When my employer found out about my addiction he let me go. Regardless of how well I performed my duties, suddenly he didn’t trust me. After all, don’t all addicts steal? I never did. I may have lost a lot of things, but I always worked and never had to steal. He labeled all addicts losers who all deserved death.
I found he is not alone in his thinking. While I never thought anyone deserved to die, I didn’t know addiction was a disease. Like many, I thought addiction was a choice, a flaw in character or a sign of weakness.
When I was using the only thing that I feared was running out of drugs and the horrible withdrawal symptoms that would undeniably follow. Since my month would always start with prescriptions I figured I would be okay if I took as directed. Unfortunately, my prescription never lasted more than a week. Once I was out I would have to search, find and pay for my drugs. I always thought I was under surveillance and would be arrested at any moment. It didn’t matter though, I had to have the drugs…at any cost because I couldn’t live through the withdrawal and life in general.
I always felt that no one knew I was using. Most of the time I was right. I had been using since the age of 13 and for over 40 years, so no one close to me knew me clean. I had utilities shut off, cars repossessed, evicted, lost homes, and ended up living in a roach infested motel with my two daughters for over a year. My family always bailed me out financially, but when they found out I had been using several years ago it was harder for me to con them into giving me cash. No one in my family trusted me any longer. My parents and children constantly worried about me. I let them all down.
When I awoke from my most recent overdose in July 2014 one of the first things I said was, “I am done, I can’t do this anymore” and “I have to do something for other addicts who need help.” I fought with hospital staff not to send me home, but to send me somewhere I could get help. I was lucky enough to be sent to one of the top rehabilitation centers in the country. Since then, I cannot count the many blessings God has put in my life. I own a home, a car, I have a great job, but most importantly I have the love and support of my family. I am able to help other addicts in need of help and will be starting college in the fall to become a Drug and Alcohol Counselor. I truly believe God allowed me to live so that I could help my fellow addicts.
I look back to when I began using drugs and wonder “what if?” If I hadn’t been so afraid of not fitting in and had just told myself “I am who I am and I don’t have to change for anyone” maybe, just maybe, my life would have turned out different. It’s not that I want to change anything. I am happier now than I can ever remember. I just believe that if I had not taken that first drug, my road would have been smoother. My mother always told me “you are not a social worker so why do you always bring home these social cases.” I think I was always drawn to helping others and would have ended up doing some type of social work regardless of my addiction.
Through my recovery I have learned that I am much stronger, smarter, capable, and independent than I ever knew. I am able to accomplish anything and I am so proud of where I am today. Through fighting my addiction, being a cancer survivor, and having survived 13 surgeries in 15 years, I have found that God can get me through anything and that if I can beat the obstacles placed in my path, anyone can.
Every day I wake up and thank God for blessing me with another day. I pray that I will do his will and not mine and I thank him for all the gifts he has bestowed on me. I thank him for showing how truly blessed I am. I work my steps daily, go to meetings, and I am always in contact with my network. I am in service more than I am at home and I’m sure these are all more gifts from God.
After hiding my disease for so long I no longer want to do it. I want everyone to know that addiction is a disease, we can recover and go on to have wonderfully blessed and productive lives. No one is doomed. All you need is the willingness. Anything is possible. I have decided that the only way I can make a difference is to say “I AM NOT ANONYMOUS!”