Tag Archives: relapse

Staying Strong During the Storm – and the Calm Before the Storm

When a person is a recovered or recovering addict, they always have to be on their toes so to say. Obviously, it is easy to slip back into bad habits when shit gets rough. When we loose a loved one, when we (or someone close to us) gets sentenced to time in jail, when we loose a job, get sued, our car breaks down, whatever, we have to fight the urge to go back to our normal coping habits that we have used for so long. This is compounded by the fact that the universe seems to want to save up the repercussions for all of the bad shit we did as addicts until we are sober. 

As addicts we tend to have either never learned or forgotten normal, healthy coping mechanisms. If and when this shit from our past comes pact on us when we are doing well, the inner addict in our brain tells us, “This shit didn’t happen when you were getting high, but now that you are sober, the universe wants to fuck you in the ass. You might as well just be getting high.” At least then, we justify, thes bad things would be warranted. The thing that we often fail to be able to do, is take a step back and look at these events in our life as a big picture. The more bad things you do, the more bad shit that will come back on you. Even if you do not wish to believe in karma, this is inevitably true. Most of the things that we feel are “unfair” to happen to us as recovered addicts are directly linked to  things that we did as addicts, either to obtain our drugs, or because of said substances. For example, time that we get is almost definatley from an arrest that occurred while we are getting high. A job that we are not given may be due to a criminal record that we got from addiction. Bad credit? Probably due to unpaid bills or bad checks written to get money for drugs or because the money for the bills went to drugs.

Taking a step back allows us to see that getting high again will only set in motion this karmic train of retribution and self-pity and excuse for drug use again. It is difficult to remember that the drugs got us into this shit, but since most of these things are directly related to our addiction, as long as we allow ourselves to stop and think, we can usually see this. We caused the storm, and we now have to find a way to deal with it and right our wrongs.

Far more difficult, and dangerous is when the seas are calm and steady. When our lives are easy and boring almost. Say what you will about addicts, but our lives are never boring. We are constantly figuring out ways to make money, set those plans in motion, getting the money, copping, playing an endless cat and mouse game with the police, and then of course the actual high of the drugs. The drugs don’t provide the only high that we experience. Especially if the addict obtains their drug money illegally, they often become addicted to the adrenaline rush of whatever it is that they do. This is why so many bank robbers talk about being addicted to the thrill of robbing banks. (I personally don’t think that I would ever have the balls to do something like that, but I’m sure the adrenaline rush is crucial – if you don’t die of a heart attack while waiting to commit the crime). 

Not just the high that people get from committing crimes, it is such a fast, easy way to come about money that it is hard to go to minimum wage. Especially, we justify, if we weren’t spending so much money on drugs, we wouldn’t have to go about thanking on these sort of risks nearly as often. Going back to a bank robber, if they are a convicted bank robber, then they have a felony record meaning that very often the only kind of jobs that will take a chance on them is a minimum wage job. It is hard, mentally (and for one’s ego) to go from making $100,000 in 15 minutes to $7.95 an hour. Our inner addict, or the little devil inside of us, allows us to confidently forget about the legal ramifications involved with fast money. Even if we do think about it, we justify that we could commit these crimes far, far less as we won’t be spending hundreds or thousands a day on drugs. We will be taking much less risks. Never mind the fact that a real job, while low paying, also has a 0% chance of getting us arrested.

We also fail to process the underlying issue of all of these actions being connected. Try as we might, if we committed whatever crime in order to get money to buy drugs, we just can’t do them and not get high. Sure, we may do fine in the beginning, but eventually, inevitably, we talk ourselves into buying “just a little bit”. We justify that we have all of this fast, easy money, so it won’t hurt to buy a little something. It doesn’t help that very often, if hHe way the addict gets money is buy stealing something that is then sold to a fence, said fences are often in the parts of town right near the drugs. To get this money we have to go right by the places that we were used to copping our drugs. Especially if we do not live in the area where we sell the items and but the drugs, the pull is compounded even farther. It is hard to stay strong.

Addicts are used to living in a constant state of turmoil and commotion. We also tend to be self-sabatoging. When things in our lives are too easy or too calm for too long, we tend to fuck it up. It is often unintentional. We tend to not even know that we are doing it. We have to be exceedingly careful to not fall into either traps that can lead us back down the road of active addiction, either our lives being too calm or too hard. Our disease never goes away. We are never cured. We have to be vigilante for the rest of our lives. Without actively going out of our way to stay sober, we will slip back into addiction without even realizing it.

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When Dealing With An Addict Is It Better To Give Love Or Tough Love?

