GAO: Reflections on Addiction and Recovery (First of Two Video Testimonials)

GAO: Reflections on Addiction and Recovery (First of Two Video Testimonials)


[ Background Music ]>>I’m Danny. I’m 28 years old, and I’m a recovering drug addict alcoholic. At 9 years old, I was playing football, and I tore my ACL, my meniscus, and my MCL, and I had to wait 5 years, until I was 14, to have a knee surgery. I had the surgery, and probably in between 14 and 15, I got prescribed Vicodin, and I started eating them like candy, before school, and it just, I loved the feeling. Then, at 14, I was experimenting, taking a little more than I should. And then, after that, I hit high school, and it started the party scene. So, I would, I would drink, I would try any drug that was in front of me. I mean, I just wanted to be cool, I guess. I wanted to fit in with all the other kids. And, it’s a small town. There’s not much to do, so get messed up, I guess. That’s what, that’s what the thing was. I started doing a lot of cocaine. Couldn’t sleep. I’d be up three, four nights at a time, just snorting, snorting, snorting cocaine. And it got to the point where my body was just, I didn’t feel like a 17, 18-year-old. I was so tired all the time, and just depressed, and I needed to feel better, so I found, we obviously had drug connects from the cocaine. They referred us to another drug connect for pain pills, which helped us to sleep, and feel kind of normal. So, I found that, and once I found the oxycodone, it was, it was like the cocaine didn’t matter, you know what I mean? I was just off and running, and it progressed from maybe taking three or four a night to finding the higher-milligram pills, 30 milligram, whatever, 15. And, I just, I just, like, I loved the feeling. I mean, I can’t really explain it, but I started spending all my money on it. My family didn’t matter anymore. I wasn’t spending any time with them. It was, it was drugs or nothing, really. My parents had owned a restaurant, and one of the cooks there actually was an older guy who had a prescription, and I stole some of his pills. He then asked me, “If you want some, just ask me.” And then, from that moment on, he was, like, my first drug connect. He’s just an old guy who had, I think, Crohn’s, or some type of disease, and he wanted to make some extra money, so he’d sell his pills. And, from that point on, it was just, it was easy access. He knew people. It was, like, kind of a series of acquaintances that I’d meet. Like, he’d said, “Oh, you want this drug, you go to this guy.” Most of my dealers, at least, were 40 or older. I mean, I’m not saying that’s old, but that’s what it seems like, they are more trustworthy with the doctors, so they can manipulate them better, I think’s what it is. At 18, 19 years old, I was, I didn’t know it yet, but I was pretty much a full-blown pill addict. At this point, I hadn’t found the needle yet, or anything like that, like, I was just snorting them or popping them, probably a little of both. But, and, probably by this age, honestly, I’d tried pretty much every drug. But, as time went on, I just, every, nothing else in my life mattered. I didn’t care what clothes I had on my body, what vehicles I was driving, if I had a place to live. Honestly, I could care less, as long as I was high. Mid-20s, like, I would never have seen myself like I was. Like, I was bouncing from different apartments, state assistance, Maine health care, MaineCare, and I couldn’t, I just couldn’t keep anything together. My, I would get evicted from apartments. I think I was in one for a month and a half, and that was, like, the longest ever. At one point, no one would take me in. I was completely homeless. I slept on a mattress in a alleyway behind one of the apartments I was at, that I found next to the dumpster. I don’t know when the first time was. I was probably, I know I was living in Lewiston, Maine. I was probably 22 or 23. I couldn’t get prescription pills anymore, and they were, I don’t know what happened, I think Maine cracked down on something, and they made it harder for people to get prescriptions. I don’t know what the deal was, but I couldn’t get prescription pills, so one of my buddies stopped over, and he had heroin, and we, he said I had to shoot it if I want to do it, so, I shot up the heroin. And that feeling. I thought pain pills was a good feeling. That feeling was ten times that, like, it was just instant rush, and like I said, I’m an adrenaline junkie, so it was instant gratification, and it was, I was hooked. There was no stopping me. I was on a road to jail or death. What happened that really scared the living shit out of me, and made me want to get better for myself was the day I overdosed. I went to, this is an example of how bad I held people hostage. I took my grandmother with me, told her I needed to go pay someone off in Portland. So, she drove me 45 minutes from Lewiston, my grandmother, 65 years old, all the way to Portland, to a Burger King, to meet up with a drug dealer. I got the drugs, walked into the Burger King bathroom, injected what I thought was heroin. It ended up being fentanyl, and overdosed right there. My grandmother dragged me into her car, and drove me to Maine Med right here in Portland, and they Narcan’ed me a bunch of times, couldn’t hit veins, or wasn’t enough Narcan, I don’t know, but they had to put a needle through my shin bone, into my bone marrow, to get me to, to revive me. And, I woke up. I thought I had been in a car accident. I was hooked up to all this, these breathing things, tubes everywhere. My dad crying, my mom crying, my grandmother crying, and I didn’t know what to think. I was just lost. And, the first thing when I woke up I wanted to do was get up. I started ripping everything off. I’m like, “Get me out of here.” And, they had security standing outside the hospital bed, or whatever. So, once I realized what happened, I kind of chilled out, laid down, and just, this is what’s really sick is, I, as I’m laying there in the hospital bed, I have my shorts on, or whatever. They had ripped my shirt off, but I had my shorts on, and I felt my pockets, and I still felt a needle in there. And, I’m like, “Oh, I still have dope on me.” And so, at that point, I took the dope out, and I hid it. I don’t remember where, exactly, on me, the needle. And, I ended up leaving the hospital, walking outside. My dad was there, my mom. And, my parents are separated, so they were talking, which was kind of rare, and they were talking about getting me help, and they were both distraught, obviously, because their son was just dead. But, I gave them the last of my heroin from my pocket, and I said, “I’m done,” at that point. And my dad was pissed that I still had it on me, but he walked it into the hospital, and gave it to the doctor, and I said, “Dad, I’m ready to get help.” My mom ended up finding me a place in Portland called Myrtle Street Sober Living, and I did not want to go at all. I thought I could do it on my own, but I know that I’d tried it before, and the only way to do it is to give up what you think is right, and just really let God do it. I don’t think I really know what would have stopped me from going down this path. It was, it’s hard to say, but honestly, if I would have taken the drugs at 14 prescribed, that might have been okay, but I don’t even know what clicked in my head to take three, not one. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was the extremist in me, but as far as, as far as knowing what would have stopped me, there, I really don’t know. I’ve been sober now for two years, or upcoming on two years on June 16th. As far as how life is for me now to stay sober, it’s, it’s very simple. I don’t, I don’t consider myself, like, a Big Book thumper, or, I’m not going to four meetings a week or anything like that, but I just try to pray in the morning, and be an honest human being. Do normal, everyday things that, not anything a drug addict do, just not be a shady person, I guess. There’s not one day anymore that I think about getting high. I’m just, I’m happy all the time. I, I enjoy going to work. I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend. I enjoy going golfing. Like, these little things that I used to do, even high, mean a lot more to me now, because it’s, like, I can feel everything. [ Background Music ]

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