Archive for January, 2014

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This is a picture I drew while in rehab. I drew it with a BIC pen.

When I first got into rehab, I was confused and lost. I was dope sick. My mind was racing, I couldn’t sleep and all I could think about was myself and how I was going to get through this.

I’d say the first month was all about myself. I was literally losing my mind. I was shaking and my stomach had a mind of its own. Dope sick is the worst. My whole mind, body and spirit was aching. I wanted to leave but the little conscience I had left told me to stay and wait it out.

That month was a testing of many mental trials. It was all about me. Because of the way I was feeling, I was extremely selfish in my thinking and only wanted everything to benefit me. All I wanted was comfort of any kind and I didn’t get it. Well at least at that point, I thought I wasn’t getting it. I thought it was absolute torture. No one cared, no one loved me and no one wanted to help.

After that selfish first month of living without my poison running through my body, I realized that I WAS getting help and being comforted. I started becoming grateful for the place I was at. I was being fed. I had a bed to sleep in. I was getting counseling, I was being taught principles and I was being transformed into a clean human being again. Waking up was getting easier, sleep was getting better and my attitude was being adjusted. There was a slow metamorphosis happening, from selfish to benevolent.

I started doing things I used to like to do, on my free time, even to this day. One of them is drawing. Just whipping a pencil back and forth is fun. Something usually appears on the paper. I can draw fast and make a quick sketch or I can take my time and whip up a detailed drawing. Either way, I now have the ability to put my problems, my anxiety and my selfishness aside.

It’s the same with helping others. I talk with many people who are struggling with drug addiction and other habitual quirks. I stand strong in my recovery, knowing that I have a purpose and that it is not all about me. I have my life back and I thank God every day for the chance to go out and live a productive lifestyle.

During my stay at rehab, I got a chance to work at the front desk. It was kind of like my own little office. I answered the phones, completed new beneficiary intakes and basically was an assistant to all of the counselors and housemen. As the days went on, I saw people, lost, dope sick people, coming in and going through the same thing I went through. They were on a mission to benefit themselves. Some didn’t last long but the ones that made it to a few months began to change too. They got happiness and some of the void, which was filled with hopelessness, filled with hope and determination.

Many of the guys who had a few months of clean time began helping the newcomers. They shared their struggles along with the in’s and out’s of the program. Now that I think about it, I had a few guys help me out my first month. They guided me along and kept me afloat. It’s an awesome thing to be led and encouraged when you need it.

As I grow and as I watch others grow, I have come to an understanding of what a renewal of the mind is all about. Understanding that putting ourselves second, or even third, well, last for that matter, enables us to move forward, grow and help others. Staying Humble, remaining Teachable and being Grateful is the only way we are going to become who we are supposed to be. Putting effort in these three things keeps us at a level open for opportunity and blessings. Put God first, others second, your’SELF’ last and watch Him make a difference every where you go!

“Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.'” Matthew 18:1-5

What IS the Greatest commandment?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30

Become Free. Become the Difference!

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I went to CR, Celebrate Recovery, last night. We went over the twelve steps and being a meeting which is filtered through the Word of God, all the steps had a relevant bible verse which supported each step. Then we broke off into groups. The men got together in one group and the women got together in another. It’s nice because you get to share with each other, the common struggles that each of us go through.

The discussion topic was on sanity and had a two part question, “What do you keep repeating over and over again, expecting a different result? What result are you looking for?”

It’s a funny and very fitting question. So I related it to my addiction. When I was using and abusing drugs, I was continuously chasing a high with the same result. I knew how I was going to feel. I knew it would only last for an hour or so. I knew that the same consequences were going to arise every time but I kept doing it every day for years.

Why did I keep chasing the same result? Why did I constantly obsess over and adapt to the same old routine? I had no idea, at the time. My day started with hustling and stealing and getting my fix. I knew how I was going to feel every time. I knew that getting high took focus off my problems and my daily stress, I also knew that I was going to withdraw off the chemicals that I put into my body. So why, over and over, did I continue doing this expecting a different result?

