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Addiction Recovery Research Center

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

2 Riverside Circle

Roanoke, VA  24016

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Phone: 540-315-0205

Email: iqrr@vtc.vt.edu

Media Inquiries:

John Pastor, FBRI Director of Communications

Phone: 540-526-2222

Email: jdpastor@vt.edu

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Phil’s Story

“I grew up in the peace, love, drug era of the 60’s. I was attracted to that lifestyle but too young to take part. In the 70’s I began my road to recovery, it took 22 years to reach it, but the path was the one I chose. I began with my first buzz on alcohol, having parents that drank, growing up in the projects where Summer nights meant sitting on the steps, beer and butts in hand. It was what I thought to be normal. So that first drink was waiting for long before it was offered, personally I was happy with the after effects, throwing up and feelinglike crap the next day just was attractive to me. What I saw on TV and read in LIFE magazine was, that hippy lifestyle: free love but more important DRUGS.

So my journey began. Smoked my first weed in 72, didn’t see anything different the first time. When I later bought my own stash and smoked it all I found I loved being totaled more than “catching a buzz”. I began to dabble in speed, loved it, more more more please! I came to the point where I realized I was doing too much and I decided to stop, you see I was in control. I did stop and found other toys to play with along with my pot smoking, acid, thc and of course whatever you offered me.

Growing up in the projects I knew the junkies. I knew them as kids and now knew them in the grips. I use to supply them with plastic cups of water, at a dollar a cup of course, then hang with them as they shot the dope. They all had the same thing to tell me “don’t get into this crap, it will kill you”. I listened to that advice I never shot dope. In the late 70’s when coke was “the thing” I did shoot that, but in the back of my hand, I justified only junkies main line. I went the road of dealing, I loved the power and the bennys like women doing whatever I wanted for a freebee, the money was good too.

The police on the other hand had a different view, they didn’t like my operation and in 1980 they visited and I left in handcuffs.I went through the process, “Phil give us names, we can make it easier on you”. I was 110 pounds soaking wet 23 year old, but my brain still worked. I was doing business with a biker club, the cops could give me less time, if I ratted they club would give me no time. I took my chances with the justice system. The day came where I stood before the judge, he asked how I pleaded and I said not guilty sir, my lawyer whispered in my ear, plead guilty. Hey I was paying this guy almost $400, he must knew what he’s doing. I changed my plead to guilty, the judge asked me to approach his bench, he asked if I understood with all the charges I was looking at 53 years in a federal Prison? I told yes sir, I understand. He gave me two years of probation. I wish I understood my disease got me there, standing in front of a judge pleading guilty to 53 years of charges, but I couldn’t see the forest through all those damn tress. I just decided to keep a low profile.

Within a year I found a nice quiet job as a custodian at a local college. I kept myself on the weed program and out of site, no bars, no dealing. I met a guy who started the same day I did, he would give me a ride home now and then, it was like a mile from campus, he’d always say let hit the bar. I tell him no thanks. One night he drove to the bar, he shut off the car and sit you can sit here until closing or come in, your choice and he got out. I wish I took option one, I’ve learned in recovery we have choices but back then I be damned if I was sitting in the car like a dog waiting for his master to go buy milk.

In the bar I grabbed a booth got a drink and decided to wait it out. Somehow I found the girl sitting next to me showing me pictures of her family, I pretended to show interest but I could have cared less. My buddy was talking with her friend, he suggested we hit another bar, I was like “damn no” in my mind, but there was this girl and it had been awhile….off to the next bar we went, I with her, he with her friend. It ended up as I hope, me at home in bed, this girl at the bar with me. She left after a couple of hours and I chalked it up to a good night but not going to bars again.

A couple of days later I worked a 12 hour shift, I came home beat, I showered and went to bed, I don’t know how long I was sleeping when knocking on the door woke me. I answered the door it was the girl from the bar. I invited her in and we ended up back in my bed room…..she was pregnant within a month we were married within 3 months. Life of addiction, it takes us places we never wanted to go.

In December of 91 my daughter was 8 or 9 years old, my wife only drank now and then and I was still getting high, our marriage was a mess but I loved my daughter and hung in there. I decided that since I had the power to stop the speed as a kid I could put the brakes on the weed and coke, so I vowed to no longer use as of January 1, 1992. I partied like a kid with the parents out of town all month. New Years day 92 I had a rude awakening, I couldn’t stop. Everyone in the program knows that date they used/drank for the last time, none of know the date we crossed over from having fun to being addicted.

In March I decided I had enough, I went to something we use to have on every corner, a payphone I called six detoxes and convinced all six how they couldn’t help me. You see desperation was making the call, my addiction was doing the talking. I called my wife, I said here it is, I have a problem with drugs find me help tonight when I get home from work or I’ll never ask again. I hung up the phone and went back to work. That evening i came home to a phone number, I called it and whoever i talked with was as good as me at playing the game, every word I said he had an answer for. I ended up agreeing to go to an intake the following Wednesday. That was a Friday and I woke up Saturday one pissed off addict. I went to work, I told my boss I was off the overtime list. He said I understood it takes effect the day after submission and he had two hours of OT for me. I used my anger to do the extra work and get back in 8 hours. A victory to me, there was no way I was working over time and giving my wife that money, that was my using money, I stop using I stop working it. My boss said I’m so happy tour back in 8 I have a 4 hour job for you, that was it. None of this not getting high stuff, I called my younger brother and asked to drop by (code for get high). He said come on over, I went from Mr. Angry to happy and joyous, just knowing the substance was coming was enough.

I got high that Saturday and lasted until Tuesday, withdrawing sucked out loud. My older Brother drove by and asked for my younger Brother’s number, I told him I wasn’t giving it to him, we were going there. It was March 31,1992 at Noon and I told myself it was the last time I was doing this. I found NA through that out patient program and I celebrated 20 years clean April 1, 2012. Recovery can work, but you have to want, each day I wake up and I want it more than going back.

Today again, I choose recover.”