Recovery is everywhere. These stories are here to demonstrate that recovery is working for millions of people, and it can work for you too! They’re here to offer the experience, strength, and hope to all who are willing to listen. Their words can tell you most authentically about the real experience of recovery. As you read several stories, perhaps you will notice certain themes that may help you in your own recovery. May you receive hope and inspiration from their stories.
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Clean Date: July 1st, 2013
” I grew up on an island in an upper class family. From a young age, I was encouraged to not only strive for perfection, but to punish myself if I did not achieve it. Pressure from every angle pushed me to two extremes. My first thought was to starve myself, I was admitted at age 14 to a treatment center for anorexia nervosa. When I was released, I found myself in the same pressure cooker trying to be perfect. The reality of my attempt to be perfect had lead me to several suicide attempts and hospitalizations lead me to believe that it would be substantially better to rebel and push away those who expected perfection from me. I moved to a big city from my little town so as to get away from all this pressure. This was when I came up with the greatest idea ever, I would use drugs. I already had been smoking pot on the daily, but I did not like the high from that and it did not make me feel like a rebel at all, it made me feel like a conformist because all my friends did the same. One of my friends mentioned trying cocaine at a party once and that sparked my imagination. I could be different, I could be imperfect, I could use cocaine. In my expedition to find cocaine, I came across a dealer who was in possession that day of only one drug: Heroin. I became totally obsessed with the drug after the first time I used it. I was the only 15 year old I knew that could be found with a needle in her arm. I was embarassed and proud and terrified. It only took about a month of use for me to become dependent on the drug. In a moment of fear, I decided to go to a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous. During the meeting, I left in the smoke break to shoot up in the bathroom, but I was still inspired. I decided to self-detox. I went to my dealer and told him to find me some methadone. Unfortunately, this drug made me as tired and sluggish as heroin without the same bliss. I went to talk to my dealer, who had become a trusted resource and told him that I was feeling this way. He gave me a bag of white powder and I gave him $40. He said it could make me feel better for about an hour. I found out that this was cocaine, and it solved all of my problems. My GPA skyrocketed, I was more productive, and people liked me better. I bought more and more and more and more of this magical powder. It was only at the point that I, again stuck a needle in my arm that I thought to tell on myself for all of my self-destructive behaviors. I told my therapist, and she told my parents. I was sent to what I have heard called a ritzy treatment center in Illinois where I spent two months learning about exactly how my actions impact me. When I was given my discharge date, I knew I was ready to face the real world. When I was released, however, as soon as the rehab van left the campus, the only thing I could think of was shooting up. It was only through the grace of God that I managed to stay clean through that time. Since then, I have realized that recovery is like a recipe and while most of the recipe is up to the individual, there are several key ingredients, love, faith, and most importantly, good sober fun.”
Clean date unknown
“I lost my son .. and after losing him and then losing my father I turned to drugs to numb myself … After waking up in a hospital for drinking a 1/5 of vodka I decided to ask god for help and for the first time I knew what I had to do.. I went to North Carolina slowly got off the drugs and into my church. Now I feel like a new person with my husband, my son, and my business.”
Clean since 2005
“My name is not that important but my story is important enough to share with others who might be.thinking about real change. I can not change you and its not my job to do so. I am 48 years old and truly happy about my inner journey and my recovery from a world of coke smoke and dope. I lived a life being reckless and had my daughter live with me. I worked and like many I thought I could get high and still go to work and play the role as all is okay. I want to say that as a father I was not the best dad I smoked weed with my daughter and OK’d it you see as a addict I needed people around me. I SPENT many nights awake from snorting coke watching days hours and minutes just go bye,for years if I decided I would snort a bag of dope. As a father I let my daughter do what she wanted there was times where there was no food or the rent was behind. I stole for my high never robed my family but those who was not my blood. Not proud of nothing I did but while in my addiction I committed the crime of arson I decided to do a favor and set my cousins apt house on fire, I thought since he was family i.would do him a favor. Yet he wanted to get even with those poor people who owned the house. Thank God they was not sleeping and they walked out right before the explosion. Well I gave myself up and done five years if I must it was the great awakening, the judge never gave me Ten to twenty but five, I was truly surprise that I took accountability for my action, I had a criminal background for check fraud and drug charges. I must say that i.always walked away from my crimes because I would have the right talk lets face it addicts that we was and are have.the skills to talk well. Well my daughter became a user and sad to.say she too had it hard she is clean and sober and the best part she is looking too in the assisting in many recovery. She asked me for forgiveness and said she loved me and needed help today Daddy and Daughter is doing well I have been out of prison for three years and clean since 2005 I am almost finish in receiving my degree in Culinary Arts. And I am working as a college mail clerk. Still living clean and sober and a proud Daddy and Grandfather. I share this with you so that if your a father or perhaps a mother who is a user looking to get clean or you have a child who is a user as well, please look at yourself and you owe it to yourself and those who love you to break this cycle by taking the first step – admit you have a problem and then share it with that special person who loves you, and if you have know one then look for a group AA or NA. You can call me hope.”
