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I’ve long struggled with the thought of posting something like this. The following story is one hundred percent true, with some names changed to protect the innocent. There will be a lot of cursing. It wouldn’t be an addiction story without it. My name is Mike, and I’m an addict and an alcoholic. If you are an employer who won’t bother reading to the end of this or won’t hire me because of it, I didn’t want to work for you anyway, asshole. If you are a friend who had no idea, I apologize. I’ve most likely met you in the last few years, and my life now has been much different than it used to be. Unlike many other recovering people, I don’t feel it’s important or productive to let my recovery define my life. Now, recovery is a small detail in my permanent record, next to all of the other… stuff. Back then, it wasn’t.

Then was ten years ago, as hard as that is to believe now. I was fifteen, had just gotten over the worst case of acne you had ever seen, and was so un-at-home in my own body, looking back, that it was just unbearable. My experience with women was limited. I had no real confidence to speak of. I was mostly just angry at the world. In other words, I was fifteen. I just took it harder or didn’t deal with it as well as others. Being a teenager, I mean, among other things.

Semi-relevant to this story is that my biological father left when I was about three years old. I say semi- because my adopted dad, who is and always will be my dad, has been better than any father I could ever ask for. Still, that had to fuck with and leave some sort of lingering impression on my three-year-old self’s head back when it happened.

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I spent grade school wearing sweatpants and being super-productive. All “Os” on every report card. *Chris Farley Stripping in Billy Madison Voice* “O” is for outstanding *End Chris Farley Stripping in Billy Madison Voice*. And I really was an outstanding kid, as far as grades were concerned. Even was put into the Gifted and Talented program, whatever the hell that was. Me and G&T didn’t work out for long, even then.

I was fairly socially awkward, though. Lots of anxiety. I had a tight group of friends, who’d be with me all through the years, but not much else. I felt outside. I was a bit nerdy, but athletic and good-enough looking as a kid. I didn’t take the standard teasing well back then, I guess. It didn’t help that I wore sweatpants to school every day through like third grade. Or that at some point in my grade school journey I pooped in those sweatpants at school. The memories are hazy but smelly.

Point is, I was a bit weird, definitely more angry and anxious than average, but generally quite like any other kid. We’ve all pooped our pants at one point or another, right? There is no excuse for the story I’m about to tell you, is what I’m really trying to say. Nothing in my life caused it to happen but my own stupid decisions and maybe a slightly disadvantageous draw genetically in the addiction area. That slight disadvantage would have meant nothing, though, if I had acted sanely at any point between ages fifteen and twenty one.

The first time I drank was in the summer between freshman and sophomore years of high school, with a very good friend named Terrence. Terrence and I had been friends since kindergarten. Still are. But back then, we were two fifteen year-olds with a bottle of Captain Morgan and a giant cup of Coke.

The pretext is that after some prodding — not an insane amount by any means — by my group of friends, I had given in and tried some pot with Owen. Owen gets his real name in this story for some very complicated, sad, and ultimately beautiful reasons, which if you’ve read this site before you may be familiar with. But anyway, I tried some pot with Owen. We smoked it out of a Coke can with a lot of holes cut into it. I don’t remember feeling much that night, to be honest. I do remember that the weather was beautiful, and that walking around did feel a bit extra-nice. Probably just not great pot.

But I digress. We move from Coke cans for smoking to Coke in cups for drinking. After trying the pot, my strong stance against alcohol and drugs went away. I had taken that stance as a kid, in part, because I knew many people in recovery and addiction as I grew up. It was good to be around that, I guess, but I went way too far with my own zealotry, in my head at least. I set myself up to fail. So anyway, the stance went away, and trying the booze didn’t have any moral blockage in my mind. I was more excited about it, than anything. And a little nervous, of course.

The Coke was in one of those giant Big Gulp cups from the Sev’. Free diabetes to whoever finishes a whole cup. It was a massive mixed drink, and there was plenty of alcohol involved. I still remember taking the first sip – how it felt, what I thought, where it took me.

