Note: This page is NOT affiliated with NA in any way, shape or form. The opinions, views and experiences herein are solely that of the author.
My Life in Recovery
Hello. My name is Ian, and I am an addict.
I walked into my first meeting of Narcotics Anonymous on June 5th, 1994. My life has never been the same since.
Before I went to my first meeting, I knew I was addicted to drugs, but I didn’t think it was affecting my whole life. Sure, I knew that because of the drugs I had better things to do than finish going to school. I mean, who wants to go to college classes while they’re coming down off of LSD, or have spent the night smoking dope and all ya wanna do is sleep? So drugs affected only my school work and not my job or my relationships.
I found out otherwise real quick.
The night before my first meeting, a very dear friend of mine who was fed up with my using gave me an ultimatum: “either you’re going to get a counselor or you’re going to go to an NA meeting tomorrow, or I will tell your parents that you’re using drugs.” Well, I didn’t want to tell my parents how much I was using, and I had been putting off going to a meeting for about two months by this time, so the next day I went.
I was nervous and scared when I went to that first meeting. The meeting was at a church. I was afraid that I was going to enter a room full of stuffy people high on religion with bibles and a vengeance to convert me. The first question out of my mouth was “This isn’t some sort of religious thing, is it?” They assured me that it wasn’t, so I sat down, had a seat and introduced myself when they asked who I was. They welcomed me and made me feel so comfortable about being there and about myself that I knew this was were I needed to be. They told me that NA was not a religious movement, and was not affiliated with any political organization or law enforcement groups. They said that “…Anyone may join us regardless of age, race, sexual identity, creed, religion or lack of religion.” They gave me a list of people I could call first if I felt like getting loaded. They told me that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using. As long as I just kept coming back with the desire to stay clean, then they could help.
I felt so good after that first meeting that I went over to my parent’s house and told them that I was going to NA meetings and I felt good about the decision I had made.
I did not stay clean right away, though. It wasn’t until almost two or three months later that I knew for sure that I had to stop using drugs if I wanted to stay clean. I know it sounds funny put that way, but it’s true! It was amazing to see how my life was changing as I stayed clean and worked the program. Not all the changes I went through were pleasant, however. At two months clean, I couldn’t understand why I was getting so emotional at work. It seemed like all I did at work was cry and do a lousy job. I couldn’t handle the stress of the job anymore. I ended up getting fired for neglect – something I’m not very proud of, but today am very grateful for. At five months clean, I relapsed over a relationship. That relapse lasted for the entire month of November. The last time I got loaded was two days after Thanksgiving 1994. I woke up the next morning staring at my friend’s ceiling thinking, “how much further down am I going to get?” I was still fairly stoned and incredibly depressed at the time. I did the strangest thing – I called my sponsor and told him what had happened. He told me to come over and I did. We talked and talked while I was coming down. I made a decision that day not to use again.
I found out a year and two months later that I was still an addict, though. My last relapse on January 31, 1996 was the hardest for me to be honest about. I was very upset about it that day, but three days later just passed it off as “a mistake” and tried to forget all about it. Five and a half months later I admitted to myself and other recovering addicts that I did, in fact, have a relapse. I did not get loaded that day, but the motivation behind the whole thing was to get a mild buzz from what I took. In all honesty, I had made a decision to get loaded and I followed through with that decision. Even though I did not get high, it was still a relapse, no matter how you look at it.
I’m not the most perfect person in the world, by far, but I strive to recover. I do get complacent from time to time, and my life gets unmanageable, but that’s part of living life on life’s terms and finding a balance between life and recovery. Being clean and sober is not always a walk in the park, either. Many of us in the program have had to go through loss of friends, homes, jobs, and loved ones. But for today, the choice is to deal with those emotions rather than hide from them. Living life on life’s terms and doing my best to be a responsible and productive member of society isn’t always fun, but it’s MUCH better than the alternative.
Whether I knew it or not, I was slowly committing suicide while I was using. Today I chose life. Today I’m grateful for what life and my higher power have in store for me.
If you think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, then maybe you do. It is not up to me to decide wether your are an addict or not. All I can say is to give the program a shot and see if it works for you. If it does, GREAT!! If not, keep trying and looking. I know from my own personal experience that being clean and sober is the way I want to be today and I hope it’s the way I continue to live.