Stories of Addiction and Recovery
By Anonymous Authors
*These are a few of the stories have been collected by the Substance Abuse Council from residents in Calhoun County over the last couple years. Their stories of substance abuse, addiction, and recovery are told in their own words. The authors of these stories had a common reason for wishing to share their struggles and heartache: to help others heal and recover from addiction, and maybe even prevent someone from abusing drugs and alcohol.
“I had my first beer when I was 6 years old. It was given to me by my dad. Ever since then when my dad would ask me to go get him a beer I would open it and steal a drink before I gave it to him. As I grew up, in high school is when I started to smoke weed. I was with friends and family and just wanted to try it. I got kicked out of high school for truancy because I was partying all the time, continued to party and went through numerous jobs due to absenteeism. I went through three different marriages due to drinking. I was arrested three times for DUI and finally I was arrested for possession of cocaine. I didn’t have any barriers to treatment that I know of because I did not want treatment. I did have to go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) for my DUI’s but for the cocaine possession I was sentenced to Drug Court and that’s when I got clean. I also participated in the Life Recovery Program voluntarily. I have now been clean and sober for 4 years and I am very happy with life now. I have had the same job for 3 years, I have good clean friends now and I am able to cope with life without using. The support system I required to get clean was Drug Court, the Life Recovery Program, and my higher power.”
“The first time I remember getting drunk I was about 14 and I was with my parents. I had cut my foot at the beach and my step dad thought that a few drinks would make me feel better. I drank homemade wine and whiskey and got so drunk I wound up under the kitchen sink. I felt so bad the next day that I was crying and begging to die.
My parents drank every day- especially my step dad. They would work all day and then go to the bar after work leaving us home by ourselves. As far as us, the thinking was that if we “were going to drink it was better that we did it at home and not out and about.” I think they thought they were doing a good thing by getting us used to alcohol. All of us drank at times, and my 12 year old sister once got a fifth of peppermint schnapps, bib overalls, and a gun for Christmas. We have pictures of her passed out under the kitchen table.
My step dad used alcohol to cover up whatever he really wanted to do. If he got mad he would drink so he could yell and hit my Mom. This went on my entire life and ruined many holidays. I remember wondering why nobody did anything about this, but thought it must be normal, everyone knew we drank and everyone liked my step dad. My reason for drinking was to deal with the things that I couldn’t handle sober. If I had some drinks, I was more relaxed and he thought it was cool, so he was nicer to me.
Once I got out of school and got married, I didn’t return home for a few years. However, I married a man who played in a band and was in the bars each night with this work. I would drink while we were at the bars so I could feel like I fit in. I was several years younger than everyone else. I also did it so that I could go along with things I normally wouldn’t have. It was an easy way to “get along.” This went on for several years and caused me to ignore my children as I was trying to live two lives- one during the day and one at night in the bars.
There were many situations that arose due to the drinking and at that time the casual drug use that wouldn’t have occurred if I had been sober. Everyone that I hung out with at that time did these things so it didn’t seem so bad. I didn’t realize until years later that the reason people stared at us when we were in a fast food restaurant after smoking pot was because we reeked of the smell. The drug and alcohol use made me paranoid that someone would find out, but I didn’t stop.
When my marriage broke up several years later, I stopped the drugs. The last time I smoked pot I was at Cedar Point with my young son and a friend of his. Just as my friend lit the joint, a cop came by and put us in the back of his patrol car. I was amazed to learn there were no door handles on the inside. He drove us to the front of the park and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but my son and his friend were still inside the park and I knew I needed to get them. I thought he was going to take me to jail and I had never even had a speeding ticket at that time. I was in a new relationship and believed if this man found out what I had done he would never love me. Plus, what would my son’s dad do? I was so scared. I thought I was going to lose my son, my job, my new relationship, and everything I cared about! I prayed and prayed that God would help me, and if He did, I promised I would never smoke pot again.
The cop let us out at the front gate and stamped our hands so we couldn’t get back in the park. I found my son by the gate where we were supposed to meet and we got in the car and drove home. To this day there have been many times when I thought about smoking pot again, usually when I am upset and need to relax, but I have not been able to break my promise. When I needed help God helped me and I don’t want to break that promise to him.