It felt… right. There was slightly bad taste followed by a little bit of burning, the slow-then-quick falling away of all the stupid shit I normally worried about, the slightly older woman on the exercise informercial getting more and more attractive as the night went on.

And I was thinking I like this. I like this very much. On a base level, I was thinking more, more, more! Not more in the alcoholic sense, just that I wasn’t ready to stop for that night, though little did I know then that I wouldn’t be ready to stop for any night.

It took me to a place where old women were hot and my worries melted away. I always felt like my “smartness” singled me out growing up, and I thought that if I acted a little dumber I could fit in better. Alcohol was the first thing I can think of that accomplished that task with one-hundred percent efficiency. I felt blissfully stupid. People describe love like that. I wouldn’t, but what happened that night definitely qualified.

After those two nights, weed and drinking became more of a common thing. It’s tough when you’re fifteen, though. See, when you want drugs or you want booze as a teenager, there’s a certain hierarchy. On no hierarchy does a fifteen year-old get much respect, unless they were born to someone important. Even then, it’s respect with a sneer.

So when we wanted a bottle or a bag, there were a lot of middle men or sketchy plans. It was never easy. We had to talk to a guy who’d talk to a guy who’d talk to a guy. Sometimes, we’d try to make it more efficient. On one particular occasion, we got a ride to Sea Isle with our backpacks and a few bucks under the ruse that we’d be playing basketball. We were really there to find shady looking people walking out of liquor stores. We found one, eventually, and stuffed our backpacks with a couple cases of Rolling Rock and a bottle of Captain Morgan. The ride home with the parents was tense, of course, but we were dumb enough to try to throw a party while they were right downstairs, so not much was unexpected at that point.

We did make it through the ride and upstairs with our spoils. And we did try to throw a party. Just didn’t work out. See, the kid we wouldn’t have normally invited to such a shindig was dry-humping my brother in the air after like half a beer. My brother did not like this. A crunching fall resulted.

My parents, of course, came right upstairs to see what all the noise was about. Our house was old enough that little noises became loud noises and loud noises became even louder. When they got upstairs, they found us trying to stuff bottles of Rolling Rock into an empty drawer, clanging them together like the crazy, stupid bastards that we were. Obviously, the party was over.

There was a girl that should have been there, that night. She offered to be the cheerleader at the party. God damn I was stupid sometimes. I’ve turned down a lot of sex in my life, and probably ninety percent of the time it was by accident. No offense to said girl, by the way. If she even remembers. Maybe I’m assuming too much. See? That doesn’t matter at all these days, though.

The consequences of that night weren’t too stiff, I don’t think. Just standard stuff – grounded for a couple of weeks, scoop up the dogshit in the backyard. I’m a solitary guy by nature but by that point I was pretty into the scene, drinking especially, so I was happy as long as I knew I had some booze and pot stashed away, or could get some in some other way.

One of those other ways came from a great friend who lived up the street, and who probably wouldn’t mind me using her name, even though I won’t, just to be safe. We’ll call her Marisol. Marisol’s place was a sort of hub for all of the partying teenagers. The parents didn’t really bother us when they were around, as long as we stayed in the garage and outside. The best part – it was only a bike-ride away. Oh, and we had to climb up and down the tree behind my room to be extra sneaky. Climbing down often proved to be much simpler than climbing back up when we came home.

I spent many of my first heavy-drinking nights at Marisol’s place, meeting faces I’d probably forget, and a face I remembered. Marisol herself was a great friend. Still is, even though we don’t talk often these days. The nights there were always entertaining, and I felt more at home than I had in a long time – drinking, being with people as crazy as I was.

I could be very, incredibly, insanely sneaky and tricky back then. That’s a habit I’ve since broken. At home, by around age fifteen sixteen, I was acquiring certain pills in ways that I’d rather not go into here for a variety of reasons. Those pills were Xanax, Percocet, and Vicodin. They were my secret. They were always my secret. I l.o.v.e.d those pills far more than I could have ever realized. By sixteen, I was definitely snorting the Percs and Vics, mixing them with Xanax, and adding some sleeping pills when I felt like it. Sometimes, I feel like my life at that time was one long experiment to see how long I could manage without killing myself by accident. I mean that in the silly way, not the glum one. Silly as I can be here, anyway.

