Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Interesting thing happened to me today...and I am happy with the outcome...

Cleaning the yard at a friend's house who lives on a busy side of town, and I see a syringe pushed into the mud of the driveway, near the street. I gasp, a little. There is no cap on it, and it is a long needle, slightly bent and shining in the sunlight. Dirt from the driveway clings to the nasty thing.

Almost instinctive I pick it up, this is a yard where kids live on either side! I pick it up, by the shaft...way from away from the possibly infectious needle. Holding it like it is covered in disease, I took several steps to the trash can and quickly tossed it in.

I looked at for a second when I first picked it up. I noticed the numbers, noticed it had not been used many times. I noticed how the dirt clung to it, and I noticed the needle itself, but I think mostly because of safety. I have to say, it did rattle me just a little.

It almost exhilarated me when I picked it up, but my heart seemed to race in fear. Instinctively I picked it to protect the children in the area, but it was almost like I was fearful when I held it. I tossed it away quickly, almost yelping the same way I do when I have to kill a bug. I knew I was on uncomfortable ground.

Then, the idea of the syringe crept in a little. I thought about what the blood looks like flowing back into it. I thought about pulling back on the needle and watching the deep brown dope fill the chamber. I thought about holding it between my teeth, the warm dope against my tongue while I tightened the tourniquet. I thought about watching the blood splatted liquid contents forced through the tiny tip...

All these images, flashed in the front of my brain. Just a couple of seconds, and these images flashed past while I was left standing by the trashcan. Then it was over. I noticed the pace of my heart had quickened slightly, but it quickly regulated. The images just sloughed off, and I was left thinking about the fact that it did rattle me. I was caught off guard. It was a tactile sense, right there in my face.

I write about getting high a lot. I write about the way it felt, the ritual of the needle, the places I used, the things that I did...but, I am prepared when I do that. When I sit down at my computer, I am a sober mother with a goal and a mission. I am a writer. I am still concentrated on my focus, my angle. And my angle is sobriety. I know these images will be coming up, but I also know how to handle them. Sometimes, I may have a slight physical reaction, like a quickening of the heart...or a turn of slight nausea in my stomach...or a deep breath, almost a sigh. But, it does not rattle me.

Being caught off guard, like that did rattle me little. The images flashed past, and the left as soon as they came. I took a minute alone. I looked at the sky. I looked at my car. I thought about my apartment, and I allowed the pages of my book to turn in my head. My perspective regained. Just a passing montage of imagery...almost like something was speaking to me.

And they said, "Hey, look what you had...now, look what you've got."

Then, I walked back inside to the house and there was my son smiling at me. His beautiful smile, radiating towards me. His eyes twinkling in the sunlight, as he giggles. His golden curls, reflected in the afternoon light like a halo around his head. A rush much better than heroin came over me. And I realized, that this is where the best high is. And I would never trade any of this for even one more second back there.

I sit in the silence of my new apartment, writing. My son sleeps soundly on our first night in the new home. The tap, tap, tapping of the keyboard is the only sound to compete with the traffic outside. There is a steady stream of cars down this road, and it reminds me of Port Street. The house has arched doorways, only much, much smaller than the one on Port Street. All hardwood floors, and a lot of character.

I met my neighbor tonight. He had a son that is only two months older than my son.

I am enjoying the silence. The solitude. It is peaceful. It feels really good to be here in my own place, with my own quiet, with my own work, with my son... I did feel a little lonely when my son first fell asleep. It has been a long, long time since I have lived alone. But, it feels great, too.

I called my best friend, and we talked for a short while. Now, I don't feel lonely anymore. I really love it here...


  1. Being comfortable alone takes time; especially with the challnege of staying sober. It really sounds like you have a plan and are following it. Calling a friend was a good tactic. Keep up the good work and stay clean for that little bambino.

