THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Dave M."
Originally posted on Mar. 2000(The author retains all rights to this material)
My story is not a whole lot different from my fellow addicts, in that I used drugs, in every way shape and form from around the age of eight I guess, and continued using in a progressive manner until I hit my first, bonified, self acknowledged rock-bottom at the age of thirty one. Up until then, I thought that life was one big party, and that the only way to live, the only way to truly enjoy it, was to be high as much as possible. I have since learned otherwise, due to an unexplained willingness and the help of the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.
I won't go into detailed war stories, but let's just say that after using for almost a quarter-century, living an undependable, irresponsible, untrustworthy, uncaring (there's many more) existence, I found myself, at the age of thirty one, in a jail cell in Florida, a thousand miles from home, facing five to ten years in jail for drugs and drug related charges. I had done various jail sentences before, but never more than three or four months at a time, and of course countless one and two nighters. But This was State time, a stretch, a big chunk of time, and it was also the beginning of my life's first wake up call, as I couldn't deny the truth; my situation was the direct result of my drug use, or behavior caused by drugs before, during, or after their use.
While serving the first leg of my sentence in Florida, an in-house, intensive Rehab Program was brought into the jail, and I volunteered for it, being as I had pretty much nothing better to do combined with my first genuine thoughts, however scattered, at improving my life. I think that one of my main incentives was that I was sick and tired of simply wasting my life, going along accomplishing and achieving absolutely nothing close to what I knew to be my potential. Anyway, After roughly twenty or thirty days of this intensive sixty day program, I had my first moment of clarity while sitting in a chair and hearing another man's story, a man in his mid-fifties, who had gotten clean in his early thirties and was obviously enjoying his life, proud of having put down the drug of his choice, which ironically, since I had never touched them, were guns. The point was that he had put down the thing that was making his life unmanageable and had made the decision to change. To this day, I can walk into ANY type of room of recovering people who are committed to positive change, and draw inspiration for my own recovery.
Eventually I was released from jail with a year of clean time, and the knowledge that there "was a better way" instilled in my head. I did end up using again, and hitting a new and worse rock bottom, almost getting killed in a drug deal gone bad and the whole nine, but the seeds of recovery had been planted. I know today that I worked a half-assed program, literally doing only half the suggestions. One of the most important that I omitted was getting and using a Sponsor, which today I have found to be one of the most important parts of my ongoing recovery process. I did make my way back to the rooms of N.A., and I got clean again, but once again I did it partially my way, which subsequently brought me back out there to, of course, more pain and misery. Only through the Grace of the Higher Power of my choice was I able to make my way back for a third time, and this time, from day one, I decided to do it the N.A. way, committing to ALL the suggestions, and then some.
My typical day in Recovery starts with dropping to my knees and acknowledging, thanking, and asking my Higher Power for just one more day clean. I then read a passage from N.A. literature, and then I automatically start thinking of what meeting I can work into my schedule. I have a home group and a Trusted Servant commitment, I have and use my Sponsor, who has become one of my best friends as well as a Mentor in Recovery. I very rarely refuse Twelve Step work, I have a Sponsee, and I am in the middle of working my Fourth Step. I am involved in Service Work, and so far, after almost twenty three months, everything I have been doing is working "One Day at a Time." I by no means work a "Perfect Program," but I think I have a healthy enough fear of the Disease of Addiction coupled with an inherent desire to live to be granted a daily reprieve from a terminal ailment that requires daily treatment and constant vigilance. I have even coined my own little phrase; "Stay Connected, Stay Clean -- Drift Apart, Lose my Heart." I know, if just for today, that I cannot use drugs successfully, and if I "Choose to Use," a deeper and more miserable rock bottom awaits me, including most definitely jails and death, or even worse, a life of using, a nightmarish existence. I now look ahead to a day in Recovery, and when I compare it and the days before to a day in active addiction, the choice is easy. I choose Recovery, abstention, change, and Life.