Substance Abuse Resources & Disability Issues

Josephine F. Wilson, D.D.S., Ph.D., Director

CAM Testimonials: Charles' Story

My name is Charles and I am an addict. Today I am living sober and my life has changed for the better. I was once hopeless and had no idea what to do with myself. Drugs had taken me over, but I wasn't exactly sure that was my problem. I thought I was crazy.

As kid I drank alcohol and got into trouble. I have had many underage consumptions, many disorderly conduct, and criminal damaging charges. I have wrecked my mother's car, destroyed her home, and many other "damaging deeds" I was not proud of.

The courts had sent me to Crisis Care to be evaluated. The courts thought I might have an alcohol problem. I was not ready to be honest with myself or anyone else. I lied on every question they asked me. If I told the truth I thought Crisis Care would have me locked away for sure. Besides, everyone I knew acted the same way that I did. I looked up to people who drank and did drugs. Crisis Care only sent me to drug education classes. I don't remember much about the classes. I did decide to cut back my drinking, eventually. Drinking definitely made me crazy, but that just meant that I had to find another way of getting high. I didn't know how to cope any other way. I've used every type of drug, but the one I loved most was painkillers.

With this drug I found my best friend. I found a feeling that I always wanted to feel. I had many ways of getting my drugs, and I got them everyday. They made me feel great. I could talk to people more easily, going to work seemed like less of a burden, and I had many friends. I thought I was happy. Drugs seemed to help me feel normal. I thought drugs and alcohol helped me cope with my messed up life. I used drugs and alcohol to help me feel more comfortable around people. Life's worries and problems seemed to pile up on me. I didn't care, because I had my drugs and I could feel so good even when things were so bad. I have two aunts and an uncle who overdosed on drugs. I didn't understand their addiction. I though it was just the way they were. I told myself I could never be like them.

The painkillers I was using just weren't working anymore. I moved to different substances that were more potent. My tolerance kept getting worse. It took more and more drugs as time passed. If I didn't have my fix I became very sick. My body had a way of saying, "Get more drugs." I didn't argue, I knew I was hooked. I kept trying to feel that awesome feeling I once felt, but I seldom did. My life became misery on drugs and off drugs. I made strange decisions to make my drug use possible, like moving out of my apartment into a broken down house that had no heat. I didn't have to pay rent there. Matters were getting worse. The only thing I cared about was my drug. I seemed to believe it was my only escape. I wanted nothing to do with anyone or anything unless it contributed to me getting high. It was my only necessity in life; I was consumed. Everything else was secondary to me at this point.

I wanted to get cleaned and tried. I would go to my sister's house in the country to try and detox myself. I thought if I could just get the drug out of my system...I could stop. I could only make it two or three days. I felt my only chance to end my misery was to die. I knew the way I was living would contribute to that outcome soon enough. I thought about my aunts and the way my family was affected when they died. I didn't want to put anyone lese through that pain. I called my mother and we made a plan for me to go to the hospital. I figured that if I could get these drugs out of my system I could surely stay sober. I ended up at Miami Valley Hospital to detox. I was there for about one week. I spent my 22nd birthday there. I was glad to be there, but it was a terrible time for me. The day I left the hospital something happened to me. Emotional pain; full of regret, shame, and sadness swept over me. I could not even speak because I was afraid the tears would pour out and people around me would see me crying. In the midst of my crisis I wanted people to think that I was all right.

I stayed sober for about one week after my hospital stay. I kept saying every time I used that it would be my last. I made excuses for using drugs by just using Methadone. After all Methadone was a drug that helped people get off of painkillers. In a short time, I was right back where I was before. Using drugs to live and living for the drugs was what my life had become. I wanted to die again.

Somewhere inside me I must have had just a little more hope. It may have come from my mother; she had entered into a rehab. program for her drinking. I made another appointment with Crisis Care. I remembered Crisis Care from when I was sent there before from the courts. I was going to be honest with them this time. They had evaluated me, and then sent me to a place called the CAM Program. I was beginning to have more hope in my life. Just maybe I could get help. I began to feel that my addiction was not my only problem. I needed to be honest; I had no other choice. I knew I was sick and it was definitely showing. Probably more so in other's eyes than my own.

I went to CAM and first was evaluated with questions that were a little strange to me. Then I was introduced to my counselor. We talked awhile. She asked me questions like, "What kind of things do you want to accomplish in your life?" "What do I want to get out of CAM?" I really had no idea what to say. They couldn't give me what I wanted. I wanted a life, to feel somewhat "normal". I didn't want to keep chasing drugs. I wanted a better job. I felt I wasn't able to do all of those things on my own, and no one could possibly give me what I wanted. I felt so silly being there. Again, I wanted everyone to think that I was just fine.

I couldn't hide my misery anymore, and I really had nothing to lose. I gave CAM a chance. I was a little leery of talking to my counselor, because I was afraid my honesty would have me put n jail. To talk to someone openly involved a lot of talk about illegal drug use. I did eventually trust her and let her in to my world. At times just showing up for appointments helped. I began to gain more hope. I was actually doing something about my drug problem. Letting someone "normal" look into my life and help me figure out what to do differently, surely could not hurt. What I had been doing alone was killing me.

It began to feel all right to share with them my struggles. My counselor and I talked about my past, my future, my needs and how it could be possible to fulfill my life. I learned that taking better care of myself began at sobriety. She suggested inpatient treatment. I really needed to get a way for a while and learn about recovery. My caseworker took me to the treatment center every Friday for pre-admissions groups. I was hopeful that attending these groups would provide me with a bed date much sooner. My caseworker was my first influence of sobriety, first hand. We made appointments and just hung out. My caseworker even visited me in treatment. By the case worker just being there and treating me like a human being was good. I had someone on my side. I started to believe that it was possible that I could make something of myself.

During my stay at the treatment center I learned how important it was to have a support system. I found a connection there with other people struggling with life as I did. I formed friendships. After leaving the treatment center I began to get involved with Alcoholics Anonymous for support. I continued to go to appointments at CAM. My counselor really encouraged me t go to college. My caseworker took me to Sinclair Community College and showed me the ropes; how to enroll, how to apply for scholarships for school. Most importantly they encouraged and believed I could succeed in life by just staying sober.

I have been clean and sober for nearly one and a half years. I now have my own car and apartment. I have good friends. I am getting closer to a new career. I look much healthier. I am able to overcome many of life's challenges; at time with a little help of course. Many great things have happened to me in just one year. I am growing up nicely. I am now taking care of myself, and it did all begin at sobriety. Thank all of you at CAM for encouraging and understanding me when I thought no one could. It was truly a blessing.

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