Listen to the podcast here:
Watch the episode here:
Mike’s Heroin Share
In this episode, I’ll be talking to Mike about his addiction and his recovery from addiction. Mike is a client at the Gault House Sober Living Environment in Santa Cruz, California. He is 25 years old and has been addicted to heroin primarily as well as crystal meth and other drugs. Mike is from Concord, California and he has three months clean time. Thanks for coming, Mike. Why don’t you let us know how your addiction got started?
I was about thirteen when I tried drinking alcohol and all hell broke loose. I got a bottle of Captain Morgan with my buddy, Mason, it was the big bottle, the gallon. We thought we were cool and we were drinking with these girls, but they weren’t drinking. My buddy, Mason, and I killed about the whole bottle. We were walking up the street. Next thing, Mason fell and he’s got the bottle. It shattered and he fell on it. His hand got all split open and I was drunk. I was like, “We can go to my house my mom could fix anything.” I remember lying in bed that night like, “This is it. I want to feel like this all the time.” My mom’s door was open and my door was open. Mason was on the couch and he was hammered, he was way drunk than me. About fifteen minutes of silence went on and we heard, “Oh,” and I and my mom started having a laughing attack. The chicken nuggets in the morning were good for the hangover. I started drinking heavily after that, socially and at parties. We’d party on the weekends. Probably it was about sixteen that I started drinking on weekdays and partying on Tuesdays. I started taking ecstasy at the age of sixteen, the pressed pills that fizzles where I’m from. That was major for my addiction more than alcohol. You could drink so much more. You feel like you’re Superman. Mix it in with some cocaine and it was crazy.
The first time I took ecstasy, we went downtown Walnut Creek and it was me and my buddy, Mike. We were supposed to go to the movies ended up taking some ecstasy walking around downtown. We brought his cousin along who was a goody-good. He never tried drugs before. We were already smoking pot. He came with us. That kid had the best night of his life. I doubt he had a better night since. Everyone was doing it. Before I did ecstasy, I was against it. My mom told me if I did one pill, I would die. I remember seeing all my friends on it and I was like, “They’re not dead.” That’s what started it. I was taking about seven pills a night, drinking my brains away. I was rapidly taking pills. I got expelled from high school three months before graduation. Me and my buddy, Mac, I would meet up with him on a Thursday and we’d call it the Thursday night hype. We’d take a bunch of ecstasies all throughout the weekend, go to parties and hang out with girls. We’d be raging until Sunday. We wouldn’t sleep the whole time, off at the Blue Mario heads. Those were what they were. I felt more comfortable talking to people. It brought me out of my shell. I used to get picked on a lot in middle school. I was scared of who I was. The ecstasy broadened your horizons.
To me, it sounds similar to my own story. That progression, especially once you started taking ecstasy if you immersed yourself into the drug culture surrounding it. Back in my day, it was raves and stuff like that. I wonder if you did things like that. For a lot of addicts, we have good times initially and that’s why we start using drugs. There’s a big turning point. It gets progressively worse and worse. I’m wondering what that progression was for you.Couldn't quit because too scared to quit. Click To Tweet
I tried the whole rave scene. I went to EPR in the city on Wednesday nights at San Francisco. My first time there was horrible. I hate being around that many people. I get bad anxiety. It was cool dancing on girls and stuff, but it’s they’re all sweaty. We’d do house parties and that was enough for me. My friends and I were selling ecstasy. We were selling cocaine. I made a lot of money in high school. Selling weed cookies at the high school is what got me expelled. I thought I was a gangster and I wasn’t. That definitely opened the door to my addiction and to where it led for years of drinking and doing cocaine. It eventually brought me down.
Norcos definitely stopped me from drinking so much. I quit drinking for a month because I did some dumb stuff to my girlfriend’s car. I smashed up her car when she got me annoyed. She wasn’t in the car. I started taking Norcos to quit drinking so I could last longer in bed because I was at two pumps out. My friend told me, “Don’t take those for longer than twelve days in a row or you’ll get addicted.” I was like, “I’m on day 30 or something,” and that’s when the withdrawals happened. I was fighting that until about a year ago and I progressed to Oxycodone or Roxys. I used to snort them and like, “No, you smoke them.” “That’s gross. You’re a dope fiend.” Next thing I was smoking them. I’m all, “No, I don’t shoot them. You’re a dope fiend,” and I progressed to heroin quick.
What was the cost? Why were your friends using heroin at that point?
