Our country is experiencing a drug epidemic. 100 people die a day from drug overdoses. Heroin is taking out entire cities. People are becoming hopelessly addicted to pain killers. Meth labs are everywhere.
But all is not lost. There is hope. There is healing. Today we are sharing with you a story of one of our friends, Brian Hicks.
Brian’s story is one of devastation and fear but also hope and inspiration. This may mirror your life. This may mirror the life of your loved one. We want you to know that addiction can be treated and a fulfilling life can be had. Brian is proof. Read on.
Here is Brian’s story:
How many years sober are you?
February 15th 2015 will be 9 years
How old were you when you started drinking or doing drugs? What was your drug or drink of choice?
I started at 15 years old. My drugs of choice were cocaine, methamphetamines, crack cocaine. Basically uppers.
What was your pattern?
Binge user for days on end.
Where did you get the drugs? How did you pay for them?
From the streets and known dealers. I always worked and paid for them and stole money from family. Pawned items that were stolen towards the end.
How did you know that you were addicted?
When I started stealing from family to support my habit. I started thinking and planning daily how to get drugs. Even when I wanted to stop I would still use drugs. It became a need. Not a want.
What was your rock bottom? How did you feel?
My parents and other family members told me I was not welcome in their homes. I lost a place to live, my job, my vehicle and all family. I felt abandoned, isolated, alone and terrified of what was next.
How did you get into treatment?
I’d been in rehab before and had tried a few 12 step programs they just didn’t stick and I kept relapsing. A contact I had from an AA meeting would still take my calls. I asked him for help and he took me to treatment.
What did you discover about yourself while in treatment?
More than I can express or write. The grave nature of addiction, tools to become sober, the importance of a support network post-treatment.
How was your family affected by this disease?
They were devastated and destroyed. Lost all hopes and dreams for me. Disappointed and embarrassed by me.
How is your family now?
It took some time for them to forgive me and even more time for them to trust me again. But now we are the wonderful, supportive family that we were meant to be.
Do you still struggle with addiction? Think about using? Can you be around others at a bar? Can you be at a party where there may be drinking?
I do not struggle today with addiction. I cannot even tell you the last time I had a real thought or desire to get high. My brothers and ex-fiancé did drink around me after I was 2 years sober and it did not matter to me. I have friends that casually drink around me.
Look, I got sober to be free and go wherever I want and be around whomever I want – regardless if they choose to socially drink. I didn’t want to be imprisoned anymore by alcohol and have it still control me after I stopped.
What would you tell someone who is in denial about their addiction?
That you may not have another day to decide that you need help. So many OD unintentionally or have fatal wrecks unintentionally. Waiting for tomorrow to change or wake up and realize you have a problem could be too late.
What was one great lesson that you learned from treatment?
The importance of follow up care after discharge and a lifelong commitment to my own recovery. Nobody was going to do it for me.
What would you tell someone about treatment to inspire them to go?
It’s worth the time away to get the rest of your life back. You have missed so already. Spend the time getting better so you can have forever with the ones you love.
How do you know that you’re never going to relapse?
I believe I’ve been cured of the mental cravings of drug and alcohol use. The physiological part of addiction will always be there. And I’m pretty sure if I did use again, that those mental and physical cravings would return because those factors stimulate the disease. Because those mental thoughts and bad habits are gone – I don’t crave. So I don’t use. It’s pretty simple.
What else do you want to say?
That my life is far greater than anything I could have planned or dreamed. It is only because I got and am healthy and sober and I am present in life today. I don’t have to struggle through days but rather I wake up and enjoy life. Each day – even a bad one – is a truly a gift to me. Maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated my amazing life as much without struggling with addiction and healing from it.
Maybe this struggle was a part of my path to lead to an even better life. I don’t know. What I do know is I’m healed and happy and exactly where I am supposed to be.