“Opiate use took years from my family and me, caused division, hurt, and unremovable memories to the whole family, including myself.”

I am a nice, independent and charismatic optimist who comes from a middle class two parent household in the southwestern United States. I had many opportunities and experiences as a young adult, where I excelled in athletics, and understood the value of hard work. I still live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I started selling loose cigarettes at age 14, and then moved to cannabis and other substances. By the time I was 17, pills had entered the market and so did I. I saw the relief that substances were giving the people I was selling to and decided to use them myself. My mind was always racing with thoughts, and I learned to slow them down by using cannabis, and then opiates. I got involved with substances because I found them to be a solution to the mental unrest I was facing from adverse childhood experiences. Some might call this trauma.

Opiate use took years from my family and me, caused division, hurt, and unremovable memories to the whole family, including myself. Using caused cysts to break out on my body and chopped my weight to 120 pounds when I normally weighed 180 pounds. The consistent time I spent slumped over and nodding off, contributed to the blood vessels in my hips to be cut off, which led to my hip bones, decaying, and eventually collapsing.

I stopped using when the time, effort, energy, and cost to get high, no longer was worth that feeling. Drugs were not a solution anymore; the high was quick to wear off. This became even clearer to me when I hit bottom. One memory I have that stands out was lying in my truck, in a Walmart parking lot, going through withdrawal, the shakes, and aching terribly bad. Soon after that, I was asked to leave my mom’s house. My sister did not want to be around me and my best friend said that I could not show up at his house anymore. The effects of these combined events caused me to rethink what I was doing, and I decided to change. And the result of that change has led me to this place where I want to help people who want to change.

To affect change in humans, it takes support from our society. I think our society has many support methods that individuals can use. However, there will never be enough. Another problem is society has established a stigma with substance use that needs to be removed. Stigma is alive and well because it creates drama and hysteria that allows for fear to be promoted around this subject. Clearly, when it comes to stigma, we are not doing enough.

There is a choice to make if you are using. It’s a choice to heal. No one can make that choice for you. When the choice is made to stop using, the individual should seek accountability, community and then stay in it!

Story by Nico Morales

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