Born With The Disease of Addiction
Chasing Escape with Drugs
From a young age, Tanner dealt with intense obsession—one of the wholesale signs of addiction. The first moment he remembers feeling outside himself was when he kissed a girl he liked in the first grade under the slide.
There was a latent melancholy present at a young age but this moment made him feel good, and he chased after the things that gave him a similar feeling. As his mom put it, even a three ring circus couldn’t make him happy.
This pervasive sadness and obsessive personality paved the road for addiction. Around age 9, he had a friend named Heath who spent the night. Heath was known for smoking cigarettes and doing unsavory things for a kid that age. They were walking around the house and Heath pointed out the armoire of alcohol.
“Oh my god, you don’t drink any of this?” Heath said.
“No, it’s for grownups, that could make me sick,” Tanner said.
“No, my dad lets me drink some of this,” Heath said.
The First Drink, the Last Page of Innocence
Eventually, Heath persuaded him to drink. He drank to the point of vomiting and it made him not want to drink for a couple years. A bit later, he was prescribed Vyvance (an ADHD medication). It made him feel terrible and kept him up for nights on end. Eventually, Tanner ended up crushing Opiates and snorting them. Instantly he was hooked.
“I felt better than any other time I had felt in my life … I needed something at all times to mess me up, to take me out of reality,” Tanner said.
From 14 to 15 he experimented with several different types of drugs.
“I had no moral compass as a child. I loved the feeling of doing something wrong. I would break 50 to 100 windows a night of cars, houses, churches, businesses,” said Tanner.
His mom found his phone one night and saw that he was up to no good. She attempted to ground him, but instead he packed his stuff and ran away. After running away with his friend, he was caught selling Marijuana and was arrested.
Capturing Freedom Through Hope and Determination
After leaving juvenile hall, he moved to Kansas City to live with his dad. He was doing Heroin heavily, and his dad tried to get him in treatment but he got kicked out for fraternizing with a woman after 13 days. He went back out and started doing drugs again.
One of his good friends died in a car accident and this was a turning point in his life. He felt guilty that such a good person died and it wasn’t him. He decided to go to treatment and take it seriously. He finally convinced himself that he couldn’t do drugs recreationally. It would hurt him in the long run.
He believes that it takes real work to overcome addiction.
“This is not the common cold that we are dealing with,” Tanner said. “You can’t use the program as a Band-Aid. You can’t just stay clean and live dirty. Once you get miserable enough that you want to get high then come back in the room. That’s not how this works. I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work.”
Working the steps has undeniably helped Tanner stay sober.
“If you don’t work the steps every day you might as well start drinking now…The number one thing that happens when I stop living the program I drink,” Tanner said.
Overall, Tanner realizes that his life in sobriety now is worth too much for him. His life is infinitely better than when he was in active addiction. He is truly living.
“I’m at a place today where things are too good for me to give up. Even if days are not good, it’s better than being loaded or being in a casket,” Tanner said.