Needless to say, my using career was not pretty. These stories so far have been just a brief glimpse into the horrors that had become of my life. And believe me, there are many more on the way. I just wanted to share some of these stories with you all first to sort of pave the way. To illustrate what happens to us addicts when we’re trapped in the nightmare of active addiction. You know, when were all children, and throughout our teenage years we’re constantly told and retold that drugs are bad. “If you do drugs, you’ll do time.” “This is your brain on drugs.” and “Just say no.” These were the prevention methods I became familiar with, and I am in NO WAY trying to discount these campaigns. These efforts have done wonders throughout the world in helping raise awareness and prevention. I just wish that some of the actual horror stories would be shared. In my opinion, the ads, the campaigns, and the efforts thus far are only telling the half truth of it all. Maybe something like ” If you get into the drug using lifestyle, you may become an addict, and by age 30 you will have buried your best friend, left your infant son in the hospital to be picked up by total strangers, buried countless other friends, drop out of high school and college, twice, go to prison, be an 8 time felon, live like a homeless bum on the west side of the city, and be stuck trying to catch up professionally with kids who graduated 10 years after your graduation year, if you’re lucky enough to live through it.” Might break it down a little better. But this is just my opinion.
And that brings me to another critical point about why I’m doing this. I’m not some crusader on some deranged path for some sort of sick recognition. I have indeed lived through it, sometimes unwillingly, but here I am. And after the experiences that I’ve lived through, the things I’ve seen, and most importantly the feelings I’ve felt, I am still here, and that tells me that God isn’t through with me yet. I now have a new emotional tool in my life as a result of my battles with this disease. Empathy. I have been there. And I want to clarify something to the skeptic out there, if you’re reading these posts and are a person who has had your bouts with addiction, but are finding yourself comparing your story with mine- you may be thinking, “well I’m not as bad as Herb is, so I’m ok.”Remember this very important idea: You may not have done what I’ve done, or been where I’ve been, but at one time or another, You’ve felt what I felt. Try to identify with the fear, the feelings of utter hopelessness that come as a direct result from the addiction, the lives we lead. Relate, don’t compare. My aim of all of this is three fold: First, to the addict who is still using, and no doubt suffering from this disease- people do understand. You’re not alone. Recovery is possible. You never have to use again. There is hope! Secondly, to the addicts in recovery, my friends, and to people who love people in recovery- never forget where we came from, keep it fresh, “keep it green”, stay humble, we are so truly blessed to be on the other side of this thing, finally. And thirdly, To the person who maybe experimenting with drugs, or to someone who may be flirting with the idea of using for the first time- DON’T DO IT! It’s not worth it! Yes, the temporary relief that the drugs may bring might be satisfying. Most instant gratification is. But the end game is potentially all bad, it’s futile and fatal. Your life is worth so much more than handing over to a disease that kills people every day. And that is precisely just what you may be doing, without even knowing it. Trust me, you don’t want to experience the things that I have as a result of using. “But Herb, I’m just smoking some weed, I only drink on the weekends.” “A couple Vicodin won’t hurt.” I said that too. If I would have been given the opportunity to look at my life at age 30, when I was 15 and thinking, obsessing over drugs, it may have changed my mind about the gamble of using. The life of a using addict is a long, grim, and horrific road to travel. I never in a million years would have guessed where it was going to take me. I was just having fun, until I wasn’t. I always considered myself a lone wolf, a strong, independent, strong willed man. But to the disease of addiction, it did not matter, it chewed me up and spit me out. Repeatedly. The only way to win against this thing is to surrender. There aren’t too many old junkies out there. Because when we’re using, we never live to be old, and that is so sad to me. So, if you’re out there, and you’re reading this, regardless of who you are, just remember, we may not be able to help everyone, but everyone can help someone. Keep it green.