12 Step Planet - Erik O.
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Erik O., Stories about addiction and recovery, Clean and Sober life stylesWhen an outsider takes a look at my life they may ask themselves why, how, or variety of questions that I have not yet to found answers too.  I grew up in Hartford, Connecticut where I was given every opportunity to succeed. I was involved in sports at a young age and had more friends than I knew what to do with.  Both of my parents were successful, loving and supportive people who wanted nothing but the best for me.  As I went through my early years I began to act out in various ways. I was the class clown and began getting in trouble for my behavior.  I was a very capable student but I had a hard time applying myself in the classroom.  Sports were always my outlet. I played football, baseball and basketball throughout my childhood and was very successful. Despite my success, having fun was always my priority.              

Once I entered middle school my behavioral issues became a much larger issue in my life.  When I was eleven years old I was arrested for fighting a student on the walk home from school and given community service by the juvenile court.  I began getting suspended from school on a regular basis and my grades suffered as a result. I was not allowed to participate in any class activities or functions due to my behavior which created a major resentment toward authority at a young age. This was also the time in my life that I began to recognize my fascination with drugs and alcohol. I remember taking my first drink sometime around fifth grade on a camping trip with my friend’s family but it never really resurfaced until later in my young life.  My eighth grade year is when I found my love for marijuana.  The first time I smoked I knew that I liked it, I didn’t know exactly why but I knew it was something I wanted to do again. Whether it was the risky behavior, the sense of belonging, or the actual high itself, I was hooked. Marijuana became a major part of my life and everything else that used to matter to me began to take a back seat to getting high.                
I was arrested again that summer for driving without a license and possession of marijuana. When my parents were called by the police while I was sitting in the station, I felt such overwhelming guilt and shame for what I had done. I was put on juvenile probation and again given community service. My parents did what they could to control my behavior and began sending me to therapist and behavioral professionals. The results, if any at all, were minimal.  At the age of thirteen I was already dealing with serious consequences as a result of my using.                

After that summer I began high school. At this time my disease had already taken control of my life and it was just getting started.  I immediately quit doing anything that could have gotten in the way of me using. This is when things began to get serious for me. My freshman year of high school I got involved with crowd of kids that were not into anything but doing drugs. The majority of the people I spent my time with were much older than I was. By the middle of my freshman year I had experimented with almost any drug I could get my hands on.  I began regularly doing cocaine and heroin.  I was injected with heroin for the first time when I was thirteen. By the time I had moved into my sophomore year of high school I was a daily user and had become chemically dependent on the drug.  I was stealing from anybody and everybody to get what I needed. It didn’t matter if I had just met you or if you were my grandmother, if you had something that I could sell or trade to get high I was taking it, and I always had a reason why it was ok.  I began to watch friends die. I watched a friend of mine walk into his house after getting high with him and he never walk back out. I watched friends lose everything that mattered to them and eventually their lives. It was never enough to scare me straight. I always knew that I was above that, I knew that I could never happen to me. My parents knew that I had an issue with drugs but I did a very good job of isolating myself and keeping the horrible reality of my situation out of their faces.  I miraculously completed high school during summer school and received a diploma. I attended a local community college too keep my parents happy and kept using heroin to keep my disease happy. I was caught in a terrible spiral and I knew it.  I had a friend who knew that I was a heroin user and he kept asking me to inject him for his first time. One night after doing cocaine with him I finally gave into his request. I watched one of my best friends, a person I went to kindergarten with, overdose in front of my own eyes.  The paramedics came and went and I was stuck with me and my guilt. By the grace of god my friends life was spared that night. Even though he left the hospital after fighting for his life in a coma for almost two weeks, he did not walk out. That young man is a paralyzed from the waist down, and will be for the rest of his life. I was so full of guilt and shame that I felt I could no longer go on living. The night I got the news of his condition, I made the decision to take my own life. Again, God stepped into my life. I was unconscious in my apartment and not breathing when my girlfriend at the time, walked in and saw me. She was able to have me brought to the hospital and I was saved that night. I was using heroin again before I even arrived home from the hospital. Despite these events I still did not get sober.  I knew I had a problem but I also knew I did not have the power to stop on my own. My parents coincidentally found out about a large amount of money I had stolen from them at the same time I was in the hospital, and offered me help.  I went to a local treatment center and stayed for thirty days. I was high within four hours of my discharge. I began living my double life all over again. This is when I began going to treatment after treatment, jail after jail, and still could not get sober. I later found out that I had never actually given it a chance or gotten honest. I ended up coming out to California for treatment in Newport Beach. I thought if I moved far away from where I had been using I could turn my life around. I quickly found out that even though I had moved across the country, I brought my disease with me.  I did not stay sober and continued my heroin use. My parents were so broken and fearful that I was going to die, they made the decision that would ultimately save my life. I received a letter stating that my parents were pressing charges on me for credit card and check fraud. I had to deal with the consequences of my actions. When I had the chance I checked into another treatment center. I was told there that based on the way I had been living my life I was nothing, that I had to do some serious work in order to change that. I picked up the Big Book and actually read it in search of answers and with an open mind. My disease had beaten me into a state of reasonableness and I was finally ready to listen. I stepped out of the driver’s seat of my life and God stepped in.  I prayed, and let those people who had done it before me tell me what I should do next. The relief that comes along with surrender is something that I cannot describe in words.  I will never forget getting my very first HONEST 30 day chip at a meeting. I was so proud of what I had done and didn’t want to lose it. I have remained sober ever since. I now work in a treatment center that I was once a client at.   I owe everything I have in my life today to my recovery, to Alcoholics Anonymous and most importantly to God. The change in perception I have had as a result of the 12 steps is simply amazing.

I walk through life today fearing nothing in my past and look forward to any challenge in my future.  
Erik O.
R.I.P.

You will be missed Erik - Prayers are sent to all his loved ones.