Other Stories of Addiction/Recovery

Blurring the Lines of Recovery

How could I only be 17 and having withdrawals during high school civics class? How is this even possible?
Sweat rolling down my head and face and hiding in a Hoodie, my teacher, knowing something wasn’t right, probably thought I was high… when the sad reality was, I wasn’t.

My buddy’s dad was a cop and was helplessly hooked to his “cheese puff jar” size stash of oxycontin, hanging out in his closet like it nothing was to worry about. My friend would supply me these every day, whether I still had some from before, or not. He never asked for a dime.
We wanted to do every drug possible and go down into the abyss. We were both comfortable with this mission. At first, we were smoking snowcapped bowls, but led to doing oxy, Ativan, Xanax, drinking endless amounts, taking hallucinogenics during the day. All during school, in the middle of the week. We accepted it as a challenge to take reds while trying to take a science exam. This was all insane, and yet it was routine at this point for me… and that was just the beginning.

I knew why I was sweating, cold and shaking. My friend hadn’t had his dad’s stuff for a few days, and I didn’t know how to bother him and demand it without sounding like an addict… which I was and still am. Yet, that was the last thing I could’ve believed at that time. Once my source dried up, I got off oxy in a terrible 3-day “dry up.” This only seemed possible at the time thanks to endless amounts of weed. But, less than 6 months later, I was snorting heroin at a party, looking cool and chic, right? This was until I vomited everywhere during a 3-hour. 2:00 am shower, where I truly believed if I closed my eyes, I’d never wake up. I could feel my life slipping away. I never injected anything, which I think is the most dangerous way to do drugs, however, snorting is so unbelievably dangerous I’m stunned I’m here. Way too many moments of suspended dread, but it made me feel fearless of everything and everyone.

Today, I don’t have to take any of that shit and I’m just as fearless as ever. I don’t know, I guess you could say I still am on something since I take buprenorphine pills twice a day. Though I wasn’t the best person on drugs. I look back at that time and feel in some weird way, I’m proud that I never robbed anyone, I never stole, and I never resorted to the craziest of addict behavior. At least that is what I told myself. I was wrong. I was a merciless liar and someone who traded addictions… from booze, to cocaine, to oxy, to heroin to benzos. When I thought my biggest drug taking days were over, just because I wasn’t on street opiates anymore, I was still taking 20-25 Ativan a day. It was insane.

Out of all my decade and a half of drug use from a young age, no drug outside of alcohol and benzos, ever made me feel like I couldn’t remember anything. Like I had amnesia or couldn’t remember past events. I thought I was going crazy when my family or friends would say “you’ve said that like five times now,” or bring up my bizarre behavior. I don’t even know how I operated or lived at that time. It was worse than opiates… and you know why? Because nobody told me, not even a doctor, that immediately stopping my usage would not only send me into withdrawals, but that the withdrawals cause seizures, and even death. I had 4 seizures in 1 month, nearly biting my own tongue off at one point. Now I really needed to get fucked up.

Ultimately, I finally realized two things. First, I loved ######## (name redacted) and would get off anything to be the best man I can be for her. Second, I had to make peace with the fact that I have always had this curiosity, propensity, massive tolerance and ability, to take any drug and deal with it, ride its wave, and either move on or carry on. So, I made peace with my love of Marijuana and have stayed on buprenorphine pills.
I haven’t abused anything. I actually picked up an opiate prescription for an ailing, elderly family member, with zero temptation. These aren’t yours. You don’t need them. You have your own.

I’m glad I was off everything for a good year at one point, but it was that desperation and expectation to be purely and totally sober that made abusing benzos seem like a great idea. Some need to feel like they can say “I AM SOBER” and look everyone in the eye, and know they aren’t even on elevated caffeine levels. For me, I knew what kind of man I was. Drugs never really altered my personality to the point I lost sight of who I was and what I stand for. It was always just about the feeling of getting high and escaping a bit, trying to look like a rock star, or Hunter S. Thompson.

I remember when news came out about why you and Mic left Coheed, one of my top 5 favorite bands at the time (saw you guys 7 times from 2004 to 2006. I was stunned you and Mic were on opiates, it made no sense. I was worried for you guys, especially how it all went down. It appeared like, instead of Claudio and Travis finding out when it first was getting serious, they found the fed ex packages and such at the tail end. I was devastated you guys broke up that original 4 lineup. I remember being too high to die, watching two 2007 shows (Warped and the fall tour with Mic back and Pennie on drums). Although Coheed gave the fans a long and deep set list to really energize a saddened crowd, Chris was never you. You were made for Coheed. I really believe had you not rejoined in 2011, Coheed would’ve been finished. I remember snorting oxy on 10/31/06 buying the Last Supper DVD, having no idea what news would come out only 2 days later. Coheed, as we knew it, was done for the rest of 2006. Totally would love to ask you about that era. (A weird aside… but your band is always there for me.)

Today, I have a beautiful 11-month-old son. I’ve been with the most gorgeous and unbelievable woman for a decade. I’ve been clean off opiates since 2009 and abusing benzos since 2011 (I’m still on a slow taper. That is how dangerous it is. You can have deadly withdrawal, even at that low of dosage). Hell, I don’t even drink, though I still smoke cigarettes, it seems everyone in recovery does. (LOL)

Groups can be a big help for addicts at first. Especially getting out of your own fucked up head, listening to others and gaining wisdom from them.
But it can definitely be counterproductive after a while. I always see 12 steps programs being a competition in a lot of these rehab programs, outpatient or in. In August 2021, I saw you guys for the 8th or 9th time in Salt Lake City. Once again, you guys played End Complete III into Final Cut, and I watched it without smoking anything more than a cigarette and standing next to my brother and our best friend. (Coincidentally, the 3 members of our high school band, Magnum Shift, a rock band heavily indebted to Coheed.) Life goes full circle and I like to think I’ll never take a second for granted. I’m not ashamed or afraid. I’m an addict but I’m not defined by it. I’m defined by my son, my lady, my writing, my music, my creativity in everything that I do, my family, my friends, my people… ALL OF YOU who get it. We aren’t alone….and we don’t deserve to be, either.

2 thoughts on “Blurring the Lines of Recovery”

  1. Editor’s Comment: To the author who submitted this story. I know that you included your names and the names of others, and that you were brave to not be afraid to do so. I still redacted the names because I want to make sure that anyone who reads these stories, and might consider sharing their own, feels confident and comfortable that their submission can be made completely anonymously. Thank you for bravery and for sharing your story.

  2. This was so raw and heart warming, I was captivated hearing you tell your story! I’m so glad you’re on a better path now, regardless of what methods you used to get here. Congratulations on your sons’ birth. I hope he knows how strong his parent is!

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