  2. oh yeah,,,,, i was not an IV user.. butt..

    the sound of a soda can (i smoked out of those)

    the sound or use of bic lighters..

    certain sizzling sounds..

    the oil floating on top of scented potpourri burners..

    and the list goes on.. when i least expect to get banged in the head.. it happens. just like your find in the driveway..

    be blessed
    Brother frankie

  3. I love reading your posts, you have given me so much insight into my son's addiction. I especially loved it when you spoke of how you felt when you came home, so peaceful, so nice. My son has not used heroin since the end of April, he is still on suboxone but tapering down. He had tried to stop opiates once before and went through all the withdrawals but he ended up using again, when he crossed over to heroin we both decided that he needed medication and the doctor did not want to go the methadone route. We see a counselor individually and together. I wanted to ask you if you went to group meetings during your recovery. My son was in group meetings when he was an outpatient at a rehab center but in all honesty he didn't seem to get much out of it. Also, I'm wondering how long do you go to group meetings for?

  4. Bless you for your honesty. I am so happy for you, living in your new place. Great, isn't it?

  5. @ S.B....yes, my new place is really great. Oh yeah, and I don't care who calls you a bastard, I think you are really a sweetheart!

  6. @ Erin I think suboxone is an excellent treatment. I never used it myself, but Suboxone offers a lot of advantages that methadone does not. Personally, I had to be completely opiate free before I was able to truly start the journey to recovery. It was a matter of breaking that cycle.
    Secondly, the group meeting thing is a slippery slope. I did not get much out of NA, either. Although, I am hesitant to say that because I do think some important things can be gained from it. One thing gained from group meetings is finding commonality among others struggling with addiction. I was required to attend group meetings with my outpatient treatment as was part of my probation. I was lucky to go to a great center and was in a women's group. I found I had a lot in common with these women; we shared experiences of addiction and life in general. The counselor posed diffucult questions, and the group would discuss them. I really got a lot out of that.
    I think it depends on the group. Before I got into the women's group, I attended group elsewhere with a drug hating Nazi counselor in charge. I relapsed on alcohol several times. I hated those meeetings, and all they provided for me was more people to use with. At NA meeetings, sometimes I would leave feeling good but a lot of times I left frustrated with all the bitching. I also disagree with some slogans. For instance, I hate the saying "my worst day sober is still better than my best day using" Really? I know my best day using was way better than my worst day sober, but the real question is would I trade it? And the answer is no.
    I think recovery depends on so many factors, NA does not work for everyone. It is a good starting point. It is the accepted route for recovery, and it really works for a lot of people, so I hate to "dis" it. I think the big thing is just getting the addict's life to the point where they would not trade the life they have built for drugs. In a perfect world, we change people, places, and things, and the opportunity never arises again. But, in the real world triggers can rear its head anywhere. It takes a long time and a lot of miles between addiction and sobriety to finally realize that it is just not worth it. It takes a lot of deep soul searching to realize your own weaknesses and faults. It also takes the support of friends and family. I have too much to lose now, and I realize now that my life is way better.
    How long do you go to meetings? Depends. I went for over a year. Give it a fair chance. But, focus on the professional counseling, and maybe a group meeting through a counseling center would be another option. My outpatient treatment required we attend 2 NA meetings a week and write down what we liked and disliked about it. This was a good tool because I listened at the meeting. I tried to get something out of it, and when it was a frustrating meeting, I could rant about that. Those times, I still got something out of it, if only because I learned about myself in my frustrated rants. I kept that journal of meetings for the entire year, and at the end, I could look through it honestly and say that NA was not for me.
    I do want to reiterate that once I was free from all opiates, my recovery truly began. It allowed me to focus on other things.
    Secondly, the issue of other substance use comes with treatment. I thought if I got rid of the drugs, I could still drink alcohol. It took me a couple of attempts to realize that I should not drink either, trouble always followed. I think another key to recovery is complete abstinence, especially while in treatment. If you give up heroin and continue drinking every day, isn't that just substitution as well? Most addicts who remain completely abstinent gain a clarity of mind that is nessacary for recovery. And with that clarity, combined with time and hard work, your life can get to the point that you realize it is just not worth it.
    Try the journal exersize at meetings a couple of months before you give them up. Good luck.

  7. @Erin, I am going to attempt this answer again. It may come in two parts because I have a lot say about this one. I actually have been editing it for a while now, and it was just erased, so bear with me here.

