The greatest revelation that beat addiction

This is the final installment of a three-part getting sober series, which explores some of the more memorable moments that led up to my sobriety date, Dec. 19, 2008.

It was early in the morning and I was dope sick again. The monotony was disgusting. But I hurt bad and needed money for heroin. I planned to comb the parking lots of my favorite stores and shopping malls looking for old receipts. If I found one, I would steal the item listed and return it back to the store for cash. It was a classic scam.

I hobbled across the street, not showered, unshaven and stinking from the cold sweats of the night before. I glanced up and saw the world. The morning light was hazy and the air crisp. Cars drove down the street. People headed to work. The gears of society continued to grind without me. I couldn’t believe it. How could people live their lives while I was sick, dying inside? How could anyone function in the world without using heroin? None of it made sense anymore. It was a glimpse into a world I had left behind.

After I said “fuck it” and got high, my life got really miserable, really quick. Even though I had started using heroin again, I continued to live in sober housing.

It didn’t last long before I was stealing from friends and family or begging them for money again. I lasted another couple of weeks at the sober house before I faked a piss test and the house manger got suspicious. I threw a tantrum. It was getting late at night. The manager said she’d test me again in the morning. Before anyone awoke, I packed my bags and moved out. I left a scathing letter to the manager on my pillow: How dare she accuse me?

I spent the next three years using heroin and living the junkie life all over again before I ended up in a trailer park. The girlfriend from rehab had kicked me out, my parents had moved out of town years ago and none of my old friends wanted me around. I was near rock bottom. 

I had reached a whole new low. I wasn’t stealing much. Somehow I had managed to get a job at a deli. My heroin use was now costing me $100 a day, which was three grams of heroin. I never felt high, unless I downed a 12 pack of beer with it. I couldn’t get into my car without cracking a beer and lighting a cigarette. The recycling bins were filled with beer cans and bottles. My landlady had the audacity to accuse me of having a drinking problem. I laughed it off. What a fool she was, I thought. I was a heroin addict, not an alcoholic.

I day dreamed about dying and wondered who would attend my funeral and what would they have to say about me? “Brian was a tortured soul.” I couldn’t imagine anyone saying nice things about me, so I resolved that suicide by heroin was not a good option.

Then one day I just gave up: I was a hope-to-die junkie. Not some artsy, brooding genius waiting for a break. Sitting in that trailer, I had one last moment of clarity. My junkie future flashed before my eyes. I knew that one day I would go to prison, but before I did, I would plunge into the junkie life, no holds barred, shooting dope and stealing as much as I could. And when I did get to prison, I planned on getting heroin by sucking dick and taking it up the ass.

It seemed like a very practical plan. I just couldn’t get sober, so why bother. Plus sobriety was boring, life would be even more miserable without heroin. Then I had my greatest revelation:

Maybe I was wrong. What if I didn’t know everything.

How could I even possibly know what life would be like without drugs and alcohol? I decided to give it one last try. I could always return to my junkie life if sobriety didn’t work out.

Only when my life became too miserable to bear did I ever give up and try something new.

A few days later I left town. I moved back in with my parents and joined the recovery community. It was December 19, 2008. I haven’t used since. It was difficult to stay sober at first, but after three months clean, the obsession to use began to dissipate. I don’t know why my previous attempts to quit drugs had failed. All I know is that I didn’t get sober by myself. My family, friends and many people in the recovery world supported me.

I don’t take any credit for getting sober or for the wonderful life I’ve been given. How could I? If it had been up to me, I would’ve stayed high forever. Luckily, it wasn’t up to me and life had greater plans in store.

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