Twenty-three years ago on August 4, 1986 I woke up strung out on Heroin and announced to myself, “I’m done.”
This is after fifteen years using and three stabs at rehab, including a year at Amity, a Tucson therapeutic community. Prior to that moment, Heroin had been my mainstay and friend. You see, drinking made my husband Steve angry and violent. On Heroin he was the sweet, easy-going guy I married.
So, I woke Steve up and told him we were enrolling in a Methadone program. He agreed. Like I said, unless he was drinking, he was an easy-going guy.
I have been clean and sober ever since that morning.
How did I make the transition and how have I stayed clean since then? Although I didn’t graduate from Amity (my husband and I ran away and returned to using after being sober for a full year), I never forgot what I learned there.
At Amity I learned to live AS IF. Act as if you are clean and you will be. Act as if you’re a valuable person to humanity and you will be. Act as if everyone you meet is your friend, act as if you're worthy of being respected in a relationship and you will be. To stay clean you apply AS IF to your life using Amity’s three principles.
- NEVER LIE. Ever, about anything. Not even “white lies” meant to spare another’s feelings. This is vital. Lying is how addicts keep themselves using. To stay clean, I always live in the world of the truth, confronting life exactly the way it is each and every single day.
- ALWAYS RUN MY STORY. Running my story means telling everyone, and I do mean everyone, where I came from and what I’ve done in the past, no matter how embarrassing. It’s not enough to just remember what I’ve done, I must speak it. Only in saying it out loud do I prevent lies. This can be frightening and painful, but returning to a junkie’s life isn’t an option for me.
- HELP OTHERS. This last principle takes a junkie from selfish addict to functioning human being. Reaching out to others forces you to turn your focus to others.
This is my intention in writing this article.