Taylor W.,

Ventura, CA

My name is Taylor and this is my opioid story.

I consistently find myself reliving decisions I’ve made, choices that took me down the road I endured and the life I came to live. I find it tearing me apart inside reluctantly and often. I am the perfect example of what drug abuse takes away from you, not necessarily immediately but most certainly.

Like many others who endure drug abuse, I did not have the best childhood, however it was much better than most have the opportunity of having. My main dysfunctional gene and feeing of rebellion came from the relationship I had with my father, who worked as a sergeant from the sheriffs department in the county where we lived. My mother was also a member of the sheriff’s department. Growing up in a very stern, disciplined household, I learned right from wrong at a very early age. However, it came at a very high cost because my father already had strong anger issues and his job added to his stress, making him a very unhappy, angry person.

Starting as young as I can remember, my father was physically abusive. I remember my mother and him fighting constantly. He punched holes in the walls, broke things, and physically abused my mother and me. After I got older, when I was about six or seven years old, my father stopped being physically abusive but alternated to being emotionally abusive. To this day, I can remember longing for my father’s acceptance and longing to be able to make him proud. Growing up, we started getting further and further apart to the point of not speaking to each other to this day. In high school, I tried to follow in my parents’ shoes by trying to get into law enforcement, which I wasn’t able to do because of my experimentation with marijuana in middle school. I remember the first time I didn’t pass one of the tests for law enforcement; my father told my mother he felt like he failed as a father, which absolutely crushed me.

Right around the time I graduated high school, I fell into opioid medications. I had Percocet prescribed for a surgery once but never knew the effect of them until I took them with my best friend. His grandmother had just passed away, and he had taken an entire bag of Percocet from her house. I wasn’t really sure what they did, and he told me they would make me feel really good. That is exactly what they did. We stayed up all night drinking and taking Percocet pills like they were candy. After that, I was hooked at age 19; I loved how confident, happy, brave, and fearless they made me feel. It took away any negative feeling or thought I had. I knew I had to have that feeling again and again.

“The guilt and shame just made me want to use more and more, like every other emotion I couldn’t handle or process.”

I had a very good job that I was excelling at and moving up in very quickly. As I moved up in my position at work, so did my addiction. My need to take the pills grew and grew. I was buying them on the street moving to Oxycontin within about a year. I started crushing them and snorting them, and smoking them off foil before going into work in the parking lot of my job. I then was promoted to assistant manager at my job and was transferred about three hours away to a new location. It wasn’t long at all out there that I was introduced to heroin. I smoked it for the first time with my best friend and his mother in law. It was just like the first time I took the pills, but was even better and so much cheaper. I began seeking heroin on a regular basis, and about a year into it, one of my dealers introduced me to meth along with the heroin. I remember the first hit I took of the bong of meth: it was like a rushing wave of euphoria crashing down over my whole body. Before I could even decide for myself, meth was my next drug of choice on top of heroin.

Once I was introduced to meth on top of my heroin use, my life literally went spiraling out of any tiny bit of control I had left. I had a job making 90k a year, a new sports car, an amazing girlfriend, my own luxury apartment I paid for by myself in the highest cost of living areas. One by one, all of the things I worked for started being torn out of my life dramatically as my drug abuse was growing more and more. I was terminated from my job of over eight years. I found other jobs extremely easy with my experience but shortly lost each and every one due to my performance while being under the influence. I was arrested for domestic violence with my ex girlfriend. Thankfully, I was exonerated only because I hadn’t actually physically abused my ex, although I was certainly guilty of being emotionally abusive. I eventually lost any and all friends I had, and family members didn’t want to be around me.

I went through an outpatient program two different times. I had two years of sobriety at the longest point – but when I relapsed, I relapsed hard. I started taking pills again working my way back to heroin and meth, and took the biggest risk in my addiction and began to inject meth and heroin together and separately. I tried so many times to get sober following a relapse, but it would be just a few weeks (if that) before I was back into addiction. I lied to everyone I loved, stole from anyone I could, and cheated at everything including the only support I had from my girlfriend. I rapidly turned into this person I couldn’t recognize. If it wasn’t for the support of my girlfriend and her holding us above water, being the only one working and supporting both of us, I would have been homeless on the streets long ago.

“I went through all the withdrawals I was so utterly familiar with but was so absolutely determined it was different this time.”

I swore to myself in life when I was young that I’d never do drugs or sell narcotics to support my habit, but found myself doing just that. In 2018, I was arrested for intent to sell a controlled substance and transportation of a controlled substance. I spent five days in jail before I could beg my girlfriend and mother to bail me out. While my mother was my rock, my angel, and the parent who gave me everything, I was breaking her heart in pieces on a daily basis in my use. The guilt and shame just made me want to use more and more, like every other emotion I couldn’t handle or process. I became so depressed and sick of my drug use that I wanted to take my life by purposely overdosing. There was just something inside me, a very quiet, low voice, telling me over and over again not to do it.

It took me so much time and strength to get sick of where I was in life to realize it was only going to get worse if I kept on using. I finally had enough. I have given up everything I worked for and loved in my life. I told myself I would no longer feel guilt or shame with where I had been. I was going to change the person I was and rebuild from where I was no matter what it took. I was so upset with myself I wanted to do anything and everything it took to get back to the true person I knew I was inside. I quit taking heroin and meth. I went through all the withdrawals I was so utterly familiar with but was so absolutely determined it was different this time. I’m not saying it was easy, because it was definitely not. I just had to look deep inside and ask myself if I really wanted to change my life, and if so, how serious I was at getting sober because without it I was going to end up dead or in jail for the rest of my life.

“I certainly have a long way to go and am definitely not cocky when it comes to my sobriety; I know that this disease is cunning and baffling and will take you out any chance it gets, but I use that to motivate and push me in my sobriety.”

I currently have a felony on my record and am awaiting the end of the process of the court-ordered programs and time until I’m able to get back into the workforce – yet I have been so much happier in my life staying sober. I have been teaching myself how to deal with life on life’s terms all over again and reshaping how my brain works. I’m learning slowly but surely how we don’t need substances to get through this life on a day-to-day basis and have never felt more hope in my life. I am working towards everything I once had all over again. I certainly have a long way to go and am definitely not cocky when it comes to my sobriety; I know that this disease is cunning and baffling and will take you out any chance it gets, but I use that to motivate and push me in my sobriety. My biggest goal is to help other struggling addicts or alcoholics to get through these tough times and help them see in themselves that we are able to beat it no matter how badly it’s beaten us. For all the addicts and alcoholics still struggling, I know how you feel and know how hard it is. You are loved and cared for by all of us, it’s never too late as long as you feel that beat in your chest. That’s your motivation to keep on going and to never give up. God bless.