I ran into one of my oldest friends yesterday. My husband and I had gotten a couples massage done. When we left, we went across the street to get gas. Thertuge was a guy that I have been friends with for fifteen years. We will call him Ethan (not his real name). He just cam home from rehab for the um-tenth time about a month or so ago. He was trying to sell us something in order to procure funds to go in town to cop some dope. This is the same story with him. Over and over. He will have a killer habit, get busted- either by being arrested or by his parents, go to jail or to rehab, come home, do well for a week or a month or six, then start getting high again. So the story goes, over and over and over again.

I have another friend who I have known for about nine years, but my husband has been best friends with this guy since elementary school. He is the same way. Goes to jail for a year or two, comes home, starts getting high, rips and runs until he gets locked up and goes back to jail. Actually we haven’t seen this dude who I am going to call Adam (again, not his real name) in over a year. We had to cut him out of our lives. He doesn’t even try to do good. Also he wants my husband and I to do too much for him. I am not a cold hearted bitch, despite how this sounds, but I have my own family to take care of. He wants money (which I have no problem giving – sometimes), he wants a place to live (again, I don’t mind giving a friend a place to stay for a night or even a week, but we have given him a place to sleep and he stayed for like six months). Also, he doesn’t ever want to give my husband and I any alone time or family time. he is always there. Actually, last time he stayed with us, he would come in our bedroom and hang out, watch tv, and get high. He would never take the hint to leave, we would have to pretend that we were asleep to get him to finally go into the guest room and go to sleep. We would then get back up and hang out alone, snuggle, fuck, talk, you know – be a married couple.

Anyway, these two dudes are very similar in that the cycle of addiction is their lives. In and out of active addiction. In and out of institutions. Only difference with that is that Adam has never gone to rehab since I have known him. Once, long before I ever met him, he was in a rehab, but was out on a day pass and got arrested for picking up a hooker thus not making it back before curfew and got kicked out. The main difference with these two guys is their families. Ethan’s parents, who are his adoptive parents, support him every time he messes up. They are self mad millionaires. They own a security company. Actually they were the people that put up the police cameras that are on practically every corner in Baltimore. The other guy, Andy. His mom and step-dad are the exact opposite. They don’t help him out at all.

So which family has the answers? Who is doing it right? To even begin to answer that, we have to delve deeper into each man’s situation.

First I am going to discuss Adam and his family. They believe in tough love to the extreme. Actually, if we are being totally honest, I think that his mother would help him, support him, be there for him, but his step-dad is having none of it. I mean they don’t bail him out when he gets arrested, but many people look at this and say that he got himself in jail, so why should his parents get him out? Ok, maybe, he is 36 after all. It is so much more than just not paying his bail. They will not visit him in jail, send him money or even write to him in jail. They won’t set up an account on their cell phones enabling him to call them collect from jail. When he has done time in the past, they refused to get his car out of impound within the deadline, thus letting it be taken over by the state. So he lost that car. Another car and another time in jail, they wouldn’t let him park his car at their house, so he lost that car because he had no where to leave it safely and eventually it was towed and as with the previous car, if not retrieved from the impound by the deadline, it is the state’s to auction off. When he comes home, they are unwilling to let him live with them, or even stay with him until he gets into a half way house. They won’t help him pay for rehab. Or give him some money to get himself started when he comes home. Yeah, tough love.

Ethan’s family is exactly the opposite. He lives with them. They always pay his bail. They have even put their house up as collateral to get his ass out of jail when he had a $500,000 bail. They pay for him to go to rehab when he comes home from jail. He has had hi sentence cut down before due to this. In Maryland we have what is called an 8505. This means that at least one time, a judge has to allow someone with a history of drug addiction to be able to serve their time in rehab instead of jail. A good lawyer can often get an 8505 for a client even if they have received it before. obviously, most people would prefer to do their time in a rehab facility instead of in a prison. They have put him into rehab even when jail is not involved, (i.e. not an 8505, or no pending charges where rehab would look good for the judge and possibly spare him time or at the very least receive less time from the judge). Currently he is on a methadone program. They give him a place to live, pay for anything he needs. Also, and probably one of the biggest things they do for him, they give him a job at their company. He would never get this job if not for his father. He would not pass the security clearance. A job, besides being a requirement for parole and probation, is the biggest stepping stone to achieving self-sufficiency and maintaining sobriety.
Both men, sadly keep going through the revolving door of ails, institutions, and active addiction. So who is approaching their relationship with their child right? In my humble opinion, I think that Ethan’s parents are going about it the right way.

