Breaking Free: A Story of Addiction and Recovery

UsMenTalkBy UsMenTalkMarch 9, 202014 Minutes

My name is Cory. I’m Larry Bryan’s son-in-law and I’m an addict. I was born in Washington, D.C. in 1988. I grew up in a small middle-class town, just outside of Baltimore, with my parents and three siblings. I had a fairly normal childhood. I had everything I needed and most of what I wanted, and my parents seemed to have a fairly healthy relationship.

But as I entered my teenage years, I became a bit of a troublemaker. I would occasionally steal from stores, get into fights, and get into trouble at school. Years before I ever tried my eventual drug of choice, I experienced what some refer to as an inner void. It seemed like my mischievous behavior gave me a sense of excitement, and I was always seeking more. I liked collecting and stealing things, hoping to gather some semblance of happiness, but I never felt completely content.

At thirteen, around the time my parents started having troubles, I had my first drink. My parents were throwing a party for friends, and three of my buddies and I gathered alcohol to drink secretly. Out of the group, I was the only one that got intoxicated. At first the sensation was amazing; I almost instantly felt as though alcohol was what had been missing my entire life. The emptiness or void I had experienced seemed to subside. Shortly thereafter, though, I blacked out and ruined the party.

I woke the next day in my bed. Surprisingly, nothing was said about the incident. Around this time I learned that my parents’ drinking was progressing. I also became somewhat aware that they recreationally used certain substances, but I was unsure what they were. As their relationship began to fall apart, I continued to seek alcohol as a solution to feeling incomplete. I was bothered by my parents fighting, but I can honestly look back and say that it had little to no effect on the reason I drank. Drinking became the common thread to my contentment.

I began experimenting with other drugs, usually anything I could get my hands on. My main combination was cocaine and alcohol, and my usage was in full swing by the age of fifteen. Having separated, my parents lived in two separate houses. I lived with my father, until I was arrested for selling drugs in school. At that point, my dad kicked me out, and I moved in with my mom.

Over the next few years, my “solution,” cocaine and alcohol, remained constant in my day-to-day affairs. My sister began using heroin through a needle, and it disgusted me. The thought of going to such lengths seemed unimaginable. My mom, now in a serious relationship with a new man, found troubles of her own. Domestic violence became a reoccurring incident, and when I turned seventeen I moved out on the grounds that I couldn’t see her being hurt.

Now, back at my dad’s, I found our relationship growing into one more like a friendship. We would stay up late at night, drinking, doing cocaine and playing music. He facilitated my use, but for the record, I reiterate that with or without him there I would have been using regardless. I was not simply victim to habitat; without drugs and alcohol, I wasn’t okay.

One morning when I was eighteen, my mother pulled into the driveway frantically. My initial reaction was that she had been hurt again at home. She came into my room crying, and told me my dad had overdosed and was dead. I can vaguely recall an instant feeling of overwhelming anger, followed by tremendous grief.

At my father’s wake, I was high on cocaine and had been drinking. I was terribly depressed. I saw my sister nodded out on heroin; she was numb to it all. I wanted to be able to escape like she did, so a week later I asked her to get me high. She did, and then everything changed. Something I said I would never do became the most important thing in my life.

The next few years were a hustle to get my next fix. It consumed me. Occasionally I would look at myself in the mirror and admit that I was in trouble. I would swear it off or exclaim, “This is my last time.” I would find myself shortly thereafter, sometimes just a couple of hours later, going against my code of morals to get more heroin.

I stole, lied and cheated through life. I lost all of my friends, and my family hated me. I had no ability to get a job, or go to school, and I was often homeless. And with all of these consequences, I was still completely incapable of stopping. I would go to hospitals and detox facilities to get off the street and to physically detox. Most of the time I would leave a facility remorseful, with promises to stop and with every intention to do so. Only shortly thereafter I would find myself high once more. This cycle repeated itself indefinitely.

It wasn’t the physical craving that would make me go back, because I was detoxed off the substance in a facility, sometimes for months on end. But something would happen in my mind that would leave me certain that getting high was a good idea, my only option, or that this time would be different. I tried to substitute for weaker substances, only drinking or taking lesser drugs, but it was always just a matter of time.

Six years past and I was completely defeated. Without a home, any friends or family, I found that heroin stopped filling my internal void. That feeling, having nothing but my drugs and still being miserable with myself, was the scariest thing I’ve ever faced. I entered, once again, into a program of recovery.

I had been going to meetings for a few years, to no avail. Every time I did so, I was told to get something called a sponsor, to work steps, and to build a relationship with a “power greater than myself.” People talked about God and I wanted nothing to do with it. People did steps, and helped other people go through the steps, but I simply watched. But this time, for some reason, I found myself with a slight willingness I had never had. I consider this sort of thing miraculous.

Months began to pass, and I continued with this program of recovery. I did the steps, and learned that they were simply guidelines to living a better life. I learned that selfishness would be my demise, but that if I sought some sort of help from something greater than myself, whether I called it the spirit of the universe or God, I remained clean and sober. Time passed, I got a great position directing sales at a publishing company, I got a girlfriend, I was in a band, I had a home, and life was good.

The final step in the program was to help others recover the way I had. I was told that it was the surest way to guarantee immunity from my active addiction, that when in doubt I should help someone else. As I started receiving “gifts” of sobriety, my efforts lessened. I figured that now that things were good, I could relieve myself of involvement in the fellowship of recovery.

As time passed, my physical “gifts” stopped being enough to keep me satisfied. One day after work, the thought of a single drink crossed my mind. I stopped by a bar I had passed many times, and ordered a rum and Coke. In a week’s time, I was injecting heroin, cocaine and other things into my veins. I was in full swing. Knowledge of my past, consequences that could be faced, and my inner moral compass all fell to the wayside.

For about a year, this was an on-and-off affair. I would sober up for a week or two, only to find myself in the clutches of addiction once more. Now married, I was harming more people than ever, but my addiction always seemed to win out when deciding what to do.

Finally, I was done. I gathered all the strength I had to re-enter the program I had so boldly turned my back on. I asked my best friend, who I had originally gotten sober with, for help. He began walking me through the steps again, yet now he reiterated the importance of helping others in need. Now, one day at a time, I find that if I remain honest and willing to be of service to my fellow man, I stay sober.

My relationship with my wife has greatly improved, my family has begun to trust me unlike ever before, and I have built friendships that are true. Most importantly, I have learned to rely on a relationship with a higher power of my understanding. This means controlling and taking responsibility for my actions, and acknowledging my lack of power when it comes to outside circumstances. As long as I do these few simple things, my life gets better, and I stay sober. I am truly grateful for my sobriety and my life today.

Okay guys, whaddaya think?

Have you had a similar experience? Can you relate? Share your thoughts, your stories, your questions and advice so we can all learn from one another and make better decisions. Plus, you’ll get some huge karma points for doing so.

Have a great day and a great life.

Larry Bryan
A regular guy, another opinion.℠