Tag Archives: NA

One Ex-junky, Stay At Home Mother Trying To Find Her Place in The World

Just me, whoever that is
Just me, whoever that is

I find that one of the most difficult things about truly recovering from a drug habit that extended for many years or decades, is to figure out who you are without the drugs. When you are getting high, there is a great deal of people in your life that will undoubtedly identify you as “the drug addict”. Whoever you were prior to their discovery of your drug use, whatever talents, faults, personality traits that you used to have go out the window and are replaced by the singular, all encompassing fact that you get high.
Unfortunately, after awhile perception tends to become reality. Especially if you spend the majority of your time doing activities that in some way relate to you using whatever your drug of choice is. Be it stealing, copping, getting high, hiding your drug use, whatever. You become (at least in your mind) “just an addict” if you are not careful.
It is similar to when people get into a relationship with another person and loose their identity outside of that relationship. For many of us, heroin or meth or crack, whatever, IS our significant other. We are in a dependent relationship. It is hard to maintain or friendships and relationships with people are not using. We often loose site of our hobbies and passions as well.
When we quit getting high and everything that goes with it, we are left with a huge void that we must fill. Many of our friends and family members that we were close with before what I call “the drug years”, have given up on us and want nothing to do with us. Either they have decided that they don’t want to be friends with someone who ever used hardcore drugs and needed said drugs to function in life, or maybe they had re-kindled the relationship before, in previous times of sobriety. Maybe they are done with the roller coster and assume that this will not last. Maybe they don’t understand that it takes the average addict nine attempts at getting clean before it sticks. For whatever reason, many of our sober friends are out of the picture.
Then you have the people that you used with, boosted with, copped with or from. Some of these people you may consider friends, most of them you probably don’t as it was just a relationship that was developed out of convenience. One of the first things that they imprint onto your brain at any rehab is to “change you people, places, and things”. The associates is no big deal, but the few real friendships that you may have developed over the course of your addiction are hard to let go of. People’s true colors come out, many people use any kindness or trust that you have as a weakness and use it to get over on you. When you find someone that you get high with and doesn’t ever fuck you over, even in the worst of the addictions, that is a rare and beautiful thing. Unfortunately, no matter how good of a friend they are, if you always use when with them, it is almost impossible to stay friends with them. You try, and at first it is cool, but inevitably, you want to get high when together because that is what you always did. If both people are clean, then you can hang out on rare occasions, but the friendship will never be as it was.
So at this point in time, you are freshly sober and virtually friendless. Obviously, this is not a good thing, you need a support system, someone to call when you feel like getting high. Some way, some person to listen when all the feelings hat you have kept dormat for years come to the surface. I suppose that this is why NA and AA are so wildly popular. I have discussed some of my personal issues with certain members of NA. For any of all of it’s faults, it is an excellent support system. It is an outlet. A way to talk and to have people listen and support you. It is very important to have people tell you that you are a decent person even if you did some awful things when getting high. It also extremely important, vital actually that you work out whatever issues that you had BEFORE you started to use drugs. Especially if you used as a way to self medicate some sort of pain, be it mental, emotional, or physical. Counselors, therapists and addiction specialists recommend that you go to a specialist for whatever the issue is that ails you. You are told that you should get prescriptions for this stuff. Illegally procuring these medication is a slippery slope. Especially for physical pain, it is how many people get addicted to hard drugs. They start buying percs on the street and then start to realize that it is much, much cheaper and foyer easier, to just buy heroin. Not to mention than a large percentage of recovering addicts are on parole or probation, and even if they are not, they probably have a rather lengthy criminal record. Getting busted with prescription medicines that are not your prescription is the same as possessing heroin or cocaine. The courts don’t care if you need it. They contend that if you truly needed it, then you would have a prescription written by a doctor.
You end up feeling kind of like a shell of a person. If you had been using for a particularly long time, you may have forgotten who you were before the drug sunk their claws into you. That is sort of where I am. I have had periods, some of them extended periods, of sobriety, but I started smoking weed at 15, doing E, coke, Special K etc. but 17, and buy 19, I was shooting heroin and cocaine, and smoking ready. I had my daughter at age 21. I am trying to figure out who I am without chemicals. I have over two years clean, and I still do not know. What I do know, is that I don’t want to be who I was while getting high.
In some ways I feel like I am having a mid-life crisis at the age of 30. I didn’t finish school, and As I was taking classes for being an Elementary school teacher, some of those credits are now useless. With my record, especially being as that I have a drug conviction (possession of a controlled deadly substance – not marijuana) I would never be allowed to be a teacher. Ironic, as my high school chemistry teacher was arrested for child pornography and for sexually assaulting students, another teacher at my high school was arrested for being apart of a drug ring that sold E, methamphetamine, and the date rape drug Roypnol, but no matter how much time passes, I who has never, ever hurt or neglected a child will never be allowed to work with children because of a single drug conviction, which is now a decade old. I would even understand making a person with a drug conviction who wanted to teach be subjected to weekly, multi-weekly or surprise drug tests, but the fact of the matter is that I can not become an elementary school teacher, I also can not go back to teaching preschool.
Personally, I really can not go back to waitressing or bar-tending. I need a career. I need a job where I can move up, get raises, have vacation pay, 401K, etc. My husband has a union job, so we have good health insurance, but a secondary insurance would not be a bad thing. I have this need to do something that matters in some small way. I need to feel like I am helping someone. I would love to do some sort of charity work, but I think that I will do addiction counseling.
I uses to have so many goals, hobbies, ambitions. For example, in high school, I taught myself to play guitar. I wrote songs, played Hole songs, etc. In one of my biggest regrets from my “drug years” I sold my Venus Vista guitar. It was a beautiful black and silver-ish, white-ish guitar that was designed by my idol Courtney Love. Actually, if you look up any pictures of Hole in concert between 1997 and like 2004 this is the guitar that Ms. love normally used. She tended to use the one in sea foam green, which is what Inreally wanted, but anyway. They stopped making the guitar and now it is very difficult to find, and very expensive when you do. It was a gift, given to me by the guy who raped me which is part of why I got rid of it (also I was ill), but I wish I still had it. My ex has my other guitar, and I haven’t played since I got rid of the Venus. I still write poetry, albeit not nearly as often.
I am a mother and a wife, and a damn good one, but that can’t be all that I am. I need to have some sort of identity. Sometimes, I feel that all I am is “mother/wife/recovering addict”. I have just had my two year anniversary of sobriety, but I need more than just being clean. Who am I? I’m not who I was before I started using. I have been through too much, seen too much to ever go back to that somewhat innocent, somewhat naive girl. I don’t want to be the person who was getting high, working to get high, stealing to get high, needing heroin to function, to work, to be a mom. I am stuck in a limbo trying to become a new person all together.