They are not enabling him. They will pay for things he needs, but they almost never give him cash, unless they are pretty positive that he is not getting high. They have strict rules for living at their house. Now an addict is going to find a way to get high if they want to, but they do not just allow drugs in the house. If they find drugs, or needles or any other sort of paraphernalia, they are sending him into a program. Actually they have had him arrested before, but they dropped the charges when it went to court. I think that they just wanted him to “dry out” in a cell for the night. They try to keep track of any and everyone that he is hanging out with. Believe me, you do not want to be grilled by is mother.

The thing is, at least he has a fighting chance when he comes home from jail or rehab. Adam, he doesn’t even have a shot. He comes out of jail with no where to live. Yeah, you can go into a halfway house, but unless you are in a pre-release kind of jail, there is no way to find and contact these places until you get out. That is one of the primary flaws in the system. You have to have a place to stay for a few days in order to find a place to live. At least halfway houses will let you in without any money up front. Yeah, they charge you rent to live there, but they give you a couple of weeks to get a job. As long as you are actively looking for employment, they ill give you time. In the beginning, they are mostly concerned with making sure that all of your drug screens are clean, that you are going to the required number of NA or AA meetings and are helping out with the cooking and chores. It is usually a little bit harder to g from jail to rehab if there is no one helping you. If you do not have insurance that covers all or at least the majority of the cost, they are going to want a large portion of the money up front. State insurance takes a month or so to kick in. You have to go to the social services office and apply (you can also apply for food stamps too, in order to get the temporary cash assistance, you have to come to the social services offices 3-4 days a week and turn in like 10 job applications a week, so if you have no one to help you with a ride, there is really no point in trying to get the TCA), hen about a week later you get your Medical Assistance card with your number and a bunch of brochures about different insurance companies, you then call the state’s medical assistance number and tell them which company you have chosen, like a week after that you get your insurance card and have health insurance. That is like two to three weeks in the best case, fastest scenario. So for Adam with no where to stay while waiting rehab is a difficult option (I didn’t even get into the fact there is a high probability that there is a wait list). So he stays with a friend in the city. He finds someone who will let him sleep at their house for $10 a night. More often than not, these people get high as most 0f his friends that live in the city do. He needs money right away so he starts going out boosting. With no internet access, he ends up not even looking for a halfway house, Actually, the only time that he lived in a halfway house was when he stayed with us after he was released from jail and my sister complied a list of halfway houses. Being as he is staying with people with a drug habit who are taking him out boosting and then going to cop dope, it is only a matter of days or weeks that this heroin habit is back.

I am in no way trying to put all of his issues with relapse on his parents, Ethan is proof that an addict will relapse if they want. I have noticed that Adam developed a habit within about a week of coming home, while Ethan has gone a year, and almost always months. Yeah when I saw him, he was trying to cop, but I don’t think he had a habit. He is a fool to think that his casual use will not develop into a habit, but he is trying. Ethan’s parents afford him the opportunity to do the right thing, and one of these times he will get into his mind that he is sick of this life of drug use and abuse. Adam doesn’t even stand a chance. He is released from prison with no where to sleep, no one to support him emotionally or financially.

Devil

I hold the devil

 I stare at him in my hand

“Let me fuck you one last time-

And then we’ll be done” he says

I am weak and I give in

Cold, sharp metal

Poking, prodding, searching for blood

And then it finds some

Instantly I am done

Wraped back into

A world of despair

And I, so smart but yet so fucking stupid

To let him trick me everytime

How many times before we learn?

Before we let him grip our throats?

I cry, ashamed at what I have become

And then I drift off to sleep

How Many Times Do We Deserve To Be Forgiven – To Forgive Others?

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It is estimated that the average addict relapses around nine times before they actually get clean. Before the idea of sobriety sinks in to our extremely thick skulls and stays there. During this vicious cycle of recovery and relapse how many friends have we pushed away? How many family members have we fucked over? And how many times have we been betrayed, hurt, lied to? How many times should we expect to be forgiven for our sins from our past lives?

Above is a diploma from my middle school D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) class. I don’t know if they still do this, but in 1995-1998, all students had to attend drug classes in school. They informed you about various drugs, their effects, addiction possibilities, etc. Being that I was a straight A student all through out school, I aced this class as well. I was going through a bunch of old paperwork over the weekend and found this. Ironic isn’t it? Now, I would be used as a horror story as to why you shouldn’t do drugs. “Meet Amy. She was a straight a student. Full scholarships to many of the best colleges in the country. She started using heroin and cocaine and threw her life away. She has multiple arrests and achieved no where close to her potential.” But back then, in middle school, I was the absolute last person that anyone would have suspected would fall under the firm, death grip of heroin.