Getting involved with pills at that age is far more common than you think. And it happens in much the same way it happened to me, which maybe I’ll describe at some later date. I got heavily involved, whenever situations allowed it, for years. I shared that habit with no one but a few. And they were usually just as bad-off as I was. I snorted Vicodin before high school every day. Sometimes a piece of bloody rock would fall out of my nose in class and I’d try to handle it all non-chalant like I gave a fuck. I took Xanax, too.

And I smoked. Good lord, did I smoke. I smoked weed at every possible opportunity. I was a weed-monster. I wanted to smoke, eat, and play Mario Party on some weekends, get shit-faced every weekend, and get through my school days and alone time with the pills and pot. The snorting ritual was big for me. I still get chills when I think back to it.

How it felt to break up that pill, knowing I was just seconds away from relief but wanting to crush it fine so it would work its best. But son of a bitch don’t spill any! Then rolling up the bill, which never sat well with me. Always found money to be gross, because I knew other people did the same stuff I did with it. And I’d stick that bill up my nose and find just the right hovering height, then up it went. And down my throat… slow and bitter. That was the beginning of the so-called relief.

My love of snorting did not end with pills, either. By my junior year of high school, I would try literally anything I could get my hands on. Cocaine was high on the list. I wanted to feel like the Incredible Hulk on steroids. Eventually, I had my first sniff, and that was the end of me for a few months. And I thought booze fixed my anxiety problem! Wow! Coke made me feel like I could do anything in the world as long as it didn’t raise my heart rate.

Then it ran out and made me feel like the most awful piece of shit to ever walk the earth. All I wanted was more. I’m not a begging man, but I probably begged more in my fairly brief coke phase than I have in the rest of my life combined. I just could.not.stop once I started. Running out felt like the suicide option. I’d have sniffed Ajax if you sold it hard enough.

I had really fallen apart in school at this point, for a variety of reasons. The coke, of course, did not help matters at all. In fact, I still have a collection of poetry/rap songs that are surprisingly enjoyable for someone who didn’t write much at the time. I’ll share them sometime if anyone’s interested. Problem is, I did them all in math class, and I wound up failing math class.

I was also drinking much more heavily at this point. I had already gotten my license and followed that up quickly with at least my first car accident. I was becoming the person who other people called to find stuff. I had a car, for one, a phone, and I’d gotten to know at least a few shady connections by then. The problem there is, nobody on either of the other two sides usually comes out liking the guy in the middle. It’s a lonely place to be.

So was drinking, for me. At least it was getting there at that point. I found means, which again I’d rather not discuss in this particular post, to acquire alcohol for my own personal use, and for the occasional use of others. The bottles of liquor were for me, no questions asked, and the beer could be shared, depending how low on liquor I was running. It didn’t matter. By then I was spending five nights a week drinking alone at home, and the other two at parties on the weekends.

Most parties in my town and at that age took place in garages. It was like a rule. I still go into a garage sometimes and just inherently expect a good time. I’m almost always let down by garages, now. One of the usual spots for garage parties, which were sometimes more like garage gatherings, was the house of a good friend named Nate, who I’d also been friends with since kindergarten. I still consider him a close friend, even though we don’t talk much these days.

Back then we talked plenty. The point of the party, for me, was to get as drunk as possible. I was a very, very horny teenager, but still very anxious, and getting laid just wasn’t as important as getting drunk to me. I figured if it happened I’d thank God for the first and last time and that’d be that. Part of insuring that I got very drunk was drinking more than everyone else at the outset of the party.

