"As prices increased, and your ability to rationalize as a human diminishes; you slowly start a trend of needing more money."

There are things that some of us share and other things we don’t; so, asking for a recovery story is not always simple. One common thing is that most people who become addicts to opiates never meant for it to happen.

In my story, I was involved in a car accident, and needed surgery. I was in the hospital for weeks, and during this time I was given a plethora of opiates for pain. I was 19 at the time and had a predisposition for addiction; though, I never cared to use anything but marijuana. I used to make fun of the people who would do “pills,” and even those who drank alcohol. I said I would never do that stuff, but a “little weed never hurt anybody.” I was wrong on both accounts. After being discharged from the hospital I was sent home with more pills. Then one day they were all gone; which was fine at first. Soon after, I got sick for the first time as my body was going through withdrawal. Now, all of the sudden, all those people I used to make fun of became my closest “friends”. Each day was a new day where we’d get together and handle the basics. We would call and text everyone who might have drugs. This was done while also performing some kind of labor to earn money for when and if the time came that we found something. It never failed; we always found something.

During my usage things like Vicodin 10’s (10 hydrocodone/325 acetaminophen) were a mere $5 a pill, so offering $7 was a great deal to the seller. Fast forward a couple years later, things have changed. The sellers know you want them bad enough to pay $7, so they ask for $8 or $10. If they do not get it from you, they will from someone else. As prices increased, and your ability to rationalize as a human diminishes, you slowly start a trend of needing more money. Before you know it, there’s nobody with money, so what do you do? You start pawning. That rarely lasts long, so if you want it bad enough you will consider taking things from your families’ houses hoping to pawn or trade. Then, there are the days that none of these are an option.

You’re sick and this isn’t just some flu style of sick. It’s the kind of sick where you wish you were just dead because it’d be easier. Now, your options are simple. You can steal from a store and sell (including gift cards because some dealers will buy them $0.50 on the dollar so they pay $50 (5 or 6 pills) for a $100 gift card to Walmart. Only one thing matters, and that’s getting your body to normal. So, there is, of course, one more thing you can do. You can become a frequent flyer at the emergency room where you’ll scour the internet in search of symptoms that can produce pain pills without the doctors really being able to know if something is wrong. The hope is that they’ll just write you some pills and kick you out. Before long, you will be flagged, and cannot get anything but aspirin unless you go somewhere farther away. The options are becoming very limited at this point, and your ability to rationalize as a human diminishes. When you’re sick, it’s especially hard. At some point “do I pay $30 for one IR 30 oxy, or do I pay $8 for one bag of heroin that’ll do the same thing.” The choice is obvious. Even at this point, you tell yourself, you will never shoot up; until, the day you’re broke and sick.

This was my story, and the story of most people with substance abuse disorder out there. If you sit in on an AA/NA meeting, you’ll hear it. From the outside, you can say “well just stop”, “you made these choices”, “it’s your own fault.” As for me, however, I’m happy to say that I am in recovery, and have been for over 6 years. It’s not an easy road; it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The first time my Pharmacist looked at me when I handed her a script that had antibiotics and painkillers on it and asked, “what did you want me to do with the painkiller portion?” and I answered “rip it up” it gave me a bigger high than anything I ever shot, sniffed, or swallowed.  On September 4th I will have also reached my 3rd year without a cigarette.

All of this was possible with South Hills Recovery Project and Dr. Alan Clark. The help came from Suboxone and monthly appointments where I gave urinalysis and received counseling; I am able to say that I’ve been clean for over 6 years. When you first sit down in rehab, they will look at you and say “1 in 50 of you will make it.” I’d like to think that number can increase. If I were to say one thing to someone debating getting clean, it would be “If you want to be serious about your recovery you have to be selfish about it.” Put it before everything else in your life. Yes, you will have to miss your niece’s 21st birthday at the bar because you cannot put yourself around anything sobriety altering. You can make it up to her in a way that won’t jeopardize your ability to say, “I’ve been clean for ___”.

This is why I am sharing my story. In closing, my devotion to sobriety was very strong because I focused on my children. The rapper Eminem said it better than anyone, “it was my decision to get clean, I did it for me, admittedly, I probably did it subliminally, for you, so I can come back a brand new me, you helped see me through, and don’t even realize what I did, but believe me, you.”

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