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Beating People Up While High On Drugs
Luke would beat people up for drugs or their money. Too much freedom almost got him killed.
In this episode of Stories of Addiction, I will be talking to Luke about his addiction and his recovery from addiction. Luke is a client at the Gault House Sober Living Environment in Santa Cruz, California. He is nineteen years old and he has been addicted to heroin. Luke is from Half Moon Bay, California and is 28 days clean. How are you doing, Luke?
I’m doing great.
Why don’t you tell us how your addiction got started?
I was about eleven years old when I first tried pot. I did it a few times. It never kicked off with me. I never liked it in the beginning. A couple of years went by and I started smoking a lot more with my buddies. I started growing it. It became an everyday thing two years after that. From smoking pot, I started drinking. My dad used to grow pot and he drank a lot. He still is. He’s an alcoholic. I started drinking and smoking in a small town up north, going to parties and playing football. I was a football stud. I played sports and everything seemed acceptable. I was a freshman in high school when I got caught with weed on campus. I got suspended. I got in trouble. I got on probation. My parents sent me to this Beyond Scared Straight program. I ended up walking, going into Beyond Scared Straight program at Folsom State Prison.
They sent you to this program but up into that point, did you use the same way that your friends did? Did you notice any difference? You almost described that you forced yourself into smoking weed because you didn’t know it at first. I’m wondering if they had a similar pre-problem with the drugs to this point? Do you use any differently than they did?
In the beginning, they used more than me. That’s the funny thing. They would always say, “Try to get Luke to smoke because he gets all goofy.” I didn’t like it. I get paranoid and then eventually I started loving it. From smoking weed, my sister, she started bringing it around me more. She’s an alcoholic and an addict too. We wouldn’t even go to the school a lot. We would sit around the house and smoke weed and party and whatever comes along with that. We go to parties, hanging out with the house and get high. It was rough. I was abused as a kid and my dad worked out of town so he was never there and my mom was working full-time. We always had a lot of time on our hands. We took advantage of that and we did stuff that kids shouldn’t be doing it that age, vandalizing, smoking weed, getting high, stealing, fighting, whatever it is.Luke would beat people up for the drugs or their money. Too much freedom almost got him killed. Click To Tweet
Did your parents allow you to smoke and drink around the house?
In the beginning, they were very against it because I was smoking weed at such a young age, but then I found out that they were growing it. They couldn’t keep me from smoking. No matter what the consequence was, I became defiant. They would say, “You’re grounded. You’re not going to hang out with anybody.” I wouldn’t even care. I would still go do what I would do. It got so bad where I had no respect for my parents, my sister, family, and friends. It was horrible. While doing all that, I graduated from high school. I don’t know how I did that, but it was amazing. From there, I broke my left arm in football diving for a fumble. It broke up by the shoulder. I got prescribed Vicodin. My mom let me take it on my own. I would go to school and take three or four of them. I didn’t think it was going to do anything. I remember I took them, I went to school first day that I had got them. I felt amazing. I felt wrapped in a blanket, so comfortable in my own skin. It was unheard of. I didn’t know what I was doing but I loved it.
From there, I only had a little bit of Vicodin for probably about a month and I ran through it in ten days. I ran out of Vicodin and that was it. I went probably about another year without Vicodin or without pills in general. I went back to smoking weed and drinking and partying and doing everything I did, fighting. I had another buddy who’s like, “I got OxyContin.” I was like, “What’s that?” He’s like, “It’s like Vicodin, stronger though.” I was like, “Let me try it.” I tried it and it was better than Vicodin. It was amazing. I didn’t work at the time. I was only about sixteen years old. On a Friday night, I would call him up, borrowed $20 from my mom, which I never paid back. I would go get OxyContin. I would take them. I would snort them or whatever I would do with them. I would get high. I would drink on them. I would go to a football game all messed up and I would look a fool. I thought it was funny. I thought it was cool with everybody looked at me that. In reality, everybody was making fun of me. I was known as the kid who gets messed up all the time, “He looks incoherent. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” I had bad grades. My football coach knew what I was doing. It was really bad. Now that I think about it, it was bad. At the time, I thought it was normal. I thought I was fine. I thought everybody thought it was cool and it was acceptable.
