Addiction: My Honesty I’ve Never Shared

By Aaron Emerson

Yes, my blog is called Hope From Dope. And yes, there is definitely hope from dope. I was a heroin addict for many years and found recovery and happiness after a very tough ride through many jail and rehab stints. At age 26, I have spent five years of my life inside the walls of places nobody would get paid to live in.

But even though there is hope, sometimes us addicts fuck up and resort back to our old ways. That is where I stand right now. I will NEVER make an excuse for a relapse, because when we addicts/alcoholics find recovery, we are once again afforded a choice to use or not to use. When we are in active addiction, we don’t have that choice unless we go to rehab, jail or hit a hellish bottom. I am at that point where I have hit a bottom where I am desperate to get help again.

I didn’t create this blog and website to brag about my recovery or how good I was doing. I made it to show people what it is like to be an addict trying to find recovery. If you have read my blog in the past years, you have seen the hope I found. You have seen me document my past and show that any addict can get help and get clean. As a three time felon who was addicted to heroin for years, you saw me get clean. But, sadly, I relapsed, again, and I couldn’t be more mad at myself. So, I write this blog to once again show you that the life of an addict  is not an easy path.

These last couple years, I have been dealing with a lot. I have never written about some of the stuff I am about to post. It is not an excuse as to why I relapsed, I just want to give a little perspective of what we addicts sometimes deal with and why we resort to drugs in the first place.

Before I write this, I want to let you know that the only person I have ever mentioned this to is my brother, my ex and my parents. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life, and I went to therapy last year for it. After the first three sessions upon talking about it, I stopped attending the counseling sessions because I wasn’t ready to fully get into it. But, after relapse, relapse and more relapse, I think it is time to be open about this, because in the last couple years, it is the thing that has been bothering me the most and has contributed to me constantly reaching out to drugs to ease and cope with the pain.

I’m not going to get into great detail, because I am not ready to post that kind of stuff on the internet. But when I was 16, I was sentenced to a juvenile prison facility. I spent a year in there, a facility in Saginaw, Michigan, and was one of the first people from the Lansing area to ever be sent there, as it was a newer facility designed to help repeat juvenile offenders. I was sort of like a guinea pig for the Ingham County court system for this facility.

When I got there, I immediately realized I was going to have to hold my own with my fists unless I wanted to join a gang. Since I was the only white kid and the only kid in my group from outside of the inner city of Detroit, I didn’t know shit about gang activity. So, I decided to test the waters. After a few weeks, I regretted not joining one of the two main gangs, as I would have had protection from getting jumped in my cell while the guard/staff workers watched three Detroit bloods “show me the ropes” for simply being white.

A couple months later is where it got really bad. And this is the part where I have debated for years about writing about. I wrote a book about my life, but I left this part out because I just wasn’t ready to even think about it. Even in recovery, I blocked it out. I tried to forget it happened. I even tried to think it was a dream, that maybe it didn’t actually happen. But after this latest relapse, i can’t hide it anymore. I need to get it out before I go to rehab, because I think it would really help me in my latest attempt to get sober. Honesty is key, and I created this blog to let it all out, so why not?

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I don’t even know how to write it. But, three guards or staff members or whatever the fuck they are called, came into my shower one night and “did what they do.” I don’t even know how else to explain it, because, frankly, saying the word rape as a 26 year old man now is just hard to even write. But I tried to fight back. It just wasn’t enough as one 17 year old kid against three grown men, who were there to “protect” us. I did my best to fight, because my whole life, my dad and family taught me to never start a fight, but if one was started, to finish it. But I couldn’t finish this one. I did my best, but this was one fight I lost. I wish it was only a one time occurrence, but it wasn’t. I wish just one of those pussies could have come in there by themselves and I guarantee it wouldn’t have happened, because my whole life I have been a fighter, but three against one was something I couldn’t handle, so finally I just stopped fighting.

From here, I don’t know what else to say, besides I am finally trying to accept what happened and realize that this has been something I have blocked out for years. I relapsed again, and that is not the reason why, because I know there have been many other people who have dealt with similar things who are in recovery and have dealt with their shit properly. But I never have. Like I said up above, I blocked it out, I tried to act like it never happened. But after this latest relapse, I can’t block it out anymore. I can’t deny it anymore. I was sent to a place to get help, but it turned out to be a nightmare, somewhere that turned me into a monster for a time. But I have hit my bottom, and I am so ready to change.