My story may not be as dramatic or terrible as many others, but to me it was enough to make me change my life right then. I have since watched my son go through many of the same problems that I had and pay a price far beyond what happened to me for his mistakes and misjudgments. I wish I could have found a way to help him avoid these problems, but drugs and alcohol offer an escape that can be very seductive.”
“I started smoking pot and drinking when I was 11. I had started smoking cigarettes at 10, so this was the next logical step for me. I had many friends who did the same thing and we thought it was cool! My parents drank socially and since Dad was in the service we moved a lot while I was growing up. Drinking was a way for me to fit in and make people like me.
By the time I was 16, my problem had gone beyond booze and pot. I was taking LSD, speed, and any other pill I could get my hands on. During my 17th year, right after I graduated from high school I was arrested for stealing Delaudid, a narcotic that is 8 times more potent than morphine. I had been working in pharmacy as a clerk and had the opportunity to be alone for a few moments. This was the beginning of a very bad year for me. My Dad was able to help me get out of trouble by hiring a good lawyer, but he didn’t do anything to help me with my problem because he didn’t think I had one. He said I was just “being a kid.”
By later that year, I was stealing drugs from my friend’s parents and my Grandma. I would mix anything to get high, and often was so high that I would pass out wherever I was and not remember how I got there the next day. During this time, I got pregnant. The guy who fathered the baby married me, but he was as much into the drugs as I was. In the 5th month I lost the baby and the doctor told me I would never have kids. This was enough to send me spiraling into drugs even worse than before. My marriage fell apart, and I moved home with my parents. This time my Dad realized I had a problem, and got me help. My Dad was a psychologist for the army. I got myself cleaned up and got a great job, things were going better.
Then I met another man, who had a Harley and a BIG drug problem. Within a month, I had lost my job because I was stoned or unable to work most of the time. We took off on his bike and moved to another state. For the next several years, my life was a blur. I didn’t get in trouble with the law anymore, but smoking pot was a daily event for me, kind of like smoking cigarettes for other people. I would go to lunch at work and smoke a joint, then wonder why people looked at me so funny when I got back to work.
One day I was home from work smoking pot and hanging out. My husband (we got married) was out. A repairman came to the house to work on our roof, I was stoned and asked him if he wanted to share a joint. We did, then we slept together, and a few months later I was pregnant again. The problem was my husband had a vasectomy years before and couldn’t have kids. We tried to work things out and I told him I would clean my act up. I did while I was pregnant, and he stayed with me. Then when the baby was born, he told me he couldn’t deal with it and was kicking me out! I got stoned, for the first time since I found out I was pregnant. I was so stoned I couldn’t even take care of my baby. I called a friend who came over from work and took care of my baby until I came around.
I am divorced from that man, and I have remarried and have another child, and a grandchild. One day a friend of mine invited me to go to an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting with her. I was reluctant at first but I eventually gave in and went. I was surprised to find out that the people there were so much like me. They were very friendly and made me feel welcome. I have been going to NA ever since that day and I now have 389 days clean and sober. Now my kids are proud of me and I don’t’ have to sneak around behind people’s backs. I feel like a brand new person today. Thank God for NA.”
“I have so many struggles going on it’s difficult to find a beginning so I guess I’ll start with saying I’m 8 months clean from alcohol and all chemicals. I feel really good about being clean and free from drugs and alcohol but there still are some serious life struggles happening. I’m working on learning who I am and what I really want for myself and what career I want to proceed in but that is very difficult when my name has been destroyed in the work force and my credit is terrible. My bills are so behind. My rent is behind and I’m about to get evicted. I have no car and I’m getting 16 dollars a month for food. I’m attending school to try to obtain my GED so I can have half the chance to obtain a decent job so I can start to take care of myself at least a little bit and to try and meet other people who are in recovery or that have never been in the drug and alcohol world. I want to find people that can have fun in sobriety and have found some in Celebrate Recovery.