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My (Personal) Issues With The Cult of NA

Before I start this post, let me preface it by saying that I do not hate NA. I have been to my share of NA meetings, some of them very good. Really, most addicts who have either ever been in trouble with the law or sent to a rehab program have probably been to there fair share of NA meetings. Some of the members are really, really great. You know, there to help you at any time. Ready to drop what they are doing if you feel like using and need someone to talk you out of it. This post is not about these members or these meetings.

This is about the people who treat NA as a cult that is the be all, end all of sobriety. I get it, it obviously worked for them. My main problem comes from the way that I am treated once it is discovered that I am on Methadone (or back when I was on Suboxone). This a group where for the entire hour of the meeting, members get up and basically confess their deepest, darkest secrets without fear of judgement or persecution and know that they will still be accepted, but being on any sort of a prescription maintenance program is a sin that is unforgivable.

What is particularly baffling to me is that NA claims that the only requirement for membership is the desire to want to stop using illicit drugs. A maintenance program is just that. Almost everytime I am at a meeting, there are people present that are currently using. It is fantastic that they are trying to get help for themselves, but the reality of quitting opiates and other addictions that have very physical withdrawls. It is very difficult, almost impossible to just quit. Medication is often needed to detox. For me personally, I have detoxes a few times and have relapsed before, so I am trying it a little different this time.

I don’t think that this is a fault of the organization of Narcotics Anonymous itself, just certain members. I was in a women’s addiction support group for years and one of the women in the group was a treasurer for the Maryland state chapter of NA. She said told me that the literature does not specifically refer to methadone and suboxone one way or another. It is just members who have determined that you are less than them if you take this route to acheive sobriety.

My main issue with this is that it turns people off to the entire organization and to treatment as a whole. I say, let people get well however they want. Let hem get their lives together. If they are not ready to get clean, that is fine too. The group should function as sort of a place for therapy. To let people get off of their chest whatever sins or problems are weighing heavy on their chests. Making people feel bad or unwanted is only going to lead them to feel alienated even more. As addicts we are already the outcasts of society, we can’t ostracize each other as well.

Oh, But They’re Not Real Addicts

Hi, my name is Amy. I’m a heroin addict. These are words that I have stated many times. This first of the twelve steps is to admit that you are powerless over your addiction. Wether or not you have any intention on following the twelve steps, you will never get well, get clean, if you can not admit that you have a problem. And it is harder than it would seem. To look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am a junkie. I have zero control over my life’s drugs control my entire being.”

Using hard drugs, street drugs makes it a tad bit easier to arrive at this conclusion. I notice that people who have a problem with alcohol or pills seem to have a slightly more arduous time at admitting this. Shooting heroin and cocaine into your arm allows for an uncomplicated path to the conclusion that your life is unmanageable. These drugs are illegal. To everyone. For some reason, people like to use legality as an excuse, an explanation of why they are not a REAL addict.

