“99 Relapses”

Everyone who has ever tried getting clean off of drugs has gone through detox. Detox sucks. It’s going to suck, there really is not a way for it to not suck. Drug and alcohol withdrawal is worse than any flu, you basically get all the way to the point of sick to death, without the dying part. Then you get better, so all you can hope for is trying to make it bearable. I have detoxed at home, in jail, in rehab and had places that specialize in detoxing people off of drugs. During detox the emotional, physical and psycological part will fuck with ever fiber of your being until you ultimately succeed or you surrender back to your addiction and use. I have been on both sides of the coin when it comes to detox. I “relapsed 99 times but I got clean 100.” The last time I detoxed was brutal, violent and I can not believe I actually made it through it all. Here is how I tried, tried, and tried again to finally get clean. I started using heroin in April of 2008 and by August 2008 I wanted to quit. In February of 2009 I was raided by Milwaukee Police and charged with four felonies. I was growing, selling weed and was one of many students on the Eastside of Mulwaukee to get raided between 2008 and early 2009. I was able to get a deferred sentence because it was my first time getting in trouble. Part of the deferment was going to my first AODA class. However, the AODA facilitators only used the mouth swab drug test and I was able to beat that for the duration of the class. I quit heroin for three days while I was in jail after getting arrested. The first time I really tried to quit was July of 2011, we had only been snorting heroin for three years at that point. I finally did get clean however as we were headed into 2021 after an improbable 2020. Never giving up on myself, regardless of how many times I failed, is the biggest asset I had.I literally tried getting clean more times than I could count the first three years of my using. I really thought I could do it on my own since I was able to quit most of the other drugs I was doing. But really, all I was doing was using all my resources and money to get more heroin. Detoxing at home those first couple of years was brutal. I still had been doing pretty well selling drugs and I had actually found someone that I was making a lot of money off of a few times a week. THat is a whole different story. But with the constant flow of money, the biggest issue my girlfriend and I had was getting it when we needed it. Since we were so new to the game of heroin we did not have the resources that one accumulates over the years. We really were at the mercy of our one drug dealer and he definitely did not keep the same hours that we did since we were both still in college at the time. We always had money to get more so stopping was only thought about when we struggled to get our fix. I’ve spent 12 hours in the shower, laying down in the bathtub, going through violently gross detox on numerous occasions. I actually used this method over the course of my full 13 years of heroin addiction. I found that the shower helps regulate temperature and at least as I was throwing up with diarrhea, I was in the bathtub so I just went with it. Noone said detox was cute. But hell has never been considered cute. Those early days of detox before I started getting privy to the fact that there were detox medications that would at least sort of make some of the detox symptoms bearable. However all I had to help with detox for withdrawals was marijuana and the shower. Towards right before I went to detox for the first time, we started being able to find like methadone pills and for the last year or so we had access to the old school stop sign Suboxone. In July of 2011, I began using needles and my girlfriend at the time wanted to get clean so bad. Once she saw me use a needle, she left. It was the initial wake up call I needed and that was the first time I openly told both my parents what I had been up too. It took three years for me to tell them and they both knew something was up but they had no idea. Once she left I called my mom, who was in Alaska at the time, and literally within 24 hours, she was at my apartment in Milwaukee. I went to detox and was prescribed Suboxone for the first time, and from the end of July of 2011 until November. I had moved to Wausau where my mom had lived and after my initial prescription ran out I started going to the methadone/suboxone clinic every morning before work and waited in line. I joked for years after that every time I had to wait in a line anywhere, that it was like the methadone clinic line. Towards the end of 2011 though I started wanting to use again, I had been doing well and thought I could use successfully this time. I will write about the different detox drugs and methods I have used to get clean in future posts as well as stories about individual times at different treatments. I have been in a strictly detox center about ten times, I was open to treatment the entire time I used and ended up in countless AODA groups, Intensive Outpatient Programs(IOP), Partial Hospitalization Programs(PHP). Per the advice of my parents I went to a 90 day residential treatment center in Florida. I completed 74 days of it and they actually said I completed the program. I ended up in and out of a halfway house for a few months after