I grew up in Miami, Florida, going to the beach and eating Cuban sandwiches.
My siblings and I were always very close, even though we are years apart in age. My oldest sister Wendy would take me to the beach and after being worn out from learning to paddle on her surfboard and being tossed around in the waves, we would go to Casola’s. With the smell of salt water still on my clothes, I remember walking into the pizza parlor and being overwhelmed by the enticing smell of fresh pizza. The slices were as big as my head and the cheese, crust, and red sauce would just melt in my mouth.
Growing up, my parents were both teachers and always fueled my desire to learn. I loved school and I always had help if ever I was having trouble. Even at a very young age, my family was always going on vacations. By the age of ten, I had been to Alaska and every place in between on the road trips we took in our minivan. I remember always waking up at a new place to be explored.
Despite my good upbringing, I fell into a serious addiction, stole from my family and sowed a string of lies for years. I started smoking pot a week before my 15th birthday. It wasn’t long after that I started experimenting with other drugs and would take anything. I would skip lunch every day to save my lunch money for pot.
I had it all explained to myself. I wanted to be an artist or musician and the musicians in all the bands I grew up with – Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Nirvana – all did drugs. I always heard the myth that hard times would incite creative genius. I chased destruction, used any drugs anyone had, destroying relationships with girls and friends alike. I constantly blew off my parents’ opinions on my life choices. I honestly made drugs, sex, and rock ’n roll my motto.
When I used heroin for the first time at age 18, all the worries I had just disappeared. It made me numb. I didn’t care what people thought, I wasn’t afraid of failure or the fact that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life. I used heroin off and on for about six months. Then after becoming an IV user, I would use every day. That went on for a year and a half.
The months before I came to Narconon were miserable. I spent all day every day worried about where my next fix would come from. Even when I got high, I would have ten minutes without concerns and then I was worried about the next shot. I didn’t care about anyone or anything – all I cared about was that next shot. I was constantly scared of getting sick from withdrawals. The fear was so bad that if I wasn’t high enough, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. I’d lay awake trying to figure out where to get money so I could score. I stole and conned money from friends and wrote myself checks out of my parents’ checkbooks.
I tried to quit a couple times but as soon as I started to feel a little sick, I’d do anything to get high. I smashed my life to pieces. I failed out of college, quit my job for no reason, stopped making art or music, and lied to everyone around me. Things finally exploded when my friend overdosed and went to the hospital. All the lies came out and my parents found out everything. I was lucky enough to go to rehab and not jail.
May 18th marked two years sober, thanks to Narconon. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve thought a lot about the things I did while I was addicted to heroin. Through the Narconon program I was able to gain closure on the past as I became honest with my family about everything I had done. They forgave me for all the lies and the stolen money. I started a new life and with what I learned at Narconon, I was able to make my new life much better than I thought it could ever be.