I was a fairly good beer-pong player. Ok, I was a great beer-pong player. Either way, I wound up staying on the table a lot, which means drinking a lot, with my partner, who’s not even getting a fake name. I’d get blackout drunk far before anyone else because I’d be pounding liquor between beer-pong games. The end result would be me passing out somewhere before it was even midnight. The problem was that I didn’t always pass out completely. Sometimes I had to get up. To pee.

Getting up to pee would not be a problem for most people under nearly any other circumstances, but it is a seriously huge problem for someone who’s drunk. Like, a Calculus-level problem. My problem was peeing in places that weren’t toilets, two stories of which I bring to you through fractured memory and the angry recount of “friends.” In the first story, I started peeing on a play table. Owen punched me in the face harder than he ever did before, or would again. I got the message. Then he cleaned up after me and made things sanitized. That’s the kind of friendship we had. Would literally do anything.

The second story is slightly more boring. I peed on a grandfather clock next to where I was sleeping. Someone found me mid-stream. I think I was forced to clean it up, but they spared putting my face in it like a dog. Oh, here’s a bonus peeing story. One time, midway through a very intense trip on mushrooms, things began to go wrong. I remember clutching at the grass and dirt to prove to myself that I was still alive and on earth. It was the only bad trip of my life, and it was horrifying. When I finally went inside, I had to pee. I kept getting up to go to the bathroom (the real one) and I kept getting tackled by the guy I’m not going to name because he was afraid I’d wake up his parents or something. At some point, I pissed myself, went home, and got changed.

But enough of that. Addiction is messy business… in the pants and in the brain. Through all of these phases, I was intermittently acquiring pills. I loved those pills. I kept them my secret. As my alone-drinking phase began to blossom, my cocaine phase began to fade. I’d end up doing it a handful of times till the end, but never intense enough to land in a random house – one time walking into a bunch of dudes watching porn on a big-screen TV at the break of dawn like it was the wakeup news, or something – again.

Drinking took over everything by the end of my junior year. And it wasn’t normal, high school-type fooling around. Shit, it wasn’t normal college-type fooling around. I drank like I didn’t want a liver, and I did it every night. My drink of choice was anything I could get my hands on. Rotgut was good because there was always more of it. I didn’t give a shit. I drank anything. If it was there, and it had alcohol in it, I drank it.

Then I passed out until the alcohol wore off, and did it again. Those were my school nights. Those would later become my days. I took a great friend and great girl to prom that year, under… circumstances, but I still wanted to impress her, or at least to have a good night as friends. Instead I spent the night puking in strange places. I spent a lot of nights puking in strange places. I can talk about these things now. I hope those involved can have a bit of a laugh at my stupidity in these stories, at least, if they remember them.

It was hard to talk about things back then, though. I was seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist at the time. The psychiatrist tried. She really did. She’s a great woman. The psychologist… not so much. Later financial dealings with her would confirm that. It’s a shame to think I was getting advice from someone who couldn’t run their own life.

But I digress. No advice and no pill could have helped me, anyway. I was too far gone already. That summer I worked at a bar, spent a lot of time in Sea Isle City, and got drunk as much as possible. That was the worst work experience of my life – and that includes sanding airplanes. The boss was an egomaniacal wanna-be gangster type who never knew when to shut the fuck up. I came in hungover or usually still drunk, cleaned up the mess from the night before, and stuck letters to a twenty foot high sign with a method designed in the fucking medieval times. But I drank that summer, a lot, and only with other people when I had to.

My means and my cunning grew to the point that I could almost always get what I wanted, close enough to when I wanted it. I was also given more freedom in my senior year due to my high school’s work program. Gym class, my last of the day, let out at 11:06 am, which meant that I left school every morning at 10:22 am. I didn’t like gym class. Gym class didn’t like me.

The general tradition would be to skip gym with Owen and Terrance and meet in the parking lot. We’d go back to an undisclosed location and start taking rips from a giant hookah by about 10:45 am. I’d open a beer by 11 am. I probably told my friends something like “it’s to loosen me up for the rest of the day,” or something, but it was really just to hold me over until I could be alone.

