THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Habib"
Originally posted in Nov. 2000 & Oct. 2007(The author retains all rights to this material)
Hello Family My Name Is Habib And I Am An Addict.
It really started when I was eight years old and I picked up my first cigarette from the curb that someone else had just finished. When I inhaled for the first time I didn’t cough my brains out like other kids did. And after the second or third puff I started to get this sick airy feeling that made me barf after a while. I thought “Wow this is for me” and after a bunch of those “so called” cancer sticks I was used to it. And for a while I chased after that sick feeling but could never get it back again. I won’t go into why I picked up that cigarette In the first place, I just did and I’ll leave it at that.
When I was 14 years old and living in Brooklyn, N.Y. I met another guy in the swimming pool at the JCH club that my family had membership at. He was 16 years old at the time. After swimming under each other’s legs and having a race across the pool we talked for a while and parted our ways. The next time we met there we were both leaving at the same time. It was a Sunday afternoon and when we got outside we both lit up a Marlboro Red and waited for the same bus.
He asked me if I smoke anything else and I said no just Marlboros and after a moment he asked if I smoke weed. “Now call me a dunce if you want to but I thought he meant pulling weeds out of the ground and smoking them somehow” “that’s what I was thinking” I had no idea what he was talking about and other then getting high on cigarettes when I was 8 years old, I didn’t know what getting high was. Anyway after he explained a few things to me we went to his house to pick up a big bag of what he called Wacky weed and then we hopped onto another bus to my house and he taught me how to roll a joint, and he put the joint into a little glass vile and using a match to heat it he said he was melting some opium paste or base or whatever, onto the joint and we smoked it, and another one and he was blasted and I was wondering what I was supposed to be feeling.
He came over the next day and we did the whole thing again and this time I got blasted too. And for the first time in my life I experienced getting blasted high and getting the munchies. If my mom didn’t stop me later that day from eating, then I would have ate myself to death and not felt a thing. My so-called friends name was Charlie and today when I think of him, I think of that song (Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues).
It started with smoking Pot and that led me to bigger and better Drugs soon after.
I never seem to fit in with the other kids that lived in the neighborhood. I stunk at playing any sports like “Touch Football, Stickball, and Softball” but I was good at getting high and fit right in with others that got high as well.
After a while of being caught up in the grip of addiction I got thrown out of home and lived in cardboard boxes or at least I slept in them. I lived in the subway system of N.Y.C. for a while when it got real cold outside. I got myself into a shelter for a while. Then Moved to San Francisco and lived they’re for a while in the Federal Park with wine-o’s and lived in abandoned vehicles in the Marina Area.
By the time I was around 27 years old I was nothing but a low-life thieve, liar, and a cheat. Trying to get over a day at a time. Now living in N.J. If I went to visit any of my family in Brooklyn they would open the door lock the screen door then close the door and lock it and close any open windows nearby and then ask me what I wanted.
For a while I used everything. To list a few “Pot, Acid Blotters, Mescaline, Black Beauties, Quaalude 714’s, Hash, Cocaine, Heroine, Crystallized Speed, Opium, PCP, Airplane Glue, Pam – Cooking Oil, Beer, Wine, hard liquor, Fastins, Crack, Nitrous Oxide, Rush” and just to many more to mention all of them.
The following year after all the degradation and pain I put myself and my family through I failed to kill myself, so I tried to have my self committed in a nearby hospital because no matter what I did, I could not stop using drugs for any length of time. So I figured I must be crazy. And they said I wasn’t crazy but that I was an addict and needed help to change my habits from using drugs to not using them. They gave me an appointment for 7:00 PM the next day to go to they’re out patient clinic and I went home.
The next day I don’t remember what I did all day except that it was “a very long day” waiting for seven o’clock to come along I do remember smoking a dubbie sometime before going to the meeting all I knew is that it was supposed to be a group meeting.
When I got there the counselor had me fill out a questionnaire and sign a contract stating that I would never use drugs again or drink alcohol. I signed it thinking “OH YEA RIGHT, I’LL NEVER USE AGAIN HA-HA” however since I signed that stupid thing I haven’t used.
How did I stop? In that program at the hospital they said I no longer had to try to stay clean alone and told me to go to other meetings like Narcotics Anonymous. And someone in the group brought me to my first N.A. meeting where I got my first welcome hugs. The meeting was the Freehold Wellness Group and one of the first persons to hug and welcome me became my first sponsor the following week. But at that first meeting “it was a speaker meeting” the speaker sounded like he was talking a lot about me, they said at the beginning of the meeting not to compare but try to identify with the addicts who shared. And boy did I ever. They announced some suggestions for people who wanted to work the program. Some of which they said at the hospital meeting. And they were: “Avoid People Places and Things You Used With”.
That one I had to test by calling up a friend and telling him I was clean from drugs and would only come over if he wasn’t doing any drugs and wouldn’t use while I was there. He agreed and I went there and after talking or shooting the breeze for twenty minutes a bunch of other guys came over to his house and came right in and he and they were all around me smoking crack. I couldn’t believe what was going on around me, and I had the balls to walk out of there and not look back. I went home and then thought about kicking myself in the ass for thinking that avoiding people places and things was okay for everybody but me.