Well the more and more I used, my tolerance grew stronger and stronger. So I actually did get a different result every time. I got higher and I got a more euphoric mental vacation. I was looking for a better result every session. I needed that same feeling if not better.

I do the same thing with other things as well. I will take a ride to McDonalds, get a McDouble and a small fry, knowing it will give me a stomach ache, and continue to do so about once a week. Why do I do that? I have no idea! It’s like playing with fire in a careless way, I know I’m going to get burned, but I play with it anyway. Or when we get into a relationship with someone who is using, knowing that it won’t work, but go ahead and keep meeting up. How about going into work with an attitude, knowing we are going to start conflict, and continue being a miserable brat while expecting people to just get over it. The list goes on and on.

So we went around the room and the guys gave their synopsis on the question. It was amazing to hear all the different battles and struggles they were dealing with. It’s good to hear what others are going through, it puts your life into perspective.

As we concluded the meeting, I realized that we keep chasing comfort of some kind. We keep doing things over and over looking for a serenity and a peace of mind that we never seem to accomplish. Especially in habitual and addictive circumstances. So why? Why this constant attempt to fill in a void we just can’t seem to fill?

Then it hit me. We search and search for a savior. Something to free us of our strife. Something to make up for the past and even the future. We do things to make us happy. We do things like we are trying to solve a puzzle but there is never an answer and if there is an answer, it is temporary.

I am convinced, after struggling with drugs for a decade, and other mindless quirks, that God wants us to come to Him with all of our problems. He wants us to put Him first and to rely on Him when we are in need. Just being a Christian and a ‘believer’ isn’t enough. I have been a Christian most of my adulthood, however I never really walked the walk the way I was supposed to. I went to church here and there. I hung out with a few people that were strong in the faith but most of the time I was living life on my terms.

Surrendering daily, hitting meetings, attending church, praying, reading the bible and constantly talking with God keeps me on the right path. I am persistently seeking Him every day. I want to because I know it’s what I’m supposed to do and I love reaping the benefits! I feel blessed. I don’t have much but I am extremely grateful for what I do have, especially having my obsessive and compulsive nature behind me. Putting Him first keeps me humble, keeps me grateful and helps me remain teachable.

It’s an amazing life following our Creator. It’s in us to worship a Savior, it’s in our DNA to come to our Father with our problems, our struggles and most of all our praise! He deserves ALL the glory. Call upon Him and seek Him daily. You will find a loving and caring God which no chemical or any other path can replace!

Become Free. Become the Difference!

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Here’s my view on medications that supposedly help people ‘wean off’ from opiates and/or opioids along with long-term narcotic addiction.

Just to draw the fine line between opioids and opiates, in case you’re wondering… An opi’oid is basically a synthetic form narcotic NOT derived from opium which obviously influences opiate receptors and an opi’ate is a drug CONTAINING opium which also influences opiate receptors. There are many drugs that are fully an opioid, that are fully an opiate and that are both. They both have the same euphoric effects and side effects and are both narcotics.

Ok, this is crazy, the same FDA approval and the same legislature that allowed opioids in the first place also allowed medication to help block and to help ease the side effects and withdrawals of these narcotics. Kind of like a store selling cigarettes and next to those cigarettes is an electronic cigarette with a pamphlet on how to stop smoking.

Now I’m not going to get into the chemical displacement and neurological effects and imbalances about these drugs because I am not a doctor. However, I am going to tell you, from much experience, what this stuff does, how it effects addicts and how it can be potentially dangerous.

To start off, people with an addiction or a dependence to opiates/opioids need help, plain and simple. Being an addict, our thought process, our decision making, and our lifestyle has all been compromised. Life is unmanageable. So with this said, a doctor giving Suboxone or Methadone to an addict to administer to one’s self, is ludicrous. That’s like giving a baby a loaded gun to play with. Even if a parent or guardian administers these pills to an addict, the addict will most likely figure out ways to beat that system real quick.

