Addiction and Compulsion
Looking back Daniel can see where his addiction first started and it isn’t where someone would suspect. He grew up in the 50s and his parents would have parties every Saturday night, he can remember bowls of candy that his parents would set out for the guests. The rule they had for him was he could say hello to the guests, take a piece of candy and go to his room.
“I used to lay up on Monday night planning ow I’m going to get that candy – planning like I’m going to rob a bank or something. The obsession, which is the disease … was so intense all I could think about is how I was going to get that candy,” Daniel said.
When Saturday rolled around that was exactly what he would do. Great the guests, take the candy, get sick from eating the candy, and repeat.
“What I realized as I’m writing all of this out and remembering that … That’s addiction.”
While there were no drugs in his body the obsession and compulsion were there. As is the case for most people who are addicted, that compulsion started at a young age.
Prison or Enlist
By the time Daniel was 12 his obsession moved passed stealing candy and on to alcohol that escalated into Heroin.
When he was 18 he was arrested for a robbery and the judge gave him two options: Enlist in the military or go to prison for 10 years.
“I joined the Marine Core. I joined the Marine Core because it was a 2-year enlistment instead of a 4-year enlistment.”
Daniel’s addiction only got worse from there. At that time most of the men he was enlisted with were on something, whether it was Alcohol, Heroin or Speed. He says that it was the way they coped with being in such a horrible place.
When he got out he had PTSD, and then the drugs became a way to ease the pain.
After Daniel got married, he and his new wife moved to Phoenix because that’s where his dad was. Once they got there he decided to go into detox so he could start his life there drug-free.
This became a pattern for him, he would go into detox, get clean, come out and start using again. Over and Over, different cities with the same result.
He wasn’t focused on recovery, he never thought being clean long term was possible. He was at a meeting when he heard someone say they had been clean for 90 days.
“I kept thinking ‘wow nobody can stay clean for 90 days. If you used drugs like me … there was no way, it’s not humanly possible.’ I really believe that the seed of recovery was planted in my that day.”
Daniel wasn’t even in that meeting to get clean, a friend of his was picking up across the street, but it stuck with him.
The Beginning of the End
Daniel was in Phoenix, it was 115 degrees outside and he was Dope Sick. He decided to go into a shooting range to use. At this point his life was unmanageable; He had lost his wife, his kids, everything he had.
As he was leaving, the cops were going in to raid the building. They arrested him anyway, saying that even though he didn’t have anything on him they were going to fix him.
They dragged Daniel back into the house where everyone was handcuffed and told them that he was the one who snitched.
“I said ‘You know you just signed my death warrant’ and what he said to me was ‘Good cause that’s where all you stinking junkies belong is dead.’ I changed, I knew if I didn’t stop I was going to die, but I was pushed into it.”
Daniel said that he probably would have stopped somewhere in that time frame, but this time all he kept remembering was that 90 days.
After that, he lived in a half-way house for 6 months and continued to go to meetings. There is where met someone who was 5 years clean.
“Back in the 80s if someone had 5 years clean it was a lot man. It was a big time.”
He reminded Danial so much of himself that he followed him around, even to the bathroom, because it was so hard for him to believe that he was really 5 years clean.
After realizing that this guy was telling the truth, long-term recovery started to seem like a real possibility to Daniel.
“The real gift that I’ve gotten from recovery is I’m okay with me. I started to learn how to love myself and now I’m okay in my own skin.”