Article by Neil Harman | Owl Staff
I remember frantically pacing my parent’s empty house that Thursday afternoon clawing at my skin, desperate for a peace of mind. I was out of drugs again. This had become a part of my routine, but every time I found myself here it cut a little deeper.
I was scary skinny at 6 feet 2 inches and 150 pounds soaking wet. My face was sunken: an oily pale-yellow shimmer hidden by patchy facial hair. I looked malnourished and homeless, seemingly sworn to the same disgusting band-T and sweatpants riddled with holes from passing out holding still lit cigarettes.
There was no life in my eyes. They were left to illuminate nothing but the miserable existence I felt destined to. I had been addicted to OxyContin for longer than I could remember.
It wasn’t always like this. I grew up right outside of Richmond, Virginia with an uncanny enthusiasm for life. I loved my family and friends passionately. I was an above average student and athlete. I had all the friends I could ask for.
But then I found drugs.
I was 14 when I first tried OxyContin. A friend had found them in his grandmother’s medicine cabinet and brought them to school for us to try. One time led to another time, and that led to another time.
Eventually, I was a full-blown addict that resembled only the shell of a human being, destroying everything in my sight just for another high.
I had transformed into a thief, taking advantage of my family that l loved me the most. I had stolen and manipulated my way into an innumerable amount of money to simply provide myself with the drugs I so desperately craved.
Consequently, my mother became a nervous wreck, constantly crying out asking what happened to her little boy. My father became cold, sick and tired of even trying to communicate with his too-far-gone son. My sisters were scared of even the sight of me.
I knew what I had become; I had known it for some time. But that Thursday afternoon I was finally ready to ask for help; I was finally ready to change. I wouldn’t be able to do this alone.
Trial and error had revealed that much. I was going to need an army to destroy this demon that had so intricately maneuvered its way around my soul, suffocating any sense of dignity I still held for myself.
With the help of my family, I checked myself into a drug and alcohol treatment center. From there, they recommended I come to a town called Bel Air, Maryland for further treatment. I agreed, and here, in Bel Air, is where my journey truly began.
When I first came to this town, I was quickly forced into a world completely foreign to me. I didn’t know anyone. I was hours away from anything familiar. I felt alone and I was scared. But I knew I couldn’t let my fear cripple me. I chose to seek out the army I so desperately needed and once I did, I found it.
I found a recovery community that possessed a level of admiration, integrity and confidence that I was completely without. I craved the inner peace so apparent in their lives and was willing to do anything to have that myself.
This community was sober, comfortably sober, and had lived a life just like mine, shackled to drugs and alcohol. I wanted what they had so I made the decision to ask them for help. They rallied around me, explaining to me that they found purpose by contributing to the stream of life and helping others that were once just like them.
They taught me how to soul-search, how to humble myself, how to clean up the wreckage of my past, how to continuously live a day at a time, and walk-through life’s trials and tribulations.
What started as a belief turned into a faith because it worked. I’m 25 years old now and have been sober and in recovery for over five years. The teachings I learned early on continue to work so long that I continue to take action. As a result, nothing about my life today resembles what it once was, except that I still occasionally wear a band-T.
Once expelled from high school, I have a 4.0 GPA at HCC. Once unable to hold a job, I’ve been employed at my current job for over three years and I even wear a tie. Once suffering in extreme isolation, today my life is ecstatically full with friends. I all but ruined the relationships with my family, but today my parents and sisters are truly proud.
My experience has constantly availed to me the power of connecting with others. Through this power, I have found purpose in my life. I have found grace, dignity, love and tolerance. I have found peace. I have found myself.
But this isn’t about me. It is my hope that if anyone is suffering they can come to believe that they too can live a happy, purposeful life.
Left to my own devices, I’m a drug addicted black-out king. Only by continuously seeking others for help and support have I given myself a chance.