My story begins when I was 28 years old. I was the guy that did all the right things, never missed a day of work, always made time for family, had a brand new home, and all things seemed to be going in the right direction for me until I had my first taste of OxyContin. At this point, I had never tried drugs. The girl I was seeing at the time told me that it wouldn’t hurt me and would actually help with some back pain that I had been experiencing at work. Not really knowing what I was doing, I decided to try it. Immediately I was hooked. At first I just used the drug for pain because of the work I could do while using the drug. Also, I started to use the drug to party. Then, it turned into an everyday habit… going on lunch breaks, after work, on the weekends to go get it. After several months, I was using OxyContin everyday just to get by. I quit hanging around with friends and family just so I could get high. I enjoyed the rush of doing something I wasn’t supposed to do. Before long, I went from being a blue collar, fun loving, gym rat to a guy that thought he was going to be a successful drug dealer on the side and nobody would ever know that I was on drugs. After a couple years of this I was on the edge, dealing with the loss of my sister. She had passed away a few years before I began to use drugs. I began to use just not to have to deal with the pain of her loss. I started flying back and forth to Florida to obtain pills. Eventually, I lost my job. I had worked for over 13 years. I became a full time dealer and I ended up a full time drug addict. I managed to lose my home, and everything that I had worked for and was nearing my bottom. I started using a needle and that was the beginning of the end. I was sleeping out of my car at times, sometimes even on the riverbank by where I used to live. My brother and his wife took me in for awhile to detox, but I was too far gone. I eventually left their house and was back out on the street again. I wasn’t out a week before I was arrested on a breaking and entering charge but for me it was a relief. I was tired and out of options.
What was your ‘aha’ moment?
This is a moment I don’t speak on much, but since a good friend asked me I will tell it. After being locked up for a month and going through a terrible detox I received a visit from my brother. Mind you, having an older brother sometimes isn’t easy. As kids, I was always smaller than him so when we would do things together it wasn’t so pleasant. I think I got my butt kicked more times than I can count, either fighting or playing sports… so I thought one day I would be better than him or that I would be able to hurt him the way he did me as a kid. When he came to visit with me through a small glass window with 20 other cellmates around I thought man this sure won’t be pleasant. But as the conversation began I could tell there was something wrong with him, I could tell after 30 years of being a younger brother that I finally hurt him…. That’s how sick I was… I could tell by the look on his face and by the words he had said to me that I hurt him. He told me that I was too good of a person to be spending my life in a cell, and doing the things that I had been doing. He told me that I could change all that. He gave me hope. Sometimes it takes a big brother’s foot in your butt to motivate you and that’s what he did. I decided in that damp, 100-degree jail cell that I wanted to be the man I was before and nothing was going to stop me.
Describe your feelings on active addiction:
My thoughts are short and direct. The single hardest thing I’ve ever experienced and never want to again.
What is my driving force when times get tough?
Having a Higher Power again in my life is vital, but just remembering to take things “One day at a Time” and remembering how hard life can really be if I would choose to ever go back to that old lifestyle.
What advice do I have for family members of a person living in active addiction?
Support them anyway you can without enabling them. Love them and pray for them.
I am very grateful for all the people that stood by my side through all the ups and downs of my addiction. Without them I wouldn’t be doing what I do today… working with recovering addicts like myself on a daily basis in my community. Most of all, I’m proud of what I have been able to get through and now I am doing what God wanted me to do with my life.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 888.351.1761 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.
There is hope. There is help.
Jason is the Assistant Director of Phase II at Sanibel House, a residential recovery center under Addiction Recovery Care. Jason has been sober for 7 years and uses his experience with addiction to help the clients find recovery as he did.