that. I ended up doing 90 in 90. That is 90 meetings, NA/AA, in 90 days. By the end of the 90 days however, I had already mentally relapsed and was going to my meetings high. I spent 11 months total in Florida and actually ended up in the residential treatment facility three more times after that, not completing the program any of those times. My main issue with groups and meetings is that I always seemed to make friends with someone as sick as I was and we would hang out and use together. It happened in my first AODA class in 2009 all the way up to 2018 in the IOP class that my probation officer made me take. I have smoked pot since I was 17 and a lot of the times I was in treatment, the facilitators would explain to me that I would not be able to smoke weed in my life either because that will always lead me to my drug of choice. I think my drug of choice always was weed, I just got side tracked one time, for 13 years on heroin. I finally realized, I do need some kind of counseling and someone I can vent to, it just would not be in a group setting. I figured out that one on one therapy with the correct professional is best for me. It also took a long time to find a therapist that was qualified in dealing with someone with my extensive drug history and childhood trauma. I think it is important for the individual to figure out if group therapy or one on one therapy is best. Everyone, regardless of if they struggle with addiction could probably benefit from some form of therapy. Finding what works for each individual is the most important thing. Sometimes it is both forms of therapy and meetings; there is no right way to get and stay clean. For every time I went to any form of treatment, I have one friend that has died. That is about 40 people, so far. I say about, because I have some friends that I can neither confirm nor deny that they are still alive. Not being able to find them though might be telling me everything that I need to know. I never gave up on myself, I knew there was a better life out there, and I knew I deserved it. I just had no idea how I was going to get there yet. Those 40 times in treatment, each one was either a detox itself or started with me detoxing. Use, withdrawal, try to detox, Use, withdrawal, try to detox, and repeat, for 13 years I would do that at home by myself. Sometimes I would make it to a friends or family members house and would hope to have support through it. But most of my attempts to detox were at home, by myself. I tried 48 times to detox by myself. To beat heroin addiction on my own. I am not everyone, I am sure some people decided they wanted to quit and just quit. I was not that kind of drug addict. I hate the word junkie too. I really want people to see the human being behind the drugs and see that there is a person who just wants to live a normal life. For so long, everyone thought I was selfish and narcissistic because my drug use came first. Which in that sentence alone, proves I am not a narcissist. A narcissist would not start a recovery vlog/blog to try to help humanity. But also my addiction came first, I didn’t come first. I was not living the life I wanted or expected or having any fun at all. Everyone thought since I did what I wanted when I wanted to, that I was doing what I wanted to do. I was a slave to heroin, heroin was in control, I have not lived how I know I should my whole life. I did have a glimpse of what life could be like if I were clean when I was so between the beginning of 2017 and the end of 2018. My son was conceived and born during that time which is my greatest accomplishment of my life. I know a lot of people may have their own crazy detox stories, I have been through trying every single way. If you don’t have the luxury of detoxing in jail. Yes. Luxury. My 11 detoxes in jail were awful. I am not going to say that it went well. I ended up in suicide watch once. But the mental aspect of knowing that there is no way in hell that you are going to escape and find drugs is pretty damn powerful. I would start ‘feeling’ dope sick after about 16 hours when I was on the streets. In jail, I lasted 54 hours before I started withdrawals and that was all because my mind knew there was no way to get any drugs. I told my mom after a few of the jail detoxes that as much as it sucked, it was nice to be off of all drugs for a while. Literally I have gone through every kind of detox possible. Now how do I deal with detox? Detoxing from drugs and going through withdrawal to finally get clean is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. There were sometimes, some years, I just surrendered to my addiction and knew I was going to use it because there just was not any other way to live for me at that moment. A person truly has to be ready to get clean, but that is not the only thing, because remember I wanted to get clean in 08’, that was not the issue, the issue was me and my solution was heroin. While a person goes through withdrawal from drugs and alcohol their bodies are detoxing and the emotional, phyiscal and psycological torture you go through is more intense than anything more people have experienced in their lives. The emotions I would go through as I would detox were vast and could really change in a split second. I always preferred having someone supportive around just in case there was an emergency, and