I was brought into Drug Court on 2 felony and 1 misdemeanor charge and I’m thankful for that for the most part. They sent me to Psychological Consultants and I attended an intensive outpatient program for 25 weeks. Just before I was done with that, Corporate Cup came along and being on the Celebrate Recovery team sounded like a lot of fun so I signed up not knowing what I was actually getting myself into with the meetings lunch and dinners and award ceremony. It has been wonderful. I feel like I am apart of something great. I feel I finally have some great support behind me and they helped me see that there are things out there in life that I can be a part of without drugs or alcohol. And they fed me, which is always a good thing.
But most of all, no matter what I have done in my life, they have always made me feel like I am a part of something good. They have brought me out into the open and showed me I can be a part of the community and that I can do good for myself and others with my story. They have helped me realize I’m not alone and I do have the power to be better, stronger and confident in myself, because let’s face it, that is one of my struggles. The Substance Abuse Council helped me with trying to find a way to talk to my son about the dangers out there. He knows I was doing drugs and drinking and being a part of the community and the Celebrate Recovery Committee are showing me a new life experience without drugs and alcohol that way I can teach my son and have him be a part of this as well.”
“I first started drinking when I was about ten or eleven years old. My father used to let me drink on special occasions like New Year’s Eve or birthdays. I remember getting so drunk one time at this age that when I woke up I had urinated in my bed. About the age of thirteen I started drinking with my friends and smoking pot. This led me to get into trouble at school and at home because I was living with my mother now and she did not allow that kind of behavior. As time progressed through my school years I started experimenting with other drugs like LSD, cocaine, methamphetamine, and pretty much whatever I could get my hands on. I ended up quitting school at age 16 because all I wanted to do was get high with my friends.
I was able to hold down a job for about seven years at this time because all I was doing was smoking pot and drinking although I did get arrested for possession of marijuana a couple of times and DUI a couple of times. It was when I started to get into meth is when things really went downhill for me. I ended up losing that job due to absenteeism. Shortly after that the police tried to pull me over one night and I had been drinking. I was on probation for drinking and had components to make meth in my vehicle. So I made a split decision to run from them. I led them on a chase through two states at over a hundred miles an hour. I remember during the chase thinking about just running into a tree and ending my life but I didn’t. Eventually they used stop sticks to blow out my tires and they arrested me.
At this time I thought for sure I was going to prison but I ended up only getting one hundred days in jail and more probation. SO when I got out I wanted to move out of that city because all the cops knew me and I didn’t have a drivers license so I went to a new town for a new start. When I got to this new town I got a great job and was doing well for a little while but I was lonely. One day I ran into girl that I used to use meth with at a bar. Come to find out she lived there to. So she introduced me to all the people in town that were doing meth and here we go again. I met a guy who wanted to get high and he knew how to cook meth but he didn’t have any money so I told him I would buy the supplies if he showed me how to cook. Ever since that day I was cooking my own meth. I decided I wanted to quit my new job and just sell and use drugs so I did.
Then one day, about a month later the police raided my house and took me to jail for a meth lab. I ended up going to prison for 18 months over that. I was surprised that although all my crimes were drug and alcohol related I was not given any treatment while in prison. I didn’t even have to see the parole board to get out. They just sent me a letter giving me parole. When I got home I moved in with a girlfriend that I had from years ago. She was clean because she was in drug court at the time. I didn’t go back to meth but I did start drinking again. First once and awhile and then every day. This led to me getting my fourth DUI. I thought for sure I was going back to prison but by the grace of God I got Drug Court.
Finally, I was held accountable and was given good treatment with people who really cared. I found a great place to go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) with a bunch of great people. I am still amazed at what true friends are like compared to friends that just want to be with you to get high. I thank God every day for the help he has given me. I know that if there is anything I can do to help someone else like me I will do it without a second thought.”
“I’ve been in recovery for 2 years now. I had my first drink at the age of 5 at a family get together. They thought it was cute. But that was just the start of the things to come.
At the age of 7 I smoked my first joint. That was step 2 in what was to become my downfall. I continued to use at a heavier rate. My drug of choice was marijuana. My habit got so bad that I would have to wake up to a joint or a blunt.
My use continued throughout school. I was very athletic in school, playing any sport that I put my mind into. Football became a passion of mine, but so did marijuana and drinking.
There came a day when I had to choose one or the other. Well I chose drinking and drugging. My habit got so bad in my late 20’s. In my late 30’s I was up to smoking an ounce a day and drinking a half gallon a day. I thought this was what I would be doing for the rest of my life.