The first time an addict finally decides, or more often then not, is convinced to enter into rehab, there is a great deal of hope and optimism amount the addicts friends and family. They will get clean, they will be cured. We will have our friend back. When you come home from the in-patient rehab, or complete the out-patient rehab, all transgressions are forgiven. Trust is restored. It is assumed that we are “cured”, back to normal. God is good.

Then a very large percent of time, we (the addict) relapses. Unfortunately, the friend/family of the addict takes this as a slap in the face. Like we are doing this to fuck them over. They either didn’t research that the idea of recovery almost never sticks the first go round, or they assume that their family member will be different. One reason , in my humble opinion, that most people fail to stay sober after the first time of going through rehab, is that an addict has to want to get clean.  Many times an addict enters rehab for the first time to pacify their loves ones. This is nothing more than a set up for failure. Merely going through the motions of NA, rehab, whatever is not enough. You have to really work it. Want it. It sort of like looking at a book, but not really reading it. The information is not going to sink in.

When we relapse the lies start up agin ten fold. We are now trying to hide the fact that we failed. We relapsed. We were unable to achieve the lasting sobriety that our loved ones were expecting us to and we are undoubtedly ashamed. Most of the people that we hurt during our first bout of drug use was probably willing to forgive us this time, but each time that we try and fail to surrender to God, we loose more and more people that we care about.

Eventually, inevitably, it comes out that we are using again. We may try to deny it continually, but an arrest happens, or an overdose, or a job loss. Something happens. We fuck up somehow. Usually a good sign is that we never have money or if we have money, we do not have as much as we should.

The people who care about us take the news of our relapse as a personal a front. Why have we done this. We just completed a program. We apologize, but that trust is much harder to gain back each additional time.

More than likely we are encouraged to get back in to treatment ASAP. We are just a little slow, stubborn, they think. We are not (yet) a total failure. If, and most likely when, this go round doesn’t work either, everyone starts to wonder what the fuck is wrong with us? Why don’t we just stop? Can’t we see the pain we are causing? Don’t we care about all of the friends that we are loosing? Most importantly, why are we so fucking selfish? Do we really not care about anybody else?

And I get it. I really do. Someone who doesn’t have this disease, who doesn’t struggle daily with addiction, can not understand. It is heart-breakingly frustrating to watch someone that you love and care about so much kill themselves slowly.

When my husband was serving time in Montgomery County, Maryland, he qualified to serve his time at PRC (Pre Release Center). This actually tries to rehabilitate prisoners. It sets them up with jobs, helps them get their GEDs if they need it, has them go to twice weekly NA or AA meetings. But one rather unique thing it does I takes the inmate’s sponsor (loved one they of their choosing) attend classes before the inmate can earn any at home visits. Since I myself am an addict and have done time, I already knew almost all of the information presented, but it is a fantastic idea. Inmates with little to no family suppose stand a much, much higher chance of becoming a repeat offender. Not everyone in jail  struggles with addiction, but since the majority do, the classes teach the sponsors about their loved ones addictions.

One aspect of addiction that people need to understand, is that the drugs alter the addicts brain. Forever. Our synapses fire differently. We have a shortage of endorphins for the rest of lives. We don’t understand at first, that we are addicted for life. While the first time, it may have taken us months of daily use before we developed a habit, each additional time it only takes two to four  consecutive uses to re-developed said habit. Our habit also picks up where it left off, with terrifying speed. I feel like our families, or friends, sort of feel like we make a huge effort to relapse. Like we use daily for a month before we get dope sick again. I don’t think that have any idea how fast it really happens.

Of course, we lie and betray every subsequent time we start to use again. It is very, very difficult for someone without this awful disease to understand how truly awful we feel when we lie to the people that we love. When in my active addiction, I would, on a rare occasion, ask my mother for money. She would berate me talking about how she was nothing but a bank to me. How I loved getting money from her. The actuality was that I only hit her up for money as an absolute LAST resort. I would have rather done almost anything. It made me feels so worthless, so low. My husband and I were able to come up with almost a thousand dollars a day, so asking her was usually an emergency. Actually, very rarely did the money that she gave me go to drugs. It usually went towards court fees, rental car, or bills one way or another. I had to be very sick to ask her for gate money. Losing the trust of my mother was one of the most terrible, awful side effects of being a heroin addict. Gaining back her trust, her forgiveness is probably the single most important thing to me in my recovery. It something that I work towards daily.

