12 Step Planet - Raman's Story
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Stories about addiction and recovery, Clean and Sober life stylesHello,, My name is Raman and I am an addict. 

I came into NA as a coincidence,which being me reading the "Basic Text" while I was in a treatment center. I had a long run with all sort of drugs and was really sick and tired of it all. I'd had many good times with drugs but as I went  from one drug to another, I was going completely insane!!! Im from a middle-class, professional background family of four from Bangalore in South India. My father gave me and my younger brother a good education up to high school. By then, my unmanageably had surfaced completely. It had first become evident when I had recurring nightmares and other sleep dis-turbances like sleep-walking. There was a six month wait for college to open after having passed out of high school. That is when I began to take music seriously and played with bands at events. That's when the drinking and the grass came into the picture. Times were good and we had many days of being high, playing music, discussing philosophy and being free.This lasted nearly six years and I did not see any need to become a graduate, though I did pass per-graduate. My music took me on tours with bands and there were local performances too. I remember the time when a band I was playing with at that time got a few events in Goa, a very happy and happening place, with beaches, chicks, music and drugs; heaven ? It was new Years time, I was drinking and hashing away to glory, playing music, getting good money and blowing it up and having a very good time. The world seemed perfect with all the drugs, girls, music and money around !!  When the contract got over my band went back but I decided to stay and had a blown out time until all my money ran out.  Then the ugly side of my addiction became apparent. I made friends with a much elder woman from abroad and had lot of good times and drugs with her. I kept demanding she spend more and when she wouldn't I left in a huff and began selling some drugs. That carried me along for some more time ! Then one night the cops questioned me and I was afraid. When they did not get any proper answers they took me to the cop station and demanded I share some money with them. Then when I said  I had no money they got rough. They wanted to know who my boss was, why they did not get their share etc. I had no answer to that, imagine a sort of innocent 19 year old musician getting into that. I was too artistic to know all that!! Things took an evil turn when they got  out  fat bamboo canes and began to hit me with it. Then I realized what was happening and tried to put up a fight. Three cops with bamboo canes against a weak and tripped out addict  was great odds, but I continued to fight back.  Things got real critical and I got desperate and screamed  "Kill me, lets see".          Then suddenly, they let me go. A crowd of people had gathered outside the cop-station and demanded they let me go,, and the  cops had to. Thank God for the Flower people out there who took my side. This incident hurt as hell for a long time and was a wonderful excuse to keep using. This is when I was introduced to opium and downers.It helped me to cope with the shame of not only that and previous incidents but also one's that followed where either my self-esteem, self-image or self-confidence was shaken.  I went back to my hometown and kept on playing music and doing more drugs and then came the smack. This turned my world around completely and my life and thinking were totally centered in getting and using more and more smack. Slowly the music-jobs began to stop because I could not be relied upon to be on time or even turn up. Then things got worse and I stayed home all day and night chasing smack and troubling my parents to support me. Then an uncle died of post-overdose delirium and my family was shocked. They decided I need to seek help and I went into a detoxification center in a major hospitals psychiatric ward. It was a lot of pain and confusion; later I was discharged but hadnt the faintest idea what I was supposed to do with my life. I had no idea whatsoever that I had to stay clean no matter what. Imagine a spaced out addict trying to stay clean on his won ??? Old feelings came back and I found it difficult to cope. Sometime later I relapsed & after few instances of using other drugs, I went back  to the drug of my choice,, smackie-baby. Using associates began to appear again and in no time at all there I was, back to sqaure one. Relying on good old brown sugar made meaning in life and I was glad to be back with my old friends. I had something to do now, not just lay in bed and agonize.  But trouble was in store. The initial euphoria died out. My legs got  infected  with sores that kept increasing and finally covered both my legs from knee to ankle. Tha damage to the nerves is still felt to this day, 26 years later. Life had become one hell of a mess. I had no job, no family support and had to use more and more in order to be ok. I used to think, how nice it was when I first began using and how good the trips were and how great the music and friends were. I had done a great tour of India and was on the verge of going to New York to study music, but when addiction gets you it does so completely. I was totally into getting and using and finding ways and means to get more and use more. The police raids on dens as well as my increasing  usage made me study chemistry books in order to learn how to make smack from opium and I was in fact ready to go to Afghanistan or Sri Lanka and spend time to learn it!!! By this time I was 26 with no other  ambitions left,  having been in hospital two times already without the slightest clue about  how to manage my life. I wanted to do something, and be someone but all my friends were gone, no jobs and I was without a conscience.  I was a complete loner and was fully addicted. Then one night a very weird thing happened;  I had a near death experience. There I was, nodding on a chair and listening to jazz on the radio and  suddenly my soul left my body. My soul went to the ceiling, looked down at me and said in a silent voice "'You are going to die'.  "Noooooooooooooooo" I screamed and awoke with a start. I was scared. A dark force was in that room there that night with me but I also sensed the Prescence of Light. I wanted some way out. I began to pray for release and freedom. Id had enough of the way Id lived till now. I really did not want to become the criminal drug producer I was thinking of becoming and already researching. Few days later, inspite of feeling very strange about it, I kept repeating prayers Id learned in childhood from my mother. I was trying to invoke the God's to save me. It felt very foolish at first but that Power was attractive so I chanted on. And then it happens. These prayers were answered. And the irony of it all; a using woman gave me a rehabs number. She had called asking where the connection was meeting me today. I became wary cause Id not seen her for a long time. "Where were you ??" i asked. "I was at a treatment centre for drug addicts" she'd replied. I was curious so I asked her "Whats that all about ?" "It's run by reformed addicts and gets you out of addiction" I wanted to ask her then why was she back to using, but thought better of it. In fact she'd just confirmed to me that there was no such thing as reformed addict; otherwise, why would she be asking for drugs again ? How could an addict like me be without drugs ? What would I do with my life if there was no drugs in it ? So I informed her t the connection and was rewarded with a good chase with her that evening. But out of curiosity, I took the treatment centre phone number anyways. I called a few days later. I found it compelling enough to join their Program, because I thought they would teach me to use successfullyt without being addicted. Gosh was I mistaken about where this was going !!! There, I met many recovering addicts and the first concept they shared with me was that addicts like us could never be social or un-addicted users. I believe  now, thats when I first  got the message  about what an addict like  me had to do to recover. Then I got the NA message when I was reading the Basic Text in the rehab.  What wonderful revelations. I learnt that I had a dis-ease and that I could stop using and find a new way to live without the desire to use again, just for today. Whew, what a relief that knowledge was.  I  wanted to  know more   about NA and I kept on reading.   The personal stories of   those  old-timers  gave  me  identification   and I   got a  distinct feeling of belonging.  I remember I thinking  "Hey thats just like me, where did I meet these guys before?"  Isnt that what we call empathy, the wordless language of recognition, belief  and  belonging? Step writing began there and I went onto the 4th, the first of my fourth Step attempts. I could feel that things would be all right this time and God has'nt let me down and I know that God never will When I came out of the rehab, there was no NA but I went to meetings  of another 12 Step Fellowship, where I found many people recovering from other addictions. As I heard these people share and care for each other,  I'd think "'How nice it would be to be in a roomful of recovering addicts sharing  the Narcotics Anonymous message ?" At that time I was really willing to make the effort to  get what NA had.  I had stopped playing music for some time to get away from old playgrounds, I had stopped meeting old playmates, and my house was clean of any paraphernalia. I wanted to make contact with other recovering addicts so I wrote to NA World Service  Office and they sent me literature and a wonderful  publication called "Meeting By Mail". You can imagine my joy and relief when  I read the sharing s in the "Meeting By Mail", thats when I decided I wanted to be a member of MBM and Loner Group. Many years later Im still a member of Loner Group, and still do Meetings By Mail. And at the U.K National Convention in 2009, year before last, I met a female who had also been in Meeting By Mail  for many years. Ive read her shares, she had read mine and we were thrilled to me face to face. Over the years, Ive met many others too and we share a special feeling. I also met my first recovering addict friend Jeff, who is no more with us now (died 2008), who gave me immense and sustained support in my recovery. Imagine having corresponded with someone for 16 years and finally getting to meet them face-to-face after 16 years. That is the meaning of accepting that one addict can best understand and help another addict. Way back in the late 80's, what with snail mail and all, the high point of each day was either getting or sending a letter to one of them or doing a mass mail. These correspondences were my first real encounter of one to one with another addict recovering the NA WAY. I still remember with gratitude my first  encounter  with sponsorship by  that addict. To this day, 22 years later, I still treasure those experiences.  After having been threatened, counseled, beaten up, locked up and sponsored by the other Fellowship, this certainly felt different. This guy gave unconditional love and acceptance. I could feel time and touch space long lost to me.  His valuable insights gave direction to my recovery.  The main theme was encouragement in personal recovery, contacts with other Loners and then make efforts to start NA meetings here. Many other NA members too passed by this citiy, met me and encouraged me to start NA meetings here. I remember the day when the post office said to come collect a parcel, "Big Parcel" they said, which turned out to be a big bundle of NA Literature. I also remember the accompanying letter of encouragement from them when I was reading it I thought  "Oh for Gods sake, these guys believe in me". A real thrill. I was very exited. Thereon it was working to  carry the NA Message, alone in the beginning and then with others. We stared meetings here with few others I met in the other fellowship. We all felt that more addicts will find recovery only if we had regularly scheduled meetings of Narcotics Anonymous. So we got one going, at first informally, then we had recovering addicts passing through our town, passing on a message to us and then we finally began the a group that lasted all of six months. Then another one was started,and that exists to this day. Though the distinction of being the first NA Group in Bangalore city goes to the International Hope Group, the Reality Group is now the oldest amongst ten  other groups. I was elected to serve in various positions as GSR, ASR, and  chairperson as well as in other Subcommittees, which I do till this day.   