by Justin T.
(Long Island, NY)
My name is Justin Tann. I’m 24, from Long Island. I’m an opiate/opioid addict and have been that way for the past 5 years or so.
I’m in the Suboxone program in an attempt to stomp out my problem for good. I want to be free of this.
It wasn’t always like this. I mean, sure, I had low self esteem, and to a degree I still do. I’m overweight and up until the age of 23, I was a virgin.
When I graduated H.S. I was on the football team, had lots of friends, had amazing grades, high SAT scores and somewhere between here and there, I fell flat on my face.
Now it’s just a matter of picking up the pieces of my shattered life and try to make sense of it all, while still standing on my feet and continuing down the road to recovery.
I remember how it all started too. . .Thursday nights at the bar; getting hammered and looking at pretty girls. It all seemed so nice at the time. Then, I started to smoke pot.
It started out that I would do it once in a while, then that became every weekend, then everyday, then multiple times a day, then wake-and-bakes, then curiosity killed the cat! I wanted to try something different.
I tried Cocaine for the first time. I loved it! I felt so free! I felt amazing!
Then, I tried X. That was pretty awesome too!
Then came the pills, then acid and shrooms, then meth, and it all led to me ultimately doing Heroin for the first time.
The first time I did it, I was tricked into it. I was told it was pure cocaine and that I would love it. I was kind of naive so I believed the kid and at this point, I new it wasn’t coke.
No numbness, no zooty-ness. . .nothing! I thought, I got jipped, but then, I felt like I was floating off my chair or swimming. . .it felt like heaven.
When he told me what it was, I was pissed off at first, but then I calmed down a bit and did some more.
I did it every single day, at least $200 a day for a year and a half!
I started shooting about 10 months in, and I distinctly remember hearing this song by K’s Choice called “I’m Not An Addict”.
When I felt myself flying around the room, and feeling every breath leave my body, counting heartbeats in my own chest, and the sweat beading off my forehead like I ran a marathon, that’s when I started to realize that maybe what I was doing was wrong and selfish.
That feeling didn’t truly surface until my friends girlfriend wrote a poem called Dead. It was about dealing with addiction from both sides of the fence and how, essentially, the addict is dead.
Dead inside, dead-looking on the outside, dead to their family, dead to the world, just, dead. The line in that poem that really hit home for me was:
“Mom and Dad will never know the mess I made of this,
Until I enter the Lord’s eternal bliss,
Going to a place where no one could do me harm,
When I’m laying on the floor with an empty needle in my arm”.
In that one moment, suddenly, I was back to reality. All the things I was losing, and all the things I’ve lost came crashing down on me like a ton of bricks.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. Wrestling with thoughts of suicide, hopelessness, guilt, pain, self-loathing, all just writhing through me like trout in a stream, just popping up out of the water, one by one.
The next day went on like usual. I went to work, got sick of course. Something was weird though. People were looking at me differently. No one wanted to talk to me or make eye contact with me. I felt alienated.
I went into the bathroom to wash my face and when I looked up, I saw dark circled red eyes, pale white skin, unshaven, sickly, disgusting, and unclean me.
That’s not me, I said.
I was deeply disturbed by what I saw, like something straight out of a movie. With that thought on my mind all day, I kept to myself and continued on as normal.
When I went over my friends house that night, like I always did, before I could sit down, I had money in one hand, and the other was twitching; I needed my fix.
As he put the bags in my hand, I started cutting up a straw and that image of me popped into my head along with that poem.
What am I doing to myself? I don’t want this for myself!
I hesitated for a good 3 minutes before I put the bag down and asked for my $80 back.
Although really surprised, he asked “why the change of heart, big Jay?”. I simply said “it’s not what I want to be anymore” and with that I picked up my stuff and left.
When I got home, it was about 6:00 PM and my family was sitting down for dinner. My Mom looked up at me standing in the doorway and said
“You’re home early! Come and eat!”.
Although I couldn’t think to even try to stomach food, I sat at the table. I started to cry.
After that, I muscled through 7 months of withdrawls without ever going back and now I’m 3 years clean of Heroin.
If I said it was easy, I’d be lying.
It was about as easy as trying to fit an egg into a keyhole without breaking it.
I did a lot of thinking at that point.
I started writing myself notes and lists of things I wanted to accomplish. There was one list I wrote that contained long-term goals I wanted to accomplish like ‘go to school’ and ‘improve my relationships with my family’.
I’m proud to say, I accomplished every single goal on that list! I was so proud of myself and in the process, I beat Heroin!
Also, because the withdrawl pangs were making it hard for me to cope without anything, I started to exercise to maybe feel better about myself.
I ran about 7 miles a day, just to clear my head and next thing I knew, I lost 225 lbs. in 10 months.
I felt and looked amazing!
Also, with help from the pastor at my church, I started to feel more comfortable knowing that I had God in my life again and that he was watching over me.
To this day, I never once thought about going back to that disgusting lifestyle. Even now, at the tail-end of Suboxone treatment, I still think about how much I’ve grown from that ugly person getting high with needles in his arms, into the man I am today.
Taking things one day at a time and not trying to tackle everything at once. Enjoying life to the best of my ability, feeling every breath leave my body, counting the heartbeats in my own chest . .
And here I am. . .