May 9, 2000
My name is Michael . I am 17 years old and I am from Lindenhurst, New York. I am a recovering heroin addict who is trying to restore his life after four years of addiction. Before I started using drugs, I was a popular, clean kid with dreams. Just one year later, I hit rock bottom. I was robbing people, stealing cars, burglarizing homes and even robbing my family- all for heroin.
I started sniffing heroin when I was 13. I was bored – bored with my town, bored with my friends and my family, and bored with life. An acquaintance gave me the heroin, and it immediately made me feel relaxed and at ease. It made me feel older, and it took away any hurt or pain that was present in my life.
It felt so good that I spent the next few years shooting heroin and my addiction grew stronger and stronger. I ended up with no real friends – just people to get high with. They would stab me in the back any chance they could and I would do the same to them. I was arrested several times for assaults that were related to my addiction. But my addiction did not let the law slow me down at all. I felt like I was a slave to the addiction and I would do anything it bid me to do.
I dropped out of school because of the powerful grip heroin had on my life. I was either too high or too sick to go to classes. But, I had no regrets about it at that time. In my mind, I thought it was better this way because it gave me more time to hustle and find ways to go to New York City to buy heroin.
Finally, when I was 17, desperate for heroin and going through withdrawals, I burglarized an apartment. By the grace of god, these actions led me to the Phoenix House Academy of Long Island. When I was sent to Phoenix House, I felt like it was my chance to get my life back on track. I have nothing but appreciation for my judge and the DEA who gave me the opportunity to live again.
Since I have been in treatment, I have learned a lot about myself, my addiction, and the effects it has had on my life. Heroin controlled my life and I would do anything for it. My addiction also ruined my family life. My parents lost all trust in me. It hurt my parents to see me going through painful withdrawals. But no matter how hard it hurt, they could only bit their lips and wait until I asked for help.
I have also learned a lot about myself and my addiction. Phoenix House has taught me to deal with my irrational beliefs and feelings. I've also learned that I am not worthless. I am worth the time that Phoenix House and I have put in to build up my self-esteem. My advice to people that have the same problem I had is to ask for help and never give up on yourself - because the moment you do, you lose everything.