The following is a special guest post, one addict’s account of a dark personal time. If you are dealing with addiction, contact the Rehab Helpline for Drugs and Alcohol (877) 467-4825.

College is a time for experimentation. We start truly learning about ourselves and how to interact with people. Making discoveries in our transition to adulthood begins in college. It’s a time of firsts! Girlfriends, sex, sushi, driving stick-shift, joints, blunts, thin powdery lines and parties. I was interested in feeling good and not much else. Getting good grades, making lifelong connections, and joining a fraternity were three of the things I was excited about. But I never got to experience fraternity life and the grades were average at best. Oh, and those connections? Well, I took the hardest road; one I suggest you never follow. Connections didn’t come until my mind, body, and spirit were healed. Some say I’ve wasted time. Others simply can’t believe me. “You’re very well-spoken” they’d tell me years after getting clean and sober. If they only knew who I was, what I did, and who I hurt to get my next fix. If there’s one thing I can attest to, getting caught up in the cycle of drug addiction in a college environment, can happen to anyone.

This is a true account of an addict in active addiction and what transpired over the span of two years. THIS is part of my story.

Before the Addict Comes Knocking, There’s Innocence

Growing up, I had it all. My parents stayed together. We’d go on fun vacations. If I wanted a toy or video game, all I had to do was ask. They’d tell me, “We are so proud of you.” When I asked either my mom or dad, why they were so proud of me, the reply was the same, “Because you’re our son.” Nothing was “bad” about my upbringing. My father was a hard working small grocery store owner. On weekends I would be stationed at the deli counter, making sandwiches for hungry workers on their lunch break. I still make a mean Staten Island cheesesteak!
I was always accepted as “one of the guys”, able to mesh with just about any crowd. But deep down I felt different. I didn’t want to simply fit in. I didn’t want to simply be accepted. I simply didn’t want to be me. One thing that kept me away from taking drugs in highschool was sports. I was a baseball player; a pitcher to be exact. Baseball took up a huge chunk of my time throughout the four years I attended my catholic highschool in Staten Island, NY. Through it all, mom and dad never missed a game.

These are the Cool Kids, So I Want to Fit In

I played baseball throughout the summer between my senior year of highschool and my freshman year at college. When it came time to play ball in college, I ran some laps and threw some pitches, but didn’t stick around. My first year was centered around smoking marijuana, abusing anti-anxiety medications, taking prescriptions that weren’t mine, and the occasional powdery line, cocaine. “Being cool” meant doing what the cool people were doing.
Things got worse by the summer before my sophomore year. That was one of the worst times in my life. I say “ONE of the worst” because there were so many awful times due to my new habits. I had been busy getting hooked on prescription painkillers in my freshman year (and doing a really good job of staying hooked during the summer), my mom had become suspicious of me. At first, she couldn’t put her finger on precisely what was wrong with me….that is, until she finally did.

Hello Hello Hello How LOW

That summer, my mother found me in our downstairs floral-themed bathroom, using heroin. We had family from Italy staying with us for half the summer. Everyone was staying in my grandparent’s section of the house which happened to be downstairs. I don’t remember exactly why I decided to use that specific bathroom, but I did. My mom must have known I was doing something sketchy because she went full “Rocky” on me. Not knocking, the door flew open and crashed against the bathroom wall, breaking the door stopper. The exchange was wordless. The beating was deserved. From that point on, I was watched like a hawk, but I didn’t care. At this time in my life, I was possessed by a demon and his name was “MORE”. I was high alright, but I never felt lower.

Recovery. Recovering. Recovered

The good news is, addicts today have more resources than in decades past. This is only a small part of my story. If you suspect that a friend, classmate, or roommate has any sort of issue with any sort of drug, learn about your options. 8 Warning Signs of Drug Addiction can help you understand what signals to be on the lookout for. And YES, this includes alcohol! As we say in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, “Alcohol is a drug”.
Using a substance to intentionally alter one’s state of mind, whether it be prescription pills, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, those computer dusters, and alcohol is drug abuse. Getting caught up in the cycle of drug addiction can happen to anyone.

If you are thinking of getting help, stop thinking and take action!

The best decision of my life was to accept help. In total, I’ve spent close to a decade becoming a monster and half that time staying clean, staying productive, staying happy. I’ve experienced a version of hell on earth I never want to re-live. My hope for YOU, the young man or woman reading this right now, is to accept. What starts with acceptance has potential to end happily ever after. My happily ever after is my reality today.

Finding Resources that will Help YOU

Many people worry about how seeking recovery will impact their lives, jobs, and relationships. They wonder whether it will work. These concerns and uncertainty about going to an inpatient program can cause some people to put off receiving the treatment they need. It’s common to feel unsure about finding and getting help. People are still believers that addiction is “dirty” and a “homeless thing.” Bottom line, drugs today are stronger and more lethal. Death is becoming a likely outcome to drug experimentation. To calm your fears and worries, find out what you can expect from drug inpatient treatment.
We just don’t have the luxury of putting off help. Consider this excerpt from 16 year-old Ally Porter:
“Heroin is the first thing I think about when I wake up, it’s the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. I just care about getting high. I wish I had all the money in the world, so I could buy all the heroin in the world.” — These were her last written words. Ally tragically overdosed on September 26, 2014
To help you understand options for you or someone you love, call the Rehab Helpline for Drugs and Alcohol at 877-467-4825. Caring counselors are available to talk.

Thank you mom for always believing in me and seeing me as a diamond when all I saw was coal. Without you my success would STILL be a distant dream!

Tom Falcone is freelance copywriter and web developer, contributing regularly to various health, wellness, and financial publications.