Once we are sober, we want people to hand back of their trust, the keys to their heart instantly. It is not that easy, unfortunately. Once someone betrays you over and over, it seems slightly insane to forgive them. I think the only reason that we are able to be forgiven at all is that people some-what believe that the drugs took over our brains, making us do things that we otherwise never would have done.

As far as karma goes (assuming that you believe that you believe in this sort of thing) we can not expect to be forgiven (and forgiven repeatedly at that) if we refuse to forgive others. We understand relapse. We understand the insanity of addiction. It is important to forgive while still being cautious of trusting too much. We can forgive people while still keeping people at arms length. We have to understand others need to do the same with us. We have to accept that through our actions, whether as a part of a drug induced haze or not, that there is inevitably many people that we have lost forever.

Especially with those who do not understand the disease of addiction, forgiveness may be something that is impossible to achieve. Some people are not the forgiving type. I have many friends and family members that I have done nothing to, except be n addict, that I have lost forever. I have people that have committed one minor transgression that have refused to offer their forgiveness to me after many, repeated heart-felt apologies. This is something that I am forced to come to peace with. There is a Buddhist quote that goes, “Holding on to anger is like trying to throw a torch with your bare hands. You will inevitably get burned.” I take great comfort in this and have stopped dwelling on people’s whose forgiveness I will probably never receive. If they choose to hold on to hate and anger towards me, there is nothing more that I can do to remedy the situation. I have forgiven people. If they choose to let anger eat them alive, so be it.

We can only concern ourselves with those who are willing to let us back into their lives, into their hearts. This does not just go for addicts, but for everyone. It is important to apologize to someone whom you have wronged, but if forgiveness is something that they are refusing to give, fuck it. I know from personal experience that it will eat you up inside. It is not worth it. It is far better to take that energy and focus it towards your recovery, to those who found it deep within their souls to give us trust again, even if just a little.

Lies We Tell, Lies We Accept

Recently, I was talking to an old friend. Someone whom with I have been friends since high school. This friend just also happened to be one of the people that I got high with for years as well. Since I have been clean, I don’t see him too much. Actually, the last time I saw this friend, he ripped me off for money. He needed money to get well and had a grocery store gift card. Since I have two kids, buying a discounted card for food will always come in handy. My husband and I met him and of course there was a story. “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.” I gave him the benefit of the doubt as I have been close with him for fifteen years. He would drop the card off later and I would give him the rest of the money. Why would he fuck me for thirty dollars?

Well, he did. We as addicts, are able to become expert liars. We obtain such a fluency at deceiving that we are able to do it with out even thinking. They say that you are truly fluent in another language when you are able to actually think in that language. Us addicts, when we are using, we are able to think in lies. The come out with such fluidity that little to no thought is needed.

While I was using, I learned how to con everyone. You learn to play a role, to deceive. I became the quiet, rich girl when I was boosting to throw off suspicion. I was clean, when I was with my family. I never had a criminal record when I was at work. I easily morphed into who I needed to be in that current situation.

We lie to our families, our friends, our dealers, other addicts. The worst lies that we tell are to ourselves. Can we ever forgive ourselves for the lies that we tell, the pain that we cause? Can we forgive those who are close to us for the lies that have told to us?

While we hurt the people close to us, we hurt ourselves more. Most couples who use together are unable to continue a worthwhile relationship once they both get sober. Part of this is because they will often trigger each other to relapse. Part of this is because without the drugs, a good deal of the couple have little to nothing in common. Perhaps the largest issue is getting past all the lies and betrayals that the two have done to one another. I have seen couples do horrible things to each other. Boyfriends whoring out their girlfriends. Girls fucking every dealer that will let them. Both parties cheating on one another. It is hard enough to deal with this shit when ripped out of your mind, but sober it is usually too tough to bear.

At some point the lies catch up. Just because you don’t call someone out every time you are aware of the lies that are told to you doesn’t mean that you aren’t aware. I had a good feeling that my friend was lying about the gift cards, I was just hoping against hope that he wasn’t. A may be a lot if things, naive is not one of them.

It is interesting to note, however that the more adept we become at telling and discerning lies, the more we believe our own lies. Every dope head goes on and on, when they are high of course, about how we are going to get clean, tomorrow. Always tomorrow. We are going to do up all of these drugs and then we will get clean. Of course when we wake dope sick the next morning all of that changes. The need for drugs, the need to get well, to just not be sick takes over.

In order to really recover, to achieve lasting sobriety, is to stop lying to ourselves. We use these lies as an excuse to backslide. Before we even relapse, as soon as we start getting clean, we come up with reasons or excuses as to why we will fail. That way when we start using again, we are not heartbroken. How are we ever to succeed if we set ourselves up to fail? The answer is that we can’t.