Clean date unknown
“I’m currently in a methadone research program @ the University of Texas Health and Science Research Institute. It’s a 6 month (free) research program w/free counseling and medication for heroin and cocaine abuse. It is a Godsend for me ! Not only do I get free counseling and med’s. but they also pay me to attend …$30.00 a week plus bus fare !!! In the beginning I was there mostly for the free methadone and the 30 dollars a week for their research. But as I attended the counseling sessions I started to realize that I really did want to stop using heroin! and cocaine! For many reasons. #1 Street drugs are dangerous (I’ve lost many friends to overdosing – including myself almost) #2 They are illegal and you could lose you’re freedom-go to jail ! rhymes with hell! #3 It kept me broke – too expensive! #4 I’m tired of the madness of chasing the drug and some of the things that go with the pursuit of obtaining it – such as shoplifting and other madness that I would not otherwise do ! #5 The trashy people involved with illegal activities. #6 I could go on all night but those are the `main 5 reasons. Anyway I Loved the way methadone changed all that! I don’t have to worry about getting busted anymore ’cause methadone is legal. It also is much safer due to you always know what you’re getting. I can afford it so I don’t have to steal and such crap that I used to do to support my illegal habit (I hated doing those things)! I now feel like a different person!!! I like myself again! I don’t feel trashy anymore! I don’t hang out with those trashy people anymore! I don’t steal any more! (I never did like shoplifting – it scared the hell out me!!! But sometimes I did it to get well. Know what I mean?) Thanks to my methadone program I am a honest functioning member of society again! If it was not for my methadone program I would still and probably forever be involved in illegal activity that I hated but could not get around from. I tried to quit doing all drugs , it’s what I really wanted , I tried hard but I always went back to opiates and pain killers. I now realize that there is something wrong with me, that will never allow that to be. I just don’t feel good naturally! I don’t understand why? But I know it will ALWAYS be my cross to bear -so to speak. So I thank GOD that I found a way to live a normal functional life in society without involving myself in crime and undesirable company! I will be able to accomplish this by what is called methadone maintenance. I thank GOD and the federal government for allowing me to live a life without crime and to be a functional person in society! Thanks for allowing me to get treatment for my unique and real crisis!”