Please, there is always hope, no matter what you have been through. I hope my story can somehow help another person, because that is what this blog is about. It is not to brag, promote anything, or sell anything. It is simply to share my story to help other people. Just know that God is always there. During that year in juvenile, I never thought God was real. I felt like a loner. I felt like my life was broken. I felt low. I felt like I would never, ever get out of that jungle. When I told my probation officer that something was going on, he thought I was just trying to make stuff up to get out. After that, I stopped trying. I stopped thinking there was a God. I thought that as a 17 year old addict, my life would always be full of pain. I was wrong. I got clean after several more years and enjoyed life. But I relapsed again because I didn’t deal with this properly. But I am ready. Please, pray for me as I go back into rehab on Monday. I am sick of this life. This was so fucking hard to write, but I really felt led to share it in case it could even help ONE person. I love you all. God is good and will never give us more than we can handle.

30 Days Sober

By Aaron Emerson

A lot of people in the recovery world often say the first 30 days of sobriety are the hardest to achieve. Whether that is true or not, any day sober for an addict or alcoholic is a miracle, so to stay off drugs and alcohol for a whole month is something special.

I have been through this several times before, having achieved 30 days sober three different times that I can remember. However, I am probably just as excited achieving this milestone as I was the first time, when I was battling heroin. It is a totally different kind of excitement, though. The first time I stayed clean for 30 days, it was almost a euphoric type of feeling, as I was addicted to heroin for five or six years prior and could never stay off of the dope for even one day, unless I was in jail. I never thought I would get sober, so when I was able to get through a month without taking anything, I was amazed, proud of myself and sort of shocked.

This time around, however, I was totally defeated after a very long relapse. The shame and guilt I experienced for letting myself fall into the grips of alcohol after being an outspoken advocate for recovery was overpowering. I felt like I let many people down, and I was also embarrassed because I knew what the likely outcome was going to be once I started drinking. I still did it, and that is how powerful this disease truly is. It doesn’t matter if we stay sober for one year or 35 years, we can never “beat” this disease or ever be able to use or drink successfully.

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Anyway, to come back from that, I had to swallow my pride and check myself into rehab, for that was the only way I was going to stop drinking. I told myself throughout that last year that I would stop drinking on my own and it never lasted more than 24 hours. After a week in rehab, though, I started to get extremely excited about recovery again. Some of that joy and hope started manifesting in my life again and I actually liked being in rehab.

Yesterday (Friday), when I woke up 30 days sober again, I immediately thought about the milestone and said a little thank you prayer. When I went to bed later that night, I thanked God for helping me not use or drink another day. I also got my one month coin at a meeting that day, which I am going to carry with me every time I leave the house. I feel great and proud of myself again.

If there is one thing you take away from reading this blog post today, let it be that no matter how many times you fall, you can always get back up and succeed. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and I think this latest relapse taught me a lot and made me a much stronger individual. I am loving life again, but I know this is something I am going to have to take one day at a time, and there will be tough days and challenges. I am ready to take them on. There is always hope!

Relapse, Rehab and Recovery

By Aaron Emerson

Well, it has been quite a while since I have posted anything on my blog, let alone shared anything about my story. It has been a very up-and-down, chaotic past year for myself in my life of battling addiction. Now that I am doing better, I felt the need to tell the newest chapter of my story, as I am striving to start writing and blogging again.

As many people who read this blog know, I am a recovering heroin addict. When people with the disease of addiction stop treating it, we usually relapse. I knew that before, but rationalization and denial got the best of me and I indeed did relapse, and pretty bad.

It all started with alcohol. Once I stopped going to meetings and doing the things that helped me stay sober, such as meeting with my recovery coach and talking with others in recovery, I opened the door to temptation and cravings. One beer led to many more, which led to a severe alcohol addiction.

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Us addicts can’t just “have one” of anything, including a beer. Even though that was in the back of my mind, I still tried it. After several months of drinking on the weekends and occasionally at night after work, I started drinking during the day. Pretty soon, I was drinking everyday, going at it from sun up until sun down. I couldn’t stop. Each day, I had to have 5 to 10 beers just to get rid of the shakes and many more to be able to eat.

That lasted for about a year. For a while, I was still able to hold down my job, one that I worked hard for, as I was the Editor in Chief of a college newspaper. I was also able to stay competent in school. That all changed, however. I had to drink to be able to work, and though my boss could tell something was wrong, I was never able to admit what it was. He trusted me with an important position and I didn’t want to let him down. But I did and eventually I just gave up. The alcohol had total control of my life and I could do nothing to stop it. I also started to use drugs again, including a lot of pills, some cocaine and heroin. I was in full blown addiction again. I was hurting my loved ones and ruining my life I worked so hard to build after getting clean from heroin.

That is when I once again hit my “bottom.” I knew I had to do something. The alcohol was doing to me what heroin did! How could one beer at a social event lead to this?! That was what I kept telling myself, in denial that alcohol, something that the average person can control, was destroying my life. But hitting that bottom finally enabled me to open my eyes, and that opened the door to me reaching out for help.

