We did a Q & A. We wanted to simply tell the story of an individual who battled with drug addiction and then came out on the other side into recovery. It tells the story in simple fashion of how they got into drugs, what those drugs made them feel, and what sobriety is like today. There is no flowery morass of words just simple questions and answers. And yet, there is a depth, a realness, and profound sense of what went on in this individual’s life. Check it out. And let us know what you think. If you want your story told–just send us a message on Facebook, leave us a comment, call or send us an email.
1. How old are you?
2. Where are you from?
new york city
3. Did you move around growing up?
i moved around because i got kicked out of three high schools and, up until 1.5 years ago, was in institutions, rehabs, psych wards, therapeutic programs, outpatient… i don’t think i actually lived in one place for more than a year until i moved to FL
4. Are your parents still together?
divorced when i was 9
5. Do you have siblings?
younger sister, she’s 18
6. Does addiction run in your family?
both of my parents are in recovery. my mom has like 27 years and my dad will have 11 in september
Is your family wealthy, poor, middle class, what did your parents do?
we’re technically upper class but not by any means wealthy – my mom is the marketing director for a publishing company and my dad is an interior designer
7. If so who, and what drugs?
mom’s drug of choice was cocaine/alcohol, my dad shot heroin
8. First time you felt spiritual malady?
i remember my first feeling of abandoned in pre-school when one of my teachers, mark, left… it’s very vague but i remember the pit in my stomach
9. Signs of addictive behavior?
i was born never being satisfied… my parents say i was a nightmare as a kid.. in kindergarten i’d go into the hallway and tear up other kids artwork. i don’t know why i did it but i do know it gave me an adrenaline rush
10. First time you used drugs or alcohol?
i think i snuck sips of beer at some point but i actually started with inhalants in 8th grade. me and my friends would buy a can of air duster and get fucked up. that was the year i smoked weed for the first time
11. How bad did it get?
in 9th grade i’d smoke weed almost every day. that year specifically i tried benzos, coke, opium, mushrooms, got my first real hangover from bacardi 151. i didn’t start using opiates until later after i had surgery… i was prescribed a bottle of vicodin and started taking 5 at a time. when i moved to san francisco, i unknowingly moved in with an older lesbian couple. the day after i settled in, i found stockpiles of oxy 80s, 30s, 40s, morphine, xanax, klonopin, vicodin 10s… i started stealing from them every day.
12. Why did you use?
i liked feeling fucked up… the more i slept/nodded out, the less i had to deal with life
13. Why didn’t you stop?
i didn’t feel the consequences until after i got sober – i thought everyone got fucked up
14. What did you lose because of your addiction?
besides pawning anything of value (minus my computer and cell phone), i lost a college education. all the money my grandparents put away for me was spent on rehabs and outpatient programs and therapy and repairing any further monetary damage
15. Did you do anything against your morals during your addiction?
who doesn’t? my whole addiction was against my moral beliefs – i vowed to never be like my father but, what you fear you create… and somehow i found myself shooting drugs, living on my “friend’s” couch, stealing, lying, completely alone
16. What did your family do?
they got me into program after program until they finally realized that there was nothing they could do (10 years later), and cut me off financially… that’s really why i got sober. i had to pay my rent so i got a shitty job and showed up every day. that work ethic became parallel to my desire to change my life
17. If you have siblings did they use drugs with you?
me and my sister used to get fucked up a lot. i’d give or trade her benzos and ambien, we’d smoke weed together, drink, whatever – it was kinda how we bonded.
18. Who introduced you to drugs?
19. If you could tell your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?
i’m not sure i can answer that – because if all of that brought me here… i don’t think a piece of advice in the past would have created an infinitely better life than the one i have now…which, although is far from perfect, is still good enough
20. Would you change the course of your life?
i wish i finished school but somehow i’m moving towards a career i really like
21. Do you regret doing drugs and alcohol?
22. When did you get sober?
march 15th, 2013 … the day after i went to detox the last time
23. Did you want to get sober?
24. Did you go to treatment?
only about 13 of them
25 What were your ideas about sobriety?
i went to meeting with my parents when i was younger…i didn’t have any real conception of what sobriety meant. i just knew they weren’t supposed to drink or do drugs and that somehow, going to meetings helped… but i knew nothing about true sponsorship and step work and service.
26. Were they correct ideas?
they were naive ideas
27. What were your thoughts about AA and NA?
i was kind of apathetic and skeptical.. i sort of fell into it.