We have to forgive ourselves for our lies. And stop the lies in order to achieve our ultimate goals of having and maintaining a healthy, substance free existence. In an earlier post I wrote about the need to let go. We have to forgive ourselves for the lies we have told, the sins we have committed. It is easy to want to throw ourselves in a self imposed purgatory, but for how long will this last? The refusal to let go of the past, the refusal to forgive ourselves ends up sending us back into a world of drug use.

That being said though, while it is important to forgive people who lie, do we ever forget? Can we ever trust someone who has repeatedly lied to us? Can we ever expect or people to forgive us for our past transgressions? If we can not or will not trust again, then should we feel worthy or deserving of peoples trust? I do not know, but I hope that the karmic retribution of forgiving ourselves and others transcends into making us, as recovering addicts, worthy of forgiveness. But first we must stop lying. Weather we are using or we are clean, we can not continually lie to,everyone around us (including the lies we tell ourselves) if we expect to ever get well.

Irrevocably Broken

Today is my one day of the week that I go to my methadone clinic to receive my take homes for the week. (Actually I should only be going once a month, but my insurance will only cover six take homes at a time.) On the way home, as I drove down the dark highway, a thick coating of fog blanketing the road, I started crying. Uncontrollably and inconsolably.

There is really no good reason for me to be so upset, which of course is all the more upsetting. I am “doing good”. I am clean going on two years. We finally were able to get a new car that we didn’t pay cash for. The monthly payments should help improve our credit (along with the cell phone, car insurance, and credit cards). My husband has a good job. A union job that has benefits. Best of all, I am earning back the respect of my mother again. Slowly, but it is happening. So why am I so fucking sad?

One reason I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, is that before I started to get high, is that I was not just on the right track, I was ahead of schedule. I graduated from high school with a 4.5 tGPA. I had an almost full scholarship to the University of Maryland College a park as an honor student. My life was planned out. I was on a path for success. Then I started getting high.

Years of addiction, clean time, and relapse followed. Multiple arrests and convictions and probations ensued. Saying that I veered off of my path is an understatement. Granted, I am now back on the trail, and moving forward, but I wonder, did I travel so far backwards that I will never catch up to where I could be, or should be?

I look at the Facebook profiles for my high school friends and become painfully aware of how far ahead of me they all are. This is part of the reason that I didn’t go to my high school reunion. I am humiliated when I see the shocked looks on everyone’s face. I was the girl who went to the straight A breakfast every grading quarter. The girl who tutored other students in my classes. The girl who got into NYU, but went to UMCP for a boy of all things. And yet, I am the girl who let almost her whole graduating class surpass her. It brings up the inevitable, “But you are so smart? What happened?”

I want to go back to school. I have almost two years worth of credits. Some of those were classes that are only useful to a primary education degree, and are thus useless to me. One day, after I had made a comment on Facebook about how I should have become an English teacher like I was planning to because people’s poor grammar drives me crazy, an old friend of mine commented that it isn’t too late. I could still become an English teacher, she told me. Only, it is too late for that. With my criminal record, I could never be a teacher. So I must choose another carrier path. I have stated in previous blogs that I want to be a makeup artist. Other interests are being a social worker, or more recently a writer.

Choosing a career that requires me to go back to school presents a lot of little battles that I have to psych myself up for. One issue is that if you have ANY drug convictions, be they felonies or misdemeanors, you are inevitable of any sort of government financial aid. To me, this has to be one the absolute dumbest, hypocritical, cruel laws or rules in existence. Here everyone wants to preach about how drug addicts and/or criminals need to stop going down their paths of sin and rehabilitate themselves, but you want to offer them zero financial assistance. It makes no sense. Most drug addicts, both current and recovering, have horrible credit and probably very little money. We all fucked all that shit up a long time ago. As a society, they tell us to turn our lives around, but we are not offered the same aid as everyone else? Yeah, that’s fair.

When I last took many college classes, I was nineteen years old. I taught preschool full time (40 hours a week) and took a full course load at the community college. This was following a year at the University of Maryland College Park, where I lived in the dorms. I used drugs occasionally, but was far from having a habit. Now, ten years, two kids, and seven convictions later, going back to school is going to be very different. I am scared. Actually, I am scared to admit that I am scared, lol. School has always come easy for me. Too easy, really. With an above genius level IQ, I was used to just getting A’s with no real work. I went to college with zero study skills, because I had never needed them. I also have ADD. Once I got to college and there was 250 – 300 people to a class and no one taking attendance, I found it impossible to force myself to go to class. I could not sit through a two hour lecture class and I was used to passing with out work anyway. Not just passing, excelling. If I had a lot of trouble going to class back then, I know that with two kids and a million responsibilities, it will be even harder. Online classes are even worse for me. I will keep putting them off because I don’t HAVE to go to a physical building and my kids will make it almost impossible to do them anyway. I never had to write papers with any real distractions (just the ones inside of my mind). Now I have kids, dogs, a husband, and real life responsibilities to clutter my mind, my time. I am almost afraid to even try because I am terrified to fail.

