Meet Mike, a Recovering Addict in Denver
My name is Mike and I am a recovering addict. I am 48-years-old. I live in Denver. I love living in Denver, but I gotta tell ya – they don’t call it “The Mile High City” for nothing. There are a lot of drugs in Denver, which means there are a lot of addicts. I spent many years “a mile high” and I am surrounded by people who are addicted to drugs. Damn near everyone I work with is hopped up on something. I am a financial analyst. I don’t mean to brag, so I say this humbly – I make a lot of money. With big money comes big responsibility, big pressure, and big stress. For 15 years, I managed all of it with big pills. Then, I hit bottom and got clean. This is my story of addiction and recovery. It is my sincere hope that my colossal failure as an addict will help at least one person. The thing is, I am not convinced it will. It has been my experience that addicts have to hit bottom before they get help. And, hitting bottom is usually something you have to do all by yourself. Nevertheless, I am here… willing to share my experience, strength, and hope. That includes telling you what my sponsor told me: “Wise is the man who learns from his own mistakes, but wiser is the man who learns from another man’s mistakes.” So….a word to the wise……
Mike Gets Introduced to Pain Killers
Prescription medication was my thing. I was a pill guy. I loved pills (which is to say I had a love-hate relationship with them). I didn’t just used to pop pills. I also used to snort them. In the end, I was shooting heroin. How did I get there? I’ll tell you – one pill at a time. The first time I got high on pills, I was 33. I can’t believe it, but it was 15 years ago. Fifteen years! Had I to do all over again, I would have passed when I was offered that first Hydrocodone. God…. the time, money, and pain I could have saved myself. But, that is the thing about addiction – it steals your life…. one pill at a time. And, the fact is, I didn’t pass on that pill. I swallowed it down and wanted more. And here I am. I remember that day so well. I think every addict remembers that first time….. you know, the first time you thought drugs were awesome and you simply had to have more. Really, I think every other time is about chasing that first time. That day, I had a toothache. I told a coworker about it. “No problem,” he said. He opened his drawer, took out a bottle, shook out three pills, and handed them to me. “There’s plenty more where that came from,” he said. “If you need more, let me know.” I swallowed all three pills. An hour later, my toothache was gone. That was fantastic all by itself……. but what was even more fantastic was that I had razor sharp focus. I was zooming around and getting five times more accomplished than usual. I remember thinking, “Wow. These pills are really something.” They were something alright. I went back to my coworker and asked for three more. The next day, I went to the dentist. He gave me a prescription for the same pills I had gotten from my coworker. “What luck!” I thought! Yeah, bad luck. I just didn’t know it at the time.
How Mike Gets Hooked on Prescription Medication
Immediately, I started taking pills every day. At first, I was getting them from my coworker. Then, he told me how to get a prescription of my own. All I had to do was tell my doctor I was having knee pain. The thing is, when you have a lot of money, you have the “right” doctors available. You ask for a certain prescription, and you get it. Well, at least that’s the way it used to be. Now, they have all these laws in place to crack down on opiate addiction. But, back then, I had unlimited access to Hydrocodone. My doctor never questioned me. Hell, he never even took an X-ray of my knee. He just kept writing scripts. And I just kept on popping pills. The problem was, it was taking more pills to get the buzz I was looking for. From time to time, I went to the doctor and explained that my imaginary knee pain was getting worse. He would up the dosage. This went on for ten years. By the end of that ten years, I was taking like twenty-five 10 mg pills a day….. and they weren’t doing jack for me. By then, I was crushing up the pills and sniffing them up my nose. One day, my doctor switched me to Oxycodone. Boy! I thought I could get a lot of work done on Hydrocodone, but they didn’t have anything on Oxy. I remember thinking how blessed I was that I had such a great doctor. What a joke. After about three years on Oxy, my same doctor talked to me about opiate addiction. He explained the dangers of abusing opiates and suggested we look into pain management alternatives for my knee. After 13 years, the guy finally took an X-ray of my knee. At my follow up appointment, he told me I was addicted to opiates and suggested I get treatment. “There’s nothing wrong with your knee, Mike.” Well, duh. I knew that. There had never been anything wrong with my knee. Why the hell did it take him 13 years to figure that out? I didn’t care. I was furious. How dare he suggest I was addicted!
Mike Hits Bottom and Gets Help
I didn’t realize the nature of my addiction until the doc stopped prescribing me Oxy. I left his office with a firm resolve that I was done with pills. The next morning, my head was in the toilet. I had never been that sick in my entire life. Sure, I got sick every morning, but I never associated it with my addiction. I thought it was stress-related. The day after that dreadful doctor visit, I took off work for the first time ever. I went doctor shopping. I found a place where I could just walk in, pay them, get my scripts, and walk out. How easy! Soon, however; that doctor was arrested for fraud and the office was shut down. That’s when I started buying my pills on the street. Eighty dollars a pill, can you believe it? Soon, even with all the money I was making, I couldn’t support my habit. I started selling stuff until there was nothing left to sell…..including my house. About a year after I started buying my pills on the street, my dealer got busted. I had no pill connection…..but I had to have my pick-me-up. I still can’t believe it….. but I got turned onto heroin. The surprising thing was that buying heroin was a hell of a lot cheaper than buying Oxy on the street. At first, I was sniffing it, but then I began shooting it. Me – a white-collar guy managing the money of millionaires – was shooting dope in the bathroom at work. Well, you won’t believe what happened. The same coworker who turned me onto Hydrocodone told my boss I was a junkie and that I should be fired. My boss confronted me and told me if I didn’t go to rehab, I would be out of a job. I checked myself in the next day.
Mike Stays the Course of Recovery
Thankfully, my insurance paid for a really wonderful rehab. I detoxed comfortably and stayed at the treatment center for 60 days. Then, I went to outpatient. Now, I go to 12-Step meetings. That was one year and five months ago. I may make a lot of money, but I live in a dumpy one-bedroom apartment in the hood. I live here because no one else will rent to me. As a consequence of my addiction, my credit is ruined. Plus, almost every dollar I make is going to repay loans and credit cards. I am trying to rebuild my life after waking up from the nightmare of my addiction. It is going to be a long, hard road. I am not that far from bottom and I have a long way to go. I often wonder how long it will take to reclaim my life completely. Sometimes I think it will never happen. I am 48-years old, I have never been married, and I have no children. I spent my life taking pills to work so I could take more pills. If it weren’t for the awesome friends I have made in recovery, I would be a very lonely and very unhappy guy. But, today, I am okay. I am not on the hamster wheel anymore, running in circles. I am not throwing up my guts every morning. I am not driving into seedy neighborhoods trying to score. I can look people in the eye. After more than a decade at the same place, I got a new job – one that doesn’t send my stress level through the roof. I just recently started dating a great gal. We are going to see the Northern Lights in Alaska next week. Life is good. I am a recovering addict, and my name is Mike.