Would you share with me what you were addicted to?
It depends on when I start my story, it started with alcohol, then pot, and then it became anything and everything I could get my hands on. I have abused every drug I ever tried. Examples: acid, pcp, meth, coke , crack, valium, xanax, tbuzz, qualuudes, percocett, oxycontin, heroin. I probably missed one or two.
When, and how, did your addiction begin?
I started using at age 12. It started with drinking to be cool. Then it was smoking pot to be a part of something. This is when I still played sports. I played on 2 baseball teams, 3 basketball teams and 1 football team. We had the same coach and assistant coaches for all sports; it was one of the kids older brothers. The coach would get us alcohol and weed (we were 12-13). When basketball season came around, some nights we would have more than one game. On those nights, the coach would give me speed so I could play in every game. I believe this is when my thinking changed and the bad decisions started. Drugs and alcohol made me alive and I felt apart of something. This is something I’ve never told anyone: when I was 13 or 14, I was taken by an older kid. He promised me drugs and beer, he got me high and drunk and tried to molest me. I got away, luckily, but that is when the drug use got real bad. I was ashamed, embarrassed and confused, and drugs helped me to forget. Then, when I was a freshman, I went to school high and one of the brothers (priest) saw how high I was and gave me some speed pills and told me if I ever needed a place to get high to let him know. So we did and he took us into the garage and let us smoke. So now we had something on him, so anytime we got in trouble he would take care of it. He made us take detention on Saturdays where we would have the whole school to ourselves. He would give us beer and we would run around the school smoking weed and drinking. I remember we got caught dealing and I got expelled and all I had to do was get a hair cut and I was let back in. So every adult male I looked up to was either a drunk (my dad) or on drugs.
How long have you been clean?
I originally got sober 12/10/91, then in 2001, I got injured and became addicted to pain meds and eventually heroin. I’ve been off of everything since May 8, 2003.
In what ways did your addiction alter your life?
My addiction took everything. It promised me a football career (I was second string, so we decided to get high and drunk before practices) and I played better. By the end of the year, I was given the award for best player and by the next year I was so screwed up and lazy I couldn’t even make it through one practice. So I quit sports.
It took my family, and a lot of my friends lives. It also made me look at the world and people differently. It took my willingness to succeed and made me believe I wasn’t worth anything. I did drugs to stop hurting people and eventually I did drugs because I had no choice. In 2003 it took everything: my house, cars, wife, kids and any hope of me ever having a normal life. I gave my son to my brother. I kissed him, told him I loved him, and went to die. He was better off without me. Everyone was. So I went on a major bender. I did every drug I could and I did enough to die. But I didnt. The people I was getting high with dropped me off at a friends. I sat at the entrance of my friends and I asked for a sign. I begged for help and in the dirt, I found a marble. That was my sign, I haven’t used since.
What is your biggest regret?
I have many regrets: not finishing school, not becoming anything, but my biggest regret is how I treated and disrespected my parents. I never realized how much pain I put them through; how many sleepless nights, how many times I disappeared and they waited for that phone call. If I had one thing I could say, it is I’m sorry and to let them know I became the son they always deserved.
Through all of this, has any good come from it?
I became the son I always wanted to be, the friend I didn’t know how to be, the father and husband my wife and kids deserve and most of all I learned to love and to be loved. And some days I actually like myself.
You have a son and I’m curious if you have shared any of your story with him.
My son grew up in AA. He literally took his first steps in a meeting. When I got out of rehab and got him back, one day I told him I had to go out (meeting) and I’ll be right back. He grabbed my leg and with a tear in his eye he said don’t ever leave me again, Daddy. I promised him I would never leave again. So I took him everywhere. He has been to more meetings than most people. He knows I don’t drink and I know he suspects drugs were involved, but I stopped taking him when I was accused of being high at a meeting and he asked me what the person was talking about. This is my thinking on him knowing: I was never ashamed of being high, so I’ll never be ashamed of being sober. I will answer any question he has truthfully. I will not tell until he asks or if I catch him using.
Lastly, what advice would you give to people when it comes to drugs, getting clean or even being the loved one of an addict?
Honesty, on both sides. If you think someone is using, they probably are. If someone admits to using, they will say “I only smoke pot” but it’s usually more. This is the way I handle it with my son: if I am going somewhere and anyone I know is getting high, my son stays home. There is no way I can tell my son I don’t want him using if he knows my friends do. My advice for loved ones of an addict: good luck. The rules have changed from when we were young. Today they are addicted to heroin and will do anything to get it. Be involved in your kids lives. Be honest and always tell your child you love them. When you choose heroin over your loved ones you already choose death. You need to reinforce hope and love. You need to be strict and say things like “as long as you’re using, you can’t live here. But once you decide you want help, I will do everything in my power to help, because I will always love you…just not who you are now.”
Another thing I would like to say is…. Not every person who does drugs is an addict. To me, you cross that line when it affects your everyday life. By that, I mean you start to make stupid decisions, you let it affect your work and home life. You need to do everyday activities high. When you don’t have it, it’s all you think about. You let your appearances go, etc. I know many people who still use and are successful but I know so many that could be so much more if they didnt.
My name is Steve and I’m a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I am saying this because I am not ashamed of my past nor am I ashamed to talk about it. I tell my story because everyone is affected by this disease in one way or the other and if anyone reads this and has questions, I offer my hand out like a hand was offered to me. I am responsible for my sobriety and my actions and I am willing to help anyone who needs help.