My mom passed away from Aids. Before she passed, she asked me if I thought I could stop using. I told her a bold no. Little did I know that that moment would start my recovery process. About 5 months after her death, I caught my second felony. While sitting in jail, I had time to think. A lot of time to think. I didn’t stop using though, I just scaled back.
On June 15th of 2007, upon going to bed, my then 10 year old son told me that I was going to kill myself. I didn’t give it two shakes to the wind. The next day, however, it hit me like 2 tons of bricks. June 16th of 2007 started my recovery.
My first year was really hard, dealing with problems sober this time around. A year into recovery, I thought that I deserved one more puff for the road. Well as my higher power would have it, I got caught before I could use again. I entered into Drug Court on my own free will. That was the first best thing I could’ve done. Through Drug Court, I was introduced to the Substance Abuse Council’s Celebrate Recovery Committee. Getting involved in that was the second best thing I could’ve done for myself.
Celebrate Recovery has taught me that while I am in recovery I can have fun at the same time. We participated in Corporate Cup. That right there made me prouder of myself and recovery. The Substance Abuse Council and Drug Court have helped me more then they know.
I still have my daily struggles. As I write this I’m dealing with multiple deaths in my family and I’m still unemployed. But through it all I know that it will get better. I thank Celebrate Recovery for all that you have done for me as a person and a person in recovery. Thank you Drug Court. And thank you, Mom, for asking me that all important question before you passed away.”
“It began on March 1937 and ended in April 2006-this is the story of a recovery that didn’t happen in time. Please let someone help you begin yours today-for the people who love you.
My Dad was born in March 1937. He spent the first 15 years of his life believing his grandma was his mom and his mom was his sister, a recipe for disaster from the start! It wasn’t until his Mom married that he learned the truth, but by then he was a very confused and bitter young man.
Drinking seemed a way to make everything go away, so he began drinking at a very early age. Everyone in the small farming town where he grew up drank; it didn’t seem like a big deal. It made him feel like a man and made him feel like he fit in. Every day was spent trying to prove to the world that he was good enough, good enough to be loved. He married young, had two little girls and joined the National Guard. While in the Guards he learned how to be a mechanic and how to drink even harder than he had before. The marriage lasted less than 5 years, and ended because he was either working or drinking and didn’t know how to stop. He would drink until he felt strong and then become mean to prove it. He thought we was strong enough that he didn’t need anyone.
After his divorce at 23, he married again. The drinking continued and seemed like fun for awhile. He was the center of attention at parties and everyone liked to hang out and drink with him, especially when he was buying. His new wife wanted to start a new life, a fresh beginning. In order to do this, Dad tried to put his past behind him and gave the two little girls up for adoption to their new step-father. He figured they would be fine, he was.
He and wife #2 had two kids, a boy and a girl. For awhile, it seemed like things were looking up and life was good. It was then that Dad found out his Mom had cancer. In those days cancer wasn’t treated like it is nowadays and his Mom stayed at home. He tried to take care of her, and I remember him telling me about how the cancer was eating her body away. She had breast cancer and he said she actually had a hole in the side of her chest. He drank to push away the stress of dealing with a dying parent and did his best to care for her. When she was in her last days, Dad wanted to take her to the hospital and she didn’t want to go. She wanted to die at home, but Dad called an ambulance and they did take her to the hospital. She was so mad at him for doing this that her last words to him were that she “would never forgive him.” She said “he wasn’t her son and she never wanted to see him again.” I know now, she was talking out of her own pain, but the little boy who had been betrayed at birth didn’t hear it that way. He thought he was being betrayed by the only person he thought really loved him. After his Mom died, the drinking took center stage again. The hidden pain and rage took over and he would drink to bury it. He became angrier and blamed the world for the pain he couldn’t stop. When he and his wife were expecting their 3rd child, he became convinced his wife didn’t love him, was having an affair, and the baby wasn’t his. How alcohol can cloud the mind! (This child could be his clone-he looks so much like him.) They decided to divorce and it was during this time that he met my Mom.
