Addict hits ‘rock bottom’

By Mas Rahman

“I started running, and then these police cars came out of nowhere. Next thing I know, I’m on the ground getting arrested. The first question the cop asked me was ‘Where’s the TV?’ It’s back on the bus. Second question: ‘Crack or heroin?'”

For him, it was heroin.

Because of heroin, he did poorly in academics when he was a student at Oakland University, got arrested for stealing, went to rehabilitation, relapsed, ran away from home, got banned from OU for stealing again, got arrested, went to jail, was released after five months on a GPS tether, got the tether removed, and is now awaiting to hear when he has to go back to court-mandated in-patient rehab.

He has two felonies in his name for two larcenies, and one more felony will be the third strike and land him in prison.

He said he’s clean now, and wants to stay that way.

But he said he also desires to start doing heroin again, and realistically thinks he has a 50 percent chance of staying clean for good this time.

Start and escalate

The 21-year-old white man from Holly said he was always interested in all kinds of drugs. He watched films about it, both fictional and documentary. He researched various drugs and their effects.

“I was a drug geek before I was a drug addict,” he said.

Then he started experimenting with drugs as a teen, and kept a checklist of the ones he tried, which ranged from marijuana to hallucinogens and cocaine, “pretty much everything except meth.”

He said he didn’t try heroin until he came to OU, when he met a dealer by the smoker’s hangout outside South Foundation Hall in early 2007 during his freshman year. 

The Doctor offered him money to drive him to Detroit to buy drugs, and then offered to start paying for the ride in heroin. He said he first tried sniffing it, then moved on to shooting up “because it was three times more for the money.”

“The stigma of doing drugs with needles is reasonable,” he said. “But it hits faster, and you get higher.”

“It makes you feel like you’re wrapped in God’s personal blanket,” he said.

Eventually, he started calling the dealer to get drugs, instead of the other way around.

He lost two food service jobs because of his habit.

“I started showing up late, or not at all,” he said.

His girlfriend also started doing heroin with him, so he had two habits to support and not just one, he said. This meant about $50-$100 every day.

After two months, “I had to have heroin every day, or I’d be a mess.”

A “petty thief”

To support the two habits without a job, he said he took to stealing. He started selling CDs and other electronics from his home. He said he even committed electronic retail fraud, by listing items on, getting paid for selling them, but not sending items to the purchasers. This lasted until his account was revoked.

He also stole a laptop from his classmate, which resulted in his first felony, even after he returned the computer.

“I’m ashamed of stealing, becoming a petty thief. It makes you do desperate things,” he said. “But the best thing about heroin was it makes any pain go away, physical or mental. Even shame.”

This behavior lasted until June 2009, when his parents found him stealing, and he confessed to being an addict.

“I just couldn’t keep it going anymore and I needed help,” he said. “They knew something was going on and were sick of it so I admitted my problem and asked for help.”

He went to rehab, and described the withdrawal as the most painful experience in his life.

“The first two days, I felt really cold … The third day, I started coming around … The fifth day, I felt fully myself again,” he said. “Free.”

He only stayed in rehab for two weeks because that’s all his insurance would cover.

Lost motivation

“Heroin addiction closes your desire to do anything else,” he said.

After quitting the first time, he said he got his motivation back. He started writing songs, reading, watching movies.

Then he and his girlfriend started thinking again, he said. They both stayed clean for weeks, but started being jealous of people who got to have relapses before quitting for good. So they decided to have a relapse for a while, and then quit on their own terms.

But this didn’t go as planned. “It escalated beyond control.”

His parents found out he was using again, and tried to force him back into rehab, so he ran away.

He said he stayed with his dealer for two months, paying him by forging checks and working for him as a dealer.

Last fall, he stole a camera from OU’s student technology center, resulting in his second felony and a ban from coming to campus.

He was arrested two days later when he stole a TV from a store in Sterling Heights and got on a bus, but the police caught and arrested him.

After that, he went to jail for five months. He said he was forced to quit, not on his own terms, but managed to get high once in jail, but was afraid of how quickly he could start it up again, so hasn’t gotten high since.

In summer 2009 while he was secretly having his relapse, he said that he got pretty low, but didn’t hit rock bottom.

“I think I have to hit rock bottom before I can quit for good,” he said then.

Now, he said he definitely has hit rock bottom.

“I don’t know how I can sink any lower,” he said.

In February, he got released from jail on a GPS tether. During OU’s spring break, his tether was removed, and now he’s waiting to hear when he has to go to an inpatient rehab.

He said his girlfriend also got caught stealing once, and it scared her straight. Even despite all his ordeals, he feels the desire to start using again. He said she doesn’t feel the desire anymore just because of a misdemeanor.

“It always blew my mind how I could have such a bad problem, and they could try the same drugs and walk away the same,” he said.

“I remember the pain it caused but I still want to get back to it,” he said. “But now I can enjoy everything else without needing drugs to feel good.”

He said he got his motivation back again. 

Since he can’t go to OU anymore, he plans to go to University of Michigan-Flint to study what he was studying here: international finance and Chinese.

Advice for others

He had help from others throughout, from his girlfriend, a friend and his parents.

“I’m closer to my family now more than I was before I was on heroin,” he said. When they found out about his problems, they were worried and wanted to help.

He said he wasn’t the only heroin junkie at OU; there were more he hung out with. One of them is now clean, but he doesn’t know what happened to the others.

“You have to want to quit for yourself, not for others,” he said. “Or it won’t work.”

He recommends getting a good sponsor, following the addiction recovery steps, and going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and spending at least one month in an inpatient rehab facility.

“If my story could help someone else, that would be awesome,” he said.

(Editor’s note: At the subject’s request, The Oakland Post is not publishing the his name due to privacy concerns. The Post verified police records for the incidents mentioned in this article.

See for a blog written by the reporter about newsroom ethics of writing about drug addicts and using unnamed sources.)