This “Meth Messenger” presents an interview with Mike, a former drug addict and alcohol abuser who now works as a peer support manager at Community Bridges in Payson. The Gila County Meth Coalition would like to thank Mike for sharing his story.
Meth Messenger: How old are you?
MM: How old were you when you started using drugs?
Mike: I was 13, but I started using alcohol at the age of 10. There was a lot of beer in the fridge and I chugged a couple one day because I wanted to be a “man.”
MM: What was the first drug you used?
Mike: Marijuana or pot. I’d heard my kind of hippy dad tell colorful stories about when he used it. Even though he told me to stay away from drugs, I thought it sounded cool and wanted to try it.
MM: Please name all the drugs you’ve used in succession.
Mike: I started out with pot in high school. At 16 I was given some meth. I didn’t even know what it was at the time. But right off the bat, I became a daily user. My first high lasted all day. Then I started using cocaine, crack, acid and psychedelic mushrooms (I liked those). I would hallucinate within 10 to 15 minutes and would see double, everything was moving and very colorful. But you tend to get very anxious and feel like doom was pending, yet at the same time everything is funny. It’s very emotion-based depending on your mood at the time you take it.
MM: Why did you start abusing drugs?
Mike: Basically I didn’t want to deal with life and life’s feelings. I wanted the feeling of intensity. I always wanted to get as high as I could on whatever I was using. At 16 and 17 there were no crimes involved, it was all fun and games. That didn’t last long, though. I dropped out of school and started spending my days partying. At 17 I started selling meth. A former girlfriend’s mom showed me how to weigh and measure, she got me selling. My parents got me into rehab, and I was selling to other patients.
MM: How did you feel while on drugs?
Mike: Instead of doing things that normal teens do, I was hanging out with older druggies, some just out of jail, so I missed out on a lot of school things. I was out of control, never sober, way strung out all of the time. Actually I’m lucky to be alive. At 19 I went off the deep end and started shooting speed and heroine. I was drinking 2 pints of whiskey a day. I was arrested the first time at 15 and went to jail the first time at 19. I drank alcohol every day.
MM: Which was the easiest drug to obtain?
MM: Which one was the most difficult?
Mike: Heroine at that time, but now it is not as difficult.
MM: What circumstances made one drug easier/more difficult to get?
Mike: The people you choose to associate with. I knew who to contact to get what I needed/wanted. It was actually easier to get meth than food. Plus alcohol was easy to get. Someone will always buy it for you. But at 19, I looked like I was much older, so I didn’t get carded.
MM: Please relate a chronology of what happened between the time you started using drugs and when you stopped.
Mike: Everyone was telling me I was screwing up my life. But I wouldn’t listen. At 16 I sold all my possessions to support my habit, including old toys that were collectible or valuable.
When I entered rehab for the first time I knew I wasn’t ready to give up drugs and alcohol. It meant I would have to admit to not being able to control my life and at 16 that was not going to happen. It finally got bad enough that I knew I had to do something or I wouldn’t survive. The police found me on a Valley corner with several bags of stolen property and so strung out the nurse at the jail told me I was lucky to be alive.
MM: Why did you stop using drugs?
Mike: At 21 I was sent to jail for six months. That was the longest time I had been sober since I was 15. It felt good. I was happy again and resuming a better relationship with my parents. At that point I started working toward getting off drugs. When I was arrested I was taking 2 grams of speed, plus pills and drinking 2 1/5 bottles of whiskey a day.
I stayed sober for another six months. Then I started all over again. At 23 I was arrested again. I was completely out of it. When I got out I was sent to a halfway house and started going through the 12 steps to get sober. This time I was determined. I moved from a halfway house to a sober house and started working at Community Bridges.
MM: Describe your life since you became sober.
Mike: Since my most addictive substance was alcohol, I still go to AA meetings as often as I can. I work with other alcoholics and that helps keep me sober. Now I work more with managing the Peer Support Unit at the Payson Stabilization and Recovery facility for Community Bridges. There is a lot of outpatient activity involved. The 12 steps have taught me how to cope and deal with life’s feelings. My responsibilities include dealing with crises, arranging transportation and placement, developing treatment plans, making sure clinical documents are up to par, personnel issues (HR) and supervision.
MM: What would you like to say to kids who are considering drug or alcohol usage?
Mike: I will always be recovering because it’s a disease not everyone can control. I’m one of those who can’t control. People tell you “don’t do drugs” for a reason. The severe consequences are a reality. I’ve never seen anything good come from using drugs and alcohol. There’s a reason it’s illegal. It will fool and trick you. Don’t do it!
Even though I’ve come a long way, there is a cap to what I can do and can’t do. Because I have a felony conviction on my record I will never be able to vote, I can’t leave the country, I can’t get a job that requires a fingerprint clearance or a license, I can’t own a firearm. The job restrictions are huge. It is amazing what jobs are no longer available to you.
If you want to use drugs and abuse alcohol, be prepared and willing to give up your life as you know it, your friends, your family, your job, everything, because that is what is going to happen.
MM: If someone wants to break the habit of drug or alcohol abuse, who should he/she contact?
Mike: I would recommend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous hotline or go to a meeting. There is a 12-step program for just about every drug out there and they are all good, they work.
MM: If someone wants to contact you, how would they do that?
Mike: I can be contacted through communitybridgesaz.org.
For questions or more information on the Gila County Meth Coalition contact Chair Claudia DalMolin at the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, (928) 425-4440; Co-Chair Bianca DalMolin, (928) 701-1790; Facilitator Peggy Huggins, (928) 425-1887; or Media Liaison Lu DuBois, (928) 467-2515.
Remember, Marty says “Meth IS Death!”
Presented by the Gila County Meth Coalition