nobody wants to go through detox alone. Just make sure to warn the person about how irritable you might become and the dramatic mood swings that will occur. My biggest emotions while getting clean were always sadness, mostly just so sad for myself that I let this happen, and that I just felt all alone and that I really did not matter to anyone. Also, the guilt and shame I felt for all the things I had done during my last relapse all came crashing down on me at once which is really hard to take when someone is so fragile. Then there are feelings of joy and happiness, because finally, I was taking the steps I needed to get my life together. The best thing to do I say, is feel it, really feel it, every single emotion. Use all that feeling that is pouring out of you. Finally feeling after all the time numbing myself and I really tried to reflect on what kind of life I wanted and what I needed to do to get there. I had feelings like this everytime I detoxed, the key for me was, everytime I relapsed or detoxed, I would learn something new that I could use the next time to maybe, just maybe get to a point where I can live without shooting heroin into my arm all day. For so long, I was young and really did not understand the psychological part of why I was using. I really thought, hey, if I can get through the physical detox part I will be good, it’s the only part making me use; I thought. The physical detox is awful, it’s painful, violent and lasts about four to seven straight days. Most withdrawal does not occur for about 24 hours after use depending on a multitude of factors. I can hear people screaming out how much longer or shorter they lasted when it came to withdrawal. But I was just picking an about number. A day after use, the user can expect to be at least starting withdrawals if they haven’t already. The physical detox part, means that your body is physically dependent on the drug, making it so without the drug, you really cannot function normally, and long enough without it your body begins to withdraw. The physical withdrawal starts with sweats, and what I like to call the eebeegeebees, lol, in which you just feel uncomfortable in your own skin. Literally withdrawal is like dying from the flu, without the dying part. As the withdrawal comes over me my stomach would tighten up, I would feel pukey but not puke quite yet. As the full blown sickness takes over, the throwing up and diarrhea begins along with the sweats, and shakes and restless legs. When I said I spent 12 hours in the shower puking, I was not exaggerating, puking bile for 12 hours, I felt like I just got out of the ring with Mayweather and I went through that many times. Over the years I would drink milk so when I puked it was at least curdled milk instead of stomach bile for hours. Nothing cute about detox. Then after the first 100 hours, you slowly start to start feeling a little better. Some of the hardest part for me was just being so tired and not being able to sleep at all. I went 60 days without sleeping at night. After no sleep at all for the first three weeks, the nights I could doze off, I would sleep maybe a half an hour and then would wake up just drenched in sweat. 60 days, but that was in 2015, I will get to that year in a different post. Then comes the psychological toll that weighs on a person throughout the detox process. The anxiety and depression as well as the constant voice of the drug saying that all you need is a little and you won’t feel like death anymore. That little voice has gotten to me so many times, I would even get through 2,3,4,5 days of extreme detox, and then just get it in my head that I was going to use, and then there was absolutely no stopping me. The constant anxiousness to use the drug as well as the anxiety from the life I created, sometimes would be too much to bear. The depression for not living up to my potential and for what I put my family and friends and girlfriends through would also be too much to handle sometimes. Trying to get clean, and then having all of these feelings all of a sudden. It gets to just be too much and that is why I would relapse. As you start to get clean and analyze your life, the guilt and shame for things also comes smashing you in the face like a train. I like to say that if a person can not forgive you for what drugs did to your life, and recognize that person is not who you really are. What happens as drugs take over our bodies and minds we start to do things that we normally never would.Only way to start healing is to forgive yourself for things that have happened. I wrote the story about my dog being murdered and it took me a long, long time to forgive myself for that. I forgave the girl that was responsible for what happened, before I forgave myself for not knowing it was happening and stopping it. I am one of the largest advocates for the benefits of medical marijuana and CBD, just can not argue with the facts. Using weed for detox has been part of my routine since the beginning. I think pot helps calm the nerves, calm the mind, calm the stomach and slightly allows the pain to subside. Weed is not going to stop the withdrawal and without more help it is going to be the worst few days of your life. But if you do plan on trying to detox at home there are a few things I picked up over the years that would help. Again, nothing