I am afraid that I went in reverse for so long, that catching up is an impossibility. I know that I face an incredibly steep, uphill battle. The percentages of people who are able to successfully recover from heroin is slim, I am all too aware of this. I am not delusional, I know that I will never be “cured”. Not of my addictions, and not of my depression/anxiety/PTSD/ADD.  The best that I can hope for with diseases such as these, are to be in remission for the rest of my life. And it fucking terrifies me. The fact that all of these demons are brewing just under the lid, waiting to boil over is a paralyzingly real possibility. Leaving the clinic, I was hit the extremely copious feeling that this could be all for nothing.

Recovering from addiction, and depression for that matter, is exhausting. Sometimes I worry that I can not do this forever. It is so much work. I get overwhelmed which in turn pushes me down the long, vacuum powered black hole that is my depression. When I start to get depressed, overwhelmed and frustrated, I am hit with rip tide of doom. Yes, I am aware of how corny and melodramatic this sounds, but it is true, I am pulled under by forceful waves of doom. All of the sudden, it will just hit me like a wrecking ball hitting a brick wall. I will instantly feel that my life as I know it is over. That nothing good is yet to come. Just blackness and stress and tears.

Many times I feel like I am irrevocably broken. There is a strong possibility that I can not be fixed. With any luck, I may be able to keep my diseases in remission, keep them in check, but there is not a super glue out there strong enough to glue me back together. My flaws and past make me who I am, and that’s cool. I am proud that I came through the battlefield alive, but you better believe that I am far from unscathed. I pray that with time, my wounds will start to close, my scars will start to fade. I look to a path of enlightenment and inner peace. It is more than likely impossible to jump back on to the road that I was previously set to drive down and speed up enough to make it to the mile marker that I would have been at if I had not detoured. I suppose that I need to get on a new highway. Possibly even one that is not even done being built. Maybe I have to build it as I go. I just pray for the strength to continue to go forward. For as long as I don’t go backwards, maybe inching ahead, no matter how slowly, is alright. Maybe in life success is really defined as not being beaten down and halted by the hurdles and obstacles that life throws at you.

Insanity

Many people define insanity as the repeating of the same actions over and over with the exception of a different result.

By that definition, relapsing, and addiction itself, is insane. Why do we as addicts seem to think that “this time will be different”? We go through literal hell in order to get clean, yet we are so quick to foforget about this. Our disease allows us to feel that we are “cured”. An addict is never cured. You are either an active or a recovering addict.

When I first started using heroin, it took quite awhile to become physically addicted. After my first arrest, which was for shoplifting items that I then sold and used the money for drugs, my mother wanted me to go to an outpatient rehab. (Ironically, this was the facility that a couple of years later informed me that I was pregnant.) Me, my husband (who was just a friend then) and my little sister were all arrested. I was19, my ssister was 16. We both did the adolescent program at the rehab. During the intake interview, I was clear about my disdain for the idea of me attending such groups. It was a waste of my time, I explained to the man who did my intake. “I don’t have a habit,” I told him. “I can get high for a week or a day, then stop for a week or so.” “And you think that you can keep this pattern up with out ever catching a habit?” He asked me incredulously. I responded that I knew that I could. “Good luck with that,” he huffed.

Of course, this man who I so stupidly blew off, was right. I obtained a violent habit. It didn’t help that the dope that I was doing was fentanyl based. Quicker than I realized what had happened, I was dry heaving every morning, throwing up yellow stomach lining. I was done for.

Eventually, two years, nine changes, and four warrants later, I was arrested three days before Christmas. One of the four warrants was a no bail warrant and I could have a bail review until the judge who had set the no bail could see me, and he was on a two week Christmas vacation. Three weeks later, I had my bail review. He closed the case, releasing me with time served. I then had to get picked up by another county where two of my warrants were. The fourth warrant got quashed while I was locked up, so once I bailed out, I was home.

I had went through the ills in jail, on lock up, in a cell 23 hours a day. Being ill us awful regardless, but in jail is exceptionally cruel. Thin ass, worn through mattress, only one shower a day, no advil, tums, NOTHING. All you want to do is sleep, and you cannot do that because you are kicking heroin.

