Pubdate: Thu, 03 Nov 2005
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Section: Lifestyles and Art
Copyright: 2005 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Jon Johnson


We encourage readers to share their personal stories in this space, 
where they may provide information and support to others affected by 
substance abuse and addiction.

A letter to young users

I am writing this letter to the young users out there.

I am 22 years old, and I got hooked on OxyContin at a young age. I 
had a good job working on a fishing boat making over $1,000 a week. I 
was taking between five and 10 [80-milligram tablets] a day. But when 
I lost my job because of drugs, I couldn't afford it any more. I went 
to some all-time lows in my life. I stole from friends, family, even 
my parents. But I wasn't myself; the drug was controlling me. I 
needed it, and getting it was all that mattered to me. That is why I 
now write this letter to you from the Aroostook County jail while I 
am awaiting trial in Washington County Superior Court. I got charged 
with three Class C burglaries and three thefts by unauthorized taking 
and a criminal mischief.

All for a course that was never my own. All because of Oxys, I have 
spent the last five months in jail and will probably spend a lot 
more. I am just thankful I am still alive.

Death is the worst place drugs can take you; I am at the second-worst 
place. If you continue to use Oxys, I bet you will end up at one or the other.

Sincerely, Jon Johnson

Each day is a gift

For many years, my life consisted of a series of events controlled by 
my addictions. I had no idea who I was. I wrenched and squirmed 
inside my own skin. I had sick relationships with people, drugs, 
alcohol, myself and my higher power.

I made foxhole prayers out of desperation - "Don't let me be pregnant 
this time and I'll never be unsafe again." "If I don't get arrested 
this time or kill someone on the road, I'll be good from now on." 
"Let these tests be negative this time and I promise I'll stop," etc. 
I eventually realized that those were not realistic requests; they 
were desperate attempts at a quick fix, a blanket to cover the 
mistakes of my life and the insane behavior that existed within me. 
My irrational thinking had me repeating the same behaviors over and 
over and expecting different results.

I didn't start out wanting to live the way I found myself living; I 
don't think anyone plans on that kind of life. Never in my wildest 
dreams did I think I would end up in police custody, or addicted to 
heroin, or worrying about diseases and pregnancy.

I began drinking and smoking marijuana around the age of 12 or 13 
growing up in New York. I proceeded to experiment with whatever I 
could get my hands on. I loved to use and abuse, and in turn I 
allowed myself to be used and abused.

I hung around with much older people, usually men, and ended up 
losing my virginity very young.

I rapidly lost respect for myself and became weaker and weaker willed.

I had difficulty saying "no" to men and ended up in many unwanted 
physical situations. I didn't realize I deserved respect.

I felt so broken.

By eleventh grade, I was shooting heroin.

I had my first introduction to Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics 
Anonymous at this point.

I realized I needed more formal help and admitted myself into a drug 
rehab-detox center my senior year of high school.

I managed to graduate high school but swiftly worked my way back into 
the heroin scene. The summer after graduation, I accidentally 
overdosed in an airport and willingly, with the help of a court 
mandate, decided to seek treatment again.

Four years ago I withdrew from the State University of New York, 
moved to Maine, and sought outpatient treatment at Acadia hospital.

After several more arrests, an OUI conviction and A lot of pain I am 
now, finally, clean and sober.

My choices are finally mine and not controlled by my compulsion to 
use. I decided at long last to surrender my will and my life to a 
higher power and give up control - I wasn't doing a very good job on my own.

The disease of addiction almost took my life and nearly destroyed the 
lives of those who love me. It was a long, dreadful and unnecessary 
trip that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

I am now learning the lessons I missed growing up, learning how to 
live. I am blessed to be one on the few lucky ones who have found a 
new way of life. I have many regrets that used to eat me up inside, 
but I now live my life one day at a time. It's all I have, this very moment.

Now my prayers consist of a daily request for strength to stay sober, 
wisdom to make good choices and wisdom to know which choices I have 
control over, and serenity.

I regularly attend Alcoholics Anonymous [and] Narcotics Anonymous 
meetings and make a daily decision to turn my will and my life over 
to my higher power.

I choose to stay away from a drink or a drug. I have choices now; I 
am no longer controlled by drugs and alcohol.

I see that I deserve respect.

My life is now significantly enhanced, and it is entirely mine. 
Colors are brighter, food tastes better, each day is a gift. I no 
longer dread the morning or wake resentful that I am waking.

At the age of 23, I rise thankful for another day.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman