I was terrified of living sober but I was even more terrified of not living at all

I remember the first time I tried heroin. It was like being wrapped in a warm blanket and letting all the cares of the world – all my anxiety and worries – just float away. It was like nothing I had ever felt before and I loved it. Eventually, the high faded and I was shoved back into the world but it wasn’t long before I wanted to do it again.

I could spend entire weekends shooting up. All too quickly, though, it got to a point where I needed to do it just to feel ‘normal’. It became the only thing I really cared about, ignoring friends and family just so I could score another hit and get high again.

Then it got to a point where I needed heroin just to function. If I didn’t get it, the withdrawal would leave me sick in bed, in absolute agony. I would miss work on those days, unable to move, unable to even eat. Things only got better when I got high again. It got to a point where I was just going day to day, dealing with my addiction. Everything else seemed unimportant.

It wasn’t until I overdosed that I realized I was out of control. I woke up in the hospital feeling confused and ashamed. I’m just glad that I woke up – there’s too many people whose first overdose is their last. It gave me a serious wake up call and a chance to regain control of my life.

I was terrified of living sober but I was even more terrified of not living at all. I went into treatment not knowing what to expect. What I found was people who cared and understood, including other addicts who knew exactly how I felt. The treatment centre staff helped me focus on overcoming my addiction. I also made some close friends – people who joined me on the long road to recovery.

It hasn’t been easy. There are days when I struggle. I go to meetings regularly and sometimes call a friend when things are tough. But my world seems a lot brighter and my day to day is now focused on living, not on getting high.

(Disclaimer: The character in this story is not real but we all know someone who is similarly affected by addiction.)