When I could be alone, the real drinking started. I’d usually leave the morning get-together by twelve or one, and maybe work for a couple of hours at an undisclosed job that was quite lenient with providing hours for the work program. Then I’d go home. If I didn’t have to work, I went straight home. Either way, I went home to drink.

And drink I did. Whatever I had. Could be anything from bottom of the barrel to top-shelf on a given night. I didn’t care how it tasted. I cared how much alcohol was in it. One way you can tell that you are an alcoholic is if you cannot sleep without alcohol. By this I mean that you drink enough to pass out for a certain number of hours, then you wake up in a start and only more booze will put you back to sleep.

My wake-up time for another drink was usually around three or four am. My wake-up time for school was around seven am. I’d get drunk again and watch early-morning music videos. They were nuts. You can see how this could pose a problem. When I got to school, I was often asked by friends where I had partied the night before. I never had an honest answer. Some days I drank in the shower when I got up for school. I started high school with straight As and by the end of my senior year I had fucked up so bad that my graduation was on the line.

My class of doom that year – keep in mind I only had three actual classes – was English, which will later seem very ironic, if it doesn’t already. Mrs. B was my teacher for the second consecutive year. She was grandmotherly – tough but loving. She wanted her students to succeed. I didn’t like research papers then. That’s another funny one now, too. But that research paper basically made up the grade for an entire quarter. Failed that one. Failed another one, too, just to make things exciting.

My friend Nate and I had to pass and score well on the final exam for English to graduate from high school. We studied together like crazy. We probably rewarded ourselves with beers or bong rips after each study-session, but it worked. We passed. I graduated drunk after being driven through a rainstorm. It was inside and humid. And smelly. I didn’t really care about any of it.

I was supposed to go off to college (my SATs saved the day), but then the summer of 2005 happened. First, I no longer had a restricted time when I could not drink or be too drunk. Second, I had nothing but time to find alcohol. I drank that summer, twenty-four hours a day. I mean that. I was constantly drunk, for weeks at a time. I hated myself. I needed to drink. I had to put alcohol into my system to function.

There were many emergency room trips to begin that summer, when I did run out of booze. I went into delirium tremens like snapping your fingers when that shit left my system for more than a few minutes. A small part of me wanted to quit but the overwhelming part of me just wanted to find something to drink to calm myself down.

I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous around that time. While I have some fundamental disagreements with AA’s ideology and theology, I respect the help they gave to me and many others, and thus, due to the Traditions, will not be saying much more about AA in this story, other than to document when I went in and out.

At the time of the emergency room trips, my parents would require me to go to a few meetings after each trip to learn to get sober. It did not take, at first. Eventually, my parents grew tired of the all-day drinking and refusal to help myself, and they tried to help me by sending me to rehab.

I will say that rehab is a surreal place. You wear sandals in the shower unless you’re crazy. The food stops you from getting boners. People fucking hug all the time. I hated it. But it helped for a little while. I came home and decided I wouldn’t drink, just smoke pot and take pills. Of course, I eventually drank, too, and a few months after the first rehab, I was in my second, this time an adolescent-oriented facility.

I genuinely got hope there. I thought I might want to really beat my addiction. Shit, I thought I might actually be an addict, which was something new. I kept the pills a secret, though. Always did, though I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t use pills, and would only smoke pot when I got home. As you can see, I had some shit-awful plans when I was eighteen.

I did stick to that particular plan for a bit. Then Owen died, suddenly. I maintained for a few more days, the saddest days I’ve ever had, just by smoking a massive amount of weed. I gave a eulogy at his funeral. It was and has since been well received, which makes me feel I accomplished my mission to honor Owen as best I could. After that, a stretch of this story becomes quite uncomfortable to tell.

I will say that I started drinking very, very heavily. I did not go to jail or prison, but I went to a place that I never want to go to again, under any circumstances, and for many reasons. I guess that psychological torture is a real thing. After that, I drank again, for a few weeks. I lied and I tried to control it like all good drunks do. I was, of course, found out.

