- Friends & Family
Submitted by: Susanne Johnson
I’m not missing anything. I don’t miss to party. I love the opportunity to come home at night, hang out with my roommate, watch TV, play with the dog. I have zero desire to go out to the bars, that is not what’s important to me today. It used to be different, my priorities and my lifestyle has changed, and I don’t regret this step a single day of my life.
My downfall were opiates, even though it all started with the alcohol. I grew up playing golf. Golf is a leisure sport, where a lot of people consume alcohol while playing. At the young age of 10 years old, I had unsupervised access to alcoholic beverages on the golf course. I was stealing beer and liquor at any available opportunity. I saw adults engaging in this drinking behavior and wanted to be part of it. They were having a good time, enjoying themselves and that’s what I wanted.
After the alcohol I started exploring different substances like mushrooms, benzos, and marijuana until I found opiates in my junior year of high school. It started innocently with the consumption of lower dosage pills and escalated into IV use of Heroin and Opioids by the time I was in college. The party-animal-mentality, which I found in my fraternity, further propelled my use to an unbelievable level. Not only using and drinking in this culture normalized, it was actually encouraged. Why wouldn’t I take something that I’m good at to a level where I’m the best at it? The mentality reached a point of ‘How close can I get to overdosing without actual overdosing?’, always testing the limits. It was like playing Russian Roulette. How often can I pull a trigger without dying? The difference being, we used drugs instead of bullets.
I made it through college and passed only by taking lots of Adderall and cocaine and studying non-stop in the library, a few nights before a test. I was somehow able to make it through these years. During the first semester of my senior year I had to enter my first treatment center. I had just broken up with my girl friend, owed my drug dealer a lot of money, my friends had abandoned me and nobody wanted to be around me anymore. I was broke. I needed help and I reached out to my parents. I was in denial that alcohol was also part of the addiction and drank on the airplane home from treatment. It only took six hours and I was back on opiates.
Five IOP programs followed one after another, and I was using through all of it. I graduated from college and found a job that promised a new beginning. In less than 48 hours after moving all good intentions were lost and I had drugs in my system again. Shortly after, I got arrested for several drug related offenses, bailed myself out and never told anyone about it. My disease was trying to protect itself. Since it happened in my home town, it didn’t take long for my parents to find out as mail started to show up from court. I claimed that I would take care of everything, not understanding that I was in no position to take care of anything at that point.
Several more treatment facilities, IOP’s and sober living homes followed in the upcoming years. One program in particular was very helpful for my recovery. It didn’t get me to stay clean by any means, because I had no intention to do so, but the family component made my family set fixed boundaries. The worse thing that could have happened to an addict like me at the time. It ruined my family for me as a user and started the process of my recovery.
After I tried to cash a check that was in my father’s name, my parents decided that I need to leave home. I ended up in a homeless shelter that night. I stayed there one night without a phone, car or money. I had hit worse bottoms in my using, but that was my emotional and spiritual bottom. I was lonely, scared, angry, sad… it was all there. My parents refused to pay for another trip to treatment, but I managed to get ahold of a previous counselor who talked to them and I ended up in my final treatment facility.
I’ve been clean and sober ever since. I finally learned the truth about my disease, myself and the damage it caused in my life. I worked the steps and took ownership for my part of the problem, instead of continuously blaming others for my choices. Never in my life can I recall a period of such growth and in such a short time.
My journey continued in Florida, where I lived with peers in a sober living. I felt very connected. They were all going through the same things that I went through, and were all supposed to do the same things that I had to do. Our friendship were close and continued as we became roommates sharing an apartment.
At about one year of sobriety I became a tech at a treatment center and worked myself up into business development. My ties to my family were close, but I was far away. Our mutual trust had been restored, and I enjoyed being with them again. As my sister became a mother, and my dad became ill and needed a lung transplant, I took the next opportunity to move closer to home and todayI’m working for a facility in Tennessee. The community has welcomed me with open arms. The first time I set foot on the grounds of the facility I knew everything was going to be all right. I’m grateful that this opportunity was there for me.
Even I thought I don’t have drugs or alcohol in my system, this disease is still with me. I believe that I’m not that powerful, but that a higher power gives me relief from addiction today. I have also committed myself to service work and attending meetings. I have a sponsor and work the steps, staying connected in and with my recovery today.
I will be always active in my program of recovery. I cannot stop just because all seems to be fine from the outside. My ultimate goal at the end of the day is to find treatment for the struggling individuals who contact us. I work to find the best place for them, regardless of whether or not it is the facility where I work or elsewhere. I want to give every struggling addict that I’m in contact with the opportunity that I was blessed with. Every person should have the opportunity to get connected to a place where he or she can find long-term sobriety. This is why I do what I do every day.
It is okay to be vulnerable and ask for help. I had to learn this through my journey. It was difficult to ask my parents for help, but it was the right thing to do. We have a close relationship again. I have a two year old nephew, who I love and enjoy being with. Today my sister trust me to watch him while they go out for dinner. I feel blessed to be part of their lives. This is a true gift of recovery.
Tomorrow is not promised, yesterday is already gone. I’m not thinking much about the future at this point and taking every day as it comes; with all it’s blessings. For me it matters what I do today. I’m 26 years of age old and try to lead not only by words, but by actions. Trust the process. Recovery is a exciting journey to a wonderful destination.