Clean date unknown
“I took party drugs occasionally at weekends, and then I entered into a relationship with someone who had a long term coke habit. Within six months, I had a regular coke habit too. Taking drugs together normalized it, and did a lot to disguise the unhappiness. After four years together, I left him. In the initial two weeks, I went somewhere completely different, out of the environment where drug-taking was an everyday occurrence, which was my work place. I didn’t go to work for a month. It was Christmas, normally time for lots of drinking and drugs. I went to stay with some friends who live in the country instead. They grow their own vegetables, have some chickens, and a couple of horses. When the coke ran out after a few days, I realized how abnormal my behaviors had become. I’d felt uncomfortable sneaking off and taking it when no-one else did. And with no partner in crime, my sudden change in demeanor, becoming loud and chatty, was really out of place in this peaceful environment. I decided not to replenish my stash of drugs, and kept busy helping out around the farm. I tried baking bread. I started quite late in the evening, when there were lots of people around. They all stayed up, waiting for the bread to come out of the oven. The joy and pleasure I got out of other people praising my achievements was massive, and really helpful in maintaining my recovery. This made me feel good, as it got me further away from the negative feelings I had when I was taking drugs and was letting people down. When I got home, because I wasn’t spending all my time sleeping, taking drugs, and recovering from the effects, I had more time for the positive activities I used to enjoy that weren’t difficult to get to or expensive. I even tried knitting. I’d done a little at school and with the help of a friend I was soon designing my own hats, and giving them as gifts. It felt great to give something I’d made to friends and family. I started enjoying cooking and having regular meals. Previously, the house was a mess – dishes in the sink, stuff everywhere. I used to live off take out. Now I keep on top of things, the kitchen is tidy and I love inventing new recipes and having friends over for dinner. I’ve become more aware of family events and it feels good being able to take part, instead of feeling guilty about missing them. Being able to talk to friends and family without having to borrow money from them, or being selfish and manipulative, has boosted my self esteem. By not committing to the drug, I was able to commit to family and friends. I realized that I was happier without the drugs and that if it was easy enough to not have any for two weeks and then a month, then there was no reason to seek them out at all. Always wanting something that I couldn’t afford, and shouldn’t have wanted, was not a happy place to be. It was a kind of fake happiness. So, I stopped wanting it. It’s all about stopping wanting it. Drug taking still goes on around me in my work, but I am more aware of where it is likely to happen and I stay clear. I have changed my habits and routine. Now I don’t go to the pub with my workmates, I just go home. My financial gain was immediate. Taking drugs masked the fact I wasn’t coping with my finances, but that fact was always niggling away at the back of my mind. So I was never relaxed. The peace of mind I’ve now got from being in control of my finances helps me stay off drugs. Not only could I start paying off the bills, but I could buy that pair of shoes I needed, go out for dinner, go on holiday, or treat my mom to lunch. It didn’t take me long to see I got far more pleasure from these things. While taking drugs, it’s very easy to think it’s all good fun at the time. But every tiny little thing that now makes me feel good about myself, every time I do something nice for someone else, takes me further away from that lifestyle and to a much happier place. I’m a nicer person, more patient, less judgmental, more thoughtful, approachable and relaxed. These are my incentives for staying off drugs.”
Clean date unknown
“It starts at school, the older boys selling drugs to the younger ones. Right from twelve, my boy was constantly in trouble. Stealing, violence and drugs. By sixteen he was taking heroin, and jail became his first home. He nearly died after a brutal stabbing, all over drugs. I hadn’t a clue about drugs. That’s when my daughter sat me down and told me what heroin was, what drug dealers and gangsters were. I thought this just happened on television. I couldn’t believe what my family were being dragged into. When I found the silver paper and needles in the house that’s when reality hit. So much friction in the house between us all. My son was stealing from us, from neighbors, stealing cars, breaking into houses, and in and out of prison for years. I really couldn’t tell you how I coped. I suppose that’s why I drank too much. I was binge drinking at weekends. My husband was an alcoholic and he died when he was fifty -cirrhosis of the liver. That Christmas after he died I knew that I had to live. I said to my mother and my sisters, “This is my last drink and my last cigarette”, and it was. I packed them both in and I’ve never smoked or drunk since. I did comfort eat and put a bit of weight on, but nothing too drastic. I talked to my family about the boys, which isn’t always a good thing. There ends up being tittle tattle and criticism. That’s why you are better off going to family support groups, but that came later. My two sons and grandson were all in the house one day, taking heroin. One of my boys overdosed and died there and then. I was at my husband’s grave at the time, and when I got home they were waiting to tell me. It wasn’t the first time he had overdosed but this time he died. My daughter was there for me, and family too. It’s just a blank. I don’t know how I coped. I never understood why they used heroin, wanting to be part of the crowd I suppose. My other son was using drugs daily and stealing to pay for them. He drank a lot. Then, and I still don’t know how, the miracle happened. He decided he was getting off everything. He had to get his methadone right down and then he was allowed into rehab. His social worker and a lovely nurse helped him get through the detox, and that was him off the drink and drugs. He moved into supported accommodation, and that’s almost two years that he’s been clean. He’s at college now. I’m very proud that he’s done that. His nature is so different, he’s absolutely brilliant. Through family-group support I have got better myself. A Doctor gave me the number and I must have hung on to that number for about a week, thinking, “ I don’t know what this is about”. Then I phoned it and spoke to a wonderful woman. She phoned me right back and spoke to me for over an hour. Then she picked me up and took me to the group. I went nearly every week. What was said in that room stayed in the room. We told our stories and could cry openly. Complete strangers – but we all shared similar stories. I would recommend it to everybody who has been in this situation. It’s been tremendous for me going to these groups. Through them I joined line dancing and have never looked back. I go twice a week, and away for dancing weekends. We try to learn a new dance every week, its brilliant. My teacher tells the group not to follow me, what a laugh! So between my weekends away and line dancing, I’m enjoying life again. I never would have thought I’d get my life back. I came through it. I go to a bereavement group as well. We tell each other our stories. It can be painful, but those people are the one’s who really understand what you’ve been through. There is a hypnotherapist who gives you sessions through family support. This has been great, and helped me to cope with anger issues.”
