This is a story of my experience with alcoholism and addiction. I was raised in a very loving home by my mother here in Naperville. It was in jr. high when I started to drink alcohol. It started out to be an occasional thing and then became something I thought about quite a bit. The summer before high school I started to experiment with marijuana. By the time high school started it had become a daily habit to smoke pot, drink or do both. It seemed that when I drank or used drugs the emptiness in my soul would temporarily leave. I didn't feel comfortable with myself and thought drugs and alcohol made it easier.

Throughout my freshman year of high school I experimented with other drugs and was introduced to heroin. I began to use it occasionally and it quickly progressed from a weekend occurrence, to every couple of days, to daily use. I continued to smoke pot and drink on a regular basis but heroin became my drug of choice. I started by snorting it. But as my tolerance increased I progressed to shooting it. In the beginning $10 or $20 would be enough for a couple of days and in the end $150 a day wasn't enough. It got to the point where I would be "dopesick" after about three hours. Once I was "dopesick," I would do anything to get more heroin. I became strung out on heroin rather quickly. I lost 30 pounds and my skin color was a deathly pale.

For the remainder of high school I was in and out of treatment centers with failed attempts at sobriety. My grades fell and in my senior year in high school I dropped out a month before graduation. Throughout high school I was in trouble with law and had resorted to many illegal activities to fund my addiction. As my addiction progressed, I experienced jail, overdoses, guns pulled on me, car wrecks, and more trouble with the law. I was traveling to the west side of Chicago multiple times a day to feed my addiction. Despite all this, the thing that was most devastating was the emotional pain I caused my family, myself, and all those I cared about. I put my family through massive amounts of hurt, fear, and pain. I stole from and lied to them. My family was never sure if I would come home alive. The only time they knew I was safe was when I was in jail. I lost all my friends and a girlfriend who I truly loved. When I look back at all the pain and chaos I spread while I was using, it breaks my heart.

My addiction brought me to where I couldn't take enough drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. I was in utter despair. I was faced with a decision. I would cut myself off from everyone I had ever known and continue to live this junkie lifestyle, or I would give sobriety one more chance. I knew that I didn't want to keep living the way I was, so I put all of my faith in God and gave AA a chance. When I became sober I started going to AA meetings. Through AA I have learned how to live a spiritual way of life. Today, I have something to fill the emptiness that I had always sought drugs for; that something is God.

Through God's graciousness and the help of AA's Twelve Steps I am alive, sober, and my life is more beautiful than my wildest dreams. Today, I have a beautiful relationship with the woman I love and my precious son. I am able to go to college and get good grades, as well as work a fulltime job. I have great relationships with friends and family, and have peace in my soul. There is purpose and meaning in my life and I am truly happy. The sobriety I have is truly a gift from God, and I am so blessed to be a recipient of it.

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