As the holiday season is coming up upon us, I’m thinking of “things to do to insure my sobriety.”
The first thing would be my memory. Those first two weeks of using heroin was fantastic! It gave me the feeling that said, “so this is why people do this.” After that, I knew I had a problem. If I didn’t use daily, I was incredibly sick. I would be in pain, sweating, shaking, violently puking – to the point I would break blood vessels in my face. I was able to find a solution very quickly at that time. I would NOT run out again!
And I didn’t. For a very long time. I would do everything high. Be with my kids, cook, work, drive… exist. If I was awake, I was high. I COULDN’T get sick again! I would go to any lengths for it. I was getting behind on my bills, I was struggling at my job. My kids felt “weird” around me… They didn’t want to be around me. Who can blame them?
I got to a point that I had a HUGE problem. I was running out of money. I needed to “make a decision.” To sell myself, or to quit heroin. You would think this wouldn’t be a hard sell to quit, it took me a while to decide. I was so afraid.
Finally, I got up enough courage to tell my doctor that I’m a heroin addict and I need to get on Suboxone to get clean. She asked what I had in my system… It was quite the laundry list. She “strongly” suggested that I go to Detox. I strongly disagreed. No one knew what was going on with me. I couldn’t very well tell my BOSS, my EX-HUSBAND & my KIDS that I needed DETOX to get off HEROIN!!! Good gracious, that wasn’t going to happen.
So, I tried some “alternate drug” ways. They were not successful. It took me about a month to get to 24 hours clean. I then walked a mile to the doctor, getting sick and using various facilities along the walk. When I finally got there, I was covered in sweat, slightly green/grey in color, and very weak. Most especially, I was totally unable to use the facilities again! And it was necessary to do a drug test before getting on the Suboxone.
So I waited. So weak, I couldn’t even sit in the chair. I was laying on the floor in the waiting room. I asked to wait in a room until I can “pee in the cup” so I can have the wee littlest bit of dignity. I was denied that. After 45 minutes, the nurse called me into the entryway, and asked me if I went to Detox. I said no, but I have 27 hours and 45 minutes (I showed her the timer on my phone).
At this time, she tells me they are NOT going to help me because I did not go to detox. I said, “are you for real?” She said yes. I said OK, then dialed my phone to my dealer and said, “Bring me 2 bundles and pick me up, I’ll be walking down Main St.” He said yes, the nurse said nothing, and I left.
That was my longest sober time for another couple of months. Then, I decided to go to the Methadone Clinic. I didn’t have to be clean to walk in there (thank Goodness!). I started on September 1, 2017. I waited until I had a dose that I wouldn’t get sick on, before I attempted to quit again. It took about another month or so, then I tried to quit. I was actually being successful! I got to 24 days! I knew I wasn’t done being high. I went back to using. Screwed up my dose, so I needed an increase. Every day, I would ask myself, am I just getting my med, or heroin too. Every day, it would be heroin too. Finally, on November 22, 2017, I said to myself, this is it. This is my last high. November 23 was my sobriety date. (It still is)
I was clean and sober for 10 whole days, and I knew, with my whole self, I would not be able to do this alone. I went to a meeting, introduced myself as a “drug addict, trying to be sober for 90 days, just not successful for all of them!” I wanted the “credit” for my clean days, as they were so hard to come by.
In a few weeks, I found a sponsor. I found an app for my phone. I started working the steps as fast as possible. I needed recovery. I didn’t want to ever live the way I was again.
Besides the steps, I was told to build a network of women to be there for me. I was told to do 90 meetings in 90 days – I did them in 78 days, and kept coming. I was told to get involved, I became the coffee maker, and eventually, chairing meetings and sponsoring. I was told to change the people I hung out with. I did not follow that suggestion. I would still bring my ex-boyfriend to cop crack and heroin and I would PAY for it. My only request was do NOT do it in front of me. This was too big of an ask for him, as he hit the pipe in the car. I was done with him at that time. I said goodbye when I dropped him off, and sent him a LONG letter explaining why we will never see each other again.
Sadly, this caused the sicknesses to come back. Or maybe I just needed to ask my Higher Power for help, and this was the only way for it to happen. I got sick every two weeks for 8 months – like clockwork. It was horrible. The first time, I called someone for drugs, crying, because I didn’t want them, I needed them. The person didn’t answer. Then, I called my sponsor, she didn’t answer either. Then, I called on God. He answered. He allowed me to sleep. When I woke up, I was on day 46!! Not day 1!! I learned an important lesson that day. I learned that I can trust in God, and He will be there for me.
The stupid sicknesses went on for so long. It was so discouraging. I was doing “everything right.” I was sober, I was working a program, I started a meeting, I was a GSR, I was INVOLVED. And I was sick. I went to a 12 Step Retreat, and at Step 10, I admitted that I was genuinely pissed at God. How could He let this keep happening to me? Then, I cried. Then I prayed.
The next night, I had a stroke. I woke up and I couldn’t walk. My right leg didn’t work anymore. My first thought was fear. After about 20 minutes, I prayed again. I asked for God’s will about my leg. I got to the hospital in time to get the medication to stop the stroke from continuing. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks. I learned to walk again. I had a fellowship around me. I was never alone. I mattered. I wasn’t sick!
Time has gone by, and I’ve not been sick again. My belief is that God gave me the stroke for humility and trust in Him. It worked.
After just over 2 years of sobriety in AA, a new fellowship popped up in Connecticut. It’s called Heroin Anonymous. At first, I balked. AA had “done its job” with my sobriety. I was happy, I didn’t think I needed it. And why, oh why, would I want to SAY I’m going to a HEROIN Anonymous meeting, when saying an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting was so much more “acceptable.”
I went to the in person meeting a couple of times, then stopped. I didn’t think it was for me. I felt like I was “cheating on” AA. Then, Covid hit. Meetings were on Zoom. I found my way back to that same group. From the safety of my house, I felt at home at the HA meeting. These were my people. They understood the sickness. They understood the fear. They understood me.
As with my AA sobriety, I through myself in 100%. After several months, I was elected as a delegate for CT. I got involved. Now, I am on the Finance Committee, the Regional, and the Area. I get so much from the fellowship, I need to give back.
There is nothing more freeing for me as saying, Hi, I’m a Heroin Addict.
I’m coming up on four years of continuous sobriety. I’m thankful for every day that I have. I’m now a mom that I want to be. An employee that I want to be. A friend that I want to be. And, most importantly, I’m the ME I want to be.
As I think about all of this, I know that this is the WHY I stay sober. The HOW is the same as it was on day 1 in the program: Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness.
Thank you for reading. Try to remember WHY you are sober, WHAT you get by it, and HOW it happens.
– Carolyn Smith