I made the call to a treatment center called Sacred Heart, located in Memphis, Michigan. After waiting for a bed for two weeks, I made the drive with my mom and checked myself in extremely drunk, as that was the only way I could gather the courage to walk in. Sacred Heart is a pretty large facility that has separate wings for detox and residential. I was in detox for four days. They had to give me Ativan – a drug in the same class as Xanax – to safely wean me off the alcohol. It was rough but I got through it, and then I was transferred over to the residential part of the treatment center.

I was in the residential part of the rehab for three weeks. It was amazing. After a week or so, I started feeling a lot better and gained hope for the first time in a year or two. I can honestly say that those few weeks in rehab turned out to be the best time I had in a long time. They kept us extremely busy, with classes, groups and therapy pretty much all day long from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. A lot of the groups became a little repetitive, but I got a lot out of them. I gained quite a few new coping skills and also enough confidence to believe in myself again.

I successfully discharged from Sacred Heart on Friday (May 19) and came back home. I immediately went to an AA meeting. It felt amazing to be able to go to a meeting outside the doors of the treatment center. I have been to a meeting at least once a day since I was released, and I am going to continue that trend. I am also going to intensive outpatient therapy to continue treatment. I feel great, and so far I haven’t even had an urge to get high or drunk. I know it will happen, though. There will be bad days, there will be depression, hard times and, yes, triggers and cravings. I am confident that when the time comes, I will be prepared to handle and battle them the right way.

As for now, recovery is at the forefront of my mind and focus. I am most likely going to go back to school in the fall and am considering finding a part-time job this summer, but right now I am leaving everything in God’s hands. I feel great and I am so grateful for everyone who has supported me through all of this. I am also excited to start blogging again and spreading hope, something I love doing. This is my passion and am very proud that I am now in a position to be able to do this again. Thank you everybody.

Healing From Trauma In Sobriety

By Rose Lockinger

Recovery is a process that much is for sure. Recovery to me is all encompassing. It doesn’t end at the doorway of the meeting, it doesn’t stop when the last page of the book is read, and it isn’t finished when the last amend is made. It is all aspects of my life. It is not something that I can separate into two parts. I don’t see my life as recovery and then everything else. I just see recovery. It permeates everything and to me recovery and life are one in the same. For me recovery has become a continual spiritual process of growth and death, of happiness and pain of forgiveness and moving forward. You see before I got sober I was not a part of my life, I went through the motions but I never fully stepped into and owned my life. I was terrified of this of fully living and being present. Because prior to recovery being present meant reliving my trauma.

So when I say that recovery is a process, I am really saying that life is a process; that healing is a process and that it takes time to occur. It doesn’t end when you have the breakthrough in therapy and it doesn’t end when you finally feel peace about a situation, because there is always more to uncover. Always more to heal from, and always more to learn.

I have recently started to process some trauma from my past that I initially thought I had dealt with. I remember going through the emotions last time and working with a therapist to navigate through it, and then I remember at the end feeling like I had come to peace with it. Like I had arrived at a place where it no longer ruled me, or my decisions in my life, but I guess that I wasn’t entirely correct. I had employed some important techniques to maneuver through the pain and emotions that surfaced. I used mantras and self talk to keep myself grounded and walk through the overwhelming memories that threatened at times to consume me.

For as much work as I have done on that particular aspect of my life I guess that I wasn’t done with it and it has come back up leaving me a little frustrated and confused. When it first started to resurface I sort of had a moment where I thought, ‘that’s strange’ but I kept on with my life and continued to do the things I had to do. I thought maybe it was just a momentary lapse of memory, but that doesn’t appear to be the case and as my mind became more and more focused on that trauma I realized that there was more work that needed to be done in that area.

So I started to address it again and I was shocked by how intense the pain still was. It really took me back because I didn’t think it was going to be like that. I thought that I was further along in the process and that a lot of the raw emotion that I felt last time had subsided. I guess I believed that I would go into this healing process with a more objective and less emotional frame of mind, but I guess that isn’t the case.

Luckily though, I have been down this road before and I have a general idea what it is that I have to do. For so many years I kept everything bottled up inside and never talked to anyone about what was going on with me. This meant that when I first started to process and heal from my traumas, they all came flying out like I had opened a floodgate, but this time I already have practice so I know it will be different.

Not different in the sense that I still won’t feel or I still won’t have to sit with my emotions sometimes, but I have a basis for sharing openly and honestly and I now know the healing power that can come from this. I now know how to have a relationship with a therapist who can help me navigate my thoughts and emotions and I know that I do not have to hide anything.

I know that the road ahead for me is going to be a lot of crying, which I honestly don’t mind. Crying, like the saying goes, is the soul’s lubricant, and as much as I don’t want to be in pain, I don’t mind sitting and crying because I know that I always feel better afterwards.

