Guest author Daniel Wittler shares his treatment and recovery story with us.
If there is one word to describe life in most of my 20’s it would be hopeless. I picked up drugs at 17 and got sober at 26. Those years that I was using I was merely existing in life, my only priority was getting drugs. I’d have all these ideas of my future like getting a college degree, finding a career I love and starting a family but that’s all it was, just ideas. As time went on in my use my life became smaller and smaller. My relationships were completely shallow and my family was always worrying about me, especially my mother. When hopelessness sinks in it is a scary time in life. I was making so many terrible decisions based on my drug use and I could not have been more indifferent about those decisions and the potential consequences. Ultimately however, it was my complete hopelessness that laid down the foundation to my freedom.
I did not touch a drug until college. Honestly, in high school drugs terrified me. I absolutely believed they could destroy my life and I had parents that were very involved in my life so I didn’t want to risk them finding anything. Once I made it to college however, there was no more supervision. I could do whatever I want whenever I want. I remember a week into college someone handed me a joint at a party and I didn’t think twice about it. Immediately I fell in love with getting high, I wanted to feel it everyday. I spent 2 years in college getting stoned and not going to class, which could only last for so long. After 2 years I moved back home into my mom’s basement and felt like a giant failure. At the same time weed was not doing the job it used to do.
I remember one night, a friend of a friend had some pain pills. I was at a time in life where I wanted to experiment, weed was great but I wanted more. As soon as I took my first pill I fell in love. I felt more confident, more social, happier, and most importantly all of my worries went away. I entered a real tailspin once I started doing pain pills, it was all that mattered. I lasted maybe a year and a half until I entered my first treatment center at age 21. I felt like a deer in the headlights, I couldn’t believe I was actually in a rehab. I wish I could say that I got treatment and recovery, learned my lesson and lived happily ever after but this was just the beginning of the misery for me. I spent the next five years in and out of treatment, living in sober living communities and getting kicked out, resort to being homeless and then go back to treatment. An absolutely miserable existence. My hopelessness was becoming more prevalent which each day of suffering.
My last year before getting sober was an absolute nightmare. My father had gotten me a job with his company in hopes of getting me back on my feet, he wanted so bad for me to just get it together and get a life. He was my biggest supporter. I lasted there for about a year and a half until they realized I was a total detriment to the company, I had begun stealing from the job and was caught red handed. It broke my fathers heart. I fled down to South Florida after destroying everything I had up north where I am from. I spent the next five months after getting fired getting high and staying up for days in a rented room in a beat down house in Florida. My father would not speak to me. I don’t blame him.
Then one day, he did answer me through text. If we had talked on the phone we would of ended up just shouting at each other. It was a deep talk that I wish I could articulate what was said but I just never know if the words will mean as much to others as the words meant to me. At the end of the conversation he said he’s playing cards with the guys that night, it was a friday, and to call him over the weekend. I didn’t end up calling. I received a call from my mother at 11 am on Monday, March 11th, 2015. She had informed me that my dad had died of a heart attack, he was 60, I was devastated. I can’t even describe how grateful I am for the last conversation we had.
I flew up home for the service and spent the next 2 months crying myself to sleep every night. It was easily the most hopeless and depressed I had ever been, I thought it was my fate to just fail forever until I fade away. My mom told me I would have the opportunity to go back to treatment because my father had left money behind after passing. I said yes right away but really thought it was a waste of time. It turns out my hopelessness was the greatest thing to happen to me, because of it I was finally willing to listen to others and completely take guidance. My life was no longer up to me, when I put things in my hands I ruined it every time. In recovery we are told we must surrender in order to truly get and stay sober. Surrender to me just meant no longer thinking I knew best and doing what others who knew better told me to do. I was so sick of thinking I knew better, it failed me everytime. Luckily my treatment center had an alumni program that got me very involved with peers in recovery which proved to change my life.
The thought that inspired me the most was that I wanted to honor my dad, who did everything he could in life to teach and help me in order to live a good life. All he ever wanted was for his kids to be happy and I was not going to let his time spent on earth be a waste, I had to do this not only for him, but for me. It has been four years since I entered treatment and recovery, I still miss my father more than anything. It certainly does not get easier. I have found out in treatment and recovery however, I get out what I put in. This time I put my heart and soul into changing my life and the results showed up quite quickly in my life. I continue to stay active in my life and stay teachable. I also continue to honor my dad, it turns out he didn’t waste his time at all on me. I wouldn’t be here without him.
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