“I started using drugs in 2002 at 17 years of age. Marijuana was my first high and quickly became my first obsession with a drug. I loved the way it made me feel different. My enjoyment of that feeling opened a Pandora’s Box of substance abuse for me and led to my downfall.
By the age of 19 I was addicted to crack cocaine. Crack is a hell of a monkey to have on your back. Once you start, you’ll do anything to not have to stop. Everyone was a potential target for money to get a fix. I remember one time walking around town and telling people I needed diapers and food for my infant son when in reality I had no children. I did whatever necessary to get more. Eventually I started selling crack to support my own habit. A few months later I wound up with felony 3 charges for trafficking cocaine. I spent my 21st birthday in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.
I was eventually released from prison in 2006 and stayed clean long enough to make it off parole a year later. Things were going fine for awhile. In 2008, my daughter Madison was born.
A year later I went to the dentist for some dental problems and got a prescription for 20 Hydrocodone (Vicodin) pills. I remember going home and taking two of them in about 15 minutes, and feeling the best, most euphoric feeling I had ever felt. It’s impossible to describe really; it’s akin to trying to describe an orgasm to someone who has never had one. The rest of the bottle was gone by the next day and so began my mission to find more pills. I wound up calling the dentist and got another bottle. When that ran out I went to the family doctor and made up a story about back pain and was prescribed Percocet. That continued until the doctor cut me off for constantly trying to get my refill early. Then I started going to my local emergency room. Once they caught on, I went to the next town over and then the next town over from that until eventually my name was red flagged at almost every emergency room within 50 miles from my hometown. So I just started buying them off the streets. Percocet, OxyContin, Vicodin, Morphine, Dilaudid…whatever I could get my hands on. By this point I was just taking them to not get sick. I did this routine for a couple of years until the pills started getting harder and harder to find and more expensive, due to doctors and the DEA cracking down on pill mills and doctor shopping.
One day I was going on 24 hours with nothing in my system. I was sick with withdrawals pretty bad. Nausea, vomiting, the shakes, insomnia…it was horrible. I called a friend looking for pills but she couldn’t find any around town. She did, however, have some heroin. I didn’t want to go that route, but since I was super sick and needed something to make me better, I bought a gram. I started out snorting it and refused to use the needle, but like most junkies I’ve talked to, I eventually fell in love with shooting up. I’d make the drive to Dayton, Ohio, about every other day to get a couple of grams because it was cheaper and better quality. Normally I’d be sick by the time I got to the dope man so as soon as I got my bag I’d stop at a gas station, go in the bathroom and do a big shot and then leave and drive the hour and a half it took to get back home on I-75. How I never got in a wreck, I don’t know.
I remember one time coming back home and I was going about 80 mph down the highway and I must have nodded off because I woke up driving down the road. During this whole time, I kept everything hidden from my daughter but I missed so much time with her that I will never get back. I did things around her that I will always regret. When she was born I swore to myself that day would be the last day I used drugs. That became just one more lie my addicted brain convinced myself to believe.
By 2013 I had sold almost everything I owned. I had lost the trust of all of my friends and family, and everyone knew what I was – a drug addict. After a few attempts at quitting and trying to get into a rehab facility, I decided to just quit cold turkey. I holed myself up in my bedroom for two weeks and somehow made it through some of the worst physical and mental anguish I have ever been through to this very day. I was finally free. Problem was, all I had stopped doing was using drugs. I never changed anything about myself. I was still ME.
In 2017 a friend came over to my apartment. I had just gone through a divorce and was living alone. He had some crystal meth with him and asked if I wanted a shot. I figured I had been clean long enough — I could handle it, and I was going through a lot of depression at the time and figured it would help. As soon as that ice hit my veins I felt like a new man. A total rush of euphoria hit me like a freight train. I didn’t stop shooting meth until November of 2017. By that time, everyone noticed the bad changes in me. The lost weight. The shallow look in my face and dark circles under my eyes. The isolation. The signs were all there. November was the month I almost lost everything. I had been up about a week and in that time had developed a symptom called Methamphetamine Psychosis. Full blown auditory and visual hallucinations that I thought were 100% real. I convinced myself that my upstairs neighbors were out to put me in prison. I believed they had put wires in my apartment, hacked my phone and computer and had people following me around everywhere I went. In this psychotic state, while my daughter and mother watched from downstairs, I ran up the stairs and kicked in their front door. Nobody that I thought would be there was actually there. It was just one terrified and innocent woman sitting on the couch feeding her 1-month-old baby girl. I yelled at her to stop and went back downstairs and waited for the police to come because I was told she had called them.
I got to jail still hallucinating and was kept in a holding cell by myself for a week. When I started to sober up I was told I had been charged with a felony 1 aggravated burglary charge and a felony 4 trespassing charge. My lawyer said 12 years was what they could give me. I remember sitting in that jail cell and crying my eyes out. Thinking that my daughter, who was 9 at the time, would be in her 20’s before I saw her again. That was finally my true rock bottom. I can’t even begin to describe to you the utter defeat and sadness I felt that day.
I was a very vocal atheist, but I began to pray out of desperation that God would save me from this somehow. I got out on bond right before Christmas and was sentenced in February. The lady whose apartment I broke into had gone to the prosecutor and said the felony 1 charge was too much and she agreed that she just wanted me to get help. The judge agreed and gave me treatment in lieu of a conviction on the felony 4 charge, and dropped the felony 1 charge. I was ordered into a 17-month intensive outpatient treatment program, drug tested 4-7 times a week and put on probation. In November of this year, I will be done with everything and the case will be dismissed.
On Sunday, July 29, 2018, I’ve had 6 months clean and sober. My life now has changed in so many ways for the better. In June my best friend Spencer convinced me to go to church with him. That Sunday morning a man prayed over me and baptized me with the Holy Spirit. When he baptized me, it felt like lightning went through me. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior I felt a hole fill up in me that I never even knew was there before. It was the hole that I had been trying to fill with drugs for 16 years of my life. Since then I have found my home church and have gotten involved in a wonderful program called Turn Right And Go Straight. TRAGS is a faith-based 12 step program ran by my pastor, Pastor Bill Watson, at the Pentecostal Way Church in Van Wert, Ohio. Pastor Watson and the church have truly helped me become the man I was meant to be.
I’m now trying to use my story to help others break the chains of addiction and come to know Jesus Christ. Recovery is possible! A better life is out there. Addicts are not inherently bad people, they’re just broken people who need to be freed from the demon that is addiction. This is a a picture of a personal letter my daughter wrote me while I was in jail that still to this day brings tears to my eyes. A portion of it reads:
Dear Dad, that was shocking what you did the other day. Please can you get help? I really miss the old you, fun, happy and sometimes a tiny bit weird. Please just have some laughter in your life. I’m sorry that drugs or whatever you were doing did that to you, but never do it again.
I love her more than anything in this world, and am so thankful I am now able to be the father she deserves.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Johnathan Murphy, 33, of Van Wert, Ohio. Have you struggled with addiction and are now sober? We’d love to hear your story. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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