Participant #4
J
42 Years Old
Separated

Bio of Addiction

J was born a heroin addicted infant and placed with social services to be fostered as an infant. J was placed in several foster homes before the age of six months due to his demanding healthcare requirements. J was adopted by his foster parents and raised with two other adopted sisters and several other foster children. None of the children were biologically related. J struggled with being an adopted child. He felt like a “throw away child”.

J began using drugs and alcohol in the fourth grade, at a high school house party he attended with his older sister. “I got into everything.” He was acutely aware of the unencumbered freedom he had by socializing and using drugs and alcohol with older peers. J says this was his first realization of “glory and dumb luck”.

J bought himself a fake ID and used it to gain entrance into bars and concerts. J was energized by living a double life by maintaining his home life and selling, using, and running drugs while on his own. J’s drug use and selling of drugs escalated after his foster father passed away when J was fourteen years old. Between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years old, J was able to save $1,000,000 from his father’s inheritance and drug proceeds. J became enthralled with the club scene and enjoyed the finer things in life like house parties, limousines and partying with famous people of the time. J was deeply entrenched in the glory and freedom of the addictive lifestyle. By the age of seventeen, within months, J had used all his money he had saved on drugs, and partying with the famous. J used cocaine, heroin and alcohol in the following years. J was in the military for a period of time while still living in an addicted state of drugs and alcohol. After losing a close friend in the military, J returned home discharged from the service.

“I had arrived (using drugs).”

“I would hunt for drugs. That’s part of the romance.”

“Going to concerts with a fake ID, they let me in. I told them I was a midget.”

“Going to concerts and bars, gave me more access to people who didn’t care.”

“God loves fools and drunks. I really do think when it comes to heroin addicts, you just need dumb luck.”

“It was a place to be, it was dumb luck, my real entrance into dumb luck.” (using heroin)

“From 1994 to 2007 I was trying to figure out the formula of recovery.”

“I quit cold turkey. But I kept that one bag (heroin). I was a binge drinker.” J had saved one bag of heroin after he stopped using heroin. He replaced his heroin addiction with an alcohol addiction.

J was very close to his mother. His mother would tell him stories of her escape from Nazi Germany during WWII. His mother was a nurse in Nazi Germany. She escaped Nazi Germany with only her life. “ If you can make it, I can make it, it’s been my saving grace.”

J lost his mom and celebrated the birth of his son within a two month period in 2006.

“My son didn’t deserve an alcoholic dad and a pill popper mom.”

J became a father and the legal guardian of his niece. J never gave up the hope of being a good father.

Turning Point

J had used the safety of an unused bag of heroin as his framework in the denial of continued alcohol abuse during the following years. J entered into a destructive and chemically abusive relationship with his ex wife. J abused alcohol and his ex wife abused pills. J came to a point in his life that he was ready to stop drinking for the sake of his life and his sons. J’s wife did not want to lose her coconspirator in drug and alcohol abuse. In 2007, J and his wife had an argument over J’s desire to change his life and she became abusive to him. She bit him on the face, however, he refused to hit her. J’s wife kept hitting him and he kept spitting in her face. J drank and used that bag of heroin he had been saving for so many years.

“That’s when I realized I had to stop everything.”

J was arrested for the incident and went to jail. J searched for sobriety in the penal system. However, J soon was able to find drugs to use while incarcerated. Upon release from jail, J found companionship with other people who had relapsed from the rooms. J took that first drink and the addictive craving erupted, and J drank until the urge to fight surfaced. J remembered a man who relapsed and entered into a bar fight. The man lost his life leaving behind two young sons. J could not do that to his son, and he knew he had to remove himself from the bar and enter recovery. October, 2007, J was finished with the addictive lifestyle.

Rehabilitation

Addiction 28 years

Recovery Attempts multiple

In 2007, J began an outpatient rehabilitation program, at a local chemical dependency treatment center. He also actively participated in a twelve step program with a sponsor during the initial recovery phase. J found many gifts while working steps 2 and 3 in the twelve step process. Steps 2 and 3 gave J the freedom to investigate different faiths. J incorporated the Bahai faith habits and thinking into his daily life. J continued his work in the twelve step program with a sponsor after outpatient rehabilitation concluded. J switched from a local sponsor, to an out of town sponsor who was better suited to meet J’s needs. J used Kratom, prescribed by a local herbalist, with physician consent, for three months to reduce the craving triggers during his initial recovery phase. J continues to do step work every year to fortify his recovery. He especially focuses on step four of the twelve Step program, every year.

