Pubdate: Mon, 09 Jun 2008
Source: Daily Record, The (Parsippany, NJ)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Record
Author: Michael Daigle
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)


Kahli Murphy of Parsippany has always been a  hard-working

When he played defensive tackle for the 1996 Dover High  School
Tigers, the state champion football squad, he  was a hard-working
player. When he works a job in a  restaurant, he tries to be the best
employee there.

And when he was a junkie, he tried to be the best  addict he could

"My addiction was 'more,'" Murphy said. "That was the  underlying
malady. Whatever I could get my hands on at  the time, I wanted more."

Addiction became his full time job.

"From the time you wake up, till time you go to bed,  it's always
about the 'next,'" he said.

The next fix, the next deal, the next bottle of vodka.  The next day.
And you're still alive.

Kahli Murphy knows there is a fine line between the  world he once
occupied, and the one he lives in now.

"I believe that some of the smartest people in the  world are addicts.
These people live day to day,  without jobs, having to find a way to
feed their  habit," he said. "Day in and day out, it takes a lot of
skill, determination and drive. Slide that over to a  positive nature,
and they could be the most powerful,  richest, most important people
you'd meet."

Murphy, 29, smiles a lot when he talks and tellsstories  with an
ironic tone in his voice.

It is a voice that saves the harshest judgment for  himself; the voice
he earned relating the incident when  his mother told him she wanted
him to carry  identification because she didn't want to be called to
a morgue to identify his body once the booze and drugs  killed him.

Murphy is now clean and sober, father to a 21-month old  son, fully
employed and 18 credits shy of finishing his  hospitality management
course at the County College of  Morris. He wants first to manage
businesses, then own  them. Kahli Murphy plans to be one of those
powerful  people.

He is a recent graduate of the Morris County drug court  program, and
in May was the keynote speaker at the  latest graduation.


Murphy said he has the type of competitive personality  that never
shuts off.

"I never left the game on the field," he said. "I had  all those
accolades and praises that came from hitting  people. I put them on
the ground and I'd get praised  for it. But I wouldn't leave that on
the field. I  brought it with me to the street. The more I could hurt
people, the better I felt. I'd hurt your pride, your  ego, that's what
I got my satisfaction from."

He stopped and said, "I'd beat you at football, and I'd  drink you
under the table. There was no distinction  between athletics and

As a freshman in high school, a 300-pound athlete,  Murphy said he
realized he could hold more liquor than  anyone else because of his
body mass. And so he did,  continuing a habit that took root when he
took his  first drink at age 9.

There was liquor, then marijuana, then anything else.

"Everyone was doing something else, and after you drank  as much as
you could, someone would say, try this, have  some of this, want to
try it?" he said.

After an injured knee ended his football career as a  freshman at
Jersey State College, he said the only  thing he wanted to do was
drink and take drugs.

He said that coaches, advisers and his mother talked to  him to no
avail. His mother told him he was wasting all  his potential. "She
said I looked like walking death,"  he said.

He said it was the moment he recognized that he was an  addict. It
wasn't an entirely an unpleasant admission.

"I'd say, 'it's fine. I'm taking care of it,' " Murphy  said. "I'd use
all the lines you use to get your  parents to back off."

For 10 years Murphy lived that life. He called them his  years of
"twisted thinking."

'A Fine Conglomerate'

When you are addicted, he said, everything is fine.

"In addiction there is a constant barrage of drugs that  you can't
control, impulses you can't control, and you  don't feel sad any more
because you numbed yourself, so  everything is always fine," he said.
"If you say it  enough, you believe it. Then you get with addicts, and
  they're fine, and you all agree you are all a fine

"People are drinking as much as you are, and using as  many drugs as
you are, and you say I can't have a  problem because then we'd all
have a problem. And we  all can't have a problem because there are too
many of  us to have a problem. It's a mob mentality," he said.

Then along the way there is jail, a place Murphy  visited again and
again over 10 years, mostly for drug  possession and many small
offenses like a failure to  appear for court. He never accumulated
enough time to  send him to state prison, but knew well the inside of
the Morris County jail.

Jail is a school for addicts, he said. Graduate level

"It is taking all the same personalities and putting  them in the same
room where they can think together,"  he said.

"Inside, you learn the system to better prepare to deal  with it," he
said. "When they came to my house with a  bench warrant for not
appearing, in jail I'd say, "why  would I want to appear?' "

The jail expression, he said, is: "I'll pay up when  they catch me."
Murphy said it means, "I'm going to run  till they catch me. When they
get me I'll see what  happens."

Twisted thinking, he said.

That negative outlook stops addicts from trying to get  better, he

"You never think you can get that far out on that edge,  and once you
get there, you don't see that there is any  way back," Murphy said.

The way back

The way back for Murphy began when his mother told him  she wanted
nothing to do with him after he spurned an  initial offer to join the
drug court program.

The one person who had supported him no matter what  pulled

"They didn't want anything to do with me. I was  self-sufficient and
pretty much hell-bent on killing  myself," Murphy said.

Then, he said, two old friends died. One, the namesake  of his son
Eric, had returned from military service,  and was getting ready to
marry his high school  sweetheart, died from drugs, and the other,
Sgt. Ryan  Doltz of Mine Hill, was a high school football teammate
who died in Iraq.

"He gave his life to defend his country," Murphy said.  "I decided I
had to lick this."

He entered the drug court program and an intense  six-month rehab

"It was not relief. There was a lot I had to do to make  up for lost
time," Murphy said. "I had to take a  personal inventory. My counselor
required that I write  an autobiography. I wrote about all the things
that had  happened to me as a child, things I had not thought  about
for years. When I look back, I see how ugly it  made me look. It as a
lot of work to clean that up."

He said, "When my mom told me that I had to take this  deal or she
would have nothing to do with me, that  scared some sense into me.
Once I had a taste of sober  living, I found the people in my life
were more  directed, more conscious of things, and I realized I
wanted to be one of those people. They were happy, and  I realized I
had not known happiness since the day I  won that state

Ten years, Murphy said, is a long time to be that  unhappy.
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