Would you say at that point you had exceeded the drug use from within your social circle?
I definitely did. Everybody was still smoking weed and drinking. The cocaine didn’t come into play for probably another year. I had a couple buddies who would do the Oxys too, but they weren’t doing it like I was. The night of getting high, next morning, I’m wanting more. I couldn’t smoke weed without pills. I couldn’t do that. I always needed opiates. I always needed pills, Xanax, whatever it was. I always needed something to slow me down a little bit. My parents got divorced when I was seventeen years old. I moved from that small town up north back to the Bay Area where I’m from. My parents got divorced. I had weed all over my house and bongs. My dad was upset at my mom. He wanted to sue for full custody. The only reason he could use was that I’m a drug addict and that I have weed and paraphernalia laying all over the house. He took that and ran with it. He got a lawyer, took pictures of all my bongs, my weed, alcohol and beer cans, the whole nine yards.
He took them and he showed them to the lawyer. My mom was devastated thinking that she’s going to lose my little sister. At the time, she was five years old. I ended up having to go to the rehab, The Camp. At the time, I was using drugs but I wasn’t using drugs like these people in these rehabs. I’m sixteen. I’m in this rehab. People are telling me about heroin and cocaine, Xanax. I tried pills, but I never did it like that. These people are telling me how they steal their moms’ cars and crash them, high on drugs and going to jail, juvenile hall. That made me want to try drugs even more because I learned about all these new drugs that you could try, molly, ecstasy, whatever it was. I did take that program. I was not serious at all and got kicked out on the fifteenth day.Recovery is doing it day by day. Swear one more day at a time. Click To Tweet
What did you get kicked out for?
For not taking anything seriously, clowning the workers there. I had no care at all. I was so upset at my dad for doing that. I was almost doing it as payback. I get out and go back to my hometown in Half Moon Bay. I’m not even enrolled in school. It’s my junior year and I was living with my dad. I couldn’t go live with my mom because I didn’t say anything about it, but I got into my stepdad. He’s this big Mexican dude. I came to the house messed up on drugs and he came at me. He put hands on me and I put hands on him. I took it to court. I couldn’t be around him. My little sister couldn’t be around him and that was while everything was going on with my dad suing my mom for full custody. It looked even worse on my mom with that going on. I couldn’t see my mom, my little sister or my stepdad for about six to eight months, so I lived with my dad. I didn’t even go to school. I started working construction under the table. I would get my paycheck Friday. We’re getting paid weekly. I get my paycheck and go right to the dope dealer.
I started buying the OxyContin at the beginning, the Blues. I started smoking them. I didn’t know you could do that. I was smoking them off tin foil. It went from there. That was the first time I started feeling the effects of withdrawal. It was when I would use heavily for a whole weekend and go back to work in the hot sun and sweat even more. It’s so uncomfortable on my skin. I don’t even know how I did it honestly, but I would power through each day and get that paycheck and keep doing it more and more. Eventually, the drugs got so bad, the Oxys, the Xanax. It was all bad. I ended up losing that job because I stopped going. I started selling drugs, whatever I can get my hands on Xanax, coke, meth, whatever it was. I started selling drugs enough to support my addiction pretty much. I always thought I was big time with $1,000 in my pocket. I would blow it all in the weekend on drugs and be back at square one. It was depressing.
How did you get into heroin at this point once you started feeling the withdrawal effects from Oxy?
That was what it was. I started doing the Oxys and they got so expensive at $30 a pill that I couldn’t pay for them anymore. I had a buddy who I would always hang out with. We got high together all the time. We grew up together. He’s like, “I got pure opium.” It wasn’t a pure opium. I found out two weeks after smoking it every day that it was heroin and I didn’t even care at that point. I would justify it by saying, “I’m smoking it. I’m not shooting it. I’m smoking on tin foil. It’s not a big deal,” which it really was. From there, I started getting in a lot of fights, beating people up all the time. I didn’t even feel human at the time. I was so depressed, but I was always high. I didn’t feel depressed. I was a goofball running around, beating people up, doing drugs, stealing, robbing anybody for their drugs or their money. This was a small town that I was doing this all in. My parents started hearing that I was selling meth and selling drugs. Somehow I convinced them that I wasn’t, but the whole time I was getting high and doing all this stuff.