The Norcos I was getting scrips of 100 of them for about $200 at first. That was good and then the prices went up to $500 each. I was spending $500 on a prescription. That was my whole paycheck. That would be gone in a day. I’d eat the pills by Sunday and I’d get paid Thursday. It was definitely a money thing because I switched to the 30 milligrams Roxys and I was getting them for $15 apiece. Now, they’re up to $30, that’s what definitely got me into heroin. I was smoking 20 milligrams, 30 milligrams Oxys a day, spending $300 rather than go buy some heroin, dub sack gets me loaded.
What happened after you became addicted to heroin? What did your life look at that point?
I quit Oxys in August and I went 42 days without Oxys. I thought I was clean. I was only drinking coke or drinking and doing coke. That’s the clean out in Concord. I started back up in October and then I was popping Xanax with it. I remember withdrawing one day and my little brother had heroin and he wouldn’t give me any. I convinced him that I’d already done it before. I grabbed the foil. I hit that stuff, coughed through the straw and that stuff splattered everywhere. He was annoyed. The financial decisions were for sure what got me to heroin. I always told myself I would never do it, even though I was doing it in the pill form it’s the exact same thing. The withdrawals, that’s what got me scared. I couldn’t quit because I was too scared it would kick.
You mentioned the cost of everything and that you had been spending your paychecks on your habit. Was there anything else you were doing to support your habit, legal or illegal?
I was selling Oxys because I was getting them for $15 each. I was selling them for $30. I was smoking away all my profit. I was selling a lot of them and people thought I was making good money but I wasn’t. I was getting unfronted. I’d have someone in my family or a friend front me the money and I would say, “I was done.” I’d go back to the dealer with the intentions of getting done, paying them off and being like, “That’s quits, but why do that one? You can get fronted again?” I dug myself in that hole many times, my family and friends started cutting me off. It hurts. I’m in a lot of debt because of drugs. I started selling Xanax. I was copping $1,000 at a time. That’s where the real money started coming in. I was smoking that away with heroin. I was getting an eight ball a day by the time I was done using.You can never get that right balance. There's no such thing. Click To Tweet
What was the turning point that compelled you to get into recovery?
Not only the debt and the waking up feeling every day, but I was also on Xanax, heroin and meth. It was July 2nd and I was up for three days. We went to Waterworld, it’s called Hurricane Bay now out in Concord. I was blacked out the whole time on Xanax. I don’t remember anything. When I got home, I was coming in and out of blackouts. I was trying to go to sleep and my little brother wouldn’t let me go to sleep. I was hallucinating. I was doing weird stuff in my backyard. Pretty sure he said I was naked at one point. My grandpa was probably annoyed. I haven’t talked to him about that one. I woke up from a blackout and I went from my bedroom in Concord to my stepdad’s house in Walnut Creek. I don’t know how I got there still to this day. My mom walked in the door. My sister walked in the door and she gave me this look that I’ll never forget. It was like, “I’m sorry.” I said, “What is she looking at me like that for?”
My real dad walked in and I knew if he was there that I messed up. I and my dad haven’t had the best relationship. He wasn’t around when I was younger. I’ve always been mad at him for that. I’m mad at myself because I thought I wasn’t good enough. I got to tell him to go off that night and I laughed. Some people would be like, “That’s messed up. Is that when you stopped?” No, I went out for another night and I tried taking fifteen Xanax but my friend took them away from me. I’m thankful for that. The next day I was seeing double of everything. My stepdad said I was digging in his couch talking about spaghetti. When I was seeing double I called my mom. I was like, “I’m ready to go to rehab. I can’t do this anymore.” I checked myself into detox the next day. I went to Concord. I went to therapy for seven days and I thought I was done. I got out for three days and my older brother was on watch for me. I finally got to go home from his house. I went to my house. I met up with my best friend, Matt. We went and got some dope and smoked it. I only got a twenty sack.Keep working on your program; it's going to be great. Click To Tweet
The next day he called me. He said he wants an eight ball but his dealer wasn’t answering. We had to call mine. I called my plug out in Antioch. We went and got an eight ball. We smoked the whole thing that night. My buddy from detox called me that night. He had relapsed too. He was an alcoholic and he picked me up hammered. We went to the bowling alley by my house. He was buying me shots and I was like, “I haven’t been drinking in so long. This stuff’s nasty but I can’t say no to the patron.” I took a couple shots and I got hammered off those shots because I was already high. I ended up driving his Prius back to my house. I left him in the passenger seat and his buddy in the back and I was like, “I’ve got to go home, guys.” He gave me a $20 bill for doing all that and I was like, “I can’t take your money.” He was like, “Take it,” so I took it and then went to bed. I woke up the next day and I was supposed to go to CERP at Kaiser, but I was too hung-over. I went and got my TB shot at Kaiser. I checked and passed that.