And so began my first successful stint in AA. I stayed for about six months and didn’t have a drink in that time. In fact, I only had a handful of drunken nights after that. The pills finally came to collect their due, though. I started a failed business. I think it failed before it started. Then I took a job delivering pizzas. I worked crazy hours. After those hours, I would crush up three thirty milligram Roxies, roll a blunt, and leave the earth for a while. During those work hours, I found creative ways to maintain.

Just working there for about a year, I made some of the best friends of my life at that place. I mean that. Genuine, honest, cool people who give a shit about their friends. Rest in peace, Joe. And thanks to the other guys who always checked up on me when I disappeared for a while, even long after I worked there.

While my addiction to alcohol was not really active (I was about twenty by this time), I was becoming more and more enslaved to prescription pill bottles. While I worked at the pizza place, I was also attending community college. Even though I was hooked on the pills, I did at least care about my future by that point. I did quite well at that school, especially considering that I was extremely high for eighty percent of the classes I took there.

The pizza job was not necessarily the safest place for a guy with my tendencies, but it at least gave my life some structure, like school had, and kept me from turning into a twenty-four hour shit-show. Then I got fired from there. It was the only job I ever got fired from in my life. I called a customer a douche bag. He was berating a new counter-girl who hadn’t learned the ropes yet. I’d do it again, if I had the chance, but something meaner, so he really got the point. The manager smoothed it over, but some prick from an unrelated company who was working on the place’s computer system dimed me out to my maniac boss. Funny story, and true: the guy who dimed me out was later arrested for fraud and got nine months in prison. That’s called Karma, fucker.

After I got fired, things went downhill with the pills really fast. I “worked” at my family’s business, but didn’t contribute much. I spent my days middle-manning drug deals and gaining the trust of dealers, like I was always so good at. That meant I could get more pills without cash up front. I took full advantage. Roxies were my thing, and Xannies, big as you could get ‘em.

By the middle of that summer, I was up to about five Roxies and a few Xannie-bars a day. I shit you not. And that was more or less to function. I mean, I got high, too, but there were a lot of side-effects. First, I puked all the time. Could barely eat. That was the Roxies. They are like heroin. Second, I had literally no memory and went through life never one-hundred percent sure of where I was. That was the Xanax. That shit will erase your mind. I don’t see how it can possibly be used legally as medication for anyone. That’s one thing I learned from doing far too much of that shit: prescription drugs are often not safe for consumption by any humans. They turn average schmoes into addicts, and the addiction-prone don’t stand a chance. It’s not doomsday, but I honestly implore you to just be careful with that shit.

I was basically in another world. I was twenty-one, then. I’d had a handful of drunk nights over the previous year or so through this point in the story, though thankfully they’d be my last. Some of the drinks came with people, some didn’t. I didn’t drink often, but it didn’t take much to convince me to. I had also played a ton of poker through this time, which often supported my habits and is definitely a story for another post. The moral is that you probably shouldn’t play against me in poker.

But enough about gambling. I was never addicted to that. The summer of twenty-one was all about the pills. By the end of the summer I had enough connections and enough pills that I was pretty much drowning in the fucking things. I crushed ‘em and snorted ‘em every day and night. It was my job and for the most part I was good at it. But when I wasn’t…

When I wasn’t good at it, I felt full withdrawal, almost as soon as the shit left my system. I remember spending days in bed watching “When We Left Earth,” which is still by far my favorite documentary ever. Watch it if you get a chance. It’ll change the way you think about the Space Race, and those involved, for the better.

My days spent watching that great show were filled with physical agony. First, you feel like you’re getting a bit of the flu. Your nose starts to run. You get a few chills. If you get some shit soon you’ll be ship-shape in no time at all. If you don’t, your stomach starts to churn, and you begin to sweat. You feel sick, and you get sick. Uncontrollably, and from both ends. Your nose becomes a faucet and your body shakes, with shocks of cold running through the fiber of your being. But you are still fucking sweating. It’s the worst physical feeling that I’ve ever felt.