Did they notice a change in your behavior?
They definitely did. I would come home all fucked up. I’d tell them I’m smoking weed. They didn’t know what to do. They would always call the police and have the police come and think that the police would take me to jail, but I never had anything on me. I was smart. I would always ditch it somewhere or get rid of it or I already used it all. They would say, “You’re out of luck. There’s nothing we could do.” They try and get me to pee in a cup because they want to prove so bad that I was using. The cops can’t force you to pee in a cup. From there, I found out where I was getting the heroin because I would buy it from a friend who got it from San Francisco on the streets of Tenderloin. I started going there every day with him and buying it from the actual dealers, the Hondurans in San Francisco. I started using it every day. It got to the point where I got kicked out of my house for robbing someone of their drugs. They came to my house crying, a grown man saying, “I need of my drugs back or else I’m going to get killed.”The good things and the bad things make up who we are. Click To Tweet
That didn’t stop me. I got kicked out of my house. I was homeless for about six months this time. I’ve been homeless numerous times, but this time I was homeless for about six months running around San Francisco. I’m surprised I didn’t get killed honestly. There had been numerous times when people have put knives up to my neck. At that time, I’m running around San Francisco. I don’t know how to make money or anything. I’m pretty much dirt broke. I started boosting and not a lot of people know about that. In San Francisco, they got a marketplace where we sell all kinds of stolen goods. The main things are detergent, soap, pistachios, almonds, anything from Walgreens and CVS. All that, they will buy it. I learned that I could go to all these stores with a backpack and load them up and go to this marketplace downtown to market and sell it all. I would have $400, $500 a day, sometimes even more, sometimes less. I would take that money and I would go get high.
I did that for about a year, on and off the streets. I’ve been in the streets for so long. My feet would be bleeding. I would be out there in the same clothes for so long. I would call my mom and have her come pick me up and save me. She would take me to a detox center. I would detox, get back on Suboxone and start over. That was repetitive. That was a cycle of always doing that. I started smoking crack out there. I tried crack for the first time. It took about two months for me to start doing it heavily from that time I tried it. Heroin went out the door. Crack was $5 for a bag. Heroin is ten for a dime. I ran with the crack, smoking so much crack, eight ball a day. I was still doing heroin on the side, but my main priority was crack. I kept doing it every day. I would go to the hospital. There are about five times when I would call the ambulance and have a panic attack or my whole arm and body would go numb because I’m smoking so much crack. My heart was going so fast and I would freak out and I’ll go to the hospital.
They’d tell me, “You’re going to die if you keep doing this.” I’ll say, “Yes, I’ll stop.” I go home, have my mom come pick me up. I’ll get about two, three weeks, sometimes a month clean of not doing anything, maybe smoking a little bit weed. I would be like, “I could go back and do it again.” I would go back. My main problem is I lived on the outskirts of San Francisco in another city. You have to go to San Francisco to buy those drugs mostly unless you know someone and I didn’t know anybody. I can get heroin, but I couldn’t get crack. I would go out there with some money or make some money boosting. I would get high and I’d run out of crack, but I couldn’t go home. The crack was keeping me there. There’s a Bart station that could take me right to my house, but the fact is I would get a lot of crack and I’ll get on that Bart station and say, “I’m going home. I need to go home.” Halfway on the Bart ride, I’d run out of crack and I would turn right back around and head right back to the city to buy more crack. The crack was keeping me from going home.
Do you smoke on the train?
All the time, in the back, in the front, wherever. I didn’t even care what people thought. I did it in front of kids, babies and the parents wouldn’t even know what to say. Smoking a crack pipe right in front of kids on a secluded area on a train.Just keep craving recovery. It's really not hard to be a good person. Click To Tweet
What happened at that point with your family, with your life? Even if you were forced into treatment, going to detox and stuff, you had had a taste of recovery. I’m wondering what it took for you to get to the breaking point around your addiction.
