I grew up in a beautiful suburb in New Jersey. Had two parents who loved me unconditionally and raised me with morals and values that would set anyone up to be successful at life. I had many friends growing up and loved to play baseball which I was very good at.
Even during my childhood though I was manipulative, a liar and very lazy. I just got by in school and would lie to my parents all the time about grades and projects and report cards. I did it because the thoughts in my head told me to. It rationalized everything that I wanted to do instead of just doing what I needed.
To me, these are early signs that I was afflicted with a disease of the mind we like to call addiction. I did what I wanted when I wanted and vice versa, starting from a young age. I wasn’t a bad kid by any means, I respected my parents and teachers (for the most part) but when it came to being responsible, I wanted no part of it. When I was finally on my own, freshman year at college, I really sprang loose.
I hadn’t touched a drug growing up through high school, I was terrified to plus I was busy with baseball most of the year. My first week of college, however, I was no longer under the eye of my parents and during my first week, I smoked weed for the first time in my life. I suppose it was because I no longer had to worry about any supervision and because I had always been curious. Once I smoked that first time, I was in love, I loved how it made me feel relaxed and took the loud voice out of my head quite quickly. Before long I wanted to be high 24/7, and I was for the most part, instead of being responsible and going to class, I smoked weed and watched TV or played video games. This lasted about 2 years before it became clear college was not for me, after 2 years I moved back home and I felt like a complete loser.
I still had many friends at home that stayed home for college so that was not a problem socially, but I now had this new habit that I could not break. Weed was not cutting it after a while however and one day someone offered me some painkillers and I bought a few after some speculation on whether I should or not. The second I took them I fell in love, I was social, funny, happy and did not have a worry in the world. I had been looking for this my whole life. My life began to plummet quite quickly after I took that first painkiller, my whole life began to revolve around it and there were plenty of signs that I was hooked on them for others to notice.
I soon had friends informing me that they either knew that something was wrong or they noticed I was asking for money more often and would respectfully decline to help me because they knew what it was for. I specifically remember asking my friend Pat for some gas money when I genuinely needed it for that and he declined and stated he couldn’t because he knew what I would do with it. That was an eye-opener.
I went to my first treatment center at the age of 21, I had gotten caught stealing from my mom and because I wanted to get out of trouble I complied and went to treatment. I say it that way because I have realized it is very important what my motivation is to go to treatment. It wasn’t until I was desperate to change my life that I was able to see results after treatment.
The first time I went to treatment I didn’t last more than a week sober once I left. This became a pattern for the next 5 years, it was an awful way to live, I can’t believe I survived it.
By the time I reached 26, I had broken my families hearts and isolated myself from any friends. They would both reach out occasionally to see how I was doing and if they were lucky, I actually responded, but it was obvious I was not well. The worst thing to ever happen to me happened at this age as well, my father died suddenly of a heart attack. He was my best friend and we were carbon copies of each other. It was a terrible pill to swallow and I had grown to be even more hopeless than I ever had been. Deep down inside myself, however, were the lessons my father had always taught me and how he commended me how resilient I was even when my life was not going well. It inspired me to go back to treatment 2 months after he died.
My motivation was I wanted to change my life and I’ll do anything to change it. This attitude proved to be the one that saved my life.
The difference between going to treatment this time against the several other times was drastically different. I learned to not only be quiet and listen finally, but to do what others told me to do that had my best interest. Take action is the best advice I can give to anyone. I am a big believer in the fact that you decide when you will start to recover. I had been in my own way for so long that once I stepped out of the way and let things just happen organically while I keep doing the next right thing, my life became better than it ever had been. Get out of your own way and give yourself a shot at life.
Daniel is a writer from South Florida who likes to share his experience, strength and hope to show that absolutely anyone can get sober no matter what provided they are ready to take action.