“Kickin’ the Habit”

Giving up was never an option. Resilient. Maybe. Tired. Yes. I really just know my life deserves more. I was not born to be addicted to drugs, however, if I had to live through what I lived through in order to help people who are still struggling. It was worth every minute. I have a son, nieces and cousins who I never want to see go through what I have. If what I have to say can give hope to someone who feels hopeless, encouragement to those who are trying to get clean, and educate a few people along the way, it will be all worth it. I started using in April of 2008 and by August of 2008 I wanted to quit. Actually the first time I got sick, I had no idea what was happening, I had never been sick like that in my life. I tried to get clean so many times, the key was just continuing to learn about myself and never giving up. Besides all of the times I tried at home, which was a lot, I always was willing to take direction. In the section titled “99 Relapses” I talked about how many times I tried and touched on the different medications I used to try to and live a normal life. The first few years of my addiction I really did not know much about the withdrawals and how to maybe get through them a little better. I always thought that if I got through the physical part of the detox I would be good, I failed to realize how much of the addiction was mental. Using drugs to fill the void of inadequacy I felt in my life. I never was much of a confident person my whole life, drug dealing gave me a false sense of confidence and then the drugs themselves made me really not give a fuck about anything, so in a weird way that was confidence. Even with all of these feelings of inadequacy and never being good enough, I always just believed in myself deep down. Although, there were whole months, maybe years, where I didn’t even try to get clean 1%. But when I did try I was taking note of what worked and what didn’t work. I knew if my addiction didn’t kill me, which it tried to do four times at least, that someday I would have no more reservations, I would not pick up again and I would not have to suffer from my addiction anymore. The work never stops. That was my biggest flaw. Much of the time, trying to get clean, I felt if I got past the throwing up sick part, that I would be fine. The problem isn’t the heroin, heroin was the solution I came up with, all by myself. The problem I had was with myself. The psychological reasons for why we use drugs are different for everyone, but they usually have a common theme, childhood trauma and/or childhood abandonment issues which are the main reasons for someone to have low self esteem and turn to drugs. It is different for everyone, and I found that working with a therapist of some kind on a routine basis is very helpful, as well as AODA groups or NA/AA. I support any way the sick and suffering can beat their addiction. But before we can focus on trying to work on our mental health, we have to get through the physical detox. Relapse, detox, relapse, detox, was the non stop, ever going cycle that I lived with for 13 years on heroin. Kicking the habit really is just that, it’s just how far can you boot that motherfucker so it doesn’t come back. I tried to get clean on my own at home so often that I really did have a routine and would do everything I could to make it more comfortable. I have always smoked weed, and I know some people will say, well you aren’t clean then. Well, I have been given approval by my Doctor and Therapist to use marijuana medicinally and that is exactly how I use it. Until Wisconsin legalizes it, that is the closest to prescribed as anyone in this state is going to get. But, I don’t do heroin, opiates, drugs of any kind, no prescription medication, and I actually quit cigarettes on the same day I quit heroin, and I don’t drink caffeine either. So before you judge that part, think about all of the prescriptions you are taking and where they are derived from, is it an amphetamine, a benzodiazepine, or an opiate derivative. It’s ironic, I am considered the drug addict, and the ones that called me a junkie are prescribed to at least one of those and they drink alcohol. I guess Wisconsin has to hurry up and legalize it so I can once and for all drop the junkie narrative. I advocate for marijuana because you cannot deny the little girl whose parents gave up everything to get her into a CBD program. CBD’s are a part of the marijuana plant and were given to a little girl who had about 200 seizures a day. After the CBD treatment and daily use, her seizures dropped to about one a week. That’s enough data for me right there, and then there is my own personal experience with weed and the medicinal value it does present. The weed helped with not only calming my mind down during extreme withdrawals, it takes me out of my head for an hour or so. It really is good for early onset withdrawal symptoms. The nauseated feeling, with the eebeegeebees, and the restless legs could all be subsided for a little bit with weed. As the full on withdrawal comes over me, there is no weed in the world that is going to fix that but it does lower all the intenseness of the detox. During my at home detox, I would try to get methadone or suboxone off the streets to help curve the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. I did not know what I was doing or how I should be doing it, most importantly, I wasn’t ready to quit just yet. I would try to get klonopins or xanax also and really try to just get through the detox myself. Not under medical care that was the dumbest thing I could have done. With how depleted and beat down my body was already, the mixture of detox meds and benzos really was a dangerous mix. Some times, I would have nothing and just go cold turkey and that works for some people, I was forced to do that in jail about seven times, and did not die so it is possible. My whole thought is, I suffered enough while using, I shouldn’t have to suffer while I’m trying to get clean. Detox under medical advice or in the care of a detox facility is the way to go if you are able. The detox medications that are prescribed or given to you by a doctor can be very helpful. I don’t know what different detox centers do for withdrawal symptoms because I have not been to all of them and I do not know what all of them use. But I will share what worked for me and what I used and preferred. There are so many symptoms to detox it really comes down to what I can handle in terms of symptoms. The violent withdrawal symptoms such as puking, and diarrhea, can be minimized with the suboxone, but that isn’t the cure all for how violent and awful the detox is. I used clonidine for the sweats and my crazy blood pressure which I had read upwards of 180/100 during some of the worst detox. Then for nausea I found the dissolvable tab of zofran works best. They dissolve under the tongue because when I was puking, I couldn’t take an actual pill. Then with smoking weed to keep me out of my head, that was really the most ideal way to try and detox at home. It was never easy, or fun or cute. Detox is none of those things ever. I did use the shower a lot though, which would help regulate temperature, and even this last time I would take hot showers throughout the day to just relax and help with the sweats. Noone has spent more time laying down in the bathtub with the shower on than me. I am not a medical doctor, so please consult your doctor before