They said “Come Early and Stay Late” and I did, in fact the second week at that meeting I got the coffee commitment and every week I got there early and set up the tables and chairs and ashtrays and made the coffee. People always complemented me for making good coffee, and I blushed. And after the end of the meeting I cleaned up and put everything away and was the last to leave and being trusted to do that commitment was everything to me at the time. Because trust was an issue for me.
They said, “Don’t Use and Go to Meetings” and I listened. One of the things that made that a lot easier was taking not using a minute at a time, and then an hour at a time, until I could not use a day at a time. There were times that I even had to take it a second at a time, and take lots of showers “I was one of the cleanest people in the world for a while.”
They also said “Use The Phone” and at first the phone felt like it weighed a ton or at least I was afraid to call people, but after the first call it got a lot easier and it eventually replaced taking so many showers.
They said “Get and Use A Sponsor” At that first meeting the guy that hugged me first sounded really nice and really knew what he was talking about because I told him I was new and we talked for quite a while before and after the meeting and he introduced me to at least half the people at the meeting, so the following week I asked him to sponsor me and he said he would.
They said “Get a Home Group” It actually took me about three months to get a home group, because I had to shop around till I found a group that I felt comfortable enough with to be the regular meeting that I would attend. And till this day almost fifteen years later it’s still my home group where I attend all business meetings and vote on things that effect the group or on things that effect NA as a whole. When I get to this meeting people can usually tell if I’m in a good mood or having a bad day and they usually call me on my shit when I’m not so well, and that helps me get out of myself and back to reality and the meeting, so I can smile and help a new comer if needed.
They said “Make 90 Meetings In 90 Days” I made more then 90 in 90. At times I made two meetings a day. In fact I made around 120 meetings in my first 90 days. And during that time I heard sayings like “meeting makers make it” and “the coffee guy don’t get high” someone said after 90 days if you can’t get with the program we’ll gladly refund your misery, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. By making 90 meetings in 90 days you should have a pretty good foundation of the program and be able to get a good idea if being clean and having a new way of living life on life’s terms is something you would be interested in having as well as striving for. If not, you could leave and be miserable some more until you are ready. And if your not dead you can come back and start over again. Well I chose to stay. I believe I’m no good to myself, my family or anyone else with my head in a cloud. And besides I was in a lot of pain from using. And that’s just for me.
They said “Keep Coming Back It Works” I do keep coming back. The program of Narcotics Anonymous has shown me a different direction to living my life. It has helped me to change my whole way of thinking and of making the correct decisions for myself. That’s not to say that I’m new and perfect now because that wouldn’t be the truth. I have my share of problems and have even made some mistakes since I’m clean but at least the decisions I make today are my own and made with a clear mind.
When I was new I thought I wanted to have ten years clean on that first day. Then I could get a lot of my friends together and tell them about NA and they could get clean too. Then I wouldn’t have to change people and places, but soon found out you had to want to change and have a whole new life. In other words: willingness, open-mindedness and honesty, plays a big part in the life of an addict who stays clean. At least it does for this addict. And if one of those things is interrupted then, I’m on my way to setting myself up for a hard time in life and maybe even going out and using. And then jails, institutions, and even death come into play. So I’ve learned and this is only for me, that this program is for people who want it and not for everyone. If you don’t want what NA has to offer then there isn’t anything that anyone can say that will make you change your mind. Nothing.
One of the things I like most about my life in NA is service work, which I believe has kept me coming back more then anything else after my first week as a member. Like being coffee person and getting to the meeting early and setting up and making the coffee and cleaning up and braking down the tables and putting them away. Cleaning the ashtrays, these days most of the meetings are non-smoking and since I also surrendered to smoking cigarettes a month after I got clean, that’s a fine thing.
A friend that eventually became my second sponsor around two years clean, brought me to Area Service for the first time for a Public Information (PI) meeting and I really liked it. I met new people and made new friends and enjoyed the PI meeting. PI informs the public about NA like to the news reporters that come to NA conventions. And also do P.S.A.’s (Public Service Announcements) for radio and TV.
I got an alternate-group service representative (A-G.S.R.) position at my home group when I had about five months clean and attended Area Service to learn about what goes on there. It’s the same as a business meeting at the group level except it’s bigger and longer. And I loved it. I learned how to become a G.S.R.
Service work is where it’s at for me and it has been for all this time. It keeps me involved and has shown me it’s not just about staying clean and going to meetings. It’s also about working the twelve steps and twelve traditions of NA into my life and doing service work. And making friends and having fun. Things I never thought were possible when I was out there using and destroying myself and everything around me. I can tell my mom & dad that I love them today and give both of them a kiss on the cheek. And I have.
It’s also about learning how to live and eventually not having to make so many meetings.
I thank NA for giving me a life today absolutely positive. And remember this quoted from the NA Basic Text
We cannot change the nature of the addict or addiction. We can help to change the old lie “Once an addict, always an addict,” by striving to make recovery more available. God, help us to remember this difference.
Thanks for allowing me to share Habib M.