“I wish I loved myself enough, not to slowly poison and kill myself through addiction!”
Every year as my birthday approaches, I can’t help but reminisce about the events of July 12, 2010. As vividly discussed in my memoir, 1 Man, 3 Hearts, 9 Lives, that was the day on which I overdosed in my Miami condo. Unable to talk, see, or even walk straight when I shot up in bed at 5AM—it was a true Act of God that I even awoke from such a deep narcotic sleep. No matter what, I still can’t shake the daunting feeling of just how close I came to dying that night. I always think about how lucky I was to wake up, because for so many, that unfortunately isn’t the case. I think about just how sad and depressed I was in order to get to such a destructive state in the first place. I think about the devastation I caused my family and friends, inflicting such unnecessary pain on those who had to watch me suffer through my addiction. That is no way for anyone to live, and I vow never to put my loved ones through that again!
Today marks ten years sober from my abusing prescription pain meds! To say that I am grateful to have made it out of such a dark phase of my life is a huge understatement, because again, so many never do. I am so incredibly proud of myself for reaching such an important milestone. Especially given my current state, and the countless surgeries which I have undergone since being clean. I have come so far, and I have achieved so much in the last ten years of my life…and to think, I was so close to losing everything, all for chasing a quick and temporary sensation of false happiness.
I got my first taste of morphine at the age of six. At the age of seventeen, I was swallowing two Percocet every four hours, just to get through the recovery of my first heart transplant. At the age of twenty-one, I was hooked up to a PCP pump and spent eight months completely doped up awaiting a second heart transplant. When my mother expressed concern, she was told, “there is nothing wrong with a little euphoria!” At the age of twenty-two, I was told by a resident doc, “there’s plenty more where that came from,” as he pumped me full of dilaudid as I awaited a cholecystectomy. Two and a half years later, it was Vicodin that I was prescribed to get through the recovery of my kidney transplant. I finally took the plunge and snorted my first pain pill when I was twenty-six, with a group of so-called “friends,” and it was all downhill from there. Although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when my addiction began, I can say for certain that after I graduated to crushing and snorting pills through dirty bills, I had completely lost all will power and self control. I had no idea that such a small amount of white powder had the potential to corrupt and vandalize my entire life the way that it did. I didn’t even entirely understand what addiction was, before finding myself so far gone that it was near impossible to dig myself out of that hole which I had buried myself in. I never saw it coming. This is precisely why we must educate our youth on the dangers of addiction. It all happened so fast, and before I knew it, I could no longer recognize the reflection that I saw in the mirror. Who had I become?!
All morality is cast aside when dealing with addiction. It is a craving unlike any other, and it is never fully satisfied. The lengths one will go to get high are quite unimaginable. You find yourself doing things you never once thought you were capable of doing. Fortunately, I was making enough money at the time of my abuse, that I never had to resort to things like stealing or prostitution. Nonetheless, I was still ashamed of my actions. As the months went by, I found that I was no longer myself—dope nodding at family functions, barely able to hold a conversation. Behaving in ways that were so uncharacteristic of my personality. It’s almost as if the real me was replaced by some sort of demonic spirit.
I personally do not consider my addiction to have started off as a disease. I did not have an addictive personality, nor did these tendencies manifest during my early childhood and teenage years despite my consistent hospitalizations. But eventually, it all caught up with me. Again, my addiction was solely iatrogenic in its early stages, an inadvertent result of my treatment . I must say that in most cases, this was done with every intention of keeping me comfortable while fighting for my life. Now that I currently live with the knowledge of what it feels like to get high, it has been a constant struggle to avoid these substances. However, due to the sensitivity of my illness, I have come to realize that engaging in such activity would be about as useful as swallowing a bottle of rat poison. I love my life, I love myself, and therefore have no intention of directly compromising any of that ever again. I have already wasted too much time living in a hazy medicated fog. At this stage of my life, I have grown to know and respect my body enough to understand its limitations.
I can honestly look back and tell you exactly what the problems were. I am able to self-reflect, and tell you where I went wrong. I had no real self worth. I was so depressed and I didn’t even know it at the time. Therapy was not something my parents or caregivers had ever offered as a solution. I had no healthy outlets with which to process my many traumas and dark emotions. I was therefore left to battle my vices on my own, often times using various substances to numb my internal pain. I was lost in a sea of desperation, with no map to make my way out. My cardiologist was among the first to address my possible substance abuse on more than one occasion and stressed the danger in engaging in such behavior. I did my best to deny my activity; however, she knew something was off.