    First, I want to say, Suboxone is an excellent treatment. I did not use it myself, as it was relatively new and quite unavailable when and where I got clean. But, I was on methadone a number of times and I do have some issues with methadone. I think suboxone has some advantages that methadone does not offer. Primarily, the fact that many people do ween off suboxone. Also, an amazing thing about suboxone...it is part opiate blocker, and part opiate. If taken sublingually, the opiate blocker is released. If it is broken down to be injuected, the narcan is released and the addict will go into withdrawal, so it cannot be injected. I think it is ingenious. (Many people do not realize methadone can be injected, although it is very diffucult and dangerous.)

    As for the question about group meetings...I feel like I am on a slippery slope here. But, NA did not work for me.

  8. @Erin...Now, that is not to say that NA should not be given a chance. I think meetings do have something to offer. That is commonality among other people stuggling with addiction.

    I was required to attend group counseling through my inpatient treatment required for probation. Again, as with NA...it depends on the group. At first, I attended this large center with a drug hating Nazi counselor. I hated those meetings, and all they gave me was more people to use with. I relapsed on alcohol several times. My PO moved me to another center that was smaller, and with a better reputation. It was the best thing that happened to me in those early stages. I attended a women's group meeting at the center. it was not NA, but group counseling. We shared experiences of addiction, as well as experiences of out lives in general. The counselor was understanding and compassionate. She asked a lot of hard questions, and we pondered them as a group.

    I was required to attend two NA meetings a week as part of that outpatient treatment. (I think I said inpatient before...but it was outpatient.) We were also required to keep a journal of those meetings. We had to write down somethiing we liked about the meeting and also something we disliked about the meeting. I think this is an excellent idea. I keep the journal for the entire year I atteneded meetings.

    Alot of meetings really frustrated me because of all the bitching...and denial. Sometimes, I went home feeling better, though. I paid attention so I could write in this journal. I tried to get something out of every meeting. A lot of times, in the journal, I merely ranted about my frustrations with these meetings. But, then I still got something out of that because I was able to learn something about myself from those rants. I was able to learn where I stood on the whole thing. At the end of the year, i was able to go back and look through the journal, and decide NA was not for me.

  9. @ Erin...I hate to "dis" NA because it is the accepted method of recovery, and it works for a lot of people. A lot of people in the recovery community will not be happy about this. One thing that really bothered me with NA is the blanketed slogans. We are all different, and our experience with recovery is different. For example, "my worst day sober is still better than my best day using..." Really? Because my best day using was WAY better than my worst day sober. The real question is, in that worst day, would I trade it all? And the answer is no.

    Another point I want to make...I feel like I had to be completely opiate free before I could really begin my recovery. I had to break that cycle. With replacements, you still wake up and the first thing you think about is your fix, even if that fix is methadone or suboxone. It wasn't until I started waking up without my first thought of drugs that I began to experience freedom. It was liberating. It was slow at first. I noticed one morning, I had not thought about drugs the first bit I was awake. Then, it would be half a day. Then a whole day. Before I knew it, a several days had gone by that i did not think about drugs.

  10. @Erin...Now, some people cannot ever get off replacement treatment, and if they are living good, productive lives...more power to them. That is what we all want, right? It just was not the answer for me. I had to break that cycle.

    Another important question that comes up in treatment is the use of other substances. I thought if I could quit using heroin, I could still drink alcohol. It took me a couple of tries to realize i could not handle that either. I think it is important for an addict in recovery to remain abstinent from mind altering substances, especially while in treatment. It provides a clarity that many addcits have not known in years. And that clarity is essential to recovery.

    It takes time. I had to be years and miles away from addiction to realize that I did not want to go down that road. I had to take a soul searching look at myself to understand my faults and weaknesses. I had to build a life that was not worth the pitfalls that come with substance abuse. And I think that is the key. Addicts need to have something better than drugs, and let's face it...drugs are pretty good. It takes a lot of hard work, especially when you have lost so much time getting high to build something that is not worth trading. But, that is what we have to do. With that newly built castle, and the clarity of mind...we can see it is just not worth it. Even, in the face of temptation. In a perfect world, addicts change people, places, and things and then they are never presented with the opportunity. But, opportunity and triggers can rear its head anywhere, and you just have to realize it is not worth it.

