I had been addicted to Heroin for a while by the time I wound up in prison. It wasn’t like I planned it, nobody wants to waste a year of their life behind bars. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel relief my first night there. It wasn’t the first time I had felt relief this way. The first time I felt this kind of relief was the first time I used heroin, 2 years prior.
The little girl I had been raising for several years was taken from me by her father. I was left with nothing, feeling broken and confused, helpless. My husband at the time was an addict. Strung out on heroin for years. I had given up hope of him ever quitting and by this time, I knew he was using and chose to ignore it. At least with me, I knew he was safe. Laying in my daughter’s bed crying my eyes out, I knew I would hurt forever. My husband would join in on my sorrow for a while, but eventually he would get up to ‘use’. I saw the way the drug changed him from a grief stricken man to a normal person going about his business. His tears would dry up and in their place came a desire to do normal habits like showering and eating. His transformation was intriguing. As I lay down, still in pain, he could take care of business, and I was still useless. Continue reading “Relief – A Recovery Story”
People always ask me what it’s like to be a heroin addict. I guess it’s different for everyone so I wont speak on behalf of the entire addict population but I can sure as hell tell you what being a heroin addict was to me.
Being an addict in itself was me not knowing when to stop and quickly crossing that line of not being able to stop. Whether it was meth, xanax or coke, I did them all addictively. But when I found heroin, I fell in love.
At first, being a heroin addict was exciting.
It was meeting dealers, feelin like a bad ass lil white girl in the worst parts of saint louis. It was snorting lines of dope in the bathroom of Kirkwood just to go back to class high as fuck and know I was getting away with it. It was the rebellious side of me thinking that being a junior in high school and snorting meth and heroin made me tough.
6 months later, being a heroin addict had me on my hands and knees searching my car for chunks of dope that I may or may not have dropped. It was licking little gray pebbles to see if they tasted like dope. It was crushing up anything that could be broken down and snorting it hoping it would stop the withdrawals.
By the end of my senior year, a heroin addict was all I was.
Being a heroin addict was having my dealers give me some dope, warn me that this batch has caused numerous people to OD and me being excited cause that meant it was good.
Being a heroin addict turned into me snorting that line of dope because I had too, not because I wanted too. Continue reading “Being a heroin addict….my brutal truth.”
Now batting….Number 16… Stephen Gambale
Let me start by thanking Patricia Byrne for allowing me a voice on her wonderful blog. I strongly believe in the power of the written word and in this day and age, there is no better way to be a powerful voice than social media.
Before I dive in here, I’d like to take the time to discredit myself to all the doctors and social workers who think they have a better understanding of me than I do myself by saying I am NOT a professional. I have no degrees or certificates and nor do I need or want them. I am a RECOVERED drug addict; meaning a person who no longer suffers from a mental obsession to FEEL GOOD, albeit to drink or use drugs, neglect to pay a bill so I can golf or simply put, any selfish act that makes me happy. I do however have two very VITAL pieces of the puzzle that doctors and clinicians are missing; LIFE EXPERIENCE and the ability to connect and gain the confidence of other addicts and alcoholics. I’ve lived this! I’ve been through it! Seriously, If you were a baseball player and wanted to become the best at it, are you going to go to the stats guy to learn? Or are you going to want to learn from the guy who played; and got really good at it?? Same analogy to “getting better at life” without drugs and alcohol. I’m listening to the guy who has what I want, lives a life that I want to live and got “good at life.” Sorry doc, I know you want to help me, but unfortunately you don’t understand how I THINK. It’s foreign to you; or any normal person in America! Continue reading “Once I start, I can’t stop……it stings.”
When you have a loved one in long term recovery things begin to ease up. It’s a slow process, but if you work on letting go and understanding you have no control you inch closer and closer to being able to breathe. One day you realize you fell asleep and woke up without that band of anxiety gripping your chest. When your phone rings and it’s your loved one, panic is no longer your instinctive reaction. The fear stays with you, but you learn to keep it at bay. You remind yourself it’s their life, and that projecting will do you no good. Live for today, be joyful for everything that is good in your life. Amen.
That’s what I would have written a few months ago. But all it took was my mother’s intuition –honed to pinpoint precision through years of codependency – to sound a warning bell and I took ten giant steps backward. My son did not relapse, but he was having a difficult time. I could feel it coming, and the panic, helplessness, terror and anxiety stampeded back into my life and, like puzzle pieces, settled into the familiar spaces in my brain shaped just for them. Continue reading “Codependence, Anxiety and a Smack on the Head”
The below letter was posted as a response to my article I raised and addict – what could I have done differently? – the author, Stephen Gambale, has graciously allowed me to share his beautiful words. Thank you Stephen. ~ Trish
I want you to rest assured that you were the best parent a son could ever ask for. I’m sure a million questions swirl around in that beautiful mind of yours on a daily basis. What could’ve been done differently? What you should’ve done? Would’ve done? Could’ve done? The answer is quite simple – you did your best. And as your son, I am forever grateful for that every single day I put my two feet on the ground.
