“I think the first time I got shaken up was my first overdose. I was feeling a reaction that scared me. I couldn’t breathe, I thought I was going to die. I didn’t know what an overdose was until later down the road when I had to go to the hospital. I described to a nurse what I was experiencing and they told me I was having an overdose. And I’d had these feelings before plenty of times without knowing what was happening.”
Chris’ story begins as many do: social drinking and partying with friends. Eventually these apparently harmless activities evolved into more, including recreational drug use. Chris recalls the days of club hopping with friends while taking turns to go to the bathroom to get high on cocaine and extend the party. He also remembers house parties thrown for the sole purpose of using together and how, once his drug use moved to IV methamphetamine use, the first real signs of a problem appeared.
“You have a social circle that you do drugs with, but when you’re doing something as serious as IV using you just don’t want other people to see that. Especially me, I hate to be judged or criticized or for someone to know that side of me.”
Even so, faced with concerning symptoms and in a panic, he turned to his friends for help. They helped him through what could have been a fatal experience as best they could using a cold shower and giving him water to try and flush out his system. While Chris ultimately survived, their failure to get medical attention for him could have been fatal. Regardless, the terrifying close call still wasn’t enough to detour Chris’ deeply rooted addiction.
“You know what’s crazy about addiction? Even after that moment I still did more.”
As Chris’ active addiction continued unchecked, he developed different friend circles for different circumstances. He maintained a friend group with which he would club hop and party and another that was more invested in heavier drug use with whom he would hang out at house parties to protect their shared secret.
“It did start off as a social thing. We would all meet up and have some drinks and everyone would bring their own supply. We would go bar hopping and hand out bags [of cocaine] then go to the restroom and do our thing. I think once I transitioned into IV using was when I pulled away. I would tell my friends I was done for the night and go home to use because that’s what was more important to me. I just felt like doing it the old way just wasn’t enough for me anymore. I would just ignore life itself just to go do it, you know? I’m supposed to go somewhere or I have a meeting somewhere or I’m supposed to go to a concert or on a date— all of that just took a backseat to what I really wanted to do, which was to go home and use.”
Throughout his time in active addiction Chris experienced multiple overdoses, but one particular instance sticks out in his mind:
“I called 911 and let them know what was going on and that I couldn’t breathe. The dispatcher asked me what was going on and I described it to her. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing, I was seeing colored spots and everything. She said ‘you’re having an overdose, we’re going to send someone to you.’ This is while I was at my mom’s house so I told her no, I’ll drive over there. She told me not to, but I ended up driving myself to the hospital because I didn’t want them to show up at my mom’s house and let her know what was happening. I made it to the hospital and ended up having to have surgery because of an infection.”
As his life continued to spiral into darker depths, Chris found he didn’t even recognize the person he’d become.
“I already knew I was facing challenges with being myself and knowing who I was, but I was becoming someone I couldn’t even recognize in the mirror. I was becoming one of those people who cut everybody off, I closed myself up to the world. I didn’t lose everything– my rock bottom to me was starting to stray away from the family and shifting away from everyone. That was my rock bottom: not being the person I was before and not recognizing who I’d become. It was an ugly feeling.
I’d never really been in a relationship. I had my friends from high school and the marine core– people who I’ve had long-term friendships with who are still my friends– but I faded away from them. They were people who I didn’t want to see this side of me, so I isolated myself from everyone because of the drugs.”
Still, it wasn’t until Chris was faced with an unsettling split from reality that he really recognized the need for change.
“I had an episode where [after I’d used] I came out of the restroom and into my room and there was this group of people standing around my bed. I didn’t really know who they were. I was freaking out, you know, ‘who are these people in my room?’ So I’m talking to them asking ‘who are you?’ but they’re ignoring me. I walked up to them and they’re discussing whether or not they should allow me to continue doing drugs. At that point I’m realizing either I’m seeing something or this is real and I just don’t know what it is. And they stuck with me. Even after I attempted to stop using drugs they never faded away. So they became a part of my life– hallucinations, or spirits as I like to think they were.”
Initially Chris tried to observe if others could see the spirits, but after realizing he was the only one who could see them he tried to hide it. He avoided communicating with them when others were around, which seemed to earn their ire. Experiencing these new and alarming symptoms, his addiction continued to deepen, until one night, by chance, he found a way out.
“I remember seeing an addiction phone number and writing it down. I was still high, so the next day I saw the number and not remembering what it was I called it to see and it was actually a national hotline that eventually connected me with [Discovery Point Retreat.]”
As with most recovery stories, Chris’ journey has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. He recalls that even after committing to attending treatment with Discovery Point Retreat, his mind was still in a place of active addiction and substance use.
“I postponed a day or two before going. I’d lost my apartment just before I was meant to go to Discovery Point Retreat, but I quickly found another so [future landlords] couldn’t see anything happening on my record. So I moved a couple days before I was meant to go and because I knew I was going to DPR I was doing drugs left and right. I was trying to move and do drugs at the same time. I moved all of my things into the apartment and I knew when I got back I would have to unpack. I was setting myself up for failure because I left myself some drugs for when I got back [from treatment.] I knew I was going to treatment, but I was still traveling to the airport, through the airport, on the plane, and then through the airport in Dallas while shooting up.”
After arriving at Discovery Point Retreat, Chris found support and mutual understanding with his peers who helped him navigate the early stages of recovery. Suffering with insomnia and hounded by visions of angry spirits, his roommate offered him judgement-free support on the very first night despite knowing nothing about him. That act of kindness resonates with him to this day and helped his recovery journey get off to the right foot.
Beyond his supportive peers, Chris values the lessons gained through working with our experienced and compassionate staff.
“I learned a lot from DPR. I worked with my psychiatrist, Joey, who helped me talk through and let go of some things. I learned a lot about processing exactly what it was I was dealing with. Before I was that person who just reacted in certain situations or thought that I knew the answer already and so I just did whatever I wanted to do. But to be able to sit back and really process things and think, ‘okay, this is why’ is great. I learned a lot about recovery there.
I thought I was alone in what I was experiencing. I thought I was the only one who couldn’t say no, but there were a bunch of us.”
If Chris’ story resonates with you, know there is help out there for you, too. Discovery Point Retreat is here to support you through recovery no matter where you are in your journey. If you are a part of our alumni family and would like to share your story, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We’d love to help you spread your message of hope and healing.
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