No one expected an 18 year old private school graduate to end up with a needle in his arm 10 years later. Yet that's precisely where I was two years ago.
Coming up on year anniversaries, I tend to start thinking about the past. There's still a tinge of regret, but it doesn’t revolve around my legal resume anymore. I regret not getting sober sooner.
I never knew a life like this was available to a guy like me. In high school, I lettered three years in varsity golf. My name was never absent on the honor roll. I was accepted to a top 30 liberal arts college in their honors business program. Half of my tuition was paid via scholarship. For the first time in my life, I had arrived.
The first semester granted me an unjustifiable freedom. I took full advantage by growing pot in my dorm room, drinking heavily and building a not-so-stealth adult film station beneath my lofted bed.
Two men shared a room with me. Two very unlucky men. One even wrote an
My college experiment didn’t last a semester. Ever the impeccably-timed alcoholic, I withdrew from university on my birthday. As punishment, my Dad banned me from our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. I ate, by myself, at home while they gathered together in Chicago. I don’t blame him for doing it, but the shame I felt only furthered my plunge in the bottle.
Over the next 10 years, alcoholism and opiate/heroin addiction led me to depths so dark only those in recovery can understand. I was on the five o’clock news for a high stakes gambling bust. I led police from several counties on a high-speed chase at 120+ mph against interstate traffic. I hit someone head-on at 55mph and was incredibly lucky no one except me was seriously injured.
But all those consequences paled in comparison to the day I looked in the mirror as a full-blown IV heroin addict. The reflection I saw looking back at me was nothingness. Any resemblance to the man I used to be was gone.
That night, I asked God to get me sober. The next day, I reached out to my mom, telling her everything. She later told me in a letter that she thought about leaving me to my own devices. No doubt I’d be dead if that happened.
I checked into
My parents refused to let me move back home, but I tried my best. Homelessness or the long-term program were my only options. After much deliberation, I decided to stick with the program.
Then something happened. I decided to stay sober no matter what. I became willing to do whatever I was told. Relief accompanied complete surrender. I remember where I was when I made the decision. It was the first beacon that broke my darkness. And I’m convinced most people must arrive at this internal conclusion in order to stay clean.
Today life is good. I have a girlfriend I love. A house I own. A job that challenges and rewards me. And friends who genuinely care. All because I decided to say goodbye to my old life and build a new one based on the principles of recovery.