"I gave my heart and soul throughout every single session, and did the 90 NA meetings."

I believe that my drug issues stem from sexual abuse that started at age five. When those teenagers raped me, I always knew it was wrong, but I could not get myself to open up about it. I felt ashamed and guilty that it happened. A large portion of the guilt was because I found a lot of the activity pleasurable, even though it was forced.

When I was nine, one of my older siblings introduced me to pot. I really enjoyed how it made me feel. By the time I was 12, I was able to smoke for free because I could hustle people into purchasing overpriced marijuana from me. Then, when I was 14, I was introduced to alcohol. This was another way for me to escape my haunting reality. Finally, at 18, I found cocaine and I was off to the races for the next 25 years. All of those things made it easy to mask my reality.

Besides drugs and alcohol, I played a few sports through high school. They helped me feel normal and hold it together. I was president of my graduating class and quarterback of my high school’s successful football team. I used before each game and thought I was “ok.”

The next quarter of a century would consist of me losing jobs and having many failed relationships. In one of those relationships, I laid my drug addiction onto another person, I helped have a crack baby. My addiction escalated, but I somehow stayed off the legal radar until I was 34.

From 34 for the next eight and a half years, I acquired 24 felonies and 24 misdemeanor charges. After four short trips to county jail, and what seemed like a million unnoticed mini-miracles, like beating 46 out of 48 criminal charges, the lightbulb finally went off. At 43 I finally sought help from my local drug and alcohol agency. I voluntarily checked in to a 28 day, all male, inpatient treatment facility. I followed everything by the book. While there I read the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Basic Text for the first time, and I felt like I was reading my own autobiography. That book showed me hope for a future without drugs. Once discharged, I went back for individual and outpatient counseling. I gave my heart and soul throughout every single session, and did the 90 NA meetings. After finishing the recommended counseling plan which took about six months, I helped start NA meetings in my home county.

This is why I am sharing my story. Today, we are six meetings strong every week, and I attend as often as possible; at least two each week. After a career in heavy construction, I stepped into a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program. I could stay clean so long, because NA taught me how good it felt to help others. While in LPN, I put myself through nursing school.

I am currently employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and a registered nurse. I work with troubled youth, that, like myself, come from drug infested environments. You see, the God of my understanding has a great sense of humor: Instead of sending me to the State Pen (State Penitentiary,) which my actions warranted, he sent me to Penn State to get my nursing degree!

The life of service that I live today is a far cry from the self-centered misery of active addiction.

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