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A Sobering Story: Addict grateful for second chance at life

by on May 25, 2014 1:59 AM

This version of Dan, the one who has a marriage and a job and a motorcycle, has come to realize that there is more to life, that there are second chances.

The past version of Dan (his name has been changed) didn’t see things that way, and it took the 34-year-old a long time to learn otherwise.

For much of his life, drugs were all Dan knew. He had grown up in a broken home, and early on he found that certain substances helped make life a little bit more bearable.

His problems started with marijuana. And it progressed to whatever he could find, including gasoline. He’d huff that on occasion.

He had entered a group home and managed to straighten himself out.

And he did. But by his early 20s, he was using again, at first as the means to a good time.

But as it does, his use progressed, and eventually he used because he needed to use. And if he didn’t have the money, he’d steal it.

“I should have been in prison by then because of all the stuff I was getting into,” he said.

By the time he was 26, the weight of his situation came crashing down,

“I realized that I was looking at death. I was staring at it,” he said. “I had no feelings. I was numb. I didn’t know how to love someone. I didn’t know how to be loved.”

For him, relationships were a one-way arrangement — what did the other person have to offer him?

“And beyond that, what do you have that I could take from you?” he said.

Then a voice in his head told him to pick up and go.

“I don’t know where it came from, but it said, ‘Just leave. Leave everything.’”

Which wasn’t all that hard.

“I really had nothing except for the people I was getting high with.”

So he took a bus to West Virginia. And from there, he hitchhiked south.

He didn’t have any particular place in mind, just south, along the coast, a warm place where maybe he could find work on a boat.

Ultimately, he wound up in Charleston, S.C., and took up in a homeless mission. And found work painting homes.

His recovery wasn’t instant. And it wasn’t easy. It was slow and it came in stages.

He was helped along the way by some people who had lived the life. They lifted him up, he said.

“They knew what that second chance meant to somebody,” he said.

And he found faith.

“That’s what changed me,” he said.

He’s been married for three years now. The marriage, the home, the motorcycle, these are things he thought he would never have in his life. Some days, he said, it’s euphoric to wake up and realize that he does.

But, he said, it’s not easy.

“(Things) could fall off at any moment, and I don’t take it for granted. None of it,” he said.

It takes hard work every day to keep it all together, he said. And there are no guarantees.

Returning to the drugs, though, has a guarantee — a hollow, empty life, he said.

Read the next in the series here. 

Sam Kusic is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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