SUBOXONE- (Buprenorphine/ Naloxone) There are many pharmaceutical companies that make them. But the most used and abused are Suboxone’s. These orange, and orange tasting, sublingual tablets are supposed to be dissolved under your tongue. When an addict is withdrawing, these block the receptors, take the cravings and withdrawals away. Well are supposed to.

From my experience, I have taken Suboxone and I still wanted to get high. It did help with withdrawals but because of my addiction, I wanted more. I usually took Suboxone when I was broke and knew for a fact I wasn’t going to be able to come up with an Oxycontin, a Morphine or some Heroin. But there were times where I had taken an entire 8mg Suboxone and a rare instance would come up where I was able to get my fix. It took 2-3 times the dose it usually took to get high because the Suboxone blocked my receptors, not allowing me to get high. But eventually I did, which is dangerous, very dangerous. Even though I didn’t feel high, the extra doses of narcotics were in my system.

I have heard of people shooting Suboxone. I have heard of people sniffing them, chewing them and even smoking them. Wow, what an addict will do to manipulate things. I have even heard of addicts not feeling any better or different after taking Suboxone. An addicts mind can alter many things so it does happen. I remember taking them and still feeling very anxious and uncomfortable. I wasn’t in a program and had absolutely no guidance at all. I bought the Suboxone’s off the street and took directions from another addict.

METHADONE- Basically takes away the pain and makes you feel really good. Addicts like this over Suboxone because it’s quicker, stronger and is an opioid. If you have ever driven into a city and seen a line of anxious people waiting to get into a building, it’s most likely a Methadone Clinic. The methadone is supervised and administered by tablet, by liquid and I think some places are even injecting it now.

Again, our legislature allows places like this to help addicts. You come from where ever you are, get in line, take it and you leave. They go by schedules and dosing. So eventually an addict is supposed to be weaned down to a very low dose and will have to stop. Methadone, like every other pill, is also available on the street. Addicts take them, like Suboxone, when they start withdrawing and also take them to get high.

If an addict is in a program and is being administered Suboxone or Methadone in a controlled environment, with supervision, then they can be beneficial. There should be a time period where they plan on discontinuing the doses. The problem I have with these medications is the simple fact that if a relapse happens, they are going to rely on them. These medications only prolong the main problem. Addicts are addicts for a reason. There is an underling problem which needs fixing. I wrote a blog on it here: https://becomefree.org/2013/09/04/drugs-subsidiary-to-the-underlining-issue/

I have friends who have been on Suboxone and friends who have been on Methadone for years. Not learning or growing, just getting them from a doctor and living off them. It is more difficult to come off of Suboxone and Methadone than it is off of Heroin especially if the addict has had no structure and support. If you abruptly take these medications away from an addict they are guaranteed to relapse. And being on these medications does not make an addict clean. It may be part of a Recovery process and they may not be using their drug of choice but by no means are they clean. Clean is clean, not just clean from our favorite poison.

COLD TURKEY- What do I think about it? I LOVE IT!!! Of course if you asked me that during my first two weeks I would have said no. It is the most mentally and physically challenging way to get better but it is also the quickest way. If you have ever been locked up or to a detox, you know. I made it a choice to stop cold turkey. I knew the program I was going into didn’t have a medication administering system.

Is it safe to stop cold turkey? I have never heard of anyone dying from opiate/opioid withdrawals. Either has the program I was in. You just get dope sick and freak out for a few weeks. You can’t sleep, you get bicycle legs, diarrhea, hot and cold sweats, shivers, twitches, heart palpitations, skeletal pain, blurred vision; I mean there are more but you get the point. Stopping cold turkey on your own is extremely difficult. I think the statistics are one in a million and if you have done it, man, that’s awesome, I’d love to hear from you!

Stopping cold turkey while in a program is so beneficial. There are others to talk to, to relate with and counselors to consult with. There are classes and many opportunities to catch up on getting down to the nitty gritty on why you are in there.