Did you not teach me right from wrong? Did you not teach me the lessons I needed to be taught when you caught me from “falling”? Did you not console me when I needed consoling? Did you not teach me selflessness through your actions? It is a maternal instinct to love and protect your child. That is your best conscious decision making, and it is made through LOVE. What I did was made a conscious decision to ignore everything you taught me through action and word, use my ego to lie to myself that I know best and put my comfort at the forefront, disregarding the sacrifices you made for me growing up. Why? Because I’m selfish.
There is nothing you could have done differently that could have gotten me out of my OWN way. Continue reading “Dear Mom: A Response to ‘I raised an addict – what could I have done differently?’”
There isn’t a heroin epidemic. Heroin isn’t the problem. It’s been around for a long time – healing sadness, addicting the brain, causing shitty withdrawal symptoms, shutting down the body, and making pain go away in the body and the mind. Heroin sits in a bag on a coffee table. It’s the mind that shoots it up. Continue reading “Heroin addiction is a thinking problem, a thinking epidemic. I needed to feel safe enough to think sober might work.”
Kate Meyer of I Am Not Anonymous wrote a powerful blog post about the UNITE to Face Addiction rally in DC, The Day the Silence Ended . Don’t skip the link at the bottom of the article to the photo gallery. Amazing photos – she really captured the day!
On October 3rd and 4th I stood beside my son in Washington DC. I stood with him at the Fed Up! rally on Saturday as Chief Campanello and John Rosenthal spoke to us about the Gloucester Initiative and PAARI (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative). We raised our voices and marched with thousands to the White House- then later stood in silence while hundreds of names of those lost to addiction were read.
We were together as Cheryl Crowe sang For What it’s Worth in the shadow of the Washington Monument during the UNITE to Face Addiction rally. I got goosebumps as she belted out “Everybody look what’s going down…”.
We stood as the Surgeon General announced that the first ever report commissioned on substance use, addiction, and health will be published in 2016.
” I’m here to say that we won’t hide from this issue because it’s hard for some to talk about. Because we know there was a time in this country when it was hard to talk about smoking, about AIDS, and about mental health. But we were fortunate enough to have leaders who stood up and said: It’s time for us to have a conversation in this country that’s based on facts; A conversation that’s based on medicine and science.” ~ Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
(full transcript of speech available here)
Continue reading “We UNITED to Face Addiction. No More Silence.”
On August 6, 2015 my husband and I watched our son Kurt, a recovering heroin addict, receive his 18 month chip. He chose to go to the alumni meeting at the place where he had started his recovery, the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Hospital – CeDAR. We sat in the same room where we first reunited with Kurt three weeks into his recovery. At that time we were all exhausted and still feeling raw and overburdened with the weight of the past we were wearing – a leaden cloak we thought was our armor, but was mostly woven out of sadness and fear. Eighteen months later there we were, in that very same space, watching our son address alumni as well as present clients of CeDAR – some just starting their program, others receiving their 30 day chips and a few close to completing their 90 day program. It was his moment. We went to witness and support him in his moment. We are proud for him, rather than proud of him. He earned that chip for himself by slogging through his program one step, one day at a time. He had to pull every thread of that leaden cloak out and study it. He unwove it through hard work and perseverance during some of the most difficult months of his life. He forged his path and he stayed on it. For those in early recovery, 18 hours seems impossible and 18 days a distant goal. For eighteen miraculous months Kurt has been working hard every day.
Continue reading “Addiction is a Family Affair. We All Need Recovery”
When my oldest was about a week old I remember looking down into his beautiful eyes and being struck by an overwhelming sense of fear. Icy terror washed over me as I realized the full weight of my responsibility for this tiny human. How was I going to do this right? What was I going to do wrong? I knew I’d do something wrong, would it scar him for life? I was the one who would have to teach him to navigate a world I was not sure I fully understood myself.
We are parents. We have all had this moment, and the fear stays with us……forever. These tiny beings may grow taller than us, they may move across the country and have tiny beings of their own someday – but they will always remain our innocent, irreplaceable miracles, and we will always be their parents.
Those early years we get to be their protector and gatekeeper to the world. For a short time, we are super heroes. I still remember my children’s chubby little arms squeezing my neck so hard it felt like they wanted to crawl inside me. There is no other feeling like that on earth. Simply nothing compares to being your child’s everything. Each of my children told me at some point they were never leaving home. I smiled, loving every second of it, knowing it wouldn’t last. Kids grow up. Continue reading “Drug Addiction: Maybe My Kid”