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How I Managed to Beat 12 Years of Heroin Addiction


Editor's Note

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, the following post could be triggering. You can contact SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

I survived 12 years of opiate abuse with the powerful help of an opiate antagonist — medication used to manage opioid dependence.

One day, I woke up and realized all of my friends were dead. My friends I used with, my friends who got me addicted to heroin. They were all dead — some died before my very eyes. One day, I woke up and realized life without my daughter was no longer an option. One day, I woke up and realized I needed to change… like, really change. What four heroin overdoses and two trips to prison couldn’t teach me, I seemed to realize overnight. Well, I guess it wasn’t really overnight. But when the moment came that I decided to get finally sober, it seemed quite sudden to me.

After living in the fog of drug abuse for over 12 years, one day I woke up and had the knowledge and conviction I had to change — and more importantly, I had the power to change. Change for an addict is hard. It seems impossible.

But it is possible. I “failed” at life for 12 years, but I succeeded for 12 years at being an addict. So, I know what I am talking about. But where I failed and fell for so many years, I also got up… each time I fell, I got up. That experience taught me that change is within your grasp if you dig deep, commit to change and ask for (and accept) help. This help must come from all areas of your life. From your friends, your family, your partner, your sponsor, your doctors and your faith (or, at least, a faith in something larger than yourself).

I resisted help for a long time, but finally, I got the help I needed and turned my life around in a big fashion. I detoxed my addicted body with the help of the medication, and I started to live life as a sober adult. Medication was a complete game-changer for me. It took away cravings I had not been able to control my entire addiction. I began to heal relationships that were broken, and I focused on positive things in life. The same conviction and effort I used to stop using drugs, I also used to start a successful six-figure painting business and successfully petition the court to be granted custody of my daughter again. I put my life back together, piece-by-piece, and built a new, healthy life.

I am now hooked on a new drug — life. Each day, I wake up and I know the morning sun brings both new opportunities and new challenges. But now, I have learned to embrace the opportunities, and have better tools to navigate life’s challenges. My battles today are a little different than my battles against opiate cravings during my past. Instead of battling drugs, the new challenges in my life include living with the cloud of a criminal record, the remorse over a loss of 12 years of my life while I was on drugs, the daily work I must do to come to terms with the bad decisions I once made and stay on the right path going forward.

I still have a long way to go on my journey, but my journey has taught me that heroin addicts are worthwhile and we do recover. While I may be in the minority, my story shows that drug abusers can turn their lives around and lead exceptional lives. I beat the odds and I recovered. I am grateful for each day, and each day continues to teach me new lessons. I’d be lying if I didn’t say some days are darker than others, but each day I see more light. I have learned one more great life lesson from my experience, and that is the bad days teach us important life lessons too. After all, you can’t see the stars without the darkness of night.

Photo by Jesse Uli on Unsplash