who were enabling me to do drugs and party. However, this wasn’t a good idea because I wasn’t ready to quit using drugs. The first day I started school, I became friends with all the kids who partied and did drugs. This led me to return to the same lifestyle I was trying to get away from, and caused me to get into a major car accident. On May 7, 2007, I got behind the wheel of a vehicle with three of my friends (one being a brother of mine) under the influence of ecstasy, marijuana, and alcohol with the mindset to drive from Louisville to Chicago to get cocaine because we couldn’t find it anywhere in Louisville. After about 60 miles of driving, a cop began to chase me and I didn’t stop … I took the police on a 10 mile police chase which ended with me flipping the car I was driving six times in the median and caused another vehicle to crash. I thank God every day that he spared my life and the eight other lives that could have been taken that night because of the poor decision I made to get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
I was then sent back to live in Illinois with my dad because my mom was so ashamed of me, which lead me to smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, and doing any type of opiate pill I could find or get from my doctors. I would lie to them and tell the doctors I was in pain when I wasn’t just to get the high I craved so much. By 18 years old, I moved out of my parent’s house and was addicted to marijuana, alcohol, opiates (pills), cocaine, ecstasy, acid, mushrooms, and sex. When I moved into a house with my buddy, I got the mother of my child pregnant, and my daughter was born the day before I turned 20. After I found out I was going to be a father, I stopped using drugs and became responsible once more for the sake of my future family. Then six months after my daughter was born, her mother and I split up, I had another knee surgery, and I became addicted to the opiates (pills) ... AGAIN.
In 2012, I had a major knee surgery that had me in a wheel chair for months and on crutches for even longer. I was in so much pain I was prescribed the highest milligram narcotics you could get from a doctor. I abused these narcotics for about a year until someone showed me heroin, and I was instantly hooked on heroin and became a slave to it. I started selling all my narcotics (200 pills a month) and using the money to start buying heroin to sell it so I could keep my high for as long as I wanted. Being addicted to heroin didn’t only make me an addict, it made me the monster I thought I would never become. I lied to all my family, cut off all my friends, and what hurts the most is allowing my daughter to live through the entire heroin addiction.
Heroin addiction is the one drug addiction you will never fully understand unless you have gone through it or have seen first-hand the everyday mental and emotional struggles of an addict. I was at my end … I didn’t care about my life anymore. I didn’t care if my daughter didn’t have a father to grow up with. All I cared about was my next high and hoped it would end me because I was so sick of being a heroin addict that I just wanted to die, but couldn’t stop using because of the fear of withdrawing. I was at the lowest point in life when I was feeling these thoughts, so I ended up stealing a hundred dollars from my father. He was already suspicious of me and what I was on or doing. (Every father knows if their kid is on drugs.) He showed up to my house the very next day to confront me about the hundred dollars, and because he already knew I was using heroin, he came inside right into my face, put me against the wall with a baseball bat, and told me what any father would tell his son, “Why are you doing this to yourself? I don’t want to bury my son. You’re supposed to bury me. You have a daughter who needs you to be there for her, to walk her down the aisle at her wedding, and to love and support!”
This was my wake-up call … My father put the love of and faith in God back into my heart. No matter how many times I tell him, “I am so grateful for doing what you did for me,” he will never fully understand how grateful I am for saving me from death. He was my savior, my second chance to life when I felt life was coming to an end.
In the beginning of my sobriety, I quit my last addiction which was smoking cigarettes for almost ten years, and rejoined a gym. This was my New Year's resolution for 2014 going into 2015! Now, three years later, I am still sober and living the most amazing life anyone could ever ask for. I am so proud to say that to this day I am still going to the gym 6 - 7 days a week and I am in the best shape of my life physically, emotionally, and most of all mentally! The gym has become a second home, and the people I have met there feel like family. Being there has helped me in so many ways to stay on my path to recovery, because recovery is never over. I’ve been coaching my daughter in soccer for almost three years now, just started back at JJC to finish my Culinary Arts degree, have my own house I rent, and, working with the Braidwood Area Healthy Community Coalition, have helped spearhead an initiative called H.E.A.R. US (Heroin/Opiate Education, Awareness & Remembrance … United we Stand) to help heroin/opiate addicts and their families, and to raise awareness about the epidemic that is destroying our loved ones.
Recovery for me wasn’t rehab or counseling, it was the love and faith of my father bringing me back to reality. Everyone’s recovery is different and I encourage you to do what works best for you. There are always temptations in life, but with the right mindset, every day you will see that you're more powerful than you ever thought possible. If you need rehab, please go and don’t waste a single minute because you’re important to someone and all it takes is one person to care. We are all in this world together, whether you want to believe it or not. If you know someone who needs help, please show them your support and try to get them into a treatment center. It’s hard to want recovery when you’re addicted to a drug, but if you show an addict you care the way my father showed me, you will see the work of God happen right in front of your eyes. Some may reject your love only because they’re in denial still, but don’t let this stop you from caring for them. Continue to show them the love and support and try to get them into treatment or whatever will work for them to stop using. We live in a different world now and we all must be prepared for what dangers lie ahead for the future generations. We all must stand together to fight this epidemic and MAKE THE WORLD H.E.A.R. US!!!!
“Recovery is not simple abstinence. It’s about healing the brain, remembering how to feel, learning how to make good decisions, becoming the kind of person who can engage in healthy relationships, cultivating the willingness to accept help from others, daring to be honest, and opening up to doing.” ~ Debra Jay