I went home, slept. Woke up from my nap and had that $20 bill. I called my buddy. We went and got another sack. My other buddy picked me up from Matt’s house and we went and smoked some crystal. I smoked a little too much crystal trying to balance that heroin out. You can never get that right balance. I don’t care how hard you try, there’s no such thing. I was up all night. I knew I was going into the Camp Recovery the next day. I was nervous. I thought I got away with it because Kaiser told me that they wouldn’t take me in if I pissed dirty. I called them on that Saturday and I was like, “I relapsed, sorry.” They were like, “It’s okay. Come on Monday.” I went and did 30 days at the Camp. It wasn’t until day 25 that I was about it. Day twenty I called my mom. I told her where my stash of heroin was in my room and to throw it away because that whole time, I was obsessing over it. I was not taking the program seriously. I was like, “I’ve got all these suckers fooled. I’m going to get out. I’m going to smoke dope. They can go be cleaned. Quitters.”
When my mom threw away that heroin, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt much better after that. My buddy, Montel, talked me into getting an SLE out here. I never thought I’d make new friends, but the friends I made in the camp are my friends for life. People I trust. I love my homies back home and I feel bad for leaving them, but I have to do what’s best for me. I made the decision to move out here and that was the best decision of my life. Now I’m here at Gault House.
It sounds like you knew you needed treatment. Then once you got to treatment, you had already set up a relapse or a reservation by leaving some dope for yourself back home. What was that switch like when you were there and you said, “Obsessing over it,” and then finally surrendered to recovery? You called your mom and told on yourself. I’m curious what that turning point was?
It was the people I met there for sure because I knew if I went out and relapsed, that there’s a chance I could never see these guys again. I wasn’t willing to take that risk. I’d even asked before I moved in here if I could go home for a week. The guy at the camp who does the alumni staff and gets people into SLEs was like, “What’s the point?” He called me on my BS because I was going to go get loaded for a week and then come here. Who knows what would have happened? I probably wouldn’t have made it.Having fun smoking heroin is not really fun. Click To Tweet
What’s it been like for you since you moved in here?
My life is great now. I know that sounds cliché but it is. I’ve accomplished every goal I set out in the camp. I got my job back with my company that I work for. I’ve got 98 days clean now. My mom’s proud of me. I got my little brother into rehab and he went to the camp. He left two weeks into being there and I found him out here on Pacific Avenue loaded that was hard. I’ve got through my little brother relapsing, my girl relapsing and my best friend relapsing. Another friend from Concord is out here relapsing and I’ve made through all of those clean. I couldn’t have done that without Narcotics Anonymous for sure. I’m working a steady program. I got a sponsor. I’m on step four. I’m about to finish up and get onto that step five and get a lot of stuff out. It’s going to feel good.
Step four isn’t as hard as they say it is.
Once you put the pen to the paper, it’s all good.
Other than the Twelve-Step program, what else do you think works in recovery?
Live one day at a time and try to think before you do things. Play the right tape because I know I have the right tape and the wrong tape. The wrong tape is me having fun smoking heroin and it’s not fun. I’ve seen what happened to my little brother and he was throwing up. It was like the first time you ever do it. The first time isn’t fun, but that second time gets you. It’s always the second time.
What does your future look like from this point, Mike?
I don’t know what my future has in hold for me, but I know if I keep working my program it’s going to be great. I love it out here. I’m not going back to Concord, that’s for sure. I won’t last. I plan to run my own grocery store one day and I will because I’ve wanted to do that for a long time and I work in the grocery industry. Hopefully a wife and five boys one day.
It sounds like some good goals. I wanted to thank you for joining us here on the show. To all of our readers, we wish you to stay sober and to be happy. Thanks.
Mike is a client at the Gault House, Sober Living Environment in Santa Cruz, California. Mike is 25 years old and he has been addicted to heroin primary and Crystal Meth secondarily. Mike is from Concord, California and he has 3 months clean time.
To learn more about recovery from addiction and to get started in the Recovery Lifestyle, join our mailing list here at http://www.ResponsibleRecovery.net and join the conversation taking place on our FaceBook group and follow us on Twitter.