starting the detox process, if you are unable to consult a doctor for whichever reason, and you are going to try this at home, please have someone you trust around for support. Ideally a family member or friend. Just make sure you let that person know you are going to be irritable and going through hell so don’t be offended by things that are done or said. It’s business, it’s not personal. That was how I looked at my addiction for a long time. It was never my intent to hurt anyone on a personal level. I was very sick and I will spend the rest of my life with reminders of what I did to people and the guilt for what I have done in the past, just know, I forgave myself. Seems like I had been trying to get clean for about 13 years, oh yea, I was. I literally tried everything. I have always been open to direction and guidance and I really did try everything. I have my thoughts about certain parts of the recovery community but I really just encourage people to get clean any way that works for them. The way that worked for me might not work for everyone, but I tried pretty much everything. I really was open to listening to how others got clean and always took direction well, however the most important part of getting clean is knowing that there is no correct way to get clean, just send it. I started getting methadone pills back in 2009 and was also getting suboxone pills before they stopped making those. That was my first time trying to use medication to get off of heroin. Those first three years I didn’t have a clue about what I should be doing to overcome my addiction. I thought it was all physical addiction that was the problem. I did not get prescribed to Suboxone until July of 2011, and that script lasted me a few months before I started to go to the suboxone/methadone clinic. Then towards the end of 2011, I wanted to use heroin again, so I switched from suboxone to methadone and was on methadone for a while until I just quit going to the clinic all together. They both are opioids, however suboxone as an opiate blocker in it is called naloxone and it blocks the opiate receptors in the brain so the individual can’t get high on opiates if they try. After that it was not until 2016 that I tried something else, and this time it was the once a month vivitrol shot. My first experience with that was between getting bailed out of jail on August 10th and going back to jail on November 18th. For those three months while I was fighting a case I stayed clean from all drugs, I was out on bail, but I thought Vivitrol was the answer. I was able to stay off drugs and regardless of what else was going on, I did live without drugs for the first time in a long time, so it gave me hope that I could do it. When I got out of jail in July of 2017 it actually was the beginning of the longest clean time that I had since 2005. I was doing well actually, but not in treatment and not doing anything to maintain my sobriety. My son was conceived at the end of 2017, during this time I was actually in a really positive place in my life. Until my immaturity got the best of me and I left my pregnant girlfriend for a different woman. I have no regrets because what’s the point, but I do think about what life would be like now if I would have stayed with my son’s mother. The new girlfriend was lied to from the beginning anyway and that created a very toxic relationship for a long time and I actually relapsed at the end of that 2018 for a lot of bad reasons. I went on using for about three months before my first overdose, on February 20th, which really did scare me away from heroin for nine months. After I saw the body cam video of my overdose I really wanted to be clean for me and my son’s future so starting in early March of 2019 I got back on the Vivitrol shot and with my new found hope after the overdose I really thought I was on the right path. Then I moved into my own place in May after really not being on my own, and by the end of June I was smoking crack and drinking every night after work. I really felt depressed, and I don’t know exactly what the cause was but I attributed it to the Vivitrol shot. After doing some research as well, I read that the Vivitrol shot actually may cause depression and/or suicidal thoughts, so I quit the Vivitrol and by September I had quit smoking crack. Which is always good.My addiction struggles continued that Thanksgiving, I relapsed and by January I had been fired and that carried into 2020. At the end of 2020 I finally did put everything that I learned and everything that worked together, I got out of my shit hole apartment, I got a doctor who is current in the addiction community and I found a therapist that specializes in both drug addiction and trauma as an adult or child. 2020 was where I just really lost hope and I just felt defeated like I was never going to get above this addiction. I never like to say beat addiction, because it will always be a battle, but to get above it. Meaning, I have the upper hand and I put so much space between me and it, that it no longer is able to pull me down. But 2021 came and I was actually asleep at midnight and not partying for the first time since 2003 probably. This detox was brutal for six days, and I had been flooded with Suboxone at the ER which still did not help. I had been using all of 2020 and by then, all the ‘heroin’ is pure fentanyl, it doesn’t even test positive for heroin anymore. Needless to say, the withdrawal was violent, horrific and because of how close to death I felt, I actually quit smoking cigarettes at the same times. Seems kind of unbelievable to me too because I could not quit anything for so long and then I quit both at once. Then midway through January I was put on the Sublocade shot which is just the once a month Suboxone shot. It goes in my stomach and lasts 28 days.With everything that I learned over the last 13 years, my trial and error method of trying to get clean, I was finally able to get above my addiction. There will always be work to do, and that is what this is all about for me. Having a medical doctor that is progressive in recovery and treatment as well as finding the right therapist were both huge pieces of the puzzle for me. It came down to, I just do not want to be self destructive anymore and I was no longer going to punish myself for how other people made me feel about myself. I have done so many things differently this time when it comes to life after the detox. I really have reconnected with friends from before my addiction, family that I had pushed away for too long and most importantly, I reconnected with myself on a level that I didn’t know existed. Most of the people that think they are close to me but aren’t, never got it, never will get it, and that’s fine, at least I finally kicked the habit.

Kickin’ it

Published by SoberSteveRecovery

It was a home birth on the Eastside of Milwaukee on September, 11th 1987. I have lived all over Wisconsin, and even lived in Florida for a year. UW-MILWAUKEE is where I studied Journalism and History and I eventually switched my major to Environmental Science. My love for the planet equals my love for humanity and now I am focused on finishing up a degree in Addiction Counseling because I just want to help. Continuing school until I have a PhD so I can teach which is my long term goal. Everything I do is to be better for my son. Hopefully we can save some lives as well. ☮️ ❤️ ♾️

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