My War – Part 3: Lifelong Recovery

Read the first part here, “Part 1: Swimming in Addiction“.

Read the second part here, “Part 2: Recovery and Relapse

Finally Clean

And so I flew back to the states and faced the music. I spent about 1.5 months in rehab and took care of my legal issues. I served no jail time, only probation for a year. My fear of my legal issues was completely exaggerated. Satan used this fear with disastrous effect. But alas, I finally resolved it.

During this time, my wife and daughter moved to her parents’ house (God bless their souls) and she took care of our little one while I focused on my health in the states. I applied for her visa and I was finally re-united with my wife & daughter about a year afterwards.

At this point, I’d already been freelancing remotely for several years. I used this experience to focus on developing my skills and to launch a career in data analytics. I created a new life for my self and family in the states. This time, I had enough of drugs. This time, I got clean and have now been clean for 8+ years now, taking it one single day at a time. This time, I hang tightly to God’s hands, I hold firmly to God’s mercy, never questioning His plan for my family and I. This time, I have a tool belt to deal with urges, which do still come from time to time. I try to stay humble. I try to stay true (true to my family, to the Lord, to justice, humanity, and the truth).

Today, I raise my kids in a household I am proud to call home. God has allowed me to achieve more than I would have ever imagined possible with the sky being the limit. God has given me so much, way beyond measure. It is all because I am clean! Yet, I can easily lose all I have, in one instant, if I decide to relapse. So the fight is never over.

Lessons That Keep Me Clean

I’ve learned a ton on my road to recovery. I can only hope that others learn from my failures and to use my lessons. I only hope my experience can save someone else from so much heartache and pain.

Lessons I’ve learned:

  • Don’t sit on your problems and issues. Facing a problem is much easier than letting it fester and dealing with the fallout later. Build a character where you face the music, not run away from it. Drug use is underpinned by a bigger issue, usually one we don’t want to admit: We don’t want to deal with the stress. We become used to running away from it with drug use. Turns out, we exaggerate our own problems and stress.
  • No one is stronger than drugs. Do not take that first hit. Do not cower to peer pressure. That hit, even just Marijuana, can lead you to a life of an addicted ‘bum’ . Please don’t do it to yourself. And don’t do it to your loved ones.
  • Marijuana is the Trojan Horse of our time. Do not be tricked. It is not harmless. It is immensely addictive. It plays with your psyche, motivation, mood, sleepiness, and mindset. It’s also a proven gateway drug. 95% of heavy drug addicts started with either Marijuana or alcohol. No one goes directly to being a Heroin or crack addict.
  • The end game of drugs is always one of 3 outcomes: Jail, institution (mental/rehab), or death.
  • You cannot ‘manage’ your addiction. It’s all or nothing. You will eventually hit your rock bottom. Pray that your rock bottom doesn’t involve jail, a mental institution, or death.
  • Do anything to go to rehab. The devil plays tricks on us making us think rehab is the worst thing in the world. It’s the opposite, rehab leads us to true freedom. As an addict, understand you can never ever stop on your own. Even if you have that intention every day, you will not get clean by yourself. You must get help. It is not a matter of willpower. Check into rehab. Check out clean. Move on with your life.
  • God (or a ‘higher power’ of your own understanding) is essential to recovery. God (the higher power of my own understanding) has protected me in spite of my actions. God is essential for everything in our life, whether we like to admit it or not. Even the non-religious NA and AA programs revolve around a spiritual ‘higher power.’ Do not shun this spiritual Higher Power, this being that created us and everything around us.
  • We are all deserving of God’s love and mercy. No matter our sins, the good Lord does forgive past actions, as long as we stop committing these actions and vow never to commit them again.
  • Make use of therapy. Weekly therapy sessions allow you to get to the bottom of your issues, to vent in a safe environment, and to become more aware of how you can deal with urges. Therapy can take many forms though. For instance, therapy may be partaking in NA or AA meetings. It does not have to be psychotherapy.
  • Idle time is the devil’s time. It’s imperative you find something positive you’re passionate about when you’re clean. I found my calling with my career and family. If there’s no opportunity right away for work or family, it’s still vital a recovering addict finds something (positive) they can latch onto and fill their time with. It could be skill-development, a hobby, taking online classes, etc/
  • Remind yourself about death and Judgement Day. For my own recovery, this lesson has proven invaluable in dealing with my urges and avoiding relapse. I remind myself every single day that this life is temporary. We are all going to experience death. I remind myself every day that my soul will leave my body, that God will take my soul and my chances to do good will cease to exist. My chance at repentance will be no more. I ask myself daily, “If I die today, will God be pleased with me? What actions will I take with me?”
  • Keep your sponsor or therapist on speed dial. There must be someone to talk to when urges come. No matter how much clean time a person has, those urges will come from time to time. It’s important to talk through these urges when they happen. Keeping urges bottled up carries a serious risk of relapse, at least in my experience.
  • Your rock bottom can always get worse with drugs. So as long as you’re breathing, get yourself into a rehab and get clean. No matter how bad drugs have made your life, it’ll keep getting worse if you don’t get clean.
  • Nothing will work if there is no desire to get clean. Not all the rehab, moving, cutting off from old contacts, jail time, children, spouses, love, or outside pressure will keep you clean if you yourself don’t want it. The desire must come from the addict, and it must be genuine. Otherwise, it won’t work.
  • Conduct daily prayers/converse daily with God. As a Muslim, I am required to pray five times daily and this has served me well since the entire point of prayer is to remind myself about my moral compass, about my death and judgement day, about the good Lord watching and recording every single one of my actions. Therefore, I find urges to disappear or minimize after I pray. However, if you’re not Muslim, you can just ‘talk’ to God (or your higher power) in any manner you like, but try to do it at least once per day. Or pray in whatever religion you practice. But no matter your religion (or lack thereof), ‘talking’ to a higher power daily can do wonders for your soul. Pray to your higher power. Ask. Complain. Cry. Empty your soul to your higher power with whatever you feel in the moment. It takes some time but one gets more comfortable and more acquiainted with this form of prayer as time goes on. Talk to the Lord, our Creator, our Benefactor, our Protector and Master. He is always listening and He will always be an active agent of positive change in our lives.

Why I’ve Recounted My Story

Within part one, part two, and this part 3, I’ve shared my nightmare of addiction in the hopes that it could serve as a lesson for others to avoid the same mistakes I made, and to create opportunities for others where my experiences and failures may help.

At the same time, I recount my story to others as a way of keeping myself clean.

I share my story hoping it could help others avoid picking up in the first place, or if they’re not deep in yet, hoping to inspire them to stop before it’s too late. Or if they are in deep, that there is hope. If I could get clean from the most addictive drug known to humanity – heroin – than anyone can get clean. If I can thrive in my life after a nasty heroin addiction, without a university degree, than anyone can thrive. Let my failures and successes become your lessons.

I lost so many years of my life, wasted time, resources, relationships, lost opportunities, and other things absolutely beyond measure. I also should have died several times. It does not need to happen to you. Life can go on, no matter your situation.

For whatever reason, God stayed with me, even when I shunned Him. He protected me from the worst of my actions, even when I blamed my ills on Him. And when I did start to wake up, He pushed me ten steps forward for every single stumble I tried to take on my own.

I’d love to hear from the readers as well. What have your experiences been with addiction? What has or hasn’t worked for you to stay sober? Are you dealing with an addicted family member? I’d love to hear your comments and stories. Please leave a comment below.

Peace and God bless…

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