“The first step is the spring cleaning. That’s a definite must. The second and third step, is my road connected to the spiritual community I belong to or do I have to change it up?”

“What works for you, may not work for me. I had to grow!”

“My sponsor always told me growth happens outside my comfort zone and never tell the twelve step group, no.”

“If you can’t meet with me once a month to sit down one to one, face to face, then how can you be accountable for your son?” (Jay’s out of town sponsor’s advice)

“Steps are about you, traditions (in the twelve step program) are about how you are with others.”

“Being special should be good enough.”

“It took me forever to figure out if it (meditation) was going to work for me.”

“Beautiful part about recovery, is exploration. Learning to deal with yourself. Feeling awkward, feeling like a dork.”

“Addicts need to know recovery is possible. 1994 to 2007, I treated recovery like a hustle. I couldn’t believe people really stayed sober.”

“I’m a introvert, extrovert. I’m not pure extrovert or introvert.”

“That mental health aspect, I had to really embrace.”

“Lots of people come in (recovery) as green horns. I was that that way too. I wanted a one stop shop. Addicts are in the hustle mode.”

“Believing that I can sponsor myself is a trap.”

“The drugs and alcohol proves addiction, but the drama, the drama, that is the hardest component of addiction there is. I was addicted to the drama, just as I was to drugs.”

“I chose to be homeless for drama. Feelings are not facts.”

“In recovery my relapses have become pro lapses (moving forward).”

“Embrace surrender into a twelve step program.”

“Selfishness vs selflessness. Self reflection is key. You have to find the balance.”

“No matter the education rehab gave me, I still did stupid things. …….. So it wasn’t education or morals….it truly was the willingness to change and smash my reservations (concerning recovery).”

“I don’t hide out in the rooms of recovery. I circulate in life. I hear people say all their friends are in the rooms. I wonder what they are scared of outside the rooms. Then I ask myself, what am I scared of inside and outside the rooms? Ruby, who died sober, with many decades of sobriety, used to say,”take what you need and leave the rest at the door.”

J used alternative medical therapies in his initial and long term recovery. J has used acupressure, acupuncture, floatations therapy, sauna therapy, and various herbal treatments.

J has been very active in his medical care since entering recovery. J stresses the need for the exploration of alternative medical implementation rather than Opioid therapies. J also stresses the need for people in recovery to be forth coming with their history of addiction to medical professionals. J feels people have to be sensitive to trigger inducing prescription therapies for their sustained recovery. J also addressed the comfort of using prescription medication too casually. “That when people, especially people in recovery become too comfortable with prescriptions medication use, it should be considered a red flag in recovery.”

“Addicts set themselves up to fail with an I am too big to fail attitude.”

Life in Recovery

Recovery 11 years

“I’m a free man now!” J still fights in court for custody of his son and focuses on being a good father. His mother-in-law has current custody of J’s son. J cannot express enough that “being part of a community” is a large part of his continued recovery.

J has been fortunate to share the gift of recovery with other close family members. As his mother was an example of survival for J, J in turn became an example of survival to others.

Everyday mediation
Bahai practice
Refuge Recovery
Twelve Step program (2-3 meetings a week, baseline 2 meetings a week )
Twelve Step sponsor
Celebrate Recovery
Smart Recovery
Online/offline recovery
Yoga
Ti Chi
New affirmation in life, “its not my business.”
Herbal medicine use to stabilize recovery and any imbalances.

J suffered a work related injury and had extensive orthopedic surgery. J is preparing to return to work in a new capacity after his health clearance.

J recently was cleared for a service animal and happily adopted a new pup from the local animal shelter.

Legacy

“If I can do it, so can you. You have to find a way. Twelve step programs gave me freedom of investigation, and that’s what life is. Don’t be scared to make a mistake. And know the difference between a hand out and a hand up.”
By J.

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