I have a familiar story.
In 2005, I was prescribed Vicodin after a wrist injury and saw immediate answers to many of the emotional problems I faced. I suddenly felt comfortable in my own skin — just what I had been looking for.
The progression of the disease of addiction lasted for about 10 years. It started out on the weekends with a few pills here and there, and by the end I was spending every dollar I made, plus anything I could get my hands on, to cover a $1,000-a-day habit.
I was working at a major financial services company, and during bathroom breaks I’d go to a stall and break up drugs on the toilet-paper dispenser.
I have an Ivy League undergraduate degree and an MBA from a top-10 business school. I’ve accomplished a lot in my life. But I ended up taking cash advances from credit cards which I’m still recovering from. I’d also steal checks from my girlfriend.
By that time one of my best friends was letting me stay in his apartment so I didn’t need to pay rent. He came from a wealthy family. Doing drugs together, we completely liquidated his trust fund. Some days, the only thing that stopped us from doing more drugs was the fact that the ATM withdrawal limits were $1,200 a day.
Eventually, the financial strain made me turn to heroin, which is much cheaper but much more dangerous. I overdosed the third time I tried it.
I made the decision to get help almost three years ago and haven’t had a drink or a drug since. I have an amazing support system at work and with family, and of course with my Twelve-Steps fellowship. There are good days and bad days, but if I don’t pick up a drink or a drug, it always gets better.
– Name Withheld
Upper East Side, Manhattan
I can’t thank you enough for writing. Your story needs to be heard, because it brings hope to all the people who are still struggling with addiction and to their families, who are too often tempted to just give up.
By showing that this problem reaches into every corner of American society, your story also helps to defy the stigma of addiction, the idea that this is just a problem of the undereducated and underprivileged.
The help of your family and your adherence to the Twelve Steps are pure gold, but it’s what that support brought out in you that is saving your life, one day at a time. Stay strong!
Thanks again for sending me your story. I’m honored to be able to share it with others.
Alicia Palermo-Reddy is an opioid addiction counselor. She invites readers touched by the scourge to send their stories. She will select some to publish and offer her experience. Names will be withheld but must be verified. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org