28. Did anyone you know die from addiction?
29. Did you ever think about killings yourself?
i still think about it sometimes… i get really overwhelmed by my emotions and suicide is the only permanent solution to not feeling pain anymore… once i told my sponsor that i wish i was like other people..who got sad but didn’t feel this overwhelming despair and intense heartbreak to the point of not wanting to live anymore. she said, “yeah, but then you wouldn’t be able to love as deeply” i never think about getting high because ultimately, i’ll eventually come down…
30. How do you stay sober today?
the basics – good people and sponsorship, service, continuing to show up for myself, my family, my friends, my commitments, meetings, and a lot of prayer… even if they’re short like “god please help me”
31. Did you have any trauma?
i was molested when i was 9, my dad relapsed 3 times throughout my childhood… he called me when i was 8 and asked me how i’d feel if he never came back, disappeared, killed himself. he gave away my dog. he overdosed, left me on the street corner for 3 hours waiting for him during a big blackout in NYC in the summer… once when i was 12, my dad nodded out or OD’d and had locked himself in the bathroom. i wrote a post-it saying i was taking my sister to my moms house… we walked to my moms and i scrounged up some change to buy us dinner because nobody was answering the phone. my dad called hours later.
32. Have you ever relapsed?
33. What was your mental obsession like?
my mental obsession was more about not wanting to feel than it was about the drug itself.
34. What did your spiritual malady feel like?
35. Define mental obsession and spiritual malady
spiritual malady is innate. whether it was nature or nurture, whatever, i felt constantly alone and outcasted. the mental obsession is just the manifestation of that.
36. Your definition of recovery
37. Your definition of happiness
happiness isn’t big highs and big lows… happiness is a consistent feeling of stability and contentment so there are highs and lows but they’re not as drastic or as frequent. plus, happiness is subjective… i think a lot of people spend too much time deciding whether they’re happy or not, what is going to make them happy, how they need to improve their life… ironically it almost prevents true happiness because it signifies “it’s not enough” or “i need more.” and don’t get me wrong, drive and motivation are a big part of getting/being/staying happy… but to focus on the label that much defeats the purpose of the goal.
38. Use one word to describe your life then and one word to describe your life today
39. Oh and withdrawal? How bad was it?
i didn’t realize how god awful it was until i started using needles… withdrawal from popping pills is like a slight flu… withdrawal from IV drug use is beyond… actually, my withdrawal from suboxone (after taking it for 6 months) was the worst i’ve ever experienced…
40. Define spirituality
for me, it’s a belief in something bigger, no matter what it is. and an attempt to be reliant on that god or higher power or whatever… because i was taught that there’s no such thing as spiritual and unspiritual – spirituality is all about dealing with what’s in the middle of those two. but that’s just me… part of being spiritual is accepting that everyone has their own definition
41. Are you religious?
yes, as an umbrella term
43. The future?
hopeful. i finally feel like my life might be going somewhere.
44. Is it difficult to stay sober?
no, it’s not difficult to stay sober. it’s difficult not to sit in my shit and be miserable… it’s difficult not to have an excuse for shitty behavior… now i have the responsibility, with no excuse, to live my life rather than play the victim of it.
I know I was.
46. Do you think it is genetic? Environment? I think environment can have an influence and sometimes catalyze or perpetuate addiction but I believe people are either predisposed to it, have character traits that make it inevitable in one form or anotheror they’re just unlucky (lol)
47. Do you think you can develop into being an addict? See above
48. What kind of feelings did you have about your parents being addicts? When I was younger they kind of projected it onto me – every time they caught me smoking weed it was a huge debacle. I was so adamant about not being like them, that I started to become so more and more.
49. ANd then what did you feel when you became one yourself? There’s not one specific feeling or even one moment that I realized, I kind of just developed into it and dealt accordingly. I remember right before I went into treatment I didn’t have anything and was withdrawing so I decided to take what was in the medicine cabinet – 27 NyQuil. When they kicked in, I remember going into the bathroom, looking into the mirror, realizing how desperate and fucked I was and saying out loud “I am a drug addict.”
I laugh just as hard… And that’s really what “fun” is to me. I have deeper relationships with the funniest, most intelligent and insane people ever.
What everyone else does for fun minus drugs…? I hate that question.
It’s never a serious thought. I just made it not an option. When I’m really upset, I think about suicide before I think about using. Suicide is permanent… With drugs, you always come down.
53. What are your feelings about the addiction stigma? Which one? My feelings towards the treatment of addiction, the people who get practically fake psychology degrees and are trusted with treating vulnerable and sick people, people paying addicts in cash or drugs to go to treatment so they can make money off of them, and the stigmas around recovery and how AA “should be” are way more prevalent.
54. How do you feel about being anonymous?
I don’t want to be anonymous. I want people to know that I got better. That after 10 years of being constantly in and out of treatment, 2 psych wards, a suicide attempt, iv drug use, turmoil and chaos, that I got better… And that if I can be ok, so can they. I’d never lie about being in recovery – the only time I’d omit it would be in a work environment/interview.