Denial, secrecy, and sensitivity were some of the main issues that that had a grave effect on me. All these years of suppressing part of my sexuality really took a toll on me. The drugs in a sense seemed to allow me the power not to worry about what others thought of me. I felt invisible in a sense, while ironically being the topic of many conversations. Alongside that was the fact that deep issues were never confronted or talked about in my family. My parents were going through an awful separation, and I started to feel as though I had nothing left to live for. Despite my parents doing everything to shield us from the destruction of their marriage, this still had a tremendous affect on me. Information was withheld in an effort to preserve our innocence, yet only to lead to its very destruction. I just wish I felt comfortable enough to voice to them, or anyone for that matter, just how much I was hurting inside. Instead, I turned to the very medicine used to subdue my physical pain, hoping it would do the same for my emotional pain as well. In reality, this only amplified my problems making things much worse!
Today I turn thirty-seven, thirty years longer than what doctors sat down and predicted to my parents. I’m grateful to everyone around me that said enough, and pushed me to get the help I so desperately needed. Even now, as I undergo countless hospitalizations and procedures I have my dear sister (as one example) to keep me in check when represcribed any kind of pain meds. Sometimes I get annoyed when she brings it up, and that’s always my first sign that I could be headed right back to that dangerous place, and I instantly become so grateful for her tough love. Eventually she stopped giving into my dramatic defensive reactions because her interest in my well-being outweighs all of that.
“Love yourself enough to surround yourself with people who contribute to your overall well-being and betterment!”
Ten years sober equates to ten years of clarity. Ten years of memories, that I would have never otherwise have had the chance to experience. Ten years to see my siblings get married, and actually be PRESENT for the birth of my nieces and nephews. Ten years of incredible moments and friendship. Ten years of laughter, sadness, and everything in between. Ten years of feeling emotions rather than numbing myself to them. Ten years of being ALIVE! I have lost a total of eight, yes eight, dear friends of mine to overdose in the last year alone. To be completely honest, I’m not exactly sure what is scarier, kneeling in front of the casket of one of my closest friends, or knowing full well that, that could have been me.
I know some of you reading this may still be in that dark place. And let me be first to say that I know how hard the fight is. Only a true addict knows the horrors of living with an addiction. I know that so many of you don’t want to live that way, but you have no idea how to even begin to get help. There are resources all around you, you just have to be open to it. I promise you that it is not worth living as a complete shell of yourself, your brain hollow, only with thoughts of when you will get your next high. Always convincing yourself to put off getting help. There is no need to like or comment should you be someone in that very position. All I ask is that you look at me as an example that your life doesn’t have to continue on this way. I couldn’t see it for myself when I was in it, but I can promise that finally getting help was the best decision I ever made, not just for myself but for all my loved ones around me. Addiction doesn’t simply affect the addict, it also affects everyone attached to them as well. I know it’s so hard, but maybe it’s time to take that step and change things. Do it for your spouse, do it for your sibling, do it for your child, but above all do it for YOURSELF! At the very least you owe yourself that chance! Again. It’s not easy, I recognize that. All I know is I can’t bare to bury one more friend from addiction! Take the step, ask for help…because you can’t do it alone! Don’t wait, get help today! It only takes one day to be able to live the rest of your life!
Happy 37 th Birthday Chris ! I remember that Monday picking you up at Newark airport. God brought you back home safely . You were out cold and spent another Birthday in the I C U . I commend you for your strength to overcome. You were surrounded by love and support . And me ? I prayed faithfully , every single day . I was always by your side , knowing that you would recover
To your readers , addiction kills ! It attacks you like a venomous , vulture . It keeps howling at you , taking you deeper and deeper to destruction . Love yourself as Chris said , enough to call for help . There is always that one person with outstretched arms waiting for you
I love you so much my son ❤️❤️❤️
Amazing! You are the absolute best.
Thank you so much Creepyton!!! 🥰💙
👏🏾👏🏾My, my, my!!! As I mentioned before, your words have a way of making me feel as if I were standing in the background, watching each event unfold.
While I have not experienced addiction personally, the destruction left behind every night that had to be “gussied” up every morning before going to work eventually took its toll on me. It got to the point where I could no longer hide the fact that an alcoholic and I shared the same address.
I am sooo glad that in a moment of clarity, you realized your true worth! 😍