I had the childhood anyone would want. Loving parents, a neighborhood block with tons of kids my age to play with, and the opportunity to do anything I wanted with my life, surely a lot more fortunate than many children. I didn’t touch a drug until i was 18 years old, but even though I had such a good upbringing and good friends, I really felt different. I remember obsessing about if my friends actually liked me or not, I remember obsessively calling friends to hang out. This was before the days of cell phones and I would have to call house phones and I felt like my friends were screening the call to ignore me. Just a deep insecurity and feeling of being different. It’s not something I looked at until I got older, but it definitely was my mind being at work in a negative manner even when I was a child. The first time I got high was the first week of college, someone had a joint of weed and offered it to me, I said yes and instantly I felt my dominating thoughts from my mind had been relieved. I had found the answer to be okay in life.

I spent the next two years missing class to just smoked weed all day and play videogames. Anytime my mind was telling me i was not doing the right thing and that I should be going to class, I just smoked some more and that feeling washed away. It wasn’t long before I knew I could not keep this up, did I quit drugs? Of course not, I quit college. I moved back home after two years at school and felt like a total failure. During this time as well weed was just not doing the job it once did, in fact it was making me more anxious and making my thoughts in my head louder. A friend of a friend one night had percocet for sale and after saying no thanks a couple times I caved in and bought a few. I was warned I might like it too much, which made me want to get them even more. I chewed and swallowed a few pills, smoked a cigarette, threw up soon after, and I loved it. I loved how it made me feel and how social it made me come. I had picked up a new habit, and a deadly one at that.

I gained a very serious habit very quickly, which was never my intention. Pain killers had done such a great job of shutting down my mind and feelings though that I wanted to be high 24/7. Within about a year and a half of using, my mom noticed a bunch of money missing from her bank account and knew it could only be the one son that still lived with her. I confessed I was addicted to drugs and it floored her, I was in a detox the next day. I was in shock of what I had become. Unfortunately just knowing and acknowledging the fact that I was a drug addict and I couldn’t use drugs anymore was not sufficient enough to keep me clean. I was such a slave to my mind still and my mind was telling me to go get high again after leaving treatment.

I was in and out of treatment for about 6 years, hitting many bottoms and thinking it could not get worse, I would relapse and things would get way more worse. My true bottom occured while I was living in South Florida after escaping New Jersey because i stole from my father’s company while working for him and was fired, his heart was broken. I spent about 5 months living in South Florida isolated from the world. I had never truly been or felt so alone. On March 17th, 2015 around 11 AM I recieved a call from my mom, she informed me that my father had passed away of a heart attack. He was 60. I couldn’t believe it. Thank god I had reached out to him a few days before he died and talked to him for the first time in 6 months. I will be forever grateful for that. I flew up to my father’s service and I felt like I was living in a nightmare. I decided to stay up in New Jersey and try to get my life together on my own but all I could do was stay locked up in my room and cry myself to sleep every night, I was hopeless. After about 2 months of just staying in my room, terrified to leave my room, my mom called me and said my dad had left money over and I would be able to go back to treatment. I thought about it for a few seconds and then knew it was my only hope.

That was about 3 and a half years ago and I am amazed at how my life changed directions after losing my father, he was my best friend and my role model. If it weren’t for treatment along with finally accepting guidance in my life and letting others know how I was truly feeling. I don’t know where I would be, I surely would not be happy. My thoughts in my mind are still loud and clear but I have tools to keep myself from being a slave to my mind like I used to. Therapy truly helped me grieve my father and I was able to spin it to motivate me and make him proud, wherever he may be, I feel him in my heart everyday. My only hope now is to share my story to show anyone no matter what happens and no matter how many times you have failed, anyone can recover from addiction.

Daniel Wittler is a writer in South Florida and is an advocate for recovery from any substance. He enjoys sharing his story to show that absolutely anyone can get sober provided they are willing to go to any length to do so.