This is my story of addiction and my journey to recovery...
Addiction for me started at a young age beginning with alcohol. Although I didn't realize it was a problem until later in life it was a temporary escape from the stressors in my life at the time. I grew up in your average household with Mom, Dad, and two brothers in a small suburban town. Growing up I never had a problem making friends since I easily got along with everyone. People portrayed me as friendly, trusting, funny and down to earth who was always willing to talk and help people. Although I aspired to be all of those things all the time, I always found myself wearing many masks for people because I never wanted anyone to know how I truly felt deep down inside. As a child I had been through many challenges and obstacles that lead me to become an expert at isolation and always portraying to everyone that I was fine. I always put everyone else's needs before my own.
What started out as just harmless social drinking with friends or at party's eventually progressed into drinking alone and everyday, isolating myself in my bedroom and reminiscing on happy memories that I felt were long gone. In 2015 I was introduced to Opioids from a few friends who had begun using them on weekends. For weeks I refrained from them when I was offered because I was aware that there were people who were not in my circle of friends that were developing a problem with the Opioids. I was in school and held a part time steady job so the last thing I needed was a new problem. All that changed when one day I came home after a very difficult day and decided that I needed to escape my thoughts and so I made the regretful decision to try it. Not long after getting into opioids, I started adding cocaine to the mix as my tolerance grew. I had no idea that for the next three years I was in store for more torcher and pain than I had ever experienced before and not only for me, but for my family as well. During that time I began to lie, cheat and steal from my family and friends, which only progressed as time passed. I lost interest in all normal activities, hobbies, hanging out with family and simply gave up on all dreams of this great person I aspired to be. I had become enslaved to my addiction and only wanted to isolate in my room or hangout with other addicts. I lost all my genuine friendships with the people who cared about me and pushed the ones who tried to help me away. In my eyes and thoughts I didn't have a problem and I didn't need anyone’s help. The friends I did keep close were other addicts who also slowly began to drift away after countless disagreements and arguments. Over the three-year span taking Percocet’s and Oxy’s I eventually moved to Fentanyl. The progression was very real and I spiraled out of control despite all the warnings. I mixed uppers with downers everyday not thinking about the long-term damage I was doing to my body. I walked around like a ghost with no emotions and had lost basic social skills that used to just come naturally to me.
Over those years I had a couple trips to the Hospital Emergency and admitted to a detox facility not by my choice. I had tried programs like Suboxone under a doctor’s care but nothing was working because I didn't want to stop using. It doesn’t make sense but I liked the feeling of simply, feeling nothing. Although everyone around me could see me self-destructing I had no idea how bad it had become and felt everything was fine, the drug had taken hold of my thought process to distinguish right from wrong. My parents suffered anxiety, worry and sorrow with many sleepless nights seeking answers on what to do. Feeling hopeless they had put their lives on hold to help me get mine back together. I stopped taking care of myself and lost my appetite for food loosing nearly 100 pounds in a year. I was in a dark place of depression and began thinking there was no point to living. After lots of self-harm, car accidents, suicidal thoughts and misery, I made up my mind that it was time to take back the control of my life and once again go to a detox facility. During the early stage at detox, I was so weak that I fainted and hit my head ending up in the Hospital emergency department. The ambulance paramedic told me in the most serious voice that I was lucky to be alive and she was shocked I still was. Hearing that statement was yet another wake up call that I was in need of serious help.
With the help and support of a dear friend, my family, my workplace management and the Unifor Union the process began. After 10 days in detox I attended a 19-day program that I believe in unison with the previous support, saved my life. I learned so many valuable lessons during that time. I learned that I wasn't alone and that so many other people shared similar experiences and were on the same path of self destruction. After commencing the program I immediately joined a fellowship and attended regular meetings. I did all the proven things I was taught at the treatment center. I started building positive relationships with my family, new friends and the old friends I had let go of in the past, I am finally working towards goals and can see a bright positive future for myself. Today, I can say I am truly happy. During my worst times I couldn’t even remember what pure joy felt like and now I experience it everyday. I now see that there is more to life then using and I live each day happy joyous and free.
Attending the meetings in my fellowship is how I discovered Spiritual Soldiers and I learned it is a movement of like-minded people who want to end the stigma surrounding addiction by educating and support. I've learned that I don't have to fight this war alone anymore, that the support is here, recovery is possible you just have to take that first leap of faith. Every day is a battle that I choose to claim victory over because I fight for my life and sobriety. The freedom I now have is the most amazing feeling you could ever imagine.