  11. @Erin...As for the length of time to attend meetings, that varies. I went for a year. And I can honestly say it was not for me. Try the journal exersice before giving up the meetings. Look for alternative meetings besides NA. NA can seem kind of cult like, and that scares some people. There is one group called "Recovery Happens" that is pretty good. A counseling center is a good place for group meetings, too. You may have to pay for them, but is worth it if its a good group. Maybe a men's group? Or a group that is mostly the same age? Talk to the suboxone doctor about other alternatives.

    Also, family support and understanding is essential. Not financial support, nessacarily, but moral support. Relapse is part of the disease. And the addict has to be ready for recovery. It cannot be forced. Counseling is essential, both individual and group counseling is good. As for NA, give it a chance, try the jounal thing. Then, you can make a fair decision. Give it all a chance. See what works best. We are all different. Best of luck.

  12. Thank you soooo much for your input. I totally agree about the suboxone/methadone treatment, it is the first thing that is thought of when waking up. His doctor has him tapering down, they start the taper down the second month you are on it. It really did help him get through the roughest patch with the cravings. He is trying to rebuild his life, he is working full time and I can see really positive changes happening. He also was of the thinking that he could still drink alcohol, he wasn't drinking every night and he didn't drink for like the first month, but yes there were weekends that he would go out on a Saturday and drink. His counselor really discussed that at length with him during our last session. He was in group meetings at the rehab that I had to pay for, well a co-pay my insurance did kick in the rest, but he said that many times all they would talk about is how high they got. He went to those meetings for like five months, and after his DWI two years ago he went for just about a year. He hasn't been able to find a NA meeting that he likes either, even his counselor agrees that in our area there really just aren't many great ones. His counselor used to be the Clinical Supervisor of a very large rehab center here and feels like that are still using methods from 20 or 30 years ago and that things need to change. I am just so happy that we found this counselor it finally someone that my son relates to and actually looks forward to going to talk to. He does that every other week and that will continue for as long as he needs it most likely a full year or more. Yes, we've been through the relapse, he has been using drugs since he was 17 he is almost 23, the last year is when he got into the oxys and then onto heroin, sigh..... I will look into the Recovery Happens and the journal thing you mentioned. You are so helpful, I am a firm believer that God takes what was meant for evil and destruction in our lives and turns it around for good. Your life, your spirit, and your kind wisdom are all just such examples of that to me. Thanks again for your input. I will keep you and your son in my prayers and will continue to read about your journey!

  13. @Erin...sounds like you guys are on the right path. The counselor sounds awesome, and that is important! If you are working with a good counselor, group meetings may not be nessacary. Especially, if they merely provide people to use with, or talking about using with. Sorry about the long comment here, but sometimes I really get on my rant about things. Treatment can be one of my rants! I actually considered pursuing getting into counseling for substance abuse treatment, and once had dreams of opening a methadone clinic that really worked, but I realized that writing is my calling. It is my god given talent, and I have survived a lot of crap for a reason, and I am pretty sure that using my god given talent, or gift, if you will is why I have remained. I believe my calling is to share my experiences through my writing, and I hope to reach as many lives as I can. Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions. Feel free to email me.

  14. Wow, I can imagine (from what I know through my son) how finding that syringe felt. I think its very natural to feel that way and am glad you wrote about it.

    I love reading your posts. I need to catch up. I am determined to find more time to read the blogs that matter to me.

  15. @Barbara, I am glad you liked this post. An interesting thing about it that I did not include...when it happened to me, I felt like I had to share it with someone. I felt like I could not share it with my family or friends, for fear that it might just worry them unnessacarily. But, I felt instantly compelled to tell this story, and I realized that I had to tell it here. This is really the only community of "friends" I have that will understand this piece, and also this is the only community I have that can really appreciate and respect this piece. To me, it is a milestone to be able to react to a trigger like this. It has been a long, hard road...but I really do think I have made it out on the other side, clean with only a couple of scrapes and bruises. (Some deeper than others!) And I am thankful to have somewhere that I can share these trusted thoughts!

    And I am always trying to catch up! It is tough being a single, working mother still in school, who has made a commitment to herself to write something every day...but I would not have it any other way, I just may be catching up in those spare minutes for the next ten, maybe twenty years!

    Much Love, T