When I was in the 8th grade I wanted to try marijuana. I had dabbled with some prescription drugs at the time, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I had the opportunity to smoke pot. It started out as an experiment, a curiosity, but when I found out that I liked the way it felt to be high, I wanted more.
My brother and many of my friends immediately voiced their disapproval. I lost my girlfriend and many of my friends when I refused to stop drinking and smoking weed, but I kept doing it. I began to isolate myself from people who did not use drugs and alcohol, including my family, and I would hang out with people who encouraged and supported my drug use. I had lost so many good friends due to drug use, and most of the “friends” I had weren’t really friends. I ended up using other people and they used me. We lived by the mentality, “A friend is a friend as long as they can help you get what you want–otherwise, don’t care for them.”
What began as a (seemingly) innocent curiosity soon turned into a destructive habit. I began to get high daily. I would steal, forego lunch to keep the money, anything to get the next buzz—from a variety of drugs. I became very depressed, and at times even suicidal. I was using drugs to self-medicate my pain as much as possible. But eventually, this depression and drug use became too much for me to handle. I truly wanted to die, and I was tired of life.
This emptiness and depression led me to get help. I was clean for a little while here and there, but I would relapse often. Sometime during my junior year of high school I began to get high again on a daily basis, and this continued until I was about 25. I found myself back in the cycle and began to see the emptiness of my life again. This time, though, I was tired of living this way. I knew I needed to change, but I didn’t want to. Then, I had the chance to go on a trip…
I grew up in a religious home, but I hadn’t been to church in years. I didn’t even go for big religious events like Christmas or Easter. I believed in a God the whole time I was using drugs, but I didn’t like the idea of “religion.” So, this trip was the first time I was exposed to the idea of any kind of faith again. Surprisingly, this experience filled me with joy and comfort. I cried. I cried and cried. I knew this was where I needed to be. This is what was missing in my life. The emptiness I had been trying to fill with drugs and alcohol could not be filled by anything but God.
Now, I didn’t decide to stop using right away. I had this idea that I could be a good person and still get high too. But over time I realized I was wrong. As I began to get more serious about changing my life I sought help from a priest that I knew. He really helped me to see that the only thing I could be addicted to and still be happy was God. He said if I was getting drunk and high I would not be able to see the way I should live or become happiest.
I left that meeting upset. I wanted to go home and get high—and I did. But, not before I drove behind a car on the way home with a license plate that read: “AMEN.” This, of course, bothered my conscience and when I got high at home I felt terrible. I knew it was wrong. The next morning, I asked God to remove the need I had to use drugs. That day, I got rid of my pot and paraphernalia, and it was then that I stopped using drugs.
My life began to improve immediately. I had a clearness of mind that I hadn’t had in years. I felt so light, and peaceful. Sometimes I would look around and think, “There is no way I’d be where I am had I not stopped using drugs—had I not turned back to a God who loves me.” I began to go to family events where I’d stick around for a while longer. I made friends who actually cared for me and not for what I could do for them. I met a lovely woman who is now my wife and we had two boys! I am so happy.
If you’re struggling, know that you are loved, and that no matter how far you have fallen you can be lifted up again. My wife reminds me of this when I doubt about my worth. You are never too far gone!
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, be not afraid. Help is out there and people can get clean and sober. If you know someone that is struggling, tell them that you love them. Pray for them and encourage them to get help. Substance abuse is a nasty and difficult thing to overcome, but there is hope!