Meet Recovery Rockstar, Chris N

Hi, my name is Chris and I am an addict:

As many addicts and alcoholics share, my early childhood was more or less perfect.  I grew up in a middle class home, with both of my parents working full time jobs trying to give me and my siblings the best life that they could.  And they did.  My addiction has nothing to do with how or where I was raised.  It has everything to do with me and the disease that I believe I was born with.  

Looking back in life now, I can see characteristics of addiction going back as far as I can.  I’ve never really been comfortable with who I am as a person, even to this day I still struggle with this.  As a kid, I always tried to fit in with the group that would accept me.  I always felt out of place.  In high school I started to hang out with many different groups of people, the common thread between all of them was drugs and alcohol.  

High school is a daze to me now.  From junior year on, I was more concerned with getting high then actually going to class. I would show up late, skip out early, do whatever I had to do to get high and to get the “cool” kids to think I was one of them.  The first time I tried prescription pills was actually during a junior year school day.  I had helped out a buddy with getting some weed, and his repayment was a pain killer.  At that point, I had only been smoking (A LOT) of pot and drinking on the weekends.  Taking that pain killer fueled the disease of addiction that was inside me the entire time.  

I had barely made it out of high school and then proceeded to fail out of community college twice by the time I was 19.  At this point, I was so concerned with getting high that I didn’t care at all about my future. Only the here and now mattered.  

Shortly after I dropped out of college my addiction to marijuana got insanely out of control.  This put a major stress in the relationship that I had with my parents.  My mom is a substance abuse counselor, so to see her oldest son ruining his life around drugs and alcohol really damaged her for a long time.  I was kicked out of my parents’ house numerous times, always coming back within a month or two telling them I would change and do whatever it would take to stay in the house.  Which meant no pot.  That never lasted.

The final time I was “asked to leave”, I moved into an apartment in a very bad part of the city.  I do not know how I made it out of this apartment alive. Within a few days of moving there, I had been introduced to different narcotics that I had not been around before and I loved every single one of them.  

About 6 months into being on my own, I was reintroduced to opiates.  I had broken my wrist snowboarding and was in a lot of pain and had known a co-worker at the fast food restaurant that I was working at had a large prescription for them.  Right from the start I was not taking them for the pain.  I soon built a tolerance to these not as potent pills and had to find something that worked better for me.  My opiate addiction took the same path that many addicts do.  Starts off with a few hydros, then escalated to morphine pills, then finally it reached OxyContin.  I fell in love with oxy after the first time I crushed the first one.  It wasn’t like anything else I ever experienced and I was done for.  

In the beginning, a half pill had me high for hours.  Soon it turned to a full one, then two, then three and so on.  Things were getting out of control fast.  I was ruining relationships with friends that I had for years.  I was broke and strung out every day.  When I started to run out of money, I began to take money from my job.

I was managing the fast food restaurant I was working for at the age of 21.  Having an active addict in charge of the daily money is a horrible thing.  I started to take small amounts and pay it back when I got the money in my paycheck.  No problem.  I had the system beat.  I just pay back the money I “borrow” during the week when I get my paycheck.  Surely, the paying back was not happening after a small amount of time. With the free money, came more pills.  At this time, my addiction had grown to over a $300 a day habit.  All of it was running out of control and I could feel it, but there was nothing I could do.  I didn’t have the money to pay back and I couldn’t stop using otherwise I was going to be very, very sick.

On March 15, 2012, I was working the morning shift when my district manager came up to me and said that there were a couple guys that needed to talk to me.  The owners of the company had found the false paperwork that I had made to cover up my stealing and had the New York State Police arrest me on grand larceny and falsifying business records.  The grand total of my larceny charge was over $12,000. I was arraigned and my bail was set at $10,000.

So what does any addict do when they are facing jail time, they call mom and dad.  But mom and dad weren’t going to help this time until they knew that I was going to actually change my ways.  I know leaving me in jail was one of the hardest thing that my mom had ever done.  

When they came to post my bail, there was only one choice for me.  It was finally time to get clean and sober.  The next week was filled with detox.  I detoxed in my parents’ house for a week because the rehab facility didn’t have an open bed until the following week.  I feel like I spent that entire week laying in my parents shower.  It was the only place that seemed to be somewhat comfortable.  

I was placed into a 30 day inpatient facility outside Syracuse, New York.  My time inside this facility may be the best and most important 30 days of my life.  I met some amazing people that I am still in contact with today and I was introduced to the 12 step programs.  Each night we would have recovering addicts and alcoholics come into the facility and just talk to us.  Young and old, poor and rich.  They all were there for one thing.  To help the next struggling person. That is the absolutely most important lesson I learned while in rehab.  I’m not going to stay clean by myself. I need others who know what it’s like to deal with this evil disease.

After my time in treatment, I attended AA and NA meetings as instructed by the rehab facility and continued with outpatient treatment. To this day, I am still in contact with people I was in rehab with.

March 16, 2012 is my sobriety date. I’ve been giving so many blessings in my life after gaining recovery. With all these blessings do come struggles as well.  I’ve gone back to college and received my degree, I have a job I love, friends that I truly care about and they care about me.  My relationship with my family is amazing.  I was in a great relationship that unfortunately ended, but I made it through it because I stayed clean.  

I am here now to support my brother who is now an enlisted Marine.  I get to be an uncle to an amazing little girl, and I get to be the proud dad to an amazing dog that has become my best friend.  I can honestly say that today I am happy with who I am and what I have become.  I would not have change a single day in my life.  If anyone who is reading this needs help, do not be afraid to ask.  There are people out there that have been in your shoes and are willing to help.  Thank you so much for reading my story and if I help one person with my story then all the pain I went through is worth every second of it.