My name is Eric. I am a grateful recovering addict. I would like to thank God for allowing me the chance to share my experience, strength, and hope. Without God, I wouldn’t be where and who I am today. Without Him, I have nothing.
The disease of addiction has played a major role in my life and has been taking from me since the day I was born. My father was an addict and his active addiction prevented him from being a part of my life. I didn’t have the father-figure guidance I needed until my teen years. As a result, I was raised by a single mother. She played her part to the best of her ability while working two full-time jobs. She didn’t teach me how to crush up pills and sniff them, and she didn’t show me how to stick needles in my arms. She taught me to be a good person, and to be honest and respectful.
Growing up in Saugus, drugs and alcohol came into my life at a very early age – eleven years old. I remember my first experience with a mind altering substance. The disease did what it was supposed to do… it progressed from alcohol, pot, and club drugs, to opiate pills and needles. In school, I remember I was always looking to be the center of attention. I wasn’t very good looking; I was skinny and had low self-esteem. I looked for validation. I barely graduated High School because of my behaviors. Oxycontin hit the scene and the people I grew up with were dying of overdoses. By the time I hit my mid-twenties, I had a full time job, I was engaged, and life was good. At least I thought it was…but something was missing. My company closed and I started using OxyContin shortly after, fully aware of the path I was about to take. I used, developed a habit, and gave away everything in just one year’s time. I found myself alone and broken, so I enlisted in the Army and joined the Infantry. I thought that all I needed was to get away from Saugus and everything would be okay. In the military, I found myself drinking seven days a week. It wasn’t enough. I always looked for more.
I went overseas to Afghanistan. During my deployment, I saw my fair share of combat. I experienced things no person should have to experience and saw things no person should ever have to see. I came home from that deployment and instantly became an IV heroin user. Eventually, the drugs suppressed the feelings I felt after coming home and that became my justification to use. I used every day for a year while on active duty in the Army. I came home honorably discharged and continued using. Even after overdoses in front of my family and numerous detoxes and arrests, I just couldn’t get it. In June of 2013, I checked into treatment and stayed. The drugs had stopped working. All I did was cause harm and pain to the people who loved me. This disease isn’t a spectator sport; eventually, all the people who loved me got a chance to play and I dragged them through the mud. I think of my mother and the price she had to pay just for me to be her son. I think of the pain I caused her.
I graduated a halfway house six months later. During that time, I was introduced to the twelve steps. I was told to get a sponsor, do step work, join a home group, and develop a network. I resisted those things but I did them. Eventually, the program pulled me in and I began going for the right reasons. For many months, I sat in those rooms waiting for gratitude and happiness to rain down on me, not understanding that I’m an addict and nothing comes naturally to me. I need to work to achieve and maintain those things.
At around two years clean, I found myself in a relationship. I wasn’t going to meetings, I wasn’t participating in my recovery, and I found myself in a dark place. I wasn’t happy with myself or my life. I wasn’t willing to recover. I crawled back to the fellowship seeking relief – and I got exactly that. I started to participate in my recovery and good things started to happen in my life. I got a good union job, a new car, and a condo. I went on multiple dates with multiple women… and I started to place my recovery second again. The disease was now telling me to focus on the good things the program had given me. At three years clean, using was no longer appealing to me. What appealed to me was those good things. They became my Higher Power. They were my main focus. They started to become my main drive. I stopped going to meetings and my disease told me: “You’re good, kid. You’re fine. You have all these good things going on”. All those good things – the material things – I had gone on a run to get. I was using… I just wasn’t using drugs. The disease was getting me to a point where I would become vulnerable. My disease knows the areas to hit me; it knows me intimately. It lives in my mind. It puts blinders on my perspective and it corrupts and corrodes my value system. In order to fuel its needs, I’m willing to compromise every important aspect of my life – whether I’m actively using or not.
At three and a half years clean, I started to make some bad choices. The thought of using or drinking was now in my head and I was fathoming those thoughts. That’s when I knew I had fallen far from recovery and I was in trouble. I started dating an addict who was off and on actively using. After watching that addict struggle for about three months, I – and I alone – made the decision to use. I relapsed just before my four year clean date. I used for about five or six months – and I woke up every single day wishing I was clean again. I begged God: “Please, I either need to die or get clean”. I don’t know what it was, but a voice in my head told me to call my sponsor, Chris. I just wanted the pain to stop. I wanted it to be over so badly. Chris sent me to detox and, from there, I went to the Process Recovery Center. It was exactly where I needed to go. I knew I would be surrounded by people I had previously recovered with and who would have my best interests at heart. I had finally given up – I had finally surrendered and turned over my will. After all the work I had done, I never knew what that truly meant until I got to the Process.
I sat and I listened because I needed to learn again. I needed to go through all those groups and be reminded of where my disease and my thinking takes me when it is left untreated. I don’t think it would have happened any other way; if I had gone somewhere else I never would have stayed. It was one hundred percent in God’s plan for me to go to the Process. Relapsing was extremely painful, but what I learned along the way was that the lesson I was taught was worth so much more than the clean time I had given up. I now have a much better understanding of what needs to be done moving forward. I need to remain teachable in all areas of my life. I’m now close to nine months clean again. I actively participate in my recovery and I am in a better place in every area of my life than I have ever been. The reward God has given me at the end of the pain is unimaginable to me. It’s a place I never thought I would reach. I know I am still just scratching the surface of how beautiful my life is going to be as long as I keep my recovery up front. The Process Recovery Center helped put me back on the right path so I could follow my dreams and achieve my goals. What people don’t see is how often the people from the Process lift me up outside the rooms. At the Process Recovery Center, the work never stops for them. I’ll be forever grateful for the Process Recovery Center, the twelve steps and, most of all, for a loving and caring God who guides me continuously. I hope my story helps anyone who may be struggling, sick, or suffering. Thank you.