I found the ultimate high when I entered recovery.
I have a family history of addiction.
My father struggled with this disease, eventually dying an early death. While I knew I had addiction in my veins, I was convinced I would never turn out like him.
The first time I tried alcohol, I was 14 years old. From that moment on, I was a full-blown addict. I had no sense of moderation because I never did anything halfway. I was out of control. I saw many of my family members struggle with alcohol and drugs, but my disease convinced me I would never be like them.
Yet my addiction spanned over 22 years. Most of those years were spent in pain, confusion and misery. I went to any length to stay high, even having unnecessary surgeries to get a prescription for painkillers. I lied to family members, doctors, friends and institutions. I almost always got away with it. I couldn’t go a day without getting high, and I walked the streets sick, searching for a remedy. I was unaware that the solution wouldn’t be at the bottom of a plastic bag.
I didn’t even recognize myself anymore.
I’ve experienced many bottoms in active addiction. Aside from cheating and lying to people, my addiction drove me to many suicide attempts, all of which failed. In Denver, I overdosed on heroin and cocaine while my “friends” dragged my lifeless body out of an apartment complex and tried to throw me in a dumpster. When they couldn’t lift my body, they left me on the ground next to the dumpster to die. I was a lifeless shell of a man who was spiritually broken. My only options were to die or live without the use of drugs.
I had been to so many different treatment centers throughout my life, but when I checked in to Ambrosia’s Florida rehab facility on January 5th, 2011, my life began to change dramatically. I had been seeing psychologists for years, but the treatment program helped treat my trauma and unmanageable lifestyle. Since then, I started attending fellowship meetings and sharing my story with others who are looking for information, addiction is a disease and recovery is possible.
I couldn’t have imagined a better life.
Today, I am a husband, father, student and a participating member of society. I can finally look at myself in the mirror and love the person looking back. I don’t see a lifeless body next to a dumpster. I see a man full of gratitude and motivation to maintain this much saner way of life. Recovery has given me the ability to break the cycle of addiction in my family. I don’t have to die from this disease to have my children learn from it. I can teach them through living sober that it is possible to overcome addiction.
Through my experience, I continue to advocate for those struggling with addiction and mental illness. I strive to help people build strong foundations of hope, strength, and survival by being part of advocacy teams that support passing bills on a national level. Recently, the Narcan bill was put into action because of the thousands of alcoholics, addicts, and family members who continue to support ending the overdose epidemic in America. I have had the privilege of working with U.S. Attorney Chris Myers in the fight against addiction in our communities and breaking down the barriers of the addiction stigma.
I have a gift that was given to me in the most destroyed, horrifying package but turned out to be the most beautiful gift I could have asked for. I will continue to re-wrap this gift and pass it down the line to help the next suffering person. Soon, I will finish my Bachelor’s degree in addiction studies and begin working on my Master’s. Recovery has given me a new life and a new reason to live.