Mom and Dad fell head over heels in love and moved in together, bring us with them. We moved into the house were he was born. Mom was a follower and would do anything for him. They began working together each day and soon started their own business so they could be together constantly. She was trying to prove she loved him and he needed proof-every day.
The days would begin before dawn with them leaving for work and end with them coming home after the bar closed. We would go to school and come home to an empty house. Many times the fights would begin when they got home from the bars and always ended up with someone getting hurt. I often think he drank so he could be mean- he hurt so bad he needed to hurt someone else- and we were there. But… this story isn’t about me, anymore than your recovery is about the people who love you.
By this time, everyone thought he had a problem with drinking, but Mom and Dad were able to start and run a successful business. This made people think it couldn’t be that bad, right? Dad could drink until he would pass out and then get up in 3 hours and work all day. This was why he thought he didn’t have a problem. There were car accidents and never any tickets. Back then he was friends with many of the state police so they looked the other way. When Christmas came, he would take his whiskey bottle out to the garage and drink all day. Drink and cry because of the people who weren’t there- his Mom, his kids, and his Dad that he had never met. This went on for many years and during this time he began to beat Mom at least a couple times a year- always when drunk.
One time when he beat her up we left and stayed with my aunt. We were there for a week and Mom decided she couldn’t live without him- so we went back. That night, they left us at home and went out for drinks to celebrate-they wrecked the truck on the way home that night, but they were back together. A couple of years later, he beat her so bad she had to be hospitalized for a week. He was always very sorry when this happened and she always forgave him. One by one all their friends weren’t friends anymore.
When Dad was 50, he met his birth father for the first time. He became a changed man. He wasn’t mean anymore and he slowed down on the drinking. It was like he had finally found what he was searching for all those years- someone to belong to. Dad even had his father and his wife adopt him so he could take his Dad’s name. I had never seen him that happy.
Unfortunately, five years after they met, his Dad died in his sleep one night. The wife-who he was now calling Mom-didn’t have anything to do with him after that. He had been deserted once again, and once again the drinking took over!
Over the next 10 years, he cut off one or the other of us kids. Each time for some slight that we weren’t even aware of. He wouldn’t talk to us and wouldn’t let us come around. After awhile, he would suddenly seem okay- and we would be back in the picture again. I know the fights between him and Mom were still going on, but since we were all out of the house we didn’t see it every day. The drinking was still going on and when someone wouldn’t drink with him-it infuriated him. He would think they “thought they were too good to drink with him.” If you wanted him to like you-you had to drink with him. One night he got my nephew, who was 20, so drunk he got sick all over the room. The next day, Grandpa was really proud of him for “keeping up.” He never saw what the alcohol was doing to him or to us.
In 2006, Mom and Dad got into a fight while he was drinking and he threatened to shoot her. Mom left in the middle of the night and this time the police stepped in to help. They told Dad he had to leave Mom alone- to go away.
Dad spent the next week drinking continually and trying to talk Mom into coming back to him. When she wouldn’t talk to him, he would drink even more and say that NOBODY HAD EVER LOVED HIM. We had always loved him, but he never believed it and it was never enough.
At approximately 2 a.m. on the 13th of April, 2006, after drinking for two days, Dad ended his pain-and ours really began. He sat alone in his bedroom and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. I read the autopsy results and his blood alcohol level was .21. If he hadn’t been drinking, would he have done this? I don’t think so.
Dad’s funeral was the largest funeral that the funeral home had ever seen! There were people lined up waiting to pay their respects- many of them were drinking buddies. Several told us that day that Dad had been to see them recently and while drinking had told them he was thinking of shooting himself. He felt he had nothing to live for-but nobody did anything! Do you know why? They told us-Dad was always drinking and saying things and they never thought he was serious. How wrong they were! The man who thought nobody loved him, was loved by hundreds of people and never even knew it!
The reason I am telling you this story is to try and make you understand that alcohol is a deceiving drug. It makes you think you “feel better” while it is really making you not feel. Please remember my Dad-and us, the next time you want to bury yourself in booze. Think about the recovery that never came in time for my family. My prayer each night-is that recovery comes in time for you and the people who love you, before they cry themselves to sleep each night and wonder why they were never enough for you. Why you always had to drink in order to be happy.”