was full relief, the last time I detoxed I ended up in the ER and they flooded me with suboxone but I was still sick for four days straight until the suboxone caught up. I had a few things I thought helped a little bit, nausea meds(zofran) and blood pressure meds(clonidine) consult your doctor before taking any medications please. I just want to share what I did, both of those medications are safe and not addictive but before you mix it with other meds you may take, please talk to your primary care physician. The physical detox and emotional part of the detox experience does both calm down as the clean days count up. The best advice I have for a comfortable and tolerable detox is deciding whether or not to use something like suboxone, methadone, vivitrol or sublocade which is the suboxone shot. I’m going to write a future post on my experience with each, because yes, I have tried them all at one point during my recovery attempts; suboxone I was actually prescribed three different times, and I was on vivitrol two seperate times. I told you I never gave up on myself. Whether you use one of those four to stay off of heroin or not, I AM PROUD OF YOU. Anytime you take nasty, cut, dirty street drugs out of your life, it’s better than the alternative. I hate when people say a person isn’t clean because they still take something. They do that so they can live, they chose life, so whatever they have to do to keep hard street drugs out of their body, I support. The drugs prescribed by a doctor will be monitored and based on the other aspects of one’s treatment program can be slowly weaned away. Some people might have to be on something for the rest of their lives. That is perfectly fine, it’s better than the alternative. The biggest problem I always had was other people telling me that they knew what was best for my recovery, what they wanted was for me not to be dependent on anything, and for a long time I thought that is what I had to do. I relapsed everytime I tried it someone else’s way. I always took direction, I was open minded and willing and I am not talking about NA or AA because I never was able to use those meetings to my advantage like others are able to. Some of the treatment plans that help one person, may not help another person. It is important that everyone has their own individual treatment plans, based on need, support, strength, knowledge and what the individual has already gone through. The last thing I had to get rid of so that I knew I was done. Like I know in my soul that I am done with heroin forever. But the last thing i had to do to get through all of this mentally, was no more reservations about still wanting to use. Meaning, for so long I kept a drug dealers phone number. For so long I couldn’t say “I am done using heroin.” Today, I can say that I am forever done with heroin and now my goal is to encourage people to continue trying to get clean and give hope to those who don’t think it is possible. I hated listening to the righteous motherfucker that got clean and thinks that he has the answer for everyone. That is not me, I just experienced so many different things during my active addiction, I thought maybe my story might be able to help someone. Each relapse I learned something about myself or about my addiction and I just kept building the pieces together that I had learned from my experiences, until they all fit. I used to think that the physical withdrawal part of the detox was the hardest part. Turns out it was dealing with myself everyday that was the hardest part. I finally was able to get past all the roadblocks, finally face my demons and realize that what I was doing is being self destructive because I didn’t value myself. I said before they flooded me with suboxone until I stabilized which took five mizerable days. I stayed on suboxone until I could get the sublocade shot, which is the suboxone shot once a month. I see my Suboxone doctor every 28 days to get my shot and he has really been the best doctor I could ask for when it comes to my recovery. Both my doctor and therapist are weed advocates and since I would never be prescribed anything strong for my anxiety, they both recommended that I use marijuana for medicinal use. I am in therapy twice a month with someone that is educated in childhood trauma, which I will get into in a different post, addiction. Those two people along with my own mindset and motivation have helped me create a new life for myself. I still struggle with life, the people in it and myself. But after my experiences and everything I learned I am able to use those tools everyday in order to stay on course for what I want for the rest of my life. I exercise everyday, I eat well, I try to help others with anything I can, and I am back to being good to myself. I forgot who I was for too long, and I was destroying myself because of how others made me feel. I have so much to offer by sharing my experiences, hope and encouragement with the world. I wouldn’t wish one relapse on my worst enemy. Let alone “99 relapses.”

My son and I in Door County

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. ☮️ ❤️ ♾️

One thought on ““99 Relapses”

  1. I just celebrated 5yrs sobriety. I felt every word I just read. We do recover!
    I don’t have a website, I just want to follow.


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