You can buy vodka at the liquor store. In some states, not Maryland, people can but their drug of choice at the grocery store or the gas station. This confuses people, or at the very least makes it easier for them to lie to themselves about the nature of their drinking. Pills are illegal to anyone not possessing a prescription to them but the fact that they come from a pharmacy and a doctor at some point allows addicts to willingly pull the wool over their own eyes. This is compounded by the fact that there are a lot of prescription pill addicts that were at one time legitimately prescribed whatever medicine. Be it Percs, Xanax, or Oxys. They may be copping their pills now from a dealer at an exorbitant price, but in their mind they are just taking their medicine. Something they need. We’ll let me tell you, I needed heroin everyday to function, but that did not make me any less of a junkie. In fact, quite the contrary, it made me more of one.

My husband and I share a car and he leaves for work at five a.m. My clinic doesn’t open until five thirty, so sometimes I get a ride from my mother for the one day a week that I go to get my take homes for the week. Every time we go, she remarks at how old some of the people are. Or how surprising it is that some of the are “dope heads”. Some of them are doctors, delivery truck drivers, lawyers, construction workers, etc. I explained to her that not all of them are there because of heroin, or at least not all of them used heroin as their first opiate. A lot of people there were prescribed Oxys or something similar after a surgery or a car accident or what have you. The doctors will write scripts for these highly addictive pills for months straight, until one day they don’t, leaving people addicted and dope sick with no legal way to get what they need. Some of them kick cold turkey, some might go into treatment, but most get their “fix” illegally. They may continue to use pills paying upwards of one or two dollars A MILLIGRAM. Yes, that means that they are paying over thirty five dollars for a thirty milligram Percocet. A great deal of the time, however, they get tired of spending so much money and figure out that for ten dollars they can buy a dime of heroin that will equal three or four thirty milligram percs. Either way, they are supporting their habit by purchasing something illegal.

The people that switch to heroin use seem to be more likely to get help. They are “real addicts” now. My sister and I are the only illegal drug users on my mother’s side of the family (aside from the occasional joint that was smoked in their youth). We are shunned in a major way. We are freaks, disappointments. A few years ago a woman tried to sue my husband for a million dollars over a car accident that was our fault. Yes, that you read that right one million dollars (this is after my insurance offered her $25,000 at first and then $75,000). We had a tedious, four day jury trial in which the jury saw through her trying to blame every problem that arises due to old age on the accident that inflicted injuries so slight that she was released from the hospital within a few hours. They ended up giving her $13,500 of whichve t her lawyer received a third. But I digress. For the entirety of the trial my uncle, my mom’s sister’s husband, sat in the courtroom taking notes. I don’t even know how he knew about the case. He did not know the woman suing us in any way, nor did he have any affiliation with the insurance company or doctors or ANYTHING. He was there just to be nosy and spiteful. He was taking notes to have some fresh, juicy gossip to serve up at the next holiday party. The irony of this is that this man is a severe, hard core alcoholic. As a child, I remember him being totally hammered at every family event, of which there were many. He would tell asinine stories like that his uncle invented the speed of light or that his grandfather invented Oktoberfest. He was locked up for multiple DUIs and had to serve multiple weekends in jail. His license was revoked for a Time and his family had to drive him to work, ninety minutes each way. Yet here he was casting judgment on my husband and I. I always found it especially cruel and arbitrary that while my sister and I were cast out of the family he was not. We are no longer invited to weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, Christmas parties, or any family event unless my mom is the one planning and throwing the party. My uncle never suffers this fate. Everyone knew that he was an alcoholic, you could smell the liquor on his breath, he was never with out a vodka drink in his hands. His alcoholism was accepted as a slightly annoying but hardly egregious habit. No, no. He was far different from us addicts that must be in cahoots with Satan himself. I mean, he could order his drug of choice at the restaurants and have the waiter bring it right to the table while Easter dinner was going on. I could exactly have the dope man serve me at the table. While he could knock back a vodka tonic in front of the family, I wasn’t afforded the luxury of being able to shoot up while everyone ate. Obviously I am being purposefully hyperbolic, but you get my point. Because he was using alcohol as his drug of choice, everyone could accept him, and his drinking. Because my sister and I choose heroin as our drug of choice we have been all but condemned from showing our faces. To me the greatest irony is that while extremely painful and hellashish, it is extremely rare that a person will die from opiate withdraws. There is a far greater risk that one could succumb to alcohol withdraws. It is just as, or perhaps even more, dangerous than heroin, but because it is illegal it is more accepted.