I also served as Chairman of the WorldWide Workshop on recovery and service and see that as a peak. I also served in the NA Fellowship in England when I was there from 2008 to 2010. Ive also served on many sub-committees and at events and conventions and have also played my music on those occasions. I also did service in the other Fellowship. In this year 2010, I was completed term as RCM from this area.I feel privileged to still be in NA Service in Events and Convention. I see service to addicts as a Higher Power and continue to do service, as a way of being grateful to that Higher Power. I try and remember that my gratitude speaks when I care and I share the NA Way !!!! When I was 6 years clean I got  married and was well settled in an antiques trade. I had a nice family life  going and was very gratified by the birth of our daughter, an NA Baby; I was at peace with my parents and society. Then came a point when I realized that social acceptability does not equal recovery.  I began to feel an emptiness  inside in spite of all those material achievements. I'm lucky I had found a great sponsor then. Tom and his wife were traveling through town and had been  around many parts of the world encouraging addicts to do a Fourth Step. I attended their workshops and then found myself being sponsored by Tom and became a serious 4th Step writer. They went away leaving me to finish but those days of snail mail prevented effective communication so I waited three years till they came next and finished the step writing. I also took a 5th Step and became aware of the exact nature of wrongs, what defects caused those wrongs and why  shortcomings are the starting point for defects and wrongs.  I felt a new freedom and joy. At this juncture, I decided , after having been guided by Tom and Barb that I wanted to go back to music. For ten years in my recovery, I had avoided it cause I was afraid. Now that I wasn't afraid anymore, going back to playing music seemed the right thing to do. At the time of his writing, 12 years later, I know Ive made the right choice, inspired by God and Meditation on the 12 Steps of NA. I had looked  towards working the 12 Steps with a sponsor, doing NA service work and  being the best recovering addict I can be.  It was all there but the music was still missing   and I wanted to  become a clean musician, a way of making amends to society and to myself.    Till then, recovery as in attending meetings regularly and having an income was the primary focus, no matter what. You see I had done an extensive Fourth Step, done a complete Fifth and did all the amends I could including to my family. One way of making amends to my mother was to help her by being a partner in her child day care center, where I was successful. Amends to my father primarily came when I stopped shouting at him and abusing him and demanding money from him, like I did in the past. My father and I then shared many serene moments and I could sense my fathers happiness and gratitude at the way I was doing.There have been a few setbacks in recovery, but God has always been greater than any problem I've had and the Power of NA has been saving me from all sorts of situations.  I was at a turning point when I had to seriously make a choice of career, and after much soul-searching, I decided it was music. Today Im back to my profession of music and events and am really enjoying performance as never before. My career has grown, I have grown in it and Im playing music with a new attitude at these events and occassions.Certainly,my music is getting better than ever. I'm in demand at parties,weddings, functions, corporate events, concerts and recordings. At parties invariably there's liquor served and they also offer me. There will always be that risk, but I politely refuse, I simply remember that I'm there for sharing my music. Most of all ,I know that the Force That Keeps Me Clean and Serene is present overtime with me at these events. Sometimes when fellow NA members and I play together there's a great feeling too, especially when I play at NA events. Also, I am a loving parent to my darling daughter who I bring up as a single parent. My father died in 2000, after seeing his son become a responsible and productive member of society and Im satisfied that  amended my relationship with him. I am a loving and caring son to my mother. The last time I went to a treatment center in 1987, I remember my mother saying  "I want nothing but for you to be restored to humanness", I think that has happened. I feel very human now. My service in NA has given me great new habits.One of them is having meals with newer members and another is driving newer members to NA Conventions. Ive driven members all over the country. The peak was the one to Nepal to the Convention on Top of the World; that was way out. Imagine me and another member driving to Nepal and back,an all round trip of 7000 and driving for three days each way. Man, that experience will stay in my mind for the rest of my life!!! My sponsor is still guiding me; my sponsees are a great lot too!! Sponsees are the heartbeat. Recently a sponsee of mine and a few other NA members and I went to Mangalore, 200 miles from here, to help them start NA Meetings there. Being elected to responsible positions in NA Service keeps me as an honest and humble recovering addict. Cant imagine an addict like me not only being clean this long but also being a responsible and productive member of society!!! Im very proud to have been a member of Miracles In Progress for nearly 7 years now. Im also a home group member of Vision of Hope here in Bangalore City ! I was also a part of Sheffield NA in Uk and treasure that association. When I went there to study Masters, I had no idea that the Fellowship there would facilitate a wonderful experience. The eduction Ive had in recovery, both informal and formal are a real Blessing and keep me sustained in my growth as a human being. It is said "Dreams Do Come True In NA" and this has happened to me too ! Each day, I feel like Im living my dream of being free of drugs, being free of the desire to use and being free in my soul because I have found a new way to live. Love to live and live to love,,,, the NA Way !!! Thanks for reading and God Bless you and keep you Blessed in your recovery !! Raman an addict. All in all, I live to love and love to live the NA Way, Just for Today and for always S.Raman Iyer