THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Aaron"
Originally posted April, 1999
Hi Everyone, my name is Aaron and I am an addict. First and foremost, let me thank the God of my understanding for another day clean, and for saving me from the pain, misery and insanity I was in. I’m clean today only by God’s grace and mercy. And for that, I am truly grateful.
My using began at about age 9 or 10. It started with alcohol, and then marijuana. I continued to use only those drugs for a very long time, because I always heard…. "if you start doing that other stuff, you had a problem.", so that was all I would do. At around age 18, I experimented with other so called "light drugs", but it wasn’t until I was around 23 years old that I found my true calling – CRACK COCAINE.
At first, I seemed to be using crack in a somewhat social manner. I would share my drugs with you, because when you got your drugs, you’d better share with me. In the end, there was no sharing – I wanted all of my drugs and all of yours too. The progression hadn’t really set in yet because I was still somewhat employable. I was caring and responsible with my children, I dressed well, I was still on the social scene and all that other stuff that says "I’m not that bad." But in the end, I was unemployed, unemployable, homeless, wearing the same clothes for weeks at a time, stinking so bad I couldn’t stand it myself, not caring whether my children lived or died or whether I myself lived or died for that matter. Eating 25 cent bags of chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I wasn’t living. I was in a state of existence, out there, caught in the grip. And the bad thing was, I didn’t care. I had no desire to change. Just give me one more hit was all I cared about.
Of course, I started to visit those places that are promised to us. It was on one of my many trips to jails and prisons that I said to myself… "brother, you have a problem." Prior to that, I rationalized my being in jail using a "blame-thrower" or it was just bad luck, I thought. Okay, I have a problem. How could a person come from where I was, to where I am (prison) and there not be a problem? I had a bigger problem – I had absolutely no clue as to what to do.
I remember while in jail I used to hear the NA meetings called out. So one day, just to get off the unit, I went. Today I know going to that meeting was my cry for help and not just to get off the unit. That’s when I heard it – I heard my story. There was a brother up there sharing, some of the same things I had done. More importantly, he talked about some of the same feeling I had felt. Then he started talking about where he was in life today, and somehow I knew he was telling the truth. I wanted to believe him anyway, because it gave me some hope. I could see peace and serenity all over this brother. After that meeting, I asked him how did he stop using drugs and how can I stop? He gave me the 8 suggestions and his phone number and said call me as soon as you get out. But you see, I’m a hard-headed addict. Yes, I had a desire to stop using drugs, but on my own terms. I was the addict who was going to stay clean, keep my same old friends and hang out in the same old hood. I was going to prove the evidence was wrong. Needless to say, I was using again in less than a week.
My cycle of using drugs, going to jail and feeble attempts to stop using continued. Over the course of that time, I was slowly picking up information about Narcotics Anonymous. A seed of hope was firmly planted. I made the decision when I came home this time, I’m going to try this a different way. Today I know that was my point of surrender. Everything I had tried, failed. And I definitely didn’t want anymore pain and jail, so I decided to try some suggestions.
On November 27, 1996 I was released from jail. The whole time while doing that last bid, I was also developing a game plan for when I got released. The plan was simple – relocation, education, Narcotics Anonymous. You see, relocation was VITAL for this addict. I tried many times to recovery where I used and I failed every time. For the addict who is recovering where you used, I applaud you! I didn’t want to take that chance. Besides, my thinking was – "do the opposite of everything I did before." Relocating has worked for this addict.
I also was never trained. I had no skills in any area except using drugs, so going back to school was also necessary. To make a long story short…my test scores and psychological profile said Nursing was the field I should pursue, so I did, and I’m proud to say I completed school and I’m a Licensed Practical Nurse, working in the field today. God is good! All the time!
Last but definitely not least, I became a member of Narcotics Anonymous. I have to tell you, in the time since my relapse, being involved with NA, already my expectations have been far exceeded. I thought I would only be shown how to stop using drugs. But what has happened is, not only had the very desire to use drugs been removed, some idealistic and behavior changes have taken place also. I no longer battle with that obsession to use drugs. And I was the person you’d see and say…"he’ll never stop." But through working this program, a day at a time, I’ve been able to stay clean. Besides staying clear, I’ve re-established a relationship with my children. And although some negative results have manifested and I’m not a part of their lives to the point I should be, I’ve made progress and I’m continuing to do some footwork to correct things in that area. Being clean, my conscious doesn’t allow me to remain irresponsible with my children anymore. Today my conscious doesn’t allow me to continue with behaviors such as dishonesty, infidelity, etc. without experiencing some type of pain. When I do wrong, those feeling come up and it doesn’t feel good at all. I feel today. I am no longer a person bent on self-gratification. Today, I give of myself. I can go on and on. And just think – the process has just begun. But none of this is because "I" willed it. These are blessing from a God of my understanding, through working the NA program with a NA sponsor and having a desire and willingness to change. The work is applying the 12 steps. The steps are a process of spiritual (not religious) rebuilding, that have ultimately led me to a God of my own understanding.
I said earlier, I just wanted to stop using drugs. But by applying the principles in the steps, I’ve also stopped using people and manipulating situations to suit me. I have changed "SOME" ideals, attitudes and behaviors. Working this program makes we want to change and better myself.
Don’t hear me wrong! Everyday is not perfect! I too face challenges of everyday life – life on life’s terms. Some days I don’t want to deal. I want to run and get away – escape. Just because I’m clean, who says I’m not supposed to go through stuff. If not me, then who should? I am not exempt! Not at all! Through this process, I’ve learned to go through stuff, and come out on the other side still clean and intact. My best growth come from painful and trying experiences.
Last, I have to touch on the importance of sponsors. It’s only through the guidance of my sponsor that I’m able to work the steps and change me. Just imagine if I worked the step under my own guidance. CHAOS!! So in short, GET A SPONSOR. And if you already have a sponsor, develop a phone muscle and call him/her.
For this addict, this is a disease of the thoughts. It was and still is my thinking that tells me I can escape through drug use or it’s okay to cheat on my girl (just don’t get caught). The difference today is I don’t have to react to my thoughts. I no longer act on impulsive thinking. I’ve been given the gift of remembering consequences, and I weight them out before acting. I have freedom today.
Thanks for letting me share.