My husband and I face the same hypocritical bullshit from his side of the family. Now, they still invite us to all the family functions, they just talk about us behind our backs.The funny thing is that there are multiple people with prescriptions to multiple, strong pain meds. Percocets, morphine, oxycotin, you name it. They of course are legally prescribed these medications by doctors, and I will state for the record that the people who are prescribed these pills, really, truly need them. Also, they do not abuse them. My issue is not with them so much (although they look past their loved ones addictions and focus on ours) it is on the other members of the family who take said relatives pills, get drunk virtually every night, yet feel that they are in a position to talk about my husband and I (and shockingly, my sister too, although they rarely if ever see her) as though we are the scum of the earth. We are “real addicts”, not to be confused with these people who are not. We have had members of his family call social services and tell lies about us and my daughter. They said that we did not have a car seat for my daughter who was about a year old at the time. That we pan handeled with my daughter that were neglectful patents in other ways. Of course not a single word of this was true, but it created a lot of problems for me and my family. We had to meet with a social worker multiple times. We had to show the car seat, hooked into the vehicle. They had to come to our house, examine my daughter for signs of neglect. My husband and I, as well as my mother and both of his parents were interviewed. Each time, the charges were dismissed as claim totally unfounded, meaning that it was totally untrue. But if they had chosen to believe these fabrications, these slanderous words, we could have lost our daughter. These lies started from the gossip that was spread about the “junkies” in the family.

The problem is that this line in the sand has been drawn and it is respected my society all around. Those who do not use any substances at all and those who do. I am on the one side of the line. The side with the “real addicts”. This is the side that gets shunned, the side that has people who are cast out by society. We are the ones that have a problem. The other side is the alcoholics, the pill poppers. They are not real addicts because what they use is legal, at least to some. They might have an annoying quirk of using these substances, but they are not addicts. The problem is that it is not just people on the outside of addiction looking in that believe this, far too many people that use and abuse these substances make the excuse that these are not hard, street drugs, and thus they are not addicts. The refusal to admit that a substance controls your life only serves to prolong the suffering. You can not get help if you can not even admit that you need help. People need to collectively remove the wool from off of their eyes. everyone needs to wake up and realize that addiction comes in many forms, and they don’t all look like “junkies”.

Beginnings

This is me, my husband, Aaron, my daughter, Ariel, and my so, Aidan. Yes we are HUGE Ravens fans
This is me, my husband, Aaron, my daughter, Ariel, and my son, Aidan. Yes we are HUGE Ravens fans

Before I write anything, I should explain who I am and why I am doing this. I am Amy and I am a heroin addict. I am currently sober (with the help of methadone) for almost 2 years. I am a 29 year old, depressive, married, mother of two. I am starting this blog for two primary reasons. One is purely selfish. I was clean previously for almost three years. I got clean off of heroin and crack/cocaine when I was locked up on 4 warrants, one of which was a no bail warrant and spend Christmas and New Years in jail.

I had to see my daughter twice a week, through glass, on half hour visits when my mother brought her to the detention center. I would go back to my dorm and cry like a baby. When I finally got out, my daughter cried when my mom gave her to me. She had to get used to her own mother! You don’t know heartbreak until your one year old rejects you. She of course got back to being a Mommy’s girl, but it was awful.

My husband, Aaron (Ariel’s father) was also locked up at the time. He didn’t come home as fast as I did. He server two one year and a day sentences ran concurrent. I was a single mother. I got a waitressing job, took care of my child, and held down my man. I stayed sober too.

Aaron was released in July of 2007. We were both sober and happy. We started trying for another baby. Soon I found out that I was pregnant! I was sober my entire pregnancy this time. (I had to do an inpatient rehab called Center for Addiction and Prefnancy with my first pregnancy). Aidan was born happy and healthy.

Problem was I was ashamed to be an addict, even a sober one. I wouldn’t admit my dark past to ANYONE. I was so embarrassed. Especially coming from my family. My sister and I are definitely the black sheep. The shame of it, the refusing to speak about it, wouldn’t let me ask for help when I relapsed. Had I spoken up when I first relapsed, I would have saved myself  two and half years of heroin addiction. Hey, I never got back on coke, so yeah for that!

So that is my first, primary reason for this blog. This time, I am not scared. I am not ashamed. I am Amy. I am a heroin addict. I have lived more in my 29 years than most people ever will. I am slowly but surely forgiving myself. You know what I am not proud of everything that I did as an addict, but I am proud of who I turned out to be when I cam out the other side of the rabbit hole. If you can’t accept my past then FUCK YOU!!!

I am hoping that by not being afraid of admiting my addiction, I will maintain sobriety.

My other reason for writing is to give a little hope to anyone struggling with addiction. You CAN come out the other side! I had an $1100 a day habit. I have the scars (physical and emotional) to prove it, but I survived. You can too. Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t be ashamed because recovering addicts are some of the most knowledgable, compassionate, resourceful people in the world!