The breaking point, when I was smoking all this crack and getting high, I felt mentally unstable. I felt I didn’t even want to live anymore. I had no purpose. I couldn’t make anybody happy. My only friends were friends there because I was supporting their addiction a lot of the times. I would get them high. Once I ran out of drugs, they would leave. That cycle would keep going. I had no real love at the time besides my mom. She didn’t know what to do with me. After that first rehab when I was sixteen, I ended up going to three other rehabs, maybe four rehabs. I don’t even know. I’ve been a five total, but four other rehabs, being clean for a month when I get out and then going right back to using for about six months and into that cycle. It was insanity. I didn’t know what to do.
I knew there were 12-Step Meetings. I knew there’s IOP. There’s outpatient and there’s inpatient. There are tools, but I didn’t know how to use them and put them to work. When I would, in the beginning, I still wanted to get high. The drugs still control me. I would go to outpatient after I was in rehab. I would go to these meetings and I would do it all, but I would either be high at the meetings or I’d be waiting to get out of the meetings to go get high. During that time, I would make up these lies saying, “I’m going to get on the Bart station. Mom, I need $20 for Bart and for food. I’m going to go across the Bay to San Bruno and hang out with my buddy, Rob,” or whatever. I’m coming back at 10:00 PM, 11:00 PM or 12:00. I wouldn’t even go there. I would go straight to the San Francisco Civic Center and I wouldn’t go home. I couldn’t go home. I didn’t know what to do.
At the time, I thought it was normal. Even though I was mentally unstable and I didn’t know what to do, I felt scared. I felt I was going to die. If I were to keep going like that, I would. I’ve seen all my other friends or acquaintances out there in San Francisco and they were doing the same thing. They had the same problems. They couldn’t go home. They were getting high. It made me think it was normal. Even young girls who have the looks, everything. They’re all on a street corner prostituting or smoking crack with homeless people when they’re from a middle-class family.
From there, I got on Suboxone. I would do that same repetitive thing over and over again. I got kicked out of the four rehabs and I gave up. My parents gave up, but they were still letting me live in the house. They were accepting it and letting me walk all over them. I would steal whatever from them to sell or to pawn to get high. I’ve gotten rid of so many nice things that had value to me and that I loved, the expensive stuff, whatever it is. I eventually had nothing. I probably had about four different pairs of clothes. I got rid of my phone, I got rid of everything. I had nothing. I didn’t have a TV in my room. I got rid of everything, Xbox. I had nothing of value. At the time, I thought that was fine. I thought it was normal. I don’t even need that. That’s how I justify it. I was like, “I don’t need this. Xbox is bad for you.” That’s how I would justify it. Sitting around playing video games is bad for you while I was smoking an eight ball of crack a day. I had this one counselor at an outpatient program. His name was Mike. He was a great dude. He would want to see me succeed. We had similar stories. He was clean for about 30 years. He did the same things I did in San Francisco in the Tenderloin. He did the same whole nine yards. He inspired me to get clean and to do what I wanted, to do what I’m doing now. I never wanted to make that leap of faith and that decision. I kept getting high. I didn’t know what to do.
I finally told my mom I need to go to rehab, I need to try one more time. I went to The Camp one more time and this time it felt different. I wanted to genuinely be sober. I started feeling how it feels to be happy again, to be successful, to work a job, to make my own money, to not steal for a living, to have friends again, to have love. To have people that love me and want to be around me. I’m now cherishing that and it’s amazing. I didn’t think I would ever get to that point again. I did. I went to rehab. I did everything I needed to do. I now attend meetings and recovery is great. I would have died if I would’ve kept going. This is my 28-day clean. I’ve been clean longer before, but this time I’m serious about being clean. I pretty much try and keep myself occupied, go to meetings, hanging out with good people. I try not to do anything that seems foreign to me. It wasn’t foreign when I was using, but I’m trying to not do old behaviors.