Clean date 11/2000
“My family were all growing up they were teenagers and at the age where maybe they would start drugs and drink and I thought, I don’t want them to see me like this – I don’t want them to be like this, the way I was. It was a horrible life, taking a drink and drugs to blank out what was in my mind, put me to sleep, I hid away in my room. And I thought I don’t want to be like this. I started feeling an awful fear. Thinking about death, what would happen to my boys if I wasn’t here? I thought about how my mother and father would be ashamed of me. And I felt as if they’d all be watching what I was doing. A fear went into my chest and I thought I was going to have heart attacks, I was panicking, couldn’t sleep, tossing and turning, pure fear. I just wanted to open the door and walk away for ever, I wanted to join my mother and then I’d think about my boys and didn’t want to. One of these times, my boys phoned NHS24. They spoke to my boy, I was on medication for depression at the time, and they took me to hospital and that’s how we discovered that it was through the drinking that I’d been feeling the fear. They offered me counselling and all the rest of it. I said ‘yes’ at the time “get me back to my old self, build me back up” but when they said it would involve social workers, I took an awful fright and said ‘No’ I don’t want them coming anywhere near me. I saw a doctor for counselling and I screamed that ‘I didn’t want to be like this’ and he said ‘That’s all I need to hear’. So he arranged all my further counselling for me. I think it was a sister who first came out to see me, she threw her arms around me and I started to feel quite contented. The Dr. actually said to me, ‘we don’t want to see you back here’. The sister mentioned social workers again and it put me right off, I wanted to do this myself. I wanted to do it for my boys too, but I was worried about them knowing I had a social worker. But then I took another drink and ended up back in the hospital. I opened up and talked a lot in hospital. I said I’d take counselling again. So I got the letter from the hospital that referred me to a local women’s help group. I was delighted because I felt too ashamed to go to AA and let people know I was like that. So I’ve landed here and it’s been a great help to me. We all get to know one another and I’m more confident. We’re all dead close. I don’t need to bother with anyone else because I’ve got my friends and my sisters and my boys. If I say I’m not going today my boys say ‘You’re going!’ And if there’s anything that crops up or getting me down, the boys say, ‘Are you going to your wee group tomorrow?’ That’s what we call it, my ‘wee group’. The boys support me and always encourage me to go to the group. Now I can get up and go out the door. Before I just sat on the couch or went to my room to cry. I can go anywhere. I’ve got my bus pass. I’m sixty now, but before, it was the cost of getting about that put me off. I can go to my sister’s, to the shops, to the group. The bus pass has given me some amount of freedom because we were poverty stricken. I’m getting on now and maybe I should wind down but I just want to be active, get out and about. My mother was like that, she was left to bring up eight of us, my father died when he was 45. She never took a drink in her life and managed all us without a father. I felt so ashamed and guilty, the guilt was ripping me apart when I was sober. Coming to the group knowing you’re not the only one helps. For my boys I just want everything to be perfect. But it just doesn’t go like that because I can’t live everybody else’s life for them. So now I’m just trying to be fine in myself and hope they follow my example. But hey now I’ve got a grandson and he’s 3 and I dote on him and I want to live my life and see them all get settled.”