Michael started using as a means to escape his own troubles.

First time I thought I was out of control was when I had moved up to live with my girlfriend at the time. Up where she lives, there’s a lot of crystal meth around there…And, uh, I ended up getting enticed into trying it out a couple times…And, you know, because I am a very ADD person, I used to be prescribed ADD meds like Adderall, which is pretty similar…um…And I haven’t been on them anymore…So like a lot of my using came from using that and I kinda just lost control with it because it made me feel like a normal human which is something I was definitely looking for a lot through my using. And, you know, it went out of control so quick that I mean it went from just smoking a little bit to, you know, like dealing and smoking literally as much as I could just because like I didn’t have anything else to do. And I just wanted to feel normal and I was running from the feelings I had inside and it just went crazy.

You know, at first it seemed like all fun and games, but…um…as it often happens with addiction…

Michael and his girlfriend fall deeper into the addiction cycle.

You know, at first it seemed like all fun and games, but…um…as it often happens with addiction, it kinda progressed from fun into this habit and it was something we kinda just started needing to do more. And it eventually became something that we almost had to do and it became the priority of our relationship. Um…and you know we went from this great couple that, you know, just loved each other and wanted to be with each other, to this couple of addicts that just needed to get our fix and then maybe we could think about each other after and if we had some time…And it’s really sad how that happens.

Concerned family members step in to help the couple.

My family really didn’t know. I lived about five hours away from home at this point…Um…But her family started to definitely notice and they actually had an intervention with us at one point, which it came right after…um…after I ended up wrecking my car. Uh, and in wrecking that car, it basically lost my ability in staying living up there. I had no way to make any money, no way to pay my rent, no way to pay any bills anymore. And through that, amongst the other signs that had been there, her family kinda had an idea of what was happening already and that last one was kinda the final straw. Once they figured it out, they sat us down. I tried to stay calm about it. My girlfriend lost control a little bit. She was not willing to admit that there was a problem. I was kinda ready to but, then again at the same time, I love my girlfriend and I didn’t want to make her mad. I kinda just sat there and shut up. And I wish I would’ve listened a lot sooner because, you know, that could’ve stopped me a lot sooner and I still went months down the road with other substances before I decided that I really needed help.

I wish I would’ve listened a lot sooner because, you know, that could’ve stopped me a lot sooner…

While using heroin, Michael suddenly has an epiphany.

Well, after I had moved back from living with my girlfriend, I ended up slowly becoming pretty addicted to heroin. Um…And I was just using it to run from all the feelings in my head…you know, the pain, the anger, just the deep sadness, the deep depression. Um..and one day, you know, I went to use again and it didn’t work. I was high but I was still wanted to die. I still felt all the terrible things that I had been running from. And, all the sudden, I just had this…this deep set fear. Because what had been hiding my problems from me no longer worked. It was really terrifying… because I didn’t know how to cope with any of my emotions at this point, you know. That’s why I was using.

At that point, I actually ended up picking up the phone intending to call my dope man and go pick up more. I don’t know what came over me, but I ended up calling my Dad. I just said, “Hey, Dad, I’m a heroin addict. I need some help.”

And, uh, you know, it was really hard for me to do that. I didn’t want to disappoint my family. They knew something was up. I knew that they had no idea it was that. But from there, I ended up going to a recovery organization and I’m doing a lot better now.

Michael finds the recovery process full of acceptance and understanding.

I was very blessed that the organization that I went to got us in really quickly. I was in there about an hour and a half after I had made the phone call. So, you know, I arrived scared…worried. You know, some inpatient thing, you know, it sounds like this terrifying thing that it was gonna suck. But I lived at the house about ten-ish other guys and they’re all doing the recovery thing..And they’re all trying to stay clean. I went from being scared to actually kinda falling in love with it. And.. um…you know, we have this amazing support group. We go to meetings pretty much all day. And then we go back to the house. We have a couple just smaller house meetings to talk about our day.

And if you’re ever feeling like a desire to use, or you’re just stressed about something and you need to talk about anything, you’re always surrounded by people who care…people who love you. And it’s honestly the most wonderful feeling in the world. You know a lot of my using came from feeling like I didn’t fit in. And for the first time without it being through drugs, I feel like I fit in. I feel like I have people that care about me and it’s so much deeper than the relationships with people that I had used with. And you know that’s only using deep.

And, you know, it was terrifying to realize that my friends were not really friends. You know, we just did drugs together. I had no one I could really turn to. But now, like, you know, I have at least 30 people that if I said, “Hey, I really need to talk to you right now, I have a problem.” Without a doubt, they stop what they’re doing and they would give me their attention. And they actually care…and that is the most amazing, comforting feeling in the world.

So very quickly, I went from that fear to just feeling so loved and encouraged that I can do it. It’s quite a beautiful thing.

Michael turned his life around

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…they actually care…and that is the most amazing, comforting feeling in the world.