By Mike T.
I was born into a loving family in 1990. My mother hardly ever drank and did not dare drink in front of us. My father however, was a functioning alcoholic. He was very caring in his ways but loved to spend his evenings in the bars after work instead of with his family at home. I remember seeing my dad drunk quite often and I always thought to myself “what is so good about alcohol that he keeps drinking it night after night?”
When I was twelve my brothers and I thought it would be a good idea to take some of his beer and cigarettes. That is when I took my first drink. I didn’t like its taste, and did not try it again until I was in high school. Some of my friends were going a party one evening and since I was spending the night at their house, went tagged along. Although I do not remember much of the night, I certainly remember that I really liked liquor!
Alcohol was good, but I did not care for the hangovers afterwards. When I turned sixteen my group of friends drastically changed. I started hanging out with the “outcasts” in school. I was smoking pot and doing any and every drug that I could get my hands on. One day I was turned on to a drug called heroin. I thought I found the answer to all my problems in this drug! It made me feel like everything was ok at least while the buzz lasted. I started doing it heavily to the point where I was skipping school and almost expelled. I backed off the drugs for fear of not becoming anything in life and I started drinking again. However, deep down inside, I knew I was not done with heroin. There was nothing that came close to it for me. Not even love I thought.
I graduated high school, started working at a pizza place, and kept partying. I was finally able to do what I always wanted! A few months later, I met someone who could find my drug of choice and I knew this was my opportunity! I started to use heroin again. Heavily. One night I had been drinking and using drugs and was in a car accident. I woke up in jail and had no recollection of what happened. I asked the officer what I was being charged with and he told me a DOVWI (Dangerously Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated).
I told my parents that I had a problem and asked for help. I heard about treatment centers and decided to go to one. It was a long way from home and I thought that if I got out of town for a while I would be all right. However, deep down inside, I was not convinced that I had a problem. I thought I was just having fun and wanted to please the Judge. I stayed at this treatment center for eight months. While I was there, I was introduced to 12-step programs. They suggested that I get a sponsor and work the steps. I found a sponsor, but I never called him or wanted to work on any steps. I thought I was perfectly fine just the way I was. I just needed to get off the drugs. I could still drink, besides it’s legal! That means it’s safe, right? So I thought.
When I got out of treatment for the first time I came home and immediately found a job at a factory where my father worked. I did well there; and drank every night. I thought that was what normal people did right. I worked my way up in the company’s Quality Control Department. I made new friends. Some were doing prescription pain pills—opiates… I figured I would try them since it was not heroin! It had to be better than shooting up heroin, I thought. I developed high tolerance and was using more and more “painkillers” and one day I met someone who did heroin—my drug of choice. I took him up on the offer of going to get some. That is when the downward spiral I was on increased rapidly. Before I knew it, I was spending all my money on heroin. All of my time was spent planning to get it, and all of my thoughts were focused about using it. My supervisor was unaware of my problem because it was not yet affecting my work. One day, the supervisor I had become so well acquainted was promoted and I had a new supervisor. I did not realize it at the time, but now I believe that the new guy saved my life.
He was a great boss, although he seemed to know when I was down and noticed the changes in my mood quite frequently. One day he asked me if I ever thought about going to AA. I thought to myself “great. He thinks that I have a drinking problem!” I told him I was fine but thank you. Two years passed and I was absent from work quite often. Finally, I realized that I might have a problem.
Out of desperation and out of money, I called him one night and told him my dilemma. The next day I met with someone in Human Resources and they sent me to my second treatment center. I only stayed there for a week. That is when I came up with the idea that I would quit my job and spend all of the money that had accumulated in my 401K plan over the last four years. Aaron was checking up on me daily now. He kept asking me to go to meetings and I thought it was very annoying. I just wanted to numb myself. I did not want to live, but I did not want to die. I was stuck. I spent a few months doing this and overdosed twice. Then one morning my mother called me. I was curious as to why she was calling me so early. She informed me that I had agreed to go to another treatment center the night before! I had no recollection of this and to make her and my family happy, I decided to give it a shot. I really had nothing to lose anyway. I lost everything already. My brothers and sisters hated me. I stole all that I could from them already.
My mother took me to Tara Treatment Center. I was skeptical at first but as soon I got there, I knew there was something different about the place. I had been to two other treatment centers before this one, but this was different. I admitted to myself finally that I had a problem and the staff at Tara helped me recognize that. They helped me find a sponsor and I started working the steps within the first week. I called him every night. He helped me let go of a girlfriend I was using with, and he helped me work the 12 steps. Tara helped me do all of this. They have an incredible staff. The groups we had were amazing. They took us to an AA or NA meeting every night and I finally felt like I was a part of something for the first time in my life!
After I was in treatment at Tara for thirty days, I decided with much persuasion from my counselors and staff to go into Tara’s transitional house. I began learning how to become a part of the world again. Tara helped me find a job. I was attending meetings every night while continued to work on my recovery with my sponsor. I was finally happy for the first time in my life! I began to have a relationship with a higher power. Life finally started to make sense. I could say honestly that I love myself today.
My time ended at the halfway house and I moved into a sober living apartments operated by Tara. So here I am today, telling you my story of how Tara and AA saved my life. I never knew of a program like this. How good life can be sober. I have a little over nine months sober today. Even though it’s a one day at a time program, I know I have a choice today. I never thought I that had a choice. I thought I had to use. I didn’t want to be me. Today I choose to be me and choose to be sober.
I stay sober one day at a time. I am learning to accept life on life terms and I have never been happier.