It’s been one year since I have started treatment at Crossroads Treatment Centers. One year and I cannot begin to explain how different things have become.
I struggled with heroin addiction for 6 and a half years. Three of those years I lived homeless on the streets of Detroit Michigan. I would wake up everyday, extremely sick, withdrawing from heroin and then the rat race would start:
I would hobble over to my freeway corner trying not to puke, and sit down on my upside down milk crate, pull my sign out of my pocket and just wait for someone to stop at the red light who would take some unnecessary pity on how disgusting I looked and give me what ever they could afford to give me.
My sign, always read, “homeless, anything helps, thank you so much and GOD BLESS.” It’s funny that my sign would read “God Bless” when “God” was the furthest thing from my mind at the time. The sign should have read, “Heroin Bless.”
Some days I’d sit there and collect dollar bill after dollar bill before coming up with enough to go get my morning speedball… Sometimes it was quick and sometimes it was slow. Other days, I’d be lucky and Bam, 20 dollars, 5 dollars, 10 dollars, 15 dollars, all at once. Those were the days I LIVED for.
Once I had what I needed, for my morning shot, which was generally 30$, I would hop the bus for $1.75, grab my transfer so I could get back to my freeway corner after buying drugs and off I went. Took the bus about a mile down the road. All the while I am sweating, my stomach is cramping so hard I’m squeezing my bowels so tightly just praying they don’t release everywhere.
Everything is so sensitive, smells, sounds, my sight. Every muscle hurts, I barely have the energy to live, but the thought of getting that first shot into my veins is what keeps me going.
Take the free Obama phone out of my jacket pocket, call my guy, I say, “Hey you around, you at the apartment?” He responds, “Whatchu need?” I mumble, with what feels like the faintest of breaths, “two blows and a stone.” Blows, which is a Michigan thing, is a term for heroin, and a stone is a crack rock.
I pull the string for the next bus stop. I get off and walk a half a block to his apartment. He lets me in, I hand over money, he hands me the drugs. I think to myself, “Yum, breakfast, lets go eat.”
I hurry to the back of the apartment complex where there is a set of stairs that I can go under so no one can see in. I sit down, take off my jacket, pull my needles out, pull my lemon juice out (to melt the crack) and take out my cooker. Mix it all up and put it into my body. *BLISS*….
And now … it’s back to the freeway: The nightmare, the trap, ELM STREET, the never-ending cycle of hopeless dreams. To sit on a milk crate and exist ONLY as a mere shadow of who I once was and who I use to be. No aspirations, definitely no inspiration, no faith, no God - Just disaster, and loneliness.
There is nothing cool about being stuck on the streets of the most dangerous city in North America, strung out on heroin, begging for money every day for THREE years. I had to suffer in freezing temperatures sleeping outside or breaking into abandoned houses or apartment complexes, wondering to myself, am I going to wake up tomorrow? Am I going to freeze to death? Will anyone ever find me? What about my mom and dad or my brother, will they ever even know I’m dead or will they just live the rest of their lives not knowing?
The temporary bliss that my speedballs gave me is so fleeting. But that’s the thing I wanted: to make it as fleeting as possible as often as possible until one day you just can’t anymore.
I wanted to say all that, so that I could bring myself to the IMPORTANT part of this story, the important part of anyone’s journey. It’s the part where you are living in your own hellish squander and all of a sudden something intervenes and changes every thing as you know it. Call it divine intervention, call it GOD, call it what EVER you want but that day for me, after all those years, came in an instant.
One day, Detroit Police officers swept me off of the street. Long story short, I found a phone on the ground. The phone rang and it was the owner. They had lost their phone and were calling it in hopes that someone found it.
Well, they sure did, it was me. I asked them, if when we meet up to return your phone if I could have a 50$ finders fee and explained to them that I was homeless and needed to money for “food.”
They came prepared. As I went to our rendezvous spot, they pulled in and I am thinking I am about to be $50 dollars richer. Nope. WRONG. Along with them comes about 5 Detroit police cars. I was arrested for extortion, taken to the police station and questioned.
Once they found out I was a pathetic homeless heroin junky they dropped the extortion charges and I was picked up on an old warrant that I had. I was transferred to a new city and put in front of a judge who threw me in county Jail for three months.
During that time, I reconnected with my parents who live in Suwanee, GA. They moved to Georgia from Michigan many years before this ordeal of a life I had made for myself. They told me they would fly me ‘home’ after my 90-day sentence was up. I spent the three months in county Jail and went to Georgia… I didn’t look back.
I had tried everything for long term sobriety, suboxone, faith based, AA/12 step, NOTHING worked and I knew that just because I spent 90 days in jail and I moved in with my parents in Georgia, didn’t mean I was going to just automatically become this upstanding person who was all of a sudden free of that bondage. No. I knew me ALL TO WELL. And guess what? It happened. I found Heroin and started using again. My parents quickly found out and threatened to send me back to the streets in Detroit if that was the fate I wanted to suffer.
I came to them with a proposal. I said, “Mom and Dad, I’ve been researching, and for cases as extreme as mine, I think I need to get on methadone. It’s the ONLY thing left that I haven’t tried and I am DESPERATE.”
And I was desperate. So I called Crossroads Treatment Centers.
I asked when I could come in and I made it. Honestly, even after using heroin for just two weeks again, withdrawal was still AWFUL. But I took my first dose at the center and I can honestly and whole-heartedly, with out any doubt or hesitation tell you that since my first day at CTC, I’ve not touch any heroin or any opiates at all. Nothing.
I am a year clean from Heroin for the first time in six and a half years! Since coming to Georgia and getting clean with the help of CTC, it isn’t just my sobriety from Heroin that I have gained I have gained a WHOLE lot more:
I’ve found a job, I work hard and now at this point I am management level, I have my OWN office, WITH A NAME TAG! I make a respectable salary, use my OWN car to drive myself back and forth to that job AND… I met someone. This person has ended up being the most supporting and loving partner I could have. We fell in love fast, got engaged, set a wedding date and even went to the courthouse and got married before our set date because we were just that excited.
Even better, from this relationship I got to inherit four of the BEST step children I could EVER ask for. My relationship with my parents is unbreakable. They’ve never seen me gain this much time apart from heroin. My daughter, who lives in Michigan, has come here on a fairly regular basis to visit since I have been here.
I would recommend Crossroads Treatment Centers to ANYONE struggling with severe heroin or opiate addiction. For me it was the last house on the left and I am forever grateful I knocked on the door.
*Jeff’s name has been changed.