I live in this SOE now and I hang out with good people. I go to meetings and I do everything that happiness is for an addict, a recovering addict. My parents love me now. They take care of me with love. If I need a little bit of money, they’re willing to give me a little bit of money and let me use it for something that’s useful. They trust me to go to their house. They trust me. They can leave me in their car with their purse, wallets and phones. They used to never be able to do that. I’ve come a long way and they genuinely care about me. My mom, she still doesn’t know if I’m 100% going to be sober and this is going to be it. I don’t even know that. I have to do it day-by-day and that’s what I do. One more day and I’ve been doing pretty good at that.Rebuild character through adversity. Click To Tweet
I’m so stoked you said that because when I was your age, even a couple years older when I went to my first program and in a family group, my mom had said the same. She was very upset, “Are you done?” I said, “I don’t know,” in front of a big group. People are disappointed. She was disappointed, but all I could be was honest. I ended up not being done but your story, especially for nineteen years old, it’s very similar to mine but in a much shorter period of time. To see your progression and how rapidly you progressed from smoking pot and drinking to the pills to the opiates to the stimulants, but then to also have that perspective right now, I hope that you stick it out because you’ve got a good grasp recovery for having 28 days. I’m curious what your hopes are for the future?
I’m only nineteen, but my hopes are to own my own house one day, have a beautiful wife even though I’m young and have a job where I can come home, and I don’t have to worry about bills. I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to survive whether I’m getting high or not, knowing that I’m making enough money to support me or my family if I have one. That is what I want. I want to live in a nice area. I want to be able to take care of myself and not rely on anybody. Even when I was using, I was a very independent person. Whether I was stealing to get my money, I could always support myself. This time, I want to support myself the right way. I want to have good relationships with everybody and live that American dream life. People think of America and they think it’s all nice and amazing. It’s cookies and cream, but it’s not. California, there are so many people getting high and using drugs and addicts. It’s nuts. It’s honestly bizarre. I never thought I would be in that position, be in those shoes. I would always look down on those people in a way when I was young, “Look at that dude. He’s a heroin addict. He’s popping pills. He is a jackass. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s a fool.” Before I knew it, in a span of six years or something, I’m that dude. I would never think that I would be there.
My hopes are I’m going to get into the trades, sheet metal preferably but whatever job comes my way, electrician, plumbing, HVAC, whatever it is, whatever makes good money. They all make good money. I need to move on with my life. Even though I’m only 28 days clean. I need to forget about the past. It’s still a part of my part of me. I’m still going to use it to help people and to help myself and be of service. I need to move on and be the person I am and make my family proud because I come from generally a pretty good family. I was abused as a kid. My mom did the best she could. It was rocky, but it was nice. I try and look at the good things and the bad things that make me who I am. I want to critique all those bad things that me and my family had been to and make sure my kids never have that problem. They don’t have to worry about food. We are a middle-class family, but there were times when we had no food in the house. A fourteen-year-old kid had to go steal food from a market to feed his sister and to feed himself because his parents aren’t home. They’re out doing their own thing. There was no food in the house and I need to eat. I don’t want to have to ever worry about that again or my future kids or my wife. I want to be stable. I want to be successful. I want to be happy. That’s the main thing, being happy.
I’ve always believed that we build character through adversity. It certainly sounds like you faced plenty of that. What advice would you have for somebody who’s maybe considering getting into recovery, has dealt with similar situations and addictions you have?
Keep going to those meetings. Keep doing it. Keep craving recovery. If you have five more runs in you or if you have one more zero runs, keep trying to do better, whether it be recovery, being sober, how many days you have. It’s a day-by-day thing. One more day. I’m being nice to people, doing courteous things. Try and build your character in a good way. That’s the only thing I could say, work on yourself mentally, physically, and be a good person. It’s not hard to be a good person now that I’m clean. I don’t have to do those horrible things to get what I need. It doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day to help someone with anything. Help an elderly with their groceries. Help a friend, give him a ride, whatever it is. Buy some homeless people food. Keep trying to better yourself in that way where you make yourself happy, you feel of service and that gives that person one more chance, a chance at life again whether it’s someone homeless or someone in the struggle or someone who needs help. Work on yourself.
I appreciate you sharing your story with us. Thanks to everyone else for joining us on the Stories of Addiction podcast. To all our readers, we wish you to stay sober and be happy.
Luke is a big, strong 19 year old, male. He grew up in Northern California, considers Half Moon Bay his home and he is currently living in Gault House SLE in Santa Cruz, California. Luke graduated from High School and is interested to get a trade. He has been to Rehab 5 times and feels he want the love and happiness that the recovery lifestyle offers.
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