And it makes the fact that I kept on trucking that much more ridiculous. Drugs are the only thing that can motivate a person in that condition to get out of bed, get some money, and drive across town to meet a tattooed dude who could kill them at any second. That’s what I did. All of that. Again and again. Physical condition be damned.

I got a lot of pills that last time, more than I ever had before. I took them home and got to work. The Roxies went pretty quick. It never mattered how many of those there were. I’d do them all. But there was tons and tons of Xanax left. I took them all day, every day, to the point that I was not a part of reality. There are weeks of my life that I honestly don’t remember, not that my memory is all that great in the first place. Wonder why.

And at the end of those three non-reality weeks, I did something that showed other folks that I was definitely not a part of the same world as them. There was a battle for my remaining pills, which I lost, and an ultimatum given. The ultimatum was “go to rehab, or else.” The “or else” part was not an option, but did not include trouble with the law.

I went to rehab. It was in Chester, Pennsylvania. No offense to anybody who’s from Chester, as I’m sure it has its charms to the locals, but that place is a grade-A shithole. It was the right shithole at the right time for me, though. I found something in that place that I’d never had before. As corny as this sounds, I found some real hope — not fleeting kind like when I was eighteen. Fuck that. I don’t care if it sounds corny. I found hope.

It was the most important thing I’ve found in my life. It didn’t come via any God – I don’t have one of those – though it does come that way to many. For me, something finally broke inside. I finally realized what an incredible, fucked up asshole I had been to so many people who I loved. So many were affected who had no idea they were affected. It’s a tragic cycle that nine out of ten times doesn’t end until at least one person is dead. If you’re lucky, it’s only the addict. If not, it’s some family they ran over on their way to buy another hit.

This shit is not all doom and gloom, though. You can get better. I’m living proof. Most of those friends I was talking about earlier, the ones I’ve met over the three years, seven months, fifteen days, seven hours and five minutes I’ve spent without any pills, powders, or booze to speak of – those friends probably could have told you I’d done some crazy shit but could never have guessed how much. I went to AA for a bit less than a year after that last time in rehab. I’ve since not gone at all. I’ll say no more about that.

Over the last three years and blah blah blah, I’ve graduated college with a degree in… wait for it… Literature, met the woman I love, given a toast at my best friend’s wedding, started a website to take control of my own career, and am currently planning to move out of New Jersey for the first time in my life, with my girlfriend, all the way to South Carolina. Life gets better, but sometimes you really have to nut up and try. I’m humble, now. Humbler, at least. I know that ninety-nine times out of a hundred the people who work hard at what they want are the people who get it.

That means there’s hope for anybody out there struggling right now. You don’t have to keep on going with that shit – carrying out your existence in that world with no love or happiness. You don’t have to admit it to anybody else yet. Just admit it to yourself. You know what I mean. Whether it’s through AA, NA, any A, rehab, or a path more long and winding like my own, people do get better. YOU can get better, if you need to. And if you want to. Some little part of you – just anywhere inside – has to want to do it. Then you can start. Where you take it is entirely up to you and the work you chose to do for yourself and the people you care about.

This has been me spilling my guts all over the page. I apologize for any typos or grammatical fuck-ups, as I’ve stayed up all night to write it. I like to share some of myself on this site, but obviously this is way over the line of what I’d normally put out there. There were a few reasons to do it. First, it’s a pretty interesting story. Second, it might help someone else struggling somewhere who can’t or won’t go to a meeting to hear how shitty it really is out there. Third, I felt no need to keep it on me. It’s freeing.

So please share this, if you found it worthy. I’ve poured it all out there for you. Share it if you think it will help someone you know. You’d be surprised. Share it to prospective employers who won’t hire me because of it. Fuck them. Share it to someone who likes Intervention. I don’t mind my story being read for entertainment. At least that means my ridiculous life from back then is bringing some good to the world. Share it to someone who would just make fun of me. I don’t care. I’m not carrying around that weight anymore. You get me as I am.

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