What Are The Stages Of Recovery From Addiction?
Trouble with Treatment
Andrew’s first wakeup call was one fateful night when he found himself in his car in a parking lot. A rap at his window roused him to consciousness, his forehead on the steering wheel and holding a tray of Heroin, only to see an officer standing outside of his car.
With his vehicle full of Heroin, Cocaine, and prescription drugs that weren’t his, he tried to lie about it all and get out of the mess, but with the evidence clearly right in front of him, the officer took him down to the police station.
Despite being able to charge him with three felony charges, the officer was kind to him.
He said “I’ll make you a deal. I won’t charge you with these felonies if you go to treatment, because you have a problem with drugs and alcohol.
So Andrew went into treatment again with a 30-day program in Denver, Colorado and, as before, he didn’t take it seriously. Instead of participating in the program, he kept his head down and his mouth shut.
“I was that 13-year-old kid who was still there because I had never emotionally progressed from that moment at 13, because I had been completely under the influence and when I stopped doing drugs and tried to come clean and sober I was still at the age of 13, emotionally. I didn’t know what to say,” Andrew explained.
After leaving that facility, he was able to make it 90 days clean and sober, at which point he decided it was time for a little “controlled pot smoking.”
Within 15 minutes of hitting the blunt, he was drinking again. Three days later, he was smoking Cocaine and another day after that he was right back to doing Heroin, starting the cycle all over again.
Having been kicked out by his girlfriend, Andrew got his own apartment. He was absolutely miserable waiting tables for a living with two college degrees. His only friend at that time was his dog, not because his family and friends had abandoned him, but because he had pushed away everyone who cared about him.
Andrew said it was , “because I didn’t want them to see what I was doing to myself. I knew I was killing myself.”
Some days Andrew was unable to get out of bed to take his dog out, or feed his dog, or even feed himself. He came to the realization that he couldn’t continue to live this way.
He went to the house of a family friend, there he broke down in tears and asked for help.
He knew he needed to try rehab again.
Another Attempt at Rehab
The facility he was going to go to wouldn’t have a bed open for three days, so during that time he sold his cars and invited a friend over. Using the money gained from selling his cars, they spent roughly $7,000 on drugs. Andrew had intended to bring some of the drugs with him to treatment so that he could wean himself off slowly rather than go through the pain of kicking them completely.
Unfortunately, this friend tried to rob him of these drugs. Andrew confronted the thief with a gun, who grabbed it, and the two were then locked in a desperate struggle for survival.
Luckily, Andrew was able to keep control of the weapon, but was faced with a terrible dilemma. If he didn’t shoot, this gangster had no qualms about shooting him, but if he did shoot, they were in an apartment that was full of drugs. Somebody would hear the gunshot and what would he tell the police?
by a stroke of luck the family friend he had visited three days prior came into the apartment and was able to talk them both down.
Andrew made it to the treatment center in Phoenix, Arizona and for the first time in his life, he took it very seriously.
One day, at a morning meeting, Andrew and his friend were sitting in the back of the room, at the edge of the group when an older gentleman approached them and said something to them.
He said, “Those who sit on the edge tend to fall off. If you sit in the middle you have a better chance of staying.”
Andrew and his friend got up and sat in the middle for that meeting. When it was over, that same gentleman grabbed him by the arm and asked if he had a sponsor. Andrew admitted that he did not, so the old man said to him “Well, you do now.”
This marked the first time Andrew was willing to do real work to make the changes necessary in his life. He took down the gentleman’s number and met with him every morning to work on the steps. Over time, things started to change and Andrew began to see things differently, making real, internal changes.
For a time, Andrew lived in a halfway house and rode a bicycle to work, things he never would have done before. These humbling experiences, proved to be just what he needed, as it was often his own ego that drove him into so many problems.
Making these real changes, his life began to turn around.
He was clean, got a real job that he loved, moved into his own place, formed great relationships with his father, mother, and sister; Relationships that he had thought were beyond repair.
Pride Goes Before the Fall
All this was the result of being part of a fellowship, which was something Andrew had not done before.
However, 3 and a half years in, he hit a snag.
With everything he felt he needed, a beautiful girlfriend, cars, money, lots of friends, healthy relationships, and his dream job, Andrew felt he didn’t need to go to the meetings anymore. He had arrived at his destination.
Once he stopped attending the meetings, however, familiar feelings reared their ugly heads yet again.
“As I started to remove fellowship, program, steps, sponsorship out of myself, I started to fill that hole back up with control, power, women, money, and material things. And those thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and actions that I had had my whole entire life manifested themselves yet again,” he said.
Without that vigilance, his ego returned without him ever realizing it.
One night, he was at a concert with a date and somebody passed him a blunt. He hit it without even thinking about it.
Even as he blew it out, his first thought was “What did I just do?” His second thought, however, was how great he felt and that same feeling he experienced when he was 13 years old instantly came back.
The relapse progressed extremely rapidly. Within four months, he was on heroin and crack again.
“I remember one day sitting in a Crack house in a business suit and everybody in the Crack house has HIV. I’m watching this one guy beat his pregnant girlfriend. I’m sitting across the table from two toothless 65-year-old women, and I looked down at myself and I see the Burberry scarf, the nice suit, the nice shoes, and as I look up, I see all things these going on around me and I thought ‘What the (heck) am I doing here? Did this really just happen again?'”
Andrew realized what he needed to do.
He reached out to a family member who took him to a meeting. He decided then to get on Suboxone, which would help wean him off the drugs.
After getting his prescription, Andrew made the decision to sell them for Crack instead of use them to ease himself off drugs, even after he had made the commitment to get clean.
The drugs had such a powerful hold over Andrew that he was a complete slave, from the moment he woke up to the moment he went to sleep.
Did Andrew Ever Overcome His Addiction?
He went back to treatment again, but this time, rather than smiling his way through, he was absolutely miserable. Andrew was overcome with shame and guilt over his relapse and, just as before, kept his head down and his mouth shut, never participating.
Even while still in a residential treatment facility, he relapsed on Heroin yet again without even knowing why.
Eventually, Andrew was kicked out of the facility because he wasn’t even pretending to try.
Andrew continued using for another week before he dragged himself back to the detox facility after coming to a realization about himself.
He, and others like him, would never be serious about recovery until they hit a certain point of desperation.
He had reached that point and took his detox very seriously this time around. Andrew realized, that he had to set his ego aside because it was part of the disease and that he had to do things differently because his way just didn’t work.
He started doing things he hadn’t done before, such as going to the outside fellowship meetings, standing up and asking for a sponsor, and admitting that he was less than 30 days sober. With this realization and change, Andrew started to his true journey to recovery.
Today, Andrew is clean, sober, and his life is completely different.
“What I’ve come to realize in this program and in this life, for me, is that every day is nothing but a new beginning. I’m afforded the ability, because of my sobriety, to live every day exactly how I want it to be because I’ve been given back the power; the power to choose.”
The Help is Out There
When he was under the shackles of drugs and alcohol, Andrew didn’t have that power of choice. Although, once he took his recovery seriously and stayed the course, he has that power again. You can reclaim that power too, if you’re just willing to take that step.
“It is possible and the way that you’re feeling right now is not the way that you have to feel tomorrow and if you just take that step in the right direction, there will be somebody’s hand in which you can place yours that will help guide you through this process.
“Recovery is definitely possible and that just takes willingness and the ability to do the things that you’re probably uncomfortable doing at this time. In life, it’s those uncomfortable moments you find yourself in that really help grow you.”