What I liked about stopping cold turkey was realizing I needed to fill in a void. A void I have had for a very long time. I filled my void with God and came to an understanding that I need Him daily in order to stay clean. He is my lifestyle. I learned so much while I was in rehab and I am so thankful for the Salvation Army taking me in. Prayer and constant reading of my Bible gave me peace and an understanding along with the spiritual principles and knowledge I gained from the program I was in.

My recommendation as a recovered addict, addicted to opiates for 10 years, is to stay away from the pills that are only going to elongate your problem. Most likely the same company that made your poison is offering you the antidote . Does that sound right to you? Find treatment, a detox and a rehabilitation that administers spiritual principles rather than more drugs. Call upon God daily and accept His son Jesus into your life. I guarantee you will not only see what is really going on, you will become as grateful and hopeful as me and many other recovered addicts alike.

We were not designed to be on dangerous, mind altering substances which lead us to death. We were given this life to conquer it, not for it to conquer us. God gives us the strength to beat addiction and to overcome any obstacle life throws at us!

Become Free. Become the Difference!

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This was taken on December 29th at Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots vs. the Buffalo Bills. It was pouring out but it was still exciting being in the crowd and watching two teams battle it out. Talk about strength in numbers.. there’s nothing like the incredible roaring sound of 70,000 people!

You may have heard the saying “A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.”

It’s true, that is, if all the twigs are in good condition. If you have a bundle with most of the twigs rotted and deteriorated then this quote has no integrity. I mean, yes, even with weak twigs, the one twig will be stronger but eventually it too will be weakened. So to avoid destroying the single twig, a majority of the twigs used in the bundle must have strength in order to be used for its purpose.

In Recovery, especially in early recovery, we start gaining some strength. We start listening, learning and growing. We start going to meetings, we start surrounding ourselves with the right people and we start setting principles and boundaries that benefit us in many ways. We have the infatuation, the ‘Newly Wed’ syndrome, the ‘I got this’ attitude and man are we feeling like an indestructible, invincible suitcase of a million dollars.

This is a very delicate stage in our recovery. We are like a single twig with maybe a few other twigs but not yet a strong, mended bundle.

Six months go by, maybe even a year, and maybe even quite a few years go by and all of a sudden we look back and we have stopped doing what was making us strong. We stopped going to meetings and we stopped sharing. We stopped listening. We stopped being humble and teachable. Most of all we stopped being grateful for the things God blessed us with. We had become part of a bundle of strong and resilient twigs. Once with the know how and perseverance, once part of a community of believers fighting the same fight, in agreement, in harmony.

Now we are back to being a single twig. Battling a war against addiction all alone. Becoming lost and seeking advice and comfort elsewhere. Unprepared and lacking in strength, we make drastic decisions which alter our path. We are led astray and become uncomfortable with life. The blame and shame game is back to round one. Everything we learned seems to just be simmering on the backburner in our minds. We lose focus and start asking God why and how.

Then a little voice with a huge influence persuades us to make a phone call and take a ride… Fill in the blank, you know how it goes.

We may be born again, we may have 20 years under our belt, we may be stronger than ever and we may even have God right by our side but the war is never over. We may think it is sometimes but it is not. This is why we need Him on a daily basis.

The devil does not enjoy seeing us prosper. He doesn’t want us to succeed and become clean. He wants to destroy us and make us feel worthless and useless, without purpose.

Our strength comes from God and God alone. He uses others to strengthen us. He gives us people in our lives to make us whole. God gives us people to talk to, to share things with and to celebrate life with. He opens doors and opportunities for us. God has given me and you purpose and gifts to help others, to reach out, to become one in His name. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19,29

“Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.” Mark 6:7. Power in numbers? There sure is.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body” 1 Corinthians 12:12

We were not created to battle life on our own, let alone Addiction. We were created to battle it together, side by side. We need each other for support and for encouragement. Keep persevering through God’s grace. Keep God first in all you do and become part of the bundle that when together is indestructible! And when God is with us, who can be against us?

There IS Strength in Numbers…
Become Free. Become the Difference!