I grew up in Lodi, New Jersey with a good family. I was an only child and spoiled with affection. Though my parents were divorced when I was seven, I had a good relationship with them. I didn’t have an absent father, but he wasn’t present emotionally, even though he does love me. I started smoking weed when I was fourteen because I was looking for something else, something spiritual to view the world differently. I didn’t experiment with any other drugs in high school.
I went to church up until I was seventeen, but once I got my car, I stopped attending church. After graduating from high school, I went to college for a year and worked at a pharmacy and started using oxycontin. That’s how it all started. I did that for a year and then graduated from there to heroin. It’s been a downhill ride ever since.
I had to keep hitting lower and lower bottoms. Every time I hit bottom, I continued with drugs because I thought I could find a successful way of using. It became my idol. I worshipped it in what I did, through my actions, and what I thought. I became homeless and was living in a cardboard box over the summer of 2005. I was still getting high. I had a girlfriend who was using also, and she enabled me. I had the bare minimum to survive, and that was all that mattered.
In the summer of 2007, I got clean from heroin and lived at home. Ever since then, up until summer of 2008, I’d cycle on and off drugs—using for a couple of months and then getting clean. I had a year clean from heroin, and then I relapsed again in June of 2008. I realized I needed a long term residential program.
I had done twenty-eight day programs, hospitals, countless detoxes, Narcotics Anonymous meetings—nothing worked because I didn’t participate. As soon as the meeting was over, I bounced. NA’s focus is on physical sobriety, but there are many types of addictions that keep us in bondage, such as an addiction to sex. I needed more than what NA offered.
I heard about Transformation Life Center from my mother’s nephew who graduated from this program, and she told me about it. At first I didn’t want to go, six months was too much time. But after having burned so many bridges—quitting my job and dropping out of school, I had nothing else to do. I actually quit work and school on purpose so I wouldn’t have any other options because I knew what the results would be if I continued to use heroin. I went through it enough times to know what happens. I wanted to back myself into a corner. I was at home for two months waiting to get into TLC. I wasn’t getting high, but I was on a medication they give you at detox. It was easy to be home, but I knew I needed to go to a program.
Finally, I got into the program, and I knew the struggle would begin. I went through a month of physical withdrawals. It was very uncomfortable the first couple of weeks. The first two months I was here, I was convinced I would only do three months. I didn’t have any big breakthroughs. I already knew God because of the shelters I went to before. I started to know Him there. But then when I got here, I was trying to give myself the best chance of really recovering. I decided to stay so I could break the habit of not completing what I start. There were times I considered leaving, but I stayed because after all these years I understood myself—when I most wanted to leave is when I most needed to stay.
Here at TLC, I’ve learned to submit. I use to blow up when I was told to do something, but little by little I’ve learned to submit. I’ve used this as a real world exercise. There will be people in the world I don’t get along with, so I’m trying to endure this. I really understand that ultimately God’s in control. I’m trying to do what’s right, as far as I understand it.
I’ve been here eight months and I’m in the second phase of the program as a Resident Assistant. I thought the RA program would be something very different than what it’s turned out to be. I thought I was going to have a lot more time for myself and going home. Because of this, it’s taught me patience. Sometimes things don’t seem fair; I feel entitled to something better. But during these two months, I’ve been stretched a lot. I feel I’ve grown, especially after this one incident.
One Friday I was suppose to go home, but I hadn’t handed in my homework. I was told I couldn’t go home. Usually the punishment is applied after you get back, but not this time. So when I called home, they weren’t fazed by it. I realized maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal as I was making it. This incident helped me focus on myself, and what I need to do. I wanted to put the blame on someone else, but I finally came to grips with it after I calmed down. I came to the realization that if I would have handed in the homework on time, I would have been able to go. I learned an important lesson about consequences.
All the things that are in the world are here at TLC also, but that’s good too. Here I’ve learned to deal with my emotions in a protected environment. I came here with a lot of Bible knowledge, but I was being a hypocrite. It’s helped me learn not to react to things, to take a step back, see all the angles, and get a bigger perspective.
If I were a parent who suspected my child was doing drugs, my advice would be to talk to your child. Give them a drug test and educate yourself as much as you can about drug addiction. There’s something else going on in their life. The addict doesn’t realize what that is, especially at the beginning stages. Spend time with them and see if they’ll talk to you about it. No one can make them stop; they have to want it for themselves, but you can help.
I hope my testimony will help other addicts. Take what you can out of it. Drugs are not worth the temporary high; they can destroy you. They aren’t worth the consequences. Ultimately, drugs prevent you from facing your problems and responsibility. They create more problems that you need to deal with later on. The longer you’re in the cycle, the harder it is to get out of it. You don’t need drugs.
God is sufficient. His provisions are enough. I’m learning to believe that fully. I know my drug addiction has been terrible, but I know God works all things together for good. Now I know Jesus, and that is good. I could have had a normal life, but my spiritual eyes would have been closed. I wouldn’t have seen the spiritual condition I was in, and for this I’m thankful.