While in the first detention center, I found out that one of my friends was murdered because he was trying to tell these coke dealers that it was not us who had stolen his stash. It was a lie, a rumor that a guy who was mad at my sister’s boyfriend made up. The dealer had pointed a revolver at my husband’s head at point blank range and pulled the trigger. It jamed. TWICE. Tge dealer pistol whipped my sister as my husband pulled off. Obviously the dealer was pissed that he had failed. (I believe that my father acted as a guardian angel and saved everyone in the car.) My friend was killed because we weren’t. Because he felt that someone had to pay for his stash getting stolen. Didn’t matter who it was. Didn’t matter that WE didn’t even anything to do with it.

Sitting in jail for a few weeks gave me some time to reflect on my drug use. I didn’t want to go through this kind of hell again. I was done.

I came home and stayed clean. For three years I stayed clean. I got a job as a waitress. Eventually I was a certified trainer. Then I was the lead server. I became a lead bartender also. I gave birth to my second child. Life was great.

The entire time that I was clean, there were people who lived in the house with my family that were getting high. It didn’t bother me. I could handle it. I couldn’t handle my husband getting high.

He had surgery on his knee. He was given prescription for Percocet. After a few months, the doctor cut off the script. He was still in pain, and we were living with people who were getting high, so he started to get shit off of them. I could only see him high in front of me but for so long. He tried to hide it from me, but I knew. Soon I started using too.

I won’t get addicted this time. I know better. We didn’t do it every day. But a couple of times a week quickly progressed to daily.

Our addiction is tricky. We can be clean for years, but once we start up again, it very quickly goes right back to where we left off. We trick ourselves in to believing that we are cured, but the drugs have altered our brains forever. Your synapses have changed, and theydon’t go back to that of ssomeone who has never been a drug addict.

This is why you see people who have been clean for fifteen years or so and get high a few times and loose everything that they worked so hard for. Everything that they accomplished during their clean time, is gone.

It takes an addict an average of about nine times to actually achieve sobriety. We are insane. We keep thinking that this time we will control the drugs, not the other way around.  But we are not, and never will be casual users. The drugs have altered our brains, our souls. No matter how much we lie to ouselves, or others, the drugs have a grip on us.

This is why one of the most dangerous things in an addict’s recovery is complacency. The idea that we can be cured is bullshit. I now know that we will never NOT be an addict. I have been in recovery for two years, and I hope to be for the rest of my life. I am no longer insane.

Relapse

It’s a Thursday night at the restaurant. No different than any other Thursday night, except that this is not my shift. Someone needed their shift covered, and I had a three year old and a six month old, so why the fuck not?

A couple of hours into a decidedly slow evening, I go over to greet a new table sat in my section. As I am walking I taste that old familiar taste. “No,” I thought. “It’s impossible.” I swallow it down and continue about my evening. Fifteen minutes or so later, their food comes up in the window. As I walk behind the line, the smell of burgers and pizza hits me in the face with the force of a sledgehammer. An overwhelming sense of nausea comes over me and I start to perspire as I grab the food to take it out to my table.

“Amy, are you alright?” My manager asks me. Wow, I had no idea it was that obvious. “No, not really,” I say. “My daughter is sick. Must have got a bug from her.” Nice cover. “It’s slow anyway. Finish up your tables and side work and you can go ahead and cash out.” I tore through the side work and was checked before the table was finished. I managed to get the table to pay and convinced a co-worker to bus and set the table for me.

I tore out of there, everyone telling me to feel better. Soon as I stepped outside the restaurant, I called Aaron. “Where you at?” I inquired. “Almost done. Headed to dude now, why?” “Ummm,” I wavered “I’m ill.”

And that was the beginning of repeating the hell that I had managed to escape. The shitstorm of an existence that I swore would never be my life again. After a little more than three years clean, after a few trips of getting high, I had a habit again.

I should have know, I did know, that I should have stopped right then. The ills would have been like a minor flu at that point, but I didn’t. The mental aspects of it remind me the torture of full fledged withdraws. I didn’t want to go through it. It was too much, taking care of a screaming baby, changing poopy diapers and feeding and playing with a baby full of energy when you barely have the energy to make the bottle.

So instead of pushing through, I kept using. For three years. I was too ashamed to tell my mom. To ask her to help with the kids as I got myself sober. What would she think? No, far better to become a dope head again. The logic we tell ourselves when we want to justify something that we know is wrong. So started the hell that was my life, again, up until I pulled my head out of my ass, joined a methadone clinic, and clean once and for all.