Rising Up From The Ashes

At a glance, it seemed like my addiction was pre-ordained. I grew up around an alcoholic father, my mother took sleeping pills like they were candy and my brother had a rabid cocaine habit. Did I ever really have a choice? The answer is yes. I learned a lot of things during the course of my addiction and recovery, namely humility and selflessness, but the most valuable lesson I learned is that it’s possible to rise above your surroundings, no matter how abysmal they are. Nobody’s destiny is set in stone. God gives you the breath of life and it’s up to you to make every subsequent breath count for something.

The first time I tried coke, I was 14 years old. My brother, who was 19 at the time, left some in his backpack and I decided to try it. I can’t really explain the feeling I experienced after doing my first line. It wasn’t even liked I particularly liked it, but I kept wanting to do more. Fearing I’d get the beating of my life, from both him and my parents if he found out, I tried putting it back in his bag, but the damage was done and he could tell that I’d taken some of his stash. Instead of beating me up, he just made me give him $20 for the line that I did. I should have known how screwed up my family was at this very moment.

I managed to evade cocaine dependency, only to get addicted to crystal meth. There are no words to describe the indignity I experienced during the height of my crystal habit. It was like I turned in my membership card for the human race. My depraved and single-minded thirst to feed my addiction cost me all of my friends, some of my family and so much more. The days were the darkest right before I entered treatment. The world I’d lived in had gone completely black and I couldn’t help but feel that I was going to die at any second.

When I first got to treatment, it was like there was this black cloud surrounding me, like no matter what I did; no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t escape the reality of my fate. Over the 30 or so days that I spent in my program, the dark cloud in my mind that had previously surrounded me began to get smaller and smaller every day . . . until one day I felt like I had finally risen above it. My therapist built me up by tearing down this notion I had that I was destined to be an addict. I learned the value of autonomy and the pride that comes with determining your own future.

I’m not denying the genetic element and family-influence aspects of addiction — they can certainly leave many predisposed to substance abuse; I’m just saying that, as human beings, our destinies belong to us. If I would have rolled over and gave myself up to my circumstances, I don’t think I would be alive to sit here and write this. Thanks to one of best drug rehab centers in Florida, I now think of myself like a phoenix rising up from the ashes and stronger in every way.

Patrick O.
Boston, MA