THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Melissa"
Originally posted in March 1999(The author retains all rights to this material)
Hi, I'm Melissa and I'm an addict. I want to start by saying how excited I am to be able to have this opportunity to share my experience, strength and hope. I also want to thank my higher power for allowing me to be clean another day, and just for today, I am a first time winner and it is possible to get clean and stay clean. Relapse is not a requirement of this program.
I first started using when I was about 12. This is when I started using drugs, alcohol & pot. Before that I had experimented with cigarettes, which to me, is like a drug. Sometimes, I smoke a cigarette when I'm nervous or uncomfortable, the same way I used drugs, to get out of myself. I'm sure in time, and with my higher power's help I'll be able to put down that drug as well. Growing up my family moved around, so I was no stranger to trying to fit in wherever I went. I never acted my age and nobody believed it when I said how old I was. While using, this had its advantages. When I was 12 my family moved to a small town on the shore and one of the most important things, was to fit into this town. I started drinking and smoking cigarettes. As progression would have it, the drinking turned into an everyday ritual. I had tons of friends, all different crowds, someone to hang out with and get messed up with all the time. This went on for about a year. I was now drinking 2 bottles of Wild Irish Rose and my own 12 pack of beer a night, so, after a while drinking just wasn't cutting it, I was 13. I remember one night hanging out on the main street in town. At this point, addiction had already taken over, I no longer paid any attention to curfew or rules, I just didn't go home till I felt like it. I wanted something to do, that night I met my new best friend, marijuana. I smoked a joint and I decided where my next $10 was going. Now every day became, waking up and smoking pot, then at night finding someone to buy drinks then a place to get drunk. I switched my group of friends every couple of months. Whenever we had the chance or whenever it was around town, we would all trip on acid or mescaline. Another drug that I loved because it was cheap and lasted a really long time. I loved this new life that I had but I realized I couldn't afford this lifestyle borrowing a couple dollars off of my parents here and there so I started waitressing in a diner. I started making more money than I could spend. I was then introduced to another good friend - cocaine. Once I had about $43 in my pocket I would call the dealer and have him bring me a $50 piece. Hopefully, I would make the other $7 before he got there. I loved coke. After work one night I went with one of the women I worked with to her house and ended up cooking the coke and smoking it - crack. I was about 14. If you had told me that the first drink would have led to this, I might have put it down, but then again, at this point I had one dead uncle and a dying grandmother, from this disease and that didn't stop me. I had tons of boyfriends at this point and had become sexually promiscuous. I was a drunk, a pothead and a coke addict. I worked at clubs in the city and didn't make it home a lot of nights. At 14, I started on my criminal career, I was selling pot and ended up on probation. I also got my first D.W.I. and I didn't have a license. I took off and made it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and called my parents from a hotel in Tennessee. This is how "I wanted" to live.
I have to thank God that I got into trouble with the law. I tried quitting drinking because it was starting to make using a little tougher. Everyone but me knew I had a problem. I was screwing up my probation and failing urine screenings. I had moved in with another using friend and was really stuck in my addiction. Nothing was going "my way." In December 1997, the day after my 19th birthday, I went to court for a violation of probation. I thought I was going to finally be through with this and the judge would just throw the case out. I was sentenced to 6 months to a year in prison. I was being held in Freehold until my bed opened up in Bordentown. I was in jail on Christmas and I was starting to realize that I really had a problem, my parents told me they could get me into a rehab, so that I wouldn't have to go to prison. I had my first spiritual awakening at that point, I said okay. The day my bed opened up in the prison so did my bed in the halfway house I was being sent to. I stayed there for 6 months. I got a sponsor and started praying. Things started turning around. My family came to see me all the time and I was talking to my sister again after 3 years. I got a job and moved out with another recovering addict. I was attending a meeting a day and did a couple 90 in 90's. Life was finally getting better.
I am coming up on 18 months clean and I've never been so happy. I would like to say that life is easier but on some days it's not. That is why I have an awesome sponsor who helps me get through my problems and a network that I can count on. I have a higher power today that is with me at all times. I also have meetings, literature and a phone that isn't so heavy anymore.
I never thought I could go a day without using, in fact I never wanted to. Life on life's terms isn't so bad when you have honesty, open-mindedness and willingness, a little acceptance doesn't hurt either. Today, I am a grateful recovering addict, who hasn't used in a few 24's.
For anyone who is new or just coming back, if I can do this, so can you. Keep coming back - it really does get better.
Thanks for letting me share!