Dishonest. Ego-driven. Deceitful. Manipulative. Thief.
I would never have thought to use these terms in a self-description prior to finding recovery at the Last Door. In truth, however, they were the dominant character traits that I exhibited for many years, as a result of being emotionally, physically and spiritually reduced by addiction.
I was raised in a typical household, with supportive parents and an older sister. Growing up, both of my parents were very supportive of me and encouraged me to do well in any and all of my endeavors. I excelled in school, sports and had many friends. As I entered my teenage years, however, I remember feeling different and mostly inferior to my peers. I was physically smaller than most people my age and was bullied often. This translated to a lack of self confidence and low self esteem, and I often felt left out and on the fringe of social situations. I slowly distanced myself from friends and family, choosing to withdraw and isolate due to my perceived differences between myself and others around me. I was lonely, angry at myself, and afraid. All I wanted was to be accepted and happy, but didn’t believe I could do this on my own. All I wanted was to escape from myself. This all changed when I found drugs.
I felt different, better, and part of the crowd. Initially, I found that drugs could provide me with what I desired most: self-confidence, friends I could relate to, and most importantly an escape from my feelings of hatred and self-loathing. My identity changed from the lonely, quiet kid to an arrogant, extroverted person who was always up for a good time. I held on to this version of myself for a long time, and based almost all of my decisions upon what “this guy” would do. I lived in a dream world, where I felt I was fun, the life of the party, and doing what I believed drugs would enable me to do, but in reality I became increasingly off-putting to others, emotionally unstable, irresponsible, and self-centered. I believed that drugs could provide me with what I could not.
Fast forward through several years of constant drug use, compulsive gambling, and various self-destructive behaviors, I turned into the very person I sought to escape from. Once again I was lonely, afraid and angry at myself, but now I had several crippling addictions to contend with. All of my thoughts, behaviors and actions became centered on my next fix. I lied, manipulated and stole from family and friends to get what I wanted, which was only to further escape my realities through more drug use, more, gambling, and more self-destruction.
Once I found recovery at the Last Door, however, I learned two very important things: first, I am not unique to this world – there are many other people from all walks of life who felt the way I did; and second, that I can cope with life, and actually enjoy life without the need for something more. The Last Door provided and fostered an environment of recovery, fellowship, friendship and family. I was shown that there is a better, more fulfilling and healthier way to live, and all I had to do was put in some effort, include other like-minded people in my life, and practice basic principles such as honesty, open-mindedness willingness humility, and consistency. Both other clients and the staff at the Last Door were living examples of how this could be achieved, and I was able to experience this, and gain so much more in my life, by learning to apply and practice basic principles one day at a time.
I entered the Last Door recovery program in October 2010. Although my journey in recovery has been a bumpy road at times, I am proud to say I will be taking two years clean from gambling and all mood and mind altering substances on November 23, 2014. I am actually part of my family today. I have healthy relationships. But most importantly I am satisfied with my life, and I am happy. Everything positive I apply to my life today I have learned and continue to learn from practicing recovery daily, and from my continued experiences and relationships with clients, staff and alumni from the “house up the road”.
Hi, my name is Mitch H, and I am an addict.