1 YEAR & 3 MONTHS IN RECOVERY
24 | ULSTER COUNTY, NY
When my brother got back from treatment in Pennsylvania, we went out for a car ride.
He told me stories about the new friends he made, how good he felt mentally and physically, and how he was genuinely happy. It was the first time in a long time that I saw life in his eyes and it felt like we were kids again. Not everyone gets to experience these moments. There were several times where I was afraid I would never see Vin again and that day I just kept looking over at him because I was grateful to have him there. I knew I needed to create something that captured the way we felt that day because it might just save or inspire someone else.
This project is dedicated to him.
I was first exposed to opiates by a friend who had access to them.
He asked if I wanted one and I replied “Yes”. Later that day he gave me a Percocet 10 mg. I first started to realize I was addicted when I couldn’t enjoy anything or go through a day without using, but in hindsight I was probably hooked from the first time I used.
I used opioids for 7 years.
I believe the primary reason I used opioids was due to lack of direction or sense of purpose in life. Once I started using, the effects of the drug gave me a sense of fulfillment and well-being that I couldn’t get elsewhere. As strange as it sounds, it also gave me the sense that I had a goal to achieve which was to get more and maintain the feeling I desired.
Theoretically, there were several points where I had been able to see that using opioids was unsustainable and that my life was out of control, but it was more of a culmination of several instances that eventually led me to seek help.
I attended an inpatient treatment at Pocono Mountain Recovery Center in Pennsylvania and then a 12-Step based program.
The inpatient treatment was an absolute necessity for me. I could not stop without being completely away from opiates, but that was only temporary once I was back into society.
The 12-Step program is what has allowed me to maintain sobriety. I believe 12-Step programs have different aspects that work for different people, but for me it’s so effective because of the fellowship of men and women who are like-minded and have the same goals and values in regard to staying sober/clean.
I have been in recovery for 1 year and 3 months.
The 12-Step program as well as playing and listening to music are the two biggest aids to staying sober. The 12-Step program gives me a place where I can build meaningful relationships with people who are like-minded in terms of goals and lifestyle, while music gives me a goal to work towards as well as enjoyment that I had been unable to feel in active addiction.
For instance, I have bouts where I’ll be convinced I should have accomplished more or should be in a better position in life. I address this challenge by talking openly to people I feel comfortable with and not letting negative thoughts sit in my head for too long.
The biggest challenge for myself is trying to keep things in perspective and have gratitude for what I have at the moment.
Some people who have been most influential are people who have a considerable amount of clean time as well as my sister, bosses, girlfriend, and father.
All these people inspire me to maintain my sobriety by making it seem possible to do so as well as seeing things in myself that I may not. I also do not want to disappoint or upset these people anymore, so that certainly is a source of motivation.
Also, people who are great guitar players like Slash, Buckethead, and Steve Vai inspire me to keep doing what I love and make it seem possible to get to where I want to go on the guitar and I know it won’t be possible if I’m using opioids.
I personally struggle
with the Higher Power/God concept. For the time being I just rely on the wisdom and direction of people in the program who have a lot of time in recovery.
Life is completely different in sobriety.
I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in and feel great for the most part. I no longer have to worry about how I’m going to come up with enough money to keep withdrawals from occurring.
I’m no longer pulled over by police and searched or in constant fear of going to jail. I can have healthy and meaningful relationships with people, whereas before anyone who I had a relationship with either sold or used drugs.
I can be honest and reliable to the people who love me as well as people in general.
I want to maintain my sobriety and hopefully one day inspire or help someone in their recovery by being the best example I can be. Personally, I’d like to find a career that I enjoy and am motivated by and try to be the best I can be at whatever that is.
The biggest lesson I have learned in recovery and I suppose in life in general is that there is no amount of external things (material possession, job, friends) that is going to make you feel fulfilled in life. Fulfillment is almost 100 percent internal and is determined by your actions and how you perceive what you have as well as changing something if it’s getting in the way of your peace of mind.
The main thing I would say to someone still experiencing addiction to opioids is that this is not a death sentence and you’re not condemned to a miserable life.
The news and people in general paint it out to be a situation where you die or are in and out of rehabs struggling to stay clean. You never hear about all of the success stories. There are many people that have broken the cycle and lead a great life because of it. I would also tell them that desire and obsession to use does go away. The time frame is different for everyone, but it does go away.
I used to think I’ll never be able to be normal again and that train of thought kept me active for a lot longer than I needed to be so I’d want to reassure a struggling person that they will be normal again. It just takes some time. And lastly I would advise them to go to inpatient treatment for 90 days if possible. The longer you go the better and it will give the best shot at getting it right.