I was sixteen years old when I experienced my first encounter with heroin. I had never felt anything like it, that first hit made me feel like I was in heaven, floating on cloud nine. Hanging out with the fellas on Friday nights, partying, having a good time, not realizing that my life was about to become unmanageable.

It seemed like just an instant, like just one night turned my life into tragedy and misery. I lost my family, my job, my kids, and practically everything. I decided it was time to move away from the tumultuous life I was living in New York City. In 1983, I moved to Charlotte hoping this would change my life, and for a short time, it did. I stopped using, quitting “cold turkey” with no treatment or help from anyone. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I felt numb, I felt painful needle pricks all over my body. I was sick and weak from all the damage I had done to by body, mentally, physically and emotionally. However, regardless of all the hurt and pain I experienced, “The Hidden Tiger” was still buried deep within my soul.

Shortly after, I started drinking alcohol to continue feeling the high I once felt with heroin. I believed that I was in control of my life, went to work, paid my bills, I did everything that a responsible person is supposed to do. I thought I wasn’t harming anyone, nor myself, and I wasn’t facing the same losses that I did using Heroin. Alcohol wasn’t as bad as heroin, or at least, that’s what I thought.

In 1985, I found myself hanging out with old playmates doing the same old thing I was doing before. I received my first DWI and was ordered to complete community service, pay a fine and attend a 20-hour treatment program at Anuvia. I thought, “I will do this and then I will be done!!”

I didn’t change my behavior, and I received another DWI charge on Super Bowl Sunday, 2001. Once again, I had been hanging out and having a good time with my friends. From 2006 to 2009, I stayed sober, and I hadn’t used heroin for 26 years, but I had to go to treatment to get my license back. That’s all I wanted, nothing else. Yet, my life took another turn for the worse. I had become encapsulated with old people, places and things. I could not stay clean, regardless of how hard I tried.
That is, until I learned the true meaning of acceptance. Through the help of Anuvia, I learned that when I applied myself and worked a program of recovery, I saw myself change. When I had reservations about my recovery, stopped using the 12 steps and stopped working with my sponsor, I set myself up for failure, not realizing how beneficial the program would be in helping me change my life.

I was getting older, and I knew I needed treatment. This time I wanted it. By taking a good inventory of my life, I suddenly realized that I was tired, tired of doing the same thing but expecting different results. I went to meetings and read my literature daily, worked the steps and talked to my sponsor who suggested positive and motivating activities to occupy my time.

The staff at Anuvia gave me tremendous support, encouraging me to talk in groups and share my problems. They showed me a better way of living and let me know that my recovery is my responsibility.

I met a lot of friends at Anuvia and people with similar problems that I could relate too. I could share things that I never shared before. I enjoyed coming in every morning to see everyone in my group. My group helped me to realize that I didn’t have to be alone in my recovery walk.

My eyes have been opened. I realize now that in my active addiction was not only suicidal to myself but also harmful to others around me. What I learned at Anuvia helped me to become a better person without the use of alcohol and drugs.

I can now proudly say that I am no longer living under the influence of my addictions.