I know the road ahead is also going to require me to learn new ways to love myself, because in the end that is what it is all about. I have discovered in my time in therapy and recovery that pretty much everything comes down to loving yourself. We experience certain situations in life that scar us and then from those scar we begin to hate ourselves. We do things that are counter-intuitive to our happiness because of those scars and in order to overcome them we must first process the trauma that happened, forgive ourselves for whatever guilt we have in regards to it, and then learn ways to love the person that we are. We must learn ways to love who we are in the moment, and not the person we will be or want to be.

That is what I am looking to do as I move through this process of healing. I am looking to love myself more and not let my traumas define the way that I see myself. I truly want to be free and if that means being uncomfortable for the time being then so be it, because in the end I know that this is the only way out. So while I do not want to relive and reprocess these emotions I know that I don’t really have a choice in the matter. I told God when I got sober that I would go to any lengths to achieve sobriety and if this is the path towards a better and still sober Rose, then I’m willing to walk it.

Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

Ways to Handle Feeling Overwhelmed in Sobriety

By Rose Lockinger

One of the blessings of sobriety is that you get a full and busy life. Whereas many of us during our active alcoholism or addiction did nothing and just sat around getting high and watching TV, once we are sober we become productive members of society. We may pursue higher education, or careers that we love, or settle down and start a family, or all three, because sobriety allows us to do these things.

Yet, with all of these blessings come a level of stress that can be very difficult to handle at times. I know for myself I am currently experiencing that. I got my massage therapist license recently and I am attempting to juggle that with my writing, my recovery obligations, my friends, and oh—most importantly, raising my two children.

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It can be too much sometimes and I find that there are days when I feel paralyzed by all that I have on my plate. I look at what my day consists of and I get lost for a minute or two in fear. I get all worked up to the point where I almost don’t know where to start or how to deal, and then on top of that, there is this little voice in my head saying, ‘You’re going to fail.’ This is when I realize the importance of a sober support system and how grateful I am for the people that make up mine.

So while I am grateful that I have such a full life today, sometimes I just wish that I didn’t. I wish that I had more hours in the day to complete everything or I wish that I just was better able to handle the stress of it all. But then when I was talking to a friend the other day about this, he reminded me that I was probably being too hard on myself and that I appeared to be handling things a lot better then I thought. He said that regardless of how I felt, I am showing up and I am completing everything that I need to, so how bad could I really be doing?

When he said this it reminded me of something that someone told me a few years ago. They said that God will show us the time we need in the day. He was referring to the fact that when he first got sober, all he could handle was working a few days a week and going to meetings everyday. Then after a little while he added a couple of college courses into that and though at first he was overwhelmed, he eventually learned to handle this load, and so he kept adding and building, until he wound up being a full time student with a full time job and yes it was a lot but he was able to handle it. He just had to adjust to it.

So I guess I am just in the adjustment period right now, learning to navigate everything that I have in my life, but just understanding that doesn’t really make it easier in the present moment. I still wake up and feel my mind racing towards the countless things that I have to get done and so I have started to do little things to try to ease my feelings of being overwhelmed. I have to start to try to implement them into my day to day life and hopefully they will help.

I have decided that when I am feeling completely overwhelmed, I have to press pause. I have to take a step back and stop what I am doing and just take a few deep breaths. This is important because I find that when I get all worked up I started to breathe rather quickly, in shallow breaths and this makes me feel more nervous. When I start to feel this way I know it is time to get up from my desk or wherever I am and sit quietly for a moment and breathe.

It is sometimes hard to do this because I feel like I am locked into a schedule and that if I pause for even a minute everything will go awry, but this is usually never the case. And yes I am writing this next part out so that I can see it myself and hopefully remember it next time it happens. Nothing in life is so important that I need to drive myself nuts over it.

I have found that I mostly put too much pressure on myself. No one is expecting me to live up to the standards I have and no one is expecting me to be perfect, but I expect these things of myself and in doing so I just feel more overwhelmed. So I have decided to start to have realistic standards for what it is that I am doing. I am really trying to let go of my perfectionism and remember that my serenity comes first, above everything except my children, and that all of the things in my schedule can wait for a minute or an hour, if I need to get myself centered.

I have also decided that every once in awhile I need to take a mental health day. A day just for me, one where I can do whatever I like. This is really tough for me because I usually feel guilty if I do something like this, or I feel like I should be working on this or that, but I believe that it is important for me to reset every now and again. I need to take time for myself and if that means binge watching TV then so be it, or if it means going for a hike or just to the mall, that is fine as well, as long as it is something just for me.

Hopefully doing these things will help me in my feelings of being overwhelmed. I believe that they will and so if you are currently in a place in your sobriety where you feel completely overwhelmed, know that I get it, and hopefully some of the things I am doing will help you as well.

-Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram