Besides my clever use of alliteration, the title of this blog post has a much bigger meaning for me, and for addicts everywhere. As far as I’m concerned, when one of us does well, we all do well. I’m not writing this post as a brag, I’m writing this to motivate anyone considering following the path of recovery.
The pre-recovery era
I moved to South Florida in early May of 2007, with nothing more to my name than a bad heroin problem and an even worse attitude. I went to rehab but I did all the wrong things, associated with all the wrong people and didn’t take my recovery seriously.
Sometimes people go to rehab and stay clean for a while and then relapse, then they blame the rehab center; that was me. I was convinced rehab didn’t work and it was a huge waste of time. I spent the next ten years using rehab as an oil change and a hotel that my health insurance paid for. After rehab I would go to different halfway houses, not look for work, not show up for IOP, and after a while I would always use. I ended up in a vicious, unending cycle because I didn’t take recovery seriously. The truth is, I didn’t have any motivation or passion. I had no clue what my potential was, or what recovery had in store for me.
Jealousy and resentment gets you nowhere
I saw people around me who had actually listened and worked a program, and I saw how successful they had become over time.
I witnessed people walk into treatment centers with absolutely nothing, and a year later were working for that same treatment center they had gone to for help. A few years later some of those same people had beautiful homes, cars, jewelry, wives, great friends, businesses; you name it. I saw these people go back to school and get degrees, I saw them learn how to love themselves and I saw their misery simply disappear. For a very long time I didn’t use their stories as motivation, quite the contrary; I resented these people. In some cases I hated them with a burning passion. How did they do it? Why was he able to buy that brand new car and I couldn’t?
At the time I had no idea, but the reason is very clear now; they had the right attitude and they put in the work. They did what I couldn’t, or wouldn’t do. They avoided people, places and things, they worked the twelve steps, they associated with people in recovery and they took responsibility for their past, present and future. They were perpetually grateful and saw life for the beautiful opportunity that it is.
In the course of my addiction I suffered the misfortune of contracting a disease that is unfortunately common in the recovery community; Hepatitis C. Approximately two and a half years ago I saw a wonderful doctor in South Florida and she quickly put me on the waiting list to receive the medication I needed for free from the manufacturer. I didn’t have prescription drug coverage at the time, so this was the only way I could have gotten well. My doctor informed me that I would be drug tested on a weekly basis to make sure that I was staying clean. At the time I had about two or three weeks clean, and I was afraid I’d relapse. I was getting very sick from the Hepatitis, so this became my new motivation to stay clean. Weeks turned into months, and eventually I received the medication because I had stayed clean for the requisite six months. It was extremely important that I stay clean while on the medication, because chances were I’d never get another opportunity to receive them for free. My family made me an offer that sounded too good to be true; they invited me to stay with them at their home in New Jersey for the duration of my treatment. I knew I’d miss my friends in South Florida, but this was too important to pass up.
Now that I was clean for six months, starting my Hepatitis C treatment and living back at home with my family I finally felt motivated to stay clean. The side effects from the medication were minimal, so I felt strong enough to find a job. I ended up staying at this job for the next six months. It was simple and easy, and it was money in my pocket. I learned about the importance of responsibility, being on time, respect and how to budget my money. I also became very close with the owner of the business, and he taught me a lot about how to track inventory, how to price products and how to run the day-to-day operations.
By this time I had finished my Hepatitis treatment and was cured of the disease. I made a commitment to stick to something and I finished it for the first time in my whole life. Hepatitis C and drug addiction ravaged my body and my mind and took me to places I hope to never go back to.
Having one year clean by this time and having accomplished such an enormous task, I felt motivated to continue on my journey. At that time I enrolled in community college to finish my Associates degree. It was very scary and overwhelming going back to class where I felt a little behind and was usually the oldest, but it was still an amazing experience.
I only needed 15 credits, and that year I accomplished that goal as well. By that time I had about 18 months clean, and I took a brief vacation to go see my friends in South Florida. When I caught up with a friend of mine who I was in rehab with several years ago, I visited him at work. He is one of the owners of a thriving business, and this motivated me to start my own business. I did my due diligence, took all of the necessary legal steps and started an LLC. I took out a small loan and purchased all of the necessary materials, supplies and equipment and got to work. Making money is a great thing, but the real point is that I am my own boss, plus I get to do what I love every single day
If I can do it, anyone can do it
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t say these things to brag, not at all. Many other addicts in recovery have accomplished far more than I ever have or ever will, and that is okay. What matters is that I started my own journey of self-improvement. Today I am cured of Hepatitis C, I have two years clean, I own a small business, I was able to increase my credit score from a 410 to a 611, and open up three bank accounts. I say that to say this; I know that there is someone, somewhere, reading this right now who is on the fence and doesn’t know what to do. My only hope is that that someone will begin their long, slow march towards self-improvement. If I can do it, anyone can do it. No drug I’ve ever done feels half as good as success.