David Greenspan / Lighthouse Recovery Institute
My parents and I have a running joke about what we call the Week of Infamy. It’s funny to us now. We shake our heads when a few things go wrong at once. We chuckle and mutter, “must be the next Week of Infamy.”
It wasn’t funny for a long time though. In fact, it was the extreme opposite of funny. The Week of Infamy caused me a ton of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain. What’s even worse is the hell it put my parents through. So, what is this Week of Infamy? It’s the week I wrecked a car, got arrested, overdosed, almost died, and got arrested again. Oh, it also happened when I was seventeen. Let’s back up a bit here. Let me paint the picture for you.
A Suburban Junkie
For as long as I can remember I’ve felt different. Blah, blah, blah. We all know the generic precursor to addiction story. The long and short of it is that I had a serious problem with myself and with the world. It doesn’t matter that I was raised in an upper-middle class home. It doesn’t matter that my parents loved me. It doesn’t matter that as a child and adolescent I wanted for nothing. Nope. None of that matters. What matters is that my thinking and behavior were viciously self-centered. Self-centered to the point of pain for others. I tried Vicodin and codeine when I was around fifteen. I was sober within four short years. That’s how quick the progression was. That’s how quick everything went to hell. Anyway, at seventeen my life was a mess. I was drinking and smoking weed everyday. I was taking painkillers and benzo’s everyday. Then I discovered heroin. “This is wonderful,” I thought to myself, “now I really live out my rock-star-syringe-in-one-hand-bottle-of-whiskey-in-the-other, fantasy!”
I Didn’t Even Have a License
During this time, I didn’t have a license. That didn’t stop me from routinely taking my parents’ cars though. I’d try to avoid it, but sometimes you just need to “borrow” a car. Remember, self-centered to the extreme. One night, or, if we’re being accurate, one early morning, I threw some Xanax in my pocket and took my mom’s car. I don’t remember much before the accident. I remember running a red light. I remember watching the sun rise. Then I woke up. My face was in the steering wheel. There were three parked cars in front of me. All were scratched, dented, and, generally speaking, destroyed. I turned around. There was a trail of mirrors, glass, and paint shards for about twenty feet. Then I woke up, again. My face was in the steering wheel. There were three parked police cars in front of me. An officer was knocking on the window. Things weren’t looking very good. I got up and was promptly handcuffed and sat back down in the back of a cop car. Then I woke up for the third time. I was handcuffed to the wall of the local police station’s “lab” room. I started panicking, probably because I was finally sober. I tried to twist my body around and see if the pills were still in my pocket. I couldn’t feel them. An officer eventually came in and began asking me questions. He didn’t ask me anything about those pills. Thank God. To this day, the only explanation I can come up with is that I must have thrown them out of the car or taken them. Who knows? My parents were called and, around noon of the following day, I was released to their custody. To say my family was disappointed and angry would be a major understatement. They were furious and out of hope. They were lost and so was I.
But Wait, There’s More
By this point, I was feeling pretty horrible. I mean physically horrible. Sure, I felt like crap emotionally, but heroin withdrawal was kicking me around in a bad way. So, what did I do? I got home from the police station, grabbed a skateboard, and booked it over to my dealer’s house. I managed to convince him to give me four bags of heroin and a handful of benzos. I went to the nearest gas station, ran to the bathroom, and did what I had to do. I never liked shooting up, but I always took a sick pleasure from it. I’d perfected coaxing up a vein and sliding a dull syringe in it the way I imagine sword swallowers practice their craft. I walked from the bathroom and guess who was standing in line at the cash register? The same police officer who’d questioned me only a day before. We made eye contact and, at perhaps the worst possible time, I lost my balance and fell into one of the chip displays. Needless to say, this cop wasn’t pleased. He came over, steadied me, and asked what the hell I was doing. In my utterly insane head, I figured I’d throw my wallet across the gas station and run the opposite way. I figured my wallet would distract him. I pulled it out, chucked it with all my might across the room, took off running, and promptly tripped over my own two feet. The officer caught up to me in about one second and asked me what was going on. I figured there was no way I wasn’t getting arrested again and told him I had drugs and paraphernalia on me. He shook his head and said something to the effect of “you’re a mess, kid.” Around this time, the heroin and benzo’s seemed to hit me all at once. I began nodding out and, apparently, vomiting. The officer called an ambulance and took me to the ER.
I woke up for the second time in as many days handcuffed to something. This time it was a hospital bed not a police wall. I woke up in full withdrawal. It turns out I’d overdosed. I’d been unconscious for minutes at a time and the doctors could barely feel my pulse. They injected me with Narcan (naloxone). They saved my life. If you think I was grateful for even one second, well, let’s just say I was an addict in the throes of addiction. I was incapable of being grateful for anything. I was incapable of feeling anything other than a need. This time I sat in jail for a number of days. I was fully detoxed by the time I got out. I wasn’t ready to stop using though. That came two years later.
That was the Week of Infamy.
Thankfully, with over seven years sober, my parents and I can look back on it with rueful and embarrassed smiles. Thankfully, it’s over and as long as I continue to live my life by spiritual principles, it’ll stay over.
About The Author
David is a writer and media specialist for Lighthouse Recovery Institute. He lives, works, and writes in south Florida. Sober since mid 2008, he finds no greater joy than in helping the still struggling addict or alcoholic.