Feature Story: A New Life – Dan’s Story

dan-mToday, Dan M. leads a productive life.  He is gainfully employed, has a close relationship with his parents, great friendships, engages in exercise and eating right and above all has a close and loving relationship with his higher power.  Dan says, “Following a schedule, being connected to people in recovery, changing people, places, and things as well as holding myself accountable” are some of the key ingredients to maintaining his sobriety.

Several years ago, Dan’s life was completely different.  Dan says he started using cocaine when he was nineteen years old.  Prior to this, he had “dabbled” in other drugs such as Marijuana and Xanax, but it was cocaine that led him that spurned his addiction to progress quickly.  “I had friends who were content using sleeping pills and alcohol to come down; me I was willing to drive to Baltimore at 5:00 a.m. to get more.”  Ultimately, a close friend offered and encouraged Dan to try heroin to counter the effects of the high cocaine produced.  Dan says there was an initial resistance, but eventually tried it and liked the feeling heroin produced.  Dan had all the access he wanted to heroin because his friend was his regular supplier.  In fall 2008, Dan’s friend was arrested and went to jail.  This did not curb Dan’s use as he found other people to get drugs from.  It was also during this time that Dan was involved in an auto accident due to his use.

Dan says he did not realize the gravity of trouble he was facing, but his parents took this as a sign that Dan was in trouble and encouraged him to get help.  Dan entered into his first experience of treatment in February 2009 for 14-day inpatient.  He says there, he was introduced to 12-step recovery.  For the next three months, little changed in Dan’s life.  He still had the same friends, hung out at the same places and did the same “ol’ things.”  Dan started to relapse.  In an attempt to get sober, Dan was accepted into a Methadone clinic but was eventually unsuccessfully discharged due to failed drug screens.  Dan states he continued to use while trying to hide his use from family members.

During the summer of 2009, Dan was confronted with drug use by his mother.  She found drug paraphernalia in his car and he admitted to using.  His mother reached out for help on behalf of her son and soon after, Dan was admitted to Caron Treatment Centers where he received primary inpatient care and extended stay services.  Dan says he was at Caron for about four months and was therapeutically discharged.  Dan says even during this time at Caron, he was not able to garner a strong recovery foundation.  “When I went on a home pass, I would drink,”  Dan admits there was no behavioral change and his attitude was self -serving.

After that discharge from Caron, Dan went to Easy Does It, Inc. and was there for three months. Dan admits, he continued to be resistant to the recovery process.   As a result, he continued to use heroin and pills, even as he sought services from East Coast Recovery.  Another intervention led Dan to Reading Hospital Detox.  Dan says he finally began to take suggestions and follow direction.  It was also at Reading Detox that he was introduced to Dr. Santoro and the medication Suboxone.  Dan admits, he had used Suboxone before to help with the withdrawal and cravings, but it was not under a doctor’s care.  This time, he was using Suboxone under proper supervision.  Dan says in addition to taking Suboxone, he had to attend groups as well as submit to urine screens.  He has been sober since January 25, 2010.

Dan states, “A lot happened in my first year of sobriety.” He was sentenced for driving under the influence.  Dan recalls, people who supported him assured him that if was doing the right thing, the courts would look favorably on his efforts to be sober.  What was told to Dan became true… the felonies he was once facing were dismissed and instead, he was charged with a misdemeanor.  Additionally, Dan says he diligently sought to form a connection with his higher power; find a suitable and stable job; develop and follow a schedule; connect with people in the recovery community and hold self-accountable.  Dan says these conditions help him to live one day at a time and keep his sobriety front and center.

CLICK HERE to